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Summer antics

Posted by on Oct 31, 2014 in News | 0 comments

Summer antics

How’s that for a summer. It’s flown by here at Tŷ Paned. There’s been foraging, feasting, fun, family, food, village shows, baking days, family baking days and there’s been a foray into cheese making and meat curing!

One of the highlights of the early summer was the invasion of the Canadians to West Wales. There are a troop of my in-laws who hail from Canada for whom a trip to Pembrokeshire is an occasion for celebration. In fact it was a 40th wedding anniversary celebration that brought them over. It wouldn’t have been right to send them home without a Tŷ Paned feast and boy, did they feast. 20 people can get through a lot of food. I was tasked with producing a side of foraged goods, bread for all and sea bass prep, caught not a few miles from where we were staying.

The salad of sea beet, seaweed and Japanese rose petals looked the part, but was met with some trepidation (“Really? Seaweed??”). Having been convinced to try it everyone was wishing I’d made some more!

Later in the August was the Croesgoch Garden Show. Being in the area we set about entering several categories! Results as follows:

White bread 1st
Wine 1st
Welsh cakes 2nd (Well done Rhian Hughes!)
Scones 1st and Winner of the Ann and Granville Perpetual Cup

A massive result all round!

Here’s the recipe for the winning scones:

225g plain flour
½ tsp salt
3 tsp baking powder
45g margarine
a little milk
crushed seeds from 8 cardamom pods
2 dried figs chopped to the size of raisins

Preheat oven to 220°C.
Mix flour, salt, baking powder and cardamom seeds in a bowl. Rub in the margarine until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the figs. Mix. Add enough milk to make a soft dough. Be careful. Don’t overdo it. Roll out the mixture and cut into 8 small scones. Or, alternatively make 4 large balls to make big misshaped ones (my preference!).

Serve with butter or, even better than that, clotted cream and half the hedgerow jam.

Here’s Dad picking up my cup!

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Bread, cinnamon buns, hygge and fika

Posted by on May 13, 2014 in News | 0 comments

Bread, cinnamon buns, hygge and fika

Have you ever had that feeling of coziness, feeling relaxed, enjoying good company, good food and drink but not had the right words to explain it? Or found yourself asking a friend out for coffee but there’s more to it and wished there was a word for it? I was fortunate enough to spend 10 days travelling Denmark and Sweden a few weeks ago and came across two concepts we don’t have words for in English or Welsh but completely encapsulates the feel of Tŷ Paned. Hygge and fika.

Copenhagen is a beautiful city and for someone who’s not mad keen on cities it was small enough to feel comfortable and busy without feeling overwhelming. The almost militant strictness they adhered to at pedestrian crossings shows incredible respect for authority and the way they treat the cyclists as a class above all classes was incredible for a Cardiffian!

There was something more powerful though, that came through in almost every conversation with a Dane. They enjoy hygge. It’s a concept. It’s more than a feeling. It’s almost a state of mind. When the busyness of life is overwhelming it’s time to take stock. Hygge is about relaxing; it’s enjoying good company. Good food is surely an integral part as is good drink. It’s the atmosphere you get when you’ve stopped your mind racing about jobs, work and running round after kids. It’s what we capture here at Tŷ Paned. Hygge is right now.

Sweden inspired me. Following one conversation with the Swede we were staying with I knew I just had to try one thing. Fika. It’s an institution. It’s more Swedish than going to the pub is British. The women do it but the men do it too. Making time in your day to have fika. Simple pleasures are often the best and fika is a fine example. It’s essentially a cinnamon roll with a coffee. But it’s so much more than that. It’s an event. It’s an occasion. It’s time to connect with a person not via twitbook or exchangeagram. It’s about finding out about a person and what makes them tick or to catch up with a friend you haven’t seen in a while. Fika says you’re important to me. Life can wait a while.

I have to give you the chance to have your own Tŷ Paned inspired fika with an adaptation of a recipe from a genuine Swedish recipe book (well it was in English but written by a Swede with traditional Swedish recipes).

For the dough
25g fresh yeast (or 14g of dried, it’s a lot but it’s to give the sweet dough a boost or it could easily be sluggish)
50g butter
250ml milk
50g golden syrup
pinch of salt
300g spelt flour (or brown bread flour)
seeds from 3 or 4 cardamom pods ground with a pestle and mortar

For the filling
75g butter at room temperature
75g caster sugar
6 tsp ground cinnamon.

To glaze
A beaten egg
1 tbsp pearl sugar (available from bakerybits.com or some people substitute broken sugar cubes)

Crumble the yeast into a bowl. Melt the butter in a pan and add the milk and heat it until it’s blood warm. That’s what my Nain (nan) calls it! Luke warm is another word! Pour it over the yeast to dissolve it and add the syrup, flour, cardamom and salt. Cover the dough and let it rise for half an hour.

Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until it’s smooth and silky with no cracks. Roll it into a rectangle. Mix the filling ingredients and spread the mixture over the rectangle.
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If it’s not a perfect rectangle you can trim it into one and make some crazy sized rolls from the scraps.

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Roll up the rectangle away from you and cut it into 10 or 12 buns.

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You can either put them in little cases now or straight onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.

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Let them prove for around half an hour until they regain their shape if you poke your finger into them a bit. Brush with the egg and sprinkle on the pearl sugar.

Bake for about 6-8 minutes until golden brown. Try and let them cool a little before gobbling them all. Serve with coffee and a chat.

How to make a salad from half a cos lettuce

Posted by on Mar 25, 2014 in News | 2 comments

How to make a salad from half a cos lettuce

Ah, the forager’s delight. Being able to create something from nothing. Well, not nothing but something free! A quick look in the fridge at the weekend revealed half a cos lettuce, which was going to make quite a sorry salad on it’s own if we’re honest. Instead of rushing out to the shops I took a leisurely stroll to a local park and collected all I needed for a considerably more interesting salad.

This time of year is fantastic for wild food and one of the simplest to recognise and most abundant is wild garlic. I’ve heard people say wild garlic goes well in salad. Having imagined chewing on a raw garlic clove I had always shunned the idea but mixing it up with some other leaves and the considerably milder taste meant the wild garlic did indeed go well in the salad.

Dandelions need no introduction either. We recognise those spiky leaves almost from childhood when we used to play “What’s the time Mr Wolf?”. On their own they can be quite bitter and this is the reason I’ve not gone for them in a salad before. Turns out they complement the wild garlic and primroses very well. That’s right. You heard me. Primroses. They are one of many edible flowers and one that a lot of us recognise. Boys, ask the lady in your life if you’re not sure. Another great thing is at this time of year you find them growing wild all over the place.

Moral of the story: Free food is always better than food you’ve paid for. Give this salad a try. Half a lettuce (it doesn’t have to be cos), handful of dandelion leaves, handful of wild garlic leaves and a handful of primroses. Let me know if you’d like to know more about foraging.

Peace out.IMG_0007

Pancake Day

Posted by on Mar 4, 2014 in News | 0 comments

Pancake Day

We love food. Good food. This can mean lots of fancy preparation and pretty plates but on pancake day we forget the pomp and show and glitz and glamour and just make as many pancakes as we can eat! How can something as simple as a pancake give us so much joy? It is a culinary mystery. Nobody knows why we all go mad for pancakes on pancake day but they have that effect on all of us. I’m telling you now, the best and most seductive cover of a cookbook is Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall on the front of the River Cottage Everyday making pancakes. Every time I look at that book I want to eat pancakes. Right there. Right then. Every time.

This year we tried something a little different for our pancakes. Chestnut flour. Chestnut flour from the shops can be expensive but guess who foraged some chestnuts in October and so has free chestnut flour. Yes, you guessed it. The Tŷ Paned Gang. IMG_0405
Here it is with the daffs which kindly came out for St David’s Day.

The flavour was powerful and intense. The usual maple syrup and/or Nutella were perfect complements for them. I sometimes wish it was pancake day everyday. Wait a minute. Pancakes aren’t just for pancake day. I’ll have them again tomorrow…

Gorse flower cordial

Posted by on Feb 18, 2014 in News | 0 comments

Gorse flower cordial

It’s time to get out there people. The winter foraging fast is over. The first signs of free edible food are starting to spring up.

There’s something exciting about the first foraging of the year. It brings our ever rushing pace of life under control. Connecting with the seasons reminds us we’re not in charge and we can only follow creation’s pace. Seaweed bread made from foraged gutweed (great name eh?) was the first foraging of the Tŷ Paned year and was delicious. Turns out seaweed bread is an acquired taste. As a Welshman I’ve acquired it but not everybody who had some has!

It’s a while until June when the elderflower cordial production kicks in so I need something to keep me going. Gorse flower cordial fits that bill. It’s very floral in its taste, a little bit of a cross between rose and elderflower. Picking gorse flowers is a hazardous occupation and all precautions should be taken to avoid being savaged by these menacing bushes. I prefer the one glove technique because it’s a bit fiddely picking in gloves when your fingers feel like sausages. One of the great advantages of gorse flower is that it’s available for most of the year. It is better in April when the hedgerows are yellow and as you walk past, the fragrance of, not coconut, but coconut sun cream fills your nostrils. There is something special about being able to drink some gorse flower cordial on Christmas day or New Year’s Day.

So how do you make it?
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Boil 1100ml of water, 600g sugar, 2 handfuls (about 50g or 500ml in a pyrex) gorse flowers, zest of an orange, juice of a lemon and a teaspoon of citric acid until the sugar dissolves (about 15 mins). This gets lots of the flavour out of the flowers.
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When it’s cooled a little add 2 more handfuls of gorse flowers which adds the subtler flavours which can get boiled away. Leave for 24 hours and then strain. Dilute to taste. I say the more the better. About 1:3 works well.

If you decide that gorse flower cordial isn’t your thing then try turning it into jelly. Liquid + gelatine = jelly is the simple formula. See the post on the gingerbread house earlier in the blog for how we used our gorse flower jelly!

Why we keep chickens

Posted by on Feb 11, 2014 in News | 0 comments

Why we keep chickens

Is there a greater pleasure in eating than the first boiled egg from chickens that you’ve fed and nurtured yourself? Eat it with soldiers you’ve made from bread you baked with your own hands and you’re close to a perfect breakfast, or lunch… or supper…

They say that life that nurtures life is a life enriched. It’s why we keep plants to cheer us up. It’s why we keep pets. It’s why Tŷ Paned got chickens.

When we made the decision to keep chickens it was based on food but it was more to do with feeling closer to the land. It wasn’t a political decision but I would never buy a battery egg knowing that the chickens have lived their entire life in a space no bigger (in fact a bit smaller) than an A4 piece of paper.

If I’m honest, my wife was a bit apprehensive about how she would bond with “such stupid birds” but within hours of moving into their new home “the girls” were making quite an impression. Harriet, Lottie and Lucie-May have made their home in our garden and in our hearts. In return for a roof over their heads and a little food, they provide us with three eggs a day and more than a little love.

The journey started last September with a trip to River Cottage to get our chickens. We got an Exchequer Leghorn (Lottie), an Amber Rock (Harriet) and a Black Rock (Lucie-May). We had been promised help to build a run for Christmas by my father in law (he’s a bit handy with a saw and drill), and, once finished (July), they settled in very quickly. Well, two of them did anyway. Within a couple of weeks we were getting two eggs a day but it took a long time for little Lottie to decide she was comfortable enough to start paying her way.

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They say a wise man learns from other people’s mistakes, I guess that means I’m not that wise. There have been a few things I may have done differently if I was starting again. We ended up with an egg eater. I hadn’t anticipated one would want to lay her eggs ON TOP of the nest box I had kindly built (out of a piece of art by my brother in law, but that’s another story!) and so they kept rolling off and smashing on the floor. Once curiosity of this smashed object took hold and they all discovered how tasty this goodness was I had a hard time stopping them. Two new shelves later and I now get all the eggs!

They all have their little characters and that’s part of the appeal. It’s entertaining to see them chasing each other round and having mud baths as if they’re having a spa day.

When we first got them we wanted delicious eggs, which we get daily. What we didn’t bargain for were three more members of the Tŷ Paned Gang.

New Year Resolutions

Posted by on Jan 14, 2014 in News | 0 comments

New Year Resolutions

The new year brings a lot of excitement to us here at Tŷ Paned. Christmas held plenty of baking projects, buzz about some new courses for 2014 and most importantly time spent with loved ones. Sharing a gingerbread ski chalet with my family was certainly one of the highlights of the Christmas break. Making time to spend a day in the kitchen with my wonderful wife with no other agenda other than creating a gingerbread masterpiece was a very special way to enjoy time together with a result that was going to make us very happy indeed! Check out some pics:-
Gingerbread house

Snowman and tree

Now we look forward to what’s in store for us over the coming months. We’ve got the first bread course of the year on Saturday. If you haven’t signed up for one yet, what are you waiting for? They are a fantastic day out and you learn a craft to take with you through the rest of 2014 and beyond. It’s been a quiet few months on the foraging front. A few teas (rosehip, pine) are all I’ve managed recently. I’ll be looking forward to the wild garlic and nettles that’ll be springing up in March. And then there’s the start of the Spring which creation heralds with the rising birch sap.

So what are my new year’s resolutions? Well I’ll certainly be baking something new every month. You know what they say, the more you know, the more you realise you don’t know. The more I bake, the more I know. The more I know the more I want to bake. There’s still plenty for me to learn. Why don’t you start your journey with us?

Half the hedgerow jam

Posted by on Sep 19, 2013 in News | 2 comments

Half the hedgerow jam

There’s so much wild food around at the moment, it’s impossible to collect it all and find time to do something with it all! Over the weekend the Tŷ Paned kitchen was turned into a production factory for jams, jellies, fruit leather and more jam!

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As you can see from the picture there’s plenty available if you know what you’re looking for. In the picture there’s blackberries and elderberries in the bowl at the top left, rowan berries at the top right, crab apples from two different trees, sloes (the purple berries), two different types of rose-hips, and haws (the berries of the hawthorne tree) in the basket at the bottom right.

You don’t have to collect them all to make jam. You can find all sorts of different recipes using one or a few of these wild ingredients. I’ve already made blackberry jam this season, this jam has a greater depth of flavour. It’s tarter than most jams due to the rowan berries, crab apples and sloes yet sweeter than a standard marmalade. This is perfect for me who finds marmalade a little bitter, when I want something a little less sweet than jam.

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450g crab apples (or cooking apples)

270g haws

270g rose-hips

300g rowan berries

325g sloes

600g blackberries

500g elderberries

Take the stalks off everything and put it all in a big saucepan (or preserving pan if you have one) apart from the blackberries and elderberries. Cover with water and simmer for 15 mins until all the fruit is soft.

Push the mixture through a sieve back into the saucepan and add the rest of the berries. Simmer for 15 mins.

Measure the weight of the fruit and add the same weight of sugar. I had about 2300g. Stir over a low heat until the sugar is dissolved and then boil hard for about 15 mins until setting point is reached*. Pour into sterilised jars** whilst still very hot.

PS This makes a lot of jam! You could make jam by leaving out some of the ingredients but I’d recommend keeping the apples, blackberries and elderberries***.

*220 degrees F on a thermometer or when the jam wrinkles when you put some on a cold plate that’s been in the freezer.

** I sterilise the jars by pouring boiling water into the jars and over the lid.

*** If you haven’t used them all for port!

Adapted from Fruits of the Earth by Gloria Nicol

 

Port eirin ysgaw a meddyliau hydref

Posted by on Sep 3, 2013 in News | 0 comments

Port eirin ysgaw a meddyliau hydref

Wel, mae’r haf wedi dod a mynd. Mae dal ychydig o gordial blodysgaw ar ôl sydd yn gallu f’atgoffa am yr haf gwych a fu ond Medi’r cyntaf yw’r diwrnod lle dyn ni’n ffarwelio â’r hâf ac yn croesawi’r hydref. Mae gan greadigaeth digon i’w gynnig i’r chwilotwr llygaid barcud.IMG_2164

 

Treuliais yr haf yn chwilota, pobi a gorffen y cwb ffowls heb anghofio pythefnos yng Ngroeg! Oeddwn i wrth fy modd gyda fy mara gwymon, gwnaed â gwymon o’r traeth yn Nhrefin. Dwi ‘di taro’r hoelen ar ei phen gyda choffi dant y llew (y gyfrinach yw rhostio darnau yr un maint neu byddwch yn llosgi peth tra bod darnau arall dal yn llipa) (mae’r ddau yna’n haeddu blogbost ei hun!) ond mae’r gwir gyffro yn dechrau nawr. Aeron yr hydref.

 

Mwyara yw’r chwilota mwyaf mentrus ma’ ran fwyaf ohonom ni’n neud. Dyma dair deddf mwyara:

  1. Fyddwch chi yn cael eich scrapo.
  2. Mae yna wastad mwyaren well jyst allan o’ch cyrraedd.
  3. Allwch chi fyth cael digon.IMG_2156

 

Achos dwi’n dwli ar fwyd am ddim fyddai allan yn mwyara mor aml â phosib. Dwi’n gwneud jam, crymbl, pastai a dwi wastad yn rhewi rhai ar gyfer nes mlaen yn y flwyddyn.  Mewn gwirionedd mae ‘na lawer mwy o aeron ar gael i’r chwilotwr craff. Dwi di gweld eirin duon, eirin gwyllt, eirin bach sur, afalau bach sur (oce, diw e ddim yn aeronen) ond os mae yna un fydden i’n argymell chi i drïo eirin ysgaw yw’r rheini. Maen nhw llawn fitamin C, mae yna gyflenwad digonol, maen nhw’n gwneud jam gwych a chordial ond y peth gorau oll ydy:

 

Port eirin ysgaw. O’r funud dwi’n pigo’r blodysgaw olaf yng nghanol Gorffennaf dwi’n disgwyl ‘mlaen i’r aeron. Yn llythrennol o’n i’n meddwl,dwi’n methu aros i’r aeron! Ar hyn o bryd dwi’n bragu gwin blodysgaw, gwin cyrens coch. Ma’ fodca blodysgaw gyda fi ond mmmm y port ’na.

 

Dyma’r rysáit. Diolch Megan am dy help!

 

4 peint eirin ysgaw (rhowch nhw mewn jwg mesur)

1.5 kg siwgr

125g rhesins

4.5 litr o ddŵr

 

Dewch a’r dŵr a’r eirin ysgaw i’r berw a mudferwch am 15 munud.

Hidlwch (trwy fwslin) a thaflwch y pwlp.

Ychwanegwch y siwgr a’r rhesins i’r hylif twym a gadewch iddo oeri. Epleswch mewn demijohn (defnyddiais i fwced llynedd gan fod dim un gyda fi) am bump neu chwe diwrnod a photelwch mewn poteli di-haint. Cadwch am flwyddyn. Oce nes i gadw fe nes Nadolig gan fy mod i’n rhy ddiamynedd ac o’n i ishe anrhegion rhad i’r teulu! Nefolaidd.

 

Bragwch yn frwd.

Elderberry port and autumn thoughts

Posted by on Sep 3, 2013 in News | 2 comments

Elderberry port and autumn thoughts

So the summer has come and gone. There’s still a little bit of elderflower cordial left so in my mind I can extend it a bit but September the first is always the day I associate with the end of the summer. It means that school’s just round the corner. The summer berries and peas are finished. It’s time to start thinking about what plentiful bounties creation has to offer during the next season of life.

 

I spent the summer foraging, baking and finishing my chicken coop and threw in a trip to Greece for good measure! I was delighted with my seaweed bread with seaweed picked from the beach at Trefin (Pembrokeshire). I’m nailing the technique for dandelion coffee (the trick is roast the pieces the same size or you’ll burn some whilst some of the rest is still soft) (both of which deserve a blog post of their own!) but the real excitement begins now. Autumn berries.

 

Blackberry picking is the most foraging most of us ever do. There are three laws of blackberry picking:

  1. You will get scratched.
  2. There is always a better berry just out of reach.
  3. You can never get enough.IMG_2156

 

Because I love the thought of free food I try to get out blackberry picking as often as I can. I make jam, crumbles, pies, and always freeze some for later in the year. The truth is, there’s a whole load more berries out there for the keen eyed forager. I’ve seen damsons, wild plums, sloes, crab apples (ok, not strictly a berry) but if there’s one berry

I’d love you to try and get into it’s elderberries. They’re plentiful, packed with vitamin C, make great jam and cordial but the best thing is:

Elderberry port. From the moment I pick my last elderflower in mid July I look forward to the berries. Literally I was thinking, can’t wait for the berries! I’ve got elderflower wine, redcurrant wine and elderflower vodka on the go at the moment but mmmm that port.

 

Here’s the recipe. Thanks Megan for your help!

 

4 pints of elderberries (just put them in a measuring jug)

1.5 kg sugar

125g raisins

4.5 litres of water

 

Bring the water and elderberries to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes.

Strain (through a muslin cloth) and discard the pulp.

Add the sugar and raisins to the hot liquid and allow to cool. Ferment in a demijohn (I left mine in a bucket last year because I didn’t have one) for about 5-6 days then bottle in sterilised bottles and keep for a year. Ok I only kept mine until Christmas because I’m too impatient and I wanted to give cheap presents to my family. It was divine.

 

Happy home brewing.