dissabte, de gener 29, 2005

A semi-traditional Welsh meal (English / Welsh)

What, four whole days without writing a real blog? Well, since Tuesday it's been hectic, I've been a bit tired, and very little of interest has transpired, until last night.

Last night I had five friends over to the house for an old fashioned Welsh meal, well, most of it was old fashioned. I last blogged about St. Dwynwen's day on Tuesday. Wednesday was a quiet day, and then came Thursday. I got done at the college in the mid-afternoon and then went to the PriceChopper "Marketplace" in Niskayuna, the "new" PriceChopper that pretends it's trying to be a Wegmans. Wegmans it's not, but you can get things in that particulat PC that you can't find elsewhere, and I had a long list. See, you just can't go to the supermarket and buy ready made Welsh meals, essentially everything, even most of the components, need to made from scratch. An additional challenge in planning this meal was that it was more or less in honor of two of the guests, a colleague of mine Laurie, and her husband Jim, both of whom are vegetarians. The choice of a Welsh meal was due to the fact that Jim, like me, has Welsh ancetry, and he a few years ago when we had our Welsh course at the college, he took it.

Hence my daunting task, to find a traditional Welsh meal that was also vegetarian. I managed, but it wasn't easy. I finally settled on salad (international after all), sides of Selsig Morgannwg - Glamourgan Sausage and Bara Brith - speckled bred. For the main course I prepared a Tarten Winwns Sticlyd a Chaws - a "sticky" onion and cheese pie, and for dessert, Pwdin Efa - Eve's pudding. As an opening cocktail, I prepared Coctels y Ddraig Goch. Following is a brief description of each dish.

Selsig Morgannwg - Glamourgan Sausage: These are not sausages at all, but a kind of "Welsh eggroll," composed of breadcrumbs, milk, egg, feta or Caerphilly cheese, fresh parsley, thyme, ground mustard, coriander, salt, pepper and chopped leek. You mix up all that ingredients and roll them up into sausage shapes, coating them in flour and chilling them for a while before you fry them. Just before you fry them up, you roll them in egg and breadcrumpes to give them a cruncy outside and a soft, very sausage-like inside.

Bara Brith - Speckled Bread: Real, traditional bara brith is not really a bread at all, but more of dried fruit loaf. It's very hearty and heavy. I used an old fashioned recipe with which I began actually on Thursday night. You have to soak the currants and raisins in tea and whisky liquer over night, and it's the juice from this kind of "marinade" that actually binds the flour, you use no milk it the recipe at all. The result is a thick, heart, mildly sweet loaf. It went well with the fairly salty selsig and tarten. Besides the fruit and flour, you also add eggs, sugar and allspice.

Tarten Winwns Sticlyd a Chaws - Sticky Onion and Cheese Pie: this sounds like it would be disgusting at first glance (and no, it does not sound more appetizing at first in Welsh either), and this item in particular was the grand experiment for the evening as I had never tried it before, never mind made it. Luckily, it came out well, and tasted really good! First you take red onions and slice them thickly, about an inch thick, and then you simmer them in a combination of butter, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar and fresh garlic. When they're cooked through, you put them in a pie shell and bake them covered for 25 minutes. Then you take them out and you heap a full pound of gouda on top and bake it some more until the cheese turns a golden brown. The result was really quite pleasant. The onions are no longer tough or stringent, but soft and fairly sweet.

Pwdin Efa - Eve's Pudding: also called pwdin afalau, apple pudding, this is a traditional "British" style pudding which is not what we in the States would ever consider pudding. Basically you just layer some stewed apples in a pie tin and then make a sort of crème brûlée batter and pour it over the apples; you bake it a while till the batter turns golden brown, and voilà, Pwdin Efa.

Coctels y Ddraig Goch - Red Dragon Cocktails: served in martini glasses and named for the red dragon that has emblazened the Welsh flag and symbolized that Welsh people for 1500 years, these are very tasty modern day cocktails. Of course cocktails are not an old part of Welsh tradition, but Welsh culture is not a museum exhibit... these cocktails contain vodka, gin, Cointreau, grenadine, cranberry juice, orange juice and a little bit of lime juice. The result is a drink with the equivalent of two full shots of alcohol without tasting anything like alcohol, a beguilingly dangerous drink ;) It puts a whole new spin on the old Welsh motto Y Ddraig Goch ddyry cychwyn - The Red Dragon leads the way!

At any rate, this meal was two days in the making. Thursday, as I mentioned, I was off to get the provisions, and later that evening I did all the prep-work I could. I got up at 5AM Friday morning to get the bara brith in the oven, and when I came home at 4, I had to make the rest of the food. It was worth it though. Besides Laurie and Jim, Jon and Kim were here (people whose acquaintance I had made in New Orleans - more on them and other synchronosities later), as well as Carolyn. Everyone enjoyed themselves, and while people had arrived at 6 for cocktails, no one left till around 11PM.

1 comentari:

Anònim ha dit...

What is the mixture for the Red Dragon cocktails?