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Books – The Hidden Hut by Simon Stallard

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Simon Stallard set up The Hidden Hut to huge critical acclaim in 2011. An outdoor restaurant in Cornwall, tucked down on a remote sandy beach with no road access and completely off grid. He cooks up huge atmospheric open-air feasts for their diners throughout the year. In 2017, over 22,000 people applied for just 600 covers over their summer season, with tickets selling out within minutes of release each month, making it the hottest restaurant ticket in the UK. Simon’s cooking techniques have become iconic in Cornwall – from fire pits in the sand to wind-chime fish smokers and wood-fired rotisseries – his feasts are influenced by the smouldering fires and field-to-fork Cornish produce that fill his outdoor beach kitchen.

The Hidden Hut cookbook showcases inspiration for creating magical and memorable feasts. The recipes are adapted for the home cook and include delicious, achievable dishes for both small family meals and larger gatherings. Many of the recipes have the option to be cooked indoors conventionally or outdoors over fire.

 

SAMPHIRE FRITTATA WITH WARM LEMONY COURGETTE SALAD (serves 4)

Here is a quick veggie supper. Marsh samphire can be foraged here in Roseland in the summer months. It’s famously served with fish, but it goes beautifully with eggs too. You can serve the frittata on its own, perhaps with a crisp green salad, but for a more substantial meal it’s great with this summery warm salad, packed with seasonal veg.

FOR THE FRITTATA

250g new potatoes, sliced

2 tbsp sunflower oil, for frying

6 large eggs, beaten

50g samphire

a handful of tarragon, leaves finely shredded

100g soft goat’s cheese

FOR THE COURGETTE SALAD

150g runner beans, thinly sliced on the diagonal

3 tbsp olive oil

2 shallots, sliced

3 yellow courgettes (or green if you can’t find them), halved and cut into chunky slices

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

6 small vine-ripened tomatoes, halved or quartered if large

2 rounded tbsp chopped oregano leaves

juice of ½ lemon

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To make the courgette salad, steam the runner beans for 5 minutes or until tender. Refresh the beans under cold running water and put to one side.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and cook the shallots for 5 minutes until softened. Add the courgettes and garlic, and fry for 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, half the oregano and the lemon juice, then reduce the heat slightly and cook for 5 minutes or until the courgettes are just tender but retain a little bite and the tomatoes have started to break down.

Stir in the runner beans, add the remaining olive oil, and season with salt and pepper, then warm through. Keep the salad warm while you make the frittata.

Put the potatoes in a pan of cold salted water and bring to the boil. Cook for 15 minutes or until tender, then drain in a colander. Heat the oil in an ovenproof frying pan. Add the drained potatoes, and the beaten eggs, most of the samphire and the tarragon. Lay the remaining samphire elegantly on the top. Crumble over the goat’s cheese and season with salt and pepper (remembering the salty flavour of the samphire, so you won’t need much salt).

Preheat your grill. Cook the frittata for 7–10 minutes on the hob over a medium heat, enough to set the bottom, then finish under the grill until just set all the way through. Add the remaining oregano leaves to the salad and serve it warm with the frittata.

 

FIRE-PIT WILD SEA BASS WITH VERDE SAUCE (serves 4 – 6)

A real crowd pleaser, this chargrilled whole fish is just beautiful in its simplicity. Stuffed with soft herbs and slices of lemon and garlic, the fish is cooked until the skin turns crisp, with striking grill lines. It comes with a slightly sharp herby sauce, which adds a burst of greenness as well as lots of flavour.

1 × 2kg wild sea bass, gutted and scaled

olive oil, for coating

2 handfuls of flat-leaf parsley leaves

leaves from a handful of lemon thyme sprigs

1 large lemon, sliced

1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced

5 bay leaves

½ onion

extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

lemon wedges and crusty bread, to serve

FOR THE VERDE SAUCE

7 anchovy fillets in vinegar, or 4 if using salted

10g wild garlic leaves or 1 garlic clove, peeled

2 tbsp capers

20g basil leaves

15g flat-leaf parsley leaves

1 heaped tbsp lemon thyme leaves

juice of ½ lemon

125ml extra-virgin olive oil

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To make the verde sauce, rinse the anchovies if using salted, then put them and the remaining ingredients, apart from the  olive oil, into a mini food processor and blitz until finely chopped. Gradually pour in the olive oil and blend to a fairly smooth sauce, then season with salt and pepper. (Alternatively, if you prefer a chunkier sauce, finely chop the anchovies, garlic, capers and herbs, or use a pestle and mortar, then add the lemon juice. Gradually stir in the oil.) Spoon the sauce into a bowl and set aside.

Light the fire pit (or you could use a wood-fired grill or a barbecue) about 30 minutes before cooking. You want a medium-high heat on one half of the fire-pit grill. The rack should be about 20cm above the heat source.

Rinse the sea bass in cold running water, then pat dry inside and out with kitchen paper. You could cut a slash behind the head to enable heat to reach the collar, but I don’t tend to slash the sides – the skill is in creating bass crackling.

Rub the fish all over with a good coating of olive oil. Stuff the parsley, thyme, lemon slices and garlic into the fish cavity, then top with the bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper.

Rub the grill rack with the cut side of the onion to stop the fish sticking to it, then put the sea bass directly on the hot side of the fire-pit grill. Grill the sea bass for 4 minutes on each side, carefully turning/rolling it over using two fish slices. Move the fish over to the cooler side of the grill and cook for 3 minutes  on each side or until the skin is crisp and the flesh starts to flake away from the bone, especially around the base of the head.

Serve the sea bass with a splash of olive oil and the lemon wedges, verde sauce and chunky slices of crusty bread.

The Hidden Hut by Simon Stallard (HarperCollins) £20, is out now

 

 

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