You would think that something as simple as melted cheese on toast would be fairly straightforward, but there are billions of recipes out there for welsh rarebit. Well, maybe not billions, but quite a lot. Fortunately, Felicity Cloake of the Guardian has gone through virtually all of them (https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2011/oct/27/how-to-cook-perfect-welsh-rarebit) and has found the perfect cheese and toast combo. Read her whole article - it’s fantastic. I’ve made it to serve four, and have switched the cheese to Cheddar, since getting Lancashire cheese can be dicey. I also found a little extra Worcestershire and cayenne pepper added oomph.
But seriously. Eat this. Cymru am byth!!!
NB: Eat this all at once - the sauce does not reheat well. Mine broke almost immediately when I tried to reheat it for Mrs. Wonders of the World.
The most important piece of afternoon tea is the tea itself, but that is outside the scope of this episode. So instead, let’s focus on the scone, the perfect little pastry at the center of the meal.
This recipe is adapted from Mark Bittman in the New York Times (https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1013297-classic-scones). These are English scones, so why am I using an American recipe? I don’t know - I guess because this was the one which seemed simplest, with ingredients which can be obtained anywhere.
Picture courtesy of Ibán Yarza via Wikimedia commons
We go to Southwest England to see Stonehenge. We talk about the Neolithic revolution, Wales, Arthur and the Holy Grail, Bath, the Cotswolds, and clotted cream and scones. It's a lot! Thanks to Alexa Echlov and Rooksie Noorai for their help.
Bonus episode - An audio transcript of an interview of Ian, friend of the show and resident of the Northern Territory, in which he describes the heat, the snakes, the beer, and life in the far reaches of Australia's north. Read by Drew.
Since I’m not allowed to cook kangaroo steaks, here’s a recipe for a completely different Australian masterpiece: the pie floater, South Australia’s gift to the culinary world. Imagine if you will: flaky pie crust, filled with seasoned ground meat and vegetables like leeks, carrots, and celery. So sort of like a beef or lamb pot pie. This is then floated in a bowl of bright green pea soup and served with a dollop of tomato sauce on top. Yep. I don’t understand it either.
But let’s try! This is, without question, the best recipe I’ve found. Mainly because it’s the only one that makes each part of the floater individually; many say "Pick up a meat pie at the butcher's" - a silly thing to say when you live in the 99% of countries who don't have meat pie-selling butchers. It also doesn’t require mediocre tomato sauce, because why? I’m translating this from the original Australian English.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add onion. Cook for 5 minutes. Increase heat to high. Add ground beef. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until the ground beef starts to brown. Add tomato paste and flour. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add beer and stir. Add stock and Vegemite. Simmer for 30 minutes until thickened. Add parsley. Set aside to cool.
While the ground meat mixture is simmering, heat remaining oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add extra onion. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add potato, peas, mint and stock. Simmer for 20 minutes or until potato is soft. Cool slightly. Blend with a hand blender.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Preheat oven tray on lowest shelf. Use a pizza cutter to cut a disc from the corner of 4 pastry sheets. Ease remaining pastry into four 4-inch (10cm) diameter round springform pans. Divide ground beef mixture among pans. Top each with a pastry disc. Press to seal edges. Trim excess. Cut 2 slits on each pie top. Place on tray. Bake for 15 minutes. Transfer tray to top shelf. Cook for 15 minutes until golden. Return soup to medium-high heat. Add creme fraiche. Simmer until warmed though. Divide soup among 4 bowls. Top with pies.