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St Davids Day, welsh cakes and dragons

Today is St Davids Day. It’s a chance to celebrate all things welsh, daffodils, leeks, dragons and Leigh Halfpenny. Although after Wales performance against Scotland on saturday perhaps we won’t dwell on Leigh Halfpenny.

St David is the patron saint of Wales he had a penchant for miracles (These included curing blindness and raising mountains from the ground) and hard work. which led to his own monks attempting to poison him is protest.

Welsh regiments British Army traditionally eat raw leeks on St Davids Day. I think that sounds most unpleasant and will stick to sauting mine with cream and serving them with a portion of delicious Hake and hand cut chips.

The proud and ancient battle standard of the Welsh is The Red Dragon (Y Ddraig Goch) and consists of a red dragon, passant (standing with one foot raised), on a green and white background. It was used by Henry VII at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, after which it was carried in state to St Paul’s Cathedral. The red dragon was then included as a supporter of the Tudor royal arms to signify their Welsh descent. It was officially recognised as the Welsh national flag in 1959.

Charlie has been working hard in the kitchen producing a mini mountain (much like the one raised by St David) of Welsh cakes. This little mouthful of deliciousness are lovely served warm with just a sprinkle of sugar.

Ingredients

  • 225g plain flour
  • 85g caster sugar
  • ½ tsp mixed spice
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 50g butter, cut into small pieces
  • 50g lard, cut into small pieces, plus extra for frying
  • 50g currant
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • splash milk

Method

  1. Tip the flour, sugar, mixed spice, baking powder and a pinch of salt into a bowl. Then, with your fingers, rub in the butter and lard until crumbly. Mix in the currants. Work the egg into the mixture until you have soft dough, adding a splash of milk if it seems a little dry – it should be the same consistency as shortcrust pastry.
  2. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface to the thickness of your little finger. Cut out rounds using a 6cm cutter, re-rolling any trimmings. Grease a flat griddle pan or heavy frying pan with lard, and place over a medium heat. Cook the Welsh cakes in batches, for about 3 mins each side, until golden brown, crisp and cooked through. Delicious served warm with butter and jam, or simply sprinkled with caster sugar. Cakes will stay fresh in a tin for 1 week.

Adventures in making marmalade a triumph of teamwork

The season for Seville Oranges is short, it runs from the end of December to Mid February. Realising time was running out Jenny ordered a box from our green grocer Simon last week. He queried whether she really wanted a whole box “that’s a lot of oranges” but Jenny knows what she wants. Our sister Kim came down for a weekend visit. Jenny decided this would be a nice sister bonding activity for the two of them. The plan being to make the Marmalade in our kitchen the wander down to Cantina later for a spot of Sunday lunch and to enjoy the music. Things did not quite go to plan.

When I arrive home 8 hours later they had just finished juicing and zesting the oranges. It turned out that Simon was correct. A whole box is a lot of oranges. Kim was tasked with the juicing, she started out with a little wooden hand juicer (apparently it’s called a reamer, who knew!). These are fine if you are after the juice of one lime for a mojito but less effective when you have a whole box of oranges to juice. Out of the corner of her eye she spotted on top of our bookcase an old metal juice press. Kate had found it at Totnes tip years ago and picked it up for £1.

Jenn peeled and zested the oranges using nothing more than a kitchen knife. Yes that’s right, she took each orange and peeled it then sliced the pith free peel into fine shards. Each and every piece of orange zest in our marmalade was cut by hand. The oranges were then passed to Kim who juiced them one by one. And a mere 8 hours later (lunch missed, live music missed but much bonding achieved) they had a massive pan full of orange juice.

It was all boiled up in huge saucepans on the hob with water and the left over already juice orange remnants. I made the mistake of arriving home from work at this stage and offering to help. “Yes please, you can squeeze the oranges through muslin cloth to get all the juice out”. Ok I think, that sound like a nice mother earth, get your hands dirty kind of job. Not only did I get my hand dirty but by the end of the process I was covered head to foot in bits of orange. And I managed to burn myself repeatedly, it hadn’t occurred to me that recently boiled oranges would be quite so hot.

So now we have 30+ litres of orangey liquid. At this stage Jenn dug out her recipe again and started to do the maths to work out how much sugar was required. If you, like so many others have joined in the anti-sugar movements then this might be a good time to look away. She needed 25kg of sugar for her recipe, she had almost 15kg, then she emptied our cupboards and found another 5kg so when Barry got home from work she sent him out to the shops for another 5kgs. If you are wondering why so much sugar is needed I suggest you taste the juice of a Seville orange. It is tart and bitter and really not very nice.

We all made the mistake of thinking that the hard work was over at this stage. The jam jars had been sterilised, our “marmalade” was bubbling away on the hob. We sat down with a glass of wine each to wait for it to get to setting stage so that we could decant it. Little did we know that the setting stage would not be reached for some time. When I say some time I actually mean days. Yep days.

Due to a technical error – not boiling for long enough (possibly something to do with the glass of wine) and insufficient pectin (the setting agent) – the marmalade did not set.

The following day, Kate joined the marmalade team, she added extra sugar and boiled it up again. Still it didn’t set. It would not be an exaggeration to say that it took 3 more attempts before the blasted stuff, go to the right consistency and turned itself into proper marmalade.

And quite splendid marmalade it is, delicious, fragrants and a gorgeous colour. I defy anyone to show me marmalade with a more perfect orangey shred. 40ltrs of the delicious stuff is now gracing our pantry. Hopefully you’ll love it……….On your toast, coating your gammon at Sunday lunch, gracing a cake with your afternoon tea, dressing a salad and even in a gorgeous breakfast martini.

Note – if you are a shred free marmalade lover I would suggest it would be wise not to mention this to Jenny.

We used a Riverford Farm recipe https://www.riverford.co.uk/recipes/view/recipe/seville-orange-marmalade

Introducing the famous Brixham Squid

 

Our local seafood hero is the Brixham Squid. It’s actually cuttlefish which is bountiful at this time of year and landed in huge quantities in Brixham.

At present the majority is exported to Asia. It’s really delicious and we plan to include it regularly on our menu.

Credit for the amazing design goes to Flossie and Jim.

 

I found the following recipe from the BBC food website

Preparing cuttlefish can be a messy business. However, once that’s out of the way this is a very easy recipe. It makes the most of this often overlooked seafood.

Ingredients

Method

  1. Firstly clean the cuttlefish and remove the cuttle bone and tentacles. Trim the tentacles and set aside. Remove the black ink sack and the skin and reserve.

  2. Then add a little oil to a hot pan and gently fry the onions, chilli and sage. Add the reserved skin of the cuttlefish and the wine. Simmer until the volume of liquid is reduced by half. Take out the skin and set aside.

  3. Once you have done this cut the cuttlefish into very fine strips (julienne) and add to the sauce.

  4. Next add a tablespoon of ink to the sauce, stir and add a little more, if necessary, until you are happy with the colour and flavour. Cook for an hour over a low heat.

  5. In the meantime, bring 1.25 litres/2 pints water to the boil, add the olive oil and polenta and cook until soft. Take the sauce off the heat and add the chopped parsley, bergamot juice and zest.

  6. Finally to serve, spoon the polenta in the centre of serving plates and top with the cuttlefish. Dot some sauce around the plate and garnish with the chopped red chilli, lemon zest and the flesh from the bergamot.

Food Trends for 2017

Food trends for 2017

Poke – this is an Hawaiian fish salad, it’ll fit perfectly with our fishy orientated summer menu. I have offered to pop over to Hawaii to research this thoroughly.

Vegan food – we have notice vegan food growing in popularity over the past 12 months and it looks as if this is set to continue. We always have a vegan pizza on our menu, we often have a vegan pasta and salad too. If you have any specific requirements have a chat with one of our staff and we will do our absolute best to accommodate you. Oh I almost forgot pudding, we have 3 flavours of vegan ice cream and at least one of our cakes is always vegan so no need for anyone to miss out.

Cauliflower – there’s a lot more to cauliflower than cauliflower cheese, it a blank canvas and makes a great alternative to rice or mashed instead of potatos. Roasted cauliflower with indian spices is just delicious and even die hard meat eater won’t feel short changes when presented with this as an option.

Plckling, fermenting and gardening – We love pickles as an accompaniment to our salads but we’ll be experimenting with bringing them to the forefront, pickled fennel and radishes are quite mouth watering. Pickled gerkins elevate our toasted brisket sandwiches to a new level. We have some wonderful pickled cherries which’ll be making an appearance on our specials board someday soon.

Yogurts – We love yogurt and it makes frequent appearances on our breakfast menu. We have served it with pancakes, waffles and French toast and topped granola with it. But it’s not just for breakfast, it’s often a dressing on our Sunday lunch menu, dressing slow cooked lamb with pomegranate molasses and pomegranate seeds. On our middle eastern night it was both a side dish to the tagines mixed with mint and cucumber and an accompaniment to our lemon almond cake when mixed with honey.

Alternative proteins – from main course alternatives such as tofu, to snack foods like roasted chickpeas our proteins are a make over. We’ll be looking to include these options in our menu over the next 12 months. I am not sure that we’re quite ready to embrace the trend for using insects in our cooking but watch this space…….
Minimising food waste – we are actively involved with the Real Junk Food Project which is looking to set up a group in Torbay which will seek to divert food waste from supermarkets and other sources and turn it into delicious meals which will be served at pay what you like pop ups around the area.

Reducing sugar in our food – this is one we are really struggling with, we love our cakes and syrup in our coffee and giving this up is really tricky. We believe that a little bit of what you like does you good but we read about food a lot and will keep a keen eye on developments in this area.

Burns Night

Burns night

25th January sees Scots all over the world celebrating the birthday of Robbie Burns. We celebrated a few days late on 28th January and what a fantastic night it was. We fully embraced the traditional with our menu

 

Scottish smoked salmon and Scotch soda bread

Cullen Skink or Leek and Potato soup

Haggis with neeps and tatties

Cranachan or Whisky bread and butter pudding

Oatcakes and Scottish cheddar

Tablet

 

The fabulous Alan Henderson looked as amazing as ever in his full regalia. He piped in the Haggis, addressed the haggis and toasted the lassies in dramatic knife waving style.

Kate filled us all in on the life and times of Robbie Burns with her Immortal Memory.  He was a scoundrel who had a habit of falling with the ladies and getting their servants pregnant. He did it so often it’s a wonder he had time to write any poetry.

Once the formalities were out of the way the Lucy Lastic Band struck up and we danced and danced and danced. The very patient caller coped admirably with our many left feet, lack of space and poor attention spans. It was a wonderful sight to behold.

Between the sets of dancing Alan whipped out his pipes and we had some more tunes then we all sang Flower of Scotland, a rousing rendition with had us all ready to go into battle, or back to the dance floor.

We forgot to round the night off with Auld Lang Syne which is apparently not just for New Years Eve but for Burns Night too. We will be sure to rectify this situation next year.

 

Here are some very very badly filmed and poorly lit videos of the night

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2MQlM0bKEyk