Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Cornwall Life Food and Drink Awards....

Something's changed. The sun is out but there's a chill in the air. An amazing autumn light. Salads are being replaced with roasts. Sorbets with baked apples. There's a balance in autumn that only seems to be matched in spring. Blackberries and apples, partridge and juniper. The days are bright and the evening sunsets brighter....

Yesterday it was the Cornwall Life Food and Drink Awards 2010. What I love above awards is that you find hidden gems, sometimes right on your doorstep.
Here are the winners...
Best Restaurant: Bustophers Bistro in Truro
Best Food Producer: Trevilley Farm, Newquay
Best Butcher/Meat: RJ Trevarthen, Penryn
Best Country Pub: Angarrack Inn, Hayle
Best Drinks Producer: Polgoon Vineyard
Best Independent Food Shop: Trevilley Farm, Newquay
Best Organic Farm Product: Gear Farm Shop, Helston

Monday, 27 September 2010

Cornwall Food and Drink Festival Part 3

If there's one phrase I hate more than others in the supermarket it's "ripen at home". I get angry and start shouting at my avocado "Ripen at home? Ripen it yourself". Pears are one of my biggest bug bears. They seem to have a ripe time of about 20 minutes. Hard, hard, hard, hard, ripe, mouldy. But there is that fantastic 20 minutes when you bite into a ripe pear and you remember how amazing they are.

At the food festival I managed to get my hands on some perry....

(It took a lot of free samples before the other half let me buy the perry.)

Goats cheese and pears with perry dressing.....(serves 2)

2 x Cornish goats brie (70g each)
2 pears
1 bottle (500ml) perry
4tbsp Cornish rapeseed oil
salt and pepper
2oz caster sugar
1/2 oz or 10g butter
brazil nuts

Pour the perry into a small saucepan and reduce until there is only tbsp left. This takes about 20 minutes.
You should be left with a bright yellow sticky sauce. Spoon into a bowl and whisk in the rapeseed oil and salt and pepper.

Leave aside until you need it.

Peel your pears. Take out the cores and slice into eighths.

Make a sugar syrup out of 1 cup of water and caster sugar. Pop in a pan and heat until dissolved. Put to one side. In a pan melt the butter and add the pears. Fry but keep the pears moving around the pan. After a couple of minutes add 3 or 4 tbsp of the syrup. Cook until soft, always
keeping the pears moving.

Brush the goats cheese with the dressing. Put under a hot grill until they start to melt. Then turn off the grill but leave the cheese underneath it.

Place the cheese and pears on plates. Pour the dressing over the cheese. Serve with the biscuits and nuts.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Cornwall Food Festival Days 2 & 3

I learnt something new today. When cooking mackerel you should put it in a cold pan. It makes the skin crispier. I didn't know that. And that's what I love about the Cornwall Food and Drink Festival you come away feeling creative and excited about food as if it's all new. This year my favourite new find was this...Cornish rapeseed oil.

It's delicious. I made a dressing this morning for a lunchtime salad (that I'll blog about later this week) and I'll rave about it then. I've just poured it over jacket potatoes with Cornish Sea Salt for an extra crispy jacket. There were so many great products...

And everyone I asked said they had done amazingly well. At a time when people are cutting back on spending money the Cornish thought "stuff that, I need sausages." These are my kind of people. "So I can't afford to put petrol in my car at least I've got enough yarg to last me until Christmas." (2011.)

I spent a lot of money on booze. The other half pounced on the boozey ginger beer when I got home...luckily I had some yarg to distract him with...

Alcoholic ginger beer pudding with ginger sauce......(makes 12 portions, but 6 of you will eat it!)

200g/7oz dates
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
100g/4oz butter
2 eggs
200g caster sugar
200g self raising flour
2 tsp dried ginger

For the sauce.....

100g/4oz butter (salted)
1 small pot double cream (142ml)
200g demerara sugar
1 pinch Cornish Sea Salt
1 tsp dried ginger or 1 tsp ginger syrup

Before we launch into the recipe I forgot the most exciting part of today. I made the other half wait for half an hour so we could push to the front and watch Nathan Outlaw's demonstration. Unfortunately three 70 year old women were faster than us (and had lethal handbags) so we had to settle for second row.
He made scallops with squash, bacon and grapes. Then mackerel (with the crispy skin) and lemon mayonnaise. Then an apple and sugared pistachio cheesecake. Oh. My. God. I have never hated being lactose intolerant more than today. Anyway. Where was I? Ah yes pudding. Preheat the oven to 180'c. Then put the dates in a bowl. Warm the ginger beer and pour over the dates. Add the bicarbonate of soda. Leave for 1 hour.
You can leave them whole or break them up a little with your hands. In a separate bowl cream the sugar and butter.

Add the eggs one at a time and mix in. Add the flour and ginger and fold. When mixed, add the date mixture which should be cool by now. Place in a buttered tray.

Cook for 40 minutes or until firm.

In a pan put the butter, sugar, cream and ginger. Put over a low heat, stirring every now and again.

When it's turned a caramel colour and all the sugar has dissolved add the sea salt. Cut the pudding into squares and top with the sauce....

Friday, 24 September 2010

Cornwall Food and Drink Festival 2010 Part 1

Two weeks ago I spent a lot of time thinking about blogging. I spoke to lots of people about blogging. And I wrote a lot about blogging. I spent so much time on blogging I couldn't face blogging. I was doing a talk at Rick Stein's Seafood School for the Charted Institute of PR Professionals about ways to get stories into blogs. I met lots of lovely people as enthusiastic about Cornish food as I am.

So apologies about my disappearance. But now I'm back and why? The Cornish Food and Drink Festival 2010 of course. Three days of Cornish foodie loveliness.

I went to watch the BBC Radio Cornwall cook off and got to try some of James Churchfield's and James Nathan's pumpkin veloute with crispy leeks. It was fantastic. Then I dusted off the wallet and started spending...

So now I have the recipes...I just need to shake off this blogging/cooking block and start thinking....

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

At home (on Scilly) we have some family staples. Foods we love and can eat over and over again. And they never taste the same without the family around. Spaghetti Carbona made with just spaghetti, bacon and scrambled egg. "Chicken creme fraiche" chicken, creme fraiche, lemons, spring onions. Lemon Lapis, that's meringue, lemon, cream and condensed milk. And finally Bryher Stores' Blackcurrent Pie. It doesn't need to be served with anything...just the pie. Crumbly sweet pastry covered in caster sugar and then a sticky jammy blackcurrant filling that sticks to the back of your spoon (and your mouth if we've heated it up for too long.)

Bryher Stores is closing at the end of the month and the blackcurrant pies will be no more. And it feels like a chunk of our childhood is over. It was the first place I tried an ice cream on a stick (a Feast!). It was 40p and I thought it was the most amazing, modern invention ever. And I've eaten copious amounts of sweets from its shelves my favourites being fruit pastilles. Bryher Stores was the only place that seemed to sell blackcurrant fruit pastilles. There's nothing more likely to put me in a bad mood than buying standard fruit pastilles to find 6 greens, 4 yellows and one orange. But there they sold 11 blackcurrant pastilles the way it should be.

So imagine my excitement this week in Tesco when there, nestled between the Jelly Tots and the Opal Fruits (don't make me call them Starburst) I found a perfectly silver wrapped packet of blackcurrant pastilles.

But "fat girl in a wedding dress" popped into my head and I decided to make my own. "Much healthier" I decided jollily as i skipped down the aisles. "I have all those blackcurrants in the freezer I stole from my friends garden when I knew he was out. They will be even better and healthier."

So were they better? Find out at the end of the blog.....

Blackcurrant Pastilles (makes 30 or so).......

250g/8oz blackcurrants

75g/3oz caster sugar

4 gelatine leaves

extra caster sugar

Boil the sugar and the fruit in a pan for a few minutes until soft and syrupy and the whole house smells like Ribena. (Don't worry if they have little stalks on.)

Leave to cool then push through a sieve. Keep the juice and throw the pulp away. Soften the gelatine leaves in cold water until floppy. Stir the floppy leaves into the juice and stir until dissolved. Pour into a china baking tray. (So it's about 1-2cm thick).

Chill overnight. Turn out on to a board.

Cut into little squares and dust with caster sugar.

Answer: OK so these were tasty and would be nice with coffee after a meal. BUT the sugar on the outside turns syrupy quite quickly so you have to do it just before you serve. And although the blackcurrant taste was delicious and fresh...I'd still pop down Tescos and buy a tube.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Looking around the allotment this week I've realised there's still a lot of life in it. I've been spending so much time thinking about the winter and how to look after it once it starts getting cold that I've forgotten there's still meals there waiting to be cooked....

Unfortunately some people haven't forgotten... (note big caterpillar sizes holes.)

Going back through my garden diary I've realised some of the first inhabitants were the fruit plants. Blackcurrants, redcurrants, rhubarb and strawberries. The only fruit bearing plants have been the strawberries which have rarely made it out of the allotment.

But the blackberry hedges around the allotment have provided enough to keep me going.

Blackberry Jelly Cumbles (Serves 4).......Add Image

250g frozen blackberries
3 sheets gelatine
75g caster sugar
25g/1oz butter
55g/2oz plain flour
25g/1oz brown sugar

Put the gelatine in a bowl of cold water until soft. Put the fruit and sugar in a bowl with a splash of water. Once melted boil for a couple of minutes.

Leave to cool a little then push through a sieve with the back of a spoon letting the juice flow into a bowl.
Pour the juice back into a pan and add the gelatine. Put over a low heat and stir until dissolved. Leave to cool for 20 minutes. Pour into four glasses.

Put in the fridge and cool overnight.

In a bowl mix the flour, butter and brown sugar into crumbs. Pour on to a lined baking tray and bake in a 180'c oven for 15 minutes until golden. Leave to cool. Sprinkle over the jelly.

It's like two puddings in one!

Thursday, 2 September 2010

As the Newlyn Fish Festival marks the end of summer.....

The blackberry season marks the beginning of autumn in Cornwall. My fingers are purple and thorny, my ankles stinging nettle stung and my freezer full of frosted berries. Blackberries are my favourite freezable fruit. Perfect for shaking into a pan for jam or crumbles. They're small, the size of 5p at best, not the 50p sized ones you get in supermarkets.They are harder too and more autumny.

So now my blogs will be tagged as autumn and is if the season knew it was coming we've had the sunniest day in weeks....

Blackberry and white chocolate cookies (makes 20)....

100g/3oz butter
100g/3oz demerara sugar
100g/3oz caster sugar
200g/7oz plain flour
1 pinch sea salt
1 pinch baking powder
1 egg
100g/3oz white chocolate
1 small handful of blackberries (frozen)

Soften the butter and add the sugars. Mix them together. Add all the other ingredients except the chocolate and fruit. Combine with you hands.

Add the chopped chocolate and fruit and carefully mix in. Split the mixture in two and roll into two sausages and slice into fat coins. Place on baking paper.

Bake in a preheated oven (180'c) for 15 minutes. Cool on a cooling rack.