Friday, 24 June 2011

What's cooking - fisherman's delight

A classic fish pie which can be found in so many recipe books. Mine is totally made up and as with all my recipes, freezes easily and is very simple.

We have a great mobile fishmonger who comes round. If you are staying with us at Coombe Mill he comes on a Thursday, just let me know in advance if you would like to order from him. His prices are fair and the fish fresh, local and excellent. I buy a huge mixed bag of 'pie mix' and it is always a treat to see what I have. There is always salmon, white and smoked fish but sometimes I am lucky with some tuna, monk or sward fish too.

Fisherman's Delight

Ingredients :

Mixed fish, whole milk, butter, plain flour, potatoes, seasoning (I just use low salt and black pepper)

  1. Place the fish in a large pan, add the milk and steam till just cooked
  2. Remove fish, flake into casserole dish removing bones
  3. Add four, milk and seasoning to the milk and stir into a smooth sauce
  4. Poor milk over the casserole
  5. Boil and mash the potatoes with butter, milk and seasoning
  6. Add to the casserole. 
  7. Heat and serve

My portions are a good size, I  kept a 4 portion back for dinner which fed my 6 children. Admittedly they did have room for today's cake: cherry and vanilla afterwards!

Fisherman's delight a winner with
children and nutritious too!

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

What's cooking? My best secrets shared!

When I reach for the cooking pots the sun is sure to shine! Despite the dismal forecast today, I am once again es conched in the kitchen while the rest of Cornwall is on the beach! Never mind, Surf Club this evening for the children so I will be there too! In the mean time I have been meaning to share some of my cooking secrets, so while they are fresh in my mind and my meals are cooling for the freezer here goes:

Top Tips
1. Never be afraid to experiment, if it sounds a tasty combination or a logical short cut it probably is!

2. Always cook casseroles longer at a lower temperature than it says in any recipe - makes all meat more melt in the mouth

3. Use a large pot, the meat may look lost in a pot at the start but by the time your veg and marinade have all gone in you will be surprised how it all fills up!

4. When cooking for children make the veg pieces small, I often blend into the gravy / sauce or chop into mince size pieces where they are mistaken for meat. My children hate mushrooms and onions, but actually eat them all the time!

5. 1 pot does all! I can't be doing with the fry this and set aside type recipes. In my experience if you start any casserole by browning the meat, then toss in and mix the flour before adding stock / liquids and chopped veg it will all turn out just fine!

My 2 recipes today are:
Pork in honey Casserole and Gammon in Cider. They are both recipes I have developed over time and they freeze really well.

Pork in honey
Shoulder or leg of pork chopped into chunks
Sauce: Chicken stock, Soy sauce, white wine, balsamic vinegar, honey, brown sugar 
Veg to suit, I have used roughly chopped carrots, mushrooms, onions and potatoes
Method : Just follow my tip 2 and 5 above. That simple!

As the puff pastry is really quick to cook I cook it separately to the casserole and add it on at the end. I usually cheat on this one and use ready to roll but if I run short it is actually very quick and easy to make.

Gammon in Cider
Hock or Gammon joint chopped into large chunks
Sauce: Good cider, tinned chopped tomatoes, paprika
Veg to suit, I have used onions, mushrooms, carrots and garlic
Follow my golden tips 2 and 5 but with gammon I do boil lightly for 10 mins first and drain so as not to make the finished dish too salty
I top this one with creamy mashed potato which goes really well with the sauce

If you are staying with us please help yourself to these meals from the freezer and leave us a note in the book as usual.  Enjoy!

I would love any feedback if you have tried my meals of if you want any more information on them. I haven't added quantities as I never measure anything and just judge it all based on my meat quantities but do give them a go. They are all simple to make and tasty!

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Dear Diary - A Wet Sunday 12th June '11

I woke this morning to a wet and miserable summer Sunday. After the beautiful and prolonged good weather we have had for months it really was a bit of a shock to the system. As I peered out the window early on to see the rain hammering down on the veranda, I could not possibly have imagined the lovely family day upon which I now find myself reflecting.

Deciding not to be a wimp about the weather I put on my coat and wellies and joined my husband (farmer Nick) for the daily tractor ride where all our newly arrived guests get to be hands on with our animals. Taking pictures in the rain was tricky but I was soon motivated by the determination of our guests to ignore the weather and just enjoy the ride! The funny thing is I really think the children are quite oblivious to the weather. 3 of our children joined in wearing summer gear, crocs and no coats! The guests were more sensibly dressed but again the children were dashing around hunting for an egg and feeding the animals seemingly unaware they were being drenched in the process! 

We have a lovely facebook picture album tell the tail!/media/set/?set=a.10150209384400256.328733.275217960255

Here is one of my favourite pics from the feed run album:
Theo and Clio with the polish banthan chicks
After all returning home for coffee and hot chocolate, Nick and Theo drove off to St Austell to buy a new Billy Goat and female in kid while I cracked on with a good old family roast lunch for their return. With all the beautiful weather this year none of us could remember our last family lunch time roast and everyone present (parties, clubs and play dates invariably involve someone!). I am a great believer in family meal times and while it is not practical every day we all enjoy them when we can. It does now take both my ovens to cope with the quantities for a family of 8! It was gone 3pm before our monster roast and my legendary crumble and custard were finished. The rain pitter pattering outside was strangely comforting and helped us all chill and enjoy the time with no urgency to move on (well that and the glass of wine!).

And a cheeky glass of Red for Nick and I!

Mixed fruit crumble and custard - yum!

Theo and Nick took us to see how the new Billy and his girl were settling into their new field after lunch. We were all glad of the walk and pleased to see the new comers looking very happy with their new surroundings and new friends.
Like a true Billy, he really has an unmistakable goatee stink. A good sign we hope for fathering next year's kids!

Settling in at Coombe Mill!
 The children were keen to keep me out on the farm so we went off round the lake where they wanted to show me the mini frogs they have been watching since tadpoles in the spring. It was not a difficult hunt, I couldn't believe how many there were!

Nice one boys!
 Our tour round the carp lake also revealed some naughty escape goats enjoying the lush surroundings! Bold as brass, they were not inclined to move when we came up but instead quite happy for a pat and a cuddle. Houdini has clearly been teaching the others all her special fence hoping tricks!

The sneaky group!
Dusty our kid goat is everyone's favourite!

We rounded off the afternoon pebble skimming in the river.  One of those challenges where you always want 'just one more try' to see if you can beat the record! I have to concede that Theo was better than me however I do suspect he has wasted many an hour practicing before challenging me today! Never the less it was a lovely use of the afternoon and reminded me just how much there is to do at Coombe Mill, even on a wet Sunday. With just a little imagination and there is hours of fun to be had on the farm.

It might not look like a winning pose but it certainly worked!

With all the family now tucked up in bed, and Felix and Theo packed ready for school camp in the morning, I am so pleased we had such a lovely day together here at Coombe Mill. I hope you will have the chance to come and stay with us one day and enjoy all there is to do on the farm, what ever the weather!!