On our recent adventure to the nooks of West Cornwall, we found ourselves navigating the Helford, exploring Trelowarren and even foraging for oysters. It was an adventure so close to home, yet there were times when it felt so far away - though three days of constant and unforgiving rainfall would keep the crew in check.
These conditions presented us with the perfect opportunity to test our latest gear, but after three days of exploring and with no sign of a break in the rain, spirits were beginning to dwindle; cold feet and rumbling stomachs acting as a catalyst.
Our friends at Woodfired Canteen say that food always tastes better when you're wet, cold and hungry. Part of the reason they decided to cook outside in the first place was to recreate that feeling of community as everyone crowds around the fire.
We took shelter on Gillan Creek, lit our fire and prepared a feast. Surrounded by good company and with stomachs appeased, the Finisterre crew took little notice of how the burdening clouds above had now parted.
4 whole trout, cleaned and scaled
2 red peppers - sliced thin
1 red onion sliced thin
1 handful of raisins
1 handful of toasted pine nuts
1 small glass of cider vinegar
1 tsp of dried red chilies
sea salt to taste.
Mothers Garden Extra Virgin Olive oil.
1 large squash, butternut is perfect
500g of cherry tomatoes
2 garlic cloves
1 fresh red chilli
cider vinegar, salt and olive oil to taste
1 handful of mint
2 handfuls of soft brown sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
1 pot of clotted cream
toasted mixed nuts such as hazelnuts and peanuts
First start with the fire, about an hour or so before you want to start cooking, light your fire and get it good and hot - you'll need a decent bed of coals.
Mix all the ingredients for the pickle except the fish and place them in a roasting tin large enough to take all of the fish later. Grill the fish whole but don’t cook them all the way through, have a look with a small knife to check how cooked they are. When they start to firm up, transfer them to the pickle. Keep this in a warm place and baste the fish with the liquor. Allow to rest up.
Once the fish is cool enough to handle simply flake it off the bone into the liquor, give it a good stuff and check the seasoning. You may need to add salt, more vinegar and olive oil. The escabeche will keep for up to a week under oil.
The caponata takes around an hour as you will be roasting the squash in the coals but it all comes together very quick at the end. Start with the fire, drag a 2’’ bed of coals from the fire and place your squash on them. You will need to rotate the squash regularly as it will turn ashen on the outside.
On another area of the fire place a heavy pan (we love to use the Netherton Foundry pans as they're a great group of people doing something rather special - plus the pans work). Once your pan is hot, add the tomatoes and dry fry them until they start to split and char a little. Take them off the heat and add the vinegar seasoning, garlic - sliced thin and the chilli simply sliced length ways.
When the squash is soft, peel it with a knife and chop the flesh into rough cubes adding them to the tomato mixture, give it all a good stir and add the mint. Check for seasoning.
To serve, simply spoon the caponata onto the plates and let your hungry friends decorate with the escabeche.
Pudding is such a great thing to produce from fire. For some reason wood fire goes hand in hand with savoury but sweet seems to elude the menu. We love this pudding. We often bust it out after a surf session in the Winter months.
Start with the fire, a good bed of 2’’ coals is required to rest a heavy pot on. Place the fruit in to it whole and gently char the fruit all over, once you are happy, add the sugar and let it melt into the juices from the fruit. Add the cinnamon sticks and remove the fruit. Once your sugar has melted, add the fruit back in the form of roughly chopped pieces. Give it all a good stir and then remove the pot from the heat. Decorate liberally with the toasted nuts and a add a 'massive' dollop of clotted cream. Get your friends to dig in with their own spoons.
Light fires, meet new people and create memories