January, 2013


28
Jan 13

Trelowarren: a paradise for foodies

Cornwall is one of the top UK destinations for food lovers. It’s also becoming increasingly popular as a holiday destination, as more and more people decide to stay in the UK for their holidays. It is wild and invigorating and the winter, and stunningly beautiful in the summer.

Cadgwith Cove

Cadgwith Cove

We spent a week recently in Cornwall to explore the county in more depth, and to check out one of the top Cornish foodie holiday desitinations: Trelowarren.

Trelowarran estate

Trelowarran estate

Trelowarren, is an historic 1000 acre estate, situated on The Lizard peninsula, the most southerly tip of England, just a few miles south of Helston in Cornwall. The estate has been owned by the Vyvyan family for over 600 years. The Grade I listed main house is lived in by the Vyvyans to this day, and several properties on the estate have been converted into luxury environmentally friendly holiday cottages which are let all year round alongside several new-build eco-cottages, making Trelowarren a holiday destination with something for everyone – even Kylie Minogue visited recently.

The Doctor's Cottage

Fogou Cottage

We stayed in the Downas cottage which sleeps four people and in fact is the smallest cottage available to rent on the Estate. Downas was converted in 2002 from the former Estate office. The cottage throughout was of an excellent standard and immaculately clean. The décor at Trelowarren is very simple, but tasteful and of good quality, with some lovely pieces of art in every room.

The kitchen at Downas

The kitchen at Downas

Trelowarren is a brilliant place to discover and enjoy Cornish food. The wonderful thing is that the Estate has an excellent restaurant, New Yard, which is situated at the heart of the Estate.

New Yard Restaurant at Trelowarren

New Yard Restaurant at Trelowarren

In the summer, the Vyvyans run a pizza pop up using their newly installed wood-fired oven, and also bake bread and a small number of other goodies for you to purchase and enjoy at your cottage.

The wood fired pizza oven at Trelowarren

The wood fired pizza oven at Trelowarren

Therefore, if you want to get away and eat out, you can, but with the same level of comfort of a very good hotel, but with more privacy than a hotel as you have your own space. But if you want to cook at home, you can and what’s more, it’s incredibly easy to get your hands on some brilliant local produce.

The pizza pop up at Trelowarren

The pizza pop up at Trelowarren

The holiday cottages on the Trelowarren estate are mostly set around the restaurant building, and there is a craft centre and nursery adjacent, too. There is a large reception building which leads out to the swimming pool (outdoor, and heated to 28°C, even in the winter), and a well-equipped gym and the Spa. I was fortunate enough to fit in a treatment at the Trelowarren Spa during our stay. It was wonderful. The Spa is an extremely peaceful place to unwind, without the hustle and bustle of many salons, and Kim, my therapist was absolutely lovely – I could have chatted to her all day long.

The pool at Trelowarren

The pool at Trelowarren

The New Yard Restaurant at Trelowarren has been voted one of the top three restaurants in Cornwall by the Good Food Guide 2013. It opens for lunch and dinner in the week, longer at weekends, serving modern British food, sourcing all ingredients very locally. Olly Jackson, Head Chef at New Yard sources all meat, fish and cheese very locally. Other ingredients, such as game, eggs and herbs come from the estate, as do some vegetables and fruit, working with the Head Gardener at Trelowarren. The menu changes regularly, working with the best of local and seasonal produce. It is also exceptionally good value for the quality of cooking and so worth a stop if you are in the area, as it is open to non-residents every day, too. The pizzas at the pizza pop up are very good, too. Thin, crispy, interesting toppings and good value – a must if you are staying.

We discovered some great local food producers and shops on the Lizard which were well worth a visit for stocking up on goodies if self-catering, or to take home for presents.

Cornwall is easily accessibly by rail, air and road. If you haven’t ventured down to the Lizard before, a trip is highly recommended.

With thanks to Sir Ferrers and Lady Victoria Vyvyan for having us to stay and looking after us so well.


28
Jan 13

Cranberry and orange polenta muffins

Cranberry and orange polenta muffins

Cranberry and orange polenta muffins

There’s nothing like a spot of homemade baking on a cold winter’s day. Try these gluten free muffins (which can also be made dairy free) to warm you up and bring some cheer to these short, dark days.

One of the keys to making great muffins is using a good quality non-stick tin – there’s nothing worse than your baking getting stuck when you remove it from the oven. I have found these UK- manufactured tins by Great British Bakeware to be really good – they have a really nice scratch resistant, non-stick finish and are easy to clean. Using a good tin means you’re one step closer to the perfect muffin!

Cranberry and orange polenta muffins

Makes 12

Ingredients

-  120g Wheat and gluten free plain flour blend

-    100g Polenta (N.B. Ensure is gluten free )

-    50g ground almonds

-    1 tablespoons baking powder

-    1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

-    1400g golden caster sugar

-    2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice

-    Finely grated zest of 2 large oranges

-    250 ml sunflower oil

-    250 ml milk or soya milk

-    2 large free-range eggs

-    200g fresh blueberries

Method

1)    Preheat the oven to 200°C/400F/Gas Mark 6

2)    Line a muffin tin with paper cakes

4)    Sift the flour, baking powder & bicarbonate of soda into a bowl. Mix in the polenta, ground almonds and sugar and make a well in the centre.

5)    Pour the oil and the egg into the milk and orange juice and whisk until well combined.

6)    Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix gently. Stir in the cranberries and orange zest

7)    Divide the mixture into the cake cases and bake for 15- 20 minutes until golden brown.

8)    These muffins are delicious fresh for breakfast or a snack and also freeze extremely well.

Thanks to Great British Bakeware by George Wilkinson for the excellent muffin tin.


3
Jan 13

My favourite cookery books of 2012

FOS

The Food of Spain, by Claudia Roden, (Michael Joseph) filled me with a strong surge of excitement and nostalgia as I looked at Claudia Roden’s new hefty tome The Food of Spain for the first time.  Excitement to finally set eyes on this book, the result of five years of research and the latest in a long line of supremely detailed, sociologically fascinating cookery books written by Claudia Roden. I also felt a strong rush of nostalgia reading this book, having lived in Spain and being a devout hispanophile. I am convinced that anyone who is interested in Spanish food and culture will also feel the same looking through this very evocative book, packed with well and lesser known recipes and stunning photographs.

I am particularly excited to see such a definitive book on Spanish food, as I have believed for many years that the food of Spain is, at its best, absolutely unbeatable, with flavours and ingredients still deriving from every region. This is something which has been explored in Italy many times over, but much less so in Spain. I immediately wanted to read this wonderful book from cover to cover and soak up every detail and indeed enjoyed every page.

LE

Let’s Eat, Tom Parker Bowles, (Pavillion) is probably the biggest surprise of 2012. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book. Filled with plenty of favourite recipes and some interesting new things to try, particularly in terms of Asian-inspired recipes from his travels, initially, I wasn’t blown away by the selection of recipes in this book. The revelation was, in fact, when I started cooking from this book. Every recipe I have made from Let’s Eat has been utterly delectable and loved by everyone who has tried it. I would go as far as saying it’s a pretty essential kitchen companion for every keen home cook. Yes, the recipes do involve proper cooking – it’s not the book to go for if you are looking for ideas for supper on a weeknight from shopping bag to table in under half an hour, but what it does, it does very well. The cover sleeve features Tom’s scribbled notes, stained with wine rings and splatters. I’m sure yours will look like this on the inside very soon, like mine. A great book to cook your way through.

SSS

Salt, Sugar, Smoke, by Diana Henry (Mitchell Beazley) is the much-anticipated latest book by Diana Henry, which focuses on preserving. I am a devout reader of Henry’s books and this one does not disappoint. The first chapter focuses on jams, jellies and chutney, and I have been particularly struck by the gorgeous combinations of flavours – I can’t wait for next summer to come around already so that I can get preserving. Greengage and gewurzstraminer jam and the Italian mostarda particularly appeal. There are also many pages devoted to preserving meat and fish, which I hope to attempt next year – they require some planning and preparation, for which, sadly, I have not had an abundance of time of late. It is a book to read, then to plot and to plan. It is one that requires you to stock up on equipment and ingredients to cook with and savour every moment of.  As Henry so rightly states in the introduction, and I paraphrase wildly, to start a day with a slice of toast and to spread it with a very special homemade jam, turns any old morning into something much, much better. Here, here.

 


3
Jan 13

Pea and ham soup

Pea and ham soup

It’s cold outside. It’s raining and it’s the perfect day for snuggling up indoors. On these days, I love to make soup. Homemade soup is cheap, nourishing and soothing to make. It makes such a tasty lunch, too.

One of my favourite soup recipes is pea and ham. It’s so easy to make and takes around half an hour from cupboard to table. I use frozen peas as I love their flavour and colour. This recipe is a great one to make at this time of year, as the ingredients are very easy to source – if you don’t have them, you can most likely pick them up at the corner shop.

Here is my recipe:

Pea and ham soup

Serves 4 generously

Ingredients

50g butter

1 small white onion, chopped fairly finely

500g frozen peas

800ml hot vegetable stock

1 bay leaf

salt and pepper to taste

4 tbsp full-fat yoghurt

100g excellent quality thick ham, shredded

Method

1)   Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the onion and cook gently over a moderate heat for 5-10 minutes until the onion is softened, slightly translucent but not browned.

2)   Add the peas and stir well, followed by the stock, bay leaf and salt and pepper. Stir again and leave to bubble away for 10 minutes until the peas are tender

3)   Remove the bay leaf and blend the soup until smooth using a blender or a stick blender

4)   Add the cream, crème fraîche or full-fat yoghurt, whatever you are using and stir well.

5)   Taste the soup to check the seasoning and serve immediately with the ham on top. Any leftover soup freezes well in individual portions

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