Good Bread, Helford White and Prosciutto

~ Menu ~

A simple ham and cheese “platter”
A humble glass of Shiraz
Some meagre bits of cake, fresh orange, Cointreau and orange infused ice cream in an orange shell

I have just finished reading Ruth Reichl’s book Garlic and Sapphires and I am so, so envious. Not only has the lady written a book to be proud of; informative, seriously foodie and seriously entertaining, not only has she been paid to eat out in some of the finest restaurants in New York over and over again, she also, so as to get a realistic experience, had a lot of fun dressing up and assuming fake personas!

Back to reality, dressed as myself, today’s lunch was an assembly of various things, mostly from the Cornwall Food & Drink show I went to the other day ...

~ a couple of slices of Vicky’s bread (I have found a nearby supplier – Relish in Wadebridge),
~ some smoked spiced prosciutto. Apparently in Italy this just means ham but to me it means thinly, thinly sliced delicious salty/sweet wonderful ham! It is often called parma ham in England and prosciutto di parma in Italy.
~ a wedge of lovely pink Helford White cheese mentioned earlier, and
~ a small tomato and red onion salad dressed with a little olive oil, black pepper and Cornish Sea Salt.

Of course I washed it all down with a glass of red wine, a cheeky little Shiraz as it happens.

And dessert? Well sadly just a few things left over from testing recipes for my book ~ Luscious Ice Creams without a MachineI made an alcoholic orange and cake ice cream extravaganza thing. How I suffer for my “art”. This is what the finished dish looked like ...

Green Chilli Potato Cakes, Blackberry & Vodka Sorbet

~ Menu ~ 

Potato & Green Chilli Cake with Salted Cashews 

Pretty Salad with Honey Mustard & Lemon Dressing 
White Wine Spritzer 
Wild Blackberry & Vodka Sorbet

Today when my stomach mentioned it was lunchtime I couldn’t think of anything to eat but then, zut alors, I found some leftover mash in the fridge. What luck! Immediately my meal became obvious – a Potato & Green Chilli Cake, of course.

Potato & Green Chilli Cake 

If I had been preparing potato specifically for this dish I would have mashed it with mayonnaise instead of butter and milk but this was leftovers and buggers can’t be choosers

1 portion of leftover mashed potato 
scant ½ teaspoon of Patak’s Chilli Pickle

~  Munge together the cold mashed potato and the chilli pickle.

~  Form into a cake shaped thing and fry in a little olive oil till crispy on both sides and hot right through.

potato cake with green chilli and chashews

Patak’s super-excellent and very hot Chilli Pickle is a pantry (or rather tiny fridge in our caravan) staple for me and I feel I might write quite a lot about it. My standard “pretty salad”, which will be appearing frequently, is lettuce, red onion, tomato, peppers and carrot tossed together. Today I dressed it with a little bought in honey mustard dressing mixed with a squirt of lemon juice. A few salted cashews on top, a refreshing spritzer on the side and Bob’s your uncle. 

Despite the summery lunch the good weather seems to have gone, I thought it would, its almost October. The forecast is for rain forever now but yesterday was still warm and sunny so I went on a last blackberry picking trip. I didn’t get many as it seems the Devil has already spat on them. When I got home with a paltry half a pound or so of fruit I made Blackberry & Vodka Sorbet just for the hell of it and today I had to give it a “test”. It was cold, sweet, melt in the mouth essence of blackberry; a perfect cheering-up pudding on a rainy day.

wild cornish blackberries to make a sorbet

Blackberry & Vodka Sorbet

500g wild blackberries – picked over and stalks removed
80g sugar
80ml water
1 tablespoon vodka

~  In a small pan heat together the sugar and water, stirring, till the sugar has dissolved.
~  Turn up the heat and bring to a boil.
~  Add the prepared blackberries and return to a boil, stirring.
~  Turn down the heat and simmer, stirring from time to time, till the fruits start to burst. You can help them by mashing them against the side of the pan.
~  When the fruit is soft strain through a nylon sieve into a clean bowl, pressing on the fruit to squeeze every bit through the sieve, just leaving seeds.
~  Cool the blackberry syrup, stir in the vodka and pour into a shallow, preferably, metal dish.
~  Put in the freezer till almost frozen then stir and mash it about with a fork to break up any large crystals.
~  Freeze solid.

I have written a sorbet recipe book,  series, giving many more easy no churn sorbet recipes

no churn sorbets and granitas cookbook

The Cornwall Food & Drink Festival

~  Menu  ~

A small cup of Spicy Curry Sauce
Bits of Blue Cheese plus Bits of Pink Cheese
Cornish Yarg
Pieces of Fabulous Bread
Small tastes of various smoked fish
Cornish Crisps of various flavours – especially the chilli ones
Occasional sips of Healey’s various wonderful ciders
Cornish Stingers - a light, refres
hing and alcoholic drink made of nettles

Some strange and delicious raw chocolate products
Furniss Cornish Fairings and Clotted Cream Shortbread

Today’s lunch wasn’t so much sudden as sporadic and also I didn’t make it myself. I spent the day in Truro at The Cornwall Food & Drink Festival 2010. It was very crowded but the products at the show were all fantastic with many stalls offering generous tasters. 

The blue and pink cheeses mentioned above are made by Treveador Farm Dairy in Helston and were both seriously toothsome. The blue cheese is called Blue Horizon and is soft and creamy, the pink cheese, called Helford White, has a lovely coral coloured edible skin and is white and creamy with an appealing tang to it.


Cornish Yarg is another delectable Cornish cheese, sort of creamy and sort of crumbly. It is wrapped in nettles which gives a unique fresh and yummy taste and makes for a very pretty truckle. I tried both the “plain” Yarg and the excellent Wild Garlic Yarg. These are produced by Lynher Dairies in Ponsanooth.


I love cheese and Cornwall produces some humdingers. 

The fabulous bread, Vicky’s Bread, has to be the best I have ever tasted. I brought a large loaf of Organic Multigrain home with me. I’d have liked to have bought loads but travelling on the bus I couldn’t manage it. I have vowed to buy Vicky’s bread whenever I get the chance for the rest of my life! They are hand-made, slow-rise, organic and utterly outrageously moreish breads. The very eye catching stall and the very friendly and helpful staff are an added bonus.


Healey’s Cornish Rattler has been my beverage of choice in the pub since my first sip about 2 years ago, a gorgeous and, incidentally, potent cider. I was pleased to try their pear version and also their berry cider which were both great. 

I also drank some Cornish Stingers which I had never heard of but I’m glad I have now. It was a pleasant surprise; a refreshing, sparkling, slightly alcoholic (4% I think the man said) stinging nettle “beer” with a light summery taste. 

The raw chocolate bars, or pies as the company (Living Food of St. Ives) calls them, were strange and wonderful. I have made ice cream with cocoa or, more correctly, cacao nibs and it is good but I had not imagined that raw chocolate, in fact healthy raw chocolate without dairy, sugar or gluten, could be so utterly delicious. I tried all the varieties and had set my heart on buying a bar of the Raw Chocolate and Chilli Pie but it was sold out. I bought a naked bar so that my love interest might be tempted to try a morsel – in fact that’s all he’s getting. 


There were lots of other stalls all exhibiting and selling tempting foods and drinks; Cornish clotted cream, excellent chocolates, fresh organic produce, micro breweries etc. but I have only written about the most unusual things here. There was a stall selling smoked goods, a lot of smoked cheeses, and I brought home some smoked pigeon breasts to try. 

From Swannacott Manor Meats I bought two rib eye steaks, hung for 3 weeks, for me man and he’s already eaten one! He said it was “alreet” which, believe me, is quite a compliment from a Geordie.  There were of course a wide range of Cornish Pasties on sale … 


… but I didn’t try one being too full of cheese, chocolate and cider.  

Cornwall produces splendid lunch components!

Buttered Eggs with Roasted Asparagus & Smoky Bacon

Another lovely day in the South West. It almost seems to be a Law of Nature down here that the weather is great except during school holidays! I am trying to make the most of it but I can’t cook, eat, blog, play with ice cream and generally try to be a writer and simultaneously spend my time wandering the great outdoors, which is a shame so here are some pics from recent walks.

walking around Cornwall in September

Today’s lunch has been based around 3 asparagus stalks I had left in the fridge. Asparagus is almost a staple for me and I buy it every week whether I need it or not. I never boil, simmer, poach, steam or do anything else watery to it. I nearly always roast asparagus (sometimes I put it in stir fries) which intensifies the flavour and gives a crispy yet juicy, al dente texture.

How to Roast Asparagus

For my lunch I tossed a couple of rashers of smoked back bacon, diced, together with the asparagus so that it roasted too.

Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

~   Preheat oven to a suitable hot-ish temperature – 200°C/400°F/180ºC fan/gas 6 or so is good.
~   Prepare the asparagus - snap the asparagus tips from te stalks and then the stalks into pieces (discarding the end when it won’t snap any more).
~   Toss with some seasoning and enough olive oil to just coat and spread on a baking tray.
~   Put in the oven for a few minutes, shaking occasionally, till the tip of a knife goes in no trouble.

Scrambled Egg Statement

I have never ever whisked milk or cream into eggs for scrambling and in fact have usually called them, more appropriately, buttered eggs on menus. Julia Child did the same but she had a neat trick which I have now adopted; when just, just ready take off the heat and whisk in a knob of cold butter. This will stop them cooking any further, retain them at optimal creaminess and make them more delicious than ever. 

How to Scramble Eggs

~ Melt a generous knob of butter (about 15g/½oz) over medium heat in a small pan – non-stick preferably for washing up reasons.
~ Whisk two or three eggs together and pour into the partly melted butter and stir the two together.
~ Season and stir constantly over a low-ish heat.
~ As the eggs start to solidify fold them into the uncooked egg till you have a pan of softly cooked eggs.
~ Immediately stir in a little more cold butter.
~ Serve absolutely immediately.
For my lunch I stirred in the asparagus and bacon together with the final butter and served it on hot toast with a prodigious grind of black pepper. Yet again, a lovely lunch.

perfect scrambled eggs, roasted asparagus and bacon make a delicious sudden lunch

To round out this excellent meal of buttery scrambled eggs I ate a few freshly picked blackberries. 

We are at a disadvantage here in Cornwall because, unfortunately for us, the Devil spits on all the blackberries left after September so it does behove us all to eat them up as fast as we can.

foraging for blackberries in Cornwall

Sugared Walnuts & a Fully Loaded Tomato Sandwich!

~ Menu ~ 

Fully Loaded Tomato Sandwich 
Glass of Merlot 
A spoonful of Ice Cream and a few leftover Sugared Walnuts 

A lovely sunny day today and no-one about, which makes it even better. We spend half of our life on a campsite in Cornwall and the high season can be very crowded and wearing. Spring and autumn, on the other hand, are delicious; just us, the crows in the trees and peacefulness.

Cornwall porthcothan-cornwall
After breakfast I went for a walk along the cliffs – some of the loveliest in Cornwall – picked a few blackberries and came back with purple lips but still starving. My fridge was pathetic today and didn’t come up with any inspiring leftovers so I decided to fall back on a great favourite on mine – Tomato Sandwich – but not just any old tomato sandwich, one ultra augmented with all sorts of goodies. Before I put the lid on it looked like this …

tomato salad open sandwich

I used wholemeal bread spread with a little mayonnaise (Hellman’s Light which takes as good as non-light mayo to me) and then a spoonful or two of chilli-spiked pasta sauce. Over this I dolloped a little Garlic and Herb Boursin and then topped all this tasty creaminess with sweet cherry tomatoes, a few salad leaves and crunchy red onion. After taking this picture I put on the second slice and devoured the lot washed down with some red wine, of course. It was so delicious that writing this I feel like eating it all over again.

For dessert I just had a an abstemious amount of homemade coffee ice cream (for which, of course, I used my excellent no-churn ice cream recipe) sprinkled with a few candied walnuts, recipe below.

homemade coffee ice cream with crunchy walnuts

Sugared Walnuts

200g sugar 
100ml water 
½ teaspoon ground black pepper - optional 
2 pinches salt 
250g walnut halves
  • Preheat the oven to 350˚F, 180˚C, gas mark 4 and set a lightly greased baking tray beside the stove.
  • Heat together the sugar and water over low heat, stirring till the sugar has dissolved.
  • Turn up the heat and boil to a light syrup - this only takes a few minutes, a little of the syrup dabbed on a plate should form a thread when you lift the spoon.
  • Stir in the rest of the ingredients.
  • Spread onto the baking tray and put in the oven for 10-15 minutes till crisp - keeping an eye and a nose out in case they start to overcook.
  • Cool, breaking up any clumps and use whole or chopped in or on ice cream, in salads or just in your mouth.
NOTE: You will have noticed the optional black pepper in the recipe - this makes sugar spiced walnuts which are perfect in this lovely blue cheese salad.  These lovely sugar glazed walnuts are a boon in so many dishes!

Spontaneous Autumnal Lunch including Homemade Brandy Snaps!

~ Menu ~

An autumn dish of Pumpkin Ravioli
Glass of Merlot
Brandy Snaps, Late Season Strawberries & Cornish Clotted Cream

I had a lovely sunny, breezy walk this morning, across the fields, through the woods and the churchyard and down to Padstow harbour. I spent a pleasant half hour wandering around reading menus and enjoying pottering about in the little shops and art galleries. After walking back amongst wind blown leaves and then smelling woodsmoke in the air I was really in the mood for a lunch that would continue the autumn theme.

autumn fields in Cornwall

My luck was in because when I looked in the fridge I found I had 5 forgotten pieces of pumpkin ravioli (Tesco’s Finest, not my own) leftover from the other night’s dinner. Also on the stove our lamb shanks which had been slowly braising in red wine for a couple of hours and on the counter a bowl of freshly foraged cobnuts.
freshly foraged cobnuts

Leftovers always inspire me so I chopped a small handful of the nuts, browned them in butter and set them aside. I added a ladleful of juice from the lamb shanks to the butter left in the pan, making sure I got quite a bit of onion in the ladle. Whilst this was reducing down slightly I cooked the ravioli and then turned them gently in the savoury lamb goo. 

I served this lovely dish to myself topped with the sautéed nuts, freshly grated Gran Padano, lots of freshly ground black pepper and some parsley out of the garden. I also encouraged myself to a glass of red wine and I couldn’t have been more delighted!

ravioli in lamb and cobnut sauce

For dessert I had a small handful of freshly picked late strawberries, a little clotted cream and a few broken brandy snaps left over from experimenting for my forthcoming book on leftovers, see below. Lastly a delicious cup of black coffee.

Lucky me!

brandy snap biscuits
Pin for future reference.

Brandy Snaps Recipe

These can be shaped into bowls by moulding over upside down cups, or tubes by twisting round a wooden spoon handle. Only bake one or two at a time; you need to work quickly to shape them once they are out of the oven, alternating baking trays is a good idea. If they do harden too much pop them back in the oven for a minute.  

50g butter
50g granulated or caster sugar
50g Golden Syrup
50g plain flour
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon brandy

~   Preheat oven to 180ºC/350°F/160ºC fan/gas 4. 
~   Melt together the first three ingredients in a small pan over medium heat, stirring till smooth. 
~   Allow to cool for a few minutes then stir in the rest of the ingredients 
~   Lightly grease a baking tray or two and spoon one or two brandy snaps on each tray. 
~   Spread thinly in a round (to make baskets), or a strip (to make twirls) or any other shape you feel inspired to create. Leave plenty of space as they spread. 
~   Bake till the batter has spread and bubbled and become a dark golden lace on the baking sheet - about 10 minutes. 
~   Remove from the oven and allow to sit a little tiny while till you can manipulate the brandy snap off the tray and onto or around your mould. 
~   Cool completely in situ and keep in an airtight container but not for too long. If they do soften return to a medium oven for a few minutes, re-shape and re-cool.

Broken brandy snaps are good just sprinkled over ice cream.

News from the Future ...

My book was published in March, 2013. Originally titled The Leftovers Handbook a second edition is now available and is called Creative Ways to Use Up Leftovers.  In it I give all the information, ideas and recipes I can think of for more than 450 possible leftovers. 

leftovers handbook