Manchester I& Lancashire Regional Dishes

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Regional Dishes of North-West England


Including Specialities & Dishes of Greater Manchester, Lancashire & Cheshire.

Bury Black Pudings The Eccles Cake Lancashire Hotpot Cheshire Cheese

The northwest region of England has a long tradition in speciality dishes and local delicacies. Many are as popular as they ever were and some, rather sadly, have been gradually forgotten. We appreciate that this is not an exhaustive list, but would welcome any suggestions on additions - please name and describe the dish that you suggest and tell us something about it that will be informative to other readers.

Listed alphabetically:

Bakewell Tart

Bakewell is actually in Derbyshire, but as a noteworthy northern delicacy, it was decided to add it here. Thought to have originated as a kitchen accident, when in 1820 Mrs Greaves, landlady of the Whitehorse Inn in Bakewell, instructed her cook to make a pudding. However, when the inexperienced cook poured an egg mixture onto a jam base set in a thin pastry case, it resulted in a flat tart, and not the risen pudding as was intended. However, it was thought to be so delicious that Mrs Greaves ordered her cooks to continue making it that way and the recipe became a popular local (and now international) favourite.

Barm Cakes

A bread roll, or bap, made from wholemeal flour - also called 'flour cakes'. They are soft and pliable, with a pitted texture. 'Barm' is an old Lancashire word for the froth on liquid that contains yeast.

Black Peas

See "Parched Peas" below.

Blackpool Rock

Blackpool Rock can still be seen being rolled and made on the seafront at Blackpool. Actually, most seaside resorts sell rock that is still made in Blackpool on the Fylde Coast of Lancashire. A hard sugar slightly minted confection rolled into long lengths and cut into 30 cm pieces, distinctive on account of the lettering that traditionally runs throughout the whole length (eg. 'Blackpool Rock', 'Rhyl Rock', etc). Very popular at the seaside, especially with young children.

Bury Black Pudding

Made from congealed pig's blood and oatmeal and produced widely throughout the region, with Bury boasting probably the most famous, with its traditional methods of making the delicacy going well back into the 19th century. Bury Black Puddings win international awards. It is still purchased in a hot boiled form on many local markets, and eaten locally as a takeaway snack (much as fish and chips in paper might be) and dowsed with liberal amounts of malt vinegar. Further south it tends to be thinly sliced and fried as part of a mixed grill.

Bury Simnel Cake

Simnel Cakes, known since medieval times, are found all over Britain, but a particular variety was once commonly made in Bury. A light fruit cake, similar to a Christmas cake, covered in marzipan, then toasted, and eaten during Easter in England, Ireland and some other countries. Traditionally, the top of the cake was decorated around the edge, with eleven marzipan balls to represent the true disciples of Jesus (minus Judas Iscariot). In some variations Christ is also represented, by a ball placed at the centre. .In more recent times they have been associated with Mothering Sunday. The word 'simnel' is probably derived from the Latin 'simila', meaning fine, wheaten flour with which the cakes were made.
Different towns had their own recipes and shapes of the Simnel cake. Bury, Devizes and Shrewsbury produced large numbers to their own recipes, but it is the Shrewsbury version that became most popular and best known.

Butter Pie

Butter Pie is a traditional Lancashire delicacy, better known elsewhere perhaps as potato & onion pie. Traditionally served on a Friday (Roman Catholic Lancastrians did not eat meat on a Fridays) and served with brown or tomato sauce and sometimes with pickled red cabbage or beetroot. Butter pies had long been a matchday favourite snack among Preston North End Football Club fans until 2007 when manufacturers ceased trading, causing fans to mount a FaceBook campaign for its return to the matchday menu.

Cheshire Cheese

Said to have acquired its flavour from the abundance of salt marshes throughout the county of Cheshire, Britain's oldest known cheese, having been mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. A crumbly, nutty cheese, originally made in Chester, but now made throughout the county

Cheshire Pork Pie

The original Cheshire pork 'pye' was made from the mid-18th century from cuts of pork loin, seasoned with nutmeg and pepper and sweetened with sugar. White wine and butter were then added in liberal quantities and the whole mixture cooked in pastry.

Chester Pudding

Similar in many ways to many other steamed suet puddings, but with the addition of blackcurrant jam.

Chorley Cakes

Similar to Eccles Cakes but generally larger and flatter and without the glazed sugary top. Thought to originate, (logically), in Chorley.

Cumberland Sausages

Made originally in the old county of Cumberland and other parts north Lancashire, now made almost everywhere in the UK. A long slightly spiced rough chopped coiled pork sausage, traditionally sold by length rather than weight, and can be over a metre long.

Eccles Cakes

Possibly first made commercially and sold in 1793 by one James Birch in his bakers shop in Eccles, probably based on an earlier recipe for her so-called "sweet patties" by Mrs Elizabeth Raffald in her cookery book of 1769. Made with shiny topped flaky pastry and filled with dried fruits, sugar and spice. Proprietary brands are to be avoided as they bear little resemblance to the real thing - available at good local bakers. A round fruit filled pastry with three distinctive slashes on its top which is brushed with egg and dowsed in sugar prior to baking. So scrumptious was it thought to be that it was banned by the Puritans, but locals continued to make and eat them in secret! So called due to originating in Eccles (now part of the Metropolitan Borough of Salford).

Everton Mints

A sweet toffee flavoured with a hint of lemon invented by one Molly Bush in Everton, (Liverpool) in the mid-nineteenth century.

Fisherman's Friends

The company manufacturing "Fisherman's Friends" was established in 1865, and is now claimed to be the largest producer of lozenges in the world. It began when local Fleetwood pharmacist James Lofthouse created an extremely strong liquid linctus of menthol and eucalyptus, which helped relieve problems experienced by fishermen in the frequently freezing conditions encountered in the Irish Sea. To make it easier to transport and to administer he converted this linctus into small lozenges, which were popular with the local fishermen for their evident efficacy. It is reported that they soon began referring to the miracle lozenges as their “friends” and soon the now world-famous "Fisherman's Friend" came into being. Over 4 billion Fisherman's Friend lozenges are consumed around the world every year, manufactured still by the family run business from their factory in Fleetwood, Lancashire.

Goosnargh Cakes

So-called due to originating in the Lancashire village of that name, (near Preston) a cake, more biscuit-like, flavoured with caraway seeds and sold around Easter and Whitsuntide.

Hindle Wakes

Hindle Wakes was a very ancient Lancashire dish of exotically stuffed boiled poultry. The recipe is thought to have been brought by Flemish weavers to Bolton-le-Moor, (Bolton), in 1337. The original recipe used the blood of the fowl for binding the stuffing mix. The night before the fowl was stuffed with a mixture of prunes, nuts, suet, spices and red wine, then simmered slowly until tender. The next day the bird was removed from the stock, coated with a lemon and cream sauce and decorated with prunes and lemon slices and served cold. The name of the dish may derive from 'Hen de la Wake' ... in Lancashire dialect a 'wake' was a fair, at which time the dish may have been eaten.

Holland's Pies

Baxenden in the Rossendale Valley of Lancashire is the Home of the famous Holland's Pies and was first sold from their shop in Haslingden in 1851. Still manufactured to traditional recipes, and including steak pies, cheese & onion, steak & kidney pies, meat & potato pies, steak puddings, etc, and nowadays found in virtually every supermarket.

Lancashire Cheese

The softest of the hard English cheeses - its white crumbly texture and full, slightly salty taste makes it an excellent cheese in cooking, and especially favoured for Welsh Rarebit.

Lancashire Hotpot

The meat stew known as Lancashire Hotpot probably originated in the cotton towns of Lancashire as a simple dish quickly prepared and slow cooked, similar to Irish Stew. So named after the straight-sided brown dish in which it was cooked - the 'hotpot'. At one time, even oysters were included in the recipe. Traditionally, mill worker's wives would prepare it in the morning, and leave it in the oven all day so that it would be ready when the family returned home from work at the mill - there are several other possible origins, but this seems most probable. Usually eaten with pickled red cabbage as an accompaniment. Tradition had it that a woman's ability to make a good hotpot was of paramount importance and considerably enhanced her marriage prospects. Some accounts have it as a dish often eaten by shepherds on the hills and others that it was a dish prepared for pitworkers.

Lancashire Sauce

Lancashire Sauce is a vinegar based, mildly spiced condiment, whose recipe has been with its makers, the Entwistle family, over the last four generations. A condiment which can be used as a marinade, or in the cooking process itself and can be added to soups or casseroles or to flavour stocks. It is on sale throughout Lancashire and parts of Cheshire and it can also be purchased from its home, Entwistle's Deli in Ramsbottom, Bury. See the website: www.lancashiresauce.co.uk.

Lancaster Bomber

Originally created and brewed in Blackburn by Thwaites Brewery, this rich brown, full-flavoured beer is traditionally hand-pumped. "Bomber" - as it's familiarly called - is now available in inns, pubs and bars throughout England, as well as bottled on supermarket shelves.

Lobscouse

Or simply 'Scouse', a popular Merseyside dish, somewhat like a mixture of Irish Stew and a Scandinavian stew called 'Lobscaus' , from where it probably got its name. Hence, 'scousers' became a widespread nickname for anybody from Liverpool.

Malkin Pie

A rare and ressurected dish from around the Pendle district of Lancashire. Based on ingredients thought to have been consumed by the so-called Pendle witches at the Good Friday 'Great Feast' of Malkin Tower. Lamb was one of the better known contents of the feast as it was recorded that James Device, the grandson of Demdike, stole a sheep from a farm in Barley. It is also thought that the Malkin coven feasted on beef, bacon, and wicca dumplings made of suet and herbs. Cooked locally it can be served hot or cold and was traditionally served with red cabbage. Relaunched in celebration of the 400th anniversary of the Feast of Malkin Tower, a local company now offers it around regional Farmer's Markets. See. www.malkinpie.com/malkin-pie.

Manchester Tart (or Manchester Pudding)

Manchester Tart is thought to be a variation on the original Manchester Pudding, made from breadcrumbs, milk, sugar, eggs, damson Jam and lemon juice. The recipe was first published by Mrs Beeton in her book "Household Management ". It comprises a set custard slice in shortcrust pastry and a hidden layer of jam underneath. Served with lashings of hot custard, it was very popular in school dinners of the 1940s and 1950s.

Meat & Potato Pie

A firm local favourite, available from most fish & chip shops. Mostly potato and shortcrust pastry filled with stewed shin beef, onions and a thick beef gravy.

Morecambe Bay Shrimps
An historic traditional Lancashire dish and a popular local starter for any meal. These brown shrimps are harvested in the wild and treacherous shifting sands of Morecambe Bay by intrepid shrimpers and cocklers, an area which provides some of the world’s finest seafood. Shrimps are then peeled, cooked and potted on site to create a buttery full-flavoured local delicacy.

Nodding Pudding

Sometimes spelt 'knodding' or even 'nodden'. An old Lancashire dish made from potatoes and flour. Information is sketchy, but it appears to have consisted of mashed potato mixed with flour and butter, and baked in a pie tin until it developed a crust. It may have been a way of using up leftover potatoes, similar to the way that "bubble and squeak" arose.

Parched Peas

Sometimes called "black peas" or "maple peas", long soaked overnight and slowly simmered to produce a type of mushy pea, popular in Bolton and Preston, and traditionally sold a funfairs. 'Parching' was an old term for long slow boiling and has now fallen almost completely out of use. They were traditionally eaten from a cup with salt and vinegar, they can be served hot or cold, but naturally preferred hot in winter months. At fairgrounds they were usually served in white porcelain mugs and eaten with a spoon. In Preston parched peas are still availabale from a few retail outlets - still sold (at the time of writing this) ready-cooked and served in brown paper bags on the Flag Market, they remain a local autumn delicacy with older Lancastrians.

Parkin

A dark sweet cake made from oatmeal instead of flour. A heavy sticky cake due to the liberal addition of black treacle, that sometimes contains candied fruits. Traditionally eaten round the bonfire on Guy Fawkes Night, the 5th of November. Sometimes served with a thin sliver of Lancashire Cheese.

Pendle Witches Brew

Created in celebration of the famous Lancashire Pendle Witches by the long established Moorhouses Brewery, this hand-pumped beer is now available in public houses throughout the county. Pendle Witches is brewed by traditional methods and is a notoriously full-flavoured beer. It is also available in bottle varieties.

Potted Shrimps

Netted, peeled, cooked and potted near to the treacherous sands of Morecambe Bay where they are caught, and famous for being the best potted shrimps in the UK. See Morecambe Bay Shrimps (above).

Rag Pie (or Pudding)

A rag pie is made of suet and meat, and in many ways resembles a steak pudding except that it has a limp pastie shape. Favoured in many parts of Lancashire and Rochdale and still available at local butchers shops... (I eat one myself occasionally, supplied by a friend in Haslingden - quite delicious! ... it is also widely available on Bury's famous Market). There are references to it in Victorian times, when the pie (or pudding) clearly had humbler and less savoury beginnings - the following excerpt describes it being served up in an orphanage (Mr Bogryne's establishment):

"There was a dreadful pie for dinner every Monday; a meat pie with ... horrible lumps of gristle inside, and such strings of sinew, alternated by lumps of flabby fat. We called it kitten pie—resurrection pie—rag pie—dead man’s pie. We cursed it by night, we cursed it by day: we wouldn’t stand it, we said; we would write to our friends; we would go to sea. Old Bogryne kept Giggleswick seven hours (sitting) on a form with the pie before him; but Giggleswick held out bravely, and would not taste of the accursed food. He (Bogryne) never ate any of the pie himself". (From "Gaslight and Daylight - How I Went to Sea", by George Augustus Sala, 1859).

Rossendale Sarsaparilla (Sasparilla or Sarsparilla)

Sarsaparilla, an old and once very popular non-alcoholic root beer-type beverage, is still brewed to a well-kept secret recipe, and sold at Fitzpatrick's Herbal Health Shop in Rawtenstall, Rossendale.

Sad cakes

Similar to the Eccles and Chorley Cakes but larger, and popular in the Rossendale Valley - known by local children sometimes as 'desolate cakes'. Alternative forms often mix the dried fruit into the pastry and present it in an envelope shape. The sad cake was traditionally eaten after one's sandwiches or as a separate tea break snack during the working day in the cotton mills and coal mines of Lancashire. A spread of margarine, butter or even jam was placed on top and sometimes topped by crumbly soft Lancashire cheese.

Tatie 'ash, Tater Hash or Potato Hash

Boiled potatoes, chopped onions and corned beef stewed long in butter and milk. When cooked, potatoes are mashed (or hashed). Traditionally served as a nourishing main course accompanied by red cabbage or pickled beetroot.

Tizer

First launched in 1924 by Fred Pickup in Manchester, and originally called 'Pickup's Appetizer'. Later, after Pickups death it was purchased by the Armour Trust before being sold on to the Scottish drinks company AG Barr in 1972. Tizer's exact recipe has always been kept strictly secret though a list of ingredients and nutritional data is now included on the product labelling in keeping with current legal requirements. In the late 1990s other flavoured versions of Tizer were introduced. Tizer was rebranded in 2011 with a new logo and the slogan "The Great British Pop". (Source Wikipedia: www.wikipedia.com).

Tripe & Onions

Somewhat out of favour nowadays, tripe is the lining of a cow's stomach, traditionally served with onions. Smooth tripe comes from the first of a cow's stomachs, and so-called honeycomb tripe is from the second stomach and is considered to be the superior version. Cleaned and boiled to a milky white colour, it is usually cut into strips and soaked in milk with onions for several hours prior to eating. Until relatively recent times, Tripe and Cowheels shops, (notably the Lancashire and the UCP Tripe Factory Shops), were a common sight in the northwest - now, sadly, all but disappeared.

Uncle Joe's Mint Balls

William Santus & Comoany have been making making sweets in Wigan since 1898 and their mint balls were first introduced in October 1932. A popular regional favourite, they are said to be made from 100% natural ingredients and contain no artificial additives or colours, are gluten-free and suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

Vimto

The story of Vimto began in 1908 when one John Noel Nichols created a unique and original blend of fruit, herbs and spices in his premises in Manchester. Originally he called it "Vim Tonic" (supposedly to give the drinker vim and vigour as a general tonic), but it soon became a popular drink and the name was shortened to 'Vimto'. By 1920 it had become so popular nationwide, that the company had to move its production out of the city centre to Old Trafford. By 1930 it was being exported to over 30 different countries, and its name has become internationally famous. In 1964 it was first sold in its present-day red, white and blue striped cans.

UPDATES PLEASE: Bars, pubs & restaurants come and go - please inform us of updates by email.

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This page last updated 9 Feb 12.