Bridget Hugh-Jones’ Bakewell Tart

I LOVE the sound of seagulls calling, squalling, squabbling and chasing each other for fun or a wriggly fish — it reminds me of holidays in Tramore as a child, ice-cream cones, sand buckets, little fishing nets, and picnics by the Metal Man.

I’m in Cornwall for a few days, staying in an enchanting little fishing village called Mousehole, which we quickly learned is pronounced ‘Mousel’ after we asked for directions to Mouse Hole and got the same sort of amused looks that tourists to these parts get when they ask for Cob (Cobh) or Yoo-gal (Youghal).

Cornwall is an enchanting place. I love any excuse to meander through the narrow lanes, lie on the beaches or potter through the pretty villages.

This time we were on a mission — to christen our part-Cornish grandson, now a feisty two-year-old.
After the ceremony we sipped a little fizz to celebrate and then drove down the hill to Porth Curno beach, one of many truly beautiful beaches in Cornwall — rock pools, golden sand, clear blue sea with little waves, and lots of seashells to decorate sandcastles.

I decided to walk along the National Trust path on the cliff top to Penberth, a little secluded cove where a celebration lunch awaited.

Cornwall is still fiercely nationalistic, the Cornish pasty is alive and well and much loved.

Cafés, tea shops and farm shops vie with each other to serve the best cream teas. Rodda’s clotted cream with its thick crust on top is to die for and in Cornwall is eaten at every excuse, spread on toast underneath marmalade or slathered on saffron bread and of course as part of the famous cream teas.

Bridget Hugh-Jones Jasper’s paternal grandmother makes the best Bakewell tart I have ever tasted; she served it warm, of course, with clotted cream — divine.
She sweetly gave me the recipe which I share with you. Her chocolate and ginger bombe, scattered with crunchy praline, was the pièce de résistance of the christening luncheon.

This is one of the loveliest times of the year to visit Cornwall. The countryside is beautiful; the Maybush is already in flower, lots of wild garlic, bluebells, raggedy robin and gorse in full bloom, but the thousands of summer visitors have not yet descended. Mousehole, a few miles from Penzance, is one of the most enchanting fishing villages, a labyrinth of narrow laneways and passages, higgledy-piggeldy houses, with casement and dormer windows, half-slated, white-washed walls with little gardens full of geraniums and pink valerians and daisies growing out of the crevices.

We stayed in the Coastguard Hotel overlooking the bay, a new acquisition of Charles Inken and his team who own Gurnards’ Head, a pub with rooms just 12 miles away on the other side of the peninsula. We had a fantastically good dinner there one evening. One of the highlights was vichyssoise of alexanders with horseradish cream and pea-shoots and mackerel with new seasons asparagus, tri-cornered leek (allium triquetrum) and pennywort (umbilicus rupestris).

When I saw the blackboard outside which says ‘Can you forage or grow for us?’ I knew I was on the right track.

The head chef Bruce Rennie and his team make full use of local wild food in season.

Cornwall is still looked on as a disadvantaged area but as in other challenged areas people are immensely creative and entrepreneurial.

As you drive through the countryside, many farms and cottages have a little stand outside with an honesty box selling plants, cut flowers, jam and preserves or home baking.
I bought a lovely little bunch of exquisitely scented violets for 50p, pinned them to my lapel for the christening and sprinkled them into the green salad later — delicious. Waste not, want not!

Bridget Hugh-Jones’ Chocolate and Ginger Bombe

Serves 10 – 12 1 jar of ginger conserve

450ml (16 fl oz) double cream

50g (2oz) dark chocolate

Praline

50g (2oz) caster sugar

50g (2oz) flaked almonds

Chocolate Icing

100ml (3½ fl oz) double cream

100g (4oz) dark chocolate

2 litre pudding bowl and plastic bag

Cut open a large plastic food bag and use it to line the pudding basin.

Tip a jar of ginger conserve into a bowl and stir to break it up a bit, then lightly whip the cream and chop 50g (2oz) dark chocolate.

Gently fold both into the ginger conserve until the mixture is evenly flecked. Tip into the lined bowl and smooth over the top.
Cover and freeze for at least four hours, overnight is better.

Put the caster sugar into a heavy-bottomed saucepan and cook on a gentle heat without stirring until it caramelises to the colour of a conker.

Remove from heat and quickly stir in the flaked almonds. Tip out onto a lightly oiled baking tray or a piece of foil. Leave to cool. When cold and set, break the almond caramel into unevenly sized small pieces with a rolling pin.

Pour 100ml (3½ fl oz) double cream into a small saucepan over a gentle heat, add 100g (4oz) of dark chocolate broken into pieces, stir gently until the chocolate has melted. Then leave to cool until thickened to a spreading consistency.

When the ice-cream bombe is frozen, turn onto a chilled plate and quickly spread the chocolate icing over the top and sides as evenly as possible — it will set as soon as it touches the ice cream. Scatter the almond praline over the bombe and press lightly then return to the freezer until needed.

Remove to the fridge for about 30 minutes before serving otherwise it will be difficult to slice. Dust with icing sugar and serve in thick wedges.

Grilled Mackerel, Served with Asparagus, Three Cornered Leek and Pennywort - recipe from Bruce Rennie of Gurnards’ Head

Serves 6

6 fresh mackerel fillets, pin-boned

18 spears asparagus, prepped

Salt

Extra virgin olive oil

1 lemon

Stems and flowers of three cornered leek (allium triquetrum)

Pennywort leaves (umbilicus rupestris), washed

Season each side of the mackerel with salt and place on a lightly oiled tray skin side up.

Drizzle the top of the fish with a little olive oil and place under a hot grill for 2-3 minutes until the fish is just cooked and the skin has started to get crisp.

Finish with a squeeze of lemon juice. Meanwhile, cook the asparagus in boiling salted water until just tender.

Remove the asparagus from the water and divide between six plates.

Place the mackerel on top of the asparagus.

Chop the three cornered leek (allium triquetrum) stalks into small batons and dress the plates with these, the flowers and the pennywort leaves (umbilicus rupestris),

Drizzle the mackerel cooking juices around the plate and serve immediately.

Bridget Hugh-Jones’ Bakewell Tart

Serves 8

75g (3oz) butter

175g (6oz) plain white flour

30g (1¼oz) caster sugar

1 beaten egg with a couple of tablespoons water mixed (you won’t need all the water)

4 to 6 tbsp of homemade raspberry jam

3 eggs

The weight of 3 eggs in caster sugar, butter, ground almonds

A few drops of almond extract

25g — 35g (1–1½oz) flaked almonds to scatter over the top

9 inch tart tin, preferably with removable base

First make the pastry.

Sieve the flour and the sugar into a large bowl.

Cut the butter into cubes, toss in the flour, rub in with the fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.

Whisk the egg with 2 teaspoons of cold water and add enough to bind the mixture.

But do not make the pastry too wet — it should come away cleanly from the bowl.

Flatten into a round, wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for 15 minutes.

Roll out thinly on a lightly-floured worktop and use it to line a 9in (23cm) tart tin.

Line with kitchen or greaseproof paper and fill to the top with dried beans. Rest for 15 minutes in the fridge.

Line the tart tin with shortcrust pastry and spread the base generously with raspberry jam.

Cream the butter, add the caster sugar and continue to beat until soft and fluffy.

Add the beaten eggs one at a time and then stir in the ground almonds and a few drops of almond extract.

Spread this mixture evenly over the jam in the tart tin.

Sprinkle the top with flaked almonds and bake in pre-heated oven at 180C/350F/Mark 4 for about 40 minutes.

Allow to cool in the tin for a few minutes and then remove to a wire rack and serve with preferably Cornish clotted cream or softly whipped cream.

Hot tips

Spend the day at Corleggy Farm, Belturbet, Co Cavan, with Silke Cropp tomorrow.

Learn the art of cheese-making and take home your very own kilo of cow’s milk cheese. Full day, including lunch, €150, or €250 for two people. Contact Silke at corleggy@gmail.com to book.

Learn how to make a long list of delicious dairy products including homemade butter, yoghurt, cottage cheese, coeur a la crème, labneh, paneer and a simple farmhouse cheese at the half-day course Homemade Butter, Yoghurt and Several Cheeses at Ballymaloe Cookery School on Wednesday, May 9, from 9.30am to 1.30pm. Cost €115 includes lunch. Book at 021-4646785.

A Slow Food Celebration of Local Food takes place at Marco’s Pizzeria, Midleton on Tuesday, May 22, at 7.30pm. Dinner, €35.

To book, phone 021-4633030. All proceeds to the East Cork Slow Food Educational Project.

On Friday May 25 there’s a coffee morning at Ballymaloe Cookery School in aid of Self Help Africa hosted by Darina Allen; phone 021-4646785.


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