My family is replete with strong women, they weren’t born that way, but fate and necessity forged them into matriarchs. Winifred John was born the 2nd Eldest of 14 children and older sister to my Grandfather. She married Bill and had five sons. Bill sadly died long before I was born and left Winnie a single mother at a time that despite being a widow, probably raised a few eyebrows of condemnation. Living in Penclawdd (pronounced Pen- Clow-th), a village in Gower famous for the women who scoured the mud flats for the local delicacy of cockles (small molluscs), Winnie raised her 5 boys, who all grew into good examples of men. Things were never easy for her, but staunch determination made her well known in her community. She lived until the ripe age of 96 and in her latter years she bought herself a laptop and learned how to use the Internet (Todays Cyberbullies wouldn’t have stood a chance) and using her influence in her community pushed through a playground for local children.
But of all the things Winnie achieved (including dragging an English Comedian Frankie Howard into her house when he stopped her for directions. He ended up with some Bara Birth and a cup of tea) the thing I remember and miss the most from Sunday afternoon visits is her cooking. I will regale you with a few of her recipes I remember or had written down, but some will be my approximations of these. However, I do have this recipe which is a crowd pleaser. Simmering the apple and rhubarb filling in Lemonade and adding cheddar cheese to the pastry not only gives it a zing but the cheese contrasts this in the pastry. I recommend this to anyone. Not only are you getting a literal slice of pie but a snapshot of my family history.
3 Large Bramley Apples
3 Large Storks of Rhubarb
1 Litre of Lemonade (preferably sugar free)
75g of finely grated cheese
50g butter (cut into small cubes)
3 Tablespoons of cold water
A decent pinch of Salt
A splash of milk
Peel and core the apples cutting them into chunky segments.
Get the Rhubarb and run a sharp knife along the length of it (away from you for Health & Safety reasons), remove the skin and chop up.
Place Apple and Rhubarb segments in a decent sized saucepan.
Firmly roll the lemon on a hard surface to make it easier to juice, cut in half, juice and add the juice of a lemon and the Lemonade. I use sugar free Lemon & Lime for a zing, but the choice is yours.
Simmer on a low heat for about 20 -25 minutes. In this time, it will soften and create a sauce with to go with it.
Get a large mixing bowl. Add your flour, soft cubed butter, finely grated cheddar and water. (If you want flakier pastry substitute the water for vodka. The alcohol evaporates quickly leaving your pastry flaky bordering on crispy. Being a Welsh Tea Total Baptist, Aunty Winnie would not approve of this though.)
Mix with your hands until you get a huge ball of dough and allow to rest for five minutes.
There should be enough for a nice hearty crust.
Line your dish with either butter or Butter Fry Light.
Place the pastry on the dish slightly over lapping.
Scoop the filling into the pastry.
Optional: Sprinkle some cinnamon over the pie filling to taste
Crack an egg into a cup and add a small splash of milk.
Use this as a sealant by painting it on the outside area of the pie.
Apply the top layer and either crimple or to save time, simply free down with a fork.
Create a few air vents with a knife and brush the surface of the pie with the egg wash.
Place in the oven 170oC for 20-25 minutes or until the pastry is a golden brown.
Allow to stand for about 10 minutes
Serve on its own or with custard (food of the gods) or Vanilla Ice Cream.
My first memories of Paella are a hideous, dried, just add water concoction from the convenience selection in a supermarket as a child. While it was served, some of it had not rehydrated and the peas could have easily been mistaken for buckshot, the hardened rice stuck between my teeth and the promise of a synthetic Spanish dish were bordering on blasphemy.
Fast Forward twenty years, before we were married and had money to travel, Jo and I went to Ibiza, we’ve never been “Party until the sun rises” people (sleep is a precious commodity that should be cherished) and we stayed in the centre of the island. We were invited to a night of Flamenco Dancing, Sangria and Paella. Jo was excited and I had an image of spitting out rock hard ingredients under the watchful gaze of a sultry and dusky Spanish beauty trying to concentrate on her choreography over a lobster red British Tourist inadvertently insulting her heritage.
However, I loved it. The aroma, the array of tastes and textures were sublime, and I have spent a long time trying to approximate the meal. I’ve given up replicating the traditional recipe in favour of this easy to create beauty. As always, feel free to chop and change the ingredients or method but this dish is guaranteed to please even the fickler of family members.
450g Large Prawns
100g Petit Pois (Frozen)
3/4 Spring Onions
3 Cloves of Garlic
2 Tablespoons of Turmeric
350g Paella Rice
1 Litre of Chicken or Vegetable Stock
Slice the Spring Onion, then chop up the Parsley, garlic, tomatoes, and Chorizo.
Splash some Olive Oil into a pan, heat then add the Spring Onion, Garlic and Chorizo.
Stir frequently until the juices leave the Chorizo and the Spring Onion softens.
Liberally add the Turmeric and stir into the pan mixture.
Making sure the prawns are thawed, stir in the entire amount followed by the tomato, peas, parsley, the juice of 1 lime and the Paella Rice.
Make 1 litre of Chicken Stock by simply adding 2 stock cubes to 1 litre of water and thoroughly mix, then pour into pan mix and stir.
Lower the heat to simmer for 20 minutes stirring every 5 minutes. Cover the pan to stop the rice from drying out (I use my chopping board to cover the pan)
Serve in a bowl and garnish with some parsley and a quartered lime.
Sit back and relish in the fact that you’ve created a dish that’s far more enjoyable than any dehydrated cack that can remain on the supermarket shelves where it belongs. Plus, I don’t mind you taking credit for your creation.
Hello you beautiful lot. I really hope today is treating you well.
With the “help” of my daughter we have started getting the rudimentary stuff ready for filming our YouTube Videos. Despite having a history working on live Radio, I do have an amazing ability to get tongue tied. After about a million takes, we managed to get the video we needed. Now, its down to the almighty god of digital editing to make me appear both credible and human.
It’s a cold and wet day here, upside is that the plants don’t need watering (There is a reason everywhere in Wales is green), I really hope to get some nice weather soon to get some local video and still footage to use in this blog and future videos. The downside to this inclement weather is that it leaves me in a great deal of physical pain and these grey, rainy days really drag my state of mind down (Again, Wales…) as they appear to be a trigger for my depressive state, luckily I have the focus that this project brings and I feel cooking is a superb source of Mindfulness, I can just pop some music on and put the world on hold while I melt into the concentration of creating some hearty tucker.
My wife is a Nurse and is currently working a 12-hour shift on a busy maternity ward, I know she’ll come home exhausted and hungry, so I better make something that hits the mark and I just realised that the clock is against me.
I heard a Cardio-Vascular Surgeon say once “The best way to a woman’s heart is through the rib cage”. As I lack the surgical skills of my old colleague, I must rely on my Cheesecake recipe. It never fails to delight my sweet-toothed wife and in fact, I’m afraid to take the finished product out in public in case it induces a Benny Hill-esq type of chase and due to my disability, the women (and possibly men) wouldn’t take long to catch me.
Seriously though. My daughter, Katie, wanted to use some vanilla extract in the Mascarpone Cheese. I understood where she was coming from, however, I wanted three separate experiences from this beauty. I wanted the Crunchy and salty takeaway from the base, followed by the rich creamy experience of the Mascarpone and not least of all, the lightness and chocolate mix from the confectionary topping. By all means, personalise your experience some vanilla essence if you wish, but personally I prefer the contrast in taste and texture in what was provided. The process of making this cheesecake also involves a lot of smashing things with a rolling pin, so ideal after tolerating your colleagues at the office.
200g Plain Digestive Biscuits
200g Milk Chocolate Digestive Biscuits
125g Unsalted Butter
A Pinch of Salt
750g Mascarpone Cheese
300g Maltesers confectionary.
Greaseproof paper and a 20cm cake tin with a detachable bottom
Sealable sandwich bags
A rolling pin or any other blunt object that could inflict damage to biscuits.
Trace a circle around the detachable bottom of your cake tin and place the circle of greaseproof paper into the tin.
Place all your biscuits (cookies for our American readers) into a sealable sandwich bag and beat until its nothing but crumbled remains, like my hopes and dreams. Then place to one side.
Take about 8-10 Maltesers out of the packet and put to one side, then put the remainder of them in a separate sealable sandwich bag and unleash your pent-up rage until the confectionary is a rough chocolate and malt powder. Put to one side.
Cut up your butter into small cubes and melt in a saucepan.
Add the biscuit mix and stir until the butter absorbs into the crumbled mix. Introduce salt to taste, remembering the high salt content already in the biscuits, literally a pinch will be fine.
Press down with the back of a spoon until the biscuit mix is compacted down and flat. If its not compacted it will blend with the soft cheese.
Introduce the Mascarpone cheese and with a clean spoon so not to get butter on your cheese and level out.
Evenly spread the Malteser Dust on the cheese level, there should be enough for a nice thick layer.
Cut the remaining Maltesers in half and distribute around the surface of the cake.
Cover in Cling Film and allow to chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
I first came across this concept by listening to the Editor of Politics.co.uk and author Ian Dunt on a podcast. He was mocked by his co-panellists but by the gods Old and New, he had hit gold.
I use a combination of my Beef Ragu which is complimented with two jars of cheese dip (carrying on the Nacho theme) infused with Chilli Cheese instead of the Bechamel Sauce.
I heartily recommend this dish, which is relatively easy to make, reasonably economical (but not the cheapest) however, probably not the healthiest. That said, its my opinion that life is for living and carbs are for eating.
750g Beef & Pork mix mince
200g of Button Mushrooms
1 Brown Onion
2-4 Clove of Garlic (dependant on size)
1 Can of Chopped Tomatoes
500g of Passata
Large Bag of Cool Doritos (off brand doesn’t work as well)
Two tablespoons of Chipotle Paste
2 Balls of Mozzarella
Handful of grated cheddar
Grate 100g of Chilli Cheese and add into a mixing bowl with 2 jars of Cheese Dip. Put aside until later.
Finely chop the onions, garlic and tomatoes, then thinly slice the button mushrooms. Then put to one side.
In a large frying pan cook the beef and pork combo until brown, place in Colander, boil a kettle of water and pour over the cooked mince and allow to drain.
Leave some of the excess juices in the pan and add a Tablespoon of Chipotle Paste, then the add the chopped and sliced vegetables.
Once browned and softened add tinned tomatoes, passata along with the remaining tablespoon of Chipotle Sauce then mix well. Finally add the cooked mince to the mix and stir.
Spray some Fry Light in a large Lasagne Dish (this makes the dish easier to wash clean later) and apply the bottom layer of Ragu sauce.
Cover this with a blanket of Doritos and cover with a layer of the pre-prepared cheese mixture.
Add another layer of Doritos, then another layer of Ragu.
Add the remaining Doritos to the top layer.
Slice Mozzarella and cover the top level of Doritos, don’t worry if its not covered, Mozzarella has a low melting point and will do the job for you. Finally, sprinkle the grated cheddar over the top.
Place into a preheated oven at 180oC for 20 minutes
Once cooked, allow to cool for 10 minutes, this will make it easier to serve.
I hope I find you all well out there. Id like to take this opportunity to extend my appreciation for everyone who has read, liked, and followed this blog. It means a lot to me and gives me the confidence to move my project forward.
I was employed by the NHS in Wales. Its an organisation that I would defend with my dying breath and the closest thing to a religion I hold to be venerated. Every single Colleague (at least that I met) goes to work not for a life of leisure and a pirates treasure but to provide a service that works every minute of every day to provide care from cradle to the grave. I think that in this country is taken for granted and every single Citizen of Britain should be very vigilant when opportunist politicians look to use it as a cash cow. To all my ex-colleagues, I doff my hat to you and will support you in every way I can.
I used to do a lot of running; it was something I enjoyed. The luxury of popping my headphones in, listening to music and being in my own world. Little did I know that a congenital issue with my knee would years later, leave me barely able to walk. Along the way, GP’s would call the ailment different things from “you’re just getting older” to arthritis. This reached a gruelling crescendo in February of 2019 when extreme pain left me unable to walk and in a wheelchair. After nearly a year of rehab I can now get around with the aid of a walking stick, but the jarring and continuous pain continues.
It has taken me a while to come to terms with my being obsolete to the system. However, rather than fight against it, I’ve decided to embrace it. Like most employers, mine decided to see me as a disposable drone rather than utilising and developing my skills. Now, I can develop myself. I hold a passion for cooking and over the years I have become besties with poverty, robbing Peter to pay Paul and doing my best to provide under increasingly difficult circumstances. I want to use my skills to ease the burden for people on low incomes and those looking to tighten their economic belts that want to be able to put something tasty, healthy (most of the time) and desirable on the table at minimum cost. I’m passionate about helping people and now I can do what my Counsellor refers to as “aligning my core values” with what I do in life.
I hope you try the recipes, or at least salivate over them. A fair proportion have been handed down to me to various matriarchs of my family, some I’ve adapted from concoctions I’ve found along the way and I’m even starting to get requests, which I’m more than happy to oblige. Please like and share these posts to Social Media, soon with my daughters help, I will have my YouTube channel up and running to share my wares online.
This Plant based spin on a Mexican Classic ticks all the boxes of its traditional counterpart but without leaving you with the heaviness that you get from eating the meaty equivalent, not to mention its packed with vitamins important to keep you healthy.
Although I served this with a mixed leaf and tomato salad (to keep my wife and eldest daughter happy), I personally prefer serving it with some Nachos, Salsa and Refried Beans.
1Kg of Sweet Potatoes
4 Tablespoons of pickled Jalapeno peppers
1 Brown Onion
4-5 Small Sweet Peppers
A big handful of Coriander / Cilantro
1 Tablespoon of Plant-Based butter
6 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
With a fork, repeatedly prick the sweet potatoes and either Microwave for 10 minutes OR oven bake for an hour.
Finely chop up the Jalapeno, Sweet Pepper, Onion and Coriander and fry in some Olive Oil until soft.
Once the Sweet Potatoes are ready, scoop out the soft flesh into a mixing bowl and mash with your Vegan Butter until smooth.
Mix in your chopped ingredients, add the juice of the lemon, and stir until the mixture is evenly dispersed and put to one side.
Get the Tortilla and brush with olive oil.
Add to a hot pan to toast on one side. This should only take about 30 seconds or so.
Transfer your toasted Tortilla to a plate and while hot, apply your sweet potato mixture to half of the tortilla.
Fold and gently press the toasted Tortilla until its sets in a semi-circle shape.
Repeat the process with other Tortillas and serve with either a lovely fresh salad or some refried beans, nachos and salsa.
This hearty dish is a firm favourite in our house, I am not usually a fan of cooking with alcohol and the White Wine can be left out if needs be, however, for the cooking aroma alone I would leave it in. No need to buy anything expensive either, it is the vital ingredient here. Also, the Crème Fresh adds a tang to the dish, if you are not a fan of this, try double cream as an alternative or a Plant Based Alternative to make this dish Vegan. My personal preference is my recipe below, however, the fun of cooking is tweaking things here and there to maximise the experience and make it your own.
250g of Chestnut Mushrooms
250g of Regular White Mushrooms
1 Large Brown Onion
A healthy pinch of Cayenne Pepper
1 teaspoon of Paprika (smoked is fine)
2 / 3 cloves of garlic (dependant on size)
3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
2 Teaspoons of Dijon Mustard
1 vegetable stock cube dissolved in 200Ml of hot water.
200Ml of Crème Fraiche
A handful of Parsley
150Ml of cheap white wine (Optional)
Finely chop the onion & garlic
Add 1 tablespoon of Olive Oil to the pan and heat, then add the chopped onion & garlic.
Fry for about 5 minutes or until the onions become soft
Add the Cayenne Pepper and Paprika then mix well.
Move your onion mixture to a bowl and allow to stand while you prepare the mushrooms.
Finely chop both types of mushrooms, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan and introduce your mushrooms to the hot oil and fry on a high heat until they’re brown and softened.
Return your onion and garlic mixture to the pan and stir in the wine if its being used then reduce the heat and allow to simmer.
Prepare the rice as instructed by the packet. Personally, I prefer to weigh out the rice, pop it in a sieve and run under cold water for a few minutes. This removes the starch from it and the rice is far less likely to turn into a sticky, starchy goop. Then add to some boiled water and follow the instructions on the packet.
While the Rice cooks, go back to the Stroganoff and stir in the Dijon mustard and the 200Ml of vegetable stock. Allow this a few minutes to reduce for a few minutes and then add the Crème Fraiche, lemon juice and some chopped parsley, saving some whole leaf parsley for a garnish.
Once the rice is ready, drain and create a bed in a bowl, then add a good splodge of your creation, use the left-over parsley to make it look posh.
Congratulations! You have just made Mushroom Stroganoff, serve, enjoy, and revel in the fact your kitchen smells amazing.
All I can say is I’m better at cooking than I am with WordPress. I’ve spent all morning trying to get my website the way I want it. I don’t think its too much to ask for to have a lovely, simplified set up where I can separately publish a blog and recipes of varying ilk.
What is compounding matters is the man-flu I seem to have contracted from my 2nd Astra Zeneca vaccine I had yesterday. I was lucky enough to survive Covid where so many friends and family didn’t so I’m happy to have the vaccine even with these side effects. That said, I know its temporary but every cell in my body is telling me to curl up on the sofa and watch a back-to-back episodes of Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
Its been a busy few days. Some of my equipment for the next phase of my project has arrived. Two backlit tripods, a portable hob and a new Crockery set has safely arrived. On Tuesday, I had an enjoyable time scouring the Charity Shops in the nearby town of Carmarthen. I come away with five cookery books one Vegan, two Curry books and two cake books. I’m currently experimenting with the recipes to see if I can add a personal twist on them and look forward to documenting them soon.
Arrabiata is Italian for “Angry Pasta” whilst “Ragu” translates to what the British know as Bolognese. Arrabiata is typically served as a basic sauce to accompany Penne Pasta. The flavour does give a heat which varies in the taste of whoever is cooking it. I’ve had Arrabiata that could easily dissolve my stomach lining however, like curries I prefer to taste the balance of flavours that the herbs and spices bring. This recipe gives a comfortable warmth without melting your eyes and flaying your nostril hair.
250g Minced Beef
1 Tin of Chopped Tomatoes
1 x 500g Carton of Passata
2 Chilli Peppers
1 Large Courgette
1 x 300ml container of Passata
A handful of Basil
1 Large Onion
3 Cloves of Garlic
Pasta (Ideally Linguine but regular dried Spaghetti will do the job)
Top and Tail your onion, followed by finely chopping it.
De-skin the Garlic and finely chop.
Finely chop the Chilli’s (Personally, I prefer to take the seeds out as they give the most heat, I have a preference of flavour over a trial of manhood)
Chop up your tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, some of the basil and courgette (Again, as a personal preference, I like my veg chunky and substantial, however, if you are catering for picky eaters, chopping them finely will allow you to sneak some extra vitamins into someone’s day, even if they are 18 and claim to be a worldly wise adult)
Add a little oil to your frying pan and fry the minced / ground beef. Once cooked transfer to a colander. Boil a full kettle of water and rinse the excess fat off cooked beef and leave to drain. Wipe out most of the fat from the pan, leaving some for the next step.
Take a tablespoon of the prepared garlic, chilli and onion and add to the pan, mix with the remaining fat and add a splash of Olive Oil for a base.
Now add your chopped and sliced vegetables and cook over a medium heat giving them about 5 minutes to absorb the base sauce.
Add a tin of chopped tomatoes and a carton of passata and stir until the veg in evenly distributed among the sauce.
Now add your now, reduced fat and cholesterol beef, stir, cover, and simmer.
Boil a kettle full of water and add to a pan with some salt. Grab a sturdy handful of dried spaghetti, twist the pasta, place in the water and release so it fans out. As the Pasta softens it will slip into the pan, cooking properly without needing to break it.
Simmer for 10 minutes. Drain pasta in the colander and drizzle a glug of olive oil over it and some black pepper. Shake in the colander and serve. Adding a healthy dollop of sauce on top and garnish with a few basil leaves.