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  • Martin Castle

"A dinner which ends without cheese is like a beautiful woman with only one eye."

Seated Portrait of Dora Maar - Pablo Picasso 1939

I'm conscious that many of my savoury recipes include meat. Whilst I love vegetables and pulses I'm not a fan of 'meat substitutes' so I have to search a little deeper for vegetarian meals that catch my attention. I'm aware that every now and then (please excuse the pun) I need to 'throw a bone' to my non-flesh-eating friends. So here goes:

Based on a recipe by Nigel Slater, who's laid-back approach to writing about food and drink I love, this includes a favourite (undervalued?) vegetable and two of my favourite ingredients - cheese and crumble.


Courgette & Lancashire Cheese Crumble


1 large onion, roughly chopped

40g/1½oz butter

1tsp fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped

4 small potatoes (about 350g/11oz), scrubbed but not peeled & cut into a large dice

2 large courgettes (about 450g/14oz), cut to the same size as the potatoes.

150ml/5fl oz vegetable stock –the best you can afford

45g/1½oz Lancashire cheese

For the crumble

100g/3oz fresh white bread

80g/2½oz walnut pieces

1tbsp rosemary leaves

60g/2oz Lancashire cheese, crumbled

To make the crumble

Reduce the bread to crumbs in a processor, adding the walnuts then the rosemary then the cheese in small pieces.


1. Set the oven to 180°C/350°F/gasmark 4

2. Cook the onion in the butter slowly over a moderate heat in a casserole and stir in the rosemary leaves.

3. Once the onions are golden in colour stir in the potato. Cover and leave to colour for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Add the courgette and season with salt & pepper. Cover and cook for a few minutes.

5. Add the stock, turn off the heat and allow to steam but don’t let it evaporate. Crumble the 45g/1½oz cheese over the top and tip the crumble on top of that.

6. Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes, until the top is crisp.

Now, I have a weakness for cheese and have never found one that I don't like. Christmas breakfast for me is cheese and rich fruit cake and sherry! Crumbly cheese is a particular like - Wensleydale, Cheshire,and Lancashire. The latter was served to guests at Katayoun's & my wedding back in 2008. I had to order it especially as the local store only sold the creamy version. Imagine my surprise to discover that the crumbly version was a relative newcomer to the scene!

Here's one pampered cow!

Lancashire cheese is made from cow's milk and there are three distinct varieties; Young Creamy Lancashire and Tasty Mature Lancashire are produced by a traditional method, whereas crumbly Lancashire is a more recent creation suitable for mass production.

Creamy Lancashire For centuries, Lancashire dairy farmers' wives made cheese from surplus milk. On small farms there was insufficient milk from a single day to make a cheese, and so each day's milk was curdled and accumulated for several days until there was enough curd to make a cheese.

Uniquely among all British cheeses, two or three days' curd of varying maturity are blended together, giving Lancashire cheese a distinctive character. The traditional method was standardised in the 1890s by Joseph Gornall of Garstang and the "Gornall method" is still used today and matured for a period of four to twelve weeks. It has a fluffy texture and creamy flavour, and is good for toasting, as it does not become stringy when melted. Tasty Mature Lancashire cheese is made by the same traditional method as Creamy Lancashire, but is matured for longer, from 12 weeks to 24 months. It has a mature nutty taste. In the 1950s, Crumbly Lancashire cheese was created. Unlike the other Lancashire varieties, this is made from a single day's milk and resembles other crumbly cheeses such as Cheshire and Wensleydale. It is the only Lancashire cheese that is produced outside the county of Lancashire. It tends to be matured for only 6–8 weeks, resulting in a crumbly, fresh, high-acid cheese.

The Lancashire Bomb or Lancashire Black Bomb is a sphere of Tasty Lancashire coated in black wax.

Beacon Fell Traditional Lancashire Cheese is a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) name. The name can be used only for cheese made with milk from an area north of the River Ribble including the Fylde, Preston, and Blackpool and made in the same area by a designated method. It is named after Beacon Fell within the designated area.

Robert Macfarlane's Word of the Day is ...

"whitethorn - common name for the hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna), its tight blossom-buds unfurling now; their scent (unfairly) associated with death; thought to smell of The Plague & thus banned from houses in the Middle Ages. But such snowy beauty!"

There are many hedges along our NN roads and lanes full of hawthorn at present and when the wind blows it falls like drifting snow onto the verges. Most excitingly, the white is tinged through with the green of new growth.

ps: the title quotation is attributed to Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755 - 1826) a French lawyer, politician, and gastronome. He is considered to be one of the originators of the genre of the gastronomic essay. There are numerous versions of this quote.

pps: I used to visit the clog makers in Garstang on trips north to go caving in the 1980s and, more recently, Katayoun worked with the Britannia Coconut Dancers from Bacup in Lancashire - one of those peculiarly English things. See them by clicking on the photograph.


“Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud.” - Maya Angelou
"For all those people finding it difficult at the moment, the sun will shine again and the clouds will go away." - Capt Tom Moore.
"When everything seems to be against you, remember the aeroplane takes off against the wind, not with it" - Henry Ford
and I rose up, and knew that I was tired, and continued my journey” - Edward Thomas.
"Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible." - St. Francis of Assisi
“All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well”. - Julian of Norwich

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