Food

limpets in bowl

Limpet Love – Limpet Chowder Recipe

Earlier this year, engineers found that limpets’ teeth were strongest biological material ever tested. Limpets use a tongue bristling with tiny teeth to scrape food off rocks and into their mouths.   The limpet has long been a symbol of prosperity and regeneration, admired for its tenacity.  The tenacity of … Continue reading

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winkles on balcony

Sweet and Sour Winkles

A perfect seaside appetiser to serve with drinks around a beach bonfire as the sun sets. This recipe is for around 100 winkles. Adjust accordingly if more or less gathered. Ingredients Winkles Juice of a lemon 50ml approx of water Few glugs of wine (optional) Either splash of Sweet Thai … Continue reading

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ceviche ingredients

Mackerel Ceviche

Ceviche is part of Peru’s national heritage and has even had a holiday declared in its honour.  Summer days fishing on the coast can often result in a glut of mackerel.  Ceviche is a great way to use fresh mackerel and can even be prepared fresh on the beach if you bring … Continue reading

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seasalt fudge

Rosemary Sea Salt Fudge

For me, fudge is a great indulgent treat to have with a cup of tea. I use coconut sugar to replace normal sugar, as not only is it a healthier option but also gives a great roundness to the flavour of your fudge. Not only does the rosemary add a … Continue reading

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cleavers, sticky weed savvy student sienna somers

Sticky weed: The new superfood?

Cleavers, sticky weed, goose grass, Galium aparine grows abundantly in towns, parks, roadsides has many names and is easily identifiable as the weed which made long childhood walks bearable by seeing how long the weed could stick to a family members back without them noticing, or rolling into a ball and pelting … Continue reading

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Shortbread about to be cooked

Coconut Sugar Shortbread

The Wikipedia description of shortbread is deceptively simple:  Shortbread is a type of biscuit  traditionally made from one part white sugar, two parts butter, and three parts flour (by weight). Originally recipes were apparently made from leftover bread and contained oatmeal and yeast. If it really were that simple to make … Continue reading

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Cooked buns

Cinnamon Buns

For me, Cinnamon is the holy grail of spices, not only is it utterly delicious, it has an plethora of health benefits. From aiding weight loss by increasing circulation to having great anti-microbial and anti-oxidant properties. From a day to day basis, I enjoy cinnamon in my life, from cinnamon tea, you can … Continue reading

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rhubarb pudding in bowl

A Different Rhubarb Pudding

It’s that time of year when you might have a glut of rhubarb in your garden all going to seed, so it is a good time to harvest it. Although I love fresh, chilled rhubarb recipes like rhubarb and ginger wine syllabub, the chilly weather this week means it is … Continue reading

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mussels

Want to get ‘Mussel’y?

Scramble along one of Britain’s many rocky shores, and your not hard pushed to find a multitude of different marine invertebrates.  Many of which are not only edible but absolutely delicious! On my recent stroll down a small but diverse rocky coastal path, I came across several rock faces covered head-to-toe in mussels. From … Continue reading

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rosehips

Smoked Rosehip Chilli Jelly

Smoked Rosehip Chilli Jelly is a variation on rosehip jelly, but with a subtle kick.  I find it a perfect accompaniment to roasted squash or sweet potatoes and it is an invaluable addition to sticky spare ribs or, indeed, almost any roast pork dish.   I tend to make this … Continue reading

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Sea Lettuce: gathering, drying and a salt caramel sauce (part 2…the sauce)

 

crop-apples

apple
Salt caramel sauce is irresistibly moreish.  Poured over a baked (scrumped, of course) apple, the zingy, fluffy apple combines beautifully with the rich, sweet and salty sauce.

 

Wherever you are at University, there will be plenty of apple scrumping possibilities around you.  I found a whole webpage dedicated to scrumpable trees in Falmouth and Penryn!

 

This recipe uses coconut sugar to make the salt caramel sauce, which has a lower glycemic index than normal sugar and tastes so much better.  Buy online from wholesalers such as Lembas.   The saltiness comes mostly from sea lettuce which is readily available around much of the coast of Britain.

 

1. Read my blog post on how to gather and dry sea lettuce.

2. Heat 200g/7 ounces/1 cup of coconut sugar with 110g/4oz/8tbls butter over a medium hob.  Keep stirring all the time. Don’t leave it or it will burn!  Once it has come to the boil, continue boiling for about 2 minutes, then remove from the heat.

stirring-caramel

3. Add 120ml/8tbls/half a cup of cream. Double cream is best but single should work fine. Pour it in slowly and keep stirring all the time.  Then bring back to the boil and continue to boil for about 10 minutes.  You can tell that the sauce has thickened when you put a dribble onto something cold (I often use a jam jar lid which I leave in the freezer) and the sauce will then feel quite pliable once it hardens in contact with the cold lid.

cooking-caramel

4. Take the pan off the hob and add a few drops of vanilla extract and a sprinkle of good quality sea salt.

5. Grind up some of your dried sea lettuce and add according to taste. The emerald green specks in the sauce look very pretty.

6. Decorate with a sprig of sea lettuce

7. Enjoy!

 

apple-with-caramel

Free and delicious: Bone Marrow

Beef Bone Marrow is an absolutely delicious food that you can often get for free from butchers, but is served in posh restaurants around the country and is primary ingredient in classical French dishes such as, Pot au Feu and Bordelaise sauce.

Bone Marrow cooked

There is something almost Palaeolithic about scooping the creamy, rich marrow out of the centre of roasted bones. It is certainly what our evolutionary ancestors did for eons as this prized food is amazing source of long chain fatty acids, fat soluble vitamins and minerals all of which contributed to the growth and development of the human brain (Hello Hangover Cure!).

Its also contains many essential amino acids such as Glycine which many people take supplements of and swear by as a means of improving sleep quality and promote wakefulness in the following morning (Hello, what did I say about a hangover cure?). Bone marrow also contains the amino acid Proline which is used in the synthesis of collagen within your body. As many of you probably know, collagen is key for your skins health, elasticity and overall appearance. As people age, they’re body produces less and less collagen hence making the skin slacker and wrinkled. There has been evidence that an intake of Proline can increase collagen and thus decrease the skin ageing! It is often used in many beauty products from shampoo’s and conditioners to anti-ageing face creams. I may have to start putting bone marrow on my face!

Where to get it

Cooking bone marrow is very simple, but you first need to get you hands on some and you will need to visit you local butcher for that. Most butchers just give it away to their customers who will pass it on to their dogs who absolutely love it, but if you do have to pay it shouldn’t cost more than a pound or two for a big bag of it. It’s very important to get the butcher to saw the bone marrow into 2-3 inch pieces, otherwise you will be in your kitchen attempting to smash a big bone with a rock like prehistoric caveman which I can guarantee will be disastrous for all parties involved. Heston Blumenthal recently sold Bone Marrow for £4.99 in Waitrose as a luxury meal whereas my version is almost completely free!bone marrow with caper and parsley salad

It think the easiest way to prepare bone marrow is simply to roast it in oven and serve it with a bread and a parsley, caper salad which will help cut through the richness of the bone marrow.
Recipe

. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
. Place the bones in a roasted tin baking sheet with the cut-side facing upwards. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper
. Roast for about 12-15 minutes, or until the marrow is soft and coming away from the bone ( as the bone marrow cooks it release a clear oil in the pan.)

Please be aware that if you overcook, it basically just melts away completely!
Parsley Caper Salad

What I love about this recipe is that there is no need to be too precise here, but the basic recipe is: 
A handful of chopped parsley
A couple tablespoons of chopped capers.
Thinly sliced onion, shallot, or green onion. (depends whats in the fridge)
A few gulps of olive oil
A wee bit of balsamic
A squeeze or two of lemon juice
Mix all the ingredients, then season with salt and pepper. 

To eat

Just spread the marrow over the bread or toast and sprinkle a bit of the salad on top.

Or if like me it’s become your new favourite comfort food, scoop it straight out of the bone with a teaspoon and feel it melt on your tongue, Yum!

sienna somers eating bone marrow

Dolly’s Gin Palace and a Seafood Feast

After three weeks of frugality, it’s time to enjoy spending some of that money I’ve saved…

Falmouth may be small, but you certainly won’t be pushed to find quirky and intruiging places to go. First stop on our night out, Dolly’s Tea Rooms & Gin Palace. Just off the main high street, take the arsenic green staircase up to Dolly’s emporium where you’ll be greeted by a pearl-wearing labrador.

entrance-to-Dollys

Experience a vintage style tea room which transforms at night to a wine, cocktail and gin palace. There’s a small but imaginative range of cocktails and an extensive range of gin, all served in teacups.

Sienna-at-Dollys

I had a “Hoochy Poochy Mama”, consisting of ginger beer, whiskey, mint and tonic water. My companions tried “Mad Hatter” (G&T with cucumber and lemon) and “The Queen of Hearts” (Campari, orange juice and golden rum). I wore my Richard Nichol top from a sample sale recently, see my previous blog post on sample sales.

trio-of-cocktailscucumber-G&T

After a few cocktails, we headed down to The Wheel House, a specialist seafood restaurant with a welcoming environment and astonishingly good food. On tripadvisor, The Wheel House has an incredible overall 5* review from over 400 reviews. On arrival, the waiter came and sat down with us and ran through the entirety of the menu and he allowed us flexibility on the order, timings and size of our meal. 

We order 12 scallops initially. They came with a deliciously tangy bisque which cut through the creamy scallops perfectly. It was hands-down the best scallops I’ve ever had (and my Step-Dad used to be a chef!) Then we had “Traditional style” Mussels et frites (with chips) which were also extraordinarily tasty.

mussels

Finally, we had a medium crab (which was ginormous). It’s a great place for families to get several dishes and share. In order to make the most of this experience, it is quite necessary to get stuck in and use your hands in order to get every last bit of the crabs meat out! You don’t just eat what’s in the main body of the crab, you can use the tools provided to crack open the claws and legs and get out every last ounce of delectable meat.

crab

Sea Lettuce: gathering, drying and a salt caramel sauce (part 1)

Part 1: Gathering and Drying

Thousands of people stroll along the beach everyday and walk right past an array of edible plants and animals without realising they are missing out on a free meal.

rockpooling

One of these overlooked plants is Sea Lettuce (Ulva lactuca). Found all over the coast of Britain and the rest of the world, this bright green seaweed is not only extremely common, but incredibly nutritious! Containing magnesium, potassium,  calcium, vitamins A, B1, B12, C and over nine essential amino acids, I wouldn’t be surprised if this became one of the worlds next superfoods.

seaweed book

Collecting the Sea Lettuce

Check around the rock pools and shore around where you’re going to pick your Sea Lettuce to ensure there are no sewage outlets nearby. Break the Sea Lettuce half way down the plant to ensure the roots are still attached to the rock so it can regrow. I usually place it in a plastic tub once picked so I don’t lose it or get anything else wet.

sea lettuce gathering

Preparation and Drying

Before drying, It’s so easy to add flavour to the Sea Lettuce by simply chucking some flavours into it. lf you’re looking to eat Sea Lettuce as a snack, then this is a fantastic way to add variety to the sea lettuce. I’ve tried flavours from: chilli, sesame (use oil and seeds for most flavour), ginger, soy sauce, wasabi, salt and sugar.

Drying sea lettuce

There are several ways of drying sea lettuce.  If it is summer and the weather is hot, it is easy to sun dry.  If you are in a hurry for your wasabi seaweed snack or to make my delicious sea lettuce salt caramel sauce, try the oven method.  You can either go for the long and slow option, or the medium to high and fast option. If you decide on the latter, check each batch regularly – a minute can make the difference between crisp and emerald or burnt and brown.

Store in an airtight container if not using immediately.

apple-with-caramel

Coming soon: Part 2 (the best bit) making a sea lettuce salt caramel sauce

The Sweet Smell of Summer: Honeysuckle Syrup

Honeysuckle syrup is summertime in a jar.

honeysuckle

Autumn may have just begun but this recipe is so easy to make and it’s not too late, particularly if you are living in the midlands or north; I only made this honeysuckle syrup a week ago. It literally only takes a few minutes after you have steeped the honeysuckle overnight.

Ingredients

2 handfuls of honeysuckle flowers
cup of sugar
boiling water

honeysuckle syrup and sugar

Wash honeysuckle

Give your honeysuckle blossoms a shake to rid them of any bugs and then a quick rinse under the cold tap.

Steep

Put the honeysuckle in a bowl, pour over the boiling water and leave to steep overnight.

steeping honeysuckleStrain

Strain off the honeysuckle, pour the clear liquid into a saucepan and add the sugar.  I usually use coconut sugar but for this recipe I didn’t want to muddy the beautiful honey colour of the liquid, so kept to the refined white variety.

Boil

Heat slowly until the sugar has dissolved, stirring frequently, and then boil rapidly until the liquid has reduced down to ……

boiling syrup

Bottle

Leave to cool slightly and pour into a jam jar or bottle.  The syrup will keep in the fridge for several weeks.

Pouring honeysuckle syrup

Use

I haven’t brought my ice cream maker to University yet, but once I have it down here I will certainly be trying out honeysuckle syrup sorbet.  Apparently it tastes great mixed into cocktails, as well as in biscuits and cakes, as well as brushed over meats before cooking.  I think I’ll be making a lot more of this next year.

Herbs: Tasty, Leafy and Legal

Dried Kitchen Herbs

Home drying kitchen herbs for my killer recipes!

Sienna Somers Savvy Student preparing herbsI am going to miss picking fresh herbs from our herb garden, just a few steps from the door of our cottage. As well as using in cooking, in the evenings I often drink mint, fennel or rosemary tea. I know that fresh herbs will definitely be beyond my budget as a student, but I have a few ideas to put into practice….When I arrive, I am considering a bit of guerrilla gardening to introduce some herbs into the flower beds around my student accommodation, particularly for my much-loved bronze fennel, bought with pocket money ten years ago and now sprouting like a weed all over the garden.

I have dug up some fennel to take with me, along with some thyme and mint. I left the rosemary in a vase of water on the window ledge and it has sprouted roots and is now in my pot of herbs waiting to go to Falmouth.

I am also drying bunches of sage, rosemary, mint and thyme which I will grind up once they are dry. This is really easy and takes no more than five minutes. I am air drying the herbs, but I have also tried microwaving them with mixed results. Lavender and bay leaves dried really well in the microwave, retaining their colour and flavour, whereas the mint was tasteless.

1. Pick your herbs

From your garden or anywhere you see herbs overhanging the road or pavement.  In Branscombe, I find lots of wild herbs. Wild Marjoram is growing all over the cliffs.

2. Rinse

Rinse quickly in cold water and shake off as much of the excess water as possible or pat dry gently with a clean tea towel.

3. Tie

Rinse quickly in cold water and shake off as much of the excess water as possible or pat dry gently with a clean tea towel.

tied herbs

4. Put in paper bags

Find some brown or dark paper bags and cut some small air holes in them.

5. Dangle

Dangle the bunches of herbs into the bag. With a separate piece of string, tie tightly around and around at the top of the bag.

herbs-in-bag6. Hang

The long piece of string used to tie the bunches of herbs can then be used to make a loop and the herbs can be hung to dry in a warm place. I have hung mine in the conservatory, but somewhere a bit darker may be better.herbs-dangle

 7. Wait

After a few weeks when the herbs look dry, grind them up and put into small jars or little plastic bags. Rosemary, lavender and similar can just be stripped from their stalks, whilst sage, mint and the like are best when ground with a pestle and mortar, although you can just crumple them in your hands when dry.  Put the herbs into small bottles, or bags if you have no bottles.

Savvy Student strips the thyme

My favourite evening tea is liquorice and peppermint, so I am going to try to make my own teabags once the mint has dried. Mumma bought me some teabag sachets, so I can just fill them with dried herbs and spices to make my own herbal teas.