12:29 | Posted by Nim Headland | Category

Review: Life's a Beach, Bude.

I've been really lucky with restaurants recently, have had a couple of gorgeous meals out. We recently popped down to Life's a Beach in Bude with some friends that visited from Thailand. This is one of my favourite restaurants and it's right on the beach with fabulous views and even better food. You must eat the fish when you come here, it is their speciality and so fresh and there's lots of choice. The menu is varied and brave with punchy flavours and a great use of seasonal ingredients. For a mid-priced restaurant the food and service are exceptional. It's popular and in the summer season, you won't get in with out making a booking a good few days in advance, but really, it's worth it.
In the day it's a cafe with an ice cream parlour, and you can sit out on the balcony looking over the sea while enjoying a cream tea. We went in the evening when from 7pm it becomes a classy seafood bistro.

We started with toasted ciabatta with olives, tapanade and a great olive oil and balsamic reduction whilst I enjoyed the house Sauvignon Blanc which was excellent, very dry and clean.

My main was a tiger prawn and spiced monkfish curry, with basmati, poppadoms, homemade raita and topped with crispy deep fried onions. The curry was amazing, a sort of rogan josh and richly flavoured with beautiful fresh prawns and tonnes of fresh fennel. Beautiful. My one quibble was that the monkfish was slightly overcooked.

I finished with a rhubarb and amaretto torte, which was served with the best clotted cream ice cream I've tasted, alongside some British strawberries and a slice of dragon fruit. It was stunning!

We had a great evening catching up with friends at Life's a Beach. The atmosphere is laid back and relaxed, with a buzzy vibe helped by the staff who are all young, tanned surfers by day, and foodie stars by night. They are efficient, smiley, very knowledgeable about the food they are serving, and completely unobtrusive. I am a huge fan of this restaurant and think it deserves its reputation as the best place to eat in Bude. It's the sort of place you find yourself lingering. Just one more glass of wine, a cup of coffee.

A starter ranges from £4.75 for a soup, up to about £8.00, while a main will set you back about £18. Wine is great value, their three house wines include a great Sauvignon Blanc and all three are £10.50 a bottle. The wine list is expansive and thoughtful, It focuses on good French wines, but includes a local English white and a nice choice of European and NZ wines.

One not to miss if you're in the area.

11:39 | Posted by Nim Headland | Category

Peach Melba Ice Cream

Another peach melba recipe from Good Food online, and my first ever attempt at ice cream. I want to get more practice in with ice cream making, as with an ice cream maker it's really not as hard as I thought it would be. The only problem I had with this was rippling the raspberry puree through. Mine mixed as opposed to rippled, leaving me with very, very pink ice cream! It was very pretty but looked nothing like the picture. It did taste beautiful though, really fresh and not too sweet.
I think the mistake I made was allowing the peach cream to freeze a little too much before rippling the raspberry through. It's all a learning curve!

Peach Melba Ice Cream

Grab 6 very ripe peaches
6 tbsp icing sugar
300g raspberries
400ml double cream, very softly whipped.

Makes 1.5 litres

Feel free to halve this if your ice cream maker is smaller. Ours is only 1.1l, and the recipe worked fine with a smaller amount. You can pick up ice cream makers really cheaply now (ours was a fiver from a carboot!) Amazon do new ones for £19ish. I think they are a really good investment as you can make the most of cheap fruit in season, and get really creative with your flavours. Anything that stops us eating too much fatty, processed ice cream is a good thing too, no? Although, I'm not going to be too precious, I know as well as you that there are times when only Ben and Jerry's will cut it.

Anyway, onto the recipe;

Peel, stone and whizz your peaches to a puree with 2 tbsp icing sugar using a food processor. Set aside and move onto the raspberries. Whizz in your (rinsed out!) food processor with 4 tbsp icing sugar and pass the puree through a sieve to get rid of the seeds.

Stir the peach puree into your softly whipped cream, and pour into an ice cream maker and allow to churn until nearly frozen. Then transfer the peach cream into a freezer-suitable container and ripple through your raspberry puree. Freeze until needed.

You can serve this on its own as I did if you like. it was the perfect foil after a meal of roast lamb and summer veg, cutting through the rich lamb, and not overloading our already groaning stomachs. It would be lovely with some shortbread, or as part of an eton mess style pudding with some bashed up meringues and more fresh fruit. Nothing's stopping you going old school and making an epic knickerbocker glory, or grabbing a retro cone and slurping happily!

16:43 | Posted by Nim Headland | Category

Peach Melba Torte

It's peach season! Hurrah! I love peaches.

Anyway, peaches have been the theme of my cooking this week, and I started with this recipe from Good Food online. They call this traybake "Peach Melba Squares" which I think is uninspiring. Really it's a sort of torte, as it contains ground nuts to make it dense and moist. I think this would make a fabulous dessert as well as something snacky to munch with a cup of tea. I'm not much of a baker, but this is foolproof, delicious and so pretty.

Right. Get yourself:

250g unsalted butter
300g golden caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract (not essence, please!)
3 large eggs, free range blah blah blah
200g self raising flour
50g ground almonds
2 ripe peaches, stoned halved and sliced.
100g raspberries
A small handful of flaked almonds
Icing sugar (optional)

So, butter and line a deep sided baking tray or small roasting tin (about 20 x 30cm) and wack the oven on at 160C or gas 4 (180C if it's not fan)

Melt your butter over a gentle heat in a large saucepan, and cool for 5 mins. Then add the sugar, vanilla and eggs and mix until smooth with a wooden spoon. Stir in the flour, almonds and a 1/4 tsp of salt.

Tip the mixture into the greased and lined tray, and lay the peach slices on the top, making sure every slice of torte gets a bit of peachy goodness. Scatter over the raspberries and flaked almonds, and pop into the oven to bake for 40 mins. After 40 mins, cover with tinfoil and return to the oven for another 20 mins. The middle should have a teeny big of squiginess which will firm when the cake cools. Remove from the oven and cool in the tin for 20 mins before carefully removing to a cooling rack. Dredge with icing sugar, slice and serve warm as a dessert with a good vanilla ice cream, or store and eat with a cup of tea for elevenses. Makes a great picnic or lunchbox addition too!

19:24 | Posted by Nim Headland | Category

The Spit Roast Specialist

So I figured I am long overdue for a post about what it is I actually do when I'm not blogging or cooking stuff to blog about. Well, The Spit Roast Specialist is a big part of that. It's my Dad's business, a catering company that specialises in hog roasts and BBQs for weddings, parties and corporate events. I'm currently working for my Dad to learn the ropes, and it has been instrumental in turning my love for food into an all-out obsession. I am proud of the food we serve. It is so fantastic, so I'm going to use this entry to tell you a bit about what we do.

Based in Holsworthy but travelling the whole of the South-West to provide mobile hog roasts and barbecues, we have gained a reputation as a great family business that offers a fantastic range of services. The biggest part of that is the meat we serve. I firmly believe that it is the best you are going to find in this country unless you rear it yourself! Our pigs are old-fashioned breeds for the best flavour. They are outdoor-reared locally and slaughtered with the respect the deserve. We source them from a local butcher and family friend who prepares them for us at the cutting room on his property. We then take delivery of them on the morning of the job, putting them on the pole of the machine before transporting them to the event. They are then cooked at the venue on one of our fantastic spits. The spits really are something else. They are completely smoke free and safe to use indoors, meaning that your venue needn't limit your choices. A hog takes at least 5 hours to cook on the machine, resulting in the most tender meat and perfect crackling. One of our chefs will carve the meat once it's cooked and can serve on to platters or straight on to the plates of the guests as part of a running buffet - It's a great showpiece and looks FANTASTIC as you can see in the pictures. We serve it with fresh bread rolls, butter and homemade apple sauce. Delicious.

Aside from the famous hog roasts, we offer spit roasted suckling pig, wild boar, lamb, hogget and venison. You could instead book us for a BBQ, which is a fantastically laid-back way to feed a crowd and is really popular at relaxed, rustic weddings in the area. Our gas BBQ is 6 foot long so can easily feed a fair few hungry guests! We do spicy chicken, sweet and sour pork kebabs, highest-grade burgers, Scottish salmon steaks, local butchers sausages, spare ribs, and rump or sirloin steaks, cooked to taste of course!

Now to my part! As well as waitressing, wielding tongs and a basting brush and sorting out our marketing, I do the buffet that we can provide alongside a hog or BBQ. I make all the salads from scratch on the morning of the event (often that's a seriously early morning, as you can imagine if you have ever prepared 10 different salads for 200 people!) A lot of the salad recipes are my own and will turn up on this blog at varying points. I'm proud of them and put a lot of love into sourcing the best ingredients for them to make sure they taste as they should. My personal fave is the Italian pasta salad: penne, mozzarella pearls, black olives, cherry tomatoes and basil in a sundried tomato and extra virgin olive oil dressing, mmm. Potato salads and coleslaw are always huge crowd pleasers - I always make double and they always run out first so I have them down to a fine art now! The secret is a little plain yoghurt in with the mayo - stops it from being to cloying. Waldorf and Caesar salads are classics and always well received, as well as good old-fashioned basics like beetroot salads, tomato salads, and rice salads. A few exotic recipes I'm working on currently include some cous-cous variations, a Mexican style three-bean salad and my glorious canteloupe and parma ham salad, served with goats cheese, dark leaves and a lemon, honey and balsamic dressing. YUM.

So that's a little overview of the business. If you check back regularly I'm sure more entries about it will pop up. Wedding season is upon us and along with the ususal madness and mayhem and great foodie anecdotes!

PS: If you fancy booking us, have a look at our website: http://www.thespitroastspecialist.co.uk/

18:32 | Posted by Nim Headland | Category ,

Honey Balsamic Strawberries

I'm back! Catering for the wedding season robbed me of my time to blog for a little while, spare time has been spent sleeping, catching up with my friends before they forgot who I was, and of course, cooking!

Before I treat you to a few lovely new recipes and reviews that I've been storing up, I have some great news that I am so pleased to share. Peach Jam has been invited to become a part of the Foodbuzz Featured Publishers Program. Foodbuzz is a fantastic website and resource that aggregates and curates 2.7 million food blog posts from all around the globe, partnering with some of the best food blogs on the web to provide content distribution and advertising whilst creating a thriving community of the most passionate food and dining bloggers. It's a really great base for all things food related and the site is well worth a browse, just click the link on this blog and go and have a nose around, you will find literally millions of recipes from dedicated cooks and chefs from all cultures. I'm really proud to be a part of this community and hope it continues to grow, it really is the best food resource on the web.

Anyway, while I'm at it, here is a recipes from another food blogger that I just adore. Anne's Food is a food blog from Stokholm and packed with great and innovative recipes that are deceptively simple. You can check out the blog at: http://annesfood.blogspot.com

The recipe is for Honey Balsamic Strawberries with Vanilla Mascarpone. Don't balk at balsamic with strawberries - it works! and if you haven't tried the combination yet, be brave and make this. It's as good as it sounds and by far the best strawberry/balsamic recipe I've tried. Just glorious with the perfect English strawberries we enjoy at this time of year.

To serve four for pudding, you'll need:

A punnet of strawberries, about 500g
4 tbsp of runny honey
4 tbsp of balsamic vinegar (a nice-ish one, all balsamic is not created equal. But that's another post entirely!)
4 tbsp double cream
4tbsp Mascarpone cheese
1 vanilla pod or a 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1 tbsp caster sugar

So, prepare your strawbs, hull and halve or quarter if they are particularly gargantuan. Chuck them into your serving bowls. I used some really pretty and very large wine glasses.

Pour your balsamic and honey into a saucepan over a medium heat and simmer for a few minutes, stirring occasionally until the mixture thickens a little. This burns of the overt vinegary-ness of the balsamic and leaves the sweet rich flavours which work so well with strawberries and are emphasised by the honey.

Then grab your mascarpone and chuck it in a bowl before stirring in the cream. Then you can score the vanilla pod, scraping the seeds into the cream mixture or stir in the extract if that's what you're using. Then stir in the sugar and beat until it's good and thick.

You're ready to serve. Pour the balsamic sauce over the strawberries and finish with a dollop of vanilla marscapone. Perfection.