There’s nothing nicer on a stormy and very wet Summer’s day than a lovely slice of Bara Brith, smothered with butter and lovely cup of tea. But - which is the true Bara Brith? Is there a gold standard? The journey continues.Read More
82 years ago today, my mother was standing on top of Snowdon with her little brother and, according to a postcard she sent home from the summit, she couldn’t see for mist - much the same as today. The more things change, the more things stay the same.Read More
It’s estimated that there are 245,000 empty homes in Ireland, many on so called ‘Ghost Estates,’ built at a time of rapid economic growth. That surge came to an abrupt end in the financial crash of 2008. Some have suggested bulldozing them all away.Read More
Come the end of May, the kitchen was a hive of industry, mainly with us kids making Elderflower Champagne, much to our mother’s despair. What a mess. But the end result, flagons of beautifully fizzy fruity drink was always worth the chaos.Read More
This is a deliciously moist light fruit cake which seldom lasted long out of the oven, mainly because as kids we'd stand in line waiting for it to come out of the AGA, and then polish it off with a glass of full cream milk. It is best eaten while still warm. We also called it Drawer cake, but that's not the proper translation, and anyhow there seem to be so many different translations and recipes for it - Moist, Slab etc. But the name doesn't really matter does it if it tastes fantastic. We'll probably include some of the variants in the final cook book. This recipe unusually calls for some glacé cherries to be hurled into the mix.
12oz/375g Self Raising Flour
8oz/240g Mixed Dried Fruit
A handful of Glace Cherries
2 Eggs from Welsh hens
Pinch of Ginger
Pinch of Nutmeg
Rub the margarine into the flour. Add the fruit, chopped glacé cherries and sugar. Beat the eggs into the milk and add to the mixture. Sprinkle in the nutmeg and ginger and mix well. The mixture should drop off the spoon easily. Pour into a shallow tin, and bake in a low oven (250F or 130C). You'll need to watch it to make sure it doesn't burn on the top. Remove from the oven and consume instantly! (Although take care if it's very hot)
It's lovely with a glass of creamy milk, or perhaps some Barley Wine. One alternative is to steep the fruit in Barley Wine (and a teabag) to soak up the flavour. But this is naughty.
Just a few miles south of the centre of Prague is one of the largest film studios in Europe. With an 80 year history and 2500 Czech films under its belt, it largely goes unvisited by the millions of tourists each year visiting the Czech capital.Read More
Some say the Victorian’s invented everything we know as traditional today. In this case, the Snowdon Steam Pudding was invented by a lady called Alice Corbett in 1877. Pwdin Eryri, or Snowdon Pudding, is usually served with a sweet red wine syrup, and is similar to many steamed suet puddings that emerged at the time. It was famously served at the Victoria Hotel in Llanberis at the foot of Snowdon as a reward for walkers and climbers returning after ascending to the top.Read More
The Victoria Sandwich is the work horse of the cake world, but quite apart from that it’s a pleasurable cake both to make and eat. Each stage is basic, with opportunities for a clandestine nibble of the mixture, icing or topping, or finished cake.Read More
Just the most amazing chocolate fudge recipe ever. Scribbled on the back of an old calendar for Wednesday, December 30th. But haven’t a clue which year. It’s quick to make and the results are fabulous.Read More
There’s a lot of debate about the origin of this dish. It’s part of the cooks armoury here in North Wales – good solid everyday fare for farmers and quarry workers. The first mention of the term dates back to 1706 when it turned up in a dictionary. Some say it was brought to Liverpool by Baltic sailors – in Latvian ‘Labs Kauss’ means ‘a good ladle-ful!.’Read More
Like Bara Brith, there are probably as many versions of Welsh Cakes as there are sheep on the mountain – and that’s a lot! Of course we think this is the best. Certainly they don’t hang around once they’ve been made. Remember to make enough to share! Once you have mastered this recipe you’ll never eat a factory made Welsh Cake again.
1lb Self Raising Flour
8 oz Butter (unsalted)
5 oz Sugar
3 Oz Currants
A little water if needed
Cream the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl for three to four minutes. Add the egg and currants and mix well. Slowly add the flour until the mix feels like a soft paste. Cut the mix in half – flour a board – and roll very thinly. Cut with a scone cutter. Then do the same with the second half. You should get about 25 thin slices from the mix. Ideally, use a griddle, but you can bake the cakes in a non stick frying pan. Cook for thirty seconds each side. That’s enough time, the mixture continues to cook after removed from the heat so it’s really easy to overcook them. Leave on a baking tray to cool down afterwards for about half an hour.
Only do two or three at a time. As you lay the third cake, the first will need to be turned, cooking each side for thirty seconds.Do not eat hot from the pan as they will crumble in your hands.The batch should keep up to 2 to 3 weeks.
Serve with what you fancy – try jam and cream as we do in the Café.
There’s a pleasing regularity to my days in Corfu. Rise with the sun as it peeps over the mountains of Albania. Go for a run by the sea. Light breakfast of bread and Greek honey. Write my required word count. Walk - eat Gyros - beer - walk. Back for the sunset. Glass of rough Greek wine while listening to the cicadas in the olive strees, the dogs barking, and random confused birds.Read More
Albania is high on the list of places that I want to go to. But it never quite happens. From my balcony in Astrakeri on Corfu, the high mountains of Albania form an impressive panorama. It’s like it’s taunting me.Read More
Little moments that stick in the memory in my final days in Beijing. Walking north towards the subway late on a Tuesday evening, after a day wandering around central Beijing.Read More
Mindfulness comes in handy when you are lost in a foreign city, at 2am in the morning, having left your phone and wallet in a bar - somewhere. By rights I should have been arrested, and that would have helped, but no one seemed the slightest bit interested.Read More
Knights of the Round Table? Or Charlie’s Angels? Striking a pose before broadcast of Round Table on China Radio International - today’s team - myself, Niu Honglin and Ryan Price.Read More