Thursday, 28 October 2010

Where does it all go?

Time, that is.
I realised the last time I posted the results of a Chiefs home game was back in September - slack or what! Well then - I will let the pictures tell you the scores; and weather, for each match.
Firstly we had Newcastle Falcons on 18th Sept. A win of 22-17 with a true nail biting finish as Newcastle made a last ditch surge and the fans counted down the clock.

The next home game was against Montpellier for the Amlin cup on 9th October. This was our opening game for the European Challenge cup, as opposed to our home nations Aviva . It also proved to be our first loss on home soil, with the French club proving the stronger for most of the game. A late surge gave us hope but sadly we'd left it a bit too late so ended on 13-20.
Most recently we hosted London Irish last Saturday, 23rd Oct. A tight game; with the points gained solely from penalties, it saw a tit-for-tat notching up on the scoreboard in 3 point increments. Half time saw us 6 all and in the final quarter we were winning 9-6 Sadly we gave away some stupid penalties for a final score of 9-12 to London Irish. A tough game this; and combined with the away results of losses to Leicester [hwak ptoo], Harlequins and Northampton Saints sees us go from 3rd on the board after the Newcastle game to (as of today) 10th. Not where we want to be at all. However, there's another 7 months to the end of the season so let's hope we can hang on in there in the premiership. As they say in the stands 'Oggy Oggy Oggy - Chiefs Chiefs CHIEFS!'

Monday, 25 October 2010

Random foodness

Brought back from China - Candied Haws. Apparently. They were a lot bigger than what we'd know as haws, more like cherries so whether this is down to different species or mistranslation I'm not sure. I liked the inclusion of 'food addictives' on the ingredients though, and the information that 'Usage: Bag open instant' which seems an elegantly minimalist was of saying it to me. :-D
Where we can forgive the 'food addictives' from a non-native speaker translating a box of sweets, this inclusion of 'Steak & Kidney Pudding Chips' on a Wetherspoon's menu made me unable to decide between laughter and a wry shake of the head at the appalling lack of standards written English seems to have sunk to. Whilst not wanting to sound like the punctuation police it did conjure up a somewhat bizarre mental image where Heston Blumenthal has got his hands on the humble chip and injected it with S&K pudding extract or something along those lines. Anyway, it does irk me that something that's been professionally printed has not been proof-read properly and spotting spelling mistakes and such like on menus is almost a hobby of mine. By that I mean that I don't set out to do it I just can't help spotting them. Not to say that I never make any myself but if it's for your menu, i.e. what diners first judge the food by, surely a little care is in order?
[If like me you weren't taught proper usage of apostrophes at school because evidently there's no point knowing stuff like that anymore (how old do I sound?) try here. It tells you pretty much all you need to know on the front page; which does make me wonder why they couldn't have spent an hour at school covering it...]

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Curried Roast Cauli Soup

I have to admit that I actually made this on my week off but haven't posted it yet. Whereas perhaps sometimes I'd not bother this far after the fact this was so very bloody lovely that I feel it's justified in its slightly tardy arrival to the reading public. :-p
I adapted this recipe from one I found on the Martha Stewart site - the only thing I can really say about Martha Stewart is neatly summed up by fellow CSH forum visitor Betsy: "Martha Stewart pretends to be the lady of the manor with nothing better to do than whip up insanely complicated handwoven-edible-birdseed-lavender-beeswax-table-decorations, while she's actually head of an entire corporate empire which bears her name. She probably spends her days in boardrooms and on her Blackberry."
I did say I adapted it though right? Here goes then:

Curried Roast Cauli Soup
1.5 lb cauli florets [save the leaves for soup]
1tbsp EVOO + a splosh
1tbsp veg / sunflower oil
1tsp salt / seasoned salt
1 biggish onion
2 sticks celery
Knob butter
2 heaped tsp curry powder [mine's korma]
0.5tsp garam masala
0.5tsp cayenne
500ml / 1 pint veg stock
500ml / 1 pint water

Preheat oven Gas 6.
Break cauli into small florets and spread on a baking sheet. Drizzle with the veg/sunflower oil and 1tbsp of the olive oil. Sprinkle salt over and toss with your hands so all reasonably well covered.
Roast in oven for about 30 mins - until florets just start to brown on edges. [Incidentally if you've never tried roast cauli do so - it's lovely! Leave florets a little larger and roast a little longer, prob with less/no salt too.]
Roughly chop onion and celery. You don't need to be too conscientious at this point as it's all getting blended later.
Heat butter and splosh olive oil in big enough saucepan to cook whole recipe in. Add veg & cook until softened.
Add spices; adjust depending how hot your curry powder is / how hot you like it.
Mix well and add stock and water.
Add approx 2/3's of the cauli ensuring all the biggest florets and any stalk bits that *crept through go into the pot, leaving out only those small florets you'd be happy to see floating in your bowl at mealtime.
Cover pan and bring to the boil. Cook 5-10 mins until veg soft. Liquidise with a stick blender or FP.
Return to pan and add the reserved florets.
Heat gently until all warmed through then serve.

This was frankly lovely. I was fair chuffed I must say. I had been slightly concerned that it would be a little thin as there's no spuds in it but it pureed to a good thickness and was smooth and tasty.
It could take a little more heat; I'm not a massive fan of very hot stuff as I like to be able to taste the flavours but I think I'd add a whole teaspoon of cayenne next time rather than the half, just to give that little extra kick for winter.
I can also report that it freezes well, and keeps it's flavours. [In fact I ended up adding about 1/3 of this to 2/3 of the roasted onion soup I made but didn't rate much, and it was lovely like that too. Flavours still came through really well in that proportion and against the onion.]
A definite keeper recipe for me. :-D
*When I say 'crept through' I don't really mean it. Don't throw out stalks of cauli and broccoli; keep them and use for soup, discarding the tough outer layer. The inside of a broccoli stalk is a sweet and lovely thing!

How to make a gift bag

Quick post as we've been discussing the options of preserves / handmade etc for xmas pressies and there was a query re packaging. We used to make bags from colourful magazine pages when I was young, you could use xmas wrap or perhaps brown paper and stamp it with something festive. Even wallpaper etc – anything. These make bags with a base so ideal for jars:
One sheet appropriately sized paper. Fold round to make 'bag' shape. I've folded the top edge over to neaten, also strengthens if you want to add handles at the end.
Glue edges. Fold section up from base – bear in mind that the final whole width of the flat base to your bag will be half the amount you fold up now. Fold back over the other way as well.
Open out and fold 'flaps' thus formed into centre and stick down.
Fold flaps in half again and stick down again – tada!
If you wanted you can pop a strip of tape on the bottom for extra safety. Then punch holes in top – add ribbon handles / tags &c &c.

A forage on the riverbank

Another sunny day on Sunday took us for a ramble down the estuary with this time plenty of bags and id books. We didn't really spot any mushrooms on this trip other than a couple of diddy generic brown ones that we didn't touch but we did get a bunch of edible free food - always good. We took my pocket gem version of the Mabey classic 'Food for Free' which I urge you to get if you have the slightest interest in this sort of thing. It has recipes as well as the expected photos and line drawings and it's compact size fitted in my jeans pocket.
We got blackberries [also multiple nettle stings, scratched arms and thorns in sides], a few apples [before backing slowly away when the bloke nearly stepped in a wasps nest], some rowanberries [watching where we were jumping in between the cowpats], a small handful of chestnuts [prickled fingers] and sloes. Lots of sloes. Even better the only bad thing that happened when we gathered sloes was that the bush swallowed my sunnies; literally, without a trace. It was like a blackthorn magic trick, they were there one minute and gone the next. Oh well. [I am the opposite of a black hole when it comes to sunnies - I repel them it seems. These were my 5th pair this year...]
Sloe gin it's going to be then so I've popped the sloes in the freezer for now. This I've made before and very good it is too, my only advice is don't take a whole batch home with you at xmas and expect to bring any back even when only staying for 2 days. No chance!
The weekend also brought the arrival of an enormous carrier bag full of cooking apples from the bloke so I'll be doing something with those over the next few days as well. Got a few recipes from the t'internet to try so should keep me busy as I've taken the next 2 days off - uses up some lieu time and tomorrow (21st) is an important day to me where I'd rather not be at work so I think a bit of home concocting / preserving and reflection time is just the thing. I have a preserving pan [ebay earlier this year] but have yet to christen it so fingers crossed some of it works!

Shroom saturday

Given the beautiful weekend weather we decided to go for a trip to Fernworthy Reservoir on Dartmoor for a walk in the sun. Lovely spot this. As it happened though, we ended up spending rather more time looking at the floor rather than around us due to the abundance of fungi we spotted. Had we brought a single id guide with us though? No, of course we hadn't! *facepalm*
Anyway - some pics of the various examples - I'm afraid the quality is variable being a) taken on my phone and b) often in lowlight under the tree canopy. If I knew categorically if any are safe for eating I'd head up there again soon!

The first - spotted before we even got out of the van!

Above - impressively yellow

Left - impressively shaggy

This was a purplish capped one and the undersides of an already broken off one. There were a lot of these.

More delicately purple these - maybe Amethyst Deceiver on the right?

Another impressively ruffled one on the left and the red one above was the last 'spot' of the day.
We saw others but the pics are too poor I'm afraid.
We didn't eat any!
I'm afraid Blogger rearranges my pics so what looks like a nice layout in preview is in fact annoyingly staggered. Soz - nowt I can do 'bout that.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Beer Bread #3 - the remake

To conclude my comparison of the SR Flour v' Plain Flour beer bread debate this is the plain with Baking Powder version.

Beer Bread #3
3 cups plain flour
1tbsp Baking Powder (+ 1tsp)
1tbsp golden sugar
1tsp salt
300ml lager
5 heaped tbsps seeds (pine nuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds)
Little melted butter for greasing
Make same as last time - preheat oven to Gas 5.
Sift flour and BP into bowl. Realise BP went out of date in Nov '09 hence adding the extra tsp. [I know Bicarb of Soda is unforgiving when out of date, and indeed if not fresh, but wasn't sure about BP as some of it's constituents are the same.]
Add sugar, salt and seeds. Mix in.
Add lager and mis well, trying to ensure seeds spread fairly equally throughout mix.
Grease foils / muffin tray etc and dollop mix in.
Bake 55 mins or until skewer comes out clean.
Let cool few mins in tins then turn out onto cooling rack.
The verdict - even at the mixing stage the mix seemed 'bigger'. The resultant rolls seemed a little lighter once cooked. It's not a big difference though so I'd just use whatever flour you have in the cupboard.
On a personal level I loved it with the seeds in; especially the pumpkin seeds, so I get the feeling this is going to be my default recipe from now on.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Roast Onion Soup

This soup came about through me watching the Channel 4 programme 'Lakes on a Plate'. Basic premise is bloke traipses round the Lake District cooking a few bits as he goes. Not the most cohesive of programmes I thought but pleasant enough idle daytime watching. This recipe was from an episode in week 4 - have to say looking at the C4 website seems like all the other weeks sounded far more interesting and local-food based which is what I imagined on seeing the title of the programme.
Anyway, the presenter chap served this soup up on there to the CEO of the Vegan society and it sounded a) tasty and b) simple so I thought I'd give it a go. I went from the recipe as given on the programme which differed from that which I've now seen on the C4 site as you will see.

Roasted Onion Soup
3 large and 1 med onion (Prog' suggested 6-8 smaller ones)
2 bulbs garlic
2 pints veg stock
1 tbsp flour

Preheat oven to gas 5-6. (Mine was at 5 as I had another lot of beer bread in but more of that later.)
Place onions and garlic whole; with some skin left on, in a roasting dish. Roast 45 mins - 1 hour depending on your oven and size of onion - until softened and 'squidgy.' Let cool.
Place stock in a pan. Whisk the flour into the stock really well.
Once the onions and garlic are cool enough to handle snip off the base with scissors and squeeze the innards out into the pan. This bit's messy! [Tip - when washing your hands after handling garlic always use cold water as hot water 'cooks' the smell onto your skin.]
Blend well with either a stick blender or FP. Add lots of freshly ground black pepper and return to pan.
Bring to a boil and simmer for 5-10 mins.
Now don't - like me, taste this after the blending and think "yeurgh - how disappointingly bitter and raw tasting." Wait until it's cooked on the hob and it transforms into a 'golden' tasting soup.
That said... I did after half a bowl conclude this was a bit one-dimensional as a soup. It needs something else to give it depth. As a base for an onion gravy or something it'd be good though, I even thought you could freeze smallish amounts for a 'stew starter.'
The Channel 4 site recipe has the addition of olive oil, thyme and rosemary at the roasting stage. I'm not convinced this'd add enough to elevate this to something I'd do again as a soup.
The stew base idea lurking in the freezer though - that's a possibility when the onions are cheap. (These were the Aldi Super 6 39p for 3 big 'uns deal from last week - still on now!)

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Beer Bread #2 - the sequel

Now you may remember that last time I made Beer Bread (also the 1st time ever) I wasn't that impressed with the taste and thought this was down to the beer I'd used. This time then - lager was the way to go. This kinda came about because you know when you sit down and open a can and take one sip then that's enough - rather than wasting the stuff I figured it could become bread. Baking bread and frugality - how's that for the feel-good kudos points? :-D
The other thing I hadn't liked overly much was the stodge factor. Partly this may be down to the flour as I used mostly wholemeal flour but I figured this time I'd try individual 'rolls' instead of one loaf and see if this caused any improvement. I used these little pie foils [reuse by washing and drying gently and reshaping as necessary; another frugal tip there] as the dough is too runny to shape into rolls without support. (You can also use a deep muffin tray says t'internet.)
The other thing I wanted to test out was whether there's any discernible difference or indeed advantage to using self-raising flour versus the use of plain in conjunction with baking powder. These seem to be the 2 major 'camps' in the online recipes I've found. This then is the SR Flour version.

Beer Bread #2
3 cups self-raising flour
1tbsp golden sugar
1tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1tsp dried oregano
300ml lager [Carlsberg]
Little melted butter for greasing & top
Sesame seeds for top

Preheat oven to Gas 5.
Sift flour into bowl. Add sugar, salt, oregano and pepper and mix together well.
Melt little butter in microwave and brush into dishes to grease them well.
Mix lager into flour and dollop into dishes - it makes a very sticky dough.
I had a little excess butter left so brushed this on top and sprinkled with sesame seeds.
Place in oven.
Now - online recipes making 6 individual 'rolls' stated anything from 35-45 mins but mine still took the same time as a full loaf at a good 50 mins. Test with a skewer and once it comes out clean and they're a golden brown on top they should be done.
Let them cool in the dishes for a few mins before turning out onto a cooling rack. At this point a tap on the base that gives back a hollow sound will also confirm 'doneness'.
These are good warm with a little butter and cheese. I added the oregano on a whim but not sure it added that much.
The bread was a vast improvement on the last time I tried this, I really think the key is to use a flavourless lager for it. They rolls were well aerated and not stodgy at all so what remains to be seen is the difference between this batch and the plain flour & baking powder combo.
As a cheaty super quick way of making bread though this recipe is really starting to win me over. Next time you're left with some cans of 'cooking lager' after a party that no-one will touch, including the person who brought them, you know what to do! :-)

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

No holds barred rant - consider yourselves named and shamed

Now I'm normally careful to avoid mention of personal friends on here for obvious reasons but I must share this with you as my blood is absolutely boiling.
Dear friends of mine very recently lost their 12 year old beautiful boy in a tragic cycling accident. They are feeling like their world has ended as you can imagine. Today the mother receives the following email:
"We are sorry to here of your loss, that is hard to imagine let alone experiance, please accept our haert felt sympathies. now isn't a good time, but it is sort of, if you would like to know more about how we could help you help others just hit our site when you are ready and ring us on what it has to do with helping others and we will empathetically explain. our sincere best wishes J***& A***"
The site is:
I must point out as well that all the shitty spellings are their own.
If you click the link it takes you to the aforementioned Utility Warehouse where I am making full use of the 'contact us' option. I encourage you all to do the same.
This is my message:
"I would like to register my intense disgust at you contacting a good friend of mine who has just lost her young son. Such incredible insensitivity is truly breathtaking. I think you can count on the fact that you've just lost a hell of a lot of potential custom. Not only is it on Facebook I'll be publicising it on my blog as well. Don't use other's tragedy as a springboard to advertise your services, it's disgusting behaviour and you should be truly ashamed of yourselves."
I know it's too much to hope such reprehensible people will get the message from this but perhaps if we all do it - people - I'm asking this of you but it aint for me.

Look what I found!

Randomly growing underneath a pub table last week. Sadly there were only a couple more, both of which had been eaten in situ so I left those and contented myself with these 2 fellers; after scouring the rest of the garden for traces of course!
Seems to be a good year for the wild mushrooms though I'm not massively confident on the identification front. Think I'd only eat something I was really sure I knew but I was happy enough with these 2 to scarf them up as part of an omelette and I haven't keeled over yet. :-)

This specimen looks a bit more dubious though eh? Think I'll get the id books out before trying anything like this!

Chinese-Takeaway-Leftovers-Soup [or a bowl of noodly goodness...]

This started with me looking at the scant 1/3rd portion left of my previous nights prawn chow mein and wondering how it could become a more satisfying meal. It ended up growing exponentially based on what was in the cupboards and freezer.
I commenced thinking I'd add some stock and soy & fish sauce to make a noodle type soup then I started checking the ingredients list on an (empty) jar of Thai green curry paste and adding what I had of those. Then it needed bulking out a bit so a fridge / freezer raid for fresh ingredients was in order. Then...

Leftover noodle soup
Oil - a flavourless one - tiny bit
1tsp / 1 clove minced garlic
0.5tsp chopped dried lemongrass [or fresh if you've got it in]
0.25 tsp cayenne
0.25tsp turmeric [was on the *TGC list but not sure it added a lot other than colour.]
1tsp fish sauce [Nam Pla] plus another 0.5tsp to counter the too strong soy - see below
0.5 pt veg stock
0.5 pt water
0.5tsp sugar
Mushrooms - 1-2 regular, I used half a big field shroom
Beansprouts - handful
0.5 tsp soy sauce [I have the dark strong stuff and this was too much so beware!]
0.5 tsp lime juice
0.5-1 fillet raw white fish - in small chunks
Last nights Chinese takeaway leftovers [Prawn Chow Mein]

Heat the oil gently in a saucepan big enough to take all the ingredients. Add the garlic and cook lightly. Add lemongrass, cayenne and turmeric and stir well to combine.
Add fish sauce then stock and water. Stir sugar in to dissolve.
Pop in the mushrooms and beansprouts and bring to a gentle simmer.
Add soy sauce - as mentioned above my dark strong stuff was too much - you want to use a light one or far less of the strong one - add a few drops at a time and taste as you go.
Add lime juice then the fish chunks. This was where I added the extra fish sauce as well - hopefully this won't be needed next time.
Finally add the chinese leftovers and cook on a gentle simmer so the fish is cooked and the noodles and prawns are safely heated through properly.

Couple of things - this really was crying out for the addition of a little grated fresh ginger but I didn't have any. :-(
If there's no leftovers in the house just make with a regular pack of noodles and ensure they're cooked properly in the broth. Maybe start them first before adding the fish, depending on the firmness of fish you have.
Omit fish and prawns and it's veggie. :-)
Happy days.
*TGC - Thai Green Curry

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Foodie few days

Shortly before I was off I had my birthday. This sadly (ha) involved me having to visit various spiffing eateries and sample some damn fine meals - oh the hardship! :-D
First up, on the evening of my actual birthday, was the local Port Royal Inn, on the Exe. I had the mussels, in a creamy white wine, Pernod and tarragon sauce. Really beautiful dish, not overfussy but a very generous portion. A well balanced sauce as well as with a cream based one you have to be careful it's not too cloying and heavy. My companion went for the scallops which he proclaimed to be very tasty and enjoyable; with the chorizo adding that extra 'juzsh'. The pub's friendly and welcoming and serves the local Otter Ale as well as the ever popular Yellowhammer from O'Hanlon's. Staff are friendly too and an interesting mix from all over the place judging by the accents. :-)
Second find was more of an accident, though I suppose if we'd actually thought about it we'd have realised that trying to find somewhere serving food at 4pm on a Sunday afternoon in an English seaside town is setting yourself somewhat of a challenge! Having traipsed around Teignmouth [a very nice place for a traipse incidentally] we spied somewhere seeming to offer pizzas. But no - hopes were dashed as the barlady informed us food had finished and commenced again at 6pm. A swift look at the clock however newly informed us that 6 was a mere 10 minutes away (ok - we did have a beer or 2 in between searching for food all afternoon) so after a swift perusal of the evening menu we repaired to a nearby pub for a game of pool before returning ravenous to the aptly named former cinema - Take 2. Well - what a gem! We had an absolutely top evening; fantastic food, great staff and an impressive venue. The chef is Masterchef Barney Mason and he certainly delivers top eatings. We had the marinated olives, flatbread and tapenade to share to pick at as we chose our mains then both went for pasta; myself ordering the linguine with crab and my dining compadre in esurience going for the clam option. They were divine, each very different in style and flavours but packed with both. The crab was creamy with the flavours gently caressing your tastebuds as they took it in turns to come forth to prominence. Very generous with the crabmeat this was a dish to truly savour. It's a rich one so make sure you're hungry or do as we did and share 2 contrasting options.
The clam linguine was a very different creature with the chilli and garlic feisty and upfront in your mouth but still well balanced and not swamping the clams themselves. Now although it sounds odd these 2 very different dishes actually complimented each other rather well we thought; with the chilli cutting through the creaminess of the crab dish every so often as we alternated. [Actually I found a little of the crab linguine stirred in the chilli sauce worked great too but don't tell the chef! ;-) ] Although fairly stuffed by this point I was easily led by my companion into the idea of sharing a cheesboard for afters - come on - it's cheese right?! This came with 4 generous hunks of lovely cheese (cheddar, camembert, stilton and another blue I annoyingly forgot the name of but which was gorgeous), handmade herby crackers, grapes and quince jelly. We ordered port and as they had sold out they rather brilliantly gave us dessert wine for free - what stars! This was the personable portugese front of house chap who made sure we were ok but didn't intrude or make us feel rushed at any point. There was nothing stuffy about the place. All in all I think I have a new fave place - can't recommend it enough - go visit!
The last in the trio of foodery trips was to *HFC's River Cottage Canteen in Axminster. I've wanted to visit and see what it's like for a while so this seemed the ideal excuse to meet up with my ma and sis. Bigger than it looks from the outside the canteen goes back behind the shop frontage quite a way. (There's also a deli in the front section with a good variety of cheese and some cured meats.) The menu is written up on a couple of huge blackboards lowered on some sort of pulley arrangement to be updated each day. Much to my delight there was a Pike and Parsly Soup available as a starter - having watched HFC espouse it's virtues for months I've been itching to try pike. Brilliant green in colour on delivery to the table (thanks to the parsley) this was a smooth soup with added chunks of pike in it. I was much pleased by this as it meant I could try the fish properly; on it's own, as it were. Well - pike is definitely a very flavourful fish but I liked it greatly. It had no 'muddy' tones to it that I could discern and which I think are many people's main concern. A strong tasting fish but a nice one I'd say. Sis agreed with me and even started with the 'I must get some' when I pointed out that I think you're not going to get it in the fishmongers but rather have to catch your own. Ma however wasn't a fan and she does love fish so I guess it's not to everyone's taste but it's always worth trying new things. [I get ever so agitated by people that will calmly stand there going 'eurgh' at some food or drink but then reveal they've never once tried it themselves. How on earth do they think I am going to give any credence whatsoever to their totally uninformed viewpoint?! Imbeciles! Ha - mini rant there!] Next up I had the Smollack Rarebit with chips and cabbage on the side for all to share and the rels both had venison & pork burger. They reported theirs as delish and they looked the part; fat, obviously home-made and bursting from their buns. (The burgers not the rels!) The Smollack Rarebit (=smoked pollack) was v. good. Generous in both size and flavours it was the inspiration for me finally trying rarebit at home as mentioned in my last post. The chips were chunky handcut wedges and the buttered cabbage could have been a meal on it's on such was the size of the portion! All in all we had a thoroughly lovely meal in the informal canteen setting and for a resonable cost too. I had clocked that the menu on the River Cottage site had no prices on which always makes me a little suspicious but it was reasonable at about 5ish quid for the soup and 6-7 for the mains we had. The wine list was however rather steeper but we stuck with the Badger and Otter beers on offer. Good friendly service rounded off the day. You can even browse [and buy] HFC's books on the way out. :-)
A rather longer post than I intended, this one. I'm afraid I failed on the pic front as well being far too busy scoffing than to think to photograph the culinary delights placed before me. Hope you've enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed the eating for it; as I mentioned at the start it was a true hardship...
*HFC = Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall

A rare bit of Welshness

No - I don't mean an underdone slice of lamb but the cheese / beer / mustard / bread concoction that seems to have passed me by most of my life. Now you'd think a cheese fiend like me would have virtually been brought up on this posh cousin to the humble slice of cheese on toast but no - until a recent visit to a certain HFW's canteen [more of that later] I'd never had it before let alone made it myself.
1st job - find a recipe. Ought to be easy surely, especially with a shelf stuffed with cookery tomes like mine, but was there a rarebit to be seen? Was there buggery. After 20 minutes fruitless searching - including checking the index of "Winning Ways With Cheese" at least 3 times thinking 'if any book will have it surely this one must' I remembered the 'Welsh' part of the name and thereafter things moved rather more swiftly on. ;-)

I adapted the recipe from WWwC - incidentally a fantastic book - so very very of it's time. It's beautifully photographed in 1980's brown and orange and features a somewhat younger and frillier Mary Berry as the judge of what was the tie-in title to a National Cheese Board competition. Brilliant piece of social history! You probably wouldn't make a lot of the recipes though... [Incidentally I remember that Union Jack made of cheese logo with great fondness. Todays British Cheese Board seem to have done away with it. :-( ]

Rarebit - the Welsh one [This makes a fair bit - enough for a whole short baguette sliced in half and another roll.]
1oz butter - softened (zap in the microwave for a few secs)
1tsp wholegrain beer mustard / your favourite
0.5tsp worcestershire sauce
Pinch cayenne
1tbsp beer (actually I must admit to using lager as that's what was about)
1tbsp milk
4oz grated tasty chedder / cheese of your choice
Tomato - sliced [optional]

Mix everything bar the tomato together. That's kinda it - other recipes fiddle about with roux and eggs and what have you but this is pretty simple and adaptable I think. I may try it with mushroom ketchup in place of the worcestershire sauce next time.
Anyway - what I did with mine was use it on part baked baguettes; as I baked them off I sliced a large vine tomato, sprinkled the slices with a little salt and pepper and chucked in the oven for 5ish mins. [Watch the salt as mature cheese can be surprisingly salty I find. It helps draw the juices out of the tom though so I think you need a bit.]
Slice baguettes in half, lay tom slices on, cover with cheese mixture and pop under the grill to melt.
Nice, easy, tasty. Not the healthiest snack maybe but I'll leave that up to your own conscience. :-D
As this is Welsh in origin I'm going to submit it to Chris's 'Bloggers Around the World - Great Britain'.

Monday, 11 October 2010

A forgetful return.

I'm back! Not that technically I really went anywhere but it wasn't work so it's all a win as far as I'm concerned. :-)
Now I have many posts lined up from the past week but brilliantly (not) managed to leave the card adapter and my notes at home so we'll have to wait until tomorrow.
In the meantime a little rant - why on earth is the telly littered with such pap for the masses as 'Strictly come sycophanting', 'X factor', 'Big bruvva' et al and yet the odd interesting sounding thing is on at some totally random time of the day, and about as well hidden in the schedules as is humanly possible? I've just stumbled over 'Secret Britain' on the i-player, but if you search for it on there it doesn't come up. It's on a Monday morning at 2.30am but as I like you here's the 1st one - only available until the 18th though! Now - if only I could 'pay-as-I-go' for what I actually watch of the dismal offerings from the beeb I'd be quids in on the old telly licence...
A little autumnal pic for you today. :-)

Friday, 1 October 2010


I'm now off for a week so posts'll be distinctly thin, nay - anorexic on the ground I'm afraid. I'll leave you with Zeke's latest trick - getting me to cart him around. All together now - Ahh!!!