So the clocks have changed and we’re plunged into darkness for another year, still, plenty of swedes and parsnips to look forward to.
HAPPY WINTER EVERYONEXXXXXXXX
So the clocks have changed and we’re plunged into darkness for another year, still, plenty of swedes and parsnips to look forward to.
HAPPY WINTER EVERYONEXXXXXXXX
I did. Two days ago I climbed the second highest mountain in Britain, Snowdown, which is just behind our house. I climbed it in record time (for me) fueled only by a beetroot, carrot, apple and ginger juice. Wahee! Juice power.
As many of you will know, the Beach House is tucked away in the valleys of Wales, overlooking Anglesey and the Llyn Peninsula. We have the most spectacular views and on days like today, when the skies are clear, I can see some of my favourite landscape anywhere.
Britian is experiencing a heat wave at the moment and we are getting some of it, with temperatures in the mid 20′s for the past two weeks. The garden is loving it (post to come soon) and our veg patch is looking amazing.
RAW EARTH MONTH UPDATE
The weather has come at the perfect time for our Raw Earth Month and it is definitely salad and smoothie weather at the moment. The only down side to a proper British summertime is that I get chronic hayfever, which is a huge drag. We have consulted Jane’s homeopathic/ magician friend and she is sending up some remedies as we speak, hopefully this will stop my sniffles.
We are going to extend our Raw Earth month by two weeks, we are loving it! The candle light at nights is perfect as it doesn’t get dark until 10ish anyway. It adds a very peaceful feel to the house and there is something timeless about reading by flickering candlelight. Handwashing our clothes has been interesting. It takes a while and a little effort, but with the sun out and a special herbal soap, we are getting great results.
We have been making once a week trips in the car to pick up our amazing veg box from some wonderful people a couple of valleys away, full of the finest organic produce and the courgettes are coming thick and fast at the moment!
One thing we are using alot is the dehydrator. Jane is taking full advantage of the abundant herbs and wildflowers at the moment and we are drying them for use in teas and infusions. We realise that it uses a bit of electricity, but know that we will have to buy less in the long run. It seems to at least balance out.
We watched an interesting documentary recently ‘No Impact Man’ about a guy giving up many things in a one year project, in the centre of New York. We can draw alot of parallels with Colin and his family, but we are lucky to live in the country and have no TV anyway! We are well from many temptations up here on the hill, no restaurants, bakeries or cafes. No cinemas, shops, pubs! It would be alot more difficult to do this kind of thing in a city. Hats off to Colin and his family for sticking to it and setting an amazing example, his project became huge and was all over the media. I am sure it made a big impact and they seemed to be having a good time doing it, which is surely the main thing!
I think we’d do this all again, especially the raw food part. We are consuming alot less, recycling most of our water on the garden and generally life has slowed down. So far, the experiment is going well and the sun is shining. What more could you want!
What has this got to do with food you may ask? Very good question. I guess it highlights the fact that you don’t need a full English/ Welsh breakfast and 5 mars bars to go walking in the hills and that juices are super cool and full of energy.
I also realise that the weather is chilly in some parts of the world now (Tasmania especially I hear!) and it is surely nice to look at little wet Wales bathing in glorious sunshine for a change! Long may it continue…..
OK, heres something food related, todays smoothie. It’s a:
Green Banana, Coconut and Almond Smoothie
Makes one large jugful, enough for three glasses:
2 bananas, 2 cups coconut milk (watered down), 1 apple, 1 cup cucumber, 3 cups spinach, 1 cup soaked almonds, 2 teas green powder (barley powder, spirulina), 1 cup grapes, 1 lime (juice and zest)
In the blender and blend, scrape down the side, blend, scrape down the sides and blend…….repeat until all is smoooooth.
We Love It!
Very sweet and filling smoothie, packed full of nutrition. Anything green is great.
Spinach is regarded by many as the best thing you can eat. Ever. We agree. Not only does it taste so, so good, it contains more iron than beef, pound for pound.
A fine pie with influence from Jerusalem (via the Caernarfon Library) and our local hero’s; the mighty leek (a symbol of Wales-ness and great taste), our neighbour’s eggs and the humble spud. My friend Mandy also makes a pie not to dissimilar to this one, so its a tasty mix of all these things and more! Surely with all that input, this pie can only be amazing!
We have been getting a few leeks out of the garden, but these are proper Welsh farm leeks (the home of the mighty leek, spiritual at least). Great leeks are a good place to start most dishes, but especially pies. I like to put leeks centre stage, they deserve it and should not be wasted in a stock pot.
Legend would have it that St David (the patron saint of Wales) had the Welsh army wear leeks on their helmets to differentiate themselves from some pesky Saxon invaders. The impact of this fashion accessory stuck and it is still worn on March 1st, St Davids day.
“MR OTTOLENGHI I PRESUME”
Yotam Ottolenghi’s cooking style also makes an appearance here. He is a real food superstar, most things he touches come to life with flavour and texture. I popped down to Caernarfon Library and picked up a few books, one of them being Yotam’s ‘Jerusalem‘, a fascinating place and a fascinating book. Brilliantly written and photographed, the dishes seem intrinsic to the melting pot of Jerusalem, with its many cultures in one little place. I particularly liked the ‘Herb Pie‘ recipe and immediately went about corrupting it to suit my cupboards and fridge. This little pie popped up and we’re glad it did. It is full of YUM, gorgeous richness of cheese, herbs, sweet leeks and onion
I was half asleep at the shop yesterday and bought puff pastry instead of filo, I think filo would have been better, but the puff sufficed! I would like to think one day I will make my own puff pastry and my own filo pastry, I would also like to think one day I’ll play guitar like Neil Young and write poetry like T.S. Elliot. Stranger things have happened!!!!!
Mandy puts Goats Cheese in her ‘Leek and Walnut Pie’, but I prefer the tang of the feta here that stands up nicely to the other flavours and has the perfect crumbly texture for this filling.
Really get your leeks, onions, potatoes etc nice and golden and sweet, this will make a great contrast with the lemon, olive and feta. Expect a multi-cultural party in your mouth here!
You can really go crazy with the cheese here and Yotam put three cheeses into his pie (he seems to put three cheeses into alot of things). Obviously we are working on a different level to Yotam and felt that one was more than enough, with a couple of blobs of good creamy Greek yoghurt to add a creamier feel.
LITTLE TIP – LEEK CLEANING
I find the easiest way is to cut off the very tops of the green leaves and check for any dodgy looking wilted leaves. Then chop the leek, discarding the root end and loosing the hard outer leaves, you’ll be able to feel what I mean when you do it. Then place in standing cold water and give them a good wash. Sieve out and double check that no grit or dirt remains.
Cleaning and chopping a leek this way allows you to get the most out of the green bit, which is packed with flavour and all to often shown the bin.
MORE BEACH HOUSE FLAVOUR HERE:
This is the tastiest pie I’ve ever made, try it!
Makes one large pie, a dish approx. 8″ by 10″ or there abouts. Enough for four.
8 new potatoes (cut into small cubes), 2 large leeks, 1 red onion, 5 mushrooms (most varieties will be fine), 2 sticks celery, 2 handfuls spinach leaves, 10 pitted green olives, 3 large cloves garlic. All finely chopped.
75g fresh dill (1 1/2 teas dried dill), 75g fresh mint (1 1/2 teas dried mint), 2 free range eggs, 150g good Greek feta, 2 tbs thick creamy yoghurt, 1 lemon zest, 1 teas honey, sea salt and plenty of cracked black pepper
1 pack of puff pastry (one roll or however you buy it). 1 tbs oil (for brushing)
Get some colour on your potatoes, in a large frying pan, add 1 tbs of your cooking oil (your choice here!) and fry off your potatoes for 10 minutes, getting some nice golden brown tints. Set aside.
In the same pan, add 2 teas more oil and get your onions softened, 3 minutes cooking, then add your leeks, celery, mushrooms, garlic, cook for a further 3 minutes until all is getting soft.
Then add your olives, spinach and cooked potatoes and then all your filling bits. Stir in and warm through for 10 minutes on a low heat. Cover and cool, now sort the pastry.
Pre-heat fan oven to 180oC
Roll out your pastry sheet to fit your pie dish, we just used a pastry lid, but you may like to add a base. We are not huge fans of loads of pastry in a pie, the more filling the better!
Place your warm filling in the dish and spread evenly, then throw on your pie lid (delicately!) and brush the pie dish edges with oil. Now press down around the edges with gentle force, sealing the pie. I used my thumb, you may like to use a fork. Trim off any excess pastry and make three slices in the centre of the pastry to release cooking steam. Now give the pie a loving brush with some olive oil and pop in the oven for 20-25 minutes.
The pastry should be nicely golden and the pie filling steaming hot.
With a steamed green vegetables or a nice green leaf salad with a light, sweet dressing. The pie has a lovely lemon-ness that will go nicely with a honey/ sweet dressing. Its a heavy pie, flavour and texture, so keep the accompaniments light.
We Love It!
We really do you know. Love It! Especially this pie, which had us both ‘Mmmmming’ in unison at its sheer deliciousness and flavour combinations. Not your average pie and all the better for it.
Leeks are alliums, basically tall thin onions with a green head of leaves, they are used all over the world and don’t just feature in Welsh pies! Leeks contain many vital vitamins and allicin that actually reduces cholesterol, they also contain high levels of vitamin A.
We are just back in Wales, the home of the Beach House and arrived to a clear night and a million star welcome! Today has been fantastic, getting settled in again and unpacking the wine bought in France and Spain. We may need to build an extension to fit it all in!
After all the fussing about and sorting we decided to head to the hills, Knicht to be exact, a Himalayan looking mountain near Porthmadog. It is an impressive rocky peak and we knew we had a good day of scrambling and sharp climbs ahead. It turned out to be an awesome walk, with views of the Snowdon range and the Irish Sea. Knicht is surrounded by many small mountain lakes and we’ve made plans to return and camp up there soon. Jane and I are so lucky to live in such beautiful places. We are loving being back in Wales and of course a major part of that is the Beach House Kitchen.
We are getting re-acquainted with all of our cool kitchen stuff; spatulas, knives graters and Buster our semi-wild cat (who lives in the wood store). We’ve been cooking up a storm with oat breads, hummus, fruit salads and lashing of proper cups of tea. Amongst this frenzy came the idea for his stew.
We fancied a change of taste, we do eat alot of spiced food and have talked of visiting Italy for an age. We have also been eating far too much amazing cheese in France and quaffing the odd glass of vino, all in all, we feel a little jaded after two weeks or more on the road and this Ciambotta recipe heralds a step back to the food we really love; healthy, fresh, local and hearty.
This Ciambotta, I would imagine, is very un-Italian to most Italians. But it looks very Italian in Wales I can assure you! We’re a long way from Milan! The colours and citrus of the dish, not to mention the parmesan and hint of tarragon, make for an interesting take on the traditional Ciambotta; a dish normally cooked by Italian mommas to use up spare vegetables. There is nothing spare about these vegetable though, they are all in peak condition, as they should be. Jane has been searching high and low for good produce, it’s that time of year when all that seems good are the Jerusalem Artichokes (nothing wrong with that then!)
To make this recipe more Italian, substitute the parsnip and carrot for aubergine and courgette. But we’re back in the B.H.K and the local veg is brilliant. We’ve also missed our friend the parsnip, they are as rare as vegans is Spain!
We used Winter Greens here, they are like cabbage leaves. Kale, Savoy Cabbage and the like would also be grand. Even Spinach would be cool, anything dark green and leafy. The Greens work well because when rolled up and chopped thin, they actually resemble something like pasta (gluten-free wa-hay!)
Makes enough for four hungry folk.
3 cups cooked butter beans, 2 tbs good quality fruity olive oil, 1 large onion (finely sliced), 1 stick celery (finely sliced), 2 large carrots (small cubes), 2 parsnips (small cubes), 4 cloves garlic (finely sliced), 2 big handfuls of greens (whole leaves finely sliced), 1 big handful of cherry tomatoes, 1 lemon (juice and zest), 2 bay leaves, 1 heaped teaspoon of dried tarragon and oregano, 2 teaspoons dried basil, 2 cups butter bean stock (cooking juice), 2 tbs parmesan cheese.
Cook off your beans with a little salt for 1 hour (bring to a boil then simmer with a lid). They should be nice and tender. Set aside, this can be done well in advance, you can store them in the fridge for a couple of days.
On a medium heat, warm 1 tbs of oil in a heavy based frying pan and begin to sweat off your onions (5 mins), when soft add your bay leaves, carrots, celery, parsnip and garlic, stir well and cook for 3 mins, then add your dried herbs, tomatoes and greens, stir well and cook for 5 mins and then add your beans and bean juice. Turn the heat up and cook for 5 – 10 mins get it all nice and warm, the greens and veggies should be getting soft and the bean juice reducing a little.
At this stage, pop your lemon zest and juice, parmesan cheese and a glug of great olive oil into the mix, stir in and then pop a lid on and warm on lowest heat for 5 minutes. If you need a little more sauce, just pop some bean stock in and heath through.
We topped ours with some fresh parsley and basil leaves and nothing else! We resisted a little more parmesan on top, but that would be lovely. It’s quite a hearty stew, but of course being Italian-ish, a good lump of bread may be in order. In the Beach House we love stirring yogurt into stew to add some creaminess and the Italians would love some nice chunky croutons (preferably very garlicky!)
We Love It!
The lemon does it here and the pungent parmesan. We love this take on the Italian classic Ciambotta and are glad to be back in the land of the splendid parsnip. This stew is laden with glorious veggies, just the way we like ‘em.
Parmesan cheese contains the highest levels of naturally occurring MSG in the food world. MSG is not the baddie that many think, but was only isolated recently by a nice Japanese fellow and mass produced. Most of our really tasty food contains natural MSG and if you don’t mind cheating a little (well, alot really!) just add a little to a stew and watch the compliments come rolling in.
As always, we try and keep you abreast of Beach House tunes, now we’re back on the island (Britain) we are re-integrating with some cool youngsters Alt-J, nice beats and melodies off the ‘Awesome Wave’, here we are ‘Dissolve Me’. Wicked!:
This is a vibrant looking thing. Beetroots, Radish and Strawberry coming together for a colour-fest!
The beetroots we are getting at the moment are amazing, we are buying them from the farm by the bunch; quite small roots, but huge leaves. They are proving excellent value as the leaves are lasting for a few days salad-wise. The leaves are actually more nutritious than the roots. Its great to be able to eat the whole thing, no waste at all.
Beetroot, as we all know, is a vivid customer. Mainly due to the lasting impression it makes on your hands and nails when handling it. My advice, rubber gloves. I have no problems donning the marigolds in the kitchen, you do lose the ‘feel’ of cooking, but you gain a fantastic stain proof layer!
We are also getting a good supply of strawberries with actual flavour, always a challenge at this time of year. It seems that most people just want to cash in on this highly prized crop and do naughty things to grow them. Whatever they are up to, it completely saps their flavour. Anyway, our strawbs are ace!
I liked the sound of strawberry and beetroot, I liked the way it looked in my mind and it soon ended up in a bowl. I’ve used beetroot for desserts in the past (stuck some in a chocolate cake to great effect) and thought I’d give the strawberries a similar reverse treatment. They make for a really tart dressing and something I would highly recommend with any sweet-ish salad base.
If we were eating cheese, I’d add some feta of goats cheese to this salad to give it more of a substantial feel. We are blessed with amazing goats cheeses in the these parts, here’s our favourite at the moment (in fact we’ve just checked, they’re that small, they dont even have a website! I think thats brilliant. There name is Y Cwt Caws and they are real local food heroes).
Food processors are a choppers best friend. They do the hard work, while you stand there holding the button, wondering how much longer you can handle such a mental noise! Ours rattles like a badly oil cement mixer on overdrive. We used the contraption for the beetroots here and for the radish, it saved valuable minutes of our precious lives.
Radishes are funny little things, my Grandad loved to grow them in his allotment, but never seemed to know how to eat them. I think this was a general trend. This salad does them justice and I’m sure Bobby would have been proud, if a little confused by the pink dressing. I love a radish for its crunch and it just so happens that the colour goes very well with beetroot.
This is quite a sweet salad and very pretty, but we had to give it a dose of sprouts. They are so tasty and chock-ful of good things.
Salad – 3 whole beetroots (leaves and all), around 10 radishes (thinly sliced), 1 big handful of sprouting green lentils (or a sprout of your choice), 2 handfuls of spinach. Cheese of your liking (if you’re into that kind of thing)
Dressing (makes 1 small tub full) – 2 handfuls of strawberries (washed and stemmed), 1/3 cup great olive oil, sprinkle of good sea salt, good few turns of cracked black pepper, 2 tbs white wine vinegar, 1 tbs purified water, 1 teas of sweetener i.e. honey or agave syrup (if needed).
Make your dressing, add all bits to a food processor and blitz for a minute. Taste and add sweetener if your strawberries are a little tart. Set aside, will keep nicely overnight, so you can make in advance if your that organised.
Take your beetroots of the stems and scrub them well. Cut off an unsightlies. Take the stems and cut into cubes, then cut up a few leaves, finely shred, to be used as a base. Mix with the spinach and place in a nice big salad bowl. Drape a few of the whole beetroot leaves over the edge of the bowl, covering the whole circumference to make a nice looking bowl.
Add the slicing blade to your FP and slice your radishes, then take your shredding tool-thing and shred all of your beetroots. Put them in a bowl and mix in a few tbs of the dressing, until well coated. Then take that mixture and place it in the salad bowl. Finish with a good sprinkling of sprouts (not essential).
Non rawers, sprinkle a creamy cheese of your choice and roasted pumpkin seeds, rawers (you brave and wonderful few!) tuck in from your favourite bowl and let the flavours dance in your mouth!
We Love It!
‘I love it when a plan comes together’ someone once said. This turned out a treat and we’ll be making strawberry dressing again.
Radish is one of the most nutritious root vegetables. Apparently you can get a black Spanish radish, but I’ve never encountered such a thing. You can also buy watermelon radishes that have a sweet flavour and look like watermelons when you cut into them. What amazing things you learn writing a blog!
The Chinese have a saying:
“Eating pungent radish and drinking hot tea, let the starved doctors beg on their knees”. Poor doctors.
As with most veggies, they are packed full of only good things for the body. They are a very good source of anti-oxidants, minerals, vitamins and dietary fiber. High in vitamin C especially.
We live at 1 Bryn Teg (aka the beach house), Bryn Teg translates to English as ‘Fair Hill’. I call it tiger mountain because of the stripes, but it doesn’t seem to be catching on in these parts.
So Fair Hill it is and this salad reflects what is growing near our little home. Things are beginning to come into season and our local farm shop’s shelves are beginning to fill (thankfully). We bought what they had and this delicious salad was born. The combination of flavours worked surprisingly well with the pesto and it was even better the day later after having a good marinate in the fridge.
Broad beans (Fava beans) are special in any salad, they add a unique, nutty texture. Texture is one of the key ingredients to a brilliant salad and ingredients should be selected accordingly. Limp leaves are not the way forward! Fresh and crunchy is the key, something that is exciting to in the mouth and on the taste buds.
We have been discovering the art of salad making this raw month. Ingredients and dressings take on a completely different flavour when combined and subtle changes in flavouring can make all the difference.
Making a vegan pesto is tricky, without the pungent cheese, you just cannot recreate that unmistakable flavour. I think this is a decent attempt, matured cheese is something that vegans just have to give up on. You can buy those yeast cheese flake things, but I am wary of anything labelled as yeasty and cheesy. I just don’t like the sound of them.
You do end up using quite a bit of herb in the pesto, but it is well worth it.
Salad – 1 cup shelled broad beans, 3 handfuls of chopped sprouting purple brocolli (leaves as well), 1 sweet potato (peeled and grated), 1 courgette (1/2 grated, 1/2 cubed)
Pesto – 4 cups basil leaves, loosely packed, 1 cup fresh parsley, 1 – 2 tsp honey of your choice, 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper, 1/4 – 1/2 tsp sea salt, 1/2 cup hazelnuts (soaked overnight, drained and rinsed) 1 – 2 clove (s) fresh garlic, minced
Salad – Separate your broccoli florets from the stems and leaves, chop up. Mix all ingredients in a bowl.
Pesto – Chop the basil and parsley until reduced to 1 cup basil and 1/4 cup parsley, blend all ingredients except hazelnuts until smooth. Add hazelnuts gradually and continue blending, adding more olive oil as needed for desired consistency. Check seasoning.
Thin down the pesto a little and mix into the salad.
Dress with a few of the brocolli leaves and a few more spoonfuls of the thick pesto. Maybe a few leaves of parsley or basil if you are feeling extravagant!
We Love It!
The glory of pesto! Mix it in yoghurt for a tasty side dish, thin with oil for a dressing, mix with hummus to make the finest hummus ever! It really is one of the finest things you can have lurking around the fridge.
Sometimes referred to as the horse bean (!), broad beans like all legumes are a high in protein and low in fat. A really meaty legume! They are packed with vitamins, fibre and have a high iron content.
It was my birthday recently so we thought we’d share some pics:
Today’s smooth one came out rather nice. The richness of avocado and the zing of kiwi, with the touch of sweetness from the apricot. A well-balanced cup of goodness.
Jane and I had just taken a long walk down to Trigonos Organic Farm in the nearby Nantlle valley. It has been an absolutely stunning day in the hills. We popped down to see Pete and the gang and also managed to pick up some delicious little onions, carrots and potatoes. Pete grows some really interesting, rare varieties.
It is all go down there at this time of year, as it is in our own garden and we are picking up many tips from the wise bunch at Trigonos. Today we learnt to always water your seedlings at night, especially when sunny. There seems so many do’s and dont’s when it comes to gardening, I have just been sticking seeds in pots and the earth and hope for a bloom. We shall see…
So smoothies. We needed something filling, I was shooting off to work , so this is a nice thick one, reminiscent of a milkshake with its creaminess, but without all that fat. Avocados are excellent for this, creaminess without the cow. I’m sure all vegans will agree!
Makes enough for two cups:
1 avocado (seeded and scooped out), 4 apricots (de-stoned), 2 kiwis (peeled and quartered), 1 cup of soya milk (or milk of your choice)
In the blender, blitz for a short time until smooth.
In the nicest glasses available, will also make a delicious smooth topping for a fruit salad or dessert (ie CAKE!), you may need to add a little something sweet to the mix, maybe honey or dates would be nice.
Avocados are technically berries and are sometimes called alligator pears. They contain a wide range of vitamins and fat (good fats, they’re full of fibre), which is actually a good thing for raw foodist. We will be needing alot of avocados in a few days (see raw June)! Avocados actually help your nutrition absorption by up to 300-400%.
This mornings juice worked out a treat. The sun is out again, which is a rarity and always cherished. All the windows and doors are open as the Beach House breathes in the warm air. It has been a long cold winter, we need all the sun we can get!
There has been a pineapple ripening on the window ledge for weeks now, getting nice and sweet, waiting for just such a day; when we can close our eyes and outside, drift off with the birdsong. Maybe imagine that there are palm trees swaying above us and pineapples grow freely in the next field. Instead its a fuchsia bush and potatoes that grow, but I wouldn’t change it.
I had the good fortune to stumbled across some luscious looking organic blueberries (unfortunately not from this island) which will complement our lovely tropical friend, adding their vivid dark colour and nutrients to proceedings.
I started the Magimix up and here the rest is here:
Half a pineapple chopped into chunks, two good handfuls of blueberries.
Stick it in the Magimix, blueberries first, followed by the pineapple. We always juice like this, always dense and concentrated first, followed by something juicy/ watery. You will get better extraction of juices.
Your favourite wine glasses!
To grow pineapples all you need to do is chop off the top and plant it! It does take years to grow (which heightens my respect for the fruit) and very tropical conditions. Our pineapple tops add a tropical flavour to our compost bin!
We love Wales and feel that the local produce and suppliers just don’t get the credit they deserve. There are some amazing producers, doing amazing things with amazing ingredients! In a way, we are lucky, because many of these Welsh gourmet types are not well-known. We have them all to ourselves! One such producer are the good people at Welsh Coffee.
Welsh Coffee are a company from South Wales, producing fair trade coffee in small batches. They pride themselves on intense coffee that is ‘roaster’ fresh and superior quality.
This month I am dedicating myself to transforming my dining area into a bijou cafe, serving the finest roasts and if I am lucky, a warm piece of Carrot and Bean Cake (see following post). This is going well, a little Parisian music in the background, some attractive flowers, a nicely cushioned chair, there is just one thing missing, other people. The atmosphere is a little subdued.
So ‘Builder Steve’ came over yesterday to look at our gable end (we are having damp issues) and I invited him to join me in the newly opened Beach House Cafe (not dissimilar to our dining area with a few bags of coffee scattered around the place) . He’s a good coffee drinker and likes it black, which to me, is always a good sign.
‘Builder Steve’ is a local legend and one of the most philanthropic folk you are likely to meet. I decided to crack open some special beans that I’ve been saving for just this kind of moment, our Welsh Coffee Aur (Gold), dragon roasted in Wales from 100% Arabica beans. I had a feeling this was going to be one hell of a brew…..
I ground the beans up, they were dark and shimmering and formed a lovely almost black powder. The smell of fresh coffee filled the hours for hours after. The beans for the Aur (Gold in Welsh) coffee are sourced from farmers in Nicaragua and Panama, two countries that we love.
I left it to brew for 5 minutes in our trusty orange cafetiere, the smell was intoxicating. This dragon coffee is powerful stuff! It produced a coffee with a deep colour and incredible aroma. It is medium bodied with a balanced and smooth aftertaste. This is the kind of coffee that can be enjoyed at any time, anywhere, anyhow!
(A short Welsh language lesson. Coffee is Coffi in Welsh. Which is one of the only words I can easily remember. My Welsh speaking in developing slowly. I also know the word for Taxi, which is Tacsi. Poor show really. I hope to get to some classes soon. The first Welsh I actually learnt was via a band named ‘Ffa Coffi Pawb’ (translated ‘Everthing’s Coffee Bean’), this was Gruff Rhys, lead singer with the Super Furry Animals, second band.)
‘Builder Steve’ and I chatted for a while, we talked of wrestling sheep, nuclear war heads being stored in the next village and the sin of damp rendering. It was almost like a normal cafe experience. Steve agreed that it was a ‘seriously good’ cup of coffee and a definite step up from the Nescafe he normally drinks on site. I took this as a glowing reference for these lovely Welsh roasted beans.
We are understandably chuffed to receive such a kind nomination from two top bloggers. I love their blogs, so it’s extra special that they like what is going on in the Beach House Kitchen.
The Kreativ Blogger Award is designed to get good bloggers together and spreading the word about each other. I think it’s a top idea.
Here are the rules:
Seven Blogs we like (alot and in no particular order):
We have only chosen food blogs (for obvious reasons) and only ones that are relatively new. There are some amazing, established food blogs, but they seem to be doing just fine…..
I think some of these blogs may have been nominated before, but you can never get too many nominations for being Kreativ (can you?!)
1) Byzantine Flowers – Brilliant for all-rounder for all things wholesome and organic. Interesting articles all the way here, one of the sites I visit regularly.
2) Vegetarian Ventures - The photos here are nearly as beautiful as the veggie recipes. Lovely looking blog and well written articles.
3) Moel Faban Supper Club - Denise’s blog is always an interesting read, a real foodie’s blog. Our local Welsh supper club and a champion of local and seasonal produce.
4) Tofu and Flowers – Abigail gives us a real flavour of Thailand here. Great stories and pics.
5) Peas and Love – Gwen’s blog ever fails with gorgeous looking veggie and vegan bites. You will also find things ‘freegan’ bits here.
6) AlmostRawVegan – Great inspiration here for our coming Raw food month in June. A lovely looking site with brilliant smoothie recipes.
7) Emmycooks - I just love the way Emmy cooks!
Seven interesting things about Jane and I (again in no particular order):
1) We met on a small island beach in the Philippines, I was accidentally evicting Jane from her room at the time. Jane was suffering from horrific facial sun burning (known as panda bear eyes).
2) Our first meal together was a tiny plate of cold veg fried rice, cooked by a disgruntled Belgian fella wearing tight trunks with Kraftwerk blaring from a stereo.
3) Jane was initially attracted to me because I had several pots of yoghurt stashed in my rucksack (a very impressive feat in Asia)…..
4) ….I used these yoghurts to woo Jane at breakfast, atop coconut and mango porridge, cooked in a bamboo hut. The rest is culinary history………..
5) I flew all the way from Mumbai to be with Jane in the Beach House and set up the Beach House Kitchen (giving up a lucrative career in dodgy English teaching in Hanoi!!!).
6) Jane is addicted to potatoes Lee is partial to a bean. You will always find hummus in our fridge and oatcakes in our pockets. Jane also likes hunks (of mouldy cheese).
7) The population of Carmel, our village, is around 90 and has approximately three sheep to one person. These sheep terrorize us with their munching and are an enemy to all raspberry patches.
Thanks to Becky and Lisa for the nominations and happy blogging to one and all.
Lee and JaneX
So while the baking of the ‘Almond and Olive Oil’ cake was going on, I decided to fill the oven. Why waste all that heat. I whipped up our staple of ‘Sun and Oat Loaf’.
Normally I would just use oats, we are limiting the amount of gluten we eat, but this one was for Mary’s birthday meal and I know that Mary likes her bread. So this is a compromise.
This little loaf is really easy to get together and toasts up a treat, an ideal substitute for other loaves.
You can add anything to this loaf to flavour it, we have tried beetroot (of course!), dried fruits and nuts, apple and cinnamon, spices etcetc……..
If you are gluten-free, this works well with polenta replacing the flour. Even gram flour is ok, but it can get a little dry (although still very tasty).
If you are not using an oven, you can cook this in a pan. Just get a good-sized frying pan with a nice glug of oil, heat on medium, add mix and spread well, cook for 15 mins on one side and the go for a mighty flip (which is tricky!) or just stick under a grill (low heat) and cook until golden.
Here goes the oven variety…..
It really depends on how big you’d like it. We use a standard sized loaf tin and this recipe half fills it for a decent small loaf.
2 1/2 cups of oats, 1 1/2 cup of wholewheat flour, 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1 teas bicarb of soda, 1/2 cup of sunflower seeds, 1 cup of soya milk (or your preferred milk for richness, just water is fine), s+p, extra water as needed.
Put all ingredients into a bowl and mix up with a wooden spoon. Give it a good few twists of black pepper and some real elbow love (that’s a good stir).
Add warm water as the mix stiffens, you should be left with something resembling dry, sticky porridge.
Well oil your favourite loaf pan, or cake tin, depending on your preferred bread shape. Spoon in mix and push well into all corners of the tin. Scatter a few sunflower seeds on top and press them in.
Cook at 180oC for around 30 minutes. The middle should still be slightly underdone and the outside nice and crisp and golden.
Leave on a wire rack to cool.
As you wish. We recommend it warmed in the toaster with a large bowl of homemade veg soup. The crumbly texture of the bread means that sandwiches are not easy, but can be achieved with great balancing skills and care.
We Love It!
Oat bread seems to compliment our rough, mountainous landscape perfectly. Warmed with a little honey, it is a heavenly thing!
Oats actually lower cholesterol and are a brilliant fuel for our bodies. They also act as central heating for our bodies on cold days.
April in the B.H.K. garden has seen much activity. Mainly we have chopped wood for next year, but we managed to squeeze some gardening in also.
We are following organic practices , with a little biodyamic thrown in (new moon and all). The veg patch has been turned several times, with piles of local horse manure from the adjacent field and four different types of potato have been planted. Pete at Trigonos Farm, Nantlle, kindly donated the seeding potatoes (some just sprung to life in our veg basket!). We have blue, red, white and knobbly. One day I will learn the names of them.
The front garden is full of herbs and four different types of latin american bean. We hope for great things from the latin bean patch this year.
We also expect lots of flowers, some wild strawberries and the regular marjoram infestation. The slugs are happy, but we plan on trapping them in underground cups with beer in. Slugs like beer! Get them tipsy and they seem to lose interest in plants. Probably opting for a kebab instead.
The newts have returned to the pond and the frog spawn seems to be wriggling even more. Bring on the frogs!
We have a dodgy looking gang of sheep hanging around our back wall, but we have reinforced the defenses and hope to keep them out this year. Apparently they like to walk along the walls and eat all things green. The are also very dim and noisy.
Breaking news – beetroots, green beans and leeks are rumoured to be on the way.
We are keen amateurs at best in the garden, any tips would be greatly appreciated.
Here’s hoping for zero food miles soon!
My Dad is visiting, he likes his food meaty, hearty and tasty. This dish seemed to fit the bill (even though it had no pork chops in it!)
We had a thorough Purple Moose beer tasting before dinner, sampling the full range (belatedly trying the Merry X-Moose Ale). This got my inspiration well oiled for cooking dinner. Like almost all of the BHK food, this required little thought, preparation and execution.
The tatin works a treat with the sweetness of carrot, onion and beetroot being lifted by the touch of balsamic and orange. You can do the tatins individually, but one large one is easier and much more impressive when you flip it out (queue a few ‘ooohhhhhhsss!)
The green lentil stew would be better with puy lentils, but they were expensive. Your humble green lentils still have a nice bite with some earthy flavour. The stew is rich with butter and a the interesting addition of coriander.
The orange and mint dressing is an added dimension of flavour that balances the sweetness of the tatin.
I’m not a huge pastry fan at the minute, but this was a real treat. Dad happy munched away, without mentioning sausages of chops for at least half an hour. A major breakthrough!
We are so lucky that all of these veggies come from Hootons, the organic farm down the road.
This makes enough to sate three hungry souls……and a purple moose.
This dish will be amazing without the butter, for our vegan brothers and sisters.
Puff Pastry (we bought ours, make your own if you prefer, enough to adequately cover your dish, needs to be snug), 1 chopped carrot, red onion and 2 beetroots (veg should fit snuggly in your dish after cooking, so add around a 1/3 more initially and allow for shrinkage), small glug of balsamic vinegar, glug of cooking oil (we use sunflower), knob of butter, 2 teas of fresh thyme, zest of 1/2 orange, juice of half an orange, 2 teas light brown sugar.
3 cups of green lentils, 1 finely chopped onion, 2 garlic cloves, big handful of chopped cherry tomatoes, 1 carrot, zest and juice of half a lemon, handful chopped coriander, 1 bay leaf, 1 knob butter, 1 teas thyme, 1 teas chilli flakes, good veg stock.
Zest and juice of half a orange, 1/2 cup of good olive oil, handful of finely chopped mint, 1/2 teas dijon mustard, touch of honey (to just slightly sweeten), a little lemon juice (if your orange is super sweet, needs a little sourness in the dressing), s+p.
Preheat an oven, 200oC.
Lentils should be soaked for at least 6 hours in cold water. Then bring to a simmer, add stock, bay leaf, herbs (not coriander), veggies (except toms), chilli (monitor chilli level depending on whos eating!). Cook for half and hour, or until tender with a bit of bite to them. 5 minutes before serving, add toms, butter and lemon, stir well and just before serving stir in the coriander.
Roughly roll out and measure you pastry, should be slightly larger than the dish you are using, prick well with a fork, keep in fridge until needed. We used a heavy bottomed oval casserole dish.
Heat dish for a few minutes, then take out and add your oil, butter, veggies, sugar, vinegar, thyme and season. Mix well and bake in the oven for half an hour or until caramelised. Then take out dish, squeeze on orange juice and a splash more oil. Stir the veggies around to loosen and coat with the oil, make sure the veggies are packed in nice and tight (and flat), then carefully lay on your pastry case (brush top side with some olive oil), tuck in at edges, should fit nice and snug. Put back in oven for 20 mins, or until nicely golden brown…..
Prepare dressing. Add all ingredients to a bowl (small blender would be good for this) and mix vigorously together. Check for seasoning and make sure its nicely citrus, to balance the sweetness of the tart. Perfect when drizzled on all over the tart.
This is a good time to throw a green salad together.
Take tatin out of oven and grab a serving plate that fits over the dish, place on top and skillfully using your oven gloves/ cloth, hold plate and dish together and flip over. There should be a nice gentle thud, your tart is turned! Take off dish and viola! A steaming, beautifully caramelised tatin in all its sticky glory.
We chopped the tart up and served everything family style on the table with a nice glass of Purple Moose (flavoured with elderflowers!) and a green salad (rocket, romaine lettuce, cucumber and mint).
We Love It!
This was a proper feast for St Georges Day. The patron saint of England (I am English) and countless other countries, including Syria, Serbia and the isle of Gozo. Strange day really, celebrating the slaying of a dragon?!
You know we love our beet! The greens of beetroots contain more nutrition than the roots and a higher iron content than spinach. Beetroot is a great blood cleanser and builder for the blood.
Purple Moose all the way here! Dad is now their newest no. 1 fan and he knows his way around an ale. The Dark Side of the Moose was is my favourite and Dad is a fan of the Bog Myrtle Ale (a unique little number). These beers seem to compliment anything!
A nice time of year, but it does seem strange to still have snow on the ground.
I woke up this morning to find a psycedelic goose egg on the kitchen table (Jane had been up to some late night craft scribbles) and a nice slab of cherry chocolate.
Which triggered memories of my own egg painting days. I once won a prize at school for dressing an egg up as superman. Which remains one of my highest accolades in the field of art (and tailoring).
Being Easter, we have eggs on the mind. Not chocolate though, Ernie’s eggs. Ernie is an old navy captain who lives with his dog Paris and a garden full of ducks, drakes, geese and chickens. It’s a proper cottage menagerie.
Ernie’s fowl seem to like the sun and springtime snow, they are popping eggs out at an incredible rate, meaning an abundance for the Beach House table.
Ernie lives just down the way and has recently recovered from a broken hip that he injured whilst delivering our Christmas card. We do live on quite a steep hill!
Ernie’s cares greatly for his birds, they run around semi-wild, eat fine grains and are housed in a selection of well appointed coops. You can see it in the eggs, which are really rich with brilliant yolks. Perfect for soldier dipping (‘soldiers’ are slang for sticks of toasted bread, to avoid any unnecessary military confusion). The first time I saw one of his goose eggs, I was sure he had a ostrich tucked away somewhere. They are huge! We haven’t eaten one yet (it’s the weight of around five hens eggs) but apparently they are good for baking. Goose egg brownie?! I may crack it tomorrow, I’ll keep you posted.
We may not have a shop in the village, but at least we have an Ernie.
Lots of Easter love from the BHKXXXXXXXXX
P.S. – If you’re in Carmel, it’s 6 Duck Eggs for a pound. Bargain.
I have encountered few better pints in my time and never a Purple Moose. These are delicious ales, some of the finest in Britain, making them the finest beers in the world (or am I slightly bias?!).
Purple Moose are lovely folk brewing an award-winning range of beers just down the road in Porthmadog, North Wales. They brew four ales throughout the year with regular specials, available to buy in bottles or by the cask. We have been looking for an excuse to buy a whole cask for the Beach House! Anybody fancy a barbecue?
Purple Moose beers are always interesting and full of character, reflected in the brew names which started with ‘Startled Moose’ and also include such classics as ‘Dark Side of the Moose’ (they are Pink Floyd fans), ‘Madog’s Ale’, ‘Myrica Gale’, ‘Old Wobbly Antlers’ and at Christmas time ‘Merry X-Moose’.
The ‘Myrica Gale’ is particularly interesting, brewed with Halletau Hops and Welsh bog myrtle this is a brilliant, malty dark ale which has hints of Marmite. The Myrtle adds an almost aniseed-y flavour. You won’t have tried anything like this.
I love my dark ales and stouts, so the ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ is a real winner. Described as ‘chestnut-hued, malty, nutty and chocolaty’. It has recently won a golden fork at the Great Taste Awards 2011. With the temperature rising, I hear there is a summer elderflower pale bitter coming. I’m getting thirsty.
‘Purple is my favourite colour and everyone loves a moose, don’t they?’ says Lawrence Washington the man behind the moose. It all started as a little jokey ‘brand’ being brewed in Lawrence’s home. He thankfully decided to make these beers on a commercial basis in a former saw mill. Six years on and they have recently celebrated their 1000th brew.
What I love about real beers, wines, foods etc like Purple Moose is the tale behind them. There is always an interesting human story behind all quality produce, normally a tale of passion and commitment that defies logic and reason. You have to be slightly nutty to commit your life to good beer, cheese, carrots etc.
We are not drinking much alcohol at the minute, which makes us savour great beer even more. We are incredibly lucky to have the Purple Moose just down the road. They never fail us for quality beers and quirky names. If you can’t get hold of Purple Moose locally, you can now buy cases on-line.
Iechyd da! (pronounced ‘Yechidda’, Welsh for ‘Cheers!’)
Don’t just take our word for it, see the Purple Moose trophy cabinet here:
Real ale contains folates, which are good for the brain, heart and bones.
4th April, a reasonably interesting day at the Beach House
The golden sunlight is pouring through the window now and spring is in the air, which is normal at this time of year, except there is a foot of snow on the ground.
Yesterday we woke to a fierce blizzard. We live half way up a mountain, above the snow line and facing the Irish Sea. We are well used to storms and high winds. Yesterday was different, the telephone lines were humming like a badly tuned bass guitar and the thick snow fell horizontally at roughly 60 mph. It was a little hairy! In April.
We lit a fire and went to turn on the kettle, but there was no power. No tea. Dear God, it was an emergency. Really, it was nice to be taken out of our comfort zone for a while, we sat and listened to the wind whistling, released from the digital world and free from any concerns of ‘doing’ things. We were snowed in, a great excuse to unwind and let life drift on by.
We imagined the whole area to be doing the same, but came to realise that this blizzard was only affecting our village! (Population negligible). Two miles down the hill, in Penygroes, they were enjoying a pleasant spring day whilst we battened down the hatches (put extra socks on) and struggled on, without even a hot beverage.
The electricity came back on and eventually we were dragged back into the ‘e’ world, we had bits to do on-line. I turned my little Filipino laptop on, opened an email and promptly contracted a virulent virus. Quite a special virus named the ‘Windows Custodian Utility’ which set about crippling me in an electronic fashion. Apparently it is very new and clever, which in some perverse way made me feel privileged.
It has only just left me, after many consultations with our ace techno neighbour Mark and no doubt a huge slice of luck. I have been bashing it with as many scans as possible for two days. Be gone you vile worm!
So here are some pictures of snow in April, falling on the fresh blossom of our garden and prompting us villagers, more so than ever, to bemoan our weather (we normally live in thick fog) yet secretly be fascinated by the unpredictable nature of this funny little island.
PS – If you are unfortunate to get this virus, drop me a line, I am now an expert at killing this persistent little sucker.
I am still relatively new to the north Wales area and am just getting to know a few like-minded people and producers. I have recently met a few ‘foodies’ up in these hills and they all rave about the local produce, normally mentioning Halen Mon Salt from the Isle of Anglesey. I have rarely seen people so passionate about their seasonings! Heston Blumethal and Barak Obama are converts. I felt compelled to know more.
Halen Mon is definitely our kind of supplier, the business started with a pan of sea water being heated on the Wilson family stove. Now, a few years later, they are suppling top restaurants and chefs around the world.
Having gone off salt for a while, figuring that the food we eat contains enough of it, Halen Mon Salt has made me realise that a pinch of good seasoning can make all the difference. Like anything, quality matters.
Their salt is made with charcoal filtered seawater that has passed through a mussel bed and a sandbank! Sea salt is simply made by heating the water and drying until crystals form. They are then washed in brine to make them shine.
Halen Mon have a fine selection of salts made by a lovely bunch of people. We have been using a selection of them in our cooking. The celery salt adds a distinct flavour to light salad dressings and the Tahitian vanilla salt compliments dark chocolate perfectly (see our ‘Bitter Chocolate Ricotta’ recipe). I have used their ‘Welsh Oak’ smoked salt on roasted vegetables and haloumi and the flavour is delicious.
Our favourite salt recipe at the moment is spiced nuts, using their ‘Sea Salt with Organic Spices’. Mix a few pinches of the salt with hot oil in a frying pan, pour in a selection of your favourite nuts and bake in a medium over until well roasted (15 minutes or so). This salt can also be used to liven up the humble roast potato. Having a range of salt like this in your larder increases your creativity as a cook.
The Halen Mon site has some informative, unbiased info on the pros and cons of salt in your diet (http://www.halenmon.com/faq.aspx). Basically cut out the processed food made in factories and cook your own, with a sprinkle of Halen Mon to bring out the flavour.
Quality sea salt is pure and contains non of the anti-caking agents and other dodgy additives found in normal table salt.
Halen Mon is the finest salt I have tasted. I love using it in dishes with a subtle flavour. Salt is something that we normally just throw into food, every time I use Halen Mon, it reminds me of the importance of each ingredient in a dish.
The Beach House overlooks the Irish sea, which is blue today under bright sunshine, we are very lucky to be using such brilliant produce made from that very water. Without producers like Halen Mon, cooking would be so much duller and our food certainly less tasty.
This week it has snowed a little on the grey island. Sending the country into the yearly state of mayhem. We went for a nice walk near Snowdon…