Friday, 1 March 2013

Cawl Mam (Lamb stew)

Welsh Daffodils  - do not cook!
Cawl was real "comfort food" when I was growing up, and everyone's Mam had their own way of doing it!

These days I make cawl in the slow cooker, but my mother used to cook it in a big saucepan, over a low heat.  I don't measure exact quantities, either - this is easy to stretch by adding more vegetables.  And of course, you can leave out anything you don't like.

Diced Lamb - about 300- 350 grams( Stewing lamb is fine for this.  The flavour is great but it will be a bit fatty)
About 1.5kg (unprepared weight) -  of mixed vegetables -

Onion and/or leek

Lamb stock cube (Mam used neck of lamb on the bone.  This is not available these days so the stock cube helps boost the flavour)
Salt - to taste.(Mam used quite a bit and I find the cawl doesn't taste right without it, even though I don't habitually use it in cooking!

Brown the lamb in a frying pan then transfer to slow cooker.  Dissolve the stock cube in water, pour over the lamb.  Slow-cook on high for about an hour.  If you're cooking in a saucepan, bring the stock to the boil and then reduce heat to low for about half an hour.
Prepare the vegetables by peeling and chopping into "bite sized" pieces.  (Slice the onions/leeks).   Add to the lamb, then cover with hot water.

Then leave it to cook!  When the vegetables are cooked, it's done.  Taste and add salt if required.  Serve with chunks of fresh bread. 

  If you're using a slow cooker, you can leave it on high until it's done (2-3 hours)  and then turn the heat down to low.  If you're going to be out all day you can leave it on low.  If you're using a saucepan you will need to keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn't boil. 

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Custard slices

1 sheet of thawed puff pastry, cut in half
1/2  cup sugar
1/2 cup custard powder
2 cups milk
1 teaspoons vanilla


1 Place piece greaseproof paper onto a flat biscuit tray. Put puff pastry on tray and pierce all over with a fork, but don't go all the way through pastry.
2 Put in oven  (200°C) until puffed up and golden.
3 Let cool for a few minutes and gently pat pastry down so it's flat. Take it off baking tray and remove paper.
4 Put pastry into a square dish (6-7 inch) that has been greased and lined with greaseproof paper.
If pastry too big trim the sides a little. It should be a snug fit.
5  Set pastry to one side until custard is done.
6 For the custard, put the sugar, milk and custard powder into a large saucepan and mix together with a wire whisk.
7 Add the vanilla and mix to combine well.
8 Put saucepan on stovetop and heat on medium high until mixture begins to thicken, then immediately lower the heat until mixture is very thick and hard to stir.
9 Pour into prepared dish.
10 Smooth top so it's even and put 2nd pastry sheet on top.  Leave to cool.
11 Melt about 1 tablespoon of butter with 1 teaspoon boiling water. Then add icing sugar,and a bit of water or lemon juice until it's the right consistency and amount-not  too runny.
12 Pour the icing on top and put in fridge for a few hours or overnight.
13 Cut into squares and enjoy!

I have been told to use only Bird's custard powder, however I've never used any other kind so I can't say if it works with other brands.  The slower the custard is cooked the better - keep stirring well.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Handy hint - to unclog a plastic spritz (mister) bottle

Before you throw the whole shooting match out, try dismantling the spray assembly and soaking the parts in vinegar overnight.  Then wipe off the gunge from the nozzle and try spraying water through it. 

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Boiled Fruit Cake

1lb (or 500g) mixed dried fruit

1 cup water (or cold tea)

1 cup sugar

4 oz butter or margarine

2 eggs, beaten

2 cups self-raising flour

1 tsp mixed spice (optional)

1 tsp cinnamon (optional)

2 oz chopped nuts (optional)

4 oz chopped glace cherries (optional)


(note – this is a very easy recipe to vary.  Add more or less spices, candied peel, glace ginger – whatever appeals.  You can also add a couple of tablespoons of rum or brandy if you are making this for a special occasion)


Do this part as far in advance as you can – at least an hour.

  • Place the fruit, water, sugar and margarine into a large saucepan.
  • Heat over a medium heat until the margarine is melted. 
  • Leave to cool (so that the fruit can absorb as much liquid as possible)

Once cool, add the booze (if being used) then

  • Heat your oven to gas mark 4, 1900C, 375oF
  • Stir in the beaten eggs, flour and any of the optional ingredients you may be using.
  • Mix well
  • Pour mixture into a prepared (greased/lined) tin. 8” round or a loaf tin.
  • Bake for 90 minutes (check after an hour) until done (when a knife comes out clean).

If the cake is getting dark on top but is still not done, cover the top with some kitchen foil.

When done, allow to cool in tin for 10-15 minutes before turning out.  Store in airtight container once cold.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Ginger Cake

225 g self-raising flour
100g soft brown sugar

½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 dessertspoon ground ginger

½ tsp ground cinnamon

¼ pt milk

4 oz butter

4 tablespoons black treacle

2 eggs

Pre heat oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4.

Grease and line a 20cm (8inch) round deep cake tin

Mix all the dry ingredients together and pass through a sieve into a pudding basin.

In a saucepan, heat the milk, butter and treacle until they are all melted and combined.

Beat the eggs into the dry ingredients until thoroughly mixed, then beat in the treacle mixture.

Spoon into tin and bake for about 45 minutes, or until the top springs back when pressed.

Cool in tin 10 minutes. Store in an airtight container to encourage moisture.

Note – the recipe specifies butter but as the cake is strongly-flavoured baking margarine (not soft spread!) works just as well.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Orange Cake

8 oz plain flour

¼ tsp salt

3 oz margarine

1 dessertsp orange peel (Grated or peeled in fine strips -be careful not to get any of the white pith on the peel – it is very bitter)

3 oz caster sugar

1 ½ tsp baking powder

1 egg

1 dessertsp orange juice with milk (about ¼ - 3/8 pint in total)

Grease & line a 6" loaf tin. Set the oven at 190 C, Gas 5

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt.

Add the sugar and orange peel.

Mix in the egg, orange juice and about ½ of the milk. Stir mixture, adding more milk a spoonful at a time to obtain a dropping consistency (until a small amount of the mixture will fall from the spoon if gently shaken). Pour into tin and bake until risen, brown and springy – about 45 minutes to an hour.

Peanut Butter Cookies

These are yummy!

½ cup butter (softened)

½ cup peanut butter

½ cup brown sugar or honey

½ tsp vanilla

1 egg

1 tsp baking powder

1 cup flour

½ cup dried milk powder


Cream the butter, peanut butter and sugar. Add the egg and vanilla. Stir in the sifted flour, baking powder and milk powder. Drop the mixture from a teaspoon onto greased and lined baking sheet and flatten with a fork (or the bottom of a glass, lightly greased)

Bake in a moderate oven, 180C, gas 4, 8-10 minutes