How Food is Your Passport to Travel: Northumberland Edition

From its scenic beauty to its historical sites, Northumberland is a sight to behold. A wonderful way to experience this beautiful county is through its food and, in today's challenging times, taking a relaxing trip to Northumberland via your kitchen might just be what you need. Blogger Jennifer Birch has rounded up some local recipes for you to try at home, so you can do just that.

With its roots tracing back to the county's working-class history, the culinary delights of Northumberland are especially hearty and comforting. A Northumbrian meal made from locally grown ingredients is perfect for days when you need a pick-me-up, as the rich flavours will not only satisfy your taste buds, but your soul, too. Many delicacies have seafood, lamb, and beef, which are rich protein sources that can do a world of good for your health. Everyday Health notes that protein is essential for repairing and making new cells, protecting the body from viruses, and promoting proper development.

This is all the more important today, as more and more of us are working from the comfort of our homes, and eating home-cooked, whole food meals is one of the 30 tips for a successful work-from-home setup by travel writer James Gonzales. That’s because you need to nourish yourself with the right nutrients, which you can’t always get from food delivery services. Plus, the act of cooking can also be very soothing, especially when you’re preparing a meal as hearty as Northumbrian dishes. That said, here are savoury and sweet options that'll bring you to this charming county.

Pan Haggerty

With its rich layers of potatoes, cheese, and onions in butter and oil, this classic dish will surely fill you up with its savoury flavour and crispy yet tender texture. This Northumbrian dish can taste even heartier by incorporating protein sources like salty bacon pieces or corned beef. Here's a rundown on how to prepare this delicacy.

1. Preheat the oven to 190 C.
2. Melt 50 grams of butter in a large frying pan over medium heat, and cook 250 grams of sliced onions until they're soft.
3. Boil one kilogram of thinly sliced potatoes with salted water for five minutes in a large pan and drain afterwards.
4. On a frying pan, arrange 1/3 kilograms of sliced potatoes and fry for five minutes, or until they're crispy underneath.
5. Then, take the pan away from the heat and add half of the cooked onions and cheese onto the potatoes.
6. Add a second layer of potatoes and the remaining onions.
7. Place one more layer of potatoes with cheese, and bake for 25-30 minutes or until it's golden.

Singing Hinny

"Hinny" is a term of endearment that Geordie men call their partners — think of it as a North Eastern way of saying "honey." And you'll surely say kind things about this sweet, fluffy griddle cake. To prepare this delectable concoction, here's what you need to do:

1. Mix 300 grams of plain flour, one tsp of baking powder, half a tsp of salt, and lemon zest.
2. Add 75 grams of chilled and diced white vegetable fat, and 75 grams of cold diced butter. Rub them into the mixture until it looks like breadcrumbs.
3. Place 100 grams of currants or dried fruits.
4. Add three tbsp of milk to achieve a firm dough.
5. Roll the mixture on a floured surface until it becomes one centimetre thick.
6. With a cutter, stamp out six centimetre-sized rounds.
7. On a greased flat griddle, cook the hinnies over medium to low heat for two to three minutes. Serve once brown and firm on each side.

Alnwick Soup

Named after the Northumbrian county town of Alnwick, this soup is the epitome of comfort in a bowl. The broth base is light but flavourful, while the protein and vegetables make the dish especially nourishing. So if you'd like to make your own Alnwick soup at home, here's how:

1. Take 2 smoked ham hocks (around 750 grams), and cut off the rind and excess fat.
2. Place the ham hocks in a large pot, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat and leave the pot to simmer for 10 minutes.
3. Remove the water and the scum on top of the pot. Add in 1 chopped onion, 2 large chopped carrots, 2 chopped celery stalks, 1 bay leaf, a few sprigs of thyme, and 1/2 tsp of black peppercorns.
4. Cover soup with fresh water and bring to a simmer. Continue cooking for 2.5-3 hours, or until the meet is tender enough to fall off the bone. To ensure that the ham cooks evenly, turn them halfway every now and then.
5. Once the ham hocks have cooled, put them into a large bowl and use a pair of tongs to pull the meat off the bone and tear them into bite-sized chunks.
6. Strain the broth and place into a clean saucepan before discarding the vegetables, herbs, and peppercorns. Place freshly chopped onions, potatoes, celery, and thyme into the strained stock.
7. Cook the soup for 30-40 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft. Add the ham back into the pot and simmer for another 10 minutes. Serve warm with a sprinkle of parsley.

Piece by Jennifer Birch, exclusively written for