Bara Brith

There are many recipes for Bara Brith (for the uninitiated, a traditional Welsh fruit loaf) – this is the one my mother-in-law gave me some years ago. I’ve converted the measurements from imperial to the closest metric equivalents, not because I think my readers are incapable, just because that’s what you see on the packets. You will need:-

250g sultanas
250g currants
250g brown sugar
the zest of half an orange
500g self-raising flour
1tsp mixed spice
1 egg, beaten, and possibly a little milk
1tbsp chunky marmalade (optional – don’t buy a jar just for this)
1 cup of cold tea, no milk
2 loaf tins

  • Put the sultanas, currants, brown sugar and orange zest into a large bowl
  • Pour the cup of tea over them and leave to soak overnight
  • Next day, gradually mix in the flour, spice, egg and marmalade
  • If it’s difficult to get all the flour mixed in add a little milk to loosen the mixture
  • Grease the loaf tins and divide the mixture between them
  • Bake in the centre of a moderate oven for 1 hour

You could, of course, cut down the quantities rather than making two loaves, but once cooked these take very well to freezing. To serve, spread with plenty of butter or if you’re feeling a bit sorry for yourself put a slice in a bowl and drown it in double cream!

Asian-style Braised Beef

Here is a great winter warmer, which is a Nigella Lawson recipe I first came across a couple of years ago and cooked for guests one Christmas Eve (it’s our tradition to have something as far removed from the English winter as we can think of for dinner on Christmas Eve). To serve 4 hungry people you will need:

1kg shin of beef, cut into large chunks
2 onions, peeled and quartered
5cm root ginger, peeled and sliced
4 garlic cloves, peeled
2tsp ground coriander
3tbsp vegetable oil
250ml Chinese cooking wine or sherry
4tbsp soy sauce
4tbsp dark brown sugar
2ltrs beef stock
2tbsp oyster sauce
4tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 cinnamon sticks
2 star anise

  • Heat your oven to 150C/300F/Gas 2
  • Blend the onions, ginger, garlic and coriander until finely chopped and fully combined
  • Heat the oil in an ovenproof casserole and fry the mixture, stirring regularly, for 10 minutes
  • Pour in the Chinese cooking wine or sherry and let it bubble up, then add the soy sauce, sugar, stock, oyster sauce and rice wine vinegar. Bring the mixture to the boil then add the cinnamon and star anise
  • Add the chunks of beef to the pot. Put the lid on the pot and put it in the oven to cook for at least 2 hours until the meat is very tender
  • Take the meat out of the pot and keep it warm while you boil the sauce vigorously on the hob to thicken and reduce

And there you are – a delicious one-pot wonder with a subtle oriental flavour.

Bacon Dumplings

Here’s a recipe for some dumplings I served yesterday with a chicken casserole. There’s nothing out of the ordinary about them, just the addition of some bacon, but they made a tasty change. You will need:-

150g self-raising flour
75g shredded suet
130g pancetta cubes, or lardons (that’s the weight of the pack I buy – you don’t have to be exact)
Cold water
Extra flour

  • Fry your pancetta cubes or lardons until they are as crispy as you like them then drain them on kitchen paper and leave them to go completely cold
  • Mix the self-raising flour, suet and bacon together and add enough cold water to bring the mixture together as a dough
  • Use the extra flour to lightly dust a board (and your fingers!). Knead the dough on the board then roll it into a sausage shape and divide it into 6 pieces
  • Roll the pieces in your hands to shape them into balls

I was, as I said, cooking a chicken casserole so 40 minutes before the end of cooking time I dropped the dumplings into the pot and returned it to the oven (Gas 5) to finish cooking with the lid off. The result was happily received Chez Wizzud and has been added, by request, to our list of favourites.

Nasi Goreng

This is one of my go-to recipes for using up leftover cooked chicken or pork, but I reckon it would also work well with some prawns, or scallops. You can, of course, make your own Nasi Goreng paste, but this also tends to be a dish I cook when I’d planned a different meal but forgotten to take the main ingredient out of the freezer, so it’s all a bit last minute, thus I use a ready-made paste which I keep in the cupboard for just such occasions. You will need:-

Cooked meat or seafood of your choice
300g long grain rice, cooked and left to go cold
6 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
2 large eggs
1tbsp tomato puree
1tbsp light soy sauce
Off-the-shelf Nasi Goreng paste
5cm piece of cucumber, quartered lengthways and sliced
8 spring onions, sliced on the diagonal
Oil for frying

  • Heat some oil in a frying pan and fry the shallots until crisp and golden brown, then remove them from the pan and leave them to drain on some kitchen paper
  • Beat the eggs in a bowl then use them to make three thin omelettes. Roll the omelettes tightly and leave them to go cold
  • When the omelettes are cold slice them into thin strips
  • Re-heat your frying pan, add your Nasi Goreng paste and cook it, stirring, for one or two minutes until fragrant
  • Add the tomato puree and stir-fry briefly
  • Add the cold rice and heat through for two or three minutes, then add the shallots, strips of pancake and whatever cooked meat or seafood you have chosen
  • When everything is warmed through add the soy sauce, cucumber and most of the spring onions and mix all the ingredients together thoroughly
  • Garnish with the remaining spring onions and serve immediately

 

Rissoles

We eat a lot of chicken and turkey throughout the year so when it comes to Christmas we’re inclined to celebrate with lamb, or beef, slow roasted until you don’t need to carve it, it falls off the bone all of its own accord. This leads to leftovers, of course, but not as many as your average turkey would cause in a household of two! With this year’s lamb leftovers I was prompted by HI to try making rissoles – something I realised I’ve never eaten before – so I went in search of recipes and found this one, and many similar, online. You will need:

250g cooked lamb or beef
1 small onion
40g fresh breadcrumbs
2tbsp chopped parsley
1 clove garlic
1 egg
Flour for coating
Oil for shallow frying

  • Chop the meat and onion very finely
  • Crush the garlic
  • Beat the egg
  • Put all of these into a bowl. Add the breadcrumbs and parsley and mix everything together thoroughly
  • Divide the mixture into 6 portions and shape into patties
  • Coat the patties in the flour
  • Heat a little oil in a pan and shallow fry the patties for 4 to 5 minutes on each side until they are warmed through

I found these surprisingly rich and filling, so I would advise serving them with some simple vegetables like cauliflower or carrots and peas rather than what seem to be the traditional accompaniments, chips or mash.

Brunel Cafe Menu Update

On our way back from picking up a Christmas tree and some new lights we stopped off at the Brunel Chandlery & Cafe in Neyland Yacht Haven (SA73 1PY 01646 601667) for a late brunch. It’s always a favourite with us but today was particularly good – scrambled eggs with smoked salmon had been added to the menu! Now it’s really Christmas! If you really want to push the boat out there is the option of having a glass of fizz with your order, but I prefer to stick with my latte. Fortunately HI’s favourite bacon and egg baguette is still available so we both made our way home feeling very happy.

The Harvest Fayre

Fayre Poster

Looking for something to do before settling down to watch the rugby on Sunday I came across an ad for the Harvest Fayre at Oriel y Parc (SA62 6NW) in St Davids and, as it was a cold but sunny morning, we decided to chuck some warm jackets into the back of the car and go and take a look. The car park was very busy but we found a space and walked the short distance to the exhibition centre where we found the courtyard brimming with stalls and lots of people either looking, like us, at the produce or taking part in the activities on offer which included apple pressing and face painting. I must admit that the title “Harvest Fayre” had led me to expect that all of the stalls would be selling food but in fact there were also plants, woollen goods and more on offer which served to make the event more interesting, and the Fishguard Folk Singers were doing a sterling job providing a musical background to the proceedings.

We tasted some amazing sauces and relishes from, amongst others, Nervous Nigel and Little Grandma’s Kitchen, and HI had an interesting discussion with the lady from a local brewery, Caffle. We took home a lemon sponge and a bara brith from the Country Market stall. The lemon sponge was delicious; it lasted about 20 minutes once we had unwrapped it at home and we’re now looking forward to demolishing the bara brith with plenty of butter! Some of the stallholders were kind enough to let us take their pictures so you can see them in my Photo Gallery album for September/October.

I hope this event was successful enough to be repeated next year – we will certainly be looking out for it.

Chinese-style Marinade

Having bought some “chinese-style” chicken from a local supplier and been very disappointed with its flavour I looked through my recipes and came up with this marinade, which works very well with chicken or pork. You will need:-

  • 2.5cm piece of fresh ginger root
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 4 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine or dry sherry
  • 2 tablespoons clear honey
  • 1 teaspoon 5 spice powder
  • pinch of sugar

All you need to do is to finely grate the ginger and garlic into a bowl, add all the rest of the ingredients and whisk them together. Add your chosen meat to the bowl and move it around to ensure it is evenly covered by the marinade mixture. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave it in the fridge for 24 hours, then cook the meat to your taste.

Yummy…but is it a HotPot?

I’ve heard all sorts of arguments about what constitutes a “proper” hotpot but do you know what? I don’t care! I can’t remember where I first read about adding black pudding to it but I can tell you it makes a big difference to the flavour and the consistency of the gravy. It’s a bit like adding anchovies, ie it melts away so that you can’t recognise what it is but it has a big impact. So, just use your usual lamb and onions but add in a couple of slices of black pudding before putting your potato topping on and see what you think of the results.

Autumn Comfort Food

Here’s a great recipe for an easy-to-make Ale Gravy for those Autumn, comfort-food recipes which we love. It’s good with slow-roast, fall apart beef brisket and also with sausages and mash. You will need:

  • 700g onions
  • pinch of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 25g butter
  • 1 teaspoon flour
  • 600ml brown ale
  • 600ml beef stock
  • half a star anise
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 bay leaves

Peel and thinly slice the onions. Heat the oil and butter in a heavy-based pan, add the onions and sugar and cook over a low heat until soft and caramelised (about 45 mins). Stir in the flour and cook out for 1 min. Stir in the rest of the ingredients, raise the heat and boil vigorously until the sauce has reduced to a thick, glossy paste (about 20 mins). Remove the star anise, bay leaves and cloves before serving.

This is Rick Stein’s recipe. I found it on the BBC website where you can see more from Rick if you follow this link.