Monday, 31 May 2010

Fair enough.......

The joy of a Cornish summer is the sheer amount of events to go to. There's always a food festival or a farmers market somewhere. The car parks overflow, the shorts come out and towns are filled with the smells of outdoor food stalls. This week it's the Fal River Festival.

And there was baskets of homemade pasties on sale.......

My biggest regret was not bringing home some crab. As soon as the sun comes out I start craving crab and strawberries (not together). I think it's that cold texture of both that screams summer to me.

We were almost tempted with steaming bowls of spicy paella...

But settled for a shared portion of fish and chips which we ate, legs outstretched, leaning against the railings in Falmouth marina.

The trouble with events like this is that you have to bring something back from them. And today I didn't. (It should have been the crab!) So what better to make now I'm home that Cornish Fairings...traditionally a biscuit people brought back from the fairs......

Cornish Fairings (makes 10 to 15).............

200g/8oz self raising flour
a pinch of sea salt
4tbsp caster sugar
2 lumps of ginger (preserved in syrup)
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp mixed spice
100g/4oz butter (salted)
2 tbsp golden syrup
2 tbsp syrup from the ginger jar
Preheat the oven to 200'c. Put the dry ingredients in a food processor and mix. Add the butter and mix until you have fine breadcrumbs. Chop the ginger into rough lumps and add that and the syrups until you have a type of dough.

Dust your hands with flour and roll the dough into small balls the size of ping pong balls. Then, between your palms squash them a little. (Not so they are flat more so they look like mishaped ping pong balls!)

Put the balls on a lines baking tray about 2 inches apart and bake for 8 minutes. When you take them out of the oven tap the tray 5 times on your sideboard to create cracks across the top of the biscuits.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Berry good...

I'm driving along on the back roads on the Roseland. I've been picking up vegetable plugs for my overgrown allotment.

I've bough tiny little frisee lettuces, borage plants, mint chocolate leaves and rows of sweet peas to greet me as I open the gate. And as I drive I realise I haven't seen a soul. The road is normally like a nightclub on a Saturday night...people constantly having to move and dip out of each others way.

It's a Bank Holiday weekend and there's no one on the roads. In fact it's spooky. It's starting to feel a bit like the whole of Cornwall has evacuated and I'm the only one left. Suddenly I stop in the middle of the road. There's a lone peach balloon with a pink ribbon dancing the breeze. Slowly I start up again and the balloon chases me down the road.

I spot a farm shop and Radio 1 is blaring from one of the barns so I know I can't be the only one left. Normality returns as a sulky teenager (who's obviously been forced into working on a Saturday) glares at me as she takes my money for a punnet of strawberries and flounces back to the barn. Once I get home I dip into my bag to find the strawberries have been squashed by a bottle of cloudy lemonade....After a 15 minute sulk reminesicent of thefarm shop teenager I made this....

Strawberry Fizz.........(serves 1)

4 strawberries
200ml cloudy lemonade

Put the strawberries in a mini chopper and whizz until liquid. Spoon into a fancy glass and pour the lemonade over the top. I was pretending I was in Sex and the City and put a ridiculous strawberry on the side. It cheered me up.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Borough Market....

This was my day at Borough Market. Above is Torta D'Barros- cheese perfection. Can I come again?

Saturday, 22 May 2010

City eating.....

I'm London on what will probably be the hottest weekend of the year. My sister thinks I'm mad because I want to hit the shops. In the same way I would think she was mad if she came to stay with me and wanted to spend days trawling around town. The sunny weather did make for a spectacular train journey through Cornwall.....

After being met at Paddington I was whisked across London to Herne Hill for a London dinner. I'm not sure if you can even get sumac in Cornwall but it was delicious...very cosmopolitan...

(The recipe comes from Moro East by Sam and Sam Clark)

Roast chicken with sumac, onions and pine nuts (serves 4)....

4 tbsp olive oil
8 chicken pieces
12 spring onions
2 tbsp sumac
50g pine nuts
3 tbsp water

Preheat the oven to 220'c. Heat 3 tbsp of oil in a ovenproof frying pan. Season the chicken and brown then on all sides. Remove from the pan and drain off the fat.

Put the onions in the still hot pan and add half the sumac, the remaining oil and some salt and pepper. Arrange the chicken on top (skin side up) and sprinkle with the pine nuts and sumac. Put the pan over a medium heat for 5 minutes then put it in the oven.

Roast for 15-20 minutes until the chicken is cooked.

Transfer the chicken to s serving plate. Add the water to the onion mix to make a sauce and serve.

It's so much fun being cooked for! We are off to Borough Market today...foodie heaven.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Crumbs of goodness....

My garden doesn't seem to be as excited about growing as I am.

The only plants putting any effort in are my broad beans and my strawberries who are happily flowering despite only being planted a few weeks ago.

May annoys me. I am putting in hours of work and seeing little return. Before I know it, it will be July and I will be overwhelmed with lettuces and courgettes but I want them now! For now I'll have to continue stopping at farm shops....

Asparagus with chorizo crumbs.....(serves 1)
7 asparagus spears
50g/2oz chorizo
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

In a pan of boiling water drop the asparagus in. Cook for around three and a half or four minutes depending of the size of your spears.

Run a knife down the side of the chorizo and remove the skin. Pull out the contents and either process or chop finely into crumbs.

Fry in a dry pan, stirring until crispy. Drain the asparagus and pour the crumbs over.

Dress with a little balsamic vinegar.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Roasted Asparagus Salad with Honey Toasted Goat's Cheese.....

My home life and my allotment life are blurring into one. I dream about my broad beans, have nightmares about the state of my cauliflowers and my kitchen resembles a garden centre.

Lettuces growing on the draining board...

Aubergine plants masquerading as pot plants....

Eggs shells filling bowls where cake mix would usually be....

On the way to the allotment I popped into Chyreen Fruit Farm at Carnon Downs. The coloured crates were filled with soil dusted potatoes, bunches of pink rhubarb and buckets overflowing with herbs. I bought two fat bunches of asparagus tied with a red rubber band. It was so fresh I could quite easily melt an ounce of butter and lazily dip each spear in. But after a visit to the farmer's market I have other ideas....

Roasted Asparagus Salad with Honey Toasted Goat's Cheese.....(serves 1)
5 local asparagus spears
35g Cornish goat's cheese (I split a 70g cheese in half width ways)
olive oil
salt and pepper
1 tsp Cornish honey
Preheat the oven to 180'c. Hold the spears at both ends between your thumb and forefinger and bend until it snaps (it should snap near the blunt end). Lay in a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil. While they are cooking brush the cheese with a little honey.
Roast for 10 to 15 minutes depending on how they are. Season with salt and pepper and lay on a plate.
Put the cheese on a heat proof plate and pop under the grill for 2 minutes until slightly browned. Use a fish slice to ease it off the plate and place on top of the asparagus.

Drizzle with olive oil and eat with some homemade bread or toast.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Top tips....

I'm a lazy gardener. The plants I like to grow are peas and beans whose heads shoot above the soil within days of planting like a keen student eager to impress. I love planting out lettuces only weeks after they've been potted. And most of all I love my Brussels sprouts who are already the size of my index finger. But the plants I get most frustrated with are the most delicious ones. The one you have to plant and wait years for a good crop. Rhubarb, strawberries and worst of all asparagus. Luckily there are lots of people in Cornwall who grow it for me. Tomorrow I'll be going to the Truro Farmer's Market to pick up Tregassow Asparagus for the first time this year.

The snow that fell in January and he harsh frosts of February have delayed the harvest. This morning Nik Tinney from Saffron in Truro came in to tell us about why his asparagus menu is so late this year. And he bought us some dishes to try.....

This is a Cornish Asparagus salad with Cornish Feta, Rocket, Tomato and Mint Dressing. It was delicious. Mint and asparagus and my new favourite combination.

This bowl has Chybucca Goats Cheese Fondue with Steamed Asparagus. I didn't try this but it went down a storm.

These were the outstanding. Crispy fingers of Asparagus fritters with wild garlic mayonnaise. I spent a long time licking my fingers.

And then Asparagus wrapped in strips of duck.
The asparagus menu is on now at Saffron in's a few of the other non asparagus highlights...
Saffron, Leek and Fowey Mussel Soup with Wild Garlic Bread Stick
Pan friend New Season Lamb Sweetbreads with Sea Beet and Salsa Verdi
Kernow Sashimi Spider Crab Sandwich with Citrus Fruit Salsa
Tregothnan Tea Creme Brulee with Lemon Finger Biscuits
Hedgerow Pate of Primrose Jelly, Gorse Ice Cream, Alexanders and Fennel Square

Monday, 10 May 2010

Stinging nettle rarebit.....

At the weekend we went boating. We motored along Carrick Roads and then moored up. We put our feet on the seats and rolled up our trousers and ate crusty bread and salami.

When the wind came in we motored along up stream. It was the perfect Saturday.

While we were doing that some colleagues of mine were at Flora Day in Helston. It's an ancient annual event and the first dances start at 7 in the morning and go on throughout the day.

The gentlemen wear smart shirts and ties, and the ladies wear summer dresses. They dance through the streets, through people's houses and churches. It's quite a celebration and they bought me back some Cornish Stingers to try. It's an alcoholic drink made from stinging nettles and tastes a bit like cider. I'm not really up for drinking it at 3pm in the afternoon and I had a friend over for lunch. So I decided to make something a bit special with it.....

Stinging Nettle Rarebit (serves 2).....
1oz/25g butter
1 heaped tablespoon plain flour
1/4 pint milk
2oz/50g local Cheddar
1/4pt Cornish Stingers
1 generous pinch dried chilli flakes
1 generous splash Worcestershire sauce
1 egg yolk
2 slices white bread.

In a pan melt the butter on a low heat. When it's melted and frothing add the flour and whisk over the heat. Take away from the hob and add the grated cheese. Give it a good mix. Put to one side.

In a pan put the Cornish Stingers, Worcestershire sauce and chilli. Reduce by half. Put the cheese mix back on the hob and add the stinger mix. Give it a good beat until smooth. Then add the egg yolk and beat again.

Scoop onto two slices of toasted white bread and spread it as if plastering a wall. Pop under the grill for a minute until it starts to brown.

Serve with a few extra splashes of Worcestershire sauce and some of last autumns apple chutney.