Friday, 28 February 2014

Anglesey Eggs - Ŵyau Ynys Môn

Anglesey Eggs

I think it's fair to say that Welsh cuisine does not play a prominent role on the world's culinary stage. However, Wales does now take pride in supplying some fine produce, enjoying international recognition for its beef and lamb, fresh fish and seafood and some unique cheeses. There is an increasing number of chefs in Wales eager to make full use of local foods, made and supplied by artisan food producers and traditional dishes are slowly finding themselves back in the limelight.

This then is my St. David's Day contribution to the Welsh culinary revival. Traditional to Anglesey, this delicious dish of potatoes, leeks, eggs and cheese reflects a time when meat was a scarce luxury, like the other more well-known recipes for Glamorgan sausages and Welsh rarebit. I like to think I haven't strayed too far from how my ancestors would have made it; the leeks and potatoes came from ten miles away, the eggs from a local farm and the cheese... well, the cheese is Caerphilly so it admittedly had a slightly longer journey. 

As I'm sending this to the Shop Local challenge, created and hosted by Elizabeth from Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary, I would like to mention the Llainwen eggs I used in this dish. These beautiful free range eggs have a deep orange yolk that I haven't found anywhere else. The farm, situated in the Vale of Clwyd, has been in the family since 1739 and all their eggs come from a variety of traditional breed hens who happily roam around the fields, truly free-range. Visitors are always welcome on the farm, to see first-hand how the hens are looked after. As you can see from the photos, you get seven, multi-hued eggs in every gorgeous box. 

RECIPE - Serves 4 as a starter or 2 as a main course

300g potatoes
3 leeks
oil (olive/sunflower/vegetable)
3 eggs
300ml milk
20g butter
20g plain flour
50g Caerphilly cheese, grated
salt and pepper

Peel the potatoes and cook in boiling salted water for about 15-20 minutes, until soft. 

In the meantime, prepare the leeks by slicing them in half length ways and then chopping them finely. Put them in a colander and wash thoroughly under running water. Drain well. Heat a drizzle of oil in a large frying pan, add the leeks and cook gently until softened, being careful not to colour them as leeks can turn very bitter if they start to brown. 

Hard boil the eggs, drain and remove the shells when they're cool enough to handle.

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C. 

Drain and mash the potatoes, then mix with the softened leeks and season to taste with salt and black pepper. 

To make the cheese sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan and add the flour. Cook for a couple of minutes, then off the heat, slowly add the milk, whisking continuously. When all the milk has been added, bring slowly to the boil and keep whisking over a medium heat until thickened and smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in half the cheese. 

Slice the eggs in quarters and arrange in an ovenproof dish (or use individual dishes as I have done in the photo). Spoon the potato and leek mixture around the eggs and pour the cheese sauce over the top. Sprinkle over the remaining grated cheese. 

This can all be prepared in advance and left in the fridge until you want to cook it.

Cook in the preheated oven for about 15-20 minutes, until bubbling and golden brown. 

Ŵyau Ynys Môn

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Tagliatelle with Leeks and Sausage - Tagliatelle con Porri e Salsiccia

Leek and Sausage Tagliatelle

This is one of those great Italian dishes that manages to transform a few humble ingredients into a deliciously satisfying dinner. Apart from the pasta, there are just two main elements, sausages and leeks. Add some garlic and seasoning and a glug or two of olive oil and that's it basically. It's simple, delicious and has universal appeal which makes it perfect for a family meal. It's also pleasingly frugal - one regular sized pack of sausages, along with a few leeks, makes enough pasta for four generous adult servings.

I'm pleased to be able to enter this in Camilla (Fab Food 4 All) and Helen's (Fuss Free Flavours) Credit Crunch Munch challenge, hosted this month by Angela at My Golden Pear.


As this recipe nicely used up my glut of leeks, (grown about 10 miles from my house) I'm also sending it over to Fiona of London Unattached who is hosting the No Waste Food Challenge this month on behalf of Elizabeth, of Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary.

No Waste Food Challenge

Leeks are at their best at this time of year so I'm sending this over to Ren for her Simple and in Season challenge.

Simple and in Season


2 tablespoons olive oil
3-4 leeks
1 clove garlic
375g good quality pork chipolata sausages
half a glass white wine
400g tagliatelle or pappardelle

Start by preparing the leeks and sausages. As leeks can be very dirty, I usually slice them in half length ways and then chop them finely. Put them in a colander and wash thoroughly under running water. Drain well. 

For the sausages, remove the skins, break off small amounts of sausage mixture and form into small balls. 

Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the leeks and cook gently until softened, being careful not to colour them as leeks can turn very bitter if they start to brown. Add the crushed garlic and continue cooking for a minute or two.

Remove the leeks to a plate and add the sausage meatballs to the pan. You don't need to add any extra oil at this point, there will be enough left over from the leeks. Cook for a few minutes over a medium heat until the meatballs are lightly browned all over. Add the leeks to the sausage meatballs in the pan and pour over the wine. Stir everything together and check the seasoning. I usually add a lot of freshly ground pepper as I think it goes really well with leeks.  Continue cooking for about 5 minutes or so until most of the wine has evaporated and the sausages are cooked through.

In the meantime, cook the pasta in a large pan of salted water, as per packet instructions. Near the end of the cooking, take a ladleful of the pasta cooking water and add to the leeks and sausage mixture if you think it looks slightly dry. When the pasta is al dente, drain well and mix with the leeks and sausages. Serve with lots of freshly grated parmesan. 

Tagliatelle con salsiccia e porri

Friday, 14 February 2014

Hazelnut and Chocolate Shortbread Biscuits

Hazelnut and Chocolate Biscuits

I'm quite a romantic person - I love walking hand in hand along the beach on a balmy, moonlit evening; I nearly always light candles for the dinner table; roses and chocolates are, without fail, enthusiastically received and I'm always pathetically happy when Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy finally get together in the end.

Despite all this however, Valentine's day just doesn't really do it for me. I think it's a combination of the aggressive commercialisation coupled with the forced romance of the day itself. Surely, true romance is a spontaneous thing. I certainly know that when I think of romantic moments in my life, it's the unexpected gestures that come to mind - GL battling through snowdrifts and thorny bushes just to rescue my ski glove that had fallen from the chair lift we had been on (he came back bloodied and bruised but holding the glove triumphantly aloft); getting back from work and finding my room filled with hundreds of daffodils; GL carrying a big, old, heavy television up six flights of stairs (no lift) so that I had something to watch when I was ill.

That said, I don't hate the day and I have to admit to having a weakness for heart-shaped biscuits and chocolates. These ones are chocolatey, light and crisp, with a hint of hazelnut in the background. I had intended to sandwich them with nutella but actually, they are perfect just as they are.

There are several challenges this month that I'm sending this over to.

These definitely fit into the general love theme for February, so I'm sending this off to Dolly Bakes  (this month's host) and LauraLovesCakes for her Calendar Cakes - Oh L'amour.

Tea Time Treats Lavender and Lovage

The theme for this month's Tea Time Treats is chocolate; the challenge is hosted by Karen (this month's host) at Lavender and Lovage and Janie at The Hedgecombers.

I am also submitting these to Lets Cook Sweet Treats for Valentine with Nayna over at Simply Food.

Four Seasons Food Winter
As GL was the main lucky recipient of these, I am also entering it into the Four Seasons Food challenge with Anneli Delicieux (this month's host) and Louisa at Eat Your Veg. The theme this month is Food From The Heart.


35g blanched hazelnuts
165g butter, room temperature (I use salted but you can use unsalted if you prefer)
110g caster sugar
180g plain flour
20g cocoa
half teaspoon of vanilla extract

Pre-heat the oven to 170°C

Place the hazelnuts on a baking tray and roast in the oven for 8 minutes (use the timer!) and allow to cool. Place the nuts in a food processor and pulse until finely ground.

Either by hand or in a mixer, mix the butter, sugar and vanilla until combined. Sift the flour and cocoa together and then add to the butter mixture. Finally add the ground hazelnuts and mix until the dough comes together. Shape into a rough disk, wrap in clingfilm and chill for about 30 minutes. 

Flour a work surface and roll the dough thinly. Cut out the biscuits with whatever cutter you prefer, then place on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. 

Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes (depending on the thickness of the biscuits) and then move to a wire rack to cool.

Gianduia Shortbread Biscuits

Monday, 10 February 2014

Mini Vanilla Bundts

Mini Vanilla Bundts

I never intended buying any Bundt cake tins, mini or otherwise. Yet I came across one on offer in a shop and frankly couldn't resist, even though the cupboards in my small kitchen are already full to maximum capacity. It has got to the point where I carefully balance pans and trays on the top of the smallest stack I can see and then shut the doors as quickly as possible so that the contents don't come crashing out all over the floor.

Anyway, these were worth it. The cakes were moist and springy inside but with a slightly crisp exterior and the miniature size makes them perfect for individual treats for loved ones.

I'm entering these into a lovely new challenge (for me), Treat Petite, where you can send in any recipe as long as it's mini! A great idea and I look forward to seeing this month's entries for 'Loved Ones'. The challenge creators are Cakeyboi, this month's host and The Baking Explorer.

I'm also sending this over to Javelin Warrior's wonderful weekly challenge which encourages everyone to cook from scratch, Made with Love Mondays.



150g plain flour
quarter teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
125g caster sugar
pinch of salt if not using salted butter
80g butter, melted
120ml sour cream
2 eggs
2 teaspoons good vanilla extract or paste

200g icing sugar

Pre-heat the oven to 170°C

1 mini-Bundt pan, well greased

Start by sifting the flour and bicarb of soda into a bowl. Add the sugar and salt if using and mix. 

In another bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients (melted butter, eggs, sour cream and vanilla). Gently fold in the flour mixture until combined. 

Scoop the mixture in to the Bundt moulds and bake for about 25 mins. 

Remove from the oven. Leave the cakes to cool for about 5 mins before turning them carefully out on to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the top, I just made a very simple water icing with icing sugar and warm water but you can use some vanilla in this if you want to add more flavour.

Vanilla Bundts