I just wanted to share some photos with you of our new kitchen & dining room at Fat Hen. This was recently completed at the end of last year and we finally opened the doors this April. We are offering a whole range of wild food based courses and options for bespoke bookings, private dining and a supper club.
The Cookery School
Supper night - we can accommodate up to 24 for dining
A rotolo is one of the less common Italian pasta dishes. Rotolo literally translates as a coil or scroll and this dish uses pasta sheets with a filling which is rolled up like a swiss roll. The roll is then cut into slices, fried off in a pan and served with a sauce. In this case a wild pesto.
320gr 00 pasta flour
½ tsp salt
1 whole egg
5 egg yolks
1tsp olive oil
1 tbsp Nettle puree
Large basket of nettles, mallow leaves, alexanders leaves, sea beet, 3 cornered garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt to taste
2 cloves garlic
1 1/2 tubs ricotta
Tsp chilli flakes
3 cornered garlic pesto:
50g 3 cornered garlic leaves
30g pine nuts, toasted
30g parmesan cheese, freshly grated
85ml olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Nettle puree: Blanch a handful of nettle tops in boiling water, remove to a food processor with a tbsp of the water and blitz until it forms a smooth puree.
Pasta: Work together all the pasta ingredients and the nettle puree in a large mixing bowl until it comes together into a rough dough.
Remove to a table top and knead until it’s really smooth and shiny.
Cover the dough in cling film and rest in a fridge for at least 1 hour.
Cut 1/8th of the dough and roll it flat with a rolling pin. Use a bit of flour if sticky. Then roll it through a pasta machine on the widest setting a few times. Then fold the dough in half and keep running it through the machine folding it in half each time before you put it through.
Now roll the pasta through each setting of the machine until you get to the thinnest and final setting.
Hang each final sheet of pasta over a pole or laundry drier or the back of a chair to dry for half an hour.
Now cook the pasta in sheets in a large pan of salted boiling water for 2 minutes.
Remove from the pan and lay the sheets flat, slightly overlapping each other, on a large piece of clingfilm. You will probably lay the rotolo two sheets wide and three sheets depth so you have one large rectangular pasta sheet.
Add the filling.
Put olive oil into a large sauté pan and heat gently; Add chopped garlic for a minute. Add washed wild greens and wilt down until cooked (10 minutes), adding the coarser leaves first. Mix the wilted wild greens with the ricotta, salt, pepper and chilli flakes.
3 cornered garlic pesto: Put the 3 cornered garlic leaves, salt, pine nuts and parmesan into a food processor. With the food processor still running add the olive oil until you reach the desired consistency
To complete the Rotolo: Spread out the filling over the whole surface of the pasta sheets as if you were making sushi or a swiss roll.
Roll up the pasta into a roll like a swiss roll wrapping the clingfilm around the roll and using the clingfilm to make the roll tight and firm.
Leave in the fridge to chill for at least an hour, preferably half a day.
Remove from fridge, cut slices, fry the slices in oil in a hot pan until brown.
Lay three or four slices of fried rotolo on a plate, drizzle with the 3 cornered garlic pesto and serve with a wild winter salad.
We've now come to the end of the events for 2013 (with the exception of private foraging walks).
My last event was with the Porthminster beach cafe on the 18th November.
Check out the 6 course tasting menu:
Baked Porthminster Sough Dough with dulse seaweed butter.
Watercress & Alexanders Soup with cauliflower & mascarpone.
Nettle & Cured Cornish Sardine fritters with foraged herb remoulade.
Smoked Brill & Crab tar-tare with black mustard, 75 degree egg yolk & sea beet puree.
Crispy squid with wild foraged salad leaves and citrus miso.
Wild strawberry & rosehip bavois with sea buckthorn berries, watermint, & apple & sorrel sorbet.
Happy & Full Foragers!
We'll be Foraging and Feasting again at the Porthminster next March. Book here.
Last Friday saw the final Foraging Friday of the year at the Gurnards Head. As usual, the weather held out, the company was great and as luck would have it some shaggy parasol mushrooms bestowed their fungal beauty right across our path (i nearly tripped over them).
These were simply pan fried in butter back in the pub and devoured by hungry foragers....yummmm.....
The foraging walk from the Gurnards Head covers such a magnificent part of the coastpath and we really do have a proper good stomp.
As well as time to stop and look, chat and discover.
These foraging days are about opening your eyes and using your senses. Often we look but do not really see what's there. These walks are about complete immersion in nature, feeling the wonderful restorative benefits of spending time outside and seeing beyond the patchwork landscape of greens & browns to the detail: the edible, medicinal and useful plants that surround us. After 2+ hours of wholesome fun we go back to the pub to indulge in a 4 course foragers feast of gourmet wild food; the best of the season's wild and local harvest.
Foragers back in the pub
Chickweed & local tomatoes with a rosehip dressing
Wild watercress soup with a poached duck egg & pancetta
So, until next Spring 'adios' to the Gurnards. It is possible to book a private foragers day at the Gurnards Head at any time of the year (minimum number 8). Contact Caroline for more information (email@example.com).
Last week the latest edition of Country Homes and Interiors magazine came out (July issue) with a 6 page feature of Fat Hen. We photographed it last summer on the beach and I'm more than happy with the results.
It's been a long ole year and a half on maternity leave wiping bums, pureeing vegetables, playing blocks and getting up at all sorts of ungodly hours but i'm now back in the world of the living (sort of) and have started to get back into work SLOWLY.
I had a great first wild food event at the Gurnards Head after having a break for nearly two years. I took my foragers on an appetite building coast path forage and then very hungrily devoured our 5 course wild food feast in the pub.
Bruce Rennie did us proud. He put together a wonderful menu based on all the foraged ingredients I supplied to him the day before.
Check this out:
Course 1: Alexanders Vichysoisse with horseradish cream
Course 2: Poached duck egg with hogweed shoots, hazelnuts & brown butter
Course 3: Pollock with rock samphire, wild fennel, three cornered leek flowers & a sweet lemon sauce
Course 4: Wild garlic risotto arancini, rabbit loin, wild garlic pureee
Course 5: Japanese knotweed sorbet, honeycomb & rice pudding
That was truly YUM and makes me very happy to see these ingredients given centre stage in a great restaurant.
We're doing another one on 14th June 2013 and then two more in the Autumn. Book through the website here
One of the most unusual poisonous Autumn berries is the berry of the Spindle shrub (Euonymus europaeus). It is thought to be highly toxic though there don't appear to be many recorded incidents.
The pink fruit capsules eventually split to reveal bright orange berries:
The berries contain toxic cardiac glycosides and alkaoloids. Children are attracted to the bright orange fruits, which contain toxic seeds. Symptoms occur 10-12 h after ingestion and include diarrhea, vomiting, stimulation of the heart and, in more severe cases, hallucination and loss of consciousness. In one fatal recorded case, a child had blood-stained diarrhea and convulsions before death.
(Cooper, M. R., Johnson, A. W. 1984. Poisonous plants in Britain and their effects on animals and man. Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, England. 305 pp.)
So watch out for the inconspicuous Spindle tree in your friendly hedgerow...unless you live in West Cornwall where it is completely absent....
Have you ever dropped a live lobster into a pot of boiling water? Not something I had ever wanted or ever intend to do in my life. So, when I was asked to cook a wild foraged recipe with lobster for Ben Fogle, filmed for America's Today Show, I must say, I hesitated slightly. Imagining the ASPCA (U.S equivalent to the RSPCA) lobby hounding me forever, for cooking lobster on air, I did as much research as I could into the least cruel way to cook lobster.
There is a huge diversity of advice out there regarding lobster preparation ranging from the downright barbaric to the sensible and least pain inflicting. Claims that lobsters don't have a brain and a highly developed nervous system so it's ok to treat them horribly just doesn't ring true to me. All living animals must feel pain. The RSPCA have produced a protocol for killing crustaceans for eating, which, in my opinion is the most thorough and comprehensive advice on the web.
So, that aside, I took Ben foraging for rock samphire, wild fennel, laver seaweed, gutweed, wood sorrel and chickweed. I made a rock samphire, fennel and lobster risotto. I served the lobster tail sliced across the top of the risotto and sprinkled crispy roasted bright green gutweed seaweed across the lobster and garnished with wood sorrel, chickweed and nasturtium flowers. I was very happy with it and the camera man said it wast the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen! Sadly, my camera was broken so I didn't get a shot of it but once it's aired I'll get it on my website....
We ate our risotto with a crisp white above the beach at sunset...
The film ends with Ben asking me 'Can you hear the bells?' to which I wasn't supposed to give an answer. After about 20 takes of 'Can you hear the bells?' in a range of quizzical tones, I began to wonder if I'd missed the joke.... and found the whole thing completely hilarious, whilst trying to keep a straight..ish face. It all became clear when they put it into the context of the lost land of Lyonesse...an ancient Cornish legend.
Pieminister, the posh pie folk from Bristol came down to stay here with us for a couple of days earlier this year to forage for their new cook book (A pie for all seasons) and to use our place as a pie photoshoot location. It was a great couple of days and now their cook book is on the shelves. Follow this link pieminister cook book sneak preview. There's a fat hen foraging section in the book and my wild pie recipe of hare with alexanders. If you want to buy the book follow this link. Buy a pie for all seasons. It's had great reviews so far on Amazon.
Here's my sneak preview:
If you really want to know the recipe you'll have to buy the book.
It makes a lovely rich warming winter pie.
Now, other things: We had one of our Gourmet Wild Food Weekends on 10th/11th September. The weather was glorious, all the better for starting hideously early on Sat morning. We left for the beach on our first foraging trip, the timing couldn't have been better as the sea fog lifted just as we set foot on the beach to reveal a hot sun and clear blue sky. No-one else thought to go to the beach so we had it all to ourselves.... We had a great weekend with our new chefs, Mark Devonshire, ex Rick Stein cookery school tutor and Hannah Noel-Paton, ex Gurnards head amongst others.
quote "there's nothing wrong with a bit of dirt in your leeks, we call it organic black pepper, it's all good for you!"
"no, please don't take a photo of me!"
Our guests made their own soda bread with wild berries, herbs and seaweeds to take home. They had a choice of elderberries, dried fennel flowers (fennel pollen in the trade), mugwort, alexanders, sea lettuce, gutweed, laver seaweed, dulse seaweed and black mustard. This was the result:
Everyone became incredibly territorial about their bread as I came through with my bread knife singling one out for our lunch... they were grabbed desperately and tucked away in their bags to take home. We had extra loaves so there was nothing to fear!
And we had confit rabbit with nettle taglietelle for our Sunday lunch main.
If you're wondering what the green tinge is in the pasta - it's the nettles.
We've got one more of these Gourmet Wild Food weekends left this year on October 1st-2nd. My wild food of the moment is the Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides). If you want to find out a fantastic sea buckthorn berry recipe come on down to sunny Cornwall and be inspired. Book here