Many of us will be missing our holiday this year: here is a nostalgic look at the kind of food we often eat during our summer two weeks self-catering in Cornwall.
I always enjoy the slightly different style of cooking you do when catering for yourself on holiday and I especially love cooking and eating in a Cornish cottage just by the sea.
It's being in a different kitchen: usually with just the basic tools and equipment, the shops are different too and you don’t want to make anything too complicated.
There is a fantastic fish merchant, originally run by Dennis Knight, right on the harbour, near where we usually stay in Port Isaac, plus crab & lobster across the passage. And of course, there are wonderful pasties . . . .
I doubt very much we’ll be eating fresh crab, crayfish tails or scallops during lockdown but fish tucked up in blankets is now a regular at home and my husband makes brilliant pasties. The other suggestions are easy to do.
Fried Cheese Sandwiches
We usually make a really early start on the first morning of our holiday. We get all the packing done the night before and get up at stupid o’clock.
Armed with cheese sandwiches, marmalade sandwiches, hot cross buns, flasks of coffee and juice, the aim is to arrive at Trebarwith Strand as early as possible for breakfast by the sea, to watch the waves and soak up the atmosphere.
Any leftover sandwiches make a handy breakfast or lunch next day. Open them out and add some extras to your cheese if you like, flatten, and fry on both sides until piping hot and golden.
Marmalade ones fry well too: dip in beaten egg if you fancy a variation on fairy toast, but do allow to cool slightly before eating or you’ll have the roof of your mouth off!
Marmalade & Clotted Cream ‘Foldies’
Speaking of marmalade sandwiches: do try these gorgeous ‘foldies’ I discovered one year. I don’t know how I thought of it but suddenly fancied marmalade and clotted cream in a folded over sandwich with my cup of tea for breakfast. I love seedy brown bread and this one was just right: It was Warburton’s I think.
Spread cream on half a slice (cream first? Anyone would think we were in Devon!) and then marmalade. Fold over. We used to make folded sandwiches like this when I was a little girl: butter and jam mostly but sometimes honey, golden syrup or marmalade.
I love dressed crab, both dark and white meat: we usually by some to eat back in the cottage as it’s more affordable and relaxing that way. It’s very filling and my advice is don’t have any bread or much else at all with it. Just a handful of rocket or similar salad leaf, a squeeze of lemon and a dab of mayo is plenty! Oh, and maybe a sliver or two of cucumber.
Gorgeous Crayfish Tails: favourite easy recipe
Every year we buy a pot or two of crayfish tails from Dennis Knight down on the harbour at least twice.
Try cooking them in butter with a bit of black pepper, some sliced chilli or chilli flakes, garlic if you like and a squeeze of lemon. Serve with any kind of pasta you fancy. Some green salad and garlic bread wouldn’t go amiss either.
One year we had a few extra so my daughter and I had a fab breakfast: cooked as above with some nice brown toast.
Scallops & Bacon: yes please!
Sometimes we have scallops and bacon: chop up some bacon or buy lardons. Get the bacon cooking first in a drop of oil. Once nearly cooked, add the scallops and a little bit of black pepper, they’ll only take a couple of minutes. Serve with lemon wedges and some salad leaves.
Holiday Fish Tucked up in Blankets
I came up with another holiday fishy favourite one year. I suddenly thought of it as I was walking back from the harbour. Try it, it’s a kind of fish lasagne.
This is just a rough guide; you’ll need quantities to suit how many of you there are.
You’ll need a baking dish suitable for lasagne
Buy some fish, ideally 3 kinds, white, smoked and something pink: cod or similar, smoked haddock and some crayfish tails, prawns or salmon.
Make a cheese sauce and season with black and white pepper, a pinch of chilli flakes and a dab of made mustard: you’ll need plenty of sauce, slightly more than for normal lasagne.
Slice a couple or more spring onions and fry gently in butter or oil.
Cut the fish into bite-size pieces: it’s a lot easier if you partially freeze it first, the skin comes off more easily too.
Add the fish to the pan with a handful of frozen peas; turn to coat and cook gently for a few minutes.
Pour a little sauce into the bottom of the lasagne dish. Arrange lasagne sheets on top.
Pour half the remaining sauce into the fish mixture and stir. Pour into dish.
Arrange lasagne sheets on top to cover and finish with remaining sauce. Scatter with grated cheese and bake at 180C (fan oven) or equivalent for 20-30 minutes until piping hot and the top is golden.
This is great served with samphire cooked briefly in a little butter with lemon and black pepper.
Hevva Cake and Buns
Hevva cake is a lovely crumbly, simple fruited cake, the texture is a bit like a cross between a scone and a rock bun, and I make it often – I’ve even made it on holiday - it’s so simple.
One year we discovered Hevva Buns in the local Coop and ate them up on the cliffs with clotted cream and jam. What a treat! Sadly, we were never able to get them again as they were discontinued but you could easily adapt my Hevva Cake recipe to make 6-8 buns. I must try it myself and post up the cooking times for you.
See separate recipe for Hevva Cake
Back home and still thinking up easy little snacks
Every year when we get home my head is still in holiday food mood for a few days and I’m still thinking up nice little easy snacks. I’m a big fan of things on toast and also practically addicted to taramasalata. Split and lightly toast a roll and top it with taramasalata and a poached or fried egg. Sounds weird but it's absolutely gorgeous!
(These recipes first appeared as part of a holiday blog on September 17th 2017, happy days!)