March 1st is St Davids Day and all over Wales school children will be dressing up in national costume for their Eisteddfod, and people will be wearing daffodils or leeks in the form of pins or ridiculous hats to show they are proud to be welsh. Wales has extra reason to be proud in 2012 as they recently won the Triple Crown after beating Ireland, Scotland and England as part of the Rugby Unions Six Nations Championship – for any Canadians reading, this championship is as big a deal as that superball…bowl….thingy (but better). Congrats Wales!
I’m planning my St Davids Day dinner…once again I’ve left it much too late (or too early?) to acquire some local lamb – which I would have collected from Sarah Nettletons RockLoaf Farm, in Isle Madame – and having recently OverPorked (in the culinary sense) I’ve decided to go for Glamorgan sausage with leeks and mash, nothing too fancy.
Lamb and leeks are traditional welsh fare as well as cockles and mussels, laverbread, lamb, beef, cheese, elderflower, strawberries and blackberries, honey, wild garlic and sorrel, salmon and trout.
Wherever you are in Wales, similarly to Cape Breton, you are never far from the beautiful coastline so fish and seafood are popular. The ‘green green hills of Wales’ are plentiful and abound with sheep – we really should have more here in Cape Breton, the fertile pastures are perfect munching material.
Menu for a Traditional Welsh Feast
Breakfast – Cripsy bacon, laverbread (seaweed), cockles, thickly buttered toast, fried eggs and a mug of tea;
Lunch – Welsh Rarebit with leek and potato soup and a few glasses of welsh ale;
Afternoon tea – A cup of tea and a slice of Bara Brith (fruit cake made with tea and marmalade) or a few welshcakes;
Dinner – Roasted leg of lamb with mint sauce or Cawl and a glass of Ty Nant (water!).
Cawl – A traditional welsh stew made with roast lamb, leeks and as many root vegetables you can lay your hands on plus parsley, sage or winter savory.
Glamorgan sausages (Selsig morgannwg) – A cheesy sausage!! made with breadcrumbs, leeks, Caerphilly cheese, parsley and mustard.
Welshcakes – A teatime favourite in Wales. Miners would expect to find them in their lunchbox.
Welshcakes have many different names – pice bach (small cake), picau ar y maen or bakestone, as these cakes were traditionally cooked on a bakestone – a cast iron griddle. I cook mine, 2 dozen at a time, on a George Foreman!
There are many variations to the ingredients of a welshcake, depending on which part of Wales you hale from. They are usually made from flour, egg, butter/marg, raisins and/or currants and spices such as nutmeg and cinammon. Some recipes include mixed peel, vanilla essence or ginger.
The size of a welshcake also various, usually they are 2”x0.5” but in olden times they were sometimes the size of the bakestone and thick, served cut in half with butter and jam.
Another recipe splits a large welshcake in half, one side spread with stewed apple and the other with brown sugar – this recipe, which my Mum found recently, comes from Pontyclun where we used to live!
Kingsville Farm welshcakes are from an old South Wales recipe with raisins, cinammon and vanilla, dipped lightly in sugar, and are the smaller cookie shape.
Welsh Rarebit (Cows Pob) is a delicious glorified cheese on toast (I hear the welsh protest!).
225g/8oz strong flavoured cheddar
25g(1oz) melted butter
1 tbls worcestershire sauce
1 tbls english mustard
1 tbls flour
4 tbls beer
4 slices wholewheat bread
cayenne pepper or paprika
Grate the cheese and mix with the remaining ingredients. Spread over 4 slices of toast and grill until bubbling and brown. Sprinkle with cayenne, or paprika.
225g/8oz plain flour
1tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
a pinch of grated nutmeg
75g/3oz caster sugar
2 beaten eggs
150ml/1.5pt buttermilk (or fullfat milk with a squeeze of lemon juice)
Mix flours, baking powder, salt and nutmeg in a bowl. Rub in the butter and then add the sugar, fruit and eggs. Gradually add the buttermilk beating with a wooden spoon until you have a mixture soft enough to reluctantly drop. Bake in a greased and line 9” round sponge tin at 180¤C/Gas 4 for 30-40minutes until golden brown and well risen.