Welcome to the Great British Diet website, a place where the food that has shaped many a Brit's life is celebrated. From traditional fare like Toad-in-the-Hole and Cottage Pie, to those foreign dishes that we have adopted as our own, to those iconic products we grew up with, to the memorable packaging and media of our best-loved brands...all will be discussed.
Homemade Steak and Kidney Pudding
Suet, mmm....sorry I got lost there for a moment:) I don't think I've mentioned this before but I'm a huge fan of traditional animal fats. They make for not just delicious food but nutritious and wholesome food as well. Steak and kidney pudding is a fine example of this with offal and braising steak slow-cooked for tenderness and encased in a suet pastry that will ensure everyone leaves the table delighted and satisfied.
Mixture of braising steak, lambs' kidney, onion and meat sauce encased in a suet-based pastry.
I still think it's quite an event unveiling a steamed pudding whether savoury or sweet. Indeed, as a child I was always fascinated by the little bit of theatre that went with removing the pudding via its string handle, inverting it on a plate and revealing the imposing body of contents underneath. In this regard, homemade steak and kidney pudding certainly doesn't disappoint. The basin gives way to a glorious sand-castle like mound of suet pastry full of wondrous smells and the tease of filling as sauce bubbles ever so slightly through the little cracks that inevitably develop.
The suet pastry is surprisingly light with a touch of sweetness that contrasts with the filling beautifully. Whilst the slow-cooked contents (I strongly advise pre-cooking the filling instead of putting it in raw as per some recipes) leads the charge with melt-in-the-mouth beef and occasional textural delight courtesy of the lambs' kidney. Finally, the sauce is heady with the earthy quality of offal and, as such, provides the icing on the cake by uniting the filling and pastry in the most splendidly luscious of ways. There's nothing other to say about this GBD icon than it's an absolute must try.
A reader contacted me to ask whether I had tried Lancashire Tea before and, if so, what I thought about it. I replied saying that I thought I had it a couple years back and, unfortunately, wasn't too keen on it. However, checking out the brand's website and seeing the tea had been updated, I said I would try to get hold of it to see what it was like now. Fast forward to yesterday and I was in Booths - a supermarket here in the North of England - and I happened upon a few boxes of Lancashire Tea. Impressed with the redesigned packaging, I picked up the tea to see if it truly lived up to its 'new & improved' labelling.
Black tea blend packaged in round tea bags.
Booths: £1.95 (80 bags)
As already alluded to, the packaging immediately caught my attention with its map-based aesthetic, which both differentiated it on shelf and supported the brand's provenance-led approach. On the latter point, the large red component and county emblem worked to further reinforce the brand's Lancashire roots. The utilisation of fairly informal-looking font across the panels helped generate a relaxed, conversational feel - I thought the little 'thank you' message under the lid was a particularly nice feature. The consumer 'snippets', featuring photos of the individual's concerned, brought a human touch to the design that bolstered the informal overtones and helped make the brand feel more relatable.
Brewed, as per instruction, for three to four minutes, Lancashire Tea boasted a relatively complex taste. Earthy, slightly bitter notes led the charge - from a healthy dose of Assam I imagine - and hints of fruity flavours and even caramel lent support making for an interesting drink. Brewed alongside Yorkshire Tea for sake of comparison, I thought the flavour, whilst not as rounded, was certainly more bold.
On balance, I have to give credit to the Lancashire Tea team. The packaging with its delightful map-based aesthetic and relaxed, informal tone was full of charm and a definite step up. Whilst, the tea was even more of an improvement with an interesting, full-bodied character that didn't step on the toes of its prominent county rival. Indeed, I don't think it'll convert Yorkshire Tea fans; however, for those favouring punchy, everyday blends, such as PG Tips, this is worthy of consideration - even if just out of sheer curiosity.
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