Welsh Cake Batter Fudge

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Fudge is one of those things that I’ve always wanted to try making but, ugh, TOO MUCH EFFORT!  I mean, the traditional way of doing things involves heating up butter and sugar to an exact temperature and using a sugar thermometer and a lot of faffing around, and – like I said – EFFORT.  I felt like for my first time I didn’t want to take on more than I could handle – so I cheated and used condensed milk.  It’s still definitely one of those recipes that needs 100% focus and attention (no scrolling instagram or twitter while you’re stirring!), but it’s much easier and – providing you let the sugar dissolve completely – makes a really creamy fudge.

I usually bake Welshcakes on St David’s Day, but honestly, the ladies at Bakestones in Cardiff Market knock mine right off the board.  They’re so good!  So this year I decided to make this Welshcake Batter Fudge.  It’s not the prettiest looking fudge around (just like Welshcakes aren’t exactly the prettiest cakes), but tastes just like the real deal thanks to the sultanas and a hint of mixed spice. 🙂

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Welsh Cake Batter Fudge

Ingredients

  • one 397g can of condensed milk
  • 150g sultanas
  • 2 tsp of mixed spice
  • 120g butter
  • 450g demerara sugar
  • pinch of sea salt
  1. Pour the condensed milk, mixed spice, butter and sugar into a deep, non-stick saucepan and stir slowly on a low heat until all the ingredients have combined and the sugar has completely dissolved.  If you move too quickly to step two, then you’ll get a grainy fudge.
  2. Get a bowl, fill it with ice cold water and keep it nearby for the next step.  Crank the heat a little and bring the mixture to the boil – stirring constantly and simmering for around ten minutes.  You want the fudge to reach its “soft ball” stage, which is when you’re going to stop boiling it and bring it off the heat.  The time it takes to reach this stage is going to vary, so either test it with a sugar thermometer (you want the fudge to hit 118°C), or get a spoon and drop a little into your bowl of cold water.  If the fudge is ready, it should ball and set, but remain a little squidgy when you squeeze it between your fingertips.
  3. When it’s ready, take the fudge off the heat and pour in the sultanas.  Stir them into the fudge and keep beating until it starts to thicken up and set.  Pour it into a square, lined baking tin and sprinkle with sea salt.  Leave it to cool before cutting it into squares. 🙂

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Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus, pawb! (Happy St David’s Day, everyone!) 💛

 

Indian Spiced Cawl

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I’m so excited that it’s soup season again!  Not only is it the perfect meal to come home to when you’ve been out in the cold, but it’s also so easy – whether you get it out of a tin or cook it from scratch.  And when it gets cold enough here in Wales we don’t sip soup, we slurp Cawl.  In case you didn’t know, Cawl is a Welsh soup traditionally made with lamb and whatever root vegetables happen to be lying around in your cupboard (the word “Cawl” can also mean to make a mess of something).   For this version I’ve spiced things up a bit; I’ve kept the base recipe traditional, but have flavoured the lamb and stock with some Indian spices and fresh coriander.  It’s all served up with some toasted naan bread – yum!

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Indian Spiced Cawl (serves 4)

Ingredients

  • Neck of Welsh Lamb
  • ½ a white onion roughly chopped
  • 1 echalion/banana shallot roughly chopped
  • 3 medium potatoes roughly chopped into chunks
  • 1 large parsnip sliced
  • 1 leek sliced
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 1tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli flakes
  • Handful of chopped fresh coriander
  1. Place the lamb in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 2 to 3 hours.  Skim off the fat, then leave to cool overnight.
  2. Heat the vegetable oil in a deep pan and fry off the onions with the cinnamon.
  3. Slice the lamb off the bone and cut into rough chunks, then add to the pan along with the rest of the spices (set aside the water – that makes up the soup stock). Coat the lamb with the spices and leave to fry for three minutes.
  4. Add the potato and parsnip, then stir in the stock. Bring to the boil, then turn down heat and leave to simmer for an hour.
  5. When ready to serve, add the chopped coriander. Serve with warm naan bread.

Have a great weekend everyone! 🙂

A Stress-Free Sunday Night Dinner with La Belle Assiette

I love getting my friends and family over for dinner.  You know me, I’m a right Monica Geller; “I’m always the hostess!”  It’s stressful, but it’s the kind of stress I feed off of (literally!).  I love setting the table up, deciding what cook for everyone and then serving it up.  But more than anything else I love having all my favourite people around my kitchen table.  My only problem with the whole hosting game is that I’m constantly having to leave that table to go check on the food, top up drinks and then… ugh, clean everything up.  I keep having to disappear in the middle of one of my Dad’s stories, or the latest TV and movie tip-off from my brother and that, my friends, is the worst part of always being the hostess.  Sometimes it’d be nice to just sit at that same table and soak up a Sunday night dinner with the family without having to actually serve it myself.

I thought I’d have to win a Grammy or the lottery to be able to hire a private chef, and since my singing’s only shower-worthy and I can’t remember the last time I won anything on the lottery – I thought I was way off.  But it’s actually more affordable than you’d think!  La Belle Assiette is a website that allows you to hire local chefs and caterers to come and serve a meal in your home with prices starting from as little as £39 a head.  Chefs call up and discuss the menu with you beforehand – taking into consideration any special dietary requirements or fussy eaters you might have – and then they buy all the ingredients, cook the meal and – better yet – clean up afterwards!  So, when an email popped into my inbox asking whether I fancied opening up my little kitchen for the night to local chef, Manveer Holloway, how could I possibly refuse? 🙂


I’m a bit possessive of my kitchen – I always kick people out when I’m cooking, so I wasn’t quite sure what it was going to be like having a stranger come and use my cheap old pans and crusty oven (I did have a panic the night before that nothing was chef-clean enough and scrubbed until my arm almost fell off), but Manveer was friendly and professional right from the get go.  He arrived a few hours before dinner to set up and prepare the food and got right down to it!  I could just sit back and wait for my guests to arrive.  But I didn’t do that, it felt strange not mucking in!  So I went and had a chat with Manveer instead, asking him about his experience in the catering industry and the six months he spent working on the tiny channel island of Aldernay.

The meal kicked off at eight with some bread and olives on the table, followed by a starter of Tikka Marinated Chicken, pickled cue and courgettes (which were absolutely stunning) and mint raita.  And for my Mum, who only eats fish and vegetables; wild mushroom arancini, pea shoots and truffle oil.


When Manveer called me a few weeks before the meal to discuss the menu, he suggested rump of lamb for a main course.  Now, I’m not normally a huge fan of lamb, but I knew that Sunny, my Dad and my brother would be all over it – so I said yes!  Turns out, I hadn’t really given lamb a chance because the lamb Manveer cooked was absolutely delicious! Accompanied with rosemary and garlic mash, pea and butternut puree, fresh leek and red wine sauce it was probably the nicest Sunday Dinner to ever grace my kitchen table!



While we feasted on lamb, my Mum polished off a fillet of seabass with sauteed potatoes, spiced tomato sauce, tempura broccoli and cauliflower florets.  I was amazed how Manveer perfectly timed two very different meals, cooking the fish to perfection while keeping the lamb tender.

To finish off, we had a deconstructed lemon tart with candied lemon peel, limoncello jelly and earl grey syrup (which I loved so much I had to try making myself!).  While we all ate and chatted, Manveer worked hard to get the kitchen back clean and in working order.

What can I say?  The whole night was a total treat from start to finish!  If you’re looking to host a dinner party with a difference then I’d definitely check out La Belle Assiette – your guests will be nattering about it for months!

Massive thanks to La Belle Assiette and Manveer for such an amazing evening – and to Anna from Exposure for the photographs (it was so nice to dig into a plate of food without me having to photograph it first!).

Have a great week everyone! 

Glamorgan Sausage Rolls

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Happy Friday everyone!  This time next week it’ll be March, isn’t that crazy?  And with that in mind – seeing as next Thursday is St David’s Day – here’s a little Welsh recipe with a twist that you might have seen in this month’s Co-op Food Magazine.

Co-op got in contact with me before Christmas and asked me what I’d be cooking this St David’s Day and I came up with a recipe for Glamorgan Sausage Rolls.  Glamorgan Sausages are legendary here in Wales, but if you’ve never heard of them before they’re basically veggie sausages made from leeks, cheese, eggs and breadcrumbs and were very popular during the war when meat was hard to come by.  Now, I’m not normally one for veggie sausages, but these – if I do say so myself – are LOVELY, and would make a great snack to bring out at half time during the Six Nations.  Especially if you dunk them in either some chilli jam or onion chutney. 😉

Glamorgan Sausage Rolls (Makes 8 small sausage rolls)

Ingredients

  • 170g white breadcrumbs
  • 100g Co-op British leek, finely chopped
  • 150g Caerphilly or Welsh Cheddar, grated
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp English mustard
  • 2 British free range eggs
  • 3 tbsp semi-skimmed milk
  • 50g plain flour
  • 25g unsalted butter
  • 375g pack ready rolled puff pastry
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C, and line a baking tray with some greaseproof paper. In a bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs, chopped leek, cheese, paprika, thyme and mustard.
  2. Whisk the eggs with 2 tbsp of the milk (Hold back 2 tbsp of the egg/milk mix – you’re going to need that later!) and stir into the sausage mix.
  3. Now for the sticky bit!  Mould the mix into 8 equally sized sausages (you could use a bit of cling film to help you), and then dunk them one by one into egg and milk mix you held back earlier. Lightly roll each sausage in the flour and then leave them to chill in the fridge for 30 mins – over overnight if you’ve got the time to spare. 
  4. When you’re ready to cook, melt some butter in a frying pan and fry the sausages until golden, then leave them to cool.
  5. Now to get rolling!  Roll out the pastry to about 5mm thick and then cut into 8 rectangles. Place each sausage in the middle of a piece of pastry, fold over, and brush with the remaining milk to seal (or use whisked egg for a richer wash).
  6. Crimp the edges with a fork and slash the top of each sausage roll with a knife. Lay on the baking tray, making sure there’s a gap between each roll. Bake for 40 mins, or until golden. Slice, serve and scoff!

Have a great weekend everyone! 🙂

 

Chocolate Orange Welsh Cakes

Now that we’re officially a week into December (coupled with the fact that it actually snowed this morning!  Not for long… but still!) I declare it officially safe to bring on the Christmas baking.  I’m easing you in gently though with these Chocolate Orange flavoured Welsh Cakes.  I LOVE Welsh Cakes, not only because I’m Welsh and it’s practically criminal not to love them, but also because they’re so easy to play around with!  If you’re not a fan of the traditional mixed fruit filling, then just swap it out with something you fancy – like chocolate! 🙂

Bonus Bungle snap 😉  Isn’t he handsome?

Chocolate Orange Welsh Cakes

Ingredients

  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 50g caster sugar (+20g for dusting)
  • pinch of salt
  • 100g chopped pieces of orange-flavoured chocolate
  • 110g butter/margarine (+ a little extra to grease the pan/skillet)
  • 1 large egg
  • a splash of milk if the dough is too dry

1. Sift together the dry ingredients into a bowl, then rub in the butter/margarine (get in there with your fingers and rub until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs).
2. Stir in the chocolate.
3. Mix in the egg until the dough comes together (if it’s too dry, add a splash of milk).
4. Roll out and cut into rounds.
5. If you haven’t got a skillet, a greased, level frying pan will do; cook the cakes for 3 minutes on each side (low heat), or until golden brown.
6. While still warm, sprinkle with a little caster sugar and then scoff!

Have a great weekend everyone! x