Tag Archives: sausage

In search of a sub’s dinner

I’m a sub-editor. The pesky one that watches out for errant apostrophes and such,  occasionally writes a vaguely ok headline and sets herself up for a fall when it comes to blogging mistakes.

It means I work distinctly odd hours – usually 2ish to 10ish, or thereabouts. And, the main consequence for this blog – and my life –  is that it has made dinner, in its lovely hot winey form, virtually extinct, apart from on glorious Saturdays. (Ok. It’s not the world’s greatest hardship, by any stretch. But this is a food blog. I’m allowed to moan about fripperies. For the much  less trivial, read the wonderful Unemployed Hack).

Us subs, and general shifters, deal with said situation in ways varied and numerous. The sensible way, nutritionally, would be to have a proper old-fashioned hot dinner at lunchtime, and then sandwiches for tea. Sadly, this means I may well slump on to my desk in an overfed haze at about 3pm – not so good professionally.

Go Away I'm Proofing

Ideal sub's lunch receptacle

Option two. Eat an ordinary person’s lunch, make it through the shift on a mixture of crisps, fruit and biscuits purloined from kind colleagues, and cook a proper dinner when you get home. Aside from the fact this would mean treating my long-suffering flatmate to my untidy and noisy cooking at about 11pm, I feel guilty eating late AND it takes a lot of biscuits to make it from 2.30 til 11. Trust me.

Three. Pret. And such. Given half the chance – and a lot more money – my laziness would kick in and I would buy a lot of takeaway. But thriftiness says no.

Sadly option four – take food in and microwave it – isn’t possible as we are microwaveless at work. We have a canteen, but it’s understandably frowned upon to drip hot lasagne over the chief sub as you explain the fourth paragraph of your story with an hour to go before first edition.

Sausage pasta #1

Which leaves the cobbled together – and heavily tupperware reliant – option five. If I’m being good, I’ll make soup for a week (thank you, dear flatmate and your blender) so I have at least one vaguely hot meal a day for lunch, albeit eaten precariously as I try to dry my hair and do my make-up at the same time.

Similarly I’ll cook something dinnerish for the week, carefully box it up and eat it cold at work. Which is why I came to be pouring red wine into three days worth of sausage and tomato pasta sauce* at about 10 this morning.

Aside from the inherent risks of early morning alcoholism and eating dinner for breakfast, things that make a good hot meal aren’t always so good cold – and it’s sad to watch it cool down when you know it would have made a delicious dinner. And, frankly, I’m also all too frequently lured into option three by being disorganised and forgetting to make things.

The bit where I want to add creme fraiche and just have it on toast

So it’s my new mission to find recipes that serve as dinner, are delicious cold, can be made in quantity, don’t cost the earth and aren’t sandwiches (packed lunch for dinner is sometimes beautifully reminiscent of journeys and school trips, but not every day).

So. Up with my poor, neglected blog, and on to pastures new – in search of a sub’s dinner. All ideas greatly appreciated.

*I fear giving you a very studenty recipe for sausage pasta would be like teaching many grandmothers how to suck eggs. But I took a couple of nice photos, so I’ve popped them in. My only word on the subject is it’s nice to de-skin the sausages and make them into mini meatballs by coating them in chilli powder/paprika and flour, to keep them together and give them a nice crunchy coating, as in sausage pasta #1 above.  And add some red wine. Just try not to drink it in the morning.

Ta da! Every student's dream/nightmare

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Food more than fuel – In praise of cricket teas

The cricket season is nearly upon us, so especially for Cardiff School of Journalism’s cricket supplement (edited by the wonderful Will and Tom), here’s a tribute to one of Britain’s best inventions – the cricket tea.

For most sports, food means fuel. Whether it be protein shakes, dubious muscle-building powders or, for the Olympians, three fried-egg sandwiches and a five-egg omelette for breakfast, none of the scientifically-proven meals eaten by today’s athletes would find their way onto a Michelin-starred menu.

Nor, of course, onto a cricket tea table. With its day-long matches and meal breaks, cricket is the one exception to sport’s food is fuel rule. The cricket tea is a centuries-old institution, and without it club cricket – or its players at least – would crumble.

Although there’s no hard and fast rule for the perfect cricket tea, a lot rides on its quality. Your club will soon be blacklisted if away teams are greeted by nothing more than a curled-up marmite sandwich and some lukewarm squash.

Up until recently, most clubs either had an official tea lady or an unofficial squad of teamakers – the players’ wives, who get a starring role in a Yorkshire cricket heritage project. Although some still do – Lisvane Cricket Club are currently advertising for a cricket tea caterer, at £60 a time – more and more teams have had to enlist the players themselves as chefs-in-chief.

But whoever makes it, the teatime staples haven’t changed much over the years. For sandwiches, egg and cress, cheese and cucumber and tinned salmon are all favourites, usually accompanied by pork pies and sausage rolls. Some more adventurous clubs have even introduced young pretenders like cold pizza and samosas.

Tacky is usually the order of the day. Buy-one-get-one-free Mr Kipling cakes, doused with icing sugar and nestling on a doily, are a must, and a huge multipack of Walkers crisps (with the prawn cocktail left until last) is a given.

And of course an urn should sit steaming in a corner, ready to make umpteen cups of PG Tips. It’s all very 1950s, and no-one – least of all the old-timers who are more interested in the tea than the score – would want to change it.

But the best teas, the really memorable ones, the ones which will make away teams squabble over who gets picked to travel to your club, take the kitsch classics and transform them into a gourmet meal.

Sliced white bread will be replaced by fresh brown or granary straight from the baker’s. Fillings will be generous – creamy egg mayonnaise will ooze out of the sandwiches, plastic wafer thin “ham” will surrender to crumbly butcher’s ham smothered in English mustard and the sausage rolls will be warm, with flakey buttery pastry and peppery sausages.

But most of all, Mr Kipling will be abandoned in favour of homemade cakes. Light Victoria sponges, filled generously with buttercream and strawberry jam, will vie for space with rich chocolate cake and sticky brownies, and buttery scones will be served with clotted cream and tangy lemon curd.

At its best, a cricket tea encapsulates everything great about English cooking. At its worst, it will look like you’ve gone to Kerry Katona and asked her for her Iceland leftovers. Know which side your bread is buttered on, and make sure your team rises to the challenge this season.

Bara brith and laver bread – On the hunt for Welsh treats in Cardiff

Starbucks has taken over Queen Street and it’s often easier to find a panini than rarebit in the Welsh capital, with traditional dishes nowhere to be seen. So, in the spirit of St David’s day, I went on the hunt to see if Welsh staples like cawl, bara brith and laver bread still exist in increasingly cosmopolitan Cardiff.

First on the list is the Bull Terrier Café in Cardiff market, one of the few places left in the city where you can still find a traditional Welsh breakfast. Along with Welsh bacon, sausage and egg, the proper version comes with oat cakes, cockles and laver bread, made from seaweed. Bread is of course misleading. Chef Lenny Morris said when rolled in oatmeal and fried the dark green seaweed mixture forms a crucial part of the Welsh breakfast.

Bara brith

He said: “Normally we’re lucky if we sell one a day, but it’s popular on match days, mostly with the Valleys bunch. The Aussies like to try it sometimes too.” Mr Morris buys his laver bread from Ashton’s fishmongers downstairs in the market, where it retails at £8.65 a kilogram. Director Nick Adams said: “It comes from the Gower and it’s very popular. We sell about 60 or 70 kilograms a week.”

At St Fagans National Museum, cake rather than seaweed is the order of the day. General manager of the restaurant, Damian Brown, said; “As well as sourcing all our food locally we do all our own baking on site and we produce a range of cakes including Welsh cakes, bara brith and shearing cake. Shearing cake is a traditional 1930s cake made from lemon and caraway seed. It had nearly died out but we looked through our recipe books and decided to revive it.”

Welsh cakes

Even far flung dishes from the New York Deli in High Street Arcade have a Welsh twist. Owner Harriett Davies said they source all their charcuterie from nearby Tongwynlais, and their Cardiff hoagie with leeks and cheese is one of their most popular sandwiches.

But for a real choice of Welsh classics, the best option is Garlands eatery and coffee house in Duke Street Arcade. According to owner Ian Davis, their most popular Welsh dish is lamb cawl, which accounts for five per cent of their sales and takes two days to make. The chef roasts and boils lamb bones to make a rich stock and then adds winter vegetables to make the traditional hearty broth.

Welsh rarebit

They also make Welsh rarebit in the traditional way. Mr Davis said: “It’s not cheese on toast, it’s baked cheese. We mix cheese, beer and mustard together and grill it for speed, but traditionally it wascooked in an Aga.”

The small café, popular with first language Welsh speakers. also sells laver bread as part of their veggie breakfast, alongside Glamorgan sausages made with leeks and Caerphilly cheese. Mr Davis said: “It is good food, and it is always nice to make things which are just part of your heritage. My grandmother made all these things – we should not be the exception. The question is not why do we cook Welsh food, but why everyone else doesn’t. We don’t want to be a tacky Welsh-themed café, but in Cardiff you should expect Welsh cooking as the norm.”

The end for blueberry muffins?

Starbucks, take note. Seaweed may not be for everyone, but with classics like Welsh rarebit and lamb cawl making a comeback, half-fat lattes and blueberry muffins will have to watch out.