Ben Bass, Head Chef at the Old Quay House in Fowey, shares his favourite seasonal recipes
Ben Bass, Head Chef at the Old Quay House in Fowey, cooks in a traditional bistro style inspired by old French cookbooks, but with a modern twist, and he likes to let good ingredients speak for themselves
Ben recommends the following places for sourcing fresh, local produce for these recipes:
• Fish for Thought are based in Roche and have a very good online business: www.martins-seafresh.co.uk
• The Old Quay House’s meat comes from Kilhallon in Par, which is run by the sons of Richard Kittow, a well-known butcher in Fowey: www.kittowsbutchers.co.uk
• The hotel’s vegetables come from Westcountry Fruit Sales based in Falmouth: www.thegreengrocery.co.uk. Another good greengrocer is Richard’s Fruit and Veg in Par: www.shopatrichardsfruitandveg.co.uk
Treacle-cured Salmon with Cucumber, Brown Shrimp and Apple SaladServes 4
For the salmon and treacle:
1 kg salmon, pin boned, cut from the middle5g fennel seeds, crushedFinely grated zest of 1 lemon, and the juice50g salt 2 tsp black peppercorns1 tbsp strong English mustard5g thyme
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1 Mix the ingredients together in a saucepan and warm them so they melt. Place a triple layer of cling film, three times the size of the salmon, to one side. Caramelise the fish with the melted ingredients to enhance the dish’s flavour.2 Place the salmon in the centre of the cling film, flesh side up and thickly smother the treacle mix all over.3 Wrap the cling film tightly over the salmon, making sure there are no gaps, place on a tray and leave in the fridge for two days.4 Lightly rinse the cure off.5 Slice as thinly as you can and place flat on a tray until needed.
Ben's Tip Leave the apple slices uncovered in the fridge for an hour or so and they will dehydrate and this will make them even crisper
For the cucumber, brown shrimp and apple salad:1/3 of a cucumber, peeled and seeded1 Granny Smith apple50g grey/brown shrimpsLemon juiceA handful of micro herbs/pea shoots
Method1 Slice the cucumber thinly on a mandolin, or with a sharp, thin-bladed knife into ribbons, salt lightly and place on a tray and freeze for an hour. 2 After an hour, rinse to defrost and remove the salt and pat dry. This is done to improve texture and colour. Set aside until needed. 3 Using the mandolin again, slice the apple into matchsticks.
To serve the dish:Mix the shrimp, apple and cucumber with some pea shoots, fennel shoots, or small young leaves, a little extra virgin olive oil and tiny bit of lemon juice and check the seasoning. Arrange the salad around the salmon on a plate.
Grey Mullet Bouillabaisse with Saffron Potatoes, Fennel and Rouille
4 grey mullet fillets 2kg mixed fish bones 2 fennel, chopped1/2 head of celery, chopped1 large Spanish onion, peeled and chopped1 bulb garlic, split Small bunch of thymeLarge pinch of saffron1 star anise1 tsp fennel seeds1 tsp cayenne1 piece of orange zest1 bay leaf50ml pastis50ml brandy200ml dry white wine2 tbsp tomato puree500g ripe tomatoesWater to coverOlive oilSalt and pepper
You will also need a pretty sturdy food processor to blend the soup with, as traditionally nothing goes in the bin
Method 1 Chop the bones up roughly and mix with the herbs, garlic, saffron, cayenne, orange zest and a good slug of olive oil. Mix together and leave to marinade for a few hours or overnight.2 Add some oil to a large, heavy-based saucepan and saut� the vegetables in it for a few minutes until they start to colour. Turn up the heat and add the fish mix. 3 After a few minutes of vigorous cooking, add the tomatoes and cook the mixture down for a few minutes. Add the tomato puree and continue cooking for a few more minutes.4 Add the alcohol, starting with the strongest and finishing with the wine. Add one, boil it down, then add the next. When the wine is in and has boiled down for a bit, top up the pan with water, so there is about a thumb’s worth of liquid above the fish bones. Bring to the boil, skimming often; when it hits the boil, turn it down, keep skimming still and let it cook for 60-90 min. 5 Allow to cool a little, then blend in the food processor until very finely ground. Finally, force through a medium chinois.
For the rouille:4 egg yolks2 cloves garlicPinch of saffronSalt and pepperOlive oilLemon juiceBaguette for croutons
Ben's Tip For the fish soup use mullet, gurnard, bass or bream and try to get a couple of slices of conger eel – perfect for soup in my opinion
Method 1 Crush the garlic and add to a bowl with some lemon juice, the egg yolks, saffron and salt and pepper.2 Whisk together and slowly add the olive oil, whisking continuously until it is a thick mayonnaise consistency. Check the seasoning and set aside.3 Cut some slices of baguette, brush with olive oil and grill or bake for around 10 minutes on a medium heat until crisp.
To serve the dish:1 Warm the soup in a saucepan with the potatoes and fennel. Heat a heavy black pan and sear the fish, skin side down, then lower the heat and continue cooking for about 5 minutes until almost cooked through; quickly turn the fish over to finish for another minute or so. 2 To serve, put the potatoes in a bowl, place the fish and fennel on top, pour the sauce over and top with a crouton smeared with rouille.
For the saffron potatoes and fennel:2 medium baking potatoes, peeled and quartered with the sharp edges rounded offPinch of saffron1 shallotSprig of thymeChicken stock/fish stock/water to coverSalt and pepperOne bulb of fennel for two people
Method1 Place all ingredients in a pan (apart from the fennel), bring to the boil and simmer for around 10 min until the potatoes are nearly done. Take off the heat and leave in the stock to cool down. The saffron colour will deepen by leaving the potatoes in the stock; if you do this the day before, you should have a completely yellow potato.2 Trim the base and tops of the fennel bulb and split in two. Saut� in some oil for a few minutes, add some of the saffron stock and simmer until tender.
Pecan Pie with Pumpkin Ice Cream Makes 1 large tart, or about 8 individual ones
For the pastry:250g white flour125g sugar125g cold butter1 eggPinch of salt
Method 1 Mix the flour, sugar, salt and butter together in a mixer, or by hand, until incorporated. Quickly stir in the egg and bring together. 2 Cover and chill for half an hour, then roll out into a case/cases. Chill again for half an hour, and then bake blind for 30 min on a medium heat, or until cooked and completely crisp. Keep in the mould.
Ben's Tip Garnish with a vanilla stick and finish with some vanilla rum
For the pie mixture:180g whole pecan nuts, toasted4 tbsp maple syrup2 eggs plus 1 yolk120g sugar1 tsp vanilla essence/vanilla rum60g butterPinch saltMethod1 Whisk the eggs and sugar over a ‘bain marie’ until thick. 2 In another pan, warm the syrup, butter and vanilla with a pinch of salt. When hot, whisk this mixture over the egg mixture, remove from the the heat, fold in the nuts, pour into the cases (or a baking tray) and finish in the oven for about 10 min.
For the pumpkin ice cream: (You will need an ice cream machine for this) 1 tbsp cinnamon1 tsp ginger200g pumpkin or butternut squashJust under 1 litre of whole milk400g sugar9 yolks
Method1 Steam the pumpkin for few minutes until very tender, then add the spices and mix together well.2 Add the milk to make up the mixture to a litre and bring to the boil. 3 Whisk the eggs and sugar. Pour the milk mix over the eggs, constantly whisking. Return to the heat and cook the egg. 4 Place in an ice batch until cold, then churn in an ice cream machine.
To serve the dish:Place the warm tart in the centre of a plate, lightly dust with icing sugar, then place a scoop of ice cream on top.