Monday, 24 December 2012

Season's Greetings

With very best wishes for festive season and 

the New Year to my dearest readers. 

With love,


I can't promise new posts before January 2013, because I really feel like not doing anything but reading some books in the front of my fireplace during this short break, but what I can promise is that you will have more reasons to come back to this blog in new year - I am planning on improving the look of this blog and hope to cook even better dishes!

All the best! :)

Friday, 21 December 2012

Candied orange peel in dark chocolate - Christmas gifts vol. 9

makes about 4-5 sets 

4 large oranges
¼ tsp ground ginger
2 cups of sugar
2 cups of water
about 300-400g dark chocolate

Wash the oranges and using small knife divide the peel into four quarters then remove the peel gently. Place on the chopping board and flatten each one with your hand. Remove the white part using sharp knife in the same way as filleting and skinning a fish. Discard the white part - it is quite bitter and cut the orange peel into the stripes about 1 cm wide.

Bring a pan of water to the boil and add the orange peel. Simmer for about 15 minutes, then drain and leave it to dry little bit.

Add 2 cups of water, 2 cups of sugar and ginger to the pan and bring to the boil, then add the orange peel and lower the heat then simmer until most of the fluid is almost gone and peel is nearly translucent. It took me about 75 minutes. 

Remove the pan from the heat and leave it to cool down a bit then remove the orange peel from the pan and place on a wire rack to cool down completely. I left it overnight.

Next gently melt the chocolate in bain marie - in a bowl placed in a pan over simmering water. With a help of two forks dip each strip of orange peel in the chocolate and place onto a baking paper to set. It took only 5 minutes in my cold kitchen. Next divide bags or tins. 

Friday, 14 December 2012

Brussels sprouts puree

Have to say I am still in love with "Hugh's Three Good Things (on a plate)". I have a feeling this is probably my first cookery book from which I will use every single recipe. It will take some time but I will eventually. This is a recipe for brussels sprouts puree that goes really nicely with black pudding and bacon - I tried the exact recipe from the book and it is fantastic. I have also tried it with some roast pork and potatoes and this is a lovely take on a side veg. If you are brussels sprouts lover you will also enjoy it on a toasted bread or straight from a food processor - like I do.

I have good news for those who are not fans of the bitterness typical for this vegetable - this puree is quite sweet, I recon due to the onions and cream and tastes almost like a pea puree.      

Serves 2-3 

250g brussels sprouts
25g butter
1 medium onion or 2 shallots, peeled and diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
50ml double cream
freshly ground black pepper

Trim the sprouts and crisscross on the bottom - this will help to cook them more evenly and quicker.

Heat the butter in the pan and fry the onions for about 10 minutes over a low heat - until soft but not browned. Add the garlic for the last 2 minutes of frying. Then place in a food processor.

Bring a pan of water to the boil, add some salt and boil the sprouts until tender then drain and place into the food processor.

Add the cream, little salt, some freshly ground black pepper and puree. I like it quite coarse, but you can make it smooth.

It is suitable for reheating in a non stick pan, but unfortunately it looses its colour.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Marinated beetroot carpaccio with rocket & horseradish mackerel

Beets & horseradish.

Horseradish & mackerel.

Beetroot, horseradish & mackerel.

I know perfectly well this lovely combination and have to say this is one of my favourite ever, so this time I am presenting an elegant starter using this well known combination of flavours. I served it recently for a supper to our friend who really enjoyed this combination and mentioned that probably most of the local farmers would be very unhappy if I served them raw beets. These in a fact are marinated, crunchy and zingy as ever. By marinating they loose some of their earthiness, that some people find unattractive.


serves 4

4-5 medium beetroots, peeled and sliced into very thin slices
4 tbsp of red wine vinegar
8 tbsp olive oil
2 level tbsp sugar
200g smoked mackerel fillets, skin removed, flaked into chunks
3 tbsp of freshly grated horseradish
juice of one small lemon
freshly ground black pepper
4 small handfuls of rocket
little poppy seeds

Place the vinegar, 2 tbsp olive oil, sugar and little slat in an airtight container. Add the sliced beetroots, cover and leave it in a cool place for minimum 12 hours, preferably 24 hours. Shake the box every few hours so the beets are getting marinated evenly. 

In a second box mix the remaining olive oil, horseradish, lemon juice, some salt and pepper and mix well. Next add mackerel pieces, mix gently so you don't break up fish too much and cover. Leave it in a cool place for minimum 12 hours, preferably 24 hours.

Before serving remove bring it to the room temperature - I kept them in warm kitchen for about 1 hours before serving.

Drain the beets from the marinate and place on the plates in one layer, overlapping. Place small handful of the rocket and some mackerel in the middle. Drizzle with horseradish olive oil left from marinating the fish. If there is not enough left add some extra lemon juice and olive oil into the box and mix well.

Sprinkle with some poppy seeds and serve with good bread.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Shredded brussels sprouts with pancetta & wholegrain mustard

I love, love, love brusells sprouts. And I know many people hates them. Perhaps serving them in a shape that is not similar to their natural one could help some people to overcome their fear of sprouts? This however is very classic combination with a little twist added by me and sprouts flavour is still there. So if you just hate it - sorry I can't help you!

serves 2 

about 250g brussels sprouts
about 60g pancetta, diced 
1 tbsp of sunflower oil (optionally)
¼ level tsp of turmeric
pinch of chilli powder
1 level tsp muscovado sugar
1 tsp of wholegrain mustard
freshly ground black pepper
few drops of lemon juice
5 tbsp of water

Trim the hard ends and shred the sprouts finely using chopping blade in your food processor, or mandoline or just sharp knife.

Place pancetta cubes in a pan and fry until slightly browned. Remove from the pan using slotted spoon and set aside.

If your pancetta was quite lean then you better use little more oil - put 1 tbsp of sunflower oil in the same pan and add the turmeric and chilli - stir fry for about 30 seconds to infuse the oil with aromatic flavours. Next add shredded sprouts, muscovado sugar, water, lemon juice and little salt and pepper. Stir well and keep over a medium heat for about 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Next add the mustard and stir and at the same point you can add pancetta cubes and stir or just sprinkle them on the top of the sprouts in a serving dish.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Roast aubergine & walnut pâté (no garlic!)

I love, love, love aubergine dips and pâtés. Unfortunately all of the recipes I have been through contain garlic and as much as I love garlic I am unable to eat it during the day - I don't want to stink in the office - as simple as that. So this is my take on aubergine pâté without the garlic but still very aromatic and rich. Hope these who don't like garlic or like me can't eat it all day long will find this recipe interesting.   

 makes about 250ml

2 medium - smallish aubergines, halved and sliced into 1cm slices
1 shallot, peeled, halved and sliced
handful of walnuts
handful of fresh parsley
juice of whole lime
1 tsp of tahini paste (I used dark one)
pinch of chilli powder
¼ tsp of turmeric
½ tsp of ground cumin
½ tsp of ground coriander
extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 180 C.

Place sliced aubergines in a bowl and drizzle with little olive oil, add some salt and pepper. Mix well so the vegetables are covered in oil. Place onto a baking tray or in ovenproof dish and then place in the oven. Roast for about 25 minutes, then turn the oven off, open it's door slightly and leave the aubergines to cool down.

Heat the frying pan without any oil and dry roast the walnuts until slightly browned and fragrant. Place in a food processor.

Using the same pan fry the shallots in little olive oil over a low heat until soft, then place in a food processor. 

Now to the food processor add aubergines, shallots, turmeric, parsley, tahini, chilli, coriander, cumin, lime juice and some salt and pepper. Mix and at the same time add little by little olive oil. I like it bit chunky with some aubergine skins still visible and also with pieces of walnuts, but you can make it extra smooth - just mix little but longer and using a spatula scrap down the dip from the food processor as you go.

Season with salt and pepper accordingly to you taste, place in airtight container and place in the fridge, preferably leave it there overnight, or at least couple of hours. This will allow the flavours to mingle.

Serve in room temperature, garnished with some chopped parsley.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Apple & Old Peculier ale winter chutney - Christmas gifts vol. 8

Yes, it is this time of the year already. If you are keen on making your own Xmas gifts for foodies please fell free to see all my posts from my culinary gifts section, as there are some more chutneys (unfortunately seasonal) and different types of shortbread etc.

This year I made my first chutney using one of my favourite ales from local brewery. You can use different ale, preferably strong, dark and with fruity notes like the Old Peculier.

This is an ideal gift for cheese lovers, I can't wait to try it when it will be matured but even hot and straight from a pan it wasn't too vinegary in flavour.

Please have a piece of gauze and string ready - this is needed if you want to infuse the chutney with spices and remove them before putting in the jars - eating whole peppercorns could be rather unpleasant, so please prevent it if you can. 

makes 5 jars, each about 200ml 

1½ kg apples
3 medium white onions
100g  currants
50g sultanas
1 pint of Old Peculier Ale
1½ cup of dark, soft sugar
1 cup of cider vinegar
1 tsp of whole coriander seeds
½ tsp of whole black peppercorns
½ tsp of ground cinnamon 
half star anise
¼ tsp chilli flakes

Place sultanas and currants in a bowl and cover with ale. Leave it to soak for at least 1 hour.

Place coriander seeds, peppercorns in a mortar and crush them slightly. They don't want to be very fine. Place onto a piece of gauze and add chilli flakes, star anise and tie with a piece of string. Set aside.

Peel the core the apples and then dice into about 0.5 cm pieces. Place in a large pan, preferably heavy bottom one. 

Peel the onions and dice into small pieces. Add to the pan with the apples. 

To the pan add the sugar, ground cinnamon, vinegar, remaining ale and soaked currants and sultanas. Add the bag with spices and bring to the boil. Then lower the heat and simmer for about 2½ - 3 hours, stirring occasionally. 

Most of the liquid should evaporate and apples should be very soft. If you wish to have less chunkier chutney use potato masher and roughly mash the chutney after removing the spices in the bag. Or you can leave it as chunky - texture really depends on the variety of apples you are using. 

Place hot chutney in the sterilised jars, seal and turn up side down and leave them to cool down. You can pasteurise it of you wish to keep it for longer than 6 months. To do so place clean kitchen cloth in a pan together with the jars - up side down and cover half way with water. Bring to the boil and then simmer for about 30 minutes. Leave it to cool down, remove from a pan, dry and store in dark, cool place.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Cream of butternut squash & sweet potatoes with hazelnuts and crispy sage


Definitely the best one I have ever made. Not fabulously bright orange in colour, as I caramelised the edges of the vegetables to get this really deep flavour. And this I guess, is the secret of this soup and what makes it really fantastic. Sage, pumpkin, nuts - such a classic combination.

Serves 2-4

300g butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed and flesh diced into about 2cm cubes (weight after peeling and de-seeding)
300g sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into about 2cm cubes (weight after peeling)
2 garlic cloves, unpeeled
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
pinch of chilli powder
5-6 tbsp olive oil
1 large shallot, peeled and diced
about 900ml vegetable stock
handful of whole hazelnuts
about 8-12 whole sage leaves
freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 180C.

Place the butternut squash, sweet potatoes, garlic in an ovenproof dish and drizzle with 2 tbsp of olive oil. Sprinkle with little nutmeg, chilli, salt and pepper and roast until potatoes and squash are soft and caramelized on the edges. Remove from the oven and leave it to cool down, You can roast the vegetables night before and refrigerate them. I did it because I was baking something else and had preheated oven - it saves time and energy. 

On a low heat fry the shallot in a pan in 2 tbsp olive oil for about 10 minutes, until soft. Add roasted vegetables, and squeeze the garlic out of its skins and add to the pan. Stir and add the stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for about  3-5 minutes. Remove from a heat, liquidise with a hand blender and then sieve the soup using a fine sieve and ladle - this will make it even more smooth and make sure any unpleasant bits will not end up in the soup. Season with salt and pepper.

Fry the hazelnut on a dry pan until slightly browned then remove from a pan, place on a chopping board, leave then to cool down slightly and chop roughly.

Using the same pan heat the remaining olive oil and fry whole sage leaves for about one minute, until crispy.

Place the soup in a serving bowls/soup plates, sprinkle with the hazelnuts and top with few sage leaves. Drizzle with little of the sage oil. Serve with good bread.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Bread, onion & cabbage bake

Cabbage again. This is my typical veg for Autumn-Winter time, and apart from being filling, tasty and comforting it is also on the cheaper side.

I cooked this dish according to a recipe from my new favourite cookbook (well, didn't follow the exact quantities). This is something that my Polish soul fell in love with immediately, but I also came across Italian inspired recipe for soup using very similar ingredients. 

I prepared two versions, one vegan for myself and other with some extra bacon - for my hard working partner. This however is meat free version and you can adjust it accordingly to your preferences.

Swaps? Use kale or Swiss chard instead of a cabbage.

Extras by Hugh? A sharp cheese such as mature Cheddar or Gruyere sprinkled on each layer of bread would be nice addition and make this more filling.

Extras by me? Add fried bacon cubes to the cabbage or sprinkle the dish with bacon on a plate.

Serves 2-4

8 tbsp olive oil
3 medium onions, peeled and diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 medium cabbage, quartered, core removed, cabbage shredded into about 1cm slices 
half French baguette, robust, good quality, stale (or sourdough bread) cut into about 2cm cubes
400mlhot vegetable stock
freshly ground black pepper

Fry the onion in 4 tbsp olive oil on a low heat for about 15 minutes. Then add garlic, cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Boil a bog pan of water, add some salt and the cabbage, cook for about 4 minutes, then drain and leave it to steam for a while. 

Place diced bread in a bowl and drizzle with the remaining olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Heat the oven to 180 C.

Layer the ingredients in an ovenproof dish starting with onion, then bread and cabbage. The number of layers depends on how deep your dish is, I only managed to get two layers of each ingredient. Make sure you top it up with layer of bread. Add little salt and pepper between each layer. pour the hot stock over the dish making sure the bread cubes on the top soak some of it. Cover with kitchen foil and place in the oven. Bake for about 30 minutes, then uncover and bake for further 15 minutes or until golden on the top and stock has nearly evaporated. Remove from the oven and leave it to rest for about 10 minutes, then divide into portions and serve.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Red cabbage with black pudding, apples & hazelnuts

Recent recipe, so sorry I am late again with English version, two more to come that should have been done ages ago and every so often I wonder if I should stop writing this blog. :/


This is a recipe from some ancient "Good Food" magazine and today I am not even entirely sure if this is exactly how I should have made it. I also wasn't too sure if it looked good enough to photograph it. As much as I love the ingredients and these all seemed like a perfect harmony to me, when I plated this dish I thought to myself: what a mess. I took photographs, we sat and ate our dinner, really enjoyed it and after couple hours I went back to my computer to see the photographs and decided I was too harsh at first. Considering this is a cabbage dish and they never look in as fantastic as some Michelin starred and styled ones (well not in my kitchen anyway!) this is actually quite attractive looking one. It is surly great Autumnal dish whether you like the way it looks or not, you should try it.  

Serves 2-4

1 small red cabbage, core removed, cabbage shredded not too finely
2 small sharp apples, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
4 bacon rashers (I used smoked streaky)
4 slices of black pudding
handful of hazelnuts
pinch of brown sugar
1 tbsp of sunflower oil
1 tbsp of butter 
1 tbsp cider vinegar
2tbsp olive oil
1 level tbsp wholegrain mustard
1 tsp of honey
freshly ground pepper

In a large pan heat the oil and add shredded cabbage with little salt, stir fry for about 5 minutes and then add 3-5 tbsp of water, stir, cover and simmer for about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave covered so I doesn't cool down too much.

Prepare the dressing. Whisk olive oil, cider vinegar, mustard, some salt and pepper in a bowl, then set aside.

Dry roast the hazelnuts in a frying pan until slightly browned and then set aside on a chopping board. Chop roughly and leave them to use later.

In the same pan fry bacon witout adding any extra fat until browned and crispy. Move the bacon on the side of the pan (or just spoon it out, I didn't want to use another dish), and in the bacon fat fry black pudding slices - British black pudding needs about 2-3 minutes each side.

Meanwhile in another pan melt the butter, add apples and sprinkle with sugar. Fry until slightly browned, caramelised on the edges (about 5 minutes).

Place warm cabbage into the bowl with the dressing and mix. Adjust the seasoning - add some salt and pepper if required. Divide between warm plates, sprinkle with bacon, add caramelised apples and top with slices of black pudding. Sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts. 
You can serve it as a starter or like us add some potatoes roasted in duck fat and eat it as a main course. 

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Steak tartare

This is something that I remember from my childhood, very popular party dish when I was a kid, for adults quite often served with a shot of very cold vodka. Couldn't quite grasp why people would eat raw meat, but once I got older I actually started to enjoy it. I think it was at least eight years since last time I ate it and then suddenly I had cravings for this dish last week.

Many Polish cooks would just mince fillet of beef. For me this is a crime. It is quite pricey, and by mincing it you destroy it's delicate texture. You may as well get cheap cut of lean beef and mince it, why do it to expensive fillet? Honestly I don't get it. So chop it finely, yet to the stage when you can still feel some texture under your teeth. Secondly, traditionally in Poland people would use onion, for me onion has too strong flavour and can overpower the flavour of beef. I use more subtle shallots. I would normally use diced pickled mushrooms but these are difficult to get hold of where I live, so I skipped them. I added cornichons and capers. I would advise to not to use strong flavoured oil, but something with a delicate flavour, mild olive oil or rapeseed oil. To enhance the beef flavour it is good to add some anchovies, and my last word: I never use mustard - I think it kills the meat flavour.  

So this is my take on this traditional dish.

Serves 2 

about 300g fillet of beef
1 small shallot (I used French variety, if British you need two)
2 medium cornichons (gherkins)
2 tbsp of salted capers
1 tbsp olive oil
2 small egg yolks (you can use quail eggs) 
4 anchovies (tinned or from a jar)
freshly ground black pepper

Slice beef fillet into about 3mm slices and then chop into small dice. You can go again with a knife over the chopped meat, but do it roughly. Add minced anchovies (mince it with a side of a knife or a fork), some pepper and mix, adjust the saltiness by adding some salt according to your taste, but remember this dish will get more salty when you mix it with capers.

Peel the shallot and dice finely. Dice the gherkins and rinse the capers thoroughly under a running water then drain and chop roughly.

Place cooking ring on a plate and place one layer of meat then one layer of gherkins or caper or shallots, then again layer of meat and layer of next ingredient. Finish off with a layer of meat and make a little well in the centre. Gently place egg yolk in the well and sprinkle with some pepper and salt (optionally). Make sure you save some gherkins, shallots and caper for the finishing touch.

Using oil make three lines across the plate and place some gherkins, shallots and capers in each line. Remove the ring and serve immediately with good bread and optionally with a shot of good quality very cold vodka.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

My favourite sandwiches

This is one of them and there will be some more coming up some time in the future.

I like bacon & avocado sandwich, but Hugh came up with an idea of putting cheddar and mayo into this duo. I skipped mayo and added vintage cheddar to bacon and avocado and guess what? This is my new favourite sandwich. I used my everyday bread that I shared my recipe for some time ago, but this time made with white and wholewheat flour (and as usual rye starter).

2 slices of bread, slightly toasted
½ avocado, flesh scooped out and sliced or mashed
2 bacon rashers (I used back and unsmoked bacon), grilled in the oven or fried
2 slices of mature (or vintage) cheddar

I don't have to give you a method, do I? ;)

Have a lovely Sunday!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Where to eat? Stein's Fish & Chips, Padstow

If you want to try probably the best fish & chips to take away prepared according to the recipes of well known and respected chef and at affordable prices this is a place for you. Fish is at it's freshest, selection is impressive and I like the fact you can either go for fried or grilled one. Tartare sauce was to die for, batter extremely crispy, real proper chips and garnish of lemon wedge and parsley just added this extra touch, as well as nicely presented box and wooden curterly. For me the best takeaway fish & chips I have ever had. Highly recommended! 

Stein's Fish & Chips 
South Quay
PL28 8BL

Opening times:

12 noon - 3pm
5pm - 9pm
12 noon - 2.30pm
5pm - 9pm

Fish and chips prices between £7.85 - £12.25, sauces and extras £0.35-2.00

Fish & chips with a view

Monday, 15 October 2012

Tasty Cornwall

Cornwall is a great place for food lovers. There are few Michelin starred restaurants in Cornwall and Devon but apart from those duchy is full of fantastic food producers, slightly cheaper restaurants run by celebrity chefs such as "Fifteen" (Jamie Oliver) or "The Seafood Restaurant" (Rick Stein), but traditional pubs serve good food as well - we managed to have a decent fish & chips and beef & ale pie in rather cheap spots. Tomorrow I will write a separate post about the best fish & chips in Cornwall.

Fish & chips with a view - pub The Port William in Trebarwith Strand
I would say the best Cornish Pasties we even had were those made by Pengenna Pasties (they have four spots in Cornwall) - pastry was exceptionally good, even I am not a big fan of pastry and the traditional filling with beef, potatoes, swede and onions very tasty and perfectly seasoned (peppery). We also bought 3 different ones to take away and all of the were equally good. Selection is nice, they even offer vegan ones.

Cornish Pastry, Tintagel
Cornwall is famous for pasties as well as clotted cream, fudge or ice cream (I recommend ice cream at Eden Project!) and in every tea room you are able to try thir famous Cornish cream - selection of tea with scones, clotted cream and fruit preserves. This is an absolute must try when you are in this region.

                                  Tasty and refreshing smoothie in tropical rain forrest at Eden Project
The only tea grown in United Kingdom is produced on the estate in Cornwall and it is called Tregothnan, if you are not keen to travel there you may as weel buy it at Eden Project. This tea is mainly producet to be exportet abroad so it makes it rare and valued in UK. At Eden Oroject I have spotted probably the most beautiful tin design! Local sardines in these great tins cought my eye, as well as duck rillettes. This was extremely good,made with duck, cranberries and Grand Marier and when I came back home and waslooking for some information about the producer Cornish Charcuterie I have found really enthusiastic review by Rick Stein saying how great this product is. Also in their gift shop there is a selection of famous  Cornish Sea Salts.

Tinned sardines and rillettes

Eden Project treats
Festivals, festivals... There are many food and drink festivals in Cornwall, I had a chance to go to Cornwall Food & Drink Festival  in Truro. To be honest it wasn't as impressive as my local one yet still there was a good selection of products.
top: cider, Cornish Yarg, saffron cake, bottom: Cornish Sea Salts, selection of cheese and bread

top: sausages, raw chocolate pies, fresh crabs, bottom: preserves, vegetable stand, Bramley apples and cider

I have done some shopping on the festival and decided to head to south coast to find a nice spot for a picnic. We were quite hungry, found a remote spot with lovely view and had improvised picnic. We had: fantastic wild venison salami (from Deli Farm Charcuterie), rosemary focaccia, ciabatta rolls, smoked goats' cheese Tesyn, traditional saffron cake with dried fruits, local ales (from a brewery called Penpont), and very tasty raw chocolate pie with pink Himalayan salt (from Raw Choc Pie). On the festival there was a nice selection of locally produced cheeses, probably themost famoous ones are Davidstow Cheddar, Cornish Yarg, or my favourite  Cornish Blue. We also bought Cornish Blue & fig pâté.- one of the best things I have ever tried. There is also very tasty pear and walnut version of this pâté

post-festival improvised picnic 
Probably the most popular and well known brewery in Cornwall is  St. Austell Brewery and we have tried their ales in every pub we went to. Town is not interesting ate all, but the brewr is worth visiting. There are guided tour, beer tasting and pint of beer of your selection in their pub after the tour is included in a ticket price.  You can shop in their gift shop and eat something in their pub. Menu is not impressive, but I was pleasantly surprise to see Cornwall's smoked hog's pudding - traditional thick sausage that can cotain an offal. It was tasty, but not as good as black pudding or Scottish haggis. 

brewery tour
Hog's pudding and ale

I can't think of anything else I should tell you about amazing Cornish food produce. I obviously know there are many, many more to discover and I will definately go back one day to this tasty part if United Kingdom to search more inspiring food and drink.

beef & ale pie in one of the pubs and famous Cornish cream tea: scones, clotted cream and fruit preserves

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Beautiful Cornwall

Some memories from our holiday in Cornwall in September. Hope you enjoy it. We absolutely love this part of UK.

top: Land's End, bottom: Cape Cornwall 

top: Padstow, bottom: Harlyn Bay

St. Agnes  coastal route



Eden Project

Eden Project - Tim Shaw's sculptures 

The Minack Theatre

The Minack Theatre


Top lef, clockwise: Bodmin Moor, St Michael's Mount, Charlestown, Port Isaac

I hope you enjoyed my photographs. Please come back tomorrow, as I will be telling you about all good things to eat and drink in Cornwall.

Friday, 21 September 2012

I'll be here...

.. when I am gone. 

Be good, spoil yourself, eat well and please come back at the beginning of October.


I will have limited (if any) Internet access so your comments may appear with a delay and I will respond to them when I come back.

I am off to Cornwall. Take care of yourself!

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Apricots, Earl Grey & mascarpone

It is time for a dessert from my new cookbook. Simplicity of many dishes really took me over but quite unexpectedly the desserts really won my heart too. And as I mentioned few times - I am not a really dessert person. I like to eat them, but not a big fan of making sweets. I have few recipes that I stick to and don't experiment a lot. This time it was completely different and I can tell you now this is not the last dessert from "Hugh's Three Good Things (on a plate)" on this blog. I am absolutely in love with this one and cannot wait to try some more fruity puddings soon.

Serves 6

250g organic dried apricots
500ml hot Earl Grey  tea
200g mascarpone 
20g icing sugar (or to taste)
splash of double cream (optional)

Place the apricots in a container and cover with hot tea. Leave it to cool down, cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, but preferably overnight. 

Next drain the liquid into a pan and boil until reduced by half and syrupy. When still warm pour over the apricots, leave it to cool down, cover and place in the fridge for another few hours, or up to two days. (each time I left apricots in the fridge for about 16-18 hours).

Beat the mascarpone with the sugar using hand miser or balloon whisk and if it gets too stiff add splash of cream or some Earl Grey syrup to loose it up.

Serve apricots with syrup and a dollop of mascarpone.

Swaps? Extras? Use dried figs, sultanas or prunes instead or as a mix.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Beetroot, smoked mackerel & horseradish pizza

This is probably the most bizarre pizza I came across (well, not mentioning some of American inventions I guess..). I am a big fan of minimalistic pizza with fresh tomato sauce and mozzarella, so I don't call myself a pizza toppings expert. I hate when pizza is overloaded with ingredients, especially cheese. 

This is also one of the best pizzas I ever made and ate. I mean the topping as well as the base. 

Recipe comes from "Hugh's Three Good Things (on a plate)" and to be honest it was on my mind constantly for last two weeks. First I though: "What a bizarre mix of ingredients in general and especially on a pizza" , but then second thought:

" What's not to like? Beets? Good! Mackerel? Good! Horseradish? Good!” 
(do you remember this scene from "Friends", in which Rachel prepared a dessert with beef?)

Anyway this combination is perfect. Beets &horseradish – delicious. Smoked mackerel & horseradish - delicious. These three work brilliantly in one dish.

What is the most bizarre pizza you have ever eaten?

3 medium pizzas


250g plain flour
250g white strong bread flour
1 level tsp of salt  
1 tsp instant yeast 
1 tbsp olive oil 
about 300ml water (or how much flour will take – different types of flour take different amount of water)


1 tbsp freshly grated horseradish 
3 tbsp plain yoghurt  
1 tbsp lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper 

2 medium beetroots, unpeeled
2 fillets of smoked mackerel
2 shallots (I used French, if you go for English ones double the amount, as they are much smaller)
a splash of olive oil
freshly ground black pepper

Firstly prepare the dough. Mix both flours together and add the salt, yeast and olive oil. Next little by little add the water and mix either with your hands or with a mixer. You need to knead the dough for about 10 minutes, it could be sticky at first but it will become more elastic during the kneading. Then place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with a cloth and leave it until doubled in size.

In the meantime prepare the sauce. Mix horseradish, yoghurt, lemon juice and mix and then season with some salt and pepper. Set aside and prepare the topping.

Heat the oven to 180 C, place beets in oven proof dish, drizzle with little olive oil and roast until soft. Knife should go in easily when they're ready. Remove from the oven and leave it to cool down. Then peel and slice.

Remove the skin from the mackerel and fake it with your fingers to bite size pieces.

Peel and slice the shallots (not too thinly, I cut them too thinly and some of them were burnt, still tasty though!). Place in a bowl, drizzle with little olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss it, until covered with oil.

Heat the oven to 250 C (or at least 220 C) with a pizza stone or a baking tray.

When dough is ready remove it from the bowl onto a floured worktop and gently press with yours hands. Divide into three parts and again press each to flatten them a bit. Leave it to rest for about 15 minutes. Then place one piece onto a tray or pizza shovel and roll thinly.

Place one third of the sliced beets onto prepared base, as well as mackerel and top with shallot rings. Drizzle with little more olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Slide the pizza onto a hot tray or stone and bake until crisp and golden. Repeat with the remaining dough and topping.

Divide into portions and serve with the horseradish sauce.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Peas, broad bean & leek soup with spicy croutons

Ages ago (well, in 2008) I have found very interesting recipe for peas and leek soup by British chef, author of several cook books and boss of the cookery school, well know from BBC programs Lesley Waters  (a former Head Master in Leith's Cookery School). Since then I have been making this soup on a regular basis, it became one of my favourite soups, however over the years I have modified the recipe slightly. Also this time I used bread beans, as I have a surplus from my garden and I know it seems a bit late for fresh peas and broad beans  but believe me or not last Wednesday I picked probably the last peas this year and quite a lot of broad beans are still remaining in my garden... However this soup is also delicious when made with frozen peas, and frozen broad beans are available in UK all year round (anyway these are only optional for this soup; most of the time I make it with peas and leek only). By the way, frozen peas is one of few frozen vegetables that taste as good as fresh. I always have a bag in my freezer. If you use frozen peas make sure it goes to the pan not last minute, but at the end of frying the leeks, just before adding hot stock.

Serves 2-4

4 tbsp olive oil 
2 small leeks, white and light green part, sliced
1 large garlic clove, peeled and chopped 
about 250ml fresh peas, podded
about 200ml fresh broad beans, podded
about 1 l vegetable stock, hot 
2-4 slices of stale bread, cubed
chilli powder or cayenne pepper  
freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 180 C. Place cubed bread on a baking tray, drizzle with 2 tbsp olive oil and sprinkle with chilli or cayenne. Place in the oven and bake until crispy and golden. 

Heat the remaining oil in a pan, add leeks and fry until slightly browned, then add garlic and fry for one minute or so. Add hot stock, bring to the boil, low down the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Then add the peas and broad beans. If you prefer to skin broad beans then you have to blanch them in boiling water for 3 minutes, drain, peel and put the peeled broad beans to the soup just for last 3 minutes.

Before serving season with salt and pepper (that depends on your stock flavours) and serve with spicy croutons.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

My subjective guide to culinary books, part 4

I think it is right time for me to share with you my views on my new cook book. I showed you few recipes and to be honest I was planning to publish another two this week, but unfortunately it looks like I manage to cook them this weekend at the earliest, so I thought I publish the review first. Perhaps some of you who have seen some of the recipes from this book posted on my blog already decided to buy this book. For some of you this review could be helpful.


This is the most recent book by one of my favourite foodies Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. Three good things on a plate – does this sound trivially? Don't take this as three ingredient cookbook, this is slightly different. Hugh simply used a formula of putting three things in one dish, things that have different flavours, consistency, texture and created over 175 easy to follow recipes. You don't need some fancy ingredients, make sure they are at their best, also no need of spending much time preparing the dishes or any special techniques. Recipes most of the time use quite humble ingredients. Hugh has experimented for years so he knows what works together and what not necessarily should not be mixed on one plate. Take advantage of his knowledge!

There is so much more in this book than some of the classic combinations that may sound very obvious, everybody knows fish, chips and mushy peas, sharp fruit, crumble and vanilla sauce, crusty bread with melted cheese and salty ham or chocolate cake with salted caramel. Sweet, salty, crunchy. Sharp, rich, crumbly. Number three seems to be mystical also in cooking.

Book is divided into several sections: salads, starters & soups, snacks & sides, vegetable trios, fish & two friends, meat & veg, pasta, rice & company, fruity threesomes, triple treats. Hugh gives you not only the exact easy to follow short recipes in which three ingredients are the key and work incredibly well together, but also he suggests swaps or extra ingredients to build up the recipe. For somebody who likes a bit of experimenting this is ideal!

Hugh also says that this is cooking and there is a room for experimenting, adding a light touch and a sense of fun. He suggest that readers if they wish so should experiment and swap i.e. one crunchy veg for other but this principles may not always work. Here is a room for reader's improvisation.

If you are unsure how to improvise there are still exact, great recipes for you and perhaps this book will be next big step for you and soon you will be challenging yourself to become more experimental?

Apart from the above this book is very pleasant to look at, as most of the Bloomsbury's books I remember. Food photos are quite simple, not over styled, rustic I would say, Simon Wheeler who worked with Hugh before (also with Heston Blumenthal) did fantastic job. Also there are stunning illustrations by Mariko Jesse, whose work you may remember from Hugh's "River Cottage Everyday"

If you haven't seen dishes from this book I had pleasure to cook and even more pleasure to eat, please have a look:

If you still need some more examples of recipes you can find in this book, perhaps you should come back here in few days and check out a recipe for dessert and the most bizarre pizza I have ever seen.

"Hugh's Three Good Things (on a plate)"

Bloomsbury Publishing Plc (August 2012)

Harcover, 416 pages

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Soup. Roast tomatoes, onion & pearl barley

I still go through my new cook book and even I had different culinary plans for this month for the last two weeks I have been writing my shopping lists with this book in my other hand. And to be honest - I don't mind this at all!

I already showed you some salads, breakfasts and now I think there is a good time for something warm and hearty, for example a soup. With minimum ingredients, little effort but maximum flavour and satisfaction.

Hugh recommends good chicken or beef stock, I had homemade vegetable stock and I would not swap it for meaty stock, but this is my personal choice. You can also use ready made passata (fresh tomato puree) but in my opinion passata made with roasted tomatoes it absolutely the best and it is well worth making an effort of preparing it. I made mine night before as well as the stock, so next day preparing this soup took me about 30 minutes.

Swaps? Use spelt or short grain rice instead of pearl barley. However for me the barley is what makes this soup special. 

Plus one? Add some Parmesan shaving on the top just before serving. 

Dinneeeeeeeeer's reaaaady!

Serves 4

2kg ripe tomatoes, halved
5-6 tbsp olive oil 
few springs of fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
750ml vegetable stock, hot
150g pearl barley, rinsed
1 large onion, peeled and diced 
freshly ground black pepper
some extra virgin olive oil for drizzling (optionally)

Heat the oven to 180C.

Place halved tomatoes in an ovenproof dish, sprinkle with chopped garlic, add bay leaves, thyme springs and drizzle with 3 tbsp olive oil. Place in the oven and roast for about an hour. Tomatoes should be soft, little wrinkly and start to caramelise on the edges. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool down. Them place in the sieve and using a ladle press all the juices. There should be only skins and peeps left on the sieve and you should get around 500-700ml of passata. 

In a pan heat 2-3 tbsp olive oil and fry the onion for about 10 minutes, over a low heat until softened. Next add the barley and mix until covered in fat. Add hot stock, passata and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the barley is cooked. 

Divide between serving plates/bowls and before serving drizzle with some extra olive oil. Serve with a piece of good bread.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Breakfast. Eggs, tomatoes, bread.

Good morning!

Eggs are such a classic thing for breakfast, aren't they? Bread first thing in the morning isn't something unusual too. Still this dish left me speechless. Yes, another recipe from my new cook book. Enjoy this lovely breakfast.

Serves 2

250g ripe tomatoes (cherry or regular ones)
3 tbsp olive oil
2-3 slices of your favourite bread 
2 eggs
freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 180 C. 

Line a baking tray with some baking paper. 

If you are using large tomatoes, cut them into wedges. I cut mine into halves and then each half into 3 pieces. If using cherry tomatoes, just cut them in half. Place onto a baking tray, drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, until they soften and start to caramelised on the edges.

Meanwhile tear or cut the bread into bite size pieces, place in a bowl and drizzle with the remaining olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Set aside.

After about 20 minutes remove the tomatoes from the oven and add the bread chunks. Return to the oven for about 7 minutes, until the bread starts to turn golden and crisp.

Then remove the dish from the oven and using a spatula or spoon form 2 hollows in amongst the tomatoes and bread. Break an egg into each hollow and return to the oven for max. 5 minutes. Whites should be set, but yolks still runny.

Remove from the oven, grind some salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Plus one? Add roughly torn chunks of mozzarella at the same time as eggs, letting them melt into the bread.

Enjoy it and have a lovely day!