Friday, April 17, 2009

Welsh Rarebit or Rabbit

There is some controversy as to whether this dish should be called Welsh Rarebit or Rabbit. It’s generally supposed that the term Rabbit came first, and Rarebit was a later corruption of the word. In the Welsh language it is called Caws Pobi, which means roasted cheese, so no clues there.

The term Rabbit seems to make more sense, as according to Wikipedia: "It may be an ironic name coined in the days when the Welsh were notoriously poor. Only better-off people could afford butcher's meat, and while in England rabbit was the poor man's meat, in Wales the poor man's meat was cheese."

There is a long tradition of cheese making in Britain, and British cheeses are amongst the best in the world, small wonder then that cheese appears in so many of our recipes. We have been toasting, baking, grilling, and roasting cheese since time immemorial but, as with most classic British dishes, the secret lies in the ingredients.

Welsh Rabbit is a simple dish, Americans would call it, grilled cheese, but it is anything but grilled cheese. What lifts this recipe out of the ordinary is the use of good quality ingredients, or the best you can find. Trust me you’ll notice the difference.

This recipe is taken from Brian Turner’s Favourite British Recipes. My hubby, being an engineer, calls this Rev A, as the first time I made it I didn’t read the instructions properly (so what's new?), hence the need for revision. :-) The recipe said to refrigerate the cheese sauce overnight – whoops -but I was ready to rock and roll. The first version, slapped on the toast right out of the pan was goood, but Rev A knocked it out the water. So here we go.

Welsh Rabbit - Rev. A


¼ cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon beer or ale. It's best to use a British beer such as Bass ale, Newcastle Brown, or even Guiness. I used Newcastle Brown, (or Nuclear Brown as it is affectionately known). You may think that a bit extravagant when only using 1 tbsp. but use Budweiser, or any other home grown, at your peril. At a pinch you could use a good micro-brew, but why spoil the ship for a ha'porth of tar?

1 teaspoon English mustard – I used Coleman’s English, but if you can’t get that use a good Dijon – anything but that yellow paste mustard.

8 ounces mature cheddar, shredded. If you can get an English cheddar do, but the best I could come up with here is Cracker Barrel Extra Sharp Cheddar, or a New York Cabot would work.

A dash of Worcestershire sauce

2 egg yolks, lightly beaten

4 thick slices of bread (in England we call these doorstops), from an unsliced loaf. The best I could come up with was a sourdough loaf, and that worked out pretty good, but use bread that doesn’t come pre-sliced.

  • Heat cream in a medium saucepan over a medium heat until tiny bubbles form on surface. Stir in ale and heat again.
  • Remove pan from heat and stir in mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and cheese. Return pan to burner on a low heat, and stir constantly until cheese melts.
  • Remove pan from heat again and stir in eggs until fully combined.
  • Pour into a bowl, and allow mix to cool. Refrigerate until following day.
  • Place 4 thick slices of bread on a baking sheet and toast (one side only) under a hot broiler. Spread cheese mixture on untoasted side of bread, and return to broiler until cheese is golden brown.

Variations: You can add a poached egg on top of the cheese, this is known as a Buck Rabbit.

Or for a little more pep, spread the bread with a little HP brown (or A1 steak) sauce before adding the cheese.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Creamy Leek and Spinach Pasta

I’m back! At long last.

Thanks for asking about the article Paula, and yes it is you at: who won the giveaway, just in case there was any doubt.

My latest story for Oklahoma Living Magazine is about a local botanical garden, which seemed to have me thwarted at every turn. Not only did I have a stinking cold, but the weather conspired against me as well. Every time I arranged an interview and a visit to the gardens there would be a thunderstorm, or a snowstorm, or freezing conditions, and it would have to be postponed. I had a few hairy moments when I thought this story would never get written, but this time I just snuck in under the wire.

I’m still doing well with my quit smoking campaign; it’s been just over 5 weeks now. Yay! I won’t say I don’t miss the ciggies, because I still do. Though I do now go for quite long periods without thinking about them. The worst times are still when I am writing under pressure for a deadline, then I could absolutely murder one. I was as grumpy as hell this past weekend, so I kicked Mick, and shouted at the cats. :-) Oh well, nobody said it was going to be easy.

Anyway enough of my rambling, on with the recipe. The inspiration for this recipe was good old Auntie Beeb again, but I’ve made so many changes that I’m claiming it as my own. The good thing about this recipe, besides its tasting divine, is it’s ready in less than 30 minutes. For a vegetarian meal, just omit the bacon stage.

Note on cleaning leeks. Leeks can have a bit of a gritty texture, but if you prepare them this way that won’t happen. Top and tail your leeks - just use the white and pale green flesh - then slice them down the middle length ways, but don't cut them right through, then rinse them under running water for a minute or two and they'll be great.

Creamy Leek and Spinach Pasta


4 slices of bacon, chopped into small pieces
8 ounces penne pasta
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 large leeks, thoroughly cleaned, and sliced
Black pepper, to taste
3 garlic cloves
8 sun dried tomatoes, sliced
¾ cup heavy cream
½ cup sour cream
1 tablespoon ground mustard
½ cup feta cheese, diced, or if using pre-crumbled use the large pieces + 2 tablespoons to serve
A couple of handfuls of spinach leaves, about 2 cups - ish.


  • In a large skillet over a medium high heat, cook bacon until crisp. Remove from pan, drain on paper towels, and set aside. Drain bacon fat from skillet, but don’t wipe pan.
  • Set a saucepan of water to boil to cook penne pasta. Cook on a rolling boil for about 7- 8 minutes until al-dente.
  • While pasta cooks, over a medium heat, add butter and olive oil to skillet and sauté leeks for 3 minutes. Season liberally with black pepper. Add sun-dried tomatoes and sauté for a further 2 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for another minute.
  • Drain pasta.
  • Add cream, sour cream, and ground mustard to leek mixture and stir to combine. Stir in feta cheese. Heat until cheese begins to melt.
  • Add pasta to skillet and stir to combine. Add spinach and toss until wilted.
  • Transfer to warm plates, top with additional feta and bacon, and serve immediately.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I'm late, I'm late, for a very important date!

My profound apologies to everyone for the delay in posting the winner of my blogiversary give-away. I thought I was going to escape flu season unscathed this year, but it wasn't to be. The past few days I have been pretty ill with a miserable cold, still am really. :-( I also have a rapidly approaching deadline for my next assignment for Oklahoma Living Magazine, unfortunately there are no sick days in this job.

Anyway, without further ado, (pause for a drum roll), the winner is PAULA! Many congrats to you. If you e-mail your address to I'll get that in the snail mail ASAP.

Meanwhile a big thank you to all of you who read this blog - despite my erratic posting and commenting - I appreciate each and every one of you. Cheers!

Toodle pip for now. I'll be back with another recipe, sooon!