A WRITER has penned his lifelong culinary journey with North-East dishes into a regional cookbook.

Philip Atkinson, originally from Sedgefield, has written several books in his career but has never forgotten the food in the region he calls home – despite living thousands of miles away in Canada.

Mr Atkinson has had an interest in cooking since he was young – his mother was an army cook in London during the Blitz. The book is influenced by all the smells coming from kitchens on a Sunday morning – cabbage, roast meats, gravy, mint sauce and more.

Mr Atkinson said: “ We have all tended to shy away from the traditional food in favour of burgers and pasta.

“We all seem to have an indelible nostalgia for certain meals we had as children around the family table. Perhaps it was something as grand as a celebration dinner that featured a roast, perhaps something as simple as a suet-based dessert.”

The 66-year-old writer has been collecting regional recipes since his teenage years, but was inspired to write the book after one evening while out to dinner at an expensive five-star restaurant.

Mr Atkinson added: “For a first course I chose cônfit du canard, served on a tower of pommes au gratin with couleé orange. It was smashing.

“Of course, I also knew it as potted duck with Pan Haggerty—if it had come with elderberry syrup instead of the orange sauce it would have been pure Northern Counties.

“Piqued by this curious parallel, I searched the menu for an entrée and discovered there were lots of choices similar to the dishes of home.”

“Some of the a la carte vegetables were straight out of my mother’s repertoire: baby carrots, braised red cabbage, celeriac, sorrel and spinach salad—even the mash sounded special when called pommes purée.

“The bill came to slightly more than I paid for my first car, but it was really, really good. And for the life of me I could not think of a good reason why Northern Counties recipes should not be allowed to shine in a similar manner.”

After collecting all his notebooks, diaries, scraps of paper and fragments of memory from casual interviews he brought them all together in one book: The Northern Counties Cook Book.

The page numbers of the book grew way beyond initial expectation and some of the recipes had to be cut for the sake of space. Many of the recipes omitted were seen as ‘too generic’ around Britain, so the book could have a focus on the North East culinary pallet.

The Northern Counties Cook Book by Philip Atkinson – is available on Amazon special price of £8.00 until the end of the year.