Category Archives: Cooking

Eating well from what’s to hand, just for fun – Week 1

I thought that it might be fun to share some of my “use it up at all cost” experiments here, making use of just what happens to be in my fridge, freezer and/or store cupboard.  Although I rarely plan ahead regarding food, for me the game right now is to try and make everything I have last as long as possible so that I don’t have to shop again any time soon.  I’m not self-isolating but I have seriously bought into the social distancing message and the easiest way to reduce risk to everyone is minimize trips to supermarkets.  This is going to be more of a challenge as time goes on, and my freezer empties and I over-use my potted herbs, but I am intending to enjoy that challenge.

The freezer part of my fridge-freezer is not really big enough for my needs, particularly as I have always had the habit of batch-cooking meals and freezing them for days when I don’t feel like spending time in the kitchen.  It’s a matter of making sure that whenever I take something out and make a space, I cook something from items in the fridge to put back in the freezer, which is a good way of ensuring that fresh food is used and not thrown away.

For the first time in a fortnight, I was compelled to go food shopping for on Friday, sporting latex gloves and maintaining a rigid 2m distance from all other shoppers, and everyone seemed to be acting responsibly.  I had been doing okay for meat and fish in the freezer but was very short of fresh veg and dairy, and there was plenty of both available.

As I already had some very old veg kicking round, just sad, random odds and ends that I needed to use up, my priority was to find ways of using those.  For one thing I haveMaris Piper spuds that are sprouting terribly (even though I keep them cool and in the dark) because you can only buy them in huge packs and I don’t use them that often.  Two rather superannuated leeks, a bit dry at the ends, and some just-starting-to-wrinkle mushrooms were still usable.  A single courgette was perfect, but well past its sell-by date.  If you are staring at some rather sad, must-be-used and apparently incompatible ingredients in your fridge, and wondering what on earth to do, you might try typing some of those ingredients into the BBC Food website’s search facility, an absolute mainstay of mine to find recipes that use up random ingredients:  https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/search.

Friday

A curry seemed to be called for.  So today’s extravaganza was an ersatz chicken curry, Patak’s Korma paste from a jar, which is such a cheat but is a very handy store cupboard ingredient.  I messed around with it to make it a lot spicier, hotter and un-Korma like, and added Greek yogurt instead of coconut, which I detest.  It could be done equally well with lamb, beef, pork, king prawns or mixed veg.

After tossing the chicken thighs in oil, browning, I added six cardamoms and seriously good amount of cumin to the pan, then the roughly diced onions, courgette, an elderly spud and and two stray mushrooms that I found, bewilderingly, in the salad draw.  Courgette is a wonderful component, as it soaks up the flavours terrifically and has a lovely texture of its own.  Usually I reduce the onions to a pulp prior to adding, but as I had the paste, and to make the meal go further, I diced them to use them as a veg rather than a base.  There was a tiny thumb of dried ginger left over in the fridge, so that went in.  I tossed it all together for a few minutes, and then added the korma paste and water.  No fresh chillis, but the dried ones did the trick, and there was hot chilli sauce on standby.  Half an hour before the end I tipped in a dollop of the yogurt and some leftover baby spinach leaves.

The rice was fried with a good amount of the Bart mix of pilau spices (available from the Tywyn Co-Op) before boiling.  Just before serving I tossed in some home-grown chopped chives.

In spite of the lack of fresh coriander, the result of all this somewhat arbitrary activity was really rather delish, with a good squeeze of lemon juice over the curry, and all served with a dollop of divinely creamy Greek-style yogurt (from a producer in North Wales, Llaeth Y llan) mixed with mint and finely diced cucumber, a sort of Greek-Welsh raitha.  The Spar in Tywyn is usually a very good source of mint and other fresh herbs, not sure how they are coping at the moment.  The whole thing was incredibly faux, but I seriously enjoyed it.  By having used the extra odds and ends of leftover geriatric veg to fill out the chicken, I have enough for another meal.

Saturday

Saturday was my birthday, and I usually celebrate by going out to dinner, but under current conditions the best of the remaining options was to stay put, so I treated myself to a roast, which is not usually a one-person meal.  I had a rack of lamb in the freezer, mint growing in a pot in the garden (spectacularly early for its height and spread, but full of flavour), an ancient spud for roasting, a leek, leeks being obligatory as an accompaniment to lamb in my book, a pack of slightly yellowing tender stem broccoli (it is quite new but doesn’t last well in the fridge), two Chantenay carrots, halved (which do last brilliantly in the fridge but were distinctly on the edge), an old spud for roasting, and some lamb stock from the freezer.

The briefly pan-fried lamb was provided with a crust (whizzed-up fresh and panko breadcrumbs, lemon zest, anchovy, parsley, rosemary, a clove of garlic and capers), stuck on to the lamb with Dijon mustard.  When I run out of lemons, I am going to try replacing lemon zest with sumac, a dried and ground berry from the Mediterranean that has a strong citrus hit and is great on salad and chicken.

The mint and caper sauce, with a dollop of wholegrain mustard was swiftly compiled, and the lamb was roasted in a medium oven for 20 minutes, emerging pink in the middle.  The home made lamb gravy came out of the freezer, and I put in a sprig of rosemary for extra flavour.

There was plenty of lamb left over for another day, and I made too much mint sauce so froze the rest down.  It freezes really well as a back-up for when fresh mint is unavailable.  The lamb bones also went into the freezer, for making stock when I have enough other ingredients.

Whilst the lamb was cooking I boiled up the rest of my ancient spuds, mashed them with butter, milk, home-grown chives and parsley, and batch-froze them.  Then I simmered and peeled some ageing and squidgy tomatoes, mushed them in the food processor and put them in the freezer to use as a base for Mediterranean sauces.

Basically, I spent most of my birthday cooking :-).  I haven’t done that for a long time, and it was terrific fun.  A very Happy Birthday to me!

Sunday

Chicken bamya; although a vegetarian version with aubergine, courgette and potato chunks, hard boiled eggs and mild chillis is also good.  I had two filleted chicken thighs that I needed to use up so did a meal that I usually do with lamb, which I first fell in love with in Egypt and, when I returned, re-invented for myself.  It should be marinated overnight, but the chicken needed using so it only had a couple of hours.  It still tasted great.  The great advantage of it is that it is peasant cooking, one-pot and easy, superb done in the slow cooker.  Bamya means okra/bhindi, but a common substitute is green beans.  As it happens, I had some frozen Turkish okra in the freezer, but when they are gone they are gone, because my father buys them for me from a specialist shop near where he lives.  Ditto for the last mild green giant Turkish chilli that went in.  The spices, a harissa mix and a ras al-hanout mix are all usually available in supermarkets, and I cannot imagine that there’s a rush on them even at the moment.

The chicken thighs are browned whole and then added to a baking dish or the slow cooker.  Onion, garlic and chillis are diced and cooked in oil until translucent, when the spices are added.  After a few minutes, whizzed-up or finely-chopped skinned tomatoes are added to the pan. These are heated for a few minutes to allow the flavours to merge, and then join the chicken.  A crushed ginger cube to stand in for fresh ginger  (fabulous, from the frozen section in Morrison’s if you ever get to one) was also stirred in.  The additions of dried limes and preserved lemons are just a matter of taste, but if I leave them out I wouldn’t dream of eating this without a big squeeze of lemon juice over the whole thing. The okra, fresh or frozen, go in just 15 minutes before the end of the cooking time.   Fresh okra should be topped and tailed.  If using green beans instead, they need about an hour.

Excellent freezer and store cupboard ingredients

Great served with couscous (I buy Ainsley Harriot packs that take just a couple of minutes to cook), plain white rice or a Greek type salad with lots of mint.  I like coriander sprinkled over the top of the bamya too, but it’s not everyone’s taste, and mint is a good substitute with this dish.  A topping of dukkah or pine nuts provides some additional texture.  My addiction to Greek yogurt means that a dollop that always goes well, but if I have  mint and cucumber I always take the time to make a raitha/tzatziki.  I only ate half of it, so put the rest in the freezer

Monday

I dined on part 2 of Friday’s fun curry, served simply with rice and the rest of the mint and cucumber raitha  (finely chopped mint and cucumber in good Greek yogurt).  As there was rather less than half of the curry left over, I hard-boiled an egg, halved it, and heated that up in the curry.  A hard-boiled egg in a curry is always a knock-out and is great for making up volume, as are green beans, courgettes, potatoes and, of course, okra if you can ever get hold of them.  The spinach had melted into the sauce, imparting its deep flavour, and everything else had survived perfectly.  The flavours had matured, and it was just as good as, if not better than, Friday’s original.

Tuesday

Wild garlic, with some friendly daffodils

Lovely to have wild garlic at the moment, and it can be used for all sorts of things.  It is excellent in soups and stews, can be used wherever you use spinach, and is excellent made into a pesto, just like basil, which can be stored in the fridge or freezer.  I grow it in a pot, because it can take over your garden like a small army.  Tossed into good quality pasta (mine was Famiglia Rana mushroom and mascarpone tortellini, originally bought some time ago from the Aberdyfi Village Stores and lobbed in the freezer), I had it with some finely chopped very crispy bacon on top, just one rasher, and parmesan grated over the top (another item that lasts well in the fridge).  On the side I had a small tomato, wild garlic and onion salad, with a sprinkling of capers over the top.  It was all so simple but seriously hit the spot.

Wednesday

On Wednesday I felt like something dead simple, very British, very understated.  Sausages, eggs, bacon and a few mushrooms, with a huge dollop of German medium-strength mustard.   A special edge was that the sausages were pork and Welsh laverbread, from the Aberdovey butcher, an absolute favourite of mine.  They are long, very slender sausages, so it’s important not to over-cook them.  Happiness on a plate.

Thursday

Soup.  Big soup.  Avgolemono, which in Greek means egg-lemon, is surprisingly filling, and I always struggle to get through a bowl of it, even though I serve it as a meal on its own and is a lifetime favourite.  It is made with good quality chicken stock.  I used one from the freezer that I had made from a leftover roast chicken carcass, but the usual way of doing it is to poach fresh chicken.  The other key ingredients, if you base this on one serving, are three tablespoons of lemon juice, an egg, loads of parsley and (the element that makes it a main meal), a handful of rice.  Rick Stein chops poached chicken into his, but I prefer it without.

Home grown parsley

The rice is cooked in the stock, with a lid, until ready.  Whilst the rice is cooking, the lemon juice and egg are whisked together with a hint of cayenne, a little salt and a pinch of sugar to balance the lemon.  I usually do this with just the yolks, but I noticed that Rick Stein does it with the whole egg and a bit of butter, so I tried it and it worked well, thickening the soup more efficiently.  The trick with this dish is to add spoonfuls of the hot stock to the room temperature egg and lemon mix, stir it well, repeat, stir well and repeat until the egg and lemon is warmed through and won’t separate.  Then pour the whole lot back into the stock and rice pan and heat very gently with the chopped parsley, being careful not to bubble it, or it will separate.  It is so easy to make, has been a favourite of mine forever, and it hit the spot today after a day bullying the garden into shape.

The lemons are running out fast!

Friday

I cheated. I had spent the afternoon scraping moss off my garage driveway with a trowel, and I seriously didn’t have the energy to cook anything.  Averdovey fish and chips would have been my go-to solution.  Instead I cheated in a different way.  In my freezer was half a sizeable beef and ale pie.  I married that with a rich beef gravy and, because it was irresistible, a simple side order of baked beans and HP sauce.  Bliss.  There is something very decadent about baked beans, and I always eat them with a mixture of pleasure and guilt.  Guilty pleasures are often the best.  An infrequent but much loved treat.

Conclusions

A more than averagely British week on the cooking front.  Normally my cooking is dominated by Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food, but from a purchasing point of view, the excellent fresh veg available the week before last, and the need to select stuff that would last in the fridge, suggested that traditional British fare would be best, and I think that my curry comes into that category as I cannot see a native of India recognizing it as remotely related to the real thing.  It has made a surprising and pleasant change.  Thinking about the week, having changed overnight from an ad-hoc whenever-I-need-to shopper to a once-a-fortnight-except-in-emergencies shopper, I have come to the following conclusions.

  1. Thank goodness for a freezer that, small as it is, resembles a Tardis.  Doing an inventory of everything that it contained was essential to forward planning and matching freezer contents against fridge and cupboard contents. Amazing the items I found stuffed into the very back.
  2. I ended up eating or cooking (for the freezer) a lot of chicken because I had put a whole pack of six thighs into the freezer instead of splitting them into separate bags.  I have nothing against eating a lot of chicken, but it would have been a lot less hassle to be able to take out just what I wanted to use.
  3. Tender stem broccoli does not keep well in the fridge, cauliflower and mushrooms are a lot better, but leeks, pointy cabbage, baby carrots and onions are the real keepers
  4. With one-pot meals like stews, casseroles, curries and pies, cooking more than you need and freezing down the rest is great for saving time later on and ensures that fresh ingredients are used up.
  5. In an effort not to deplete supermarket shelves, I bought half my usual number of eggs (usually 12) and lemons (usually 8), and bought fewer other items too, which with hindsight was probably a mistake as there was no shortage of either in that particular store.  Had I used common sense, I would probably have avoided the shops for another week.
  6. Worse, I left my shopping list at home, meaning that I forgot fresh ginger, chillis, potatoes, flour and spring onions, or substitutes.  Aaargghh!  My shopping list is more important than ever, and needs to be updated as soon as essential ingredients are used up.
  7. Pots of herbs rock.  If the supermarkets are still selling them, just re-pot them into bigger pots to give them room to grow, and give them food and water, and you’ll have them for the entire summer if you treat them kindly.
  8. Life without bacon would/will be seriously difficult to negotiate 🙂  It’s inexpensive, great in its own right, and can be chopped up and chucked into so many things for additional flavour.
  9. The BBC food website search facility is wonderful for finding ideas for using up leftovers

Regrow your supermarket spring onions / salad onions

The latest crop from a shop-bought packet of spring onions that I planted last year, still providing me with lots of lovely flavour.

I’ve been regrowing shop-bought spring onions / salad onions for about 10 years.   If you buy a pack that has those spindly little white roots still attached (most of them have them) you can place them in water and regrow them.

It occurred to me today that at this particular time, this can be done very easily even if you are self-isolating, to make your spring onions go further.  Kids would probably love to do it. Best of all, after you cut your first crop, they will grow back!  You should get several crops in a single season.  They will be dormant in winter but will come back in spring.

Note that these will not grow into the same solid spring onion that you originally purchased, but they will produce giant, hollow chives, which are utterly delicious in salads, mashed into spud, or fine-chopped and sprinkled over stews and casseroles.  You can see mine in the photo to the left.  I first planted them last year and they are still going strong in their pot this year.

I don’t actually have any shop-bought spring onions at the moment, or I would photograph the process, but it’s dead simple and here’s how I’ve been doing it for years:

Buy spring onions that have their little white hair-like roots still attached, such as the ones in the picture on the right (which I’ve borrowed from the Ocado website).  If they have been cut off, this won’t work.

As soon as you have your spring onions home, cut off the last 3-4cm (a bit over an inch) that have the roots still attached.  Place these in glass or jar of cold water (a glass or jar is better than a cup so that you can watch what’s happening).  You only need enough water to cover the roots and a bit of the stem.

In a couple of days new, healthy white roots will appear and start growing.  When the new roots reach a good size (I find that anything over 3-4cms / an inch long works) you can plant them out into your garden or into pots (or the bottoms of used plastic bottles, with holes made in the bottom for drainage).

When you plant them, make sure that whilst the roots are under the surface, a bit of green remains, sticking up.  Water well, and keep moist, but don’t drown.  In only a couple of weeks they will begin to grow and when they reach a good height you can cut them and eat them.   Best of all, they will regrow!  The photograph at the top of the page shows the ones I planted last year and am still eating today (quite literally – they are going to be sprinkled over tonight’s home-made curry to give it a bit of zing in the absence of any coriander).

 

A three day fish-fest thanks to Dai’s Shed and my freezer

On Wednesday I floured and pan-fried a terrific chunk of Dai’s seabass that I had in the freezer from a couple of weeks ago. Seabass freezes beautifully for short periods and this was a gorgeous piece of fish, in terms of both texture and flavour.  I served it very simply with a sauce made of capers, diced tomato, finely diced banana shallot and finely chopped herbs (Thai basil, thyme, ordinary basil, parsley, oregano, lovage and just a little mint) in virgin olive oil and lemon juice, served with griddled courgette discs, sautéed potatoes and accompanied by lemon slices. It is super to be able to use herbs from the garden whilst they last, and the Thai basil, a new addition to my outdoor herb collection, came over particularly well.  It is amazing how long the herbs are lasting – I was expecting most of them to be well on their way out by now.  I will particularly miss the lovage, which I use in huge quantities in salad and fish sauces, as it is simply unavailable even in big supermarkets.

Yesterday the flavours in my fish tagine were a bit more complicated but it was also a doddle to prepare.  Again from the freezer, I had a piece of huss that I cut into chunks, that I marinated in a mix of fresh coriander from my garden, paprika, cumin, cayenne, lemon and olive oil.  This was then cooked, complete with the marinade, in puréed fresh tomato, cumin, garlic, onion, with fresh chillis and parsley (both from my garden), grated carrot, preserved lemons and okra, with a little home made fish stock.  I sprinkled mint over the top and served it with lime and coriander cous cous.  The latter was a cheat – a pack from Ainsley Harriott, but it is so good that I never feel guilty about not making it myself.  Huss is brilliant for this type of cooking because it retains its shape, and has enough flavour of its own to stand up to all the herbs and spices.  Like the seabass, it is a good choice for the freezer, and it is blissfully easy to fillet.  I make the tomato, onion and garlic base in huge batches for the freezer, partly for convenience but mainly because I absolutely detest peeling tomatoes and prefer to confine the suffering to single large sessions.  As I really don’t like the harsh sweetness of tinned toms (I’m a bit of a fussy eater) it is seriously worth the effort.

Today I was at the excellent community lunch, about which more on a future post, so there was no need for an evening meal, but I used some fish stock that I made yesterday from a freezer bag of fish bits (heads, tails, bones etc) left over from preparing and filleting fish to make myself a fish soup.  To give it a bit of body and flavour I recruited some onions, some fennel that needed using up, garlic cloves, chilli from the garden and skinned fresh toms, all whizzed up in the blender.  In a somewhat extravagant mood I lobbed in rather a lot of saffron for that extra bit of Mediterranean luxury, seasoned it with sea salt and pepper and sprinkled over a bit of coarsely chopped parsley.  It was supposed to be basil but I wasn’t about to go outside to pick some in pouring rain and a gale (thanks Storm Callum) when I had some parsley in the fridge!  Grabbed a spoon and bowl and it was Job done. There was loads left over for the freezer, a blessed fall-back for when I don’t feel like cooking.

Bass and Mullet from Dai’s Shed. Happy.

Oh the multiple joys of the dry weather!  A gloriously sunny day yesterday.  A long, lazy walk down the estuary was followed by a trip to Dai’s shed to see what he might have available. The blackboard said bass and mullet.  Woo hoo!  Jill was in charge, as Dai was bringing in the lobster pots.  I asked for one of each, and was staggered at the size of them!  Super fresh.  Each over a foot long, bright of eye, and beautifully silver-grey, stunning.  She only had two mullets left, so I was lucky.  I hate de-scaling fish – I always end up covered in scales – but Jill did the job in double-quick time and gutted them both for me as well.  As I watched the process with envy at her speed another customer arrived.  A nice little exchange:
[Clock showing 3.20pm].
Customer:  “What time do you close?”
Jill, smiling and looking at the clock: “2 O’clock!”
Customer, also laughing:  “I better not come back a bit later then!”

When I left, he was still waiting patiently in line and I hope that he enjoyed his fish as much as I enjoyed mine.  Whilst I was there, the owners of Proper Gander came in to pick up seafood for the restaurant as Dai returned with his lobster pots and the day’s catch.  Couldn’t have been fresher!

Mullet at top, bass at bottom. Heaven on a plate.

The ideal way to serve the fish would have been whole, but even if I starved myself for a couple of days that wasn’t going to work :-).  I’ve never tried filleting a raw fish, so I cut the fish into chunks when I got home, the first chunk for last night, the others put in the freezer, with heads and tails also frozen for a future fish stock.

I have been indulging in a bit of a North African and Middle Eastern phase, having been reunited with my tagine and my spice collection, but I chose to keep things perfectly simple.  I floured my piece of mullet, fried it in a mix of butter and olive oil and served it with something mid way between chermoula and a sauce vierge.  It was composed of fine-diced tomato, capers and banana shallot, finely chopped mint, parsley, lovage, and oregano in a virgin olive oil and a big squeeze of lemon juice, with some minced garlic thrown in for fun, livened up with with a punch of Berbere spices (a blend that I found in the Co-op pin Tywyn).  I also sautéed some spuds and threw a couple of baby courgettes on the griddle.  The herbs all came from my garden except for the oregano that I spotted growing all along the estuary walk – a nice, bijou little forage!  I do wish that I could grow coriander, but it goes straight to seed.

Mullet turns out to be a stunning fish.  I had never had it before and was told that if caught in estuary waters it could taste very muddy but this was caught out at sea and was anything but muddy.  It had a clean, fresh taste, beautifully white and full of flavour.  It is often compared with sea bass, but of the two I prefer the mullet.  It has better flavour and a much better texture.  The fresh and clean flavours of the fish, the herbs and the spices all worked well together.

Dai’s Shed is open til the end of October, so if you’re hoping for some excellent locally caught fish, you need to get your skates on.

Glorious huss from Dai’s Shed

Last week Dai had caught some huss so I bought a small piece and put it in the freezer.  I had never cooked it before.  Huss, also known as rock salmon, was my standard purchase from my favourite fish and chip shop when I lived in London, so I knew that it was full of flavour.   I made it into a fish stew.

I skinned and cooked some tomatoes, lightly fried onion and garlic in olive oil, sprinkled over a little smoked paprika and whizzed it all up in the food processor.  I added herbs, ground fennel, a seriously good pinch of saffron and a big spoonful of piri-piri for a good hit of heat.  A little fish stock, a little white wine and a small glug of brandy completed the mix.   I sliced the huss into chunks, fried them quickly in olive oil, and then removed them from the pan.  Next, the components of a pack of frozen shellfish from the Chester Waitrose went into the same pan, and those too were removed once they had heated through.  Into the fishy juices I poured the tomato mixture and reduced it down.  The huss went back into the pan first and then the shellfish, all topped with clams in their shells to warm through.  It was accessorized with a fresh coriander gremolata over the top, and served with a grilled slice of crusty Welsh bread with a clove of garlic rubbed over it for dipping in the juices.  A delectable glass of Sancerre to accompany it wrapped things up perfectly.   Not as glamorous or authentic as a French bouillabaisse or as delectable as a Spanish zarzuela, but my simple Algarve-inspired fish stew was a lot quicker to produce and required much less fish!

The huss was absolutely divine.  It holds its shape, retains its gorgeous flavour and has a wonderful texture.  It would make a brilliant substitute in recipes that demand the much more expensive monkfish.  I popped down into Aberdovey and bought an even bigger bit this morning, given that it freezes so well.  Dai says that the weather is too rough to go out for the next couple of days, so no dressed crab or mackerel for the time being.  I am still not quite up to dealing with a live lobster.

Another feast from Dai’s Shed

My father is visiting and I promised him fresh mackerel.  There were only small ones left at Dai’s Shed, so we took six and treated them like large sardines, oiling them, barbecuing them and serving them with a Greek-inspired salad.  My Greek salad is rather more extravagant than a normal Greek salad.  As well as loads of feta, capers and olives, and a good amount of diced tomato, I chuck in some finely sliced spring onion, shredded little gem lettuce and, from the garden, finely chopped giant chives, mint and lovage leaves.  It was accompanied by baby new potatoes boiled and tossed in Welsh Dragon butter, chives and flat-leaf parsley from the garden and the whole lot was served with chunks of lemon.

Oh those little mackerel were divine!  Firm, moist and full of flavour, and they folded off the bone perfectly.  I am going to go into mourning when Dai shuts up the shed in October.

I grow my giant chives from spring onions.  When I buy a bunch of spring onions with the white roots still attached, I cut off about 3cm of the spring onion at the root and put it in water for a couple of days, until the roots start to grow and produce new white tendrils and then stick them in a pot of compost, with the top just sticking out.  Job done.  They start to grow immediately and within a couple of weeks you have a healthy crop – one giant chive per spring onion.  And by giant, I mean that the ones I have out there at the moment, which are about a month old, are now nearly 2ft tall.   The ones shown in this photograph were exactly two weeks old.

 

Experimenting with Glamorgan sausages

I’ve never made Glamorgan sausages before, and there’s a good argument for saying that I haven’t made them today either.  I walked down into Aberdovey, expecting the Bank Holiday Monday to be bedlam, but at 1045 it was surprisingly quiet, perhaps because the weather was unencouraging, but perhaps because a lot of people were driving back home after their holiday.  I had a look around the craft fair, which was in the marquee by the Information Centre, and then went to do some odds and ends of shopping.

My first port of call was the lovely Aberdovey Butcher where I bought a lamb steak for the stew that I was planning, and then went to collect what I needed for my Glamorgan Sausages.  Having sourced a leek earlier in the week, I walked with great confidence into the delicatessen, Coast Deli and Dining, on the corner of Copper Hill Street and Sea View Terrace, and stopped dead.  Disaster!  The cheese counter had gone!  No Caerphilly for the Glamorgan sausages, and no Perl Wen for me (but the lunches looked seriously wonderful, so I’ll be back!).  This meant that my Glamorgan sausages were destined to be stuffed with cheese leftovers from the fridge, including Cheshire, Cheddar and fresh flaked Parmesan.  I also, unaccountably, had no English mustard, so used wholegrain French instead.

I read several recipes and took what I wanted from them, adding an extra stage to all of them.  Whilst some recipes went straight from manufacture to rolling in egg and breadcrumbs and then straight into a pan of hot oil or butter, others added a 30 minute period in the refrigerator after rolling and before cooking.  I added an additional 30 minute period in the fridge between making the sausages and rolling them, because mine were rather on the wet side.  The 30 minutes did the trick delightfully.  I rolled them in the egg and then the breadcrumbs, and put them back in the fridge until they were needed.  The photos show the three stages in the process of completion:

  • top – the newly manufactured sausage;
  • middle – 30 minutes later rolled in egg and breadcrumbs;
  • bottom – cooked after another long spell in the fridge and then left out to reach room temperature.

They were far too big to eat three, so one ended up on my plate and I’ll experiment with reheating the other two, seeing if they are viable cold and finding out whether they can be reheated whole or mashed into potato.

The ersatz Glamorgan sausage  was accompanied by chopped lamb steaks from the Aberdovey Butcher, who raises his own sheep, which I had cooked for an hour in a pan with carrots, shallots and mushrooms, some home made lamb stock, a slosh of red wine to add richness rather than flavour, and a lot of fresh thyme.  Some tender stem broccoli finished the plate.  Great fun.  Having eaten the local lamb many times before, I knew that that would be excellent and it was.  The sausages were rather strongly flavoured in the cheese department, unsurprisingly given the Cheddar and Parmesan, but they worked well enough, although for some reason they were a little angular rather than tubular!  Next time, it will definitely be Caerphilly, which will give them just the right balance between flavour and subtlety.