This breakfast comes straight from North Yorkshire. One of my very best friends from London, Liz Theakston, sent it to me recently. She remembers this specifically because when she was 19 years old, she called her future husband, Jo, from Mexico on her last penny. A stranger answered and she was told she couldn't speak to him because the Two Fat Ladies were filming in the kitchen.
I'd like to spend a moment on the Theakstons and the Two Fat Ladies. Firstly, if I were to picture my dream kitchen, Sue's (Jo's Mum) instantly comes to mind. I've previously mentioned my adoration of the Aga, and it features right in the heart of her lovely country home. Their pack of labradors sleep next to it, warming themselves through the chilly Yorkshire winters.
Since we first met the Theakston clan camping in France many summers ago, I've been in awe of Sue's ability to not only survive, but cater for four sons, her husband and a group of unruly dogs. In my house growing up, the girls ruled- three of us against poor old Dad. At the Theakstons, I have a feeling Sue still rules, despite being out numbered. I think it has something to do with curly hair.
I first tasted Marmite spread onto french baguettes and topped with soft boiled eggs after stumbling over to the Theakston's campsite in France. It was the perfect mix of French and English and I've been hooked ever since.
They had a camper van with family sized tents arranged around a large welcoming table where tea was constantly brewed. We had hot, small tents that managed to get the better of us after drinking too much red wine the night before.
On another occasion back in Yorkshire, Sue threw a fantastic 30th birthday party for Jo under a marquee with fresh cut flowers on every table. Owners of the Black Sheep Brewery in Masham, Sue and Paul run a truly family business where Jo and his brother now work. We've been lucky enough to eat lots of Sue's food that is always paired with a keg of Black Sheep Ale conveniently located just inside the door to the basement.
I remember heading into the kitchen just before the party where Sue and Liz were working. Every surface was covered with bountiful bowls of salads and barbecued meat for the large group of people gathered outside. Liz is also a fantastic cook and I particularly like any chicken dish she has ever made. Just like her mother-in-law, she has a knack for catering for the masses, and an even better skill of keeping Jo's hunger at bay. I have seen her whip up tuna pasta so quickly that Jo's inevitable hunger melt down barely has time to rear it's ugly head.
The Two Fat Ladies are an English national treasure in my mind. The show featured Clarissa Dickson Wright and Jennifer Paterson who travelled and cooked their way around the country on a Triumph Thunderbird with a sidecar. Most of their recipes are laden with fat and calories, but I loved their old fashioned style, especially when they cooked feathered and furred game with skill. They rode into Masham to cook breakfast for the boys at the Black Sheep Brewery. I remember watching the episode that included this recipe for Corn Griddle Cakes and Deviled Kidneys. I didn't attempt the kidneys, but they are made by frying them in butter, Geo Watkins mushroom ketchup, Worstershire sauce and English mustard.
I made these cakes with the summer's first ears of corn.
Granted, it's not exactly high season for corn, but it's a perfect time for making them into cakes rather than enjoying them straight off the cob.
Corn Griddle Cakes
Adapted from The Two Fat Ladies
8 oz plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
6 oz fresh sweet corn kernels
1 free range egg, beaten
4 fl oz. milk
2 tbsp melted butter
Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl. Combine the corn, egg and milk. Add to the flour mixture and mix well. Add the butter. Spoon onto a hot griddle, using 2 to 3 tablespoons of the mixture for each cake.
Cook until bubbles show on the surface and then turn the cakes over. Cook on the other side until golden brown.
Serve with rashers of bacon and maple syrup.