Monday, 28 April 2014


Well, what can I say. I am about to tackle this staple breakfast food of our forebears. [today too, my husband and brother love it.] I went online and ordered the skins and I have the recipe from my trusty old 1920s Cornish recipes book. I do not have a sausage maker or anything like that, so intend to stuff the skins using an icing bag, with a large nozzle! Can’t see why not!!

“Clean some pig skins and let them soak in salt and water”. The instructions on my purchased packet says soak them overnight in cold water.

“Take some fresh pork, lean and fat, put through the mincing machine then add breadcrumbs, thyme, salt and pepper” No quantities of course. That would be too easy for me. “MIx all well together, stuff with the mixture tightly, then tie up each end. Boil until cooked”. Right got that - not.

I will use my food processor to mince the pork. The rest seems pretty straightforward too, although I will be guessing the quantity of breadcrumbs, not too much I would have thought. I use a 600gr packet of pork shoulder steaks, bought with some fat on them.

I go out into my garden to gather some thyme and chop it, a couple of teaspoonfuls. I think I will also use a teaspoon of dried thyme, a large pinch of dried sage, along with that old Cornish fave of nutmeg. Plus the salt and pepper. Loads of fresh ground mixed pepper.

I cut one very thick slice off a day old loaf and blitzed it, minus the top crust. Mince the pork in my food processor and put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Then prepare the icing bag and skins.  I cut off a length and tie a double knot in one end then roll the rest of the skin back and place on the nozzle [a bit like a condom!!]. My husband is helping with the hard work! We decide we need some oil as it was very difficult to start off. Returning the mix to the bowl we added a tablespoon of olive oil and started again. Much better with lubrication!! [no comments please!!]  I was thrilled with the results - see photos on my Blog!

I set a pan of boiling salted water and pop the puddings in the water and boil for half an hour. Just a guess at the time and I think it would have been done a good 5 mins before that. Before long they actually smelt like Hogs Pudding!!! I now realise it is the thyme that give it its distinctive flavour and smell. Photos on my Blog.

They weren’t a perfect shape and the skins split in a couple of places while boiling. But, as you can see it was not a bad effort. They tasted really good. I lightly fried the slices for about 2 minutes each side. Not as spicy as shop bought, but that is good.  But I could never have done it single handed, but I was amazed at how easy it was.

Note: the skins came in a 5 metre length. I cut it in 4 and froze the remainder.

Thursday, 24 April 2014


The iconic, traditional recipe from the West of Cornwall, around Mousehole, celebrating Tom Bawcock’s Eve on December 23rd. He was supposedly a fisherman of the 16thC but in reality there is little evidence that he existed. But it makes a good story none the less, and the dish is steeped in history and legend. It is generally accepted that the original Pies used herring, but then moved to any of 7 fish, including pilchards, sardines, mackerel, herring etc, keeping in line with the legend! Probably it was whatever was available, depending on the weather and season.

I have read and researched recipes for some weeks and think I will adapt a mix of many of those I have read about, into something that seems about right to me and edible by today’s standards. I have never made it before, or eaten it. But I know now, you should have as the basic ingredients:-

Fish [assorted], stock, mustard, hard boiled eggs, potato, cream, cider or wine. Cider surely? Wine would have been costlier for our forebears. Seasoning, especially Sea Salt.
Parsley? Maybe, but I will not use it.

Make some Rough Puff Pastry. 8 oz Plain Flour, salt, 2 oz lard, 2 oz block marg. Rub in roughly then mix with a little very cold water. Rest in the fridge for at least an hour. 

 I intend to fillet a selection of fish. Sardines, Mackerel, Herring. Then clean some of the heads and tails for the decoration, discarding them before serving.  I have 3 large sardines, several herring and 2 mackerel. All cleaned and filleted and rolled or cut into large bite size pieces. I am prepping for a medium size pie. My pie dish is 9” in dia and 7 “ at the base. 2” deep.

Hard boil 2 or 3 eggs and when cold, chop. Chip [or dice?] two or three medium potatoes and par boil for 2 or 3 mins. I decide to dice for a change!

Make a sauce.
1 finely chopped shallot 
scant tablespoon plain flour
1  heaped teaspoon of English mustard
Sea Salt and fresh ground pepper
1 oz butter
¼ pint fish stock [stock pot is fine]
¼ pint cider
¼ pint cream
In a small saucepan, quickly fry off the shallot in the melted butter, then add the flour and mix to a smooth paste, off the heat. Very gradually add the stock, whisking all the while. Add the remaining ingredients then replace back on the heat and bring slowly to the boil, continuing to whisk. Cook off for a minute.

Place the chunks of fish in the pie dish, and tuck between them the potato and chopped egg. Sprinkle over some chopped parsley, if using. Pour over the sauce and carefully fork through so everything is evenly distributed. Seasoned well. Allow to cool for 15 mins. Take the pastry out of the fridge and roll out to fit the pie dish. Brush the edge with a little egg and place the pastry on the top. Cut little slits for the heads and slip the heads into them with their head looking towards the stars, with opposite slits for the tails. [see photos] Brush the top with beaten egg.

Bake for 45 mins at 210 Deg C. Turning down to 200 after 20  mins. Remove the heads from the crust before eating.

It was a lot of work, I admit. From starting it, to popping it into the oven was close to 2 hours!!! A bit mucky at times too!! But the finished result is stunning and it was absolutely delicious. I am quite pleased with myself!!!!

Sunday, 20 April 2014

CHOCOLATE BROWNIES with a hint of orange

My final chocolate recipe in this mini series, before I return to more conventional Cornish baking. Brownies are very indulgent and a special treat. The secret of a good brownie is in the ingredients. Chocolate means, real 70% cocoa solids chocolate, not just cocoa powder. They are very simple to make and are guaranteed to impress. Serve with a dollop of clotted cream, of course!

Line a square [or similar] brownie tin with baking parchment. Mine was approx 9“ x 9” and 2” deep.

In a large saucepan, melt gently, stirring occasionally:

8 oz butter 
6 oz  good quality chocolate
set aside to cool, adding the zest of a small orange or mandarin and 2 teaspoons of vanilla bean paste. [essence will do, but it is not as good] Mix well.

In a small bowl, sieve:

4 oz plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground almonds
1 tablespoon best cocoa [eg Green & Blacks]

In another bowl whisk, until light, pale and thick: [you will need an electric whisk]

4 large eggs
8 oz caster sugar

When the chocolate mix has cooled, add the contents of the other 2 bowls, flour first and mix really well, making sure you scrape all the chocolate off the bottom of the pan. Pour into the prepared tin and place into a pre heated fan oven 170 deg C for about 25 - 30 mins, until firm to the touch.
Allow to cool in the tin for 10 mins then turn out, cut into squares and cool on a rack.
This quantity makes 16 squares.

I do hope you have enjoyed and had a go at making these chocolate recipes!! Laurie
Star Gazy Pie in 4 days!

Wednesday, 16 April 2014


Made with yummy Nutella spread. It’s an all in one recipe too, which makes it a doddle.
Over the years I have handed this on to lots of friends and is so handy when you need that hit of chocolate! Great for a dessert as well, with clotted cream!

Line the base of an 8” springform tin. 

In a large bowl:

6 oz caster sugar
6 oz butter, softened
7 ½ oz SR Flour
½ oz good quality Cocoa [I use Green & Black]
3 eggs
3 tablespoons buttermilk [or plain milk will do]
½ teaspoon baking powder

Give it all a good mix for a couple of minutes. Then add about 3 - 4 oz roughly chopped hazelnuts. Give it another quick mix then pile about two thirds - three quarters of the mix in the tin.

Take a jar of Nutella [or own brand, just as good. I used Sainsburys] and a couple of teaspoons and place little teaspoonful blobs of Nutella all over the mix. About 8 or 9. But do not put it too near the edge. See photo on my Blog. Scrape out the remainder of the cake mix and gently cover the Nutella. I stay away from the edge with this too, so it will be slightly raised in the centre. Roughly chop some more hazelnuts for the topping then place in a pre heated oven 160 deg C for about an hour, until firm to the touch. Cool for a bit in the tin, then continue on a rack. When just cold drizzle some melted 70% chocolate over the top for that extra hit! Lovely, nutty, chocolatey and gooey.

Saturday, 12 April 2014


I have no idea where this recipe came from, but I have been making it for well over 40 years. My daughter made it as a very young child, introducing her to the art of baking, even though there is no real baking here! But with little effort you get a great result. It’s all in the quality of the ingredients!

Prepare, and line with baking parchment a swiss roll tin, or similar. I use 12” x 8” for this amount.

12 oz  finely crushed Digestive Biscuits [in a poly bag with a rolling pin]
4 oz butter, melted
4 tablespoons golden syrup, warmed until runny
Fruit and nuts to taste - loads of them
2 tablespoons of good quality cocoa - Green & Blacks is very good
Melted best quality chocolate for the top.
I used Ecuador 70% Arriba Cocoa, with Orange [Lidl, just under £1] I used about 200 gr

In a bowl, tip in the crushed biscuits, add the melted butter, runny syrup and cocoa.
Then the choice is yours. I will give you some ideas, but the options are limitless, more or less.

Sultanas, big fat juicy raisins, dried cherries, dried cranberries, dried apricots, assorted seeds and nuts, chopped dates, even coconut, too many to type here….. walnuts, pecans, almonds etc. But roughly chop big nuts like brazils etc. Just use your favourites. Pile it in the mix, then press firmly into the tin, getting into the corners. I use the back of a dessertspoon to smooth and level it out. You need to press really well to get it as flat and tightly packed as you can for the chocolate - use a small rolling pin if you have it.

Place in the fridge while you melt the chocolate. Enough for a nice layer over the top. I like 70% cocoa solids, see above but any good chocolate They have some great flavours these days too. I keep meaning to try chilli chocolate on top.

For the squares in the photo, I used chopped walnuts, apricots, a packet of Lidl Berry mix and a few raisins. It’s a great way to use up left over bits and pieces.

When melted, spread all over the mix and replace it in the fridge until baked!!!!
Cut into whatever size squares you fancy and store in an airtight container. Will keep almost week in a cool place. Very good!
Very easy.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Chilli Chocolate Ice Cream

Made with Lindt’s delicious Chilli Chocolate. This is very easy, takes no time at all and will wow your friends and family.
It is also sinfully delicious!!

Chilli Chocolate
can condensed milk
Vanilla Bean Paste
½ pint Double cream, lightly whisked

In a basin over a saucepan of simmering water [make sure the bowl does not touch the water]  melt 4 oz chilli chocolate [about 125 gr] along with a tin of Condensed milk, 397 gr size. It will take about 10 mins for the chocolate to melt, stirring to combine a few times. Add a teaspoon of Vanilla Bean Paste [well worth it, rather than essence].

Remove from the heat, adding 5 tablespoons of cold water. Stir again, then chill until completely cold.  Transfer to a plastic bowl then whisk in the lightly whisked Double Cream. Freeze until just before freezing point. Take it out of the freezer and whisk again until really thick and creamy, then transfer it to a plastic container with a lid. Freeze until set. Enjoy! So thick, creamy and smooth with the best flavour imaginable.

How decadent is that??

Keep stored in the lidded plastic container and allow to soften in the fridge for half an hour before using.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Bobbie Jo’s Moist Virginia Chocolate Cake

I met Bobbie Jo, from Roanoke, Virginia many years ago while visiting my cousin Judy in Dusseldorf. Bobbie Jo was working at the nearby Kindergarten and they were great friends. She returned to the US some time ago and has since married and has a family. Her Chocolate Cake recipe, which was her grandmother’s originally, is just wonderful and very different. In it’s bare form, US cup measurements are given, but I have converted it to imperial. US cup measurements and ours are quite different, so always check. [I  have printed out conversion tables and pinned them to the insides of my cupboards]. But for all my US friends and cousins I have added those measurements too.

10 oz Plain Flour [2 US cups]
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
2 teaspoons Bicarbonate of Soda [Baking soda]
2 tablespoons Cocoa [Green & Blacks is the best]
12 oz caster sugar [2 US cups - a cup is 7 oz but I reduce it]
8 fl oz sunflower oil [1 US cup]
8 fl oz hot very strong coffee - I used a heaped dessertspoon good instant
8 fl oz milk - whole is best, but semi skimmed is ok
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste [or essence]. The bean paste is such a good buy and enhances your baking. Just like using the pods.

In a mixer, or large bowl sift in the dry ingredients. Add the oil, coffee and milk. Mix for 2 mins then add eggs and vanilla and mix for another 2 mins. It will be quite sloppy and batter like. Pour into 2 oiled 9” sponge tins. [loose bottom]. If you do not have/use 9” tins you need the adjust the mixture] and bake at 160 deg C fan for 30 - 35 mins, until firm to the touch.  Cool in the tin for a while. The cakes will sink back and level off and are so soft and moist, but easy to handle, when you finish cooling on racks. I used 2 racks to turn the cakes upside down, then reversed the process. The cakes are very dark, almost black, with a fantastic texture.

Decorate in any way you want. Fresh whipped cream is good, as is ganache [ melted chocolate and cream], or butter icing. Because I had half a large jar of Nutella in my cupboard I used that, along with flakes. Flakes are very handy [and cheaty!] for decorating cakes, I think. But this is a very special cake and whipped double cream is by far the best, for that special occasion.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Heavy Cake - the real thing!

For my first post, after my break and before I start my “chocolate mini series”, I am returning to the most basic of Cornish recipes, that I posted last September when I started my Blog. I have seen some sorry examples of Heavy Cake in my time. There are NO raising agents in Heavy Cake and NO eggs. I am exceedingly proud of my heritage and my blood often boils at the travesties that are out there pretending to be Heavy Cake.
I am the proud possessor of a signed edition, Cornish cookbook of the 1920s and in it are 4 examples, some using clotted cream - too rich. Some suet - too greasy. I perfected this recipe many years ago and it is just perfect, using the first of those recipes, with a couple of tweaks from me.
Now, you may have noticed that many Cornish recipes use peel and oceans of fruit. Heavy Cake is no exception. Our love of fruit in recipes is a throw back from when the Phoenicians visited Cornwall. They were from the Eastern Mediterranean [about where Lebanon is now] and were a great nation of Seafarers and Traders. Over 2000 years ago they visited our shores to trade and mine the tin. They must have brought over the Saffron too.

Legend has it the miners had the pasties and the fisher folk of Cornwall made the Heavy Cake. Did the Heavy come from ”heave” as they village folk raced to the shores to help pull in the nets, full of herring? 

If you see italics I will be quoting the book.

1 ½ lb of Plain Flour
4 oz butter
4 oz lard
pinch of salt.

"Don't put the butter and lard too fine in the flour". So just roughly rub the fat into the flour!
1 lb currants [or the dreaded 500 gr] - never anything but currants
4 or 5 oz chopped mixed peel
Castor sugar to taste. I use about 4 oz.

Combine with a scant half pint of cold water. [I use 9 fl oz] Bring together, then tip onto a floured surface and roughly roll out, then roll up, like a swiss roll.  Placing the roll back into the bowl for between 1 - 2 hours, for it to become  "light and shaley".
After that time, return to a floured surface, make into a round and flatten then start to roll out. While it is still small enough for you to lift, transfer to a lightly greased heavy based baking sheet.

Then continue to roll out to about half inch thick, maybe a little less.
Then, as the bottom picture on my Blog, make a crisscross pattern across the top, resembling a fishing net. Dredge with castor sugar and place in a preheated oven of about 200 deg C. But it depends on the oven. I know my oven and put it in at 195 deg.
Bake for about 30 mins. Cool in the tin for a few minutes then cut in half and slide onto a rack. Cut into portions of your own liking.

Can also be frozen individually.
For photos of each stage go to my Sept Blog or the beginning of my FB page

The first chocolate recipe in 4 days!!