Saturday 23 February 2019

Knitted Hot Water Bottle Cover

2 x 100g balls of Sirdar Bonus Chunky yarn (the colour I used is Raspberry)
6mm knitting needles

The pattern is 12 rows repeated.  Odd rows are front side facing, even rows are inside facing and are all the same. 

Front : Cast on 40 Stitches

Row 1 :  K14 P2 K8 P2 K14
Row 2 :  K16 P8 K16
Row 3 :  K14 P2 K8 P2 K14
Row 4 : K16 P8 K16
Row 5 :  K14 P2 C4B C4F P2 K14
Row 6 : K16 P8 K16
Row 7 :  K14 P2 K8 P2 K14
Row 8 :  K16 P8 K16
Row 9 :  K14 P2 K8 P2 K14
Row 10 : K16 P8 K16
Row 11 : K14 P2 CF4 C4B P2 K14
Row 12 : K16 P8 K16

Repeat this pattern 8 times.  On the 12th row of the 8th repeat, cast off 12 stitches at the beginning of the row, then continue with the pattern.

Cast off 12 stitches at the beginning of the following row, then K2 P2 rib for 5”.  Cast off

Back : Cast on 40 Stitches

Row 1 :  K14 P2 K8 P2 K14
Row 2 :  K16 P8 K16
Row 3 :  K14 P2 K8 P2 K14
Row 4 : K16 P8 K16
Row 5 :  K14 P2 C4B C4F P2 K14  *
Row 6 : K16 P8 K16
Row 7 :  K14 P2 K8 P2 K14
Row 8 :  K16 P8 K16
Row 9 :  K14 P2 K8 P2 K14
Row 10 : K16 P8 K16
Row 11 : K14 P2 CF4 C4B P2 K14  *
Row 12 : K16 P8 K16

Repeat this pattern 5 times.  On the 12th row of the 5th repeat, cast off 12 stitches at the beginning of the row, then continue with the pattern.  Cast off 12 stitches at the beginning of the following row, then K2 P2 rib for 5”.  Cast off

To sew up :

Hold the knitting right sides facing each other and pin together.  Begin at the shoulders and sew up both sides.  At the neck, sew a little way up on the inside and then finish sewing up on the right side (the neck will be turned over like a polo-neck jumper)

Sew down the side seams, fold up the long end of the front so that the back overlaps by two pattern repeats and sew all seams together.

Turn inside out and fold the ‘neck’ down.

* C4B – cable 4 backwards.  Slip two stitches onto a cable needle and hold behind the knitting, knit the next two stitches and then the two from the cable needle.
C4F - cable 4 forwards.  Slip two stitches onto a cable needle and hold in front of the knitting, knit the next two stitches and then the two from the cable needle.

Friday 23 February 2018


Laverbread is probably one of the most iconic of Welsh dishes, but something of a niche ingredient and an acquired taste!  A taste well worth acquiring too!  It isn’t actually a bread but a cooked edible seaweed, found along the Welsh coastline.

It was a traditional breakfast staple for mineworkers, served with bacon and cockles for those who could get them fresh, or eggs for those living further inland.  Some cook the laverbread simply by reheating it in a pan with some bacon and cockles before spreading it on top toast, with the bacon and cockles on the side; others mix it with oatmeal before frying it and serving with bacon and cockles or egg on the side. 

My method is a simple one and the ingredients simply a matter of ratio – for every tablespoon of laver you mix in a tablespoon of oatmeal (porridge oats).  Season with a little black pepper but no salt because the laver is salty enough.

Per person :

1tb laverbread

1tb oatmeal

Black pepper to taste

2 rashers of bacon

1 egg or a handful of cockles

In a basin mix the oatmeal and laverbread together, seasoning with a little black pepper.

Heat a little lard or bacon grease in a frying pan – or, with the lovely Tefal non-stick pans just cook a few rashers of bacon for a few minutes until they release some fat, then drop spoonfuls of the laver and oatmeal mix into the pan and shape into patties.  It only needs heating through so cook it for as long as the bacon takes to cook through on both sides and turn the patties over once to cook through from the other side. 

If you’re adding cockles simply add them for the last few minutes to heat through properly.  

If you're using egg instead of cockles simply fry or poach as you prefer and serve alongside the laverbread patties and bacon.

Tuesday 20 February 2018

Wholemeal Cheese and Ale Bread

I saw an idea recently for a Bara Brith made with stout and walnuts, a brief Google episode lead me to ale and cheese bread recipes and I looked no further! 

This isn’t a yeasted bread so is very quick to put together, it’s simply a matter of folding wet ingredients into dry.  It would make a lovely accompaniment to soup or a Ploughman’s lunch and is absolutely delicious toasted and buttered generously.

For one loaf you need :

200g wholemeal self-raising flour
175g self-raising flour
40g golden caster sugar
150g grated cheddar cheese (extra mature or vintage by preference)
1 ½ tsp mustard powder
1tsp cayenne pepper
1tsp salt

350ml ale (I used Gower Power)

30g grated cheddar to scatter over the top of the loaf before baking

Weigh out the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl and stir together to combine well.  Measure out the ale and add to the mixing bowl, folding gently to bring it all together. 

Spoon into a lined 2lb loaf tin and level off the top.  Scatter over the 30g of grated cheese. 

Bake at 150oC (300oF, gas mark 2) for 50 minutes – until a skewer comes out clean.

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Anglesey Eggs (alternate version)

I came across a cauliflower variation on the classic Anglesey Eggs in a very old recipe book recently, with a little bit of tweaking to suit my tastes I rustled up this little beauty in next to no time.

This version lends itself very well to leftover cookery – especially if you cook surplus to make sure you have ‘leftovers’ (please tell me I’m not the only one who does that?!).  With a bit of forward planning and cheating this is really nothing more than a quick assembly job.

Quantities very much depend on your appetite and the number of people you are cooking for but the ingredient list for one, is :

1 cup cauliflower – par-boiled for a few minutes
The green part of a small/baby leek, halved and cut into fine half-moon slices
1 hard boiled egg cut into halves and then quartered, or chopped – as you prefer
½ cup or thereabouts of cheese sauce
Salt and pepper to taste and a scant sprinkle of cayenne pepper
Grated cheddar to scatter generously over the top

Layer the sliced leek at the bottom of an oven-proof dish, arrange the cauliflower florets on the top and poke the slices of egg among them, or scatter the chopped egg over the top and around the cauliflower.  Season with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper.

Cook in a hot oven for about 30 minutes until bubbling nicely and the cheese topping is browned.

Tuesday 22 August 2017

Alayne's Tiesen Lap

There are any number of Tiesen Lap recipes; just like Bara Brith - there are as many recipes as there are families in Wales!  This recipe comes from a book my cousin inherited from our Grandmother.  The original was a little dry for my taste so I’ve tweaked it a few times to make it even better!  It reminds me very much of a big Welsh Cake.

For the past several months I've been using duck eggs almost exclusively for baking and they really do make a huge difference.  My friend tells me that it's the fat content in the yolk - whatever it is, it's well worth looking for them to try, if only once or twice.

Grease and line an 8” diameter cake tin (approx. 20cm)

You will need :
220g self raising flour
1tsp mixed spice
60g each butter and lard, cut into small pieces
90g caster sugar
120g mixed fruit (sultanas and raisins)
2 large eggs
150ml milk
Caster sugar for dredging

Combine the flour, spice, sugar and fats in a mixing bowl and beat together to form a breadcrumb consistency.  Add the dried fruit, then the eggs and the milk and bring together to form a good thick batter.

Turn into the lined cake tin and bake in a medium oven for 35-45 minutes – until a skewer comes out clean.  I cooked mine at 180oC (350oF / gas mark 4) for 45 minutes.

If you use a springform tin and cake tin cases, you can loosen the tin as soon as the cake comes out of the oven, loosen the paper slightly and dredge the still hot cake with caster sugar.  Leave to cool completely before slicing and serving with a nice cup of tea!

Monday 14 August 2017

Blackberry Jam

There’s something deeply satisfying about making blackberry jam.  It might be that (for me) it’s one of the last truly seasonal foods, so it reminds me of those long ago summers when my lovely Nan used to send us out blackberrying for tarts and crumbles.  Back in the 70’s when all summers were wall to wall sunshine and not a drop of rain fell.  Well, not in my memories anyway!

Making jam is so easy, and so straightforward that it seems a shame not to make at least one batch.  There really isn’t anything to it, and it only takes 20 – 30 minutes from start to finish.  The recipe and method below applies to all fruits, those very low in pectin (strawberries and apricots) benefit from the addition of the juice of a lemon.

Prepare by sterilising your jars, I use Milton baby bottle sterilising fluid, and pop a few small plates or saucers in the freezer.

While the jars are sterilising prepare your fruit – the blackberries will have ideally had a good long soak in salt water to draw out any ‘visitors’ and then been rinsed very well to make sure the salt is washed off.

I have found that the actual quantity of jam produced differs according to the fruit used, but 700g of fruit will usually yield somewhere between 3-4 250ml jars of jam.  I sterilise 6 just to be on the safe side.

For every 100g of fruit you use, you need 100g of jam (or preserving) sugar.  The bags are very helpful and tell you which fruits they are best suited to.  I usually use jam sugar.

Pop your rinsed fruit into a pan with the sugar and a drop of water (about a tablespoon or so) and heat slowly until the sugar has dissolved, stirring fairly frequently – you can see when the sugar has dissolved on the back of your wooden spoon and around the sides of the pan.  Once all the sugar has dissolved bring the contents of the pan up to a full rolling boil and time it for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time to stop it catching.  Some jams will come to a ‘set’ quicker than others, those with high pectin set much sooner than low pectin fruits.  You will quickly learn when they are approaching setting point as the juices on the back of your wooden spoon thicken.

To test for a set take the plates out of the freezer and drop a small amount of jam on one, leave it for a few moments and then push with your little finger, it will wrinkle when it is ready.  Then turn out the heat and leave the jam to settle for a few moments while you assemble your jars and funnel ready for filling.

Once filled, tighten the lids of the jars straight away and leave until cool before labelling.