Oxfordshire Traditional Foods

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Once referred to as the 'Writer's County', Oxfordshire has borne many a gifted scholar and scribe over the last three centuries, including children's author Lewis Carroll, along with poets Seamus Heaney and T. S. Elliot. Of lesser repute are the county's iconic foodies, esteemed for a myriad of Oxfordshire recipes and concoctions still in production today. There was Frank Cooper, creator of breakfast table staple 'Frank Cooper's Oxford Marmalade'; Brown's of Banbury for the equally fruitful Banbury Cake, and of course Peter Scholey, former master brewer at Brakspear and now owner of Ridgeway Brewing Company, based in Henley-on-Thames. Their contributions to the palette of Oxfordshire traditional foods has bolstered the county's reputation to such a degree, even Mitchelin chef Raymond Blanc has a restaurant here! Cue a little more digging for Oxfordshire traditional foods and puddings guaranteed to tantalize the palate! For some fantastic holiday rentals in and around Oxford.

New College Pudding
'New' happens to be a misnomer for one of Oxfordshire's oldest 17th Century puddings which, due to its calorie count and old-fashioned stodgy appeal, continues to be a prime hangover cure for students a little worse the wear from the night before. Candied peel, currants and nutmeg have been incorporated over the years to add a little depth and flavour contrast to the recipe, which calls for equal parts flour and suet, eggs and a little sherry. After resting for 15-20 minutes, the sickly sweet dough is manipulated into small circular balls, then shallow fried in unsalted butter to brown off the exterior. Traditionally, these pan-fried calorie cakes are eaten hot with a slither of butter, however can also be enjoyed with a dollop of marmalade or jam.


Banbury Cake
Filled with delicious mincemeat and enveloped in flaky choux pastry, Banbury Cake is a winter warmer alternative to the timeless mince pie and fascinatingly, happens to be about 400 years older than the festive recipe too! Banbury Cakes was allegedly concocted during the Crusades as a hearty 'filler' pudding that needed little by way of preservatives to keep it fresh. The filling, made from suet, currants, sugar, lemon rind and all spice was often flavored with cinnamon for a winter kick, then wrapped in a round of flaky pastry for 'bite'. The recipe itself was first published in 1615 by Gervaise Markham, although its reckoned the humble Banbury is actually a derivative of Holy cakes consumed in the Middle East from around the 7th Century.


Oxfordshire Sausages (Oxfordshire Skate)
No-one quite knows why Oxfordshire sausages were nicknamed 'Skate', although it could have something do with butcher John Nott's creations of the 18th Century. Combining the lean dark meat of veal with fatty pork, plus copious herbs and nutmeg, Nott fashioned a C-shaped sausage using the stomach lining of Gloucester Old Spot pig, which modernly, is thought to enhance the overall texture of the sausage. His homely recipe became an instant hit at farmer's markets in Oxfordshire, paving the way for today's Oxonian gourmet sausage industry.


Oxford Bishop
Ironically, it was Chatham-born serial writer Charles Dickens whom first revealed the delight of warm Oxford Bishop to the world in 'A Christmas Carol'. Often likened to mulled wine in appearance, Oxford Bishop is equally rich and pungent, served in a steaming mug, with a dash of brandy. The name is thought to derive from the purple hue influenced by adding port, likened to the velvety purple of a bishop's robe. Oxford Bishop is traditionally enhanced with cloves, allspice berries and lemon rind, although cinnamon, nutmeg and anise can also be used.


Frank Cooper's Oxford Marmalade
83, The High, Oxford was never intended to be a tourist attraction and yet today, the bustling Grand Cafe that stands on this site receives hundreds of curious visitors, all eager to see Frank Cooper's humble old greengrocer shop. It was quite by accident Frank Cooper achieved such notoriety. Locals attest his wife Sarah-Jane was responsible for creating the Cooper's Oxford Marmalade recipe, whilst experimenting with various traditional techniques. It is said the housewife produced a whopping 65 lbs more than she'd intended, prompting Frank to sell off the excess in the hope of clawing back money spent on ingredients. The unprecedented popularity of Frank's marmalade resulted in the opening of his factory circa 1900, continuing in production until 1968. Sold in Vintage, Fine Cut or Chunky varieties, Frank Cooper's archaic recipe can now be found on the shelves of virtually every supermarket in the UK!


AT 17:08


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