Tag Archives: red leicester

Sparkenhoe Cheese and Black Pepper Muffins


English muffins, that is. Not your blueberry-stuffed American monsters. We’re talking bread not cupcake. This was the first time I had attempted to make an English muffin and I was nervous, especially considering the time you need to fry them for. But, aside from the time needed to prove them, they turned out to be no bother at all. In this recipe, Sparkenhoe and black pepper come together to pep up a classic.

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Making Sparkenhoe Cheese and Disguising Cauliflower


Red Leicester cheese has got a bad rep and, in many cases, deservedly so. Like many British cheeses, farmhouse production was wiped out by the Second World War and, as a result, most Red Leicester comes in a sweaty, claggy block. But, thanks to David and Jo Clarke, farmhouse Red Leicester has risen, zombie-like from its cheesy grave. I discovered Sparkenhoe last year and was blown away by its rich taste of biscuits and brown butter, surrounded by an earthy rind. If you’ve never tried it, get yourself to a monger forthwith; you won’t be disappointed.
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I have to admit I’ve been feeling a bit stumped recently when it comes to finding a cheese I haven’t tried before. I know that there are some 700 different cheese in the British Isles and I’ve so far only scoffed a hundred or so of them, so I’ve got some way to go. But even so, having tracked down and raided all the local cheese emporiums on several occasions, I was starting to find it more difficult to track down an unforaged fromage. So it was with some relief that I spotted this week’s cheese, hiding coyly from the heat behind a plastic curtain:

Doddington Cheese
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Five Counties

Every now and then I see one of those posters advertising an eighties spectacular concert and I’m tempted. The line-up usually features any and all of the following: Rick Astley, Bananarama, Katrina and the Waves, T’Pau and Curiosity Killed the Cat. They sound like fun events, a mash-up of all the pop acts of my schooldays. How can you go wrong, combining all your favourite things together at once? Well, that, dear reader, is what I will explore in today’s post.

I’ll be honest. I didn’t plan to buy this week’s cheese. We’ve all been under the weather in this house (nothing to do with my cheesy cocktail, I can assure you) and anyway I seem to have spent much of my life this week waiting in for deliveries. So I haven’t had a chance to go anywhere other than my local supermarket, which is where I found this cheese. And I’ll admit, when I first saw it, my innate cheese snob rose up and said ‘no’. I did the rest of my shopping but kept thinking: ‘What’s your problem. Not all British cheeses are made from the milk of rare-breed pygmy llamas and pressed between the thighs of Morris Men in Neolithic caves. It’s a British cheese you’ve never tried before. Go and buy it. Then try it.’ So that’s what I did. And here it is, Five Counties:


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It’s a Sunday…there’s an R in the month…must be time for Another Eight Cheeses

I’ve already written about two previous tastings which I attended at one of my local cheeseries, Cannon and Cannon, hosted by cheese-meister Ned Palmer. For a self-educating cheese geek like myself, they’ve proved a great way to try several great British cheeses in one go, as well as learn a little about their history and production. You can read about the previous two here and here.

The theme this month was Winter Warmers and the tasting reflected both the changing nature of cheese throughout the seasons, as well as the fact that as humans we tend to crave different foodstuffs according to whether it’s hot or cold. With regards to taste, the colder weather tends to makes us crave something with a bit more oomph; substantial rather than salady, comforting rather than cooling.
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Sparkenhoe Red Leicester

Yes, I’ve eaten Red Leicester before. If truth be told, I was practically weaned on Red Leicester. I ate so much that it probably permanently altered my DNA. We always had a slab of it in the fridge – cheese sandwiches, cheesy jacket potatoes, cheese salads. But when I grew up, I went off Red Leicester. It always seemed to look a bit sweaty and shiny and taste quite sharp and, if I’m honest, there’s probably an element of food snobbery about its colour. We’ve been so conditioned to think that all colouring in foods is bad – salmon shouldn’t be pink, smoked haddock shouldn’t be yellow and children’s juice shouldn’t be the colour of dayglo socks from the 1980s – that orange cheese somehow feels a bit wrong. But back to the colouring later…

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Sweet Potato and Red Leicester Cheese Scones

Ever since I starting writing this blog, I’ve been thinking about eating cheese, especially artisan cheeses and foreign cheeses that I haven’t tried before. But, unexpectedly, there is one cheese that I can’t stop thinking about. And that cheese is Red Leicester.

I don’t think I’ve eaten Red Leicester for about twenty years. It doesn’t seem to be in vogue these days, doesn’t seem to have had the renaissance that cheddar has, rarely features in cookery magazines or lifestyle features. Nobody ever serves it on a cheeseboard. Or if they did, it would probably be in an ironic way, on cocktail sticks with pineapple chunks, jammed into a tin-foiled potato. It feels like the cheese that time forgot.
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