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Restaurant Review – Rick Stein’s, Porthleven

February 19, 2016 No Comments


It’s the tail end of Hurricane Imogen when we venture down to Porthleven to celebrate a family wedding anniversary. And what’s a better way to celebrate such an occasion than heading down Rick Stein Porthleven? The latest addition to his Cornish Empire.


As we drive over the brow of the hill, undulating mountains of water blow in from the – a key reminder of the power of the ocean. Porthleven is the perfect place to sit and watch the elements battle it out. Maybe that’s why it features so heavily in the national newspapers at this time of year.

Rick Stein’s is set in the old white walled China Clay Building on the edge of the harbour and it’s a fantastic spot for a restaurant. As we approach, the outside is bathed in a bright blue light which looks a little out of place with the old stone harbour and more in keeping with an 80s cocktail bar. Entering the building, the first thing you see is the open kitchen, great if you’re the sort that likes to take a sneak peek at your food being prepared.

Having hung our coats up we enter the bar area, which is decked out with wooden barrels, quirky vintage light fittings and a smidgen more blue lighting. There’s also a painting of a naked surfer on the wall. It’s more than a little out of place.

The menu looks great. We know what to expect from Rick Stein by now: a mixture of British and Spanish dishes with the occasional safely Asian dish thrown in.

Sardines with an oat crumb


To start with there are Mounts Bay grilled sardines with an oat crumb which have a salty succulence paired with a mellowing oat crumb. I go for the classic fish soup with lashings of parmesan and a generous helping of crisp croutons. But the winner in the first course stakes goes to the fried calamari. Unlike the battered and bread crumbed varieties that are all the rage, these are served naked and on a bed of salad that’s very South East Asian in flavour: sweet, spicy and nutty all at the same time.

Fish and Chips


Into the main course, I opt for the boring; fish and chips. I know, I know, but there’s just something about a batter that’s truly crisp, the cod steaming away inside, with beef dripping chips and generous helpings of mushy peas and homemade tartar sauce. Sometimes it’s nice to keep it simple. Two of us have the Indonesian seafood curry. One telling us it’s quite spicy, the other that it’s a tad mild. It must be just right then. We also have the Gnocchi con Granseola, a Venetian dish pairing the gnocchi with spider crab and an Eastern Europe spiced sauce. I try and sample everything from everyone’s plate, all in the name of research, but not everyone is willing to part with their food.

Chocolate pavé


The dessert menu calls shortly after and there’s are some interesting selections to make. I go for a popcorn panna cotta with caramel shards. It’s texture is creamy, but even without the crunchy texture you associate with popcorn, the buttery flavour shines through. We also opt for the chocolate pavé, salted caramel ice cream and chocolate sauce. It’s a rich, gooey treat that goes down well with everyone.


As we leave, we’re once again bathed in the techno glow of the blue lighting. A reminder or the odd décor. But don’t let that put you off. The food has that unmistakable Stein’s quality to it – from the fish and chips through to the gnocchi – and gets the Cornish Holiday Cottages seal of approval.

South West Street Food Competition

September 28, 2015 No Comments


The jury is out for the best street food in the nation and the search has stretched to all corners of the UK, and of course the South West has a massive street food scene, so britishstreetfood.co.uk set up shop on Falmouth’s Event Square for an epic three days of smoked roasts, Asian inspired fish dishes, gourmet crumpets and secretive bars recently.

Here at Cornish Holiday Cottages we can’t resist a foodie event and found ourselves throwing our healthy eating plans to the wind in a bid to sample everything on the menu.

Competitors came from as far away as Dorset: there were sumptuous kebabs from Devon’s The Posh Kebab Company and elegant ice-cream from Somerset’s Vee Double Moo, as well as pig’s tails and stacked pork club sandwiches from Falmouth’s own Rasher.

Our quest to sample everything in sight was helped by the £3 sampler options offered by each stall. But stall really doesn’t do justice to the vintage trailers and American Airstream caravans that the food was being served from. These events have become road shows as much as they are about the food: it’s all about the shop front these days.

The quality of meat and fish on offer is a true credit to the street vendors. They have all partnered with local butchers and fishmongers to create the best products they can. But

The first stop on our culinary tour was the Posh Kebab Company, who offered us generous free samples before we even showed an interest in buying anything – such is the power of a competition. Their Mongolian lamb was to die for. Their meat is marinated for at least 24 hours before being slow cooked in the traditional kebab manner. This is as far from your late night kebab shop as you can get.

Next we found ourselves salivating over SeaDog’s Asian inspired fishy delights. The smell of their seafood laksa – a South East Asian noodle dish – was a spicy siren luring us in with its mixture of crab, ling, coconut and Cornish Seaweed. SeaDog are a on a bit of a mission as well: with only 3% of the fish and seafood caught around the North Devon coastline staying in the area and the rest being exported, they are trying to cling on to the heritage of the local fisherman.

It was at this point in the day that we caught wind of a secret bar that was being run by Sharpe’s Brewery and after hunting down the guest list we found ourselves bundled into the back of a large van. As our eyes adjusted to the twilight darkness of the van we could make out the metallic edges of a bar and a padded bench, upon which we slipped ourselves. The lights then came on and a barman popped up from behind the bar.

Over the next half hour we were treated to a variety of ale and food pairings designed to mingle on the palette. There was Chalky’s Bite, a fennel tinged beer made for Rick Stein and served with a mackeral pate; a beer that takes the bite off of a Cornish blue cheese; a 7% beer brewed with Origin coffee that works beautifully when washed over salted caramel brownies. At the end it’s revealed that all the food was prepared by Michelin Star chef Paul Ripley!

Before we get round to telling you about the winners of the event, we must mention Lola’s Wings from Devon – probably the best chicken wings we’ve ever tasted. They were crispy in all the right places and slid from the bone. It seems futile a gesture – we’ll probably never see them again ourselves – but if you ever get the chance…

At the end of the weekend there could only be one winner and there was a little bit of hometown favouritism at play. Rasher won both the Judge’s and the People’s Choice Awards with their understated porky delights. But with their residency at local hipster bar, Mono, and through appearing at almost every food related event in Cornwall, they have a big presence in the town and a lot of fans. Andy Appleton, Head Chef at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Cornwall oversaw proceedings and in the interests of fairness, Inkie’s Smokehouse with their 16 hour smoked meats and irresistible sauces went through to the finals as well. And we say good luck to them both.



The Seafood Bar – Falmouth

August 27, 2015 No Comments

From the outside, The Seafood Bar is very obviously a seaside restaurant. Less than 50 metres from the seafront, down a side street, there’s the white and blue façade, the thick square windows, there’s a pine door that you have to hunker down to enter, then there’s the array of blackboards with specials and desserts trying to coax in passers-by. It’s also something of an anachronism on the streets of Falmouth. It’s in a part of town heaving with fashionable restaurants, reclaimed wooden signs and battleship grey exteriors as well as gourmet burger joints and burrito bars.

The Seafood bar doesn’t go in for any of that though. It’s refreshing:  a family restaurant run by Kerry up front and her son, Ben, in the kitchen. The atmosphere is laid back, friendly and unpretentious. Kerry is warm and interested, as is the other waitress. There’s no candle on our table, but when this is noticed it’s rectified with a giggle, ‘where’s the romance on this table?’

The Seafood Bar 5

The two rooms which make up the restaurant are cosy and being six foot I have to squeeze into position. Glass floats in nets and other fishing paraphernalia decorate the walls. It doesn’t appear to have been changed since it opened – and neither should it.

Unpretentious is a word that also rightfully describes the food. This is a seafood lover’s restaurant: crab is served whole, prawns come with the shells on and main courses are usually served with their tails. It’s the sort of menu that lives and dies by the quality of its ingredients. And the fish is fresh. If it’s not landed that day, then it doesn’t go on the menu. Pollack is replaced with hake and the scallops are off when we visit – they didn’t come in this morning.

The Seafood Bar 2

We start with a potted crab and moules mariniere. There’s a sweet hint of fennel to the crab and well, you can’t go wrong with steamed mussels. There’s a homespun playfulness to the presentation too – little beetroot hearts adorn the plate. The main courses are a picture of home cooked comfort, make me wonder if this is how fishermen ate a hundred years ago. The fish pie is a huge bowl of creamy potato, salmon, cod, prawns and is topped with a thick layer of crispy cheese. It’s a beautiful bowl of comfort food.

The Seafood Bar 6

We couple this with a whole megrim soul in lemon butter. The fish flakes from the bone, but it takes me a while to remember where they are in sole and I end up picking a few out during the first few mouthfuls – whoops.

On the table behind us – I really have to crane my neck to see – they’re having the seafood platter, which is a huge sharing plate of crab, mussels, oysters and sweet king prawns accompanied by loads of bread for £48. For shellfish lovers it’s a dream.

So is The Seafood Bar a grand gastronomic experience? Of course not. It’s not got grand designs on that level. It’s seafood, brought from the nets to the plate with the minimal of middlemen.

Shellfish Pig Feast Night

June 29, 2015 No Comments

shellfish pig feast

We’re wishing a huge happy first birthday to one of our favourite small local businesses this week: The Shellfish Pig. To celebrate their first year of success street food entrepreneurs, Nick and Nikki, threw their loyal customers (and a few new ones) a feast night against the backdrop of Enys House and its beautiful, secluded gardens.

Nick and Nikki, who started the Shellfish Pig after tasting the inspirational street food that can be found all around the world, have been serving their own mixture of sustainable and locally sourced products in lots of beautiful locations around this part of Cornwall. Everything from smoked Cornish mackerel, pan seared ginger scallops and spicy crab tacos to a whole host of pork – tenderloin, shoulder, chorizo, pulled – all from the Primrose Herd has been on the menu.

After walking through the grounds, Cornwall Holiday Cottages spied The Shellfish Pig van and were greeted with crab bruschetta and a glass of Cava – cheers! The van was parked up in a meadow and laced with bunting. The sun shone gently through the trees and sheep could be quietly heard baaing in the background: that is until the twee sounds of a boy/girl acoustic duo began to serenade us all.

We lay our picnic blanket on the floor, sipped our drinks and relaxed – we could get used to this type of alfresco dining experience. The mood was more that of a country fete than the pallid patio of a restaurant. We were also reminded of how romantic a setting Enys is. We can imagine it becoming an amazing summer wedding venue.

The evening’s main course was served in the form of a ‘feast box’ filled with pork ribs, pulled pork slider, sausage wrapped in candied bacon and a breezy selection of sides. I think candied bacon has become a Cornish Holiday Cottages favourite and one we’ll trying to make at home as soon as we’ve found a recipe. The box was topped off with some delicious homemade pork crackling. The icing on the cake was the addition of a few extra pork ribs at the end of the night – mmm.

There was a real birthday cake too. A creamy, chocolatey gateaux courtesy of Sophisticakes and in the shape of The Shellfish Pig van itself.

shellfish pig feast cake

Overall, a rather pleasant way to spend a summer’s evening. So happy birthday Shellfish Pig. We hope there are many more feast nights to come…we’d love a seafood feast box next time.

If we’ve got your taste buds tingling for The Shellfish Pig, or fancying a trip to Enys Gardens, then there’s the perfect event is coming up for you to combine the two. The Food Jam at Enys  is taking place on the 11th and 12th July with a whole host tasty food treats.

Failing that, theshellfishpig.co.uk has a handy map outlining their daily whereabouts. Unless they are a festival or special event, they can usually be found on Cliff Road near Gyllyngvase Beach.

Overall, a rather pleasant way to spend a summer’s evening. So happy birthday Shellfish Pig. We hope there are many more feast nights to come…we’d love a seafood feast next time.


Photos courtesy of The Shellfish Pig.




Hubbox Truro

March 30, 2015 No Comments

FrontBuilding hub box

Three years ago a shipping container appeared in Lemon Plaza and Truro was graced with a new style of take away, joining the rest of the country in its love of the gourmet burger, and Hubbox was born. It was only going to be a temporary thing…but that shipping container is still there today.

Hubbox isn’t though. The expanding business, which started as ‘The Hub’ in St Ives, has recently moved into a 29th-century Wesleyan chapel, transforming it into a bright, postmodern vintage diner and earning itself an endorsement from the Guardian. Light streams in through the old stained glass windows, over the original buttresses and onto graffitied murals whilst the carved up remnants of old shipping containers give a nod to the restaurant’s beginnings. It’s teeming with life at the weekends and took us about 20 minutes to get a table. The time flew by though and we spent it sat at the bar drinking and salivating at the food landing on table.

Sliders - hub box

The menu is a small, focused affair concentrating on hip, upmarket versions of American classics. There’s a plethora locally sourced burger options, from a standard cheese burger to versions lashed in pulled pork and Swiss cheese, and stacked high in Baker Tom’s demi-brioche rolls.

Away from the meat feasts, there are falafels, cheeses and the Mack Daddy – a delicious mackerel fillet roll – catering to all the pescetarians and vegetarians.

On the drinks front there’s a rolling selection craft beers on offer as well as some generously portioned milkshakes: I highly recommend the salted caramel, although last week’s special, key lime pie ‘shake was a bit special too.

The Hubbox brand is still expanding, with one recently opening in Exeter and a Plymouth venue opening sometime this year. But what about that old shipping container on the plaza? It’s still there, and still run by the Hub folk as ‘Chick In Box’. And they’ve got plans to expand from the box and onto the adjacent riverboat. Their crispy buttermilk chicken ain’t too bad either.

Photos © Hubbox


Foraging for Mussels

January 12, 2015 No Comments

Mussels -RL

For the Cornish Holiday Cottages team, there’s no meal more Cornish in feel than a big bowl of mussels in a creamy white wine sauce…apart from a pasty, of course. A bowl of mussels with chips will cost you about £10 in the restaurants, but there’s no need to think of moules marinière as a dish that can only be ordered.

Foraging for these mouth-watering molluscs is both easy and a great way interact with the beach in a more personal manner. It turns the beach into a hunting ground, an adventure, a provider.  It gives your visit the same purpose it gave to our ancestors – to sustain and feed. Why wouldn’t you want to end the day feasting on a delicacy that you can say, with satisfaction, that you caught, prepared and cooked yourself? I know I would, anyway.

The Cornish coast is ideal for harvesting mussels; it’s rocky, it’s got deep beaches and warm waters. All you really need is a bucket and a low tide.

You see, the best mussels are picked at low tide. They are the ones that are only out of the water for half an hour or so. And to pick them all you need to do is pull or twist them off of the rock. Use your thumb as a size guideline. The smaller ones won’t have had the opportunity to breed yet and helping mussel colonies sustain themselves is a big part of the appeal of picking your own.

Make sure that the waters you are taking your mussels from are clean – we’ve all heard the stories of people eating dodgy mussels, but it’s easy to avoid this yourself. You don’t want there to be an open sewage pipe near your picking site. Also, when exposed to the air, the mussel shells should be closed and they’re the ones you should pick. Avoid any with damaged shells – a damaged shell means a damaged mussel. But after cooking don’t even think of eating any with closed shells.

There’s one small rule for mussel picking: only harvest mussels during months with an ‘R’ in. May to August time is breeding time, but for the rest of the year – go nuts.

Mussels 2 -RL

If you are going to be on the beach a while, keep your catch in a bucket of seawater. When transporting home you can either soak a towel in seawater or use seaweed to cover the mussels and keep them alive.

To avoid a side order of grit with your mussels it’s a good idea to soak them in clean salt water for a few hours. This gives the mussels time to purge any particles from themselves. When this is done, lift them out of the water instead of pouring the water back over them and reintroducing the sand.

Next, you have to remove the beards – the part that attaches the mussel to the rocks – by pulling and twisting them. Then scrub any barnacles off of them. Don’t worry if they don’t all come off, but try your best to get the shells as clean as possible. Don’t forget to tap each mussel as it comes out of the water and discard any that don’t close.

There are a number of recipes for cooking mussels, including a delicious Thai variety, but our favourite is this one by Rick Stein – he’s lived here long enough to know what he’s doing. We usually accompany ours with chips, crusty bread and a glass of white wine.

Moules marinière with cream

1.75kg/4lb mussels
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 shallots, finely chopped
15g/½oz butter
a bouquet garni of parsley, thyme and bay leaves
100ml/3½fl oz dry white wine or cider
120ml/4fl oz double cream
handful of parsley leaves, coarsley chopped
crusty bread, to serve

Preparation method
Wash the mussels under plenty of cold, running water. Discard any open ones that won’t close when lightly squeezed.
Pull out the tough, fibrous beards protruding from between the tightly closed shells and then knock off any barnacles with a large knife. Give the mussels another quick rinse to remove any little pieces of shell.
Soften the garlic and shallots in the butter with the bouquet garni, in a large pan big enough to take all the mussels – it should only be half full.
Add the mussels and wine or cider, turn up the heat, then cover and steam them open in their own juices for 3-4 minutes. Give the pan a good shake every now and then.
Remove the bouquet garni, add the cream and chopped parsley and remove from the heat.
Spoon into four large warmed bowls and serve with lots of crusty bread.

New Yard Restaurant – Trelowarren

December 13, 2014 No Comments


You don’t end up at the New Yard Restaurant by mistake. Set deep in the heart of the Trelowarren Estate, on The Lizard, you’ve got to either want to be there, or be extremely lost. Cornish Holiday Cottages were there by no accident.

The sprawling and beautiful estate once spanned 20,000 acres – now a meagre 1,000 – and has been in the Vyvyan family for 600 years.  From the Helford River to the cusp of Goonhilly Downs, there’s a lot of history to Trelowarren, some beautiful woodland walks and an archaeological treasure in an Iron Age fogou.

The New Yard Restaurant is housed in an old coach house, but the restaurant itself almost has the feel of a Raymond Chandler novel. With large black and white tiles on the floor and repurposed anglepoise lamp heads hanging from the ceiling, there’s a monochrome, but sophisticated ambience.

The current menu reflects this fashion savvy interior, but somehow retains the sense of heritage that comes with an English Estate. Head Chef, Max, is a keen forager and the restaurant is well stocked from the larder of local produce: there are oysters from the Helford River; fish and shellfish caught by local dayboats; game from the estate; fruit and herbs from local farmers, too. Everything, including the bread, is freshly made on site.

We started our lunch-time meal with a miso broth, seaweed, wild mushrooms and tofu. There was no tofu though. The friendly, informal waiting staff apologised for this but they really didn’t need to, as it was delicious without it. The broth had a warming saltiness to it and a hint of seaweed added a certain sweetness to the flavour.

For our main course we had Cornish Crab, pumpkin and parmesan macaroni, which did a fantastic job of blending the lightness of the crab and pumpkin with the rich parmesan.

We also had slow roasted pheasant leg with a pheasant black pudding parcel, from the specials board. The bird must have been sourced onsite as I even found a piece of shot. That in no way detracted from the dish though, as it was an outstanding and original dish, served with creamed leeks and baby onions. I can’t express how delicious the black pudding parcel was.

From there, we at Cornish Holiday Cottages, just managed to squeeze in a dessert between two of us. A hot chocolate pudding with figs and home made honey ice cream. It was a beautifully decedent lunch. One that would be best coupled with a long, long walk in the woods.

The Chocolarder

December 6, 2014 No Comments


We must tell you about Chocolarder. We can’t keep them to ourselves much longer; not that we’d want to, of course. Their profile and reputation are quickly gaining ground, due in part to Chef and fan Michel Roux Jnr, who has been tweeting good things about the Cornish chocolatier of late.

Chocolarder have been making artisan bean to bar chocolate for 3 years in Cornwall. From machinery to recipes: their founder is a true innovator.

A chef who turned his hand from Michelin star pastry chefing to manufacturing Cornwall’s only bean to bar chocolate is takes pride in the county’s prolific produce. Having previously invented a signature chocolate dish of a chemically tricky chocolate steam, the creator of Chocolarder is nothing short of fanatical about real chocolate. One of only 7 producers of authentic, bean-to-bar chocolate in the UK, Chocolarder grind beans using machinery invented on site, and forage ingredients from Cornish hedgerows to experiment with flavour.

As well as a near perfect pure chocolate bar there are some wonderful and scintillating variations being concocted: there’s the wild gorse flower bar, made from gorse picked from the wild cliffs of Kynance; the Cornish honeycomb, made from the honey of Lizard bees; and seasonally, the Frankincense and Myrrh bar.

When we say machinery invented onsite, we mean it. “The grinder I’m using at the moment was an India Dosa batter grinder originally,” says Mike Longman, the chocolatier himself, “Whilst it does the job brilliantly; the motor that was in it was only made to run for 4 hours, so I had to replace that. The wheels were made of a softer stone, like limestone, so I had to replace them with Cornish granite.”

Longman’s passion for chocolate is worn on his sleeve. While we can’t get enough of his 100% chocolate bar, he is still searching for that perfect flavour: “I’m always creating unusual chocolate flavours, but my biggest challenge is getting a 100% chocolate bar I’m happy with, as it comes down to the finest details of sourcing the perfect beans and roasting them in exactly the right way. Being involved from bean to bar opens up a whole world of flavours; we are currently looking at collaborating with a seaweed company to make chocolate with seaweed in it, and one of my current experiments is a guinea pepper chocolate.”

If, having read this, you are hankering for some artisan chocolate, fear not. There are many retailers stocking Chocolarder products around the county, but if you can’t find them then head to The Rebel Brewery where they sell chocolate bars in their gift shop. Failing that, there’s chocolarder.com.

After first encountering the Chocolarder at a craft fair, we made the mistake of only buying a small packet of salted caramel balls and it was agonizing trying to eke out their existence for as long as possible. We’ve not made the same mistake since.

Hunky Dory, Falmouth

November 17, 2014 No Comments

hunkey dorey

Nestled between an artisan coffee shop and a curry house lies Hunky Dory.   Outside, the grade II listed frontage is modernised by the sky blue signage, modest in comparison to the many glass-fronted eateries that dominate Falmouth’s Arwenack Street.

This is where we spent a quiet Tuesday night this week. A night in which the pavement outside Hunky Dory gathered so much water, the road split open as if a mini earthquake was upon us.

Wooden beams run through the ceilings of the small, intimate rooms of Hunky Dory, supported by sturdy, old pillars that give the place the feel of an old cottage.

Hunky Dory aims to give a modern take on British food with French and Italian influences: hogs pudding scotch eggs accompanying a Cornish belly pork anyone; A Wild Mushroom and Davidstow Cheddar Soufflé, perhaps? With ingredients sourced locally, the head chef obviously has fun creating dishes.

Boasting a well stocked bar, Hunky Dory are keeping it local. There are sparkling wines from Camel Valley, the artisan ales from the Rebel Brewery and cider and fruit juices from Cornish Orchards.

Most mains are priced between £14 and £23, but during the week and between 6 and 7 at the weekend, they offer two courses for £16 or three for £19.

We started off with arancini, Thai fish cakes and a potted ham hock with mustard butter. I can’t speak for the quality of the hock or the fish cakes, but the arancini were crispy and accompanied with a delicious homemade pesto – which is definitely something I’ll now try at home.

We followed our starters with whole Cornish plaice and a confit Cornish duck leg. The plaice came draped in a crab and Pernod butter, which was almost the best thing on the plate. The duck was perfectly cooked with the meat flaking from the bone and into the Cointreau gravy. We all pushed our knives and forks together content.

That didn’t mean that we couldn’t find some room for dessert. I finished my meal with a plum and hazelnut crumble, which balanced the tart nature of the fruit with the warm, nuttiness of the topping.

We left happy people. The earth may have cracked open while we were inside Hunky Dory, but, inside its cosy , country cottage-like shelter, we hadn’t even noticed.



A Taste Of Cornwall

October 30, 2014 No Comments

There’s a mythology to the Cornish Pasty unlike any other regional British food we’ve encountered. I’ve never heard people form Leicestershire argue about pork pies in the same way and I’ve never heard anyone take a sharp intake of breath at the contents of a haggis before. If we’re wrong, please let us know.

‘Sacrilege’ is the word you’ll see bandied about more than any other: Ginster’s? Sacrilege! Crimping on top? Sacrilege! Carrots? Sacrilege! Fruit down one end? Sacrilege! Actually, that last one is more of a myth really. We’re sure it has been done, but don’t let anyone tell you that that was how a proper pasty was made.

Making your own Pasty is another way for you and your family to get in touch with the culture of Cornwall, or a great way of reliving your holiday once you’re back home. Now, we are not expert bakers here at Cornish Holiday Cottages, but maybe that’s a good thing. It means that we make mistakes and we can pass what we’ve learned on to you. A quick spoiler – don’t overfill your pasty. We’ve tried a few different recipes, from the ones on Ann’s Pasties and Cornish Pasty Association websites to The Guardian’s How To Make The Perfect Pasty. The following recipe then, should give you an authentic flaky pastry and a juicy, tasty filling.  Enjoy.


Cornish Pasty Recipe – Makes 4

Making the Pastry (Ann’s Pasties Recipe)

450g 1lb strong white flour (large pinch salt optional)
100g 4oz margarine (Echo or similar hard variety)
110g 4oz lard
175ml 1/3pt water
Put the flour and salt (if used) into a bowl. Cut off a quarter of the lard and rub into flour. Grate or slice the rest of the fats into the mixture and stir with a knife. Pour all the water in and stir until absorbed. Knead a little and leave at least 30 minutes in the fridge before using.
Pastry can be made the day before, wrapped in polythene and stored in the fridge overnight. Pastry freezes well, but remember to take it out the night before you need it. Do not refreeze.

For The Filling

450 g skirt beef
450 g potato
250 g swede
200 g onion
Salt & pepper to taste (don’t skimp on the salt)
1 knob of butter per pasty
After making the pastry begin chopping the vegetables and skirt beef. The potatoes need to be quartered and then sliced into pieces no more than 5mm thick. Keep them in a bowl of water until they’re needed. Chop the onions finely and cube the swede and also put to the side. The skirt beef needs to be cut into pieces of less than a centimetre in thickness.

Now you are ready to assemble your pasties. Before we do, it’s worth noting that the pastry is very elastic and will begin to shrink once it is rolled out. You don’t need to be hasty but if you leave it rolled out it will make it harder to seal and shrink. This is also the time to preheat your oven to 200C

The worst mistake we’ve made when making pasties is giving in to the temptation to overfill the pasty, Make sure there is half an inch or 2.5cm of bare pastry around your filling so you can crimp your pasty at the end.

Generously flour the area you are using and your rolling pin. Cut the pastry dough into 4 pieces. Each piece will form one pasty. Roll out your first piece until it is approximately 21 – 23 centimetres in diameter. Use a side plate to cut around to get a perfect circle.

Now put a layer of swede and onion in the middle of the circle and season. Next, add the beef making sure that there are pieces going towards the ‘corners’ of your pasty. It’s now time for more seasoning.

Top with a layer of potato and swede and season once more. Add another layer of potato and finish with a knob of butter. I tend to evenly spread the butter all over the top to give an even spread. The butter is very important in giving your pasty a juicy, meaty filling.

Now you are ready to crimp

Moisten the edge of the pastry closest to you then pull the pastry furthest from you over the filling to meet the bottom half of the pastry.

To crimp you use your thumbs to pull and push the pastry over itself. It’s incredibly hard to explain, but this video shows you perfectly.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9NkKQY-Qvg

Once made, place your pasties on a baking tray covered in greaseproof paper and cover with an egg glazing to give them that golden look. Finally prick them with a knife to let steam escape during cooking.

You are going to pop them in the oven for an approximately an hour in total but you are going to turn the temperature down to 160C after 10-15 minutes, or when the pastry begins to look golden.

When they are done, let them rest for 10 minutes before serving.