Friday, 24 March 2017

Anglesey Eggs

This is such a lovely dish and well worth making, despite being quite labour intensive!  It involves one pan to cook the leeks, another for the potato, another for the eggs and yet another for the cheese sauce – BUT, there are corners that you can cut and it freezes like a dream so you can bulk cook for the freezer.  If you do that, to ring the changes, you could add some grated cheddar to the mashed potato and leek to make a cheese and potato pie for the freezer (link to recipe below)

 To make things simple, I cooked the eggs the day before I wanted to make it and used a ready-made tub of cheese sauce.  It’s a dish that you can prepare well ahead of time, as long as you don’t put the cold eggs and cold cheese sauce onto the hot mashed potato it will come to no harm.

 Quantities will depend on the number of people you are serving, but for four serves I used :

 3 large potatoes
4 small leeks
A generous knob of butter for the leeks

4 hard boiled eggs

 1 x small tub of ready-made cheese sauce

 2 oz or so of grated cheddar for the topping

 Salt and pepper to taste

 Peel and boil the potatoes.  While the potato is cooking clean and dice the leek and sauté in a generous knob of butter.  Grate the cheese for the topping.

 When the potato is cooked drain and mash then and add the buttery leek, combine together before turning into an ovenproof dish. 

 Peel and coarsely chop the hard boiled eggs and distribute evenly over the top of the mashed potato.  You could slice the eggs if you prefer.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

 Pour over the cheese sauce into a thin layer and then top with grated cheddar cheese

 If you are eating straight away simply pop under a pre-heated grill until the cheese sauce is heated through and the grated cheese is golden and bubbling.  If it has been prepared ahead and is cold it will need about 30 minutes in a hot oven.

Ham, Leek and Goat's Cheese Tart

Over the years I’ve made all manner of quiches, but this one really is my absolute favourite.  Leeks are a real feature in Welsh cooking, and a firm standby in my kitchen – they put an appearance in dishes often. 

This quiche really is a winner.  The buttery sweetness of the leeks, the subtle tang of the goat’s cheese and the creamy unctuousness of the cheesy duck egg custard were a perfect combination.  Do look out for Welsh goat’s cheese if you can, it has a much better flavour; ditto good Welsh Cheddar cheese.  Collier’s is my favourite.

 For an 8” (20cm) tart I used :

 ½ a 500g pack of ready-made pastry

 3 thick rashers of bacon, cooked and then chopped (or use cooked ham)

1 baby leek
4 slices of Welsh goat’s cheese
2 – 3oz (60 – 90g) cheddar cheese
½ pint (250ml) milk
2 eggs (duck if you can find them, they make a much better quiche)
Salt and Pepper to taste

 Roll out the pastry and line a greased flan tin.  You can part-bake the pastry case, but I’ve never had any success doing it so have long abandoned this step!

 Halve the leek and wash carefully, then dry as best you can before slicing up and sweating gently in a little butter for 5 minutes.  You just want the leek to soften, not brown.

Scatter the chopped cooked bacon or ham into the bottom of the pastry case, then add the cooked leek.  Slice the goat’s cheese and then add that and finally scatter over the grated cheddar.

 Combine the eggs and milk together with the seasoning and then pour over the contents of the flan tin. 

 Cook at 180oC / 350oF / gas mark 4 for 35 to 40 minutes, until the quiche is golden and set.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

March - Spring is Springing

After all the dark days of winter, March arrives like a welcome old friend.  We have noticeably lighter evenings, and slightly warmer sunny days and the first of the days when drifting outside with a cuppa becomes irresistible.  Often I have to retreat back indoors the minute I’ve drained by cup, but nonetheless – the season has begun!

Hopefully now the tumble drier can be retired until next winter, there should be enough dry, sunny and windy days to make drying flannel bedding outside possible.  I love my flannel bedding, and as lovely as it is out of the tumble drier, nothing but nothing beats the smell and feel of the sheets after being dried outside in the fresh air.

My dog walks now start to become a pleasurable pastime in the warm and sunny afternoons, less of the hunched down marching against driving rain and more of a head up soaking up the sunshine stroll.  These days are the reward we loyal owners get for all the soaking, wind-lashed walks we took during the winter.  Evening walks are now a pleasure to take too, not a chore to be hurried over before a restorative cuppa and a hot bath!

Welsh Cakes
The first of March is the feast day of our Patron Saint, Saint David.  Tradition dictates that little girls set off for school in “Welsh Costume” – that lovely but peculiar combination of lacy apron, fringed shawl and a hat that’s a combination of topper and witches hat!  The rest of us wear either a daffodil or a leek, usually a pin but on rugby days only the real thing will do!

Teisen Lap
To celebrate St David’s Day only the best Welsh cooking will do – crempog (pancakes) for breakfast, cawl (stew) for dinner and Welsh rarebit for tea followed by either a couple of Welsh cakes with a cuppa or a nice slab of Teisen Lap!  No St. David’s Day is ever complete without a big bunch of daffs in the window, such sunny and colourful flowers they really let us know that the worst of the winter is over.

The vernal equinox comes in March, firmly putting the dark dreary winter days behind us.  From now on, things can only get better!