Cornish Rarebit with Doom Bar Beer from The New Westcountry Cook Book

Nathan Outlaw's Cornish RarebitA few weeks ago I took possession of a lovely new cook book. I had pre-ordered The New West Country Cook Book months ago and, to be honest, had almost forgotten about it, so I was thrilled when it turned up in the post.

For me, there are two types of cook books; the ones you use regularly and the ones you buy just to drool over with their beautiful photography. This one ticks both those boxes. I spent a happy hour flicking through the pages and day dreaming about which recipes I might make and it was worth the cover price for that hour alone.

David Griffen is a wonderful photographer and his passion for food, the countryside and all things West Country is evident in these pages. In addition, he has enlisted the support of some amazing chefs and persuaded them to contribute some stunningly simple recipes. This really isn’t an overly “chefy” book.

As you might expect from a West Country cook book fish features very strongly amongst the recipes but you will also find Tom Kerridge’s Pork Pie and the Tanner brother’s Treacle Brushed Pork Belly amongst the meat dishes and some stunning looking desserts including a Baked Elderflower Custard with Honey Roasted Damsons from Tom Blake.

So far I have made two dishes; the first was Roasted Cod with Creamed Leeks and Wild Mushrooms by Michael Caines and it was heavenly. I will definitely be making it again at some point and will blog it when I do.

The second dish I made was the one featured here; Nathan Outlaw’s Cornish Rarebit with Doom Bar Beer. I rustled it up for brunch in 15 minutes flat and it was delicious. I suspect the Welsh might have something to say about it but, as it uses a wonderful Cornish ale and, in my case, some delicious Cornish Cheddar, I think the sobriquet can stay.

I can honestly say that it is the first time in my life that I have opened a bottle of beer before 10.00 a.m. but it was definitely worth it even if it does get the neighbours talking.  The only change I made to the recipe lies in the fact that, as I cook using a Rayburn, I don’t have a grill so I put the whole thing back in the oven for five minutes and then browned the top with a blow torch.  It tasted great but didn’t look as pretty as it might so please use the grill if you have one.

p.s. If David Griffen ever reads this and decides that he wants to give me some photography tips then I would be very happy to accept!

The New West Country Cook BookServes 4

Ingredients

120g Mature Cheddar

60ml Doom Bar beer

30g Plain Flour

30g Breadcrumbs

1 tbsp English Mustard

3 Egg Yolks

1 Loaf of Bread

Method

Grate the cheese and place in a saucepan with the beer.

Heat over a medium flame until the cheese has melted and the mixture begins to bubble.

Stir in the flour, breadcrumbs and mustard.

Continue to cook gently until the mixture comes away from the saucepan cleanly and forms a soft ball.

It is important to keep stirring.

Remove from the heat and cool. Beat in the egg yolks until the mixture is smooth and all the yolk is incorporated.

Slice the loaf into ‘doorsteps’.

Lightly toast the ‘doorsteps under the grill on both sides.

Spread liberally with the Cornish rarebit mixture.

Place under a hot grill until the rarebit bubbles.

Cut and serve immediately.

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Cooking with Nathan Outlaw

A thoughtful moment over lunch

At 10.00 p.m. on a moon bright Sunday evening Ali and I were to be found (shivering slightly) on the platform at Truro station waiting for the sleeper. Neither of us had used this service before but it turned out to be something of a revelation – great service, a very enjoyable G&T in the lounge and 2 comfortable bunks. Admittedly these bunks were contained in a room the size of an average airing cupboard but all we needed to do was sleep in it so no problem.

We drifted comfortably off to sleep reflecting on the irony of travelling almost 300 miles to cook with a chef from Cornwall using a Cornish cheese…

On Monday morning we were woken at 6.30 with a glass of orange juice and emerged blinking from our hobbit hole into bright sunshine at Paddington. Feeling slightly disorientated we made our way to L’Atelier des Chefs and, once located, set off to indulge in a little retail therapy as we had a couple of hours to kill before the class. A short stroll along Oxford Street soon revealed us to be small town girls at heart – who knew that London doesn’t open until 9.30? Shopping plans thwarted we took refuge at a pavement table outside a little corner café and indulged in that peculiarly English combination of tea and croissants.

Eventually, the time came and we headed off to our class. L’atelier des Chefs is a bright, cheerful space and we were greeted with coffee and smiles and had time to meet our classmates (it turns out we had all won different competitions run by Davidstow Cheese) before Nathan emerged from the kitchen to introduce himself.

It became instantly apparent that no one has told Nathan Outlaw that he is a “celebrity” chef. He seemed to be a very genuine, friendly (if slightly shy) man without pretensions. I am not a big fan of celebrity culture – I don’t read the right magazines or watch the right TV programmes – and I don’t understand the circularity of people becoming famous because they are famous -but I think that chefs are a different case in point. They work incredibly hard to learn their craft, even harder to earn, as Nathan has, 2 Michelin stars and harder still to manage a thriving restaurant. If a little celebrity status helps to fill their restaurants and sell their books then good for them – they have earned their rewards.

And so the cooking began…

First up was a cheese and chive mayonnaise. I have made mayonnaise once before, many years ago, using a food processor, and whilst it wasn’t an unmitigated disaster, the results never inspired me to repeat the process. The point of mayonnaise is that a few simple ingredients can be made into a really lovely dip or dressing, providing you are prepared to be patient and whisk until your arm drops off. Ali and I were pleased to be working as a couple; one whisking and one dripping in the oil until pain set in and we switched. We then added a few crudités, arranged it all artistically(ish) on a plate and set it aside for lunch.

Mayonnaise can be flavoured in lots of different ways; cheese makes it great as a dip whilst my own favourites are dijonnaise (flavoured with Dijon mustard) and aioli but apparently, garlic mayonnaise can also be used to make a beautiful sauce for fish if it is let down with a little fish stock – I would never have thought of this but will be experimenting very soon.

Next we made a Spanish style crab omelette and first had to learn how to pick a crab. Now you would think two food lovers from Cornwall would already know how to do this but I had never tried and Ali had only done it once before so this was a really helpful session.

The day’s top tip for crab was that freezing the crab for an hour before killing not only makes the crab sleepy and the process, therefore, more humane, but it also makes the claws less likely to fall off during cooking. Should a claw become detached, cooking the crab in salt water (its natural environment) will create a barrier and prevent the meat from soaking up too much water. At Restaurant Nathan Outlaw the crabs are cooked in sea water but I accept that it may not be so easy for everyone to pop out with a bucket at high tide.

The biggest challenge in cooking the omelette was getting the halogen hob to work – once working it was incredibly efficient but the controls seemed to be counter intuitive. Ali worked tirelessly to lift the edge of the omelette during cooking to ensure a perfect shape and I watched – it seemed like a good division of labour to me.

Next came lunch, we took our dip and omelette to the table and enjoyed it with a glass (or 3) of a very nice white wine from Camel Valley – also on offer was a bottle of Korev lager from St Austell Brewery – a lovely taste of Cornwall in Westminster. Lunch was topped off with some delicious focaccia bread (which we didn’t make) more cheese from Davidstow and a Gooseberry cheese from Tracklements. In chatting over lunch Ali and I rather guiltily admitted that we have not yet been to Restaurant Nathan Outlaw – criminal really as it is less than 40 miles away – but I think we will be going very soon…

I wouldn’t normally buy Davidstow cheese as I like to buy a really strong mature cheddar, but I have to say that Cornish Crackler hit the spot with a salty sharpness that I liked a lot.

If I am honest I would have liked to spend more time cooking than eating (did I really just say that?!) and would have preferred to cook something more complex than mayonnaise and omelette but overall the day was so relaxed and enjoyable that I would do it again in an instant.

I am aware that this piece is full of lovey name dropping and product placement but I make no apologies – I was thrilled to meet Nathan Outlaw and I left with my food hero impressions intact. I won the prize fair and square, Davidstow Cheese sponsored the event as a promotional activity and did not know that I would blog about it. It would be dishonest and unfair not to mention them and besides, they sent me home with a cool-bag full of cheese – how could I not love them?

The following recipes are Nathan’s, not mine, but we cooked them and they worked.

Cheese and Chive Mayonnaise Recipe

Spanish Style Crab Omelette Recipe

 

 

Cheese and Chive Mayonnaise (Courtesy of Nathan Outlaw)

Ingredients

3 free range egg yolks

50g finely grated Davidstow Cornish Crackler Cheddar

2 tsp English Mustard

1 tbsp Cider Vinegar

500 ml Sunflower Oil

A pinch of Cornish Sea Salt

Method

Place the egg yolks in a bowl along with the mustard and vinegar and whisk to blend.

Slowly add the oil a few drop at a time to start with and as it begins to emulsify add it in a steady stream whisking continuously as you do.

When your mayonnaise is the consistency you would like it to be (it will take all the oil but you may prefer to stop before then) whisk in the cheese and chives. Season to taste.

Alternatively this can be made in a food processor.

Place the egg yolks, mustard, vinegar, cheese and chives in the mixer.

Blend for one minute then add the oil in a slow, steady stream whilst the processor is still running. When the oil is incorporated add salt to taste.

Tip

If you add the oil too quickly or don’t whisk it well enough the mayonnaise may split. If it does simply break another egg yolk into a bowl and slowly add the split mayonnaise, whisking as you do so. This should pull it back together.

This mayonnaise will keep, covered, in the fridge for up to 5 days.

 

Classic Crab, Cheddar and Chive Spanish Omelette (courtesy of Nathan Outlaw)

Ingredients

4 tbsp Rapeseed Oil

1 Medium Onion, finely chopped

200g Waxy Potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

6 Large Free Range Eggs

200g Picked White Crab Meat

50g Brown Crab Meat

100g Davidstow Classic Cheddar, grated

3 tbsp Chives, chopped

Salt and Black Pepper

Method

Use an 18-20 cm frying pan, non-stick or well seasoned.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in the pan, add the onions and potatoes and stir gently until softened but not coloured. Remove to a bowl until cool.

Whisk the eggs lightly and add to the potatoes along with the crab, cheese, chives and seasoning.

Put the pan back on the heat and add the rest of the oil. Pour in the egg mixture and turn the heat down to the lowest setting.

Every now and then draw the edge in with a spatula to give a nice rounded edge. When there is almost no liquid left on the surface of the omelette turn it over for 2 minutes then turn the heat off and leave to rest for 5 minutes. It should be cooked through but still moist in the centre. Cut into wedges and serve it hot or cold with a summer leaf salad.