Monday, 27 April 2015


Is there a definitive recipe for this Cornish classic? What cut of beef do you use? I have seen some  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, plus it has sinews running through. Yes, a slab of sirloin 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 slab of skirt for under roast too. A lean tender cut, with no fat, skirt is very tender 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 [steak for a special occasion or supper with friends]. I gave it a little bash with a mallet to tenderise, just to make sure! Season it well with sea salt and fresh ground 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 6 or 7 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 gives such a wonderful flavour. Fry the trio in the pan you cooked the skirt, in a mix of butter and olive oil. After 5 mins, take a oven proof serving 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. See photos on my Blog:

Peel some potatoes [like King Edwards] and slice to a medium thickness - I have a nifty Oxo Good 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 arrange 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, [I quite like the beef stock pots] 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 it 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. A meal fit for a Queen.

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! Just delicious.

Thursday, 23 April 2015


Why is this dish called Russian, when it is Cornish??? I believe this was originally made and ate on special days, like Helston Flora, Show day in Stithians [where I was born and bred] or Padstow ‘Obby ‘Oss. But I have spoken to many folk who regularly ate it, especially for Sunday tea. I thought it about time to repost it for the hundreds of new likers! I do hope you enjoy this Cornish delicacy!

Scant pint of whole milk  [less the 2 egg yolks, ie 1 pint in total with yolks]
3 tablespoons caster sugar
1 sachet of gelatine [or sheet equivalent] to set 1 pint of liquid
2 eggs, separated
vanilla - from a pod is by far the best, or vanilla bean paste or extract.

Note: For flavour and taste, invest in a jar of Vanilla Bean Paste. Yes, it is about £6 but goes a long way, will last and keeps for ages. You will not regret it.

Whisk the egg white to stiff peaks. Set aside for a mo. Get the dishes ready nearby [or a mould] you will use.

In a saucepan heat the milk [semi skimmed is NO GOOD!], sugar, vanilla and gelatine and whisk until the sugar and gelatine are dissolved [on a low to medium heat] Then add the egg yolks and continue whisking until boiling. DO NOT STOP WHISKING. Take the pan off the heat and whisk in the egg whites. Pour carefully into the dishes, place quickly in a fridge and leave to set, about 3 hours. Do not move them.

The bottom clears to make a creamy very thick set custardy jelly and the top stays frothy. I used a vanilla pod, hence the little black bits that you can see. This gives it an amazing flavour.  

Very nice. Clotted cream to serve? - you could, but it does not need it.

Sunday, 19 April 2015


This is so scrummy! I found this recipe about fifiteen ago in a paper and have altered it slightly but the flavours and texture are so perfect. My husband just loves it. He ate three slices during the day that I made this one! You can buy Compote, but it takes seconds to make and so I will start off with that recipe. This is great on ice cream as well!

For the Compote. Place in a small Saucepan:

1½ cups fresh raspberries
generous ¼ cup of caster sugar
1 teaspoon of lemon juice

Bring to the boil, then simmer for 5 or 6 minutes until soft. Add a teaspoon of cornflour mixed with a little of the juice and stir it in. Continue stirring for another minute. It should look like a soft jam. Cool in a small basin.

You will need about 8 fl oz of the compote for the cake.

Grease and line the base of a spring form 8” loose bottomed tin. Preheat your fan oven to about 160C.

4 oz softened butter
8 oz caster sugar
a little almond essence
4 beaten eggs
6 oz self raising flour
4 oz ground almonds
5 oz marzipan, cut into small cubes

Cream the butter, sugar and essence until fluffy, then beat in the eggs a little at a time, along with a small amount of the flour to stop it curdling. [use a hand mixer for this!]. Fold in the flour, then add the ground almonds and cubed marzipan. Put a few dobs of this in the base of your tin, to just cover, then a few half dessertspoonfuls of the compote. Keep filling the cake tin with both, then very slightly swirl the mixture. You want it mixed in, but not too much - if you know what I mean!!

Bake for about an hour, maybe a few minutes longer, until it is just firm to the touch. I turned it down to 150C after about 45 mins. Cool in the tin for ten minutes then turn out to cool. The smell is just heavenly.

Just lightly dredge with some icing sugar. It is so rich, with an amazing flavour, it needs nothing else to enhance it. Enjoy. A bit like old fashioned jam buns with marzipan!

Wednesday, 15 April 2015


Just the name of these muffins makes you think of picnics and tea on the patio! Especially with this lovely spring sunny weather at present. I found this recipe in an old magazine some years ago and then adapted it to my own tastes. The recipe is very straightforward and done in a jiffy! They freeze well too! Just defrost in a microwave for a few minutes.

Complete the preparation in stages, then it is very easy to combine the whole.

You will need a good non stick 12 hole deep muffin tin, lightly oiled. Preheat your fan oven to 180C

Finely chop 2 Echalion Shallots or 1 med onion and fry until just soft. Set aside to cool

In a large mixing bowl place:
    1lb 2 oz of self raising flour
    1 heaped teaspoon of sea salt
    1 teaspoon of mustard powder
    Freshly ground pepper to taste
    Chopped Chives, to taste 
    Chopped Parsley, to taste
    6 oz grated mature cheddar
    2 oz grated Parmesan

In another bowl, whisk together:
    300 ml buttermilk
    50 ml milk [pref whole]
    ¼ pint sunflower oil
    1 large egg

Take 1 Gevrick Cornish Goats cheese [70gr] or similar and slice, then chop into small pieces

Now you are ready to go! Tip the dry ingredients and onion into the buttermilk and mix carefully, then add the Gevrick. Divide between the 12 holes. They will be above the top!

Bake for 25 mins until risen and golden. Just perfect. The smell is so good!

Saturday, 11 April 2015


Not long after I started my Blog about 18 months ago, I made my favourite, grandmother’s saffron bun recipe. Then a few weeks later I made a cake. It is time I reposted it for all my new likers. I don’t usually make a cake because it goes stale more quickly and buns are easier to freeze.  The queen of all Cornish cakes, instantly recognisable as part of Cornish culture and cuisine and much loved by everyone Cornish. Within my trusty 1920s Cornish recipe book there are about ten versions. Most I discard immediately, all have to be halved or quartered as our forebears made huge cakes! In the end I appropriately plumped for the recipe from the Falmouth area. 

Saffron cakes are denser and heavier than buns. My buns are very light and spongy.
The fat content is far greater here than my bun recipe, the sugar content less too. This should make it heavier and there is about half the quantity of yeast as well. I set about making it.

1 lb 2 oz plain flour
2 oz very finely chopped mixed peel
½ lb currants - I used a couple more oz.
4 oz lard
3 oz butter
2 oz castor sugar 
generous pinch nutmeg
pinch salt
warm milk - about 9 fl oz with a teaspoon sugar
½ oz fresh yeast  [or half sachet dried ie 3 ½ gr].
saffron - depending on quality and how saffrony you want it. [see my note on Hot cross buns]

I wrapped some strands of saffron in some baking parchment and put them in a warm oven for a quarter of an hour. Then, using a rolling pin crushed the dried strands still in the paper, becoming powder like. I then added a few extra strands.

I rubbed the fat into the flour, salt and nutmeg, until it resembled fine breadcrumbs. Then just added the rest of the dry ingredients. Mixing well.

I then warmed the milk and a little sugar to tepid and stirred in the yeast and saffron, leaving it for a while until it started to froth a little. Made a well in the mix and poured in the liquid, bringing it all together with your hand and then tipped it onto a floured surface and began gently kneading until the mix is smooth. Just a few minutes.
Place in a warm spot to prove. Do not expect it to double in size, like bread or the buns.
my book suggested “put a warm plate on it and stand in a warm place until the mixture raises the plate”. That’s all I had to go on!! I left it for a couple of hours, then kneaded again for a minute and put it in an lightly oiled large loaf tin to prove again for an hour.


Preheat the oven to about 180 Deg C. My book suggested 1¼ hours and it took all of that.
But I turned the oven down to about 170 after half the time. The taste test? Absolutely delicious. Quite different from the buns, much heavier, as I thought it would be. The big plus was that it took no time at all. Then the even bigger plus was that the cake was still moist and equally delicious the following day. I don’t know too much about the science of baking but would the high fat content be a factor? I must try it once more as a plain yeast cake!! [I did and it was great!]

Day 3 - the cake it still good. I am so pleased I started this project and found this recipe.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Strawberry Mascarpone Ring Cake

This is a perfect dessert cake, for a special occasion, but is just as good undecorated with an afternoon cup of tea. I love using ring tins. This is a very large cake, but I can see no reason why you cannot halve it and bake it in a small 6 or 7 inch ordinary cake tin. Reduce the baking time, then of course.

Grease well, with butter, then lightly flour, a large ring [Bundt] tin. Pre heat your fan oven to 160C

You can omit the Quick Gel, just adding more chopped strawberries, but it does add a moist dessert taste to the cake.

12 oz softened butter
15 oz caster sugar
8 oz soft cheese - I used Mascarpone
6 large eggs
1 lb plain flour
1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
small teaspoon almond extract
1 pkt of Red Quick Gel jelly glaze mixed together with half crushed strawberry juice, 1 oz caster sugar, the remainder with water. [I used a total of 5 fl oz liquid to make it thicker]
Chopped Strawberries - lots!
Icing Sugar for the topping

Beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy! You know this routine. Add the cream cheese, beating until creamy. Then the eggs, 1 at a time, whisking well after each addition - I often add a teaspoon of flour with each egg, to stop them curdling. Then the vanilla bean paste and the almond extract.
Gradually add the flour, mixing well. Pour one-third of the mixture into your Ring tin. Place about 10 teaspoons strawberry quick gel over mixture, then swipe with something pointy, but being careful not to mix it together too much. Add some of your chopped strawberries too. Repeat procedure once, then top with remaining third of the cake mix. Finally scatter your left over chopped strawberries over the top. But keep some back for the icing!!

Bake for 70 - 80 mins until firm to the touch and nicely browned. Cool in pan for 10 mins then on a wire rack. Decorate when cool, using fresh double cream or icing mixed with more crushed strawberries. Serve with clotted cream!! Very yummy, rich and moist.

I love using Mascarpone and it does give cakes a lovely texture and flavour. If you keep scrolling down you will find another of my cakes using this - the delicious Cherry Mascarpone Cake, posted some months ago.

Saturday, 4 April 2015


This is not a Cornish recipe, although it could be! This beautiful savoury bread, with the wonderful aromatic flavour we all love, is just perfect in sandwiches or just to butter and eat. I have another recipe using these two ingredients and I will be posting that before long. This is a moist loaf, that keeps well too. I just love yeast cookery!! Have I mentioned that before??

You will need 8 oz of potato, mashed, then cooled [do not add anything]. Keep 7 fl oz of the boiling potato water and use it for soaking 1 teaspoon of saffron strands. [see note at bottom] Soak for at least 30 mins, preferably longer. You will then need to reheat until tepid.

In your mixer with a dough hook [or a bowl to knead by hand] place:

1 lb strong white bread flour
2 teaspoons dried fast action yeast
1 teaspoon runny honey
1 oz softened butter
1½ teaspoons salt
pepper to taste - I used a little white pepper
1 egg
the mashed potato
you can also add a little mustard powder if you wish

Pour in the saffrony potato water, bring it all together then begin kneading. I put the timer on for 10 mins from the start. Try not to add too much extra flour while kneading by hand, but it is a soft dough.

Put to rise in the bowl, covered in a cling film tent, in a warm place until well doubled in size, knock back, shape into a flatish round, then place on a lightly greased baking sheet to rise again. I used a pedal bin liner to cover now. Bread needs a warm and cosy atmosphere!

Turn your fan oven on to 200C. Give the bread a very light dusting of flour, then slash with a VERY sharp knife. Making 3 or 4 diagonal cuts, then turn and make 3 or 4 more in the opposite direction. Making little diamond shapes. You can only do this with an extremely sharp knife or a lamé bread scorer. This has a razor blade in it and I find it invaluable for slashing bread. see pic on my Blog. 

Bake your loaf for approx 30 mins. Just delicious. Serve with butter!!

NOTE: buy saffron online. It is so much cheaper and even though it might not be Valencian, it is still good quality. The last lot I ordered was Iranian and cost me £3 for 1gr.
A fraction of the price in supermarkets. To give you an idea, 1 gr of the above is enough to flavour 3 lbs of flour for saffron buns [about 50].