Easter biscuit recipe from Lancashire

PUBLISHED: 01:15 13 April 2010 | UPDATED: 17:02 20 February 2013

Philippa James feeds a lamb with farmer James Lamb

Philippa James feeds a lamb with farmer James Lamb

Cookery editor Philippa James finds out why this year's spring lamb will be a little late and visits an award-winning chippy

I simply couldnt resist meeting up with the appropriately named James Lamb and his flock of new arrivals at Conder Green farm near Lancaster.

James produces wonderful beef, pork and lamb which he sells at 12 farmers markets around Lancashire every month and in the farm shop which opened ten years ago. You can find more details on his website, www.condergreenfarm.co.uk.

But, he told me, the spring lamb will be a little later this year. The animals are fed pellets once a day, during the winter, but with the severe cold weather the grass has been seriously browned, so it will take longer for the new grass shoots to re-emerge, meaning it will take a little longer to get the meat to market.

The pellets may be a supplement for the ewes milk, but you cannot replicate the sweetness of the grass. Traditional farmers say that lamb needs to cook twice, once in the sun, and then in the oven, to bring out its true flavour.

A chip off the old block

My sister-in-Law, Lynn, rang me with important news after calling in for her familys supper at Skippers in Euxton. The chippy had won a national award and the presentation was the next day. I didnt need telling twice, so off I toddled.

Fish and chips, a natural marriage. Winston Churchill called them The good companions. It is the 150th anniversary of this partnership this year; marking a century and a half since John Lees, a northern entrepreneur began selling fish and chips out of a wooden hut at Mossley market in industrial Lancashire.

A rival claim has been made that fish and chips were first sold together at a London market - but we know the truth!

During World War Two fish and chips was one of the few foods not to be rationed, as the Cabinet believed it was vital to keep families on the home front in good heart. However, paper was rationed, and many older Chorley folk like my Auntie Ethel, will recall how they would take a pudding bowl up to the chippy to put their supper in.

Bill Crook, formerly a senior player at BAE, ran Skippers for many years and is heavily involved with the National Federation of Fish Friers. It was Bill who told me more about potatoes, than I had ever realised possibleyes, I knew about potato starch and the reasons for choosing different potatoes for recipes. But Id not realised that if there is too much sugar in a potato, it will cook to a very dark brown as the sugars caramelise and be unattractive to the customer, who seeks a golden chip.

Although Bill is still involved, his son Andrew has run the business for the last ten years and Skippers not only won the regional award for the 2010 National Perfect Portion Award organised by the Potato Council, but they went on to beat around 800 other businesses to scoop the national award, garnering the most votes across the country.

A date with Philippa

I am delighted to have been invited back to the award-winning Lancashire Food Festival at Accrington on April 10 and 11, where the dishy Italian chef Gino DAcampo will also be demonstrating. See more on www.lancashirefoodfestival.co.uk.

And you can also see me at Oswaldtwistle Mills for a culinary masterclass, on Saturday April 17, with the choice of a morning or afternoon demonstration and a hot buffet of the dishes made, with wine. Tickets cost 35 and places are limited. Contact OM Conference Centre for more details. www.o-millsbcc.co.uk

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