Cosy Fish and Lager Pie

WARNING: MAY CAUSE DROWSINESS
Cosy Fish and Lager Pie - The Cardiff Cwtch - Welsh Bloggers - Autumn Pie Recipes

And you should absolutely take that warning seriously because the biggest mistake I made with this pie was to make it on a Wednesday morning just in time for lunch. After our first wet dog walk of Autumn, followed by a very gloomy morning catching up with chores and work, it seemed a pretty good idea to polish that all off with a piping hot fish pie. Oh and it was. It was warm, it was creamy, it was buttery… but it was so comforting that I could have very happily curled up on the sofa under a blanket and slept for the rest of the day after shoving in that final mouthful. It’s not that it was really that filling, it was just an incredibly cosy pie – something that would be absolutely perfect on a gloomy, snoozy Saturday or Sunday afternoon, not on a Wednesday afternoon when you’ve got back to back Zoom calls for the rest of the day.

Packed with everything you’d expect in a traditional fish pie (except the mash topping), this one gets a subtle glow up with the addition of a little fish sauce and lager, giving it a richer and slightly saltier flavour (but strangely, without making it taste too fishy). The sliced leeks and shallots balance by bringing a little sweetness to the creamy sauce, while the golden puff pastry lid adds the flaky, crunchy texture you’ll miss with the traditional mash topping. Do yourself a favour and serve it up with some tender stem broccoli – you’re not going to want to miss out on dunking them into the sauce!

Cozy Fish and Beer Pie - The Cardiff Cwtch - Cardiff Bloggers - Fall Pies

Cosy Fish and Lager Pie

serves two
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 banana shallot, sliced
  • handful of spinach leaves, sliced and stalked
  • half a leek, sliced
  • handful of parsley, sliced and stalked
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 100ml cold water
  • 150ml pale lager
  • 25g butter
  • 25g plain flour
  • 150ml double cream
  • 250g fish pie mix (pick one with plenty of smoked haddock)
  • enough puff pastry to cover your chosen pie dish(es)
  • splash of milk
Cosy Smoked Haddock and Lager Pie -The Cardiff Cwtch - Cardiff Food Bloggers
Method
  1. Set your oven to 180°C (fan)
  2. Add your oil and chopped shallot to a deep frying pan and fry on a medium heat until translucent. Add the chopped leek and spinach and fry together for about 5 minutes.
  3. Next, pour in a tablespoon of good quality fish sauce, 100ml of cold water and 150ml of pale lager. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to low and pop on the lid – leaving it to simmer while you make the roux.
  4. To make the roux, melt the butter in a saucepan on a medium heat then whisk in the flour until combined. Add the cream, stirring until any lumps are gone. Pour the sauce base into the frying pan and then stir to combine with the other ingredients. Pour in the parsley and fish, then leave to bubble without the lid for about seven minutes while you get on with preparing the puff pastry lid.
  5. Pour the fish pie mix into your chosen pie dish (I used two large ramekins), then seal with your puff pastry lid. Brush with a little milk, then cook in the oven for 25 minutes.
  6. Serve hot with with tender stem broccoli (great for dunking!) or peas. (…Then prepare to fall asleep on the sofa for the rest of the day because – fair warning – this is the cosiest of all the cosy pies!)
Easy Smoked Haddock and Beer Pie -The Cardiff Cwtch - Welsh Lifestyle Bloggers

Have a lovely week guys!

Pub Style Gammon and Chips with Cola Ketchup

the proper pub grub we’ve all been missing…

I cannot tell you how much I’ve been missing my local pub these past few months. It’s a tiny local boozer, but honestly, great things come in small packages; it’s blessed with a brilliant chef – and best of all? It’s pretty much right on my doorstep. Under normal circumstances (remember normal?) when I take Bungle for his evening walk, the smell of chips and pub curries and steaks (you know, proper pub grub) escaping from its walls and windows is just in-credible… and so it’s been kind of sad walking past these last few months and gazing at its dark windows and closed doors with the air completely unscented. I’ve missed it. SO much! And I can’t wait for it open its doors again. Unfortunately, it looks like it’s still going to be a while; although England is set to reopen pubs, cafes and restaurants in early July, Wales is a little but further behind when it comes to loosening lockdown.

So, craving a bit of good old pub grub, I tried to replicate one of my all time favourite bar orders at home. Good old Gammon, Egg and Chips. Instead of using Gammon Steaks, however, I picked up a Gammon Joint and slowly cooked it for an hour in cola and various other cupboard ingredients to make sliced gammon that’s both juicy, sweet and smoky (nothing chewy about this hunk of meat). The dregs make for a fabulous cola ketchup, and this pub plate wouldn’t be complete without a side of chunky homemade steak chips. Any leftover gammon and ketchup keeps well in the fridge for 5 days and makes for some tasty sandwiches. 😉

Pub Style Gammon and Chips with Cola Ketchup

serves 4
Ingredients

For the Gammon and Cola Ketchup:

  • 750g gammon joint
  • 2 shallots, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove of smoked garlic, mashed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 1 litre of cola (non diet)
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp worcester sauce
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp cornflower

For the Chips:

  • 4 large maris piper potatoes, peeled
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 tbsp coarse sea salt

To serve:

  • Fresh Pineapple
  • Peas
  • Fried Tomato halves
  • Fried Egg
Method
  1. Add the olive oil and garlic to a large, deep pot and lightly fry on a medium heat until golden. Add the chopped shallots and fry them until they soften and start to brown. Add the tomatoes, frying lightly until they soften and start to burst.
  2. Remove any wrappings and trimmings from the gammon and then add it to the pot. Brown the gammon – turning it regularly to colour and seal every surface.
  3. Next, add the Cola, tomato paste, soy sauce, worcester sauce and maple syrup. Bring to the boil – stirring around the gammon (lightly puncture and press the tomatoes to release their juice) – then turn down the heat and reduce to a simmer. Pop on the lid and leave everything to cook for one hour.
  4. While the gammon’s cooking, prepare your pub style chips. Slice the peeled potatoes into chunky chip shapes, then chuck them in a saucepan with plenty of cold water and salt. Turn the heat up and bring the pot to the boil – allowing it bubble for 5 minutes. By that time the chips should be soft but still hold shape.
  5. Transfer the chips to a foil lined baking tray with the sunflower oil and sea salt. Toss them, coating them in the oil and salt and then spread them out evenly and leave to cool.
  6. Once the gammon’s got 15 minutes left on the clock, pop the chips in the oven for 30 minutes at 200°C.
  7. Once the gammon times out, remove it from the pot and leave it to rest under some foil for 15 minutes before carving and serving.
  8. To make the cola ketchup, blitz the remaining ingredients in the pot until smooth. Whisk in a tablespoon of cornflower to thicken it up over a low heat, then leave to cool.
  9. Serve the gammon and chips with fresh peas, pineapple, fried tomatoes and a fried egg. 🙂

Have a lovely week everyone! 🙂

5 Sweet Bakes for Mother's Day

Happy Mother’s Day!
Cakes and Bakes for Mother's Day - The Cardiff Cwtch - Pineapple Tray Bake

As with most things right now, it feels like Mother’s Day is on hold – indefinitely. And since it’s usually accompanied by lots of blossom on the trees and those first couple of warm, sunny days – it also kind of feels like Spring itself is on hold for the time being too. My Mum sent a little message on our family whatsapp group the other day telling me and my brother to forget about cards and presents this year – that she’d much rather see us anyway, but can’t. She and my Dad went into isolation on Monday – since they’re both in their sixties (sorry Mum, but the jig is up!) and I’m honestly not sure when we’re all going to be able to crowd around a table together again. It’s all so sad and uncertain – but necessary, of course. I’ll still get to see her from the street, I guess! Plus, I think we’re planning on having a family Facetime on Sunday evening so we can all watch Race Across the World together (have you been watching it? I want the Mum and son team to win!).

Anyway, the good thing is that for a lot of us the enforced isolation doesn’t mean separation from our family – but a hell of a lot more time spent together! So, even if you’re Mum’s already driving you mental from all the extra time spent together – here are five sweet bakes to surprise her with this Mother’s Day. 💛

Cakes and Bakes for Mother's Day - The Cardiff Cwtch - Pineapple Flowers

Pineapple and Coconut Traybake

Quite possibly one of my favourite bakes ever, this Pineapple and Coconut Tray-bake is minimum effort, maximum impact – and tastes lovely too. The pineapple cake looks nothing special when it comes out of the oven, but gets a serious glow-up with a thick layer of creamy, coconut frosting, and yellow flowers made from dried coconut rounds.

I’ve even got a video of me making this cake (and Bungle scoffing half of the pineapple used to make it…) over on my IGTV.

Cakes and Bakes for Mother's Day - The Cardiff Cwtch - Chocolate Brownies Extra Gooey

Perfectly Gooey Chocolate Brownies

Who can resist a plated pyramid of Perfectly Gooey, Chocolate Brownies as big as Duplo Blocks? Not I. There are a tonne of chocolate brownie recipes out there – and I’ve tried a fair few myself – but this is my go-to. If you like your brownie with a slightly molten middle, then this is the one for you and yo momma.

Cakes and Bakes for Mother's Day - The Cardiff Cwtch - Lemon and Rose Drizzle Cake

Lemon and Rose Drizzle Cake

Everyone loves a good lemon drizzle cake; they’re a guaranteed crowd-pleaser and they’re pretty difficult to cock up. This Lemon and Rose Drizzle Cake gets a slight floral pick-me-up from some dried rose petals. The rose takes the slight bite out of the lemon – so if you’re a fan of a drizzle cake on the sweet side rather than the sour side, then this one’s for you.

Cakes and Bakes for Mother's Day - The Cardiff Cwtch - Coffe, Maple and Walnut Cake

Coffee, Maple and Walnut Cake

Yep, that’s a Father’s Day card in the shot – but this Coffee, Maple and Walnut Cake is perfect for Mums too. A hefty glug of maple syrup and some brown sugar gives it a slightly sweeter, vanilla latte kind of taste.

Cakes and Bakes for Mother's Day - The Cardiff Cwtch - Strawberry Picnic Cake

Strawberry Picnic Cake

Another one of my favourite easy bakes – this Strawberry Picnic Traybake divides up perfectly into sweet, snack-sized pink cakes. Perfect to share out between the family with a blob of whipped cream and tea and coffee after a bang-up Mother’s Day Roast. 🙂

Happy Mother’s Day to all the amazing Mums, soon-to-be Mums and should-be Mums out there, but most of all to my lovely mama. Stay safe everyone x

Cheat’s Sourdough Pizza

Mamma mia! No more faffing around with sourdough starters – just soft and chewy (and scoffable) pizza in a snap…
Cheat's Sourdough Pizza - The Cardiff Cwtch

Look, you can chuck whatever the hell you want on top of a pizza – pineapples, mushrooms or just plain old cheese and tomato, it doesn’t bother me – it’s the base that’s always been the deal breaker for me. It’s got to be thin and slightly crisp underneath (if you’re one of those people who are partial to deep dish then you can just go ahead and let yourself out right now). It’s got to be evenly cooked all the way through (how many times have I made pizza at home only to end up with a soggy middle?). And lastly, the crust has got to be soft and chewy – the archetype for a good sourdough pizza. The best sourdough pizza I’ve ever eaten was at Franco Manca back when I lived in London. Sunny dragged me to this tiny canteen in Brixton, shoved a menu under my nose and then quietly informed me that no other pizza would ever compare to what I was about to eat. And he was right. If you’ve ever been to Franco Manca then you’ll know they’ve got quite a small and specific menu; it’s all about stripping pizza back, using only top quality ingredients and instead of doing lots of different flavours and toppings pretty well – they do only three or four, but do them to perfection. And the sourdough base? Oh lordy.

Since then (and since moving far away from Franco Manca…) I’ve been desperately trying to come up with a sourdough pizza dupe that I can make at home. Trouble is, it’s near impossible to replicate that soft and chewy texture and crisp underside without a proper pizza oven. Still, I wanted to see if I could find a way around that slight handicap. I’ve tried sourdough starters (too much faff), I’ve tried pizza stones, I’ve tried about fifty different doughs, and I have stretched and tossed (behave) until my arms have ached… Have I ever come anywhere close to replicating that pillowy soft vehicle for cheese and tomato? Have I heck. Until now! It’s pretty damn close, and pretty damn good. Even better, it doesn’t involve keeping a jar of flour, water and yeast alive for at least a week beforehand (I mean I have a dog, I don’t need another pet to feed), nor does it require any vigorous stretching or acrobatic throwing. Just some light kneading, an hour to prove and that’s it. Part cook it on a hot skillet to crisp up the base, and then finish it off under the grill. Easy. 🙂

Sourdough Pizza without a Sourdough Starter - The Cardiff Cwtch

Cheat’s Sourdough Pizza

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 1 tsp dried active yeast*
  • 1 tbsp runny honey
  • 75ml warm water
  • 200ml warm semi skimmed milk
  • 150ml plain yogurt
  • 50ml sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 500g strong bread flour
  • olive oil

*make sure you use dried active yeast instead of instant yeast for this recipe – it creates a softer, chewier dough with a better rise.

For the toppings:

  • Tomato Passata
  • Mozzarella
  • Handful of chopped basil leaves
Easy Sourdough Pizza - No Sourdough Starter - The Cardiff Cwtch - Chewy Pizza Base
Method
  1. Pour the warm water and honey into a large mixing bowl, and then stir in the yeast. Leave the yeast to activate for ten minutes (you should start to see tiny pin-prick bubbles across the surface of the water or a slight brown foam when it’s ready).
  2. Next, stir in the warm milk, yogurt, sour cream, salt and flour. Stir together to create a sticky (very sticky!) dough. Oil your hands with some of the olive oil, then turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes. It’ll be sticky, it’ll be messy – but persevere with it, it’ll be worth it in the end!
  3. Pop the dough into a lightly oil bowl, cover with clingfilm, and then leave somewhere warm for an hour until doubled in size.
  4. Split the dough (this recipe creates plenty of it, so wrap tightly whatever you’re not going to use with clingfilm and stick it in the fridge) and then turn it out onto a floured surface. No need to stretch it or work it, just roll it out thinly into whatever shape of pizza you’re going for.
  5. Heat up a frying pan, or flat skillet until it’s burning hot. Lightly brush one side of the pizza with olive oil, then place face down onto the frying pan. Heat for a couple of minutes on one side, and then lightly brush with oil and flip it. You’ll know when to flip because bubbles will start to rise on the surface of the dough as it cooks. Cook for no more than a minute and then take it off the heat.
  6. Spread the tomato passata across the bubbled side of the pizza, followed by the mozzarella (as well as whatever other toppings you fancy), then cook it under the grill in the oven for about 3-5 minutes until the cheese starts to bubble. Sprinkle with basil, then scoff!

Have a lovely week! 🍕🍕🍕

Simple Sunday Morning Oat Loaf

…for an absolutely banging Beans on Toast…
Simple Sunday Morning Oat Loaf - Bread Recipes - The Cardiff Cwtch

Seriously, is there anything better than a steaming plate of beans on toast? Especially this time of year when it’s grim and gloomy, and you get home in the dark and the drizzle and you just can’t be bothered to cook and the Chinese Takeaway is bloody closed (ours takes a three week long break every January on a count of Chinese New Year – EXACTLY when I need them the most – the nerve!)… For breakfast, lunch or brinner (not a typo – that’s “breakfast for dinner” for the uninitiated – you’re welcome btw), it’s always a winner when you’re in a pinch and just can’t be arsed to cook anything else.

(…Or blog about anything else? Hey c’mon, I’m having a slow January, alright?)

There’s always a healthy stash of tins of baked beans in my kitchen cupboard (none of that Branston nonsense; I’m a Heinz until I die kinda girl) – that’s the easy bit – it’s the bread that’s the trickier side to this duo. It’s got to be a doorstop wedge of fluffy, perfectly toasted bread to compliment a soggy slop of beans – which isn’t necessarily as readily available as it sounds. Thankfully, my husband’s taken up the only area of baking that I seriously struggle with and I’ve been finding myself drowning in homemade loaves (…definitely not complaining). Last weekend he played around with a lovely recipe fished out of an old recipe book for Oatmeal Bread – which made a pillowy soft loaf with a crispy, golden crust. As soon as I chewed down on a corner I knew it was THE weekend loaf to have on the recipe roster – perfect for sandwiches, dippy eggs and – oh yes – a banging plate of beans on toast. 🙂

Golden Retriever - The Cardiff CwtchSimple Sunday Morning Oat Loaf - Bread Recipes - The Cardiff Cwtch

Simple Sunday Morning Oat Loaf

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 170g strong, white flour
  • 85g wholemeal flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 30g melted butter
  • 1 tsp clear honey
  • 15g dried active yeast
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 55g porridge oats
  • 200ml semi skimmed milk

To glaze:

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tbsp porridge oats
Simple Sunday Morning Oat Loaf - Bread Recipes - The Cardiff Cwtch
Method
  1. Gently boil the milk, then pour into a mixing bowl with the oats. Allow it to cool to about 30°C, then stir in the honey and yeast. Leave for 10 minutes to allow the yeast to do it’s thing (you should start to see tiny, pinprick bubbles – or a slight foam).
  2. Next, add the egg and melted butter (make sure it’s cooled – you don’t want to scramble your egg!). Then, sift in both the strong white flour and wholemeal flour, as well as the salt. Stir together to make a soft dough.
  3. Lightly oil your hands, then turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, then knead by hand for about ten minutes – or until you get a smooth, stretchy dough.
  4. Oil a mixing boil, then chuck in the dough, cover it with clingfilm and leave it somewhere warm to double in size for about an hour and a half.
  5. Lightly grease a 1 lb loaf tin. Knock back the dough, then roughly shape it into a loaf and pop it in the tin. Cover, then leave somewhere warm to rise again for another hour.
  6. Heat your oven to 220°C (fan). Glaze the surface of the loaf with the beaten egg, and sprinkle with oats. Bake for 30 minutes (after 15 minutes cover with paper if you think the crust is going to brown too much), then leave to cool before slicing up and scoffing with great big globs of butter.

Have a lovely week everyone! 🙂