Monthly Archives: February 2012

Sustainable fish at Llangollen food festival -Scandinavian style fish cakes recipe


Hugh’s fish fight is a campaign I started following a long time ago, even before I got to know local fisherman and fishmongers or got involved with the Menai Seafood Festival.  My love of all seafood is no secret, and I regularly tell people about it from the stage at various food festivals. But I do think very carefully about what I buy and eat and I would certainly think twice about eating in a restaurant that serves endangered species. A couple of years back I visited Nobu with a friend. The menu horrified me. That visit was definitely my last, even if their black cod is to die for!

I used to keep a close eye on websites such as FishOnline which gives great advice on what to eat and fish2fork which suggests sustainable alternatives to the those under threat. These days though I am more knowledgeable, usually go for local alternatives and if in doubt follow the advice of my fish monger (I highly recommend Wayne or Malcolm at Mermaid Seafood, Llandudno).

I eat a lot more fish at home now; the teen is rarely here these days but has started eating fish again and fish cakes are big on the OK-to-eat list. I’d based the previous incarnation of this dish on a recipe from Jamie’s 30 minute meals . His recipe called for fresh tuna, salmon and haddock. I replaced the haddock with pouting; a member of the cod family which is much cheaper and more sustainable, my salmon was organic farmed atlantic salmon (wild caught atlantic salmon are now not sustainable) but you could use MSC certified pacific salmon. The tuna I replaced with a tin. Pole & line caught skipjack tuna is sustainable and considerably cheaper.

This new and updated recipe uses grey mullet (a native fish) and farmed salmon again. In this version I omitted the tuna entirely, replaced the gluten part with porridge oats and gluten-free flour and instead of serving with a dollop of horseradish cream, baby potatoes roasted with herbs and a big lemon dressed salad, I made a fresh chilli salsa and used a garlic aioli to top.

Scandinavian style fish cakes: makes six medium-sized cakes..or quite a few little ones!

2 tablespoons porridge oats

1 dessertspoonful gluten-free flour

250g skinned and boned salmon fillet

250g Pouting / grey mullet

zest of 1 lemon (and a squeeze of the juice)

1 finely grated carrot

1 egg white

a small bunch of flat leaf parsley

salt and pepper

Put the fish into a food processor and blitz with the parsley and lemon zest. Add oats, flour, egg white salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon and  pulse a few times until coarsely mixed. Add the carrot and pulse again until roughly mixed.

Dust hands with gluten-free flour and form the mixture into 6 patties or lots of small cakes. Put a griddle pan on to heat with a drizzle of olive, rapeseed or sunflower oil to coat lightly. Slice a small clove of garlic and throw in to the pan. When it begins to sizzle place your fish cakes on the pan and leave to cook for about six or seven minutes. Turn over with a flat spatula and cook for the same amount of time on the second side.

Baby roast potatoes:

750g British baby potatoes (Charlotte, Jersey Royal)

Glug of Rapeseed oil ( I use Blodyn Aur Welsh rapeseed oil as its close to me but Cotswold Gold is also very good and Charlie the maker of it is lovely!)

a sprig of fresh rosemary leaves removed from the stalk and roughly chopped and a few small sprigs of thyme

Salt and pepper

Wash potatoes and put in a small roasting tin. Pour over a glug of oil, the herbs and a good sprinkle of sea salt (Halen Mon of course) and pepper

Roast in a preheated oven, 190 degrees for about 50 minutes, or until golden and crispy on the outside and soft when pierced with a skewer.


1 red chilli finely chopped

4 spring onions

4 yellow tomatoes (look for heritage varieties especially Sun Belle)

half a cucumber

1 red pepper

1 ripe avocado (optional)

flat leaf parsley and mint finely chopped

pinch of sea salt

splash of red wine vinegar

Finely chop the chilli (removing the seeds) and put in a mixing bowl. Take care to wash your hands well afterwards. Finely chop the spring onions, parsley and herbs and add to the bowl. Scoop the seeds out of the tomatoes and discard. Dice the flesh and add to the bowl. Remove the seeds from the cucumber and dice and do the same with the red pepper. Dice the avocado if using. Add a splash of red wine vinegar and season with sea salt. Taste and serve on the side with the fish cakes.

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Filed under British food, family budget cooking, Food festival, home cooking, local produce, Recipes, Seafood recipes, seasonal food, sustainable fish

Aderyn Melys cakes

Aderyn Melys, or Sweet Bird to non-Welsh speakers is a 100% vegan cupcake company. Vegan! you butter lovers exclaim, surely not. But trust me, these are no ordinary cupcakes. These cakes would put a smile on the face of the most hardened dairy worshipper and knock spots off most  ordinary cupcakes.

Aderyn Melys is based in Anglesey and run by Lynwen Lloyd Hughes. One of very few cupcake manufacturers in the UK that solely produce vegan and allergy free cakes….its by far and away the best. With her commitment to quality, organic and local ingredients and her attention to detail and presentation Lynwen is carving out something of a reputation for herself and a loyal fan base here in Wales.

Imagine the pleasure of biting into a soft, sweet, almondy Bakewell tart cupcake and discovering a secret pocket of jam in the centre, a delightful bit of buried treasure hidden beneath an almost obscene amount of rich flavoursome icing…all fluffy swirls and pretty understated decoration and perfectly finished with a cherry and some slivered almonds…you would almost be forgiven for calling the icing ‘buttery’…but there isn’t a hint of butter in sight.

The family adores them, cake with everything we say!!! So what better way to celebrate Valentines Day than to receive a special bespoke delivery of delicious and beautiful cupcakes.  I used the excuse of ordering them for my other half…and the kids…but I was tingling with anticipation at their arrival.

When they arrived, beautifully boxed and labelled, we all had big grins on our faces.

As a vegan Lynwen knows how hard it is to find delicious cakes and treats, so she made her own. Now she has a fabulous array of exciting flavours with which to entice cake lovers; think vanilla, chocolate, lemon, apple crumble, apple and blackcurrant crumble, victoria sponge, chocolate orange, chocolate raspberry, strawberry and vanilla, blueberry lemon, carrot cake, chocolate banana, banana and chocolate chip, chocolate mint, strawberry lemon, lemon and blackcurrant, lemon and raspberry, lemon curd, cherry Bakewell.

You’ll find it hard to make a choice with all that lot!! Lynwen offers bespoke cupcakes for all occasions and events and she also hand delivers within a 15 mile radius of Llangefni.

My box of four cakes plus delivery cost £8.00 an absolute bargain!

If you would like to order cupcakes or discuss a special occasion you can give Lynwen a call on 07759 576739 or


or you can pop down to the Ogwen Produce market, Bethesda on the second Saturday of the month and pick some up there.


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Filed under baking, British food, cakes & Baking, local produce, produce markets, Sources and suppliers, Wedding catering

To Market, to market..

We didn’t go to buy a fat pig or a fat hen….although we did cook some lovely dry cure bacon and chorizo!

We missed the Ogwen Produce market, Bethesda during the January break, so it was with great joy that I packed up my boxes and headed off early Saturday morning to cook for the market faithful. Usually I sell jam and chutney and run the pop-up cafe, but this month I was giving myself a bit of a break and just sticking to the cafe, which gave me time to take some pictures, an unusual feat for me…and how nice it was to have time to browse and catch up with other producers.

The Bethesda market is lovely because it combines local crafts and food. You can pick up your Sunday dinner and buy a few extra treats and gifts and this month, with Valentines day being just round the corner there were so many pretty bits and bobs to buy. They had everything from heart-shaped biscuits at Cegin Brysur, to felt hearts, cards, red heart jewellery from DyfalDonc, gorgeous cute egg cosy’s, chocolate at Cariad chocolates and those beautiful valentines cakes that I’d seen on Aderyn Melys’s FB page…I made a beeline for them!

As well as sweet treats, crafts and the usual vegetables, cheese (from Rhyd Y Delyn), local honey and bread, two local butchers joined us for the first time.  Johnny 6 came along with their Welsh made chorizo, lamb merguez and other gourmet sausages, while I cooked up samples in the kitchen. I’m loving their Welsh dragon (leek and chilli) variety at the moment. We also had Tom Pritchard, from Parc Farm (in the next village to us) selling his home reared pork and lamb. It was good to have fresh meat on sale.

It was a cold day and I’m sure the hall was chillier than it was outside. But we kept ourselves warm with plenty of hot tea and coffee, plus bacon and sausage baps, chorizo and chick pea stew and spiced parsnip and apple soup.

Here are a few pictures from the day…

Wendy from Johnny 6

Sophie from Phia designs with her lovely fluffy scarves and wraps, recycled fleece slippers and hats and totally cute and gorgeous egg cosys…a perfect gift for Easter

cooking chorizo!

Cariad chocolate

Rhyd y Delyn cheese

Paul from Moelyci environmental centre in the foreground and our cafe at the back

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Filed under British food, Butchers, cakes & Baking, home cooking, local produce, Organic meat, Pop-up cafe, produce markets, Sources and suppliers, Uncategorized

Perfect buttery flapjacks: recipe

Whether you are snowed-in and avoiding the blizzards, or trapped under a deluge of rain (our dreams of white-capped hills thwarted for the time being) there’s not much to top a cheering batch of chewy, rib-sticking flapjacks and a steaming mug of tea or fresh coffee. Guaranteed to warm the cockles and put a smile on the face.

Flapjacks are often overlooked for posher cakes like macaroons and cupcakes and aren’t really considered a treat at all. Their practicality and lunchbox friendliness make them seem like the healthy alternative and at times they are wheeled out as the last resort when more exotic treats or something ‘nicer’ isn’t around. I think its high time we sung the praises of the humble flapjack and stopped treating them as the poor relation.

For me flapjacks are about as decadent as you can get; what’s not to like about a sweet concoction of sugar, syrup and butter. Tooth-achingly rich, incredibly easy to make and cheap; they are a the perfect recipe for an afternoons baking with bored kids and you only need the most basic store cupboard ingredients.

We like them as they come; usually straight from the tin, still warm, but cool enough so they have a little bit of crunch.  The basic ingredients will suffice but if you feel the need to tip a nod to their healthy reputation you can add a handful of nuts, seeds or dried fruit.

So on a drab wet Saturday Aidan decided he would make a batch. He had a to improvise a little; he used a tablespoon of treacle because we didn’t have quite enough syrup, which produced a darker flapjack, but didn’t overwhelm the flavour as much as honey tends to. He also insisted on adding 50g dried fruit. He also added a pinch of Halen Mon vanilla salt to the butter and sugars as they melted.

Our flapjack recipe….

150g unsalted butter

120ml golden syrup (about 6 tablespoons or so…we added one tablespoon treacle)

75g soft brown sugar

250g rolled oats (porridge oats are fine)

50g dried fruit/seeds/chopped nuts (or an extra 25g oats if you don’t wish to use anything else…just to stop the mixture being too sticky)

pinch of Halen Mon vanilla salt

Put the butter, sugar, syrup and pinch of salt in a saucepan and heat gently until melted. Give it a regular stir so the sugar doesn’t stick and to check if it has melted.

Put oats and fruit into a large bowl.

When the sugars have melted pour over the oats and stir well and until the oats are well coated. Press the mixture into a greased baking tin (20×28 cm) lined with baking paper or parchment.

Bake in a pre-heated oven gas mark 4, 180 degrees C, 350 degree F for about 25 to 30 minutes.

When ready remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin. While still warm cut into fingers or squares.

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Filed under baking, British food, cakes & Baking, family budget cooking, home cooking, Recipes, Uncategorized

Perfect tagliatelle: recipe

I’ve never had much luck with my pasta making exploits. A couple of attempts at making tagliatelle, plus a few goes at making ravioli have left me slightly frustrated and wondering what I was doing wrong. My pasta either ended up soggy and claggy, a sticky mess…or too thick and a bit rubbery. Even when I was given a pasta machine last Christmas I couldn’t get it right so I’d given it up as a bad job.

My attempts at pasta making have left me frustrated, but I’m not easily beaten, especially by a lump of dough so I got reading. All the pasta making tips, videos and recipes I could find. They all made it look too damn easy, when I knew it wasn’t!! But then I found a recipe in Yotam Ottolenghi’s book Plenty which sounded really simple. None of this “roll out fifty times at each thickness on the pasta machine” just simple clear instructions that left even me feeling confident I could do it correctly.

And I was right! The pasta was perfect. OK my cutting was a little clumsy but with a bit more practise I’m sure I will improve. But still I was proud of my efforts as I gazed lovingly at the delicate sunshine coloured ribbons with occasional deep red saffron flecks, hanging out to dry.

Unusually for me I stuck to the recipe like glue, I wanted to feel safe and secure and although the pasta didn’t look perfect, the taste and consistency were spot on, which is the thing that counts as far as I’m concerned. I was wise to stick to the recipe because now I feel totally confident with my pasta making and maybe next time I can experiment a bit.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s saffron tagliatelle:

2 teaspoons saffron threads

4 tablespoons boiling water

4 medium free range eggs

4 tablespoons olive oil

440g or so of OO pasta flour (Doves farm or Shipton Mill are good)

1 teaspoon turmeric

Place the saffron threads in a bowl and pour over the hot water. Leave to stand for 10 minutes or more to infuse. Add the eggs and the oil and beat together.

Place flour and turmeric in a food processor or large bowl and slowly add the egg mixture until a crumbly dough is formed. If you need more oil or flour just add small amounts at a time. You don’t want your dough to be too dry or too sticky.

Dust work surface or board with flour and knead the dough into a ball and continue kneading until you have a silky soft dough. Wrap in clingfilm and chill or at least 30 minutes….but you can leave it in the fridge for up to a day.

When you are ready to make your pasta chop the dough into 3 pieces wrapping the other two back up so they don’t dry out. Dust with a little flour and with a rolling-pin flatten the piece into a thinnish rectangle. If you are using a pasta machine set the roller to the widest setting and pass the dough through. Keep doing this narrowing the setting each time and making sure the dough stays dusted with flour to avoid it going sticky.  I didn’t narrow the machine to its thinnest setting as it seemed too thin for tagliatelle. Fold the pasta sheet twice along its length making sure it is still dusted with flour and cut into long strips. Either hang to dry over a pasta hanger as I did or over the back of a chair. If you don’t have a pasta machine you can still achieve the desired thickness by some persistent rolling on a well floured board, all a machine does, is speed up the process.

Repeat this process with the other two portions of dough. This recipe made enough pasta to feed the four of us…with a little left over so I guess it would probably feed five to six people. Leave the pasta for about 10 minutes before cooking in plenty of boiling salted water. It only needs a few minutes and then mix with a sauce of your choice.

I used another Ottolenghi recipe, not entirely sure whether the kids would like it, but I wanted to try it anyway.

500g button mushrooms

200ml white wine

2 bay leaves

a few sprigs of fresh thyme

1 teaspoon caster sugar

250ml double cream

zest of two unwaxed lemons

2 cloves garlic

a good handful of finely chopped parsley

40g dried breadcrumbs (Panko Japanese breadcrumbs are the best and easily found in oriental supermarkets)

400g purple sprouting broccoli

Saute the sliced mushrooms in plenty of olive oil until just starting to turn brown. Add wine, bay leaves, thyme and sugar. Bring to the boil and simmer; the wine needs to reduce to about a third of the original amount. Stir in the cream, season with salt and pepper and keep warm.

Mix together lemon zest, garlic and parsley. Keep to one side. In a hot dry pan toast the breadcrumbs until golden brown. Leave to cool slightly before mixing with the lemon mixture.

Trim the broccoli and slice any extra think pieces in half. Blanch for a couple of minutes in boiling water then drain. Cook the pasta in boiling water for a couple of minutes and while that is cooking mix the broccoli into the mushroom and cream mixture.

Drain the pasta and mix into the creamy sauce adding a bit of the cooking liquid if it seems too thick. Divide between warmed plates and sprinkle over the breadcrumb mixture and serve.

The verdict? Well I will give you a quote from the teen…

“Mum it’s really nice…it tastes like it’s from a restaurant”.

High praise indeed coming from two kids that apparently hate mushrooms. That Ottolenghi knows his stuff 😉

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Filed under British food, family budget cooking, home cooking, Italian food, local produce, recipe books, Recipes, seasonal food