cornish splits recipe

5 rustic Cornish recipes that will transport you straight to the coast

Posted by for Food and Drink

Chef Emily Scott’s new cookbook Sea & Shore pays homage to the food of Cornwall – with recipes including crab on toast, chocolate fudge and a twist on classic scones. 

For the second year running, Covid-19 travel restrictions are fuelling a staycation boom. And while we may not have Portugal, we’re actually feeling pretty excited for carefree days on the British coast: dabbling in rockpools, combing for shells, and bracing ourselves for the first dip in a chilly sea.

Unsurprisingly, Cornwall is top of many Brits’ holiday wish-lists. According to one recent survey, the south-west English county is the most popular coastal hotspot in the UK for summer 2021, with local tourism bosses saying they’re expecting nearly three million visitors over the next few months. 

So what’s the secret to Cornwall’s enduring appeal? As chef and restauranteur Emily Scott observes in her evocative new cookbook Sea & Shore, it’s a place that inherently lends itself to exploration. There are miles of rugged coastline, foamy surf and sandy shores as far as the eye can see – plus hidden coves, mystical valleys and patches of ancient woodland.

But while the region’s natural beauty is world-famous, the strength of its food often goes overlooked. Think of Cornwall and visions of clotted-cream fudge, paper-wrapped chips and cream tea abound (and it’s true that those things should be eaten in prodigious quantities on a seaside break). Yet Cornish cuisine has far more to offer a curious palate.

Sea & Shore cookbook by Emily Scott
Sea & Shore: Recipes And Stories From A Kitchen In Cornwall by Emily Scott is out now with Hardie Grant

Intrigued? Sea & Shore is the perfect way to delve deeper into Cornish food. Scott (who recently opened her namesake restaurant, Emily Scott Food, in Watergate Bay near Newquay) captures the county’s magic via rustic, simple and seasonal recipes that can easily be recreated at home. The cookbook also includes Scott’s insider recommendations of the best Cornish food suppliers and places to visit – pasty shops very much included.

Below, Scott shares five delicious Cornish recipes from Sea & Shore, kicking off with a Port Isaac-inspired crab toast that’s perfect as a starter or sharing dish. 

For a relaxed but beautiful supper, try the duck breast with white beans, garlic and rosemary – while Scott’s fish pie with soft leeks, fennel and a sourdough crumb topping is a luxurious version of the classic comfort food.

On the sweet side of things, the Cornish splits will sate any cream tea fans (they’re similar to scones, but with a more bready texture). Scott’s recipe for stress-free chocolate and hazelnut fudge, meanwhile, is one you’ll roll out again and again.

Even if you couldn’t book a West Country getaway this summer, these dishes will transport you straight to the Cornish coast.

  • Port Isaac crab, toast and mayo

    crab toast recipe
    Cornish recipes: Emily Scott’s crab, toast and mayo

    Emily says: “Port Isaac crab is a delicious sustainable catch and is some of the finest shellfish you will find around the rocky shores. Cornwall would not be Cornwall without crab. I have spent much time watching the fishermen fishing off the shores of Port Isaac and waiting for the boats to come in with their haul. Crab is at its best from April to October. These crab bruschetta make lovely little plates to share.”

    Serves 4

    Ingredients

    • 1 garlic clove, crushed
    • 2–3 tablespoons good olive oil
    • 4 slices of sourdough bread
    • grated zest of 1 lemon, then cut in half for squeezing
    • 2 tablespoons good-quality mayonnaise
    • 250g fresh white crab meat, picked through to check for pieces of shell
    • 100g micro basil leaves
    • Cornish sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • rocket, to serve

    Method

    Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan/Gas 4).

    Mix the garlic with the olive oil and brush the surface of the bread with the mixture. Place on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for a few minutes until lightly golden and crisp.

    Combine the lemon zest, mayonnaise and crab meat. Stir through the micro basil leaves and season well. 

    Spoon the crab mixture over each slice of bread and serve immediately with rocket leaves and a squeeze or two of lemon juice.

  • Cornish duck breast with white beans, garlic and rosemary

    duck breast with white beans recipe
    Cornish recipes: Emily Scott’s duck breast with white beans

    Emily says: “Over the years, Cornwall has been known for being home to the culinary best. Long gone are the days when you would only have six months of the year to earn your living. Cornwall has become a destination and home to some of the best-loved British chefs and producers. 

    The Cornish Duck Co is no exception. The table birds are born to free-range-laying flocks and are reared in a happy environment – so good, and available to buy online. It is so important to know where the food you eat comes from and to support your local farmers.

    “This simple, almost peasant-like, dish is a quick and easy supper that works well throughout the year. I always think of duck as being a special sort of ingredient. It is very easy to cook – it’s all in the resting – and is best served pink.”

    Serves 2

    Ingredients

    • 2 x 250g free-range duck breasts
    • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
    • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
    • 4 fresh rosemary sprigs, plus extra to garnish
    • a splash of apple cider vinegar
    • 2 x 560g jars white butter beans
    • 250g baby spinach, washed
    • Cornish sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Method

    Score the skin of the duck breasts at 1.5cm intervals, then season with sea salt and black pepper. Place the duck, skin-side down, in a cold, non-stick frying pan, then turn the heat to medium–high. 

    Gently cook for 10 minutes without moving the breasts – this is important, as you are rendering out the fat in the skin, which will make the skin golden and crispy.

    Turn the duck over and cook for 5 minutes on the other side, then remove to a plate to rest, leaving the pan of duck fat on the heat.

    Place the shallots and garlic into the hot pan, strip in the rosemary leaves and cook for 4 minutes, gently stirring, until golden brown.

    Add a splash of vinegar and stir together, then pour in the beans, juice and all. Simmer for a couple of minutes. Just before serving, add the spinach and fold in until just wilted.

    Slice the duck breasts at an angle. Divide the beans between bowls and arrange the duck on top, spooning over any resting juices, and garnish with sprigs of rosemary.

  • Cornish fish pie with soft leeks and fennel topped with sourdough crumbs

    fish pie recipe with leeks, fennel and sourdough crumbs
    Cornish recipes: Emily Scott’s fish pie with leeks, fennel and sourdough crumbs

    Emily says: “This fish pie is a no-egg affair – I prefer to have just leeks and fennel running through it, with handfuls of flat-leaf parsley. For a change, spinach and carrot matchsticks work well, too. Fennel is one of my favourite vegetables – it is as good raw as it is gently cooked; so versatile but often forgotten. Crisp and with a subtle aniseed flavour, it works deliciously with the fish.

    “Crème fraîche is always in my store cupboard – richer than soured cream, it enriches this dish perfectly. Undyed smoked haddock always makes the cut for flavour, as does salmon mainly for colour, along with white fish: cod, pollack or ling. 

    “This recipe freezes really well, which I have always found useful for those busier days.”

    Serves 4

    Ingredients

    • 200g fresh sourdough breadcrumbs
    • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
    • 150g unsalted butter, melted
    • 2 leeks, thinly sliced
    • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
    • 300g fennel with its fronds, finely sliced
    • 650g firm white fish (such as salmon or smoked haddock), cut into 2.5cm chunks
    • 1 tablespoon plain flour
    • 250g crème fraîche
    • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
    • 120ml water
    • 50g parmesan, grated
    • Cornish sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • hot buttered peas, to serve

    Method

    Preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan/Gas 6).

    Place the breadcrumbs, half of the parsley, half of the butter and a grinding each of salt and pepper in a large bowl and mix to combine. Spread over a large oven tray and bake in the oven for 10 minutes or until golden.

    Meanwhile, heat the remaining butter in a large ovenproof or cast-iron pan over a high heat. Add the leeks, garlic and fennel and cook, covered, for 5 minutes or until softened.

    Place the fish, flour and some salt and pepper in a large bowl and gently mix to coat. Add the fish mixture, the remaining parsley, crème fraîche, mustard and water to the pan and stir to combine.

    Top with the golden breadcrumbs and parmesan and transfer to the oven to cook for a further 10 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.

    Sprinkle with more black pepper and serve with hot buttered peas.

    Note

    If freezing, do so without the topping (which is best made when needed as the sourdough crumbs will become soggy when defrosted).

    Allow the pie to cool for 2 hours, then wrap with a double layer of cling film and a layer of foil before placing in the freezer. This pie can be frozen for up to 3 months.

  • Cornish splits, raspberry jam, Cornish clotted cream

    Cornish splits recipe
    Cornish recipes: Emily Scott’s Cornish splits with raspberry jam and clotted cream

    Emily says: “Nothing evokes more Cornish childhood memories for me than the quintessential cream tea. I love baking, and splits, donuts and scones are so worth making yourself. 

    “Here are my warm splits, with jam and clotted cream. I think a revival of the split is required. I love them and, of course, it almost goes without saying… Jam first. These are delicious with strawberry, raspberry or damson jam.”

    Makes 12

    Ingredients

    • 28g fresh yeast
    • 2 teaspoons caster sugar
    • 275ml milk, warmed
    • 450g strong bread flour, plus extra for dusting
    • 115g plain flour
    • 85g salted butter

    To serve:

    • raspberry jam
    • Cornish clotted cream

    Method

    Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan/Gas 4).

    First, mix the yeast and sugar together with the warm milk until blended (if the milk is too hot it will kill the yeast, so just warm it to hand-hot).

    In a large bowl, sift together the flours, then rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs. 

    Make a well in the middle, pour in the milky mixture and work into a dough with your hands. 

    Knead for about 10 minutes, then set aside, covered with a damp dish towel, and allow to rise in a warm place for about 1 hour until doubled in size.

    Knock back and knead again for about 10 minutes (I see this as a mini workout), then form your dough into 12 buns using a plain round scone cutter. 

    Place on a floured baking sheet, cover with a damp dish towel and leave to prove for an hour until doubled in size.

    Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and cover with a damp dish towel for about 15 minutes so that they do not develop a crust.

    You can keep these little buns for up to 4 days in an airtight container.

    Serve warm, with homemade good-quality raspberry jam and Cornish clotted cream. Add the jam first.

    If you do not get cream on your nose when you eat them, you do not have enough cream on the split.

  • Chocolate and hazelnut fudge

    chocolate hazelnut fudge recipe
    Cornish recipes: Emily Scott’s chocolate and hazelnut fudge

    Emily says: “This is such a good recipe – it was given to me by a friend who always pulled the most amazing supper parties together with effortless style. 

    “You do not visit Cornwall without searching for fudge. There is something so nostalgic about going into the fudge shop and, with childlike eyes, wide open, choosing and deciding on how much fudge you could actually eat. My eyes have always been bigger than my stomach!

    “This is a no-faff, no-fuss recipe and you can easily leave the hazelnuts out.”

    Makes 24 small squares

    Ingredients

    • 150g good-quality dark chocolate (54% cocoa solids)
    • 1 x 250g jar Nutella
    • 1 x 400g tin condensed milk
    • 50g roasted skinned hazelnuts, gently crushed
    • Cornish sea salt, for sprinkling

    Method

    Bring a pan of water to a simmer. Place the chocolate, Nutella and condensed milk into a heatproof bowl and place it over the pan without letting it touch the water. 

    Allow everything to gently melt together, then stir through the hazelnuts.

    Meanwhile, line a square baking tin with baking parchment.

    Pour the fudge mixture into the tin and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours before cutting into squares. Top each piece of fudge with a little sprinkling of sea salt.

Sea & Shore: Recipes And Stories From A Kitchen In Cornwall by Emily Scott (£26, Hardie Grant) is out now 

Photography: Kim Lightbody

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