Australia Day Pavlova 

Pavlova is to Australians what a Cream Tea is to the Cornish so what better way to celebrate Australia Day than a tasty pavlova topped with lots of seasonal fruits?!

At home in Cornwall I’d use Cornish Clotted Cream for this recipe but I’ll unfortunately have to make do with the thickest double cream I could find in Sydney, whipped up so it’s even thicker!

In Australia, summer fruits and wonderful figs are in season so that’s what I’ve chosen to top my pavlova. Just about any fruit will work, so go nuts with your favourites!

One point to note is that you’ll need a bit of time for this one to allow the meringue to cool completely. Less time to actually prepare your pavlova though so what I like to do is make the meringue the night before, then assemble the cream and fruit on the day.

Here’s how to make The Cornish Cook’s Australia Day Pavlova.

You will need:

The Whites of 6 Large Eggs | 350g Caster Sugar | 200g Clotted Cream (or 200ml extra thick double cream) | 200g Mixed Fresh Fruit | Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract | Optional 200g raspberries, 25g icing sugar and 1 tsp lemon juice for the raspberry coulis | Optional 25g dark or milk chocolate for the meringue

Pre-heat your oven to 150 degrees c. Whisk your egg whites on a slow speed until they get a bit frothy. This will take about 3-4 mins. Then turn up the speed of your whisk to medium for another minute or two before whacking your whisk up to its highest speed. Whisk on high until the egg whites form stiff peaks. It’s important to not over-whisk your egg whites so as soon as your peaks stay put when you remove the whisk, stop. Feel free to do the bowl above your head test but do so at your own risk…

Now you can start to add your sugar to the egg whites. Whisk in sugar about a tablespoon at a time until you have a lovely glossy meringue mixture. On a baking tray lined with a sheet of baking paper, spoon about a third of your meringue into the centre of the tray. Spread out into a big circle leaving a little gap at the edge of the tray just in case! Then spoon the rest of the mixture in big blobs and swirl it around a bit. You don’t want any spikes on the top since these are likely to catch in the oven. If you get any spikes, push them down softly with a wet finger. A simple and stylish variation is to marble some melted chocolate into your meringue mix.

Once you’re happy with your meringue shape, put it in the oven and turn the temperature down to 140 degrees c immediately. The reason I do this, is so that the outside gets nice and crisp while the inside remains deliciously chewy as any good meringue should! Cook your meringue for 1 hour until lightly golden then turn your oven off and allow the meringue to cool completely in the oven. Leaving the meringue in the oven allows it to dry out as it cools. Once completely cold, transfer your meringue onto your serving plate.

If you’re using Clotted Cream, gently stir in the vanilla extract before spreading onto your cold meringue. If you aren’t lucky enough to have clotted cream available to you (like me), gently whip some double cream with the vanilla extract and spread onto your meringue. Add your fruit to the top in whichever pattern you like. I like to display my fruit pretty randomly and my favourite fruits to display are red-currents on their stalks. Unfortunately these don’t really get a season in Australia from what I gather so I’ve opted for delicious raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, figs and cherries. I’ve kept the skins on the figs and the stalks on the strawberries and cherries for design but feel free to take these of for easy eating purposes!

If you have the time, why not make a quick raspberry coulis for a little more sharpness to cut through all that sugar in the meringue? To make this, heat the additional raspberries and icing sugar in a saucepan with a teaspoon of lemon juice until the sugar has completely dissolved and your raspberries have fallen apart to a runny sauce. Push the raspberry sauce through a fine sieve and then drizzle over your pavlova.

Viola!

 

 

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Chicken Fajitas

Chicken Fajitas were most likely the first dish I ever cooked as a child. I’ve perfected the recipe over the years and it’s one of the dishes that friends will actively request when they’re coming over for dinner! There was one time that I made my friends cry because they were so spicy so don’t be like me and go easy on the chilli!

Fajitas are seriously quick and easy to rustle up and are definitely one of my own personal favourite meals so I’m always happy to prepare them upon request. Fajitas are really fun for an informal dinner party just so long as you have plenty of napkins or paper towels to wipe up your inevitable messy face and hands (and everything else, let’s face it!) Serve up after a few tasty nachos to get you started and wash down with some freshly mixed Margaritas!

Get ready for an awesome Mexican themed night with The Cornish Cook’s Chicken Fajitas!

To serve 4 party guests you will need:

2 Peppers (mix up the colours) | 1 Red Onion | 2 Chicken Breasts | 8 Large Tortillas (or 12 small) | Fajita Spices (or a blend of paprika, cumin and dried chilli flakes) | Guacamole | Salsa (or 2 large salad tomatoes) | 200ml Tub of Sour Cream (or yogurt/creme fraiche if that’s what you have in your fridge) | Bunch of Coriander | Olive Oil | Tequila (optional)

Start by slicing the peppers into long thin strips and stir fry on a high heat in a large frying pan, griddle pan or wok. Peel the onion and slice in half then thinly slice against the rings so that the layers will fall apart when you fry them. Add your onion to the pan and turn your heat right down. Keep stirring occasionally in between preparing your other ingredients.

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Chop your chicken (or beef steak if you prefer) into equal sized pieces that are also long and thin. Cover your meat in the fajita spices (or blend of a tea spoon each of the individual spices) then when the onions are almost translucent, turn up the heat and add it to the pan. Stir fry until your chicken (or beef) is cooked. At this stage I like to slosh in some tequila and try my best to flambé it but if this is something you’re not comfortable doing, hold the tequila (or have an even better time eating Fajitas with the extra alcohol!) Turn the heat off then add some chopped coriander and the juice of a lime to finish. If you’re going down the fresh tomato route rather than homemade salsa (or shop bought, I’ll let you off this once), dice these and stir in to the fajita mix to warm through a little.

My family have always had sizzle pans which are awesome for keeping your food hot on the table and portioning off so your siblings don’t take more than their fair share! If you have these available, pre-heat them, oil them up and add the hot fajita mix to them and hear it sizzle as you risk your life taking them to the table! Since I flew away from the nest, I haven’t had such luxury, so I just keep the fajita mix in the pan on the table (make sure you put it on a heat proof mat, I’d hate to see you burn a hole in your table!)

Serve your fajitas with homemade Guacamole, salsa (if you skipped the fresh tomato stage) and sour cream. If you have plain natural yogurt or creme fraiche in the fridge, you can substitute this for the sour cream. I always try to use what I already have available so that I don’t need to buy so many ingredients at the supermarket. Warm your tortillas in the microwave for 30 secs (I like to fan them out around a plate so they don’t stick together) or in the oven wrapped in some foil for a few minutes until warm but still soft.

So that’s all the cooking out of the way, now it’s time for you and your friends to assemble to your liking at the table. If you have the big tortillas, the best way to fill them is to add the mixture to the middle in the top half. Fold the bottom up first, before folding in the sides. This helps catch all the tasty juices in the bottom of the tortilla rather than on your lap! As for the sauces, there are some different methods in my household. My Mum will always spread the sauces on first to cover the whole tortilla evenly, while I will dollop them on top before folding. You’ll have to let me know where your alliances go! With the small tortillas, eat the fajitas like a taco as shown below but be prepared to get seriously messy! Either way, remember the mantra “less is more” with the fajita mixture. All of us have got a bit carried away with the first fajita’s filling in all the excitement. You soon learn from this mistake when your tortilla rips and you have to hang your head in shame while you head for the cutlery drawer…


Enjoy!

Guacamole

Avocados are everywhere these days and I for one am very happy about it! How could avocado get any better? Mixed up into Guacamole, that’s how!

I remember quite vividly walking around my local Tesco with my Dad at a very young age in the search of Guacamole. In the end we asked one of the assistants where to find it and when they looked back at us with the blankest expression you’ve ever seen, I remember my Dad saying “even my 5 year old daughter knows what Guacamole is!” It’s true, but I guess I wasn’t really like most 5 year olds in Cornwall. My parents ran a Tex Mex restaurant in St Austell called Spring Heeled Jacks with a very similar menu and similar cocktail flairing to TGIFridays. So I’ve definitely eaten my fair share of Guacamole over the years!

We never did find any guacamole that day but these days it’s readily available in most supermarkets. It never is quite as tasty as your own though! So here’s how to make The Cornish Cook’s Homemade Guacamole. Serve it on your Fajitas, Nachos, Huevos Rancheros or simply spread on hot toast. Delish!

You will need:

1 Avocado | Juice of a lime | Coriander | 1 Clove of Garlic | Half a Fresh Chilli | Salt | Black Pepper | 2 Cherry Tomatoes (optional)

Crush the garlic to a paste with a generous pinch of salt. Of course I’d use Cornish Sea Salt but if you’re not lucky enough to have that available to you in your pantry, any kind of salt you have will work too.

Put the garlic into a small bowl along with the finely diced chilli (seeds and all if you like a kick) and coriander. Add the cherry tomatoes (if you’re adding them) chopped into roughly eighths. Squeeze in the juice of a lime and season with black pepper. Mix all the ingredients together.

I like to do all these stages first so that the avocado is as fresh as possible when you serve it and you can give the rest of the mix a good stir without mushing the avocado too much.

Now for the star of the show…chop the avocado in half and destone. Slice the avocado in its skin as shown below (try not to chop your hand off) and scoop out with a spoon straight into the bowl with the other ingredients. Stir everything together and mash your guacamole to how you like it. I like mine quite chunky but you might like yours almost at the avocado moose stage!

img_0490Enjoy!

Huevos Rancheros

It was only fitting that my first post be what I cooked up tonight for dinner. It’s a recipe that says a lot about my style of cooking and the food I love to create…and eat!

How this recipe came about says even more about me. I was sat on a train, doing my usual commute home from work, scrolling through Instagram (as I’m sure you all do too) when I came across an image of something very similar to this. My belly rumbled more on this image than any other before it, so that was it, that was what I was cooking for my dinner. I took a look at a few recipes of Huevos Rancheros whilst on the train, wrote down a quick list of ingredients I needed from the supermarket and started to taste it already.

Huevos Rancheros is a popular breakfast dish in Mexico. It literally means Ranchers eggs, so you’re likely to see it served up in Mexican farms, when they’re not eating Cornish Pasties I’ve heard! I’m living in Sydney at the moment, so the insta post was probably intended for someone just waking up in the UK. But hey, who says you can’t enjoy brunch food whenever it tickles your fancy!

So here it is, The Cornish Cook’s take on Huevos Rancheros. Very tasty if I do say so myself…

Per person you will need:

Soft Tortillas (2 small as shown or 1 large) | 1 egg | Can of Black Beans | Guacamole | Chilli Flakes | Cumin | Olive Oil | A quarter of a red onion | Bunch of corriander | Fresh red chilli to taste | Salsa | Feta cheese | Half a lime

Dice the red onion and fry gently in some olive oil until translucent. Add a pinch of the chilli flakes and cumin and fry for about a minute until you can really smell the spices. You could use a small amount of a fajita seasoning sachet if you prefer. Add the can of black beans and simmer for about 10 minutes until all the liquid is gone. If the black beans are the text mex kind in a tasty sauce then chuck them in, sauce and all. If the beans are stored in brine, drain them and rinse them before adding them to the onions and add about 100ml of water to replicate the sauce.

Put the black bean mixture to one side and whip up some homemade Guacamole and Salsa. Feel free to substitute shop bought Guacamole and Salsa for a little time saver but I personally think it’s worth the extra effort both for your health and for your tastebuds! If you’re only cooking for one (like me), then there will be enough black beans for 2 portions. These can be frozen as required. Just give them a blast in the microwave or heat in a pan whenever you have a hankering for Huevos Rancheros or use them in a other Mexican favourites such as Burritos.

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In a hot dry pan, toast your tortillas for about a minute on both sides. You can do this ahead of time and keep them warm in a pre-heated oven until you are ready to plate up. It’s probably best to do this if you seem to be feeding an army or are not so hot at multi-tasking.

Fry your eggs gently in some olive oil to your liking. I like to keep my yolk nice and runny but if a hard yolk is your ‘cup of tea’ then keep it in the pan for a bit longer. I like to season my egg while it’s frying with some salt and pepper. I’ve recently discovered jalapeno salt which is perfect for this recipe, check it out. To get a perfect egg (in my opinion) I pour some of the hot oil onto the yolk of the egg whilst it’s cooking so that the top get’s some of the heat needed for an evenly cooked egg.

Now it’s time to plate up.

Pop your toasted tortillas onto your plate and top with the black bean mixture, Guacamole and salsa. Add your fried egg on top and sprinkle some freshly chopped chilli (if you love chilli as much as I do) and some coriander and crumbed feta cheese on top. Then for an extra zing, squeeze some lime over the lot.

Make lots of mmmmm noises as you devour the lot and dream of Mexico!

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