When it’s better to turn a Nathan Outlaw pasty into a pie…

Having made my PGI pasties last week to celebrate St. Piran’s Day there may have been yawning disappointment if I served what looked like a repeat performance…and then to have the exclamation of outrage with the first bite, “What no meat?!”

I followed Nathan’s ‘not a Cornish pasty but made with Cornish ingredients’ recipe and in a farewell nod to British Pie Week made this instead.

Now that this recipe has been turned into a pie, no Cornish folk need get flustered by the carrots.

‘Carrots in a pasty! You never put carrots in a pasty.’ Continue reading


Chef’s Special: The Nare, Veryan-in-Roseland

Carne beach, view from the Nare

Terras Farm Duck Breast

Terras Farm Duck Breast, Confit of Leg, Potato Cake and Sherry Creamed Lentils.

Recipe by Richard James, Head Chef, The Nare

There is a winterish feel to this dish. Comfort food at it’s best. “The Cornish Duck company supplies all our Duck which is reared on their farm at Grampound Road,” and according to Richard James “it is definitely the best duck around.” The breast has a lovely flavour which shouldn’t be complicated. However, “the confit of duck leg is the chefy thing we do. The meat is marinated in salt, sugar, herbs, Worcester sauce, basil and some balsamic vinegar for one or two days and then slow cooked for 3 hrs on a low heat. This draws out the fat and really intensifies all the flavours.”

As a Cornishman working in the restaurant business and climbing up through the ranks for 22 years, Richard has seen enormous changes, particularly in the last five years, in the reputation that Cornwall now has for quality of food. Our profile has been raised both by one or two exceptional chefs and increasing media interest. “Cornwall is fortunately blessed with fresh fish in abundance and a favourable climate for growing produce and raising livestock,” expounds Richard, “People are coming to understand good value in quality and the superb quality of our local produce is well worth paying a little bit extra for.”

The Nare’s Quarterdeck restaurant offers contemporary modern British food with a seasonally changing menu. “Local farmers often ring us up,” Richard says,” to offer what they have fresh that day.” The Nare has recently been awarded 4 red stars making it the best 4 star hotel in the county. The restaurant team have undoubtedly played their part in this achievement. Continue reading

The first slice and a New Year

The intention was to share my Christmas cake recipe back in 2010.But truthfully, I don’t really follow any tried and tested recipe.

My mother made the best fruit Christmas cakes and she must have followed the same recipe when she made each of her three daughters’ wedding cakes as well. What I remember was that they were dense, dark, full of fruit and nuts, bound together with a little ‘cake’ and steeped with brandy.  So they were very, very moist.

Unsurprisingly, my desire is to try to replicate her cakes. I’ve no idea what recipe she followed so I borrow all the best ingredients from several recipe books at once. I want a cake to be loaded with fruit, candied peel, nuts and spice. For 2010’s Christmas cake I used cranberries instead of cherries just to see if it would make any difference. I soaked the fruit and nuts overnight with brandy and, after a month just before icing,  laced the cake again liberally with rum.

The end result is an intensely sweet and fruity hit, and since the cake is so solid thin slices are easy to cut. Just as well, really, as I can only really manage a little of this luxuriously mixture at a time. Perfect with a refreshing cut of tea after a long and bracing walk in the winter time, or pretty good when I’m tired after a late night and I need a ‘sugary’ boost to lift my energy levels. Continue reading

A cake for a double digit.

My son had this idea for his 10th birthday, yesterday. He was very clear about it. He wanted a coiled snake and suggested this could be achieved by baking cakes in different sized tins. The smaller cake could sit on the larger one, and a smaller one again on that, except that I pointed out I was limited to two sizes of cake tins only in my cupboard.

He’s a creative thinker, a lover of reptiles and amphibians and very encouraging and complimentary of my efforts which helps a lot as I was nervous of making a complete hash of it.

The cake was a simple recipe. I weighed 4 eggs in their shells first and then used weighed out butter, sugar and flour to the same weight as the eggs. Continue reading

Chef’s Special: The Hotel & Extreme Academy, Watergate Bay.

Neil Haydock

Calves liver with potato dumplings

Cornish rose calves liver with potato and turnip top dumplings, raisins, pine nuts and balsamic

Recipe by: Neil Haydock, Executive Chef, The Hotel & Extreme Academy, Watergate Bay.

Neil’s recent move from his last job as the executive chef at Fifteen has been “practically only as far as across the car park,” he says. “But with the challenge of overseeing three restaurants: The Beach Hut, The Living Space and The Brasserie, with some new and exciting changes happening at the hotel, it was an opportunity too irresistible to miss.”

Just before taking up the post, he had a trip to London to ‘update’ himself as to what the most recent dining styles and trends in the capital had become. “Presently, there is a growing resurgence for cooking dishes with offal, explains Neil. “There’s a move towards using the whole animal, hence a revival of interest for sweetbreads, kidneys and liver becoming increasingly popular. It’s unfortunate that recent generations have got out of the habit of eating offal, since the traditional British habit of over-cooking them resulted in granular textures and rather strong and metallic flavours. I used to demonstrate to trainee chefs at Fifteen with flash frying duck liver and serving it with pasta. They were always amazed how delicious they were.” Continue reading

Chef’s Special: Rocks Restaurant, Seiners, Perranporth.

Monkfish and prosciutto

Brian Johnson

Monkfish wrapped in prosciutto with pesto roasted fennel, sweet potato mash and a clam and champagne butter sauce (Serves 4)

Recipe by Brian Johnston, Rocks Restaurant, Seiners, Perranporth

“Buy local,” is Brian Johnston’s watch word, “It is true that you might have to pay a little bit more for your produce, but it is not only important to support your local fishmonger and butcher, it also ensures that you will get a far better quality that from a supermarket.” Brian doesn’t dispute that there are also some excellent European products available, “for example a good chorizo sausage shouldn’t be ignored”, and his recipes make the most of the best foods and flavours to be had.

“Monkfish is a delicate and lovely meaty fish and, with the added bonus of being caught in Cornish waters, is one of my favourite fishes both to cook and to eat,” says Brian. “The local clams,” he tells me, “might be best described as a posh mussel.” I am curious to know why sweet potatoes should be baked first if they are to be made into mash. “Baking holds the flavour where boiling looses it,” he elucidates.

As Head Chef of a relatively new restaurant, Brian is very sincere about the quality of food he presents to his diners. Local produce and seasonality are clearly important; the menu changes and evolves in response to this and feedback from the clientele. “I believe in going out and talking to my customers and I am interested in what they have to say.” Diners say they have found a little gem in this Perranporth restaurant which offers exceptional fine dining in at a very reasonable price. Continue reading

Chef’s Special: Silks Bistro & Champagne Bar, Atlantic Hotel, Newquay.

Dark Chocolate & Pear Fondant, Conference Petals & Caramel with William Syrup, Pear Drop Brittle & Roddas Clotted Ice Cream.

Recipe by Aaron Janes, Silks Bistro & Champagne Bar, Atlantic Hotel, Newquay

Image courtesy of www.westcountryphotographers.com

Aaron Janes

Dark Chocolate and Pear Fondant

There is no doubting Aaron Janes’ ambition and determination to put Silks on the culinary map, and he is proud of the fact that the menu will be as Cornish in its ingredients as it is possible to be. “Silks is the only restaurant in Newquay to win a Taste of the West Award in 2009,” he enthuses, and in February, Aaron was part of team that came second at ‘The Cornish Challenge’ (run by Cornwall Catering Excellence to promote the use of Cornish ingredients). “Our menus are 96% made up of Cornish ingredients. If we could grow sugar, coffee and or citrus fruits reliably, we’d guarantee you tasted only Cornwall on the plate.”

“Silks”, he says, “is changing. We have updated the menus using classic dishes. There will be a choice of set menus of 2 or 3 courses with complimentary pre-starters and between course sorbets. We will also have a local fish special every day. We’re moving away from the habit of stacking ingredients on the plate, and working horizontally, as the Japanese do, making it possible to taste ingredients separately or combining them together.” Aaron’s aim is to show how flair can take the minimum of main ingredients and transform them into many different guises on a single plate; “For example a lemon tart with lemon sorbet and lemon brittle.”

“Desserts are my forte, and this particular one was made in the competition. The pears are from Westcountry Fruit Sales and the chocolate is Trenance’s.  The dish is deceptively simple but looks complex. If you can make a caramel, the rest is easy; it is only the decorative garnish which makes it appear complicated.”

Continue reading