We’re pretty much ’snowed in’ here. As the most southerly point in Britain, this actually means that there is a light dusting of snow. For those of you with two foot of snow lumped against your front door, you may want to look away now.
This was my terrace, early yesterday evening. Yes, I know. You’re positively underwhelmed.
There has been a fair amount of discussion over the last 48 hours about why it is that the merest hint of a snowflake sends Britain flurrying into a grinding panic because, for the most part, we don’t even know what real snow is – for that try heading north to Helsinki, a place where reindeer roam free and, I’m told, the airport stays open all winter long.
However it’s unfair to label us in Britain, as has been done by some of our own media, as a bunch of malingerers. Sure there is some skiving going on, but there is a reason why at least some of us fail to show up at work.
Take here for example. Those who live on the island’s ‘balmy’ and mostly flat south coast are starting to look askance at those of us who live in the ‘inhospitable north’, up a hill, when we complain that we were unable to make it into work first thing. The problem with any snow covering here in the UK generally is not the snow as such, but the ice that forms when it compacts. None of us have snow chains or snow tyres. Why would we when snow is such a rarity and so such things would only languish, year on year, gathering dust at the back of the garage? Our problem at the moment is dangerous black ice and that is very much more of an issue for anyone who has to negotiate an incline on little used country roads. Yesterday I watched a dangerous pattern emerging: snow fall, a slight melt, re-freeze, fresh snowfall then rinse and repeat. So no, my photo doesn’t look impressive but it is creating ridiculous disruption and concern.
I usually keep things like recipes for my other WordPress site but since we all seem to be freezing our buns off at the moment I thought I’d refer to one of my favourite cold weather comfort foods – something that I happily snaffled for my lunch today and poo to the diet guilt in this cold snap. I love cheese but God has decreed that hot cheese shall be totally irrestible, both in smell and taste, to all but the steeliest-willed skinniest of skinnies.
I have quick combos that I love on a cold day: toast one side of the bread under the grill then spread the other with tomato puree (paste), good grated strong Cheddar (the real thing, not that plastic muck that tries to pass itself off as Cheddar) and sprinkle on some dried oregano. Pop back under the grill and cook until the cheese is melting and just starting to brown. Voila! Pizza Bread! I’ve successfully substituted a scraping of Sacla red pesto and then cheese when I don’t have tomato puree (making a kind of Basil-ly pizza bread. Mmmmmm…). And for true connoisseurs of the Toast and Cheese Tasters Guild nothing can compare to a scraping of Marmite and then the grated cheese (although if you haven’t tried Marmite before you may want to take it easy with that one – Marmite truly is a product that you either love or hate. It has been known to make grown men cry).
Purists, however, will undoubtedly prefer to go through the extra kerfuffle of making proper Welsh Rarebit (also called Welsh Rabbit, although of course no rabbits are actually harmed in the making of it). Lovely, but I’m normally too much of a gannet to muck around and do things ‘properly’. Here, however is the authentic recipe for this English (well…Welsh) classic:
Welsh rarebit (Serves 4)
(By the way, the phrase Welsh rabbit was coined in the 18th century to describe this cheese on toast. Some believe it was invented when the Welsh wives spied their menfolk returning empty-handed from the hunt and had to melt cheese as a substitute for game).
This Welsh rarebit with egg is from the Edwardian chef C Herman Senn:
- 9 oz/255g freshly grated Llangloffan, Caerphilly, Cheshire or Cheddar cheese
- 1 oz/30g unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp fresh breadcrumbs
- 1 tsp Colman’s English mustard powder, mixed with 1 tsp water
- 1 egg, beaten
- Salt and pepper
- Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce (optional) – a few drops of each may be added to the mixture
- 4 slices of good bread, white or brown, lightly toasted and buttered
Heat the oven to 220C/425F/gas mark 7. Mix the finely grated cheese with the butter, breadcrumbs, mustard and egg. Beat well, season with salt and pepper to taste and spread thickly on buttered toast. Cook in the oven until golden brown (5-10 minutes).
That’s it. Enjoy… And stay warm!