Up North

I came back to New York City last Thursday after a whirlwind trip to the UK.  I visited the hearing aid centre twice, once to get the hearing aid and once to have it checked.  I went to the dentist and fell asleep in the chair.  I went to Westfield Shopping Centre twice, Brent Cross once and Costco once.  The amount of money spent was frightening and, much as I’d like to say that I was buying things for Tom’s flat in Newcastle, I did also get my winter wardrobe.  I saw everyone I could, from family to Belle.  Belle is my 93-year old friend and despite a problem with one of her feet, it lifted my soul to visit her and hear her stories and swap gossip.  We went out with the extended family to Lemonia, a Greek-Cypriot restaurant, and I have satisfied my cravings for a while.  I even managed to see Whistlejacket do a couple of gigs and proud mummy doesn’t begin to describe my emotions.  And I can’t think of the necessary adjectives even now.

The main purpose of my trip was to take Tom and Daisy and their belongings to Newcastle.  The trip up was lovely, with a break in York to have lunch with friends.  York and Edinburgh are my favourite cities in the world.  As a Yorkshire school child all my trips were to York (until we got old enough to go to Hadrian’s Wall), and I still look at the Minster and think that it wouldn’t be standing were it not for us children collecting stamps during the 60s.  (York Minster’s foundations started to sink and collecting stamps was one of the ways to raise money to preserve it.)  There are a lot of memories in that city for me, and I was tickled to see that The Taj Indian Restaurant is still there.  Forty years ago, I had my first bought Indian meal there with Papa.  I tasted pilau rice for the first time and tried to eat a cardamom pod because Papa told me it would be ok.  I first ate keema naan there and I first tried Indian desserts there.  Papa told me about kulfi and gulabjamon and how much his father had enjoyed them, and missed them after the family left India.  Papa’s office was in York and if convenient during the summer holidays he would take me through, and I’d visit the Brownie Guide shop and then we’d lunch at the Raj.  Such happy memories came flooding back.

Once in Newcastle we unloaded everything to Daisy’s flat.  After I organised my flights, two things changed – one, Tom decided that he really didn’t want to go back to Newcastle that early; and, two, Tom’s flat is being renovated and wasn’t ready.  The area where Tom and Daisy are living is lovely.  Whilst there is lots of student accommodation, the area doesn’t feel dominated by them.  There are some lovely little shops and cafes, and I see budgets being bent because of them.


This sign was found in a cafe called Arno’s – certainly a wee bit less kind than the sign seen in New York!

Tom and Daisy’s breakfast on the Monday was this


and indeed it was this which inspired today’s recipe.  Surrounding this hot chocolate are Maltesers, marshmallows, brownies and tiffin.   The word ‘tiffin‘ brought back memories of Grandma making this, and a French homework assignment Andrew once had.  Tiffin is essentially a chocolate biscuit cake with dried fruit added.  Tiffin closely resembles Rocky Road and chocolate fridge cake.  The tiffin in Arno’s also had marshmallows added – Andrew’s homework recipe doesn’t include these but feel free to add!  Also Grandma added glace cherries which I think are better than the sultanas.  Remember to cut the cherries into quarters.

Tiffin or Petits gâteaux au chocolat – Ingredients

  • 125 g unsalted butter
  • 125 g castor sugar
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 3 tbsp powdered milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 125 g sultanas –
  • 250 g plain biscuits, broken into pieces.  Rich Tea or Digestives work well
  • Icing sugar


Melt the butter over a gentle heat and then add the castor sugar.  Add the milk powder, cocoa powder and egg.  Mix well with a spoon.  Take off the heat.

Add the sultanas and the biscuit pieces.  Mix well until all blended carefully.

Put the mixture into a cake tin.  The shape of the cake tin is up to you.  I prefer square, and an 8″ x 8″ would be perfect.

Put the tin into the fridge for at least two hours.

Remove and sprinkle some icing sugar on the top.  Cut into pieces.


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