Tag Archives: Chocolate

Food Miles: Cornwall

Ok, so only 300 miles travelled this time! In fact, we travel them a fair amount since we have family in Padstow. The to-do list when we visit is always the same:

– Pasty
– Ice Cream
– Rick Stein Fish and Chips
– Paul Ainsworth Number 6

We never fail to complete our to-do list… probably because we are quite dedicated to it! Within hours of arriving we were down at The Chough in Padstow for an award-winning traditional steak pasty hot from the oven. A complete meal in your hands.

We then completed our second self-assigned task of fish and chips from Rick Stein’s relatively new chippy. You may have to queue, but it’s really worth it. The calamari (if in season) is my favourite though you’ll find all the traditional cod and plaice in fluffy Steins batter (which you can buy and take home). Side orders of mushy peas, garlic mayo and bread and butter are a must. You can also down an Oyster while you wait. There are cheaper chippys in town, but I think this is worth the extra.

Just 24 hours later we had our table at Number 6 – which has been made even more popular since Paul Ainsworth’s appearances on The Great British Menu in the South West category for the past couple of years. The food always amazes, for both its taste and its fun presentation. We ordered a duck ragu starter (Paul told us it only took a week to make the ragu!), melt-in-your mouth pork belly and ‘A Taste of the Fairground’ for dessert – the winning Great British Menu dish from Paul’s first year in the competition. Plus we ordered his dessert from this year’s competition too – a chocolate cake with a golden caramac sauce and pistachio cake. Yummy doesn’t even cut it.

Other great places to eat in and around Padstow include Rojano’s – an Italian restaurant recently acquired by Paul Ainsworth, with a well-thought out menu and well-flavoured food. The Basement Café is a fab place for a huge doorstep bread sandwich at lunch and is just a waddle away from the Bin2 wine shop were you can sup on a glass of wine on the patio. Just a 20 minute drive down the coast from Padstow takes you to Watergate Bay, home to Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Cornwall. With a beach view, it’s best to visit at lunchtime and enjoy some of the best Italian food I’ve had outside of Italy. We had starters of deep-fried courgette flowers stuffed with ricotta, mint and pea shoots along with an unusual but delicious risotto of peach, prosecco, mint and mozzarella. Followed by mains of pork ragu pasta and gnocchi we failed to make it to dessert :-(

Before leaving there was just enough time to squeeze in a Cornish cream tea (cream first and then the jam) and buy 12 pasties for our freezer. I think it’s safe to say that the cream tea has now earned its place on the ‘to-do list’ for our next visit. Dribble.

Banana and Nutella Cornish Pasty
Makes 2

A sweet Cornish Pasty using one of my favourites – Nutella!

Ingredients
– Plain flour for dusting
– 250g sheet puff pastry
– 2 bananas
– 2 tablespoons of Nutella
– 2 teaspoons demerara sugar
– 1 egg
To serve:
– Icing sugar
– Vanilla ice cream

Method
1. Preheat your oven to 180°/Gas Mark 4. Flour a work surface and your rolling pin. Divide the 250g sheet of puff pasty into two. Roll out each portion fairly thinly until you have a pastry which you can cut an 8″/20cm circle out of it. Find something to use as a template and cut a circle and then discard the extra pastry.

2. Fold the pastry circles in two to make a crease in the middle and lay back out. You only want to fill the top half of the circle so you can use this line as a guide. Dollop the Nutella equally between the top halves of the two circles of pastry. Spread it a little but it is important to leave a good border around the edge of the pastry to seal it later.

3. Cut the bananas into rounds and place on top of the Nutella. Be careful not to overfill – you may not be able to fit the whole banana into the pastry. Finish with a sprinkling of sugar.

4. Beat the egg into a small dish and using a pastry brush lightly brush it around the edge of the circle of pastry. Now fold the bottom half up and seal the edges well with your fingers.

5. Next comes the crimping of the pasty! It’s not easy but thankfully YouTube is here to help! Check out this clip or freestyle something to seal the pasty! You could always use a fork and press it along the semi circle.


6. Egg wash the top of the pasty and place into the oven for 30-35 minutes until golden. Allow to cook slightly before dusting with some icing sugar and serving with vanilla ice cream. Sticky, gooey and delicious!

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How to… do Petits Fours

I love petits fours for two reasons. One, they are rather posh! And two, sometimes three courses just aren’t enough and a chocolatey soupçon with coffee (which I also love!) is very welcome.

You don’t need to be a French pastry chef to make petits fours, nor do you need to rush out to Harrods to buy too-pretty-to-eat bite-sized desserts. Here is how I made them at home – inspired by Margots restaurant in Padstow where I like to gorge on their sticky toffee pudding prior to getting onto their petits fours.

First and foremost, it’s good to have something chocolatey in your petits fours mix. Margots serves homemade chocolate fudge with theirs so that’s what I went for too. You have two options when making fudge. You can make it properly using liquid glucose syrup or you can go for a bit of a cheat version (like I did) and use condensed milk. It takes 10 minutes to make this way and just needs to set overnight in the fridge. Simples.

I used this Kirstie Allsop recipe, though Nigella has a similar recipe with pistachio nuts. It stores well in the freezer and can be eaten as a melt-in-your-mouth sweet for months afterwards. You can also chop it into ice cream or pop into cellophane bags and give as Christmas gifts. The possibilities are endless!

Anyway, back to the petits fours…. you can make vanilla or traditional fudge if you prefer. Or you could make your own chocolate truffles or salted caramel bites even. Mmm!

To compliment the rich chocolate, it’s nice to serve something fruity. I used dark chocolate for my fudge, which goes well with forest fruits, so a handful of fresh and a few glacé cherries is what I opted for. Chocolate also goes well with strawberries, raspberries and figs.

Caramelised walnuts also work well with the chocolate and were the next component to my lil’ platter. Again, they are easy to make, caramelised hazelnuts would make a nice alternative.

Finally, I put Palmiers biscuits onto my platter. I’m slightly obsessed with these little things. If you’re patient enough to make puff pastry you can make them yourself really easily too. Palmiers go very well with all of the other petits fours ingredients as well as coffee. Equally you could serve amaretti or biscotti, which would be yummy with truffles instead of fudge.

Then it’s just a case of making sure that you and your guests save yourself some room to eat them!

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Herman the German Friendship Cake

Someone gave me a Herman. Nothing dodgy… it’s a sourdough mix which you ‘feed’ and stir over 10 days before using the mix to make a cake. You actually make a cake with just a ¼ of the mix and give the other ¾ to 3 friends for them to make their own Hermans. It’s the noughties answer to a chain letter!

When I first received Herman I wasn’t all too sure to be honest. He was exploding out of the Tupperware and they’d be a bit of leakage! Was this really going to end up a scrummy cake? And how much effort was this going to be?

True to my word I kept and fed my Herman with milk, sugar and flour and the end result was really moreish and although it took 10 days, it was minimal effort. I shared the cake with a group of friends who snaffled it in record time whilst referring to it as ‘love cake’!

You can read more about Herman on this website http://www.hermanthegermanfriendshipcake.com/

Herman the German Friendship Cake
Don’t worry if you haven’t received a Herman mix as you can make your own really easily. Click here for instructions on how to make the starter mix and also how to grow your mix once you have received or made it!

My Herman
I pimped my Herman slightly before baking. Here’s what I added:
– 200g Glace Cherries, halved (most delicious things EVER, why haven’t I used them before?!)
– Small handful of Hazlenuts
– 100g dark chocolate chips
– Small handful of Walnut halves

I also left the suggested apples out of the cake as I didn’t fancy them and I used Vanilla extract instead of essence. Finally, try and bake your Herman in a large cake tin. Since it’s such a moist mix Herman will take longer to cook in a deep tin.

Then simply share the love by passing Herman on!

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Tried and Tasted: Sweet Things

There’s a never-ending list of recipes I want to try. I’ve always got my head in cookbooks, magazines and blog posts looking for things that catch my eye. Near the top of my list was Joy the Baker’s Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread. You only need to look at the pictures to see why! I finally tried it out this week and it did not disappoint – nutty, sweet, warm and flavoursome, it was hard not to eat straight out of the oven. But I was patient… I let it cool a bit… I wrapped it up… I even took it round to my little brother’s as an extra house-warming gift. It didn’t last long! Next time I make this, I might add a dash more yeast/allow more rising time to get slightly thicker slabs of dough. If you’re in the U.K. and making this, you’ll find Delia’s online conversion tables will come in handy.

My sweet tooth was being a bit demanding last week so I also made Hummingbird Chocolate and Hazelnut cupcakes. They were so easy to make yet look pretty impressive (If I do say so myself!) I use an apple corer to hollow out a bit of the cupcake and fill with Nutella. There’s also Nutella in the frosting but as sweet and chocolatey as these cupcakes are, they’re not sickly. I’ll definitely be making them again. The recipe can be found in the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook available here on Amazon.co.uk. And remember, the Hummingbird Bakery’s cupcake recipes are calculated for U.S. cupcake cases which are larger than U.K. ones… I always forget! Nothing wrong with an oversized cupcake though :-)

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