The flip-flops had their revenge. Having called them ignominious yesterday my only pair, a sort of open-air trainer with a good solid sole that is ideal for negotiating London’s pavements and platforms, gave up on me tonight. There I was walking along, making a quip to three Welsh police officers about their whereabouts (how did I know they were Welsh? Because it said ‘Heddlu‘ on their bulletproof vests) when I stepped on an uneven paving slab and felt something give. The shoe. The police officers probably thought I was drunk but, in fact, the toe-post, as I believe they are known, had practically snapped and I was left with a sole but no grip (that sounds very like some new-agey self-help book title). Unevenly, and very slowly, I walked the rest of the way home, wondering if I could sew up the frayed bit. I have had these shoes for five years, they are the sturdiest of summer walking shoes and now, well unless I learn how to stitch leather, they are no more.
Feeling sorry for myself and it being rather late I needed some fast comfort food to finish off my day. I have been reading Canteen’s book Great British Food, which is one of those glorious hardbacks that you really don’t want anywhere near a kitchen, and, inspired by my rather unbalanced encounter with Cymru’s finest, I decided to try out the Welsh rarebit. I’ve only ever eaten this when I was working in an English pub in Paris, which seems a little odd I grant you, and I have never made it before, which also seems odd since I love it. But, as I had bread to use up, egg yolks left over after my nephew made some amaretti (which were delicious) and everything else is store-cupboard-friendly this seemed appropriate.
I was very impressed by the recipe: even when I divided it in half it made exactly the amount it promised (enough for two slices of bread) which is rare and it didn’t mention seasoning, and needed none. And, when I’m more organised I’ll be trying out one of their signature pies. It’s not the most fanciful of recipe books, full as it is of solid British classics but if they all work as neatly as this one then it is worthy of a few inches of precious cook shelf space. My only criticism is the photography; placed amongst the plates of food are dead animals: stuffed mice on bits of cheese, stuffed hedgehogs snuffling in bowls and a dead blackbird on a pie… I’m not sure that a dead bird is going to inspire me to bake.
Have good, stuffed-animal-free weekends all and see you next week.
Canteen’s Welsh rarebit
For one for supper, or two as a snack, you will need:
(Cupboard or things you may already have):
brown bread, two thick slices
butter, 12g (a scant tablespoon)
flour, 12g (another scant tablespoon)
strong cheddar, 75g
Worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon
grainy mustard, 1 tablespoon
egg yolk, 1 (technically it should be ½ since the recipe, which serves 4, only uses 1 but I couldn’t be bothered to split it)
pale ale, 25ml (I used London Pride, there being no pale ale in my local shop, but I think something slightly sweeter would be better)
1. Preheat the grill and grate the cheese.
2. Put the milk and ale/beer into a small saucepan and warm through gently.
3. Melt the butter in another, larger saucepan and, once melted, add the flour and stir together over the heat for two minutes.
4. Add the milk/ale mixture to the butter/flour roux and whisk/stir in until the sauce is bubbling and smooth.
5. Take the pan off the heat, add the cheese then add all the remaining ingredients bar the bread (Worcestershire sauce, mustard, egg yolk).
6. Toast the bread on both sides under the grill, take it out from under the heat then pour/spread the sauce over the toast taking it right up to the edges and return it to the hot grill. Cook until the cheese is bubbling and brown and serve. Who needs flip-flops anyway?