Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Sweet Potato Tortilla with Cheese, Onion and Tomato - A Camping Friendly Recipe

The tortilla is the ideal camping recipe; more substantial than an omelette, making good use of simple ingredients, and all done in one frying pan over a stove. I did finish this one off under a grill due to the inclusion of cherry tomatoes on top with a sprinkling of cheese over. However, you can make your tortilla with any flavours you wish, using any kind of potatoes. I made on for dinner today using a couple of maris pipers, chopped up two rashers of bacon to add in, and threw in a large handful of frozen peas with thyme towards the end. You could try adding peppers and use feta cheese instead of cheddar, or think about spinach, mushroom or leeks. Use whatever you've got in and give it a go!

(served 2 for a dinner, or 1 with leftovers to eat cold later)
Olive oil
1/2 an onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
250g new potatoes, peeled (if you want) and thinly sliced
4 eggs
Handful grated cheddar cheese (plus extra for sprinkling over)
Cherry tomatoes, sliced for on top
Fresh basil
Salt and pepper

1) Heat a tbsp olive oil in a small omelette pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and both types of potato and fry for 7-8 minutes; keep stirring and turning them until tender, but not browned. Add the garlic for the last couple of minutes.
2) Meanwhile, beat the eggs with the grated cheese and salt and pepper in a large bowl.
3) Add the potato mixture to the eggs and stir. Turn the heat down to low and preheat the grill to a high heat. Pour the mixture into the pan and leave to cook undisturbed for 6-7 minutes.
4) Lift it slightly round the edges with a spatula to check it's firm.
5) Put a plate upturned on top of the pan. Carefully invert the tortilla onto the plate, then return to the pan to cook the other side for 4-5 minutes until set through.
6) If using, add your sliced tomatoes and a sprinkling of cheese on top and finish under the grill. Serve with the fresh basil and a proud smile, as demonstrated.

Cheats Pizza, Sauteed Sweet Potato and Caprese Salad

This recipe (made on our recent holiday to Cornwall) is based on one from the goodfood website that claimed to be a 'no-oven' pizza. However, you can clearly see the need for the grill to melt the cheese and finish off the pizza at the end, so it's a good job our camping stove came with a grill underneath. Not sure what you'd do otherwise.

I made pizza before using a ciabatta mix, which was quite successful. But last time I attempted it, the oven just didn't seem to be hot enough and the dough wasn't cooked through while the topping was becoming burnt. So I was a little wary of this recipe and was really pleased when it turned out so well. The base had a real crisp bite to it and was so simple to make, with no waiting around for the dough to rise. We'll definitely be trying these again with different toppings. 

Here I added in courgette for some extra veg, and served it with a caprese salad and sauteed sweet potato. We had originally wanted to bake the potatoes on our barbecue but Gav couldn't get it lit and Spencer the friendly dog was doing his head in so that was swerved. A happy accident really as the potatoes were really delicious.

(Serves 4)
225g self-raising flour
3 tbsp olive oil , plus extra for frying

1 tsp olive oil
1 onion , sliced
3 garlic cloves , crushed
1 courgette, sliced
250g pack cherry tomatoes , halved
4 tbsp passata
Fresh basil leaves 
1 ball mozzarella, torn up into bite size pieces

Salad and Sides:
1 ball mozzarella, torn up into bite size pieces
Tomatoes, sliced 
3 sweet potatoes, cubed
Greek yoghurt, to serve

1) Heat 1tsp oil in a frying pan, then add the onion and garlic and cook for 5 mins. Add the sliced courgette after 3 minutes. Tip in tomatoes and passata, and simmer for 5-10 mins or until the tomatoes are soft. Remove from the heat, stir in some chopped basil, season, then set aside in a bowl to cool.

2) Put the flour into a bowl. Make a well in the centre, add the olive oil then add 6-7 tbsp warm water or enough to make a soft dough. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to fit a 22cm frying pan or make 2 small ones.

3) Begin to saute the sweet potatoes in a little butter and olive oil over a medium heat for around 15-20 minutes, until softened and coloured. Serve when the pizza is ready, with a blob of Greek yoghurt.

4) Heat a glug of olive oil in the frying pan, then press the dough into the pan and cook over a medium heat for 8-10 mins or until the base is golden. 

5) While the dough is cooking prepare the caprese salad by arranging 1 of the balls of torn up mozzarella onto a plate with sliced tomatoes and fresh basil. Drizzle with olive oil and season. I sometimes like to add sliced avocado for a tricolore salad. Or you can blend the basil together with the olive oil using a hand blender, to create a tasty basil oil to drizzle over.

6) Heat grill to hot. Spread the pizza base with the tomato sauce, scatter on the rest of the mozzarella and grill until it has melted and the base is golden at the edges.

Elements Italian Restaurant, Widemouth Bay, Cornwall

On the first night of our recent yurting adventure to Cornwall, we decided to drive to the local town of Bude. The strong winds, however, got the better of us and we decided to drive back and stop for our evening meal at a restaurant that had caught our eye on the way. Elements is very glossy looking; mostly white with pink and lime green highlights - not what I would choose, and not what I'd expect of an Italian restaurant, but it looked modern and squeaky clean. It has a fantastic location with sea views overlooking Widemouth Bay, and I'm sure we could have taken advantage of the tranquil outdoor eating area... had the weather not looked like this: 

Gav enjoying the Stella 4 on tap
After a couple of laps around the building looking for the door (due to the wind the main door wasn't safe, so we had to use a small entrance round the back) we were welcomed in by smiley staff, and truly beautiful smells wafting around the place. Their smiles fell though when we admitted we hadn't booked. I always forget to think about this when on holiday, because we'll often just choose on the day, usually less than an hour beforehand. They said that unfortunately we'd have to wait until around half 9 (over 2 hours away) or they could offer us a seat at the bar. We were willing to sit at the bar until a waiter dashed over and said they could squeeze us onto a table for two as long as we were finished by half 8. This was fine by us and it was really nice of them to make the effort for us, considering how busy they were.

We had already sneaked a look on the menu when travelling (what did we do before iPhones?) so could order quickly. I had bruschetta to start; very traditional with firm juicy tomatoes, sharp red onions and good quality balsamic. There was a little too much olive oil for me, as you can see it was practically swimming in a pool of it. Not a major problem though, so a light and fresh start to the meal.

For my main course I had Chicken Saltimbocca which was a chicken breast wrapped in prosciutto ham and stuffed with mozzarella and sage, in a marsala and cream sauce. I chose this despite having previously not enjoyed a marsala based tomatoey sauce in a restaurant back home. Thankfully this sauce was much better; rich and buttery, and complimented the chicken well.
We retired to the bar area to finish our drinks in case they wanted our table earlier. The service throughout was really friendly and helpful and the food seemed authentic and made with care. Definitely recommended if you're in the area, just make sure you book if it's the weekend.

Holiday Round Up; Yurts and Culinary Adventures in Cornwall

I'm back! I forgot to mention I was going on holiday so I'm telling you now, I'm sure you'll get over it. I only went to Cornwall for a few days but I've been busy with school and summer fayres and reports and paperworkpaperworkpaperwork since I've been back! So I'm writing my round up post a few days late.

I went to stay in a sort of luxury tent called a yurt. Having been to many music festivals, I'm used to the most basic of camping; think one step up from roughing it. So I was really excited to get the chance to be close to nature, do the whole campfire cooking thing, but with the safety, comfort and facilities the yurt had to offer.

We stayed at Pencuke Farm, which is near Bude. The family run business also included a farm shop and some holiday cottages. It was a lovely little place, surrounded by stunning views, with chickens running round, and excellent guest facilities in their 'barn' including showers, fridge/freezers, a microwave and books/games.

As always, for me the most important part of any holiday is food. So I'll be giving a brief run down of what we did but mostly concentrating on the food we cooked/enjoyed at restaurants. Any recipes or restaurant reviews will feature in separate posts which will be linked to along the way.

Thurs 7th June
We drove down when Gav finished work on the Thursday, and stopped at a B&B to break up the long journey from Wigan to Cornwall. We arrived at the Days Inn in Bristol at around 10.30pm. Our room was very large, clean and comfortable and I enjoyed some lovely service station style, over priced treats...

Fri 8th June
We set off at 10.00am for the yurt. Stopping at services for a £5 breakfast bap (sausage, egg and bacon); nothing to write home about and obviously not worth the money. We then stopped at Morrisons in Bude for our food for the weekend. I'd planned our meals before hand (being the good food blogger that I am) and purposefully tried to use similar ingredients and camping friendly recipes were obviously necessary. Here is my minimalist shopping list:
  • Fruit
  • Aubergine
  • Courgette
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • New potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Bread
  • Self raising flour
  • Eggs
  • Basil (plant)
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Greek yoghurt
  • Butter
  • Tin of chopped tomatoes
  • Jar of passata
  • Olive oil 
  • Salt and pepper

We were greeted at the yurt with a cream tea, which was very welcome after a long drive, and were shown around the farm. Here is our yurt and, the bit I was interested in, the cooking facilities.
After unpacking we went for a little walk in Bude but eventually gave up against the very strong winds that hit the south coast last week. We had seen an Italian restaurant on the way there that looked like it had lovely sea views of Widemouth Bay, so we stopped for our evening meal. Please see the short review here.

We fancied a drink at the pub that evening but one problem we did find on this holiday was its location did not lend itself well to this activity. It was a 5 minute drive or a 45 minute walk to the 3 nearest pubs. We tried to ring 'Trev's Taxis' but as he was based in Bude he said he'd have to charge us from there; £15 each way! Unwilling to pay £30 for a trip to the pub we declined, and it meant Gav had to just go for one and drive. We did enjoy coming back to the yurt and getting nice and cosy, with a couple of drinks and 'Lost' on netflix (on the iPhone).

Saturday 9th June
On Saturday Gav woke up to find me happily whipping up his 'brunch'. We had a sweet potato tortilla with cheese and tomato. This tasted light and fresh and is an ideal camping recipe. It would be very easy to do in one frying pan just on the stove if you did a different flavour (I used the grill for the sliced tomatoes and cheese on the top). Do click here for the recipe.
We spent the afternoon in Crackington Haven watching the surfers from the beach, then we wandered into Bude to look round the touristy shops. I found a treasure trove of a material shop called 'The Remnant House', I would love it to be near here for my creative blog!

For our evening meal we decided to cook again. On tonight's menu was Vegetable Pizza, Caprese Salad and Sauteed Sweet Potato. We'd planned to have whole sweet potatoes baked in tin foil on the BBQ Pencuke provided, however Gav clearly wasn't macho enough to light it so sauteed it was! The pizza was a great success though, especially considering it was cooked entirely on the hob and just finished under the grill for a couple of minutes. Get the recipe here happy campers!
That night we watched Portugal v Germany in a pub in Bude, then got back to the log fire again!

Sunday 10th June
This morning's brunch was baked eggs with ratatouille. Hearty stuff that set us up for the day. Click here for the really simple recipe.
 We spent most of Sunday at the Eden Project which was really impressive. There was loads to see and it was nice to just wander round taking in the surroundings. The domes were also dead interesting and not like anything I'd ever seen before. However the weather wasn't great so I'm not sure we got our moneys worth as it is pretty expensive. We had to have a bit of sustenance at around 3pm as we were only eating our tea very late at half 9. ('Why?' you ask? You shall soon see. ) We ate at the cafe that was in between the two main domes. It was a buffet style service - you chose a main component then could go and add your salads and potatoes on, all for a fiver. Luckily though, because we were eating later we only paid £2.50 each for this lot! Yum!
Aaaaand finally! After a long day we drove to Padstow on our way home. This is a picturesque seaside town that has become well known in the food world as the home to the ever growing Rick Stein empire; this includes *deep breath* a restaurant, a bistro, a cafe, a chippy, a pub, a cookery school, a deli, a gift shop and a fishmongers!

So, as a special holiday treat, and while we'd cooked a lot of our own food, Gav surprised me by taking me to The Seafood Restaurant! Very posh and very exciting! Please do read the review here!

Monday 11th June 
The next morning we checked out the yurt at 10am and drove to Boscastle which was another stunningly pretty village. The reason we went here was to buy family presents and to visit the Museum of Witchcraft, which I found dead dead interesting and I'd thoroughly recommend it to anyone visiting the area. I also had a fish and chip dinner to takeaway from The Old Manor House. It was expensive but worth it with crispy batter, fresh fish and thick tasty chips. A satisfying end to the holiday, and good fodder for the looonnnng journey home.

Overall - a fantastic holiday and a great experience. I would recommend a yurt to anyone attracted to the idea of camping but not the sleeping on the ground/weather dependent side of it. We visited some lovely places and I'd definitely like to visit both Padstow and Boscastle again for a little longer, as they were so picturesque but I don't feel like we saw all they had to offer in the short time.

Make sure you follow the links in this post for reviews and recipes!