Saturday, 26 February 2011

Spring Feast

There's something special about those first meals you eat outside. The first picnic outside of the car, a long awaited plateful of asparagus, that Easter roasted spiced lamb. Spring is one of my favourite food seasons, beaten only by summer.

My garden diary is out on the table again. Lists are being scribbled on receipts. My gate needs fixing after being pulled apart in the winter storms. The ground is calling to be dug over. I keep getting emails about Cornish rhubarb for sale and even local lettuce and I'm filled with panic about the state of the allotment.
But spring is just around the corner and this year it means even more. An Easter holiday on Scilly, two of my closest friends weddings and the our hope for the future.

So until the allotment is underway I will have to rely on others. Cornwall Food and Drink is organising its first Cornwall Spring Feast (Friday 18th March- Friday 1st April). Basically loads of Cornish restaurants are designing amazing spring menus for just £14 for two courses. They are also organising events like food foraging and cheese tasting.

Make sure you have a look at their website to find out how to book and who is taking part. There are so many great chefs participating it's hard to decide which ones to go to.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Crab pasta.....

There is sunshine on my back as I write, warmer than any day this year. Holidays makers and children off school dance along the road outside, their winter coats undone and their gloves in their bags.

Later I go to the beach and think about taking my shoes off to dig my toes in the sand....

I am loathe to say it but it feels as if spring is in the air. Then the bite on my cheeks reminds me that it's still February. That feeling of springtime makes my tummy rumble for something summery. My Cornish Food Box delivered me a large packet of freshly picked white crab meat. After eating some on buttered toast the rest went into a pasta tea.

Crab spaghetti with capers (served 4)....

250g/8oz spaghetti
250g/8oz picked crab meat
1 tbsp olive oil
1 bunch spring onions
3 tomatos
1 handful parsley
2 tbsp capers
1/2 red chilli
1 lemon

In a pan fry the chopped spring onions and the chopped chilli. Scoop the seeds out of the tomato and chop into small chunks. Add to the onions. Cook the pasta in boiling water for about 10 minutes until soft. Drain. Add the crab to the onion mix and carefully mix through on the heat. Add the capers and the zest and juice of the lemon.

Toss through the pasta and sprinkle parsley over the top.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Pasty pride....

From now on you'll only be able to buy Cornish pasties that have been made in Cornwall. It basically means you won't be eating something you think is a Cornish pasty then you take one bite and realise some muppet has put peas in there. (Although they can still be baked elsewhere in the country they just need to have been prepared in Cornwall).

The term has been given PGI by the European Commission.

It now puts a bit of an end to arguments over what makes a genuine pasty. The Cornish Pasty Association says it has to be shaped like a 'D' and be crimped on the side. It says the filling should be made up of 'uncooked mince or chunks of beef with swede, potato, onion and light seasoning.'

Now you might be hoping that I would do a Cornish Pasty recipe. Frankly I'm too scared to try them. I know far too many people who make amazing pasties and would never give me the recipe so I just rely on them!

If you are coming to Cornwall this year head to Phillps at Hayle. They make the best pasties by far (but be hungry because they are the size of a dinner plate!)

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

The Hub, St Ives

When you walk in flip flops down the hill into St Ives on a hot day it's hard to believe you're not abroad. One of the memories I will always keep from Cornwall is that first breathtaking day I saw Carbis Bay.

In St Ives there's always somewhere or something to eat. Whether it's fish and chips or and ice cream on the front or a four course meal. Apparently The hub has completely redone its menu after a big refurbishment.

According to Hub owner Richard Boon you won’t find anything fussy on the new Hub menu – it’s about simple and uncomplicated food using the best seasonal ingredients available with an emphasis on great taste.

During the day, the Hub has also introduced a range of freshly based cakes, brownies, cookies and pastries to complement the coffee, made from the Hub’s team of fully trained Baristas.

Frankly, I struggle to get the other half anywhere that doesn't sell enormous burgers and it looks like The Hub won't disappoint him. The team have spent month researching recipes for the burgers and have a range of options including Classic, Cornish Cheese, Blue Cheese, Spanish, Italian and Barbecue.

But for me it was the promise of homemade scotch eggs that caught my eye. Roll on sunshine...I'm coming to St Ives....

For more information on the new Hub menu, visit or call 01736 799099.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

When the chips are down...

This morning I sat with my head on the steering wheel of my car at 645am in the pitch dark and pouring rain. I'd hardly slept last night because the wind was howling around the roof of our flat. Rowing this early is as close to hell as you can get. It's cold. It's wet and everyone's grumpy. An hour later and everyone's smiling, buoyed by exercise. We're all happy to be returning home. Now I'm back into my pyjamas with a hot water bottle. On a day like today comfort food is the only option and what better than a bowl of chips?

This week's National Chip Week and I decided to give chips a go as I don't think I have ever made them from scratch before. I still had a big jar of duck fat left over from that roast duck last month so I gave it a go....

* Please be really careful with deep frying anything. Obviously only for adults and don't leave the pan!

Triple cooked Cornish duck fat chips......

2 medium potatoes
enough duck fat to half fill a pan

Scoop the fat into a saucepan and put over a very low heat to melt slowly.

Wash and peel the potatoes. Cut into chip shapes. Pop into a pan of boiling water for about 5 minutes. Drain and place on a clean tea towel to cool. Once all the fat has melted increase the heat until it starts to bubble. Add a little bit of potato to test. If it sizzles carefully add the chips. Fry for about 5 minutes until they are light brown. Carefully scoop out and drain again. Turn up the heat again. After about a minute carefully lower the chips in again. Keep a really close eye on them and when they turn a rich brown, take them out.

This only took about a minute for me. Turn the heat off. I wouldn't move the pan until it's cooled quite a lot.

Sprinkle with Cornish Sea Salt and serve with garlic mayonnaise. These are crispy and delicious and are everything chips should be.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Boxing Day.....

I've started to get a vegetable box again. I'd forgotten what it's like to have a whole box of goodies delivered straight to you. Deliciously wonky sweet potatoes, a dusty turnip, earthy potatoes in a paper bag, two emerald leeks and two golden parsnips.

We've already eaten polenta and black pepper sweet potato wedges this week. Had a stir fry with crispy leeks and am planning on some duck fat chips. But I was a bit stumped about what to do with the parsnips.

This is a great starter recipe for vegetarians or to have as a canape. I served them with some Halzephron Red Onion Marmalade....

Parnsip Puffs with Red Onion Marmalade....

2oz/50g strong white bread flour
1 cup cold water
2oz/50g butter
2 eggs
1 medium parsnip (top and tailed) grated
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
a few drops of Worcestershire sauce

Preheat the oven to 200'c. Sieve the flour and put to one side. In a saucepan put the water, Worcestershire sauce and chopped up butter. Bring to the boil. Take off the heat and add the flour. Beat with a flat wooden spoon. In a different bowl beat the eggs. Add a little at a time and continue to beat until you've added all the egg. Stir in the mustard.

Line a baking tray and drop a tsp of the mix on the baking paper.

Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes until brown and crispy.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Drum roll please...

And the winner is......


Line caught St Agnes Sea Bass, root vegetable and Camel Valley Nage

Homegrown Jerusalem artichoke froth with herb dumplings


Lobster ravioli with seared local scallops, lobster, ginger and cucumber

Twice baked Cornish goat's cheese and Silverwell goat's milk souffle with mustard grain cream

Pressed pork belly layered with homemade black pudding, roasted pork tenderloin wrapped in local smoked bacon, apple and thyme sausage, braised pig cheeks, fondant potato, parsnip puree and Cornish cider reduction

Char grilled vegetable terrine on celeriac and potato rosti with tomato sabayon and Parmesan crisp


Baked dark chocolate and hazelnut tart with goat's milk ice cream, chocolate tuille, caramelised hazelnuts.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Cornish Catering Challenge....

I love competitions. My whole family does. My mum is one of those people who is quiet and lovely but put her in a quiz and she'll be the first to push a pregnant woman out of the way to answer first. (That actually happened.) I'm entering a lot of them at the moment. Camera competitions mostly so I can start blogging recipes again.

Today it's the Cornish Catering Challenge. Six teams of chefs design a menu and compete against each other to create the best Cornish menu going....

This year Falmouth has got a strong showing (not surprising as the town has so many great restaurants.) Taking part are The Green Lawns, Falmouth Beach, The Pandora at Mylor (last year's winners) Rose-in-Vale near St Agnes, the Coldstreamer at Gulval and the Ferryboat from Helford.

BBC Radio Cornwall's Daphne Skinnard is compering the event and according to his tweets Nathan Outlaw is one of the judges.

Good luck to all the competitors and those tasting the dishes. That's how I'd like to be spending my day! I'll let you know the winner tomorrow.

Sunday, 6 February 2011


I'm sorry there's not much blogging at the camera.

I'll be back asap. Enjoy this lovely picture of Scilly instead. Much better than food!