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.