Fat Hen’s Fish and Seafood Cookery Course in Cornwall

Last summer Jonny & I met Caroline Davey from Fat Hen, a foraging & wild food cookery school, at the Rock Oyster Festival. I was over the moon when Caroline emailed me a few weeks ago to ask if I’d like to join & review the first Fish and Seafood Cookery Course of the year. I knew I was in for a treat!

Caroline Davy, from Fat Hen Wild Food Cookery School

The school is in a delightful barn conversion next to her home on the far west tip of Cornwall, just a stones throw from Lands End.Fat Hen Wild Food Cookery School Really cleverly designed, the purpose built kitchen is brand new and caused envy among many of us students! Sunlight poured in all day long which made it a fabulous space to work in.

A Class at Fat Hen Wild Food Cookery School

Our chef was Mark Devonshire, who ran Rick Stein’s Seafood School in Padstow for several years. His teaching manner is relaxed and fun and he kept us as entertained as he did well fed! Mark Devonshire, Chef at Fat Hen

From filleting plaice to cleaning cuttlefish and picking crab and lobster, the course was as hands on as you wanted it to be. Throughout the day we prepared, cooked and nibbled on everything from tempura cuttlefish (utterly divine and not at all rubbery) to a striking black tagliatelle that Mark dyed with squid ink.

If you ever buy and cook squid, try to get hold of cuttlefish instead next time, apparently it is half the price per kilo of squid. It’s prepared in just the same way as squid and tastes wonderful.Fat Hen Wild Food Cookery School

As if all the nibbling wasn’t enough we were also treated to a three course lunch using the seafood we’d prepped during the morning and balanced perfectly by Caroline’s wild food offerings.

A wild food cooking course at Fat Hen in Cornwall

For starter we had mackerel that we’d smoked in a stove top smoker, with a green salad of mixed wild & cultivated leaves with some freshly made wild garlic aioli. A glass of chilled white complemented this rather perfectly.

Fat Hen Wild Food Cookery SchoolThe main course was Hake on rock samphire & wilted wild greens with a rich cream and wild fennel sauce. As usual I had to be difficult, and as I couldn’t have cream Mark made me a sauce with a fresh fish stock mixed with a little of the wild garlic aioli.

That’s a handy hint for any other dairy free types, mix mayonnaise or aioli with a little warm stock for an instant creamy sauce. Genius!

Fat Hen Wild Food Cookery School

Dessert was Japanese Knotweed that had been poached in a syrup of sweet geranium leaves, and the dairy lovers had a scrummy looking panna cotta which Caroline had set using carragheen (a seaweed) in lieu of the more usual gelatine.

Fat Hen Wild Food Cookery School

And then, after a serious lunch and gossip with our fellow students, we were put back to work! Honestly, I could’ve just curled up on the sofa at this point!

Mark cooked up a spider crab, a brown crab and a lobster which he then proceeded to show us how to break into and pick the meat out of.Fat Hen Wild Food Cookery School

Whilst I’ve eaten all three of these crustaceans before, I’ve never tasted them side by side. The spider crab was a clear winner for most, if not all of us. The flesh is sweet and juicy and utterly moreish. Interestingly, the lobster was my least favourite of the three.A wild food cooking course at Fat Hen in Cornwall

Mark obviously thought we all still looked a little peckish as he then mixed the meat from all three through the cooked squid ink tagliatelle and we devoured that too. Seriously, I have no idea how Caroline manages to stay as slim as she does!

A Class at Fat Hen Wild Food Cookery School

I’ve done quite a few foodie classes now, and can honestly say that this is up there as one of the best. I was exhausted by the end of the day and so grateful that I’d taken notes all day as the tips and information were constantA Class at Fat Hen Wild Food Cookery School

Just having a peep at the Fat Hen website and I love the look of the Seaweed Foraging and Cookery Class, and the Game Cookery day. If I learnt half as much about either of those topics as I did on this fish & seafood day, I’d be very happy.

Mark Devonshire, Chef at Fat Hen

PS you still here? Check out the Fat Hen compost loo – how cool??! :)

A wild food cooking course at Fat Hen in Cornwall

Massive thanks to Caroline for inviting me to experience a day with the Fat Hen Wild Food Cookery School. As always, all views are my own.

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Simple Flatbread Recipe ~ Campfire Cooking

We’ve just returned from this years Cornwall RV, and it was AWESOME! The weather was (mostly) perfect, the vibe was very laid back everyone seemed to have a great time.

How to make a simple flat bread on an open fire

Not being able to distance myself from food too much for fear of, I don’t know, starvation maybe, I spent most of the weekend selling burgers & bacon butties in the HQ kitchen.

How to make a simple flat bread on an open fire

When I was let out of the kitchen for good behaviour, it was to arrange an Easter Egg Hunt through the woods and to hold a bread making class for the kids.

Funny how I always end up in the kitchen, even on holiday :)

Simple flatbread recipe cooked over an open fire

This year we used this really simple flatbread recipe that we cooked on a skillet over an open fire. Of course it can be cooked at home either on the hob or under a hot grill, but as everything tastes better cooked outdoors do give it a try if you can. 

How to make a simple flat bread on an open fire

It is such a simple way to get the kids involved in their food. They love mixing, rolling and shaping their bread, and they really love slapping on the chocolate spread :)

How to make a simple flat bread on an open fire

The measurements below are about as loose as you can get, so don’t feel you have to stick to them. Don’t skip the salt as it’ll be pretty grim without it, but if you don’t have any oil or butter to melt it’s not the end of the world. With enough chocolate spread on I’m sure the kids won’t mind!

How to make a simple flat bread on an open fire

Here’s hoping you all had as much fun as we did this Easter!

Simple Flat Bread ~ Campfire Cooking

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 3-4 decent sized flatbreads

Ingredients

  • 1 mug of plain flour (if you only have self raising that will work fine, it'll just puff up a little bit)
  • A pinch of salt
  • A glug of oil (about 1/2 - 1 tablespoon)
  • Enough cold or warm water to turn the mix into a dough

Instructions

  1. First up, get the little darlings to wash their hands in warm water with soap or washing up liquid in. Some of these kids hadn't washed their hands in at least 4 days, probably longer :)
  2. Pop all the dry ingredients in a large bowl or large ziploc bag. Pour in the oil then add the water slowly, stirring the bowl or massaging the bag as you go.
  3. When you have something that looks vaugley dough like, tip out onto a lightly floured board or table and roll or press into as evenly thin as possible. If it looks too wet and is sticking to everything, add more flour. If it is dry and crumbly, pop back in the bowl or bag and add a bit more water at a time until it looks smooth.
  4. Some of the kids used a rolling pin but you can press with your hands or roll with a bottle or even squash the dough with a plate or pan base. This is definitely the time to play with your food :)
  5. The kids love to shape their breads into all kinds of shapes, but by keeping them thin and even they'll taste much better as they'll be cooked evenly. The other bonus of rolling them really thin is that they'll be bigger so they can fit more chocolate spread on!
  6. Heat up a skillet or frying pan on the fire or gas stove and add a little dash of oil. You don't really want a lot of oil in there, just enough to stop the bread from sticking.
  7. Cook each flatbread for a couple minutes, until the dough puffs up with fat bubbles and the bottom looks golden brown in places. Flip over and cook the other side.
  8. Spread with oodles of chocolate spread and devour greedily.
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Scallops, New Potatoes and Crumbled Black Pudding

Every time I sit down to a double size portion of seafood all to myself, I count my lucky stars that Jonny won’t eat it.

In fairness to him he did once eat a clam, but from the expression on his face, I don’t think it was an experience he plans to repeat.

Scallops, New Potatoes and Black Pudding

Being sent  a glorious box of seafood from Fish for Thought I had to freeze most of the contents as I couldn’t physically eat them all before they went bad. Surprisingly (and thankfully) scallops freeze perfectly. These little beauties tasted as fresh, juicy & tender as the day they were plucked from the seabed.

Scallops, New Potatoes and Crumbled Black Pudding

And whilst I’m really not a fan of thick slabs of black pudding, when it’s crumbled up and fried I can’t get enough of it. It becomes crispy yet smooth with a soft rich flavour that complements the clean sweet taste of the scallops to perfection. A match made in heaven.

Scallops, New Potatoes and Crumbled Black Pudding

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 1+

Ingredients

    Per Person
  • 4-6 scallops
  • 4-6 new potatoes, cooked & halved lengthways
  • An inch or so of black pudding, crumbled
  • Handful of watercress leaves or other greens

Instructions

  1. In a large skillet or frying pan, heat a little butter or oil and when really hot add the potatoes cut side down. After a few minutes give the pan a good shake, cooking the other side of the potatoes and add the crumbled black pudding.
  2. When the potatoes are golden and the black pudding is crispy, move both to the side of the pan to keep warm, add a little more butter and cook the scallops for one minute on each side. If they are particularly large, cut through the centre of one to make sure it is opaque all the way through. Do not overcook them!
  3. Serve the scallops, potatoes and black pudding with the watercress leaves and drizzle with any butter and juices left in the pan. Delicious!
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Many thanks to Fish for Thought for their fabulous box of seafood they sent me to review.

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Guernsey Bean Jar in the Slow Cooker

My family name, Sarchet, originates from the Channel Islands. Guernsey to be precise.

The story goes that there were two Sarchet families, one which was law abiding and godly, and then the one that I’m from :)

Guernsey Bean Jar

Mum & Dad married on the island in the late 60′s, built their own house, had my brother & I then sold up and moved to the mainland, buying our little farm in Cornwall. Back then it was restrictively expensive to leave the island and they didn’t want Stuart & I growing up feeling held back or isolated by island life.

Guernsey Bean Jar

And now, with the ‘year of firsts’ since losing Dad behind her, Mum was finally ready to go back and visit the little island and all her old friends again.

Her postcard home to Jonny & I was a recipe card, for a dish I’d never heard of before but I was really excited to make. Not only did it feel like a little part of my heritage, it calls for a pigs trotter, which our freezer has in abundance. Trotters cook down releasing a rich, thick gravy and bring together ingredients of a stew or casserole with a gentle porky flavour and a silky texture. They’re lip smackingly delicious.

If you don’t grow your own pigs, your local butcher will always be able to get them for you and they are really cheap.

Guernsey Bean Jar

Guernsey Bean Jar tastes great, is nourishing and filling, and just perfect for flu recovery mode.

Guernsey Bean Jar

Prep Time: 8 hours

Cook Time: 10 hours

Total Time: 18 hours

Yield: 4-6

Ingredients

  • 1 pigs trotter or shin of beef
  • 200g haricot beans
  • 200g butter beans
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 litre beef stock or water
  • Salt & pepper

Instructions

  1. Soak the beans overnight in plenty of cold water.
  2. Drain and rinse the bean the following morning, then load them and all the other ingredients in the slow cooker.
  3. Cook on low for 8-10 hours, or high for 5-6 hours or until the beans are soft.
  4. Switch off the slow cooker and remove the trotter and/or shin of beef. Remove the meat from both, discarding the bones, skin or gristle.
  5. Pop the meat back in with the beans, stirring well and check seasoning adding more slat & pepper as necessary.
  6. Serve with crusty bread and butter.
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 Recipe shamelessly pilfered from a postcard by Jill Vaudin Publishing, whose recipe is taken from the BBC Guernsey.

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Flu Zen

Just dusting off my keyboard as it’s not seen any action for a while.

Spring

I’ve been laid up with flu.

Proper, full blown, GP endorsed, flu.

Yes I’ve felt like utter crap, but strangely something rather wonderful has come out of it all.

Spring

Once the brain fog cleared, and in between the naps, sweats and coughing fits, a calm Zen like feeling settled on me.

Spring

It found me sitting in the sun watching my chickens chase bugs across the lawn. Or snuggled up on the sofa with SassyCat purring on my blanketed lap as I leafed through one cookbook after another.

Spring

Do you know, so many of my cookbooks I’d never actually got round to reading before.

I may have flipped through the index looking for instant gratification, but some cookbooks deserve proper cover-to-cover reading at least once. Books like Delia’s How to Cook series, pretty much anything by Hugh or Jamie, and every single word ever written by Nigel Slater.

Not read any Nigel Slater before? Get hold of his Real Cooking book, turn to page 63 and read the 2 pages entitled Chicken & Other Bits. Gastro-poetry at its best, the man is a fine wordsmith.

Spring

And yesterday I said to Jonny, who by this point I’d very lovingly shared my germs with, that I don’t remember when I last made time just to sit and be.

See, it’s Flu Zen. And it’s really rather lovely.

Spring

As the week has gone on, I’ve found myself missing work so last night I made myself a to-do list for today.

On that list was to take some pretty photos and write this post. Job done.

Spring

(sorry I find snails incredibly pretty).

Spring

And now the kettle is going on and I’m snuggling up with my chef de jour.

Janie x

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