It is summer and it is time to get out the barbecue. Bart Spices have…
Britain has a range of wonderful traditional recipes and North East England is no exception. There is a dish for every occasion.
Wondering what food is local to North East England? Geordie cuisine is all about food that is warming, wholesome and bound to fill the hungriest of bellies. With recipes that are simple to make and good for the budget, why not give some of these recipes a try?
North East England Region
North East England covers a wide and diverse area, from the Scottish borders in the North and to the county of Yorkshire. It is a region of contrast, from the wild beauty of Northumberland National Park to the rounded Cheviot Hills and the rugged remote North Pennines. Hadrian’s wall cuts across the landscape, a reminder of Roman occupation, now empty. The occasional whistle of farmers rounding up sheep breaks the silence.
It is a land that has seen much conflict, you will find castles prominent across the landscape. A stark reminder of the struggles with the Scots when border reivers would raid with no warning.
The unspoilt coastline is a secret to most, golden beaches stretching as far as the eye can see. Wind-worn castles overlook them and small islands give shelter to seals and seabirds. Holy Island, accessible at low tide, stands proudly, a reminder of the days when monks would fight off the Viking raiders.
Read more: Vikings at Lindisfarne
The irrepressible city of Newcastle Upon Tyne is the jewel of the North
East. Built along the banks of the river Tyne, handsome Victorian buildings remind us of cities industrial heritage. Newcastle was a centre for coal mining, steel works, ship building and the railway industry. Many of the factories and warehouses are now galleries, bars and entertainment venues making Newcastle a vibrant place for a night out.
Traditional recipes come from an area’s history and heritage. In the North East the industrial revolution saw people arriving in the cities to work in hard jobs. They needed cheap and hearty meals to keep them working.
The food of North East England is practical and heart warming, showing its working class roots.
The Food of North East England
You will never find a North-Easterner who doesn’t love their food. North East tradtional food is good honest food which uses local ingredients and is full of flavour. It is food that comes from poverty, cooking for men working down a pit, in steelworks or building a ship. It was hard work and they needed food, lots of it, and it had to be cheap.
These traditional recipes use similar ingredients. Pork was the main source of meat, it was cheaper than beef or lamb. Stotties, big round flat breads, made sandwiches with a ham shank and pease pudding. Broth with vegetables would fill you up before the main meal.
Suet puddings and clooties (dumplings cooked in a cloth) were other meals that would fill you up. Leek pudding was a favourite as many Geordie working men would grow leeks on an allotment.
The North East coast is one of the best places to find kippers, Craster kippers are famous. The techniques for smoking and drying fish came from the Vikings. You can still get mead from Lindisfarne today as you could in the priory in medieval times. Who is not familiar with Earl Grey tea and Newcastle brown ale?
North East England Recipes
Food from the North East is about comfort and being resourceful, making the most of what was available and what is in season. I have put the traditional recipes into three sections:
- Starters and sides
- Sweet dishes
This will help you to find a suitable recipe.
Starters and Sides
Meals had to be filling and cheap side dishes would help bulk out a meal. They are also ideal for a simple lunch if you want something different.
Floddies, the Geordie version of potato cakes, make a delicious breakfast. Navies, who were working to dig out canals or metro tunnels would often make them. They are som simple to make you can cook them on a shovel over a fire.
They are great on their own or why not add them to a full English breakfast for a great start to the day.
Stotties or stottie cake is a large round wheel of bread which is similar to a large bap. It is the perfect base for a sandwich with its chewy and soft texture.
A stottie is a surprisingly easy bread to make, with one rise and a slow bake at the bottom of the oven. Why not give it a try?
Cheese savoury sandwiches
Cheese savoury sandwich filling is a great filling for a stottie cake. The cheesy filling has a subtle tang which give is a unique flavour. It is really easy to make and will soon be a lunch time favourite.
Every Geordie is familiar with pease pudding. Ham and pease pudding on a stotty is a North East classic. The pease pudding is made from split peas, often cooked in a muslin bag alongside the ham. This was for convenience in the days when cooking was done on the fire in one pot.
Pease pudding also features in another North East sandwich, the saveloy dip. Take a soft white bun and add butter and pease pudding. Add a saveloy, a beech smoked sausages which is pink in colour. Spread a touch of mustard on the saveloy and add sage and onion stuffing. Finally add gravy for a taste explosion.
Northumberland Ham broth
You make this hearty and filling soup from a ham joint with root vegetables, leeks, lentils and split peas. It is perfect for a warming lunch or as a starter on a cold day.
Whitley goose is nothing to do with geese but is a simple side dish of onions, cream and cheese. It is really easy to make and tastes delicious. I make it as part of a roast dinner.
Pan Haggerty is another side dish of potatoes, onions and cheese which you cook in one pan on the hob. It is a bit like a potato gratin.
Main meals were hearty and filling, and often made use of leftovers. Some were specific to different North East regions. Chicken Parmo is a classic dish from Teeside, breaded chicken fillets smoothered with bechamel sauce and a topping of cheese.
Another favourite is Alnwick stew, layers of gammon, onions and potato. Alnwick is a town in north Northumbland, situated close to Berwick-upon-Tweed and home to Alnwich castle. Alnwick castle, is where the dish originates. It home of the Percy family, Dukes of Northumberland and one of the film sets for the filming of Harry Potter.
Panaculty is a traditional recipe that uses up the leftover food from Sunday lunch and traditionally made on a Monday. Potatoes, root vegetables, onions and left-over roast beef slow cook in a dish with gravy for the ultimate comfort food.
The growing of prize leeks, and other giant vegetables comes from the region’s mining heritage. Working down a pit all day pitmen were happy to spend some time in the fresh air. It was a competitive tradition, winning top prize at a county show was a great souce of pride and the prize money was not inconsiderable.
Growing leeks and other vegetables also put food on the table and leek pudding is a great way to use up leeks. Serve on its own with white sauce or as a side to a Sunday roast.
Turkey and ham pie
North East cusine is not just about cheap ingredients. The area has many stately homes where entertaining was common place. Game pies were popular in Victorian and Edwardian times, a way to show off the skills of your cook.
This turkey and ham pie comes from Wallington Hall, a country house and gardens near Morpeth.
Read more: A visit to Wallington Hall
Warming filling dishes were all well and good but there are times when you just fancy something sweet. North East England has a wide range of traditional recipes for cakes, bakes and desserts. From sweet suet puddings, serve with custard for a Autumn pick me up, to treats you can have with an afternoon cup of tea or put into a lunch box.
Sly cakes are fruit slices, a sweet pastry encloses the sweet fruit filling. They are perfect for a lunch box treat. As well as being delicious there is an unusual history belonging to the name. Why not check out the recipe and find out more?
Felton spice loaf
The origins of spice loaf are unknown but it is a traditional English tea time treat. The loaf is full of fruit and spices add flavour, usually cinnamon, cloves, all spice and ginger. Every region has their own variation and Felton spice loaf is the Northumberland version.
It is the perfect treat with a cup of tea.
Singing hinnies are the North East’s version of griddle cakes or fried scones. They are easy to make and can be cooked on a griddle over an open fire. Serve with a little jam and butter for a delicious treat.
Newcastle brown ale fruit cake
Fruit cake has been made for celebrations for centuries, think Christmas, weddings and Christenings, they all involve fruit cake. Newcastle brown ale fruit cake uses the traditonal Geordie brown ale making a fruit cake that is delicious and moist. Definitely worth a try.
Lardy cake is another spiced tea bread which is enriched with lard for a delicous sweet treat. It is full of calories so should be eaten on special occasions, but it is so worth it.
Newcastle pudding is a steamed vanilla pudding with a topping of cherries. It is the perfect dessert for an Autumn day and delicious with custard.
Have you tried any of these recipes? I would love to know. If you know of any other traditional recipes from North East England do let me know below, I would love to try them.
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