Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Drifting away....

At work we have a post show meeting. We finish playing the news jingle, make sure the next programme is underway and then discuss how the show went. On Monday it went a bit like this....'So who wants to start....what did we really like about this morning's show?' Me: 'Yeah great show. Can I tell you all about my dinner at the Driftwood on Friday night....' then for about 15 minutes I launched into a full scale review, course by course. Cue weatherman with his head in his hands. Presenter shaking his head trying to work out what I'm going on about. But I couldn't help it. That's just how good The Driftwood is. You want to tell everyone about it.

I'm so over excited by just how great Friday was that my written review will be rubbish. Because even when I think about how to describe it the sentences in my head speed up and phrases like 'yummy crumbly stuff' and 'a red sauce thing' keep making an appearance. Basically it was fantastic. The only thing I will go into detail with is the pudding. I don't really order puddings mainly because I love cheese so much. So I ordered the cheese board and the other half went for a chocolate pudding under the agreement that I could have a spoonful.

It was a chocolate mousse (although it could have been a foam it was so light) a chocolate ganachy layer, puffed rice and then....salted caramel. Not just any salted caramel but the best I have ever tasted. I had my one designated spoonful. Then I went in for another. I think I even managed another swipe before my other half threatened some kind of scene if I didn't return it to his side of the table. Oh God I miss that pudding.

So The Driftwood closes for a couple of months from Friday as it does every winter. And I need something to fill that pudding shaped hole. So I made my own salted caramel pudding. No where near last Friday's effort. However when the other half thought his father in law had polished it off he did almost it can't have been that bad.

Banana and salted caramel chocolate cheesecake....(serves 8 but probably more...)

2x 200g tubs of cream cheese
250g mascarpone
3 tbsp condensed milk
1 vanilla pod
2 tbsp icing sugar sieved
1 pkt chocolate digestives (I think it was 200g)
100g salted butter
4 bananas
2 tbsps golden syrup
50g butter
2 tbsp dried milk powder
2 flake bars
a little melted chocolate

Crush the biscuits in a food processor. Melt the 100g of butter and add to the crumbs. Push into a cake tin with a detachable base. Chill for an hour or so. To make the salted caramel melt the butter and syrup together when it starts to boil take off the heat and sieve in the dried milk. Give it a good stir and put to one side.

In a bowl put the cheeses, condensed milk, sieved icing sugar and vanilla and give it a good stir. Once the base has been chilled slice the bananas onto the base and drizzle over the salted caramel. Spoon the cheese mix over the top and sprinkle with the crushed flake and the melted chocolate.

Ideally leave it overnight in the fridge. I only left it four hours and it was spooned into bowls. It still tasted awesome but didn't look very cheesecakey. By the next day it was much firmer.

Thanks again to everyone at The Driftwood for a brilliant night.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Bonfire Night cake....

It's a race against time. Wasps vs me on who can get through the most apples and pears.

Yesterday I made a delicious apple coleslaw with red cabbage from the Cornish Food Box Co. I sliced it with grated apple and carrot and a few slices of spring onion. It didn't even need a dressing it was so crunchy and sweet. This cake was made for bonfire night. It's not a cake for a birthday or a special occasion. It's just one of those cakes that takes about half an hour so when you fancy a cup of tea and a slice it's there hot out of the oven.

Toffee apple cake (8 slices, 6 if you're as chubby as me)

3 eggs (172g)
172g self raising flour
172g soft brown sugar
172g butter
2 medium apples (don't bother peeling, just core them and chop into chunks about the size of sugar lumps)
10 cubes fudge

Preheat the oven to 180'c. I weighed three eggs in their shells and it came to 172g so weight all the other cake ingredients to exactly the same weight. If your eggs weigh more or less alter the amounts for the flour, sugar and butter. Put the butter and caster sugar in a bowl and mix together. (I usually pop the butter somewhere warm to soften it.) Add a beaten egg one at a time. (If it curdles add a little of the flour. Then add the rest of the flour and give it a good mix.

Add the apple and fudge and spoon into a lined 8 inch tin. Pop in the oven for about 30 minutes or until a knives comes out clean.

Cool on a cooling rack for as long as you can.

I managed to take a photo of a piece with no 'toffee' in at all. #rubbishblogger

Monday, 3 October 2011

Da Bara Sour dough toast with nduja and mozzarella

There's almost something unsettling about walking along a Cornish beach in October wishing you hadn't worn jeans. Normally I'm kicking myself for not packing enough layers but this weekend it was the opposite. It was one of those summer weekends when you spend so long on the beach that your hair curls with the salt and your skin starts to smell like sand. We came home last night beach worn and although we'd had barbecue earlier we were hungry.

Da Bara Sour dough toast with nduja and mozzarella.....(serves 2)

It must have been the sunshine that meant we craved something hot and fiery. I sliced four pieces from the Da Bara sour dough bread we bought the day before from the Fifteen Farmer's Market and toasted it. I then spread each slice with a teaspoon or so of nduja and popped it in a 170'c oven for about 5 minutes. (This is very hot so just use a scraping if you don't want to burn your mouth!) I chopped up a selection of different tomatoes and mixed them with basil and some of the mozzarella.

I then put handfuls of the salad on top of the toast and we washed them down with beers, our lips tingling.

* For another nduja recipe try here

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Fifteen Farmers Market.....

Sunshine, food, a free weekend. The Fifteen Farmers Market couldn't have hoped for a more stunning weekend.

Paul Ainsworth was doing a demo there when we arrived. The marquee was packed out...We bought some delicious Da Bara white bread.

And some amazing mozzarella.

The most exciting part was that they were selling nduja which I'm pretty sure you can't get anywhere else in Cornwall. I am now fully stocked up and will blog what we did with it tomorrow.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Feeling blue...

When last year Cornish blue was crowned world champion it seemed as if Cornwall had found it's crowning glory for cheese.

And Cornish blue has to be one of my favourites. It's mild and creamy and great for cooking with. However at the Cornwall Food Festival I found this little star. It's called Blue Horizon and is made by Treveador Farm Dairies. It has quite a kick to it and a delicious rind.

Definitely one for the shopping bag....

Spicy chorizo....

It's one of the most exciting new arrivals at the Cornwall Food and Drink Festival, Deli Farm's new spicy chorizo. I had seen them mention it on twitter and had to go and buy some.

It's fiery and pepper but the heat doesn't hide the flavour of the pork. It doesn't disappoint.

The Food Festival Cook Off.....

My colleagues James and Debbie were kicking off the food festival with a culinary cook off. It was a bit like Ready Steady Cook. They were given a huge bag of Cornish ingredients (duck, mackerel, cider, rapeseed oil, vegetables, ale etc) and have to make a dish in 40 minutes.

Luckily they had help from chefs Paul Ripley and Paul Harwood.

James made pan seared mackerel fillets with crushed new potatoes with garlic and garlic. Served with cavelo nero and purple sprouted broccoli with rapeseed oil and chilli.

Debbie made pan fried duck breast with cavalo nero and crushed potatoes with an eton mess.

James was triumphant!

Menus - Cornwall Food Festival.....

So I mentioned last night about the Magnificent 7 and the six course menu they made as part of the Cornwall Food and Drink Festival. I managed to wrestle a menu of one of the people who went and I thought you might like a look....

Deli coppa croquetas, Cornish Duck pastilla, Spiced Cornish crab on nimkis, Chybucca roasted pear and gingerbread (Neil Haydock- The Hotel and Extreme Academy, Watergate Bay.)

Pork, pigeon and rabbit terrine, beetroot, apple, smoked bacon and hazelnut (Ben Tunnicliffe- Nansloe Manor)

Orange, salt cod, onion and black olive salad (Paul Ripley- Rick Steins Seafood Bar)

Sea bass and bacon, barbecued sardine and tomato ketchup with homemade hog's pudding and crispy egg (Nathan Outlaw- Restaurant Nathan Outlaw)

Venison loin 'n' pie, cabbage, Cornish pancetta, carrot (Paul Ainsworth- No. 6 in Padstow and Chris Eden Driftwood Hotel)

Three Year old Davidstow Reserve Cheddar selected by Nathan Outlaw served with Crellow Kea Plum and Catshead Cheese

Tonka bean pannacotta, strawberry and black pepper sorbet, crackling chocolate wood (Nigel Tabb- Tabbs)

Origin coffee or Tregothnan tea with pralines made by Nigel Tab

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Magnificent Seven.....

Imagine sitting down to dinner and finding out the people cooking for you are Cornwall's elite. Paul Ainsworth, Chris Eden, Neil Haydock, Nathan Outlaw, Ben Tunnicliffe, Paul Ripley and Nigel Tabb. It's a Cornish food blogger's dream scenario but for dozens of lucky people it's a reality tonight. The Cornwall Food Festival kicks off with the Magnificent Seven...a six course course meal cooked by seven of Cornwall's most talented chefs.

So as I'm not there I thought I would do my own Magnificent Seven. Seven things I'm looking forward to about the Cornwall Food Festival....

1. Jude Kereama at Kota.

I compered on of his demonstrations a couple of years ago when he made these delicious chocolate puddings. I remember the audience tasting them and all I could think about was whether it was socially acceptable to snatch a few extra bowls before they could. Jude is doing a demonstration on Friday at 1115am.

2. Deli Farm

Deli Farm is selling its wide range of dried meats and is launching a new spicy chorizo at the festival. I love buying some and taking it home for lunch with some bread and salad.

3. Sausage Demonstrations

I used to love the Abbey at Penzance when Ben Tunnicliffe was a chef there. He's since moved on to The Scarlet and is now at Nansloe Manor (where Brad and Angelina recently stayed apparently!) I've been looking at the menu a lot online so I will have to go sometime this winter. Ben is doing a masterclass in how to make and cook sausages with the Kernow Sausage Company.

4. Cooking

I love coming home, bags heavy with great produce enthused about what to cook. This year there might be a lot of fish involved. Last year it was all about cheese.

5. Food box
The lovely people at the Cornish Food Box Company will be at the festival for the first time. I ordered my first box at Christmas and am still loving them. I'm just finishing off the last of last week's vegetables...lovely fat spring onions and a round cucumber.

6. Fish

On Saturday at 14.45pm Annie Silbert, a local fishmonger, is doing a 'Taking the Fear Out of Fish' masterclass. I have a lot of fear Annie.

7. Nathan Outlaw

Always brilliant to watch. Always makes fantastic food. A food festival must. Sunday at 1430pm.

* My lovely BBC Radio Cornwall colleagues will be there too compering. Give them a big clap.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Cornwall Food and Drink Festival 2011...

It seems as if autumn is here. There's a waft of cider in the garden as I scramble to pick up the fallen apples dodging the fizzing ones I didn't get to in time. The sun's streaming onto the mud on the creek while the wind is knocking off leaves which hit my head making me jump as I think another angry wasp is attacking me for stealing its fruit.

The Cornwall Food and Drink Festival marks this coming of autumn. A massive harvest festival of farmers, local producers and chefs. Crowds crush into the marquee on Lemon Quay in Truro tasting what's new this year and coming out laden with cheeses, hams and breads.

My colleagues James and Debbie are starting the festival off going head to head using produce on sale at the festival. James is already convinced he'll lose, so go along and clap for him.

There's more than sixty producers there, as well as masterclasses and events. If you can't get there you can always listen to what's going on on BBC Radio Cornwall when Martin Bailie presents his show there from 3pm.

The Cornwall Food and Drink Festival starts at 9am on Friday and I'll be blogging some of the best bits...

Sunday, 21 August 2011

The Trengilly Wartha Inn....

The thing about hidden gems is that they are far too hidden away. This afternoon I've spent a sulky afternoon on Gyllyngvase Beach at Falmouth. It was too crowded for me, too many children kicking me in the head as they ran past waving their spades around. And that's why beaches like Treen are so special...because they are so blooming hard to get to most people don't bother. And it's the same with lunch venues. This morning I spent about an hour driving along every single track road around Port Navas, Constantine and Gweek trying to find the Trengilly Wartha Inn. It gives clear directions on the webiste. I just couldn't find it. 'User error,' my boss would say.

I was going there to meet up with my husband and his triathalon training friends. I was three more fist shakes away from giving up and driving home when I saw the sign and finally made it.

We sat outside in the burning sun enjoying the gorgeous gardens and lovely drinks. We mostly ordered ploughmans. Me, Cornish blue and the husband a mixed cheese one.

The hidden gem in the ploughmans was the delicious homemade pickles. It's rare you hear people enthusing over pickled cauliflower but it was completely wonderful. Sweet, spicy and crunchy. I think the other pickle was cucumber, it had small lumps of chilli which gave a great bite.

Two of the cyclers had lovely pots of rusty red fresh crab with all the same pickles and bread. We seemed to have a lot less salad than the others, having a plate of leaves but they were dressed so beautifully we didn't mind. The chips even came with homemade mayonaisse. I'm not sure I've ever been to a pub that does that. It was one of the best lunches I have had in a long time. A real hidden gem. I'll be back..if I can find it.

Trengilly Wartha Inn, Near Constantine, Falmouth
01326 340332
Ploughmans £9.20

Monday, 8 August 2011

Rice way to spend a day....

There were ten of us huddled under the branches of a tree just above the cliffs at Mylor. Big fat raindrops were falling and the leaves were doing little to protect us. We'd wandered down to watch boats out on the water for Falmouth Week. A little damp we retraced our steps along the coast picking bit fat sloes for Christmas sloe gin. Back at the harbour The Cornish Curry Company had a stall making paella and crab cakes. I didn't have enough money but I did have a mouthful of the crab cakes. They were fantastic.

The Cornish Curry Company let us shelter under their tent as more rain fell. Despite the rain it was a perfect Sunday.

Coming soon...The next part of the 'how to self cater a wedding' guide.

Monday, 1 August 2011

How to self cater an afternoon tea wedding (part 3)

I've always been a big fan of the type of eating where you have lots of little things, sweet and savoury. So for us an afternoon tea wedding was the perfect option. We liked the idea of people sitting around eating with their hands and chatting.

Afternoon Tea Wedding Sandwiches

Hillside Farm egg mayonnaise on brioche
Local beef rolls with horseradish
Asparagus Rolls
Smoked trout on beetroot bread
Finding mini brioche rolls was one of the hardest things. My older sister took control of this. At first she tried making mini brioche to see how easy they are before realising that actually it would be easier to get a baker to do them. She uses a lovely baker in Bristol and went along to Marks Bread in Bedminster. He designed some mini brioche rolls for us to use for the egg rolls. They were cooked fresh on the Monday morning. My brother in law brought them over to Scilly on Monday afternoon. We then froze them and defrosted them overnight on the Tuesday (the wedding was on a Wednesday). They were delicious and were truly one of the yummiest things about the wedding. I loved the sweet and savoury combination. I couldn't have enough of them.

The story of the brioche is a valuable one when weighing up which jobs are worth doing yourself when self catering an afternoon tea wedding and which ones are worth spending money on. When planning the wedding it seemed a perfectly sane idea that I should get up early and bake bread (beetroot and white rolls) on the morning of the wedding. 'I'll enjoy it' I told my mum. The day before the wedding I hit my wall. My mum asked Zoe at Bryher Shop to make the white rolls. (She did a far better job that I ever would have.) And we used sliced bread instead of beetroot bread. (Who needs pink bread anyway?)

My sisters made all the fillings the day before (egg mayonnaise, roasted beef etc) and I asked some trusted friends to put the sandwiches together on the day. They did an amazing job and I'm told they each did a separate part. For example one thing to remember is when handling smoked fish it's best just to have one person doing it so there is no chance of the smoked fish taste ending up on the beef sandwiches because if you hate smoked fish you will taste it a mile off.

Afternoon Tea Wedding Cakes

Mum's homemade scones with Hillside Farm strawberry jam and Cornish clotted cream
Chocolate cupcakes
Brandy snaps
Chocolate and coffee eclairs

The cakes were also chosen because they were our favourites but also because they can be made in advance. The scones were made the week before by my mum and then frozen. (We simply defrosted them on the day and warmed them in the oven.) The brandy snaps were also made the week before and kept in tins. They were filled with cream on the day. The meringues were made the week before by my mother in law. (She makes the BEST meringues.) They were made on the mainland then shipped over to Scilly in tins. And my cousin made the chocolate cupcakes. These were really popular and I wish I could share the recipe- but it is hers!

Money Saving Tips:

Make things when you can. Homemade meringues cost hardly anything to make but are expensive to buy. Plan in advance...keep an eye out for good deals of cake cases, cake stands etc. I saw the cake stands I wanted in January half price. I didn't order them in time but I guessed they would be back on sale sometime over the next 6 months. In May they finally dropped to the half price deal I saw before. I bought all the ones left in stores in Cornwall and got my sister to buy the rest in London. I saved nearly £100.

What I'm glad I did:

I'm glad we asked some of the staff from the local hotel to help serve. The chef came up and warmed the scones, laid out the sandwiches etc. They were fantastic. I can't even write how grateful I was for their help. Just fantastic. (They also became invaluable with a small hog based incident!) Also getting someone else to make the bread saved me from a nervous breakdown.

What I shouldn't have done: Know when you have taken on too much. And also realise there are a million jobs you won't have thought of so either delegate jobs, change your plans or buy in. Don't try and add baking to the day of your wedding. I spent months planning this meal and thought I had covered everything. I hadn't...and I was really really organised. The kind of organised that means people roll their eyes a lot and mumble 'bridezilla' under their breath. You will never be able to guess just how tired you will be when planning a self catered afternoon tea wedding.

Next post: The drink- how to choose welcome drinks and calculate how much booze you will need when self catering an afternoon tea wedding.

Food photos by Kim Hawkins. Other photos by David McNeil