Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Likky Pie

Or Leeky Pie. A very old traditional Cornish recipe and I took as a reference my old 1920s recipe book.

“wash, clean and chop about half-dozen good sized leeks” Well that was easy to understand and do!
“put in a pan and cover with boiling water, drain in a colander; then put a layer in a pie dish, then some fat bacon, very finely sliced. Then another layer of leek and bacon until dish is full”

Well that was pretty easy to understand. The thinly sliced leeks needed blanching and then draining to remove the moisture. But the fatty bacon was another matter. I have mentioned before our flavourless watery [13%] bacon. So - I am sorry to say I plumped for Pancetta! [Sainsbury's cubetti]

“salt to taste, sufficient milk to cover. Boil for half an hour on the top of stove”
I did not salt each layer as the pancetta would do its work, just plenty of freshly ground pepper and some sea salt flakes on the top. I also pressed the leeks and cubetti firmly down as I did not want the crust to sink later on. Our forebears would have used full cream raw milk, of course. I used semi skimmed and hoped for the best, with a knob of butter for luck!!!!  see photos on my blog.
I placed the filled pie dish in the oven instead of on the top of my “stove”, covered with tin foil for the said half an hour but added another 15 mins as it would take longer to come to the boil. Then put it back again, uncovered for another 10 mins. [after taking it out, I left it to cool a bit before adding the crust].

Meanwhile I made the crust, immediately before using to cover the pie. Never store or keep suet pastry. Use immediately.
“Cover with a good suet pastry”. Suet pastry is little used these days but it is very easy. Just half Atora [I used vegetable] to Self Raising Flour [I used 6 oz flour and 3 oz suet] for this pie] and some salt. As suet is such a heavy fat, always use SR Flour when making suet crust. Bind the mix with about 4 fl oz very cold water. Gently knead, then roll out. Not too thinly.  Cover the pie, making sure you do not grease or press the edge as you have to lift off the crust before the end of the baking.

No timings or temperatures are given. Suet pastry was so commonly used everyone would know how long it took in their own ovens!! I preheated the oven to 210 then after the first 10 mins turned it down to 180 deg C.
“ten minutes before ready for the table, beat up 2 eggs and a spoonful of cream, remove the pastry and lay the beaten eggs over the cooked leeks. Replace the pastry and put back in the oven for ten minutes”. If there is any liquid remaining in the leeks before you do this, I think you need to drain it off first. Which I did. See photos.

I baked the Leeky Pie for 35 mins then took it out and carefully, with a slice, lifted the crust off, forking through gently and pouring off most of the remaining milk, [not much] then pouring over the beaten eggs and cream. Replaced the suet crust lid and baked for a further 10 mins. But I lifted the crust off for a peek and it needed another 5 mins. I cooled for 15 mins before cutting through. It looked good! It tasted good too! The suet crust was not as heavy as I had anticipated either. That could easily be replaced by Rough Puff Pastry.

 I wonder why this dish had died out? Until I started my research I had not heard of it.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Baked Portabello Mushroom

This simple recipe, given to me many years ago by my dear friend Atty, which I have slightly adapted, takes no time at all and is delicious for lunch or a starter, served with crusty bread to mop up all the juices from the rapeseed oil, cream and herbs.

for each serving:

a large Portabello Mushroom [or field if you can get it]
Cornish Rapeseed oil - or any good olive oil is fine
Parsley, chopped - lots of it, the more the better!!!!
Double Cream
Sea Salt [I use flakes - Kosher salt] and freshly ground pepper

Some chilli flakes if you wish - they really add a fantastic kick.
ditto finely chopped shallot or a small amount of chopped garlic if you wish.

I use a small oiled oven proof dish to bake and serve. Carefully remove the stalk and finely chop. Brush over the bottom and inside of the mushroom generously with the oil, season the inside and pile in the stalk and herbs. Give it another glug of oil and a large tablespoon of double cream and a little more salt. I used a few chilli flakes too.

Bake in a moderate oven for about 15 mins and enjoy. Easy peasey.
It so adaptable and you can add different herbs or flavourings.

Friday, 25 October 2013


As I mentioned when I posted the Cornish Splits recipe, Scones are a relatively recent arrival. Nowadays scones are advertised as part of a “Traditional Cornish Cream Tea”, but we know that that is not the truth. Splits were used for that. I will be blunt now, and those of you that know me, know that I rarely mince my words when my dander is up!!!  Shop bought scones are “orrible”.!!!! There I have said it! and riled a lot of folk. BUT if you have ever tasted a home made scone, just cooled from the oven, then you will know that I speak the truth. Scones start to harden and deteriorate very quickly and should be eaten within a few short hours, 2 or 3 at the most. I freeze mine immediately they are cold, then microwave for a couple of minutes. They come out just as if they just came out of the oven. Beautiful little clouds of 'eaven, as my dear cousin Judy says!!!

To make about 18 little sweet clouds:

1½ lb Self Raising Flour
½ teaspoon Salt
½ teaspoon Baking Powder
4 oz butter at room temperature [NOT marg]
4 oz castor sugar
tub Buttermilk [250 ml] about 8 fluid oz
more milk, to make up to 13 - 14 fluid oz.

Sieve the flour into a large bowl, along with the salt and BP. Rub in the butter until resembling very fine breadcrumbs, lifting the flour with each rubbing, putting as much air as possible into the mix. Add the sugar, mix, then make a well in the centre.

Empty the buttermilk into a jug and top it up to about 14 fl oz. with ordinary milk, whole if possible, but semi skimmed is fine. [all buttermilk is good too, but I like half and half]

Bring it all together, using almost all the milk and adding the last oz if you need it. Then tip out onto a floured surface and gently knead until smooth. The less you handle the mixture, the lighter it will be. Roll out evenly to about ¾ of an inch think. I use a 2 ½ inch cutter [makes 18] but smaller or bigger is just fine. Cut out your scones and place on a lightly greased baking tray. After the first cut, gather up the bits carefully and re roll. You can brush the top with milk but I never do. Place in a hot, preheated oven 210 deg C for about 12 - 15 mins according to size.

Cool on a rack. Split open and spread with jam, then clotted cream on top.
These days it is “traditional” to use Strawberry Jam. But in our forebears time jam was made with fruit that was free or in gardens. Mostly Blackberry would have been used. You may add some dried fruit if you wish, but only if you are buttering them, do NOT mix fruit and jam and cream
In a few weeks I will make some savoury scones.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Apple Cake Squares

With a bumper year for apples and fruit, there is an abundance of windfalls.  Apple cake is so good for desserts, served warm with clotted cream and the squares freeze like a dream. Or you can just eat them, as my husband does. Any apples can be used. I used a mix of Bramley and Worcester.

Prepare a suitable oblong or square tin, about 1 1/2 inches tall. Mine was 
8” x 14”. Lightly oil and put some baking parchment on the bottom and up the sides.
Turn your fan oven on to 170 Deg C.

8 fluid oz sunflower oil
12 oz castor sugar
3 eggs
14 oz Self Raising Flour
Cinnamon to taste - I used 1 teaspoon
a few drops of vanilla essence
4 oz roasted chopped hazelnuts [1 oz for the top]
3 peeled and roughly chopped apples + 1 extra, sliced unpeeled, for the top
Apricot Jam 

Whisk the sunflower oil, essence and sugar, then add the eggs, continuing to whisk, until pale and thick. Fold in the flour and spice, then the nuts and apples. Tip into the tin. Roughly level the top and spread with the sliced apples and sprinkle over the remaining hazelnuts. Bake for 55mins - 1 hour.  Leave in the tin. Heat the jam until hot and runny then brush over the top.  Allow to cool for a while in the tin, cut in 4 to lift out, onto a cooling rack, then when cold cut into smaller squares. It is pretty hard to cut through the apple and nuts perfectly neatly. Don’t worry, it tastes delicious and looks homebaked.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Christmas Pudding

I made mine yesterday! But cannot take it out of the basin to photo properly, of course!! It's now tucked away in the back of a cupboard until Christmas morning!

This fabulous traditional pudding recipe belonged to a man named Joe who was a Chef at the Dorchester Hotel and later Head of the Catering Dept at Cornwall College. In it’s heyday of the 80s, when you had to book 3 weeks ahead to lunch there! Many, many years ago this recipe was given to Austin, a fellow lecturer at the college and he gave it to me!
It uses old fashioned fluid measurements, 1 gill = 5 fl oz.

This quantity makes 1 huge pudding [feeding probably 10 or 12 or more, as above] or 2 medium size.

10 oz currants
10 oz sultanas
8 oz raisins
5 oz chopped mixed peel
½ gill each of brandy, rum and madeira [or sherry]

Soak the fruit in the spirits the day before. Set aside.

Prepare all the dry ingredients: Always easier if you do it the night before too, then its all systems go in the morning.

½ lb white breadcrumbs from a stale ish loaf
½ lb soft dark brown sugar
8 oz suet [vegetable light is good]
3 oz plain flour
2 oz ground almonds
½ teaspoon mixed spice
large pinch cinnamon

When you are ready to go - combine the fruits mix and dry ingredients, then add:
grated zest of a small lemon and small orange or clemantine
4 oz of chopped peeled apple
1 gill each of stout and milk

Mix well then tip into a well greased basin, making sure there is room for the pudding to rise.
Cover with a pleated piece of parchment, then ditto foil. Tie with string securely making a loop for a handle, to help you lift it out.

Prepare a large saucepan, I fold about three folded pieces of kitchen paper in the bottom centre for the basin to sit on. Sit the basin in the saucepan then carefully pour in boiling water up to ¾ of the way up the basin. Simmer gently for 6 hours, but if you make the large add another hour, checking the water levels occasionally. Don't let it boil dry!!  When cold, replace parchment and foil etc with new, then store in a cool cupboard. Re-steam for 2 hours on Christmas Day! Serve with clotted Cream!

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Cornish Crab Soup

I suspect those of our Cornish ancestors who lived in the fishing villages around our coast have been making some version of this traditional Cornish soup for a very long time. One of the most delicious soups you will ever taste. No photo could do it justice, unless someone invents 4D smelly ones! It encapsulates everything that is essentially Cornish. And it is very simple to make, done in 25 mins or less.

To make 2 large bowls:

Large knob of butter
Plain Flour
½ pint whole milk - could use semi-skimmed
¾ pint fish stock   [I now use Knorr Fish Stock pots - very good - no need to make!]]

Brown and white Crab Meat, separated
Keep the cost down, for the brown I used a small tin of John West Dressed Crab, 
about a £1 for a 43 gr tin. It has intense flavour for the base.
Buy the white - about 2 oz from your local fish merchant, a little more if you wish. Out of season they should keep fresh frozen.

Few strands saffron [see saffron buns for how to buy it cheaply]
3 or 4 tablespoons double cream
Splash of brandy
A little grated nutmeg
Freshly ground pepper and sea salt.

Melt a large knob of butter in a saucepan and make a runny roux sauce with some plain flour - about a half a tablespoonful, another teaspoonful if you would like it thicker.  After the butter is melted take it off the heat for a moment to stir in the flour, until smooth, then gradually add half a pint of whole milk and then the brown crab meat. Whisk until smooth and mixed well, then add the hot fish stock and a few strands of saffron.  Bring to the boil and simmer for about 10 mins. Season well.  Turn the heat right down.

Add the cream, white crab meat and spice. Very gently heat for a further 5 minutes but do not let it boil. Check the seasoning and then adjust if necessary.
As my Mother said “you can add, but not take away”
The perfect winter starter or warming lunch. So good.
Footnote - I made it for lunch one day, thinking my friend Jeny would be here, but she was held up. I then ate both bowls! Disgraceful.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Farmhouse Cake

This is my favourite cake recipe. The milky smell is so comforting and feel good. It was given to me by an old lady who lived in Ponsanooth about 25 years ago and I have been making it regularly ever since. 
A recipe that you can chop and change, adapt in any way you want. This is the basic mix but I often use chopped dates and chopped walnuts instead of the sultanas. Add spices,  cherries, or chopped apricots. Coconut too… you name it…. If you omit the fruit you have the basic mix, then just go ahead and invent.

This is a boiled cake mix and uses just one medium saucepan. I find it cooks best in a 2lb loaf tin which is easier to slice too. I half line the oiled tin, to help lift out the finished cake.

In a medium saucepan put:

I cup of sultanas
1 cup of caster sugar
4 oz butter
1 cup of milk

Gently heat then bring to the boil. Leave for a while, until cool enough to add:

2 cups of Self Raising Flour
2 medium beaten eggs

Mix well and tip in the prepared loaf tin. Dredge generously with Demerera Sugar.
Bake in a preheated fan oven, 160 Deg C for about 1 hour. Delicious.

Friday, 11 October 2013

ROASTED CARROTS with Orange and Thyme

I love transforming ordinary vegetables into something delicious. The humble carrot, a staple vegetable of the UK is just fine boiled, with a knob of butter on it but….. there is so much you can do, with very little effort. When roasted they become sweeter and the flavour intensifies.

1 large orange, preferably juicy and sweet.
Some good Olive Oil
Medium even sized carrots
Chopped fresh thyme
Sea Salt and freshly ground pepper

[Here I will break and tell you I use Felippo Berio Light and Mild. Or failing that 
Napolina Light and Mild. Fantastic versatile oils for roasting, stir frying - anything. In any recipe if I say oil - that is it!! I also sometimes use Rapeseed Oil. Great flavour, especially for dressings]

Finely grate the orange zest and put in a little bowl with 2 or 3 tablespoons of oil, to infuse, along with some sea salt and freshly grated pepper. Leave for as long as you can.

Squeeze the juice and place in a saucepan along with a little water and a knob of butter and a little sea salt.

Top and tail the veg and finely peel. Cut in half longways. Place in the juice mix and bring to the boil and simmer for about 5 or 6 mins. Drain.

Tip the carrots, in a single layer, into a roasting tin and then spoon over the oily zest, making sure all the surfaces are covered. Season, sprinkle over the thyme then put into a preheated fan oven set at 190 deg C for around 30 - 40 mins depending on the size of the carrots. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Pam's Granny's Baked Bread Pudding

A friend and Bridge partner
Pam, who lives in Joppa near Hayle, gave me this recipe. It has been in her family for generations and she calls it Granny’s Baked Bread Pudding.
Her grandmother came from just outside the town of Looe in East Cornwall, so I am guessing this recipes hails from that area [??] as I had never heard of anything like it before. It is very easy to make and delicious! My husband absolutely loved it! Thank you, Pam. It will be on my dessert menus from now on.

¾ lb stale white bread, cut into large cubes - no crusts

Soak for a few hours, then squeeze out the water. [This is easier in smaller amounts]
Beat until smooth ish.

Then just add all the other ingredients:
6 oz mixed dried fruit
2 oz each of dried chopped dates, glace cherries and dried apricots
4 ½ oz light soft brown sugar
3 oz melted butter
2 medium eggs
Grated lemon rind, mixed spice, cinnamon and nutmeg - all to taste
Optional extras - marmalade or golden syrup. I plumped for the syrup and put in a large dash. In fact I added it when I beat the bread.

Mix well. That’s it. Easy peasey.

Tip into a buttered baking dish and bake for 1 hour at 190 deg C
Thanks Pam x

Pam also mentioned that it is great cold, cut into little squares as cakes. When she wants to do that she cooks it in a square baking tin, instead of an oven to table dish.

Sunday, 6 October 2013


About 40 years ago I got very fed up making pasties, they took too long and often started laughing at you i.e. the crimping fell open. I still make proper pasties occasionally but for ordinary use I make Pasty Pies. So easy, they never fail if you follow a few simple rules and you use and eat less pastry [crust]. They taste exactly the same as a proper Pasty! I can fling one together in about 15 mins. Meal done, no dishes - perfect.

You need a deep - about 2", round 8 or 9" tin, preferably with a lip around the outer edge, well oiled. I do have a 10" for a larger Pie, feeding a good 6. So much easier than making 6 pasties!!!!

Making the Pastry. [Rough Puff]
I make it first thing in the morning or the night before and leave in the fridge. Or batch make to freeze, taking out the night before. But pastry needs to rest in the fridge.

For one 8" Pasty Pie you need:
12 oz Plain Flour
large pinch of salt
3 oz lard - room temperature
3 oz hard baking margarine [or butter, but in this instance marg is OK] - room temperature

Rub the fat into the flour and salt, not too finely. Add very cold water slowly until just enough to bring together. Gently knead with your hands until incorporated and put in a poly bag to rest.

Assemble all your ingredients:        

12 - 14 oz beef skirt, cut into little pieces. NEVER ever use minced beef.
Swede [Rutabaga in the US], chipped small from a whole piece
Leeks, sliced finely                                 
Onion, roughly chopped
Potatoes, chipped like the swede
Parsley, chopped
Salt and Pepper.
A little extra flour for dredging.

Never cube or diced the veg.
I use leeks, because my mother often did. They make it very juicy.
I have not given you quantities as it will depend of the size of your tin - but see photo.

Make your Pie:

Roll out just under 2/3rds of your pastry, keeping it round and even and making sure you have enough to hang over the lip for the crimping.  Slide your rolling pin underneath, lift and place it over the tin.

Start the filling:

Swede first, then half of the potato. A little seasoning.
Then the leeks and the remainder of the potato.

A little more seasoning then carefully cover with the skirt, then the onion and parsley. A little more seasoning. Your Pie needs to be really full.

Dredge with plain flour.

Roll out the rest of the pastry crust. Lift with your rolling pin as before. Level out the edges and trim so everything is even. Press together and start the crimping, as the photo. Press towards the centre and make a slit in the centre top. You can brush with milk or egg if you wish. Place in your very hot pre heated oven 220 deg C for the first 10 mins to set the pastry. Turn down to 190 deg C and bake for 1 hour 20 mins, more or less, according to size and thickness.

Leave in the tin for 5 mins, then, on a cooling rack, take some kitchen paper, cover the Pie and put a corner into the slit on top [to stop the juices escaping]. Cover with another rack, hold both racks together and VERY quickly flip over, take off the tin and flip back. See photo.

Be careful - it is very hot! But hey presto it is out of the tin.
Make sure the top rack is upside down.

DO NOT EAT for at least an hour. Allow the juices and flavours to develop and merge together. You cannot appreciate the flavours if the Pasty Pie is too hot - this applies to ordinary pasties too, of course.
I will make proper pasties in a few weeks, with variations.
The Rough Puff basic pastry recipe is suitable for lots of things.
Bought Flakey Pastry is too flakey for the Pie, although I have used it occasionally if desperate!! You cannot use shortcrust pastry.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Cornish Splits

Jam Cream Tea & Thunder & Lightning

In bygone days a Cornish Cream Tea did NOT consist of Scones. Our Forebears used splits.
A soft milky bread, light as a feather and perfect with jam and clotted cream. But as kids we loved Thunder & Lightning - Golden Syrup and Clotted Cream, as seen on the right.

For 20 splits: [they freeze like a dream]

1 1/2 lb Strong Plain Flour [Bread Flour]
3 oz lard
1 level teaspoon salt
3/4 pint [15 fl oz] milk    [I used semi skimmed, but in olden days it would have been whole milk]
about 12 - 14 grams of Dried Active Yeast. That's 2 sachets.  [or 1 1/2 oz of fresh]
1 teaspoon sugar

Rub the fat into the flour and salt, until it has disappeared.

Meanwhile warm the milk to barely tepid with the sugar, and then whisk in the yeast. Allow to start working until frothy then pour into the flour mix and bring together. Tip onto a floured surface and start to knead. This will take approx 8 - 10 mins until smooth and the dough jumps back after poking your finger in it. Cover with lightly oiled cling film, then leave and go off to do your shopping! When it is doubled in size [depends on the temperature of the room - these took just over an hour in my warm kitchen], tip back onto the surface and knead again to knock out the air. Divide into 20.   i.e. between 2 - 2 1/8 oz ea.  I use a digital flat scale with a plate on top. Shape into splits and place on lightly oiled baking sheet. Put to rise again for 15 mins. Bake in a hot fan oven - 190 deg C for about 15 mins. Cool on a rack then enjoy!!!
To shape, keep turning the dough underneath so the joins are on the bottom.
The texture of your bread should be even and very light. If not, then you have not kneaded it sufficiently or knocked out the air. I also purposely did not use Strawberry Jam. Jam would have been made from fruits that were free and easy to obtain eg Blackberry, as above.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Lemon Ice Cream

This Ice Cream is so sinful it should carry a warning!
Only to be made for special occasions [??] it is indulgent and delicious with the taste of fresh lemons zinging in your mouth.
This recipe belonged to a Falmouth lady named Betty, who guarded the recipe and refused to give it to anyone! When I first tasted it, about 25 years ago and asked her if she would give me the recipe - Betty replied "No, I will not!" She always was a forthright and abrupt lady! Well, Betty has passed on and I have her recipe...... and so do you...

1/2 pint of Double cream - I also use a dollop of Clotted cream!
4 eggs - separated
12 oz castor sugar
Juice and zest of 2 large lemons

Whisk the egg yolks and sugar until pale and fluffy.
Add the lemon juice and zest and the cream.
Freeze until almost firm. Whisk the egg whites until stiff.
Remove the container from the freezer and stir well, then stir in the egg whites and freeze once more. At this stage you can also add crushed meringues [bought ones are fine] then give it a final good stir before it has completely froze.
The batch I have made [above] does not have meringues.
Warning - this contains raw eggs.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Cornish Under Roast

Is there a definite recipe for this? What cut of beef do you use? I have seen a lot of recipes that use Chuck steak - I do not believe that would have been used in times gone by. It takes a lot of slow cooking to begin to tenderise it and it has sinews running through. Yes, a slab of steak would be good, but would our ancestors have been able to afford that? But they could afford skirt and used that in their pasties and stews. I reckon they would have used a large slab of skirt for under roast too. A lean cut, with no fat and falls apart with little cooking. I have have been working on developing a updated version of this very old recipe, using more acceptable ingredients - and no dripping!

For each person, take a portion size slab of skirt [or steak]. I gave it a little bash to tenderise, just to make sure! Season it well with sea salt and pepper and drop it into a large hot pan, with a little olive oil. Fry off both sides, to colour and start the cooking process. About 7 or 8 mins each side. Set aside while you....

Prepare the "terrific trio" of carrots, onion and celery, in whatever proportions you like, cubed and diced fairly small. I use less celery and cut it really finely, so haters of it cannot see it! But do use it as it makes such a wonderful flavour. Fry the trio in the pan you cooked the skirt. After 5 mins,  take a oven proof dish that is big enough to hold the skirt slabs in one layer and place the vegetables in the bottom, placing the skirt over them.

Peel some potatoes and slice to a medium thickness - I have a nifty Oxo Grips Mandolin. It is so handy. Put a little more oil in your hot pan and fry the potato slices in a single layer for a minute or so each side, then arranging them on top of your meat. You will have to do this in batches. Season with a little salt and freshly ground pepper. Then pour in a little good quality beef stock, so that you just cover the meat, but not over the potatoes. Place in a preheated oven at around 180 C. I cover with foil for the first half hour then remove and let it all brown for a further 45 mins or so. Turn the oven down if they are browning too much. Serve with a green vegetable.
Our ancestors would not have used the veg base. Maybe a little onion. The meat and potatoes would have been fried in dripping. But otherwise - it is near as I can get!