Sunday, 25 July 2010

***Warning this blog contains smug holiday description****

My other half has had his first "Scilly moment". The moment you have when you look at the islands and you realise they are something special. Suddenly the camera was out and he was taking photos all the way across to St Agnes. It's the smallest island and it was his first visit. It could have been the crystal clear morning but as a bank of fog rolled it in it didn't seem to dampen his enthusiasm.

We ate lunch at the excellent Coastguards Cafe. The food, service and price are all spectacular. I ate a Cornish blue toastie with ham and fruit chutney....

The other half had a platter with chorizo, salami and ham.

We sat in the sun...the first lunch customers of the day. It wasn't just us that enjoyed the food. We had a friend that tried to get in on my toastie.

We lay back, our heads on warm granite and had a snooze as the fog rolled over the island.
Then headed down to the campsite at Troy Town for a "Full Works". Two scoops of homemade ice cream, homemade clotted cream and a flake. Amazing. Book a camping holiday there now.

The fog soon burnt away and we lay on the bar between St Agnes and Gugh oblivious to the incoming tide. Once the sea started touching our toes we headed to the Turks Head for a pint.
Then home for roasted pork belly, island vegetables and treacle tart.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Potted History....

I'm back at home. Back on Scilly with my sisters. Every morning we get up and one of us goes up to Hillside Farm to buy fresh eggs (leaving money in a box on the stall) to poach and eat for breakfast. The afternoons are being spent lazing in the sun, occasionally turning over to make sure we're not burning. Or walking around Samson Hill sheltering from the occasional shower behind the stone walls of the old farms.

The boys have been fishing (unsuccessfully) but the shrimps have been more forthcoming. They set off with huge nets, scooping under rocks down in Green Bay. We ended up with bucket loads and ate shrimps on fennel bread (picked from Green Bay) with thick slabs of butter.

But there were loads left so after they were shelled my eldest sister made potted shrimps.

Potted Shrimps....(makes 8 ramekins)

8oz/225g butter
1 pint cooked shrimps
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 pinch grated nutmeg
salt and pepper

Shell the shrimps, taking off their heads, tails and body. (This bit is always a bit disappointing as the shrimps look quite big until you take off their jackets.) Shell enough to fill a pint jar. Met the butter slowly in a large pan. Add the cayenne pepper and nutmeg. Stir in the shrimps. Spoon into the ramekins and top with the excess melted butter. Chill for at least 4 hours. Serve on toast or with fresh bread.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Paolo. Just Paolo.

This has nothing to do with food. It's just I went to see Mr Nutini last night at the Eden Sessions. He was mind blowingly good.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Butter together.....

Everything seems to be flowering in the allotment at the moment. The bees and ladybirds are having a field day.....

The sweet peas have all come at once. They threatened death a few weeks ago but they seem happy enough climbing up the chicken wire with flowers the colour of confetti.
It's the herbs that I've been enjoying the most. Chive flowers sprinkled in cheese salads, borage over smoked salmon, thyme flowers over a lamb chop. This year I'm going to try and make the most of the herb garden, drying, freezing and preserving. Bunches of rosemary are already hanging in the greenhouse and jars of bay leaves are filling the cupboards for warming bowls of wintery Italian pasta. Mint always has me stumped. Once the apples are ready I'll make some jars of mint and apple jelly but for now all I can make is lots of tiny pots of herby butter.....

Mint and Chive Butter.......(Makes 15 of so small portions)

4oz/125g room temperature butter
1handful chives
2 handfuls mint leaves
salt and pepper

Mash the butter with the back of a fork. Chop the herbs as finely as you can...

Use the fork to mash the herbs and the butter together along with some salt and pepper.

Scoop into little bowls or ice cream tubs and freeze. Use over a steaming bowl of hot peas or in foil parcels of salmon or pollack.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Fritter away......

It's war at the allotment. The caterpillars have invaded the cauliflower patch. The pigeons have based themselves around the strawberries guarding the fruit. And don't get me started on the broad bean black fly. Every morning there's a battle. The gloves are on, the caterpillars are parachuted into the empty land nearby, the pigeons fly for their lives and the black fly face chemical warfare after being sprayed with water and fairy liquid. The only thing that seems missing is the snails and slugs. They appear to be keeping a safe distance.

But getting up early has it's advantages of seeing Cornwall at its best.

And I get to home with vegetables picked freshly that day. The potatoes are now the size of my fist but have that wonderful waxiness a fresh potato only has. Of course the other battle I have in the allotment is a more lighthearted's more of a game really. The courgette plants try and hide their fruit and I try and spot them. Most of the time I win. Sometimes they do and I suddenly find a courgette as thick as large goats cheese. I wave the white flag......

Courgette and Chilli Fritters with Tomato Chutney.....(serves 2 as a starter 1 as a lunch)

Half a large courgette
4 tbsp cornflour
2 large pinches dried chilli flakes
salt and pepper
1 pinch cumin
1 egg
1 and a half pints sunflower oil
tomato chutney (I'll be making this at the end of the summer so will blog it then!)
Chop your courgette into wedges about the length of your little finger. (My pointing finger as I have freakishly small hands.)

Put the flour and spices on a plate and mix together. Pour your oil in a saucepan and put on the heat.

Beat the egg in a separate bowl and dunk each courgette wedge in it. Then roll them in the seasoned flour.

Check the oil is up to temperature by carefully dropping in a little bit of courgette. It is sizzles furiously it's ready. Using a large slotted spoon lower the courgette pieces in and fry two or three at a time. When they turn golden brown place on some kitchen paper and keep somewhere warm. Keep repeating until all the fritters are done.

Serve with a spoonful of tomato chutney and a little salad if you wish.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Chard Day's Night.....

Melted cheese. Is there anything in the world more dreamy? Cheese on toast with a bit of ketchup, a parmesany carbonara or a winter's evening fondue. For me cheese is an any season, any day treat. But as I sit here typing with the sun streaming over the harbour it's not a fondue I want or a heavy lunch. This is perfect stirred through spaghetti, placed on toast or just in a steaming bowl on its own.

Chard with Cornish Brie and Coppa.....(serves 1)

1 large handful of chard
2 slices Cornish brie (about 3oz/85g)
3 slices Cornish Coppa (available here)
salt and pepper

Wash the chard. Then chop it roughly with a sharp knife. You don't want it shredded just sliced into chunks. Pop it in a pan to steam for 3 minutes of so, tossing it occasionally. (I usually add about 1 tbsp water just to help it along).

Take the chard off the heat briefly. See if it needs draining. If it doesn't pop back on the heat and add the coppa and brie. Toss with tongs until the brie starts to melt. Serve with salt and pepper.

Cour Blimey.....

The walk to the veggie patch has changed a lot in the past month. A month ago the grass was bright and lush now it has a faint crunch underfoot after being scorched by the late June sunshine. The beds that were sparse are now over flowing with borage, sweet peas and nasturtiums........

The trees are bulging with tiny apples and pears ready to be picked and preserved by me. I've already started storing the gluts I have. Over ripe raspberries have been potted into jams and frozen into purees, I've added tablespoons of caster sugar to gooseberries ready for autumn crumbles and I've started drying out bunches of rosemary for late summer roast dinners. But for now I'm enjoy the early vegetables bursting to life. At the allotment this morning I picked three baby courgettes no longer than my middle finger, still with flowers in tact. Then on my way home I popped into the new local Deli on the side of the A39.

Large local salamis and coppas hang from nets from the ceiling, there are fresh eggs and piles of broccoli and cauliflowers. Beside the cream cakes as big as pillows is a stand of local cheeses. I'd already decided to make a warm salad with griddled courgettes but wanted a salty cheese to shave over the top. Not a goats or a blue but something plain and weekday.

Do you know why yarg is called yarg? Apparently because the people who sold it were called Gray. Yarg. Gray back to front.

Baby Courgette and Yarg Salad (Serves 1)
2 baby courgettes
1oz/25g yarg
1 big handful mixed leaves
2 nasturtium flowers
olive oil
1/2 lemon
salt and pepper
a pinch of sugar

Remove the flowers from courgettes. Sliced them vertically so the are about the thickness of a polo mint. Spray them or brush them with a little oil and griddle for 3 minutes or so on each side.

In a small bowl mix a tbsp of oil, a squeeze of lemon, the sugar and salt and pepper. Pour over the mixed leaves and toss with your hands. Put on a plate. Top with the petals, courgettes and yarg.

I used one of the flowers to decorate it. This is definately a girl's salad.