Gather Magazine

Pick a local ingredient to base your menu on for your next dinner party

Get creative and cook with your community in mind.

There is a regionality to food, from sauces to drinks, cheese and beyond. Finding local flavours and using them in your cooking forges a sense of place, expressing a love for the area that you live in and connecting you to the makers, farmers and artisans in your community. Buying your eggs from the farm down the road, your veg from a local grocers or market and beer from the nearest brewery means you know where the food that you eat has come from and how it’s been produced. All it takes is a little investigation. Next time a recipe calls for honey, look to see what’s available locally. No time to get to those places? Box schemes and delivery are there to help you out. Meals can be a way of telling stories about your community, and if the ingredients you’re eating have travelled less distance and are in season, they’ll be cheaper and more flavoursome too.

Here are three recipes based around local delicacies to inspire you.

East Yorkshire

Green pea hummus

The UK’s east coast is home to more than 700 pea growers, stretching from Essex in the south all the way to past Dundee. British farmers produce as much as 90% of our nation’s peas, and most can boast getting them from field to freezer in less than three hours.

Time: 5 minutes

Makes: One bowlful

  • 400g tin of chickpeas
  • 200g fresh or frozen peas
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Drain and rinse the chickpeas, reserving four tablespoons of the liquid.
  2. If using frozen peas, add them to a bowl of hot water to defrost.
  3. Put the chickpeas, drained peas, lemon juice, garlic and tahini into a food processor and whiz. Add the chickpea liquid and whiz again.
  4. Keeps in the fridge for two days.


Pale ale mac and cheese

Hops, the flowers of the hop plant Humulus lupulus, have been grown in Kent since Dutch farmers first introduced them 500 years ago. As demand grew, families from the Royal Docks travelled in their droves to the ‘country’ for a working holiday, picking hops in the fields of Kent. The recent craft beer revolution has reinvigorated hop farming, and today a new generation of growers are spearheading an English hops revival.

Time: 35 minutes

Makes: 4 servings

  • 400g macaroni
  • 50g butter
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 350ml milk
  • 50g plain flour
  • 150ml pale ale
  • 180g cheddar, grated
  • 1 tsp English mustard
  • 40g breadcrumbs
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of boiling water for 8-9 minutes until al dente.
  2. Melt the butter in another large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the garlic, stir, then add the flour. Cook, stirring, for one minute.
  3. Turn the heat down low and gradually add the milk and ale a little at a time, beating with a wooden spoon between additions.
  4. Continue to stir until the mixture thickens. Remove from the heat, stir in the mustard, three-quarters of the cheese and the drained pasta. Season to taste.
  5. Pour into a flameproof dish, sprinkle over the breadcrumbs and leftover cheese. Place under a grill for 5 minutes or until hot and golden brown.

Scottish Highlands

Pear and custard tarts with heather honey

Woody, fragrant and the colour of caramel, heather honey is a Scottish delicacy. Bees are brought to the moorlands where the heather blooms for just a short time each year. The perfect combination of wild flowers, wilder weather and the hard work of skilled beekeepers yields a special honey that’s just as delicious on its own as it is brushed over pastries.

Makes: Six tarts

Time: 45mins plus 20mins resting


  • 3 just-ripe pears (Williams
  • or Beurre Bosc)
  • 120g heather honey
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 tbsp butter


  • 175g plain flour
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • 100g softened butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3 tbsp cold water


  • 2 egg yolks
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp cornflour
  • 220ml double cream
  • 140ml milk
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 180°C fan. You will need six greased 10cm tart tins, 2cm deep.

Bake the pears
  1. Carefully peel the pears. Cut them lengthways, leaving the stem on one half, and place onto a baking tray cut side down.
  2. Put the honey, star anise and butter in a small saucepan on a low heat. When the butter has melted, remove from the heat and pour over the pears, turning to coat evenly.
  3. Set the leftover honey mix aside and bake the pears in the oven for around half an hour until fork-tender, then for a few more minutes cut side up. Drizzle over some extra honey mix halfway through.
Make the pastry
  1. Sift the flour and sugar into a large bowl.
  2. Chop the butter into cubes and add to the dry ingredients along with the ground almonds.
  3. Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  4. Add the egg yolk and enough cold water to bring to a dough.
  5. Rest in the fridge for 20 minutes before rolling out on a lightly floured surface. Cut out six circles around 12cm in diameter and press gently into the greased tins.
  6. Prick the bases with a fork, then place the tins on a baking tray, cover each with a circle of baking paper and half-fill with baking beans or rice.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove the paper and beans and bake again for 5-8 minutes until lightly golden.
Prepare the filling
  1. In a saucepan over a medium heat, whisk together the egg yolks, cornflour and sugar. Mix together the cream and milk and slowly whisk into the egg mixture. Stirring constantly, gently bring to the boil until the custard has thickened. Add the lemon juice and vanilla extract.
Cook the tarts
  1. Place half a pear into each of the tarts, cut side up. Carefully pour some custard around the pears. Bake for 30 minutes until the custard has just set, remove and spoon over a little honey mix if you have any left.