Cockles with Pancetta and Thyme

Cockles with Pancetta and Thyme
Cockles with Pancetta and Thyme

Living by the sea allows me to enjoy the freshest of bounty from it, and shellfish, especially is at it’s best when it bought fresh from a fish shop owned by a fisherman. The Cockles recipe is from Shaun Rankin and was devised for the Great British Menu. Although it’s bursting with a the flavours of the Mediterranian it harks back to my Welsh roots as I had the best cockles on the Gower Coast.

Serves 4 – Gluten Free*


  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 shallot, trimmed and sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, sliced
  • 90g of cubed pancetta
  • 900g of cockles
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 300ml of white wine
  • 6 basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • Freashly ground black pepper


Thoroughly rinse the cockles before cooking, discarding any that are broken.

  1. Scrub well to remove any sand, mud or grit. If the shells are open, give them a light tap; if they do not close, discard
  2. Heat the olive oil in a heavy based frying pan and sauté the shallot and garlic over a medium heat for about 2 minutes until the shallots are soft and translucent but not coloured
  3. Add the pancetta cubes and fry for a further minute.
  4. Now add the cockles, thyme and finally the white wine. 
  5. Cover with a lid and steam w for 4 minutes or until the shells have fully opened
  6. Spoon the cockles into a serving dish and sprinkle the basil on the top. 
  7. Pour over the cooking juices and finish with black pepper.

Serve with some toasted focaccia (or a Gluten Free alternative)

*Gluten Free – Although I make every effort to ensure that the ingredients listed are gluten free, you should double check at the time of using as products change their base ingredients frequently


Welsh Cawl
Welsh Cawl

I was reading through a old recipe book, that was my Grandmothers, I came across a heavily annotated recipe for Cawl, which a Welsh version of the ubiquitous Irish Stew. The book is starting to fall apart and St David’s is almost upon us I’ve decided to publish the recipe up here. The flavour improves if you make it the day before hand.

Serves 4 – Gluten Free*


I’ve converted the Imperial Measurements in the book to metric for ease

  • 2lb (1kg) neck of lamb (on the bone), preferably Welsh, cut into serving pieces
  • 3 pints (2ltrs) lamb stock
  • 8oz (225g) potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 8oz (225g) onions, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 8oz (225g) leeks, trimmed and sliced into ½in (1cm) slices
  • 8oz (225g) carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 8oz (225g) swede, peeled and roughly chopped


  1. Place the lamb into a large pan and pour over the stock. 
  2. Bring the liquid to the boil, then reduce the heat until it is simmering and leave to simmer for an hour.
  3. Add the chopped vegetables and continue to cook for a further hour. 
  4. Remove from the heat, cover and set aside to cool overnight.
  5. When you are ready to serve the stew, return the mixture to the boil, reduce to a simmer and continue to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until completely heated through.

Serve in warmed bowls with crusty bread and slices of a good Welsh cheese.

*Gluten Free – Although I make every effort to ensure that the ingredients listed are gluten free, you should double check at the time of using as products change their base ingredients frequently

Red Dragon Cocktail

Red Dragon Cocktail
Red Dragon Cocktail

I’ve been search for a Welsh inspired cocktail for St David’s Day and I’ve found the Red Dragon. Although not entirely connected to Wales, the Red Dragon is it’s national symbol.

Gluten Free


  • 1 cup blood orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 8 ounces tequila
  • 7 ounces triple sec


  1. Mix the blood orange juice and sugar in a small saucepan and simmer on a low heat until it has a syrupy texture.
  2. Allow it to cool. 
  3. Combine ingredients in a large pitcher with ice. 

Serve in a margarita glasses, garnished with thin slices of blood orange peel

*Gluten Free – Although I make every effort to ensure that the ingredients listed are gluten free, you should double check at the time of using as products change their base ingredients frequently

Apple Scone

Apple Scone
Apple Scone

There are some recipes that always remind me of being a child and a Sunday evening wasn’t complete if Mum hadn’t made an Apple Scone. She had (and still has) an old Hamlyn All Colour Cook Book (Hamlyn All Colour Cookbook) and the recipe originally came from there.

Makes 12 wedges


Scone mix

  • 250g Self Raising Flour
  • 4 tbls caster sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 0.5 tsp salt
  • 50g butter, chilled
  • 1 cooking apple – peeled, cored and grated
  • 125ml milk


  • 1 tbls tablespoons milk
  • 2 tbls demerara sugar
  • 0.5 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees C.
  2. Sift flour into a large bowl and add sugar, baking powder and salt
  3. Rub in butter until crumbly.
  4. Add grated apple and milk and stir to form a soft dough.
  5. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, then knead gently 8 to 10 times.
  6. Pat into two 15cm (6-inch) circles and place on greased baking tray.
  7. Brush tops with milk, and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.
  8. Score each round into 6 wedges or stamp out into round scones.
  9. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, or until browned and risen.

Serve warm with butter (some good strong Chedder Cheese works well with it too).

Lyonnaise Potatoes

Lyonnaise Potatoes
Lyonnaise Potatoes

So much more delicious than plain boiled or sauteed potatoes, Lyonnaise Potatoes add a touch of class to so many main dishes especially a good steak.

If you include some chopped ham and some red pepper when you fry off the potatoes and top off with some grated Gruyère cheese then place under the grill for four minutes it makes a meal in itself.

Serves 2-4 – Gluten Free*


  • 500g new potatoes, halved
  • 1 large onion sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2tbs Olive Oil
  • 1tsp butter


  1. Pop the potatoes into a pan of salted water, bring to the boil and cook for 20 mins or until just tender. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat a heavy based frying pan and add oil and onions and fry until translucent. 
  3. Add the potatoes, garlic and butter and fry until onions have browned and the potatoes crispy at the edges
  4. Season with freshly ground pepper and salt (if required).

Serve, with sausages, steak or just about anything

My Perfect Steak – Method

Rib Eye - Before cooking
Rib Eye – Before cooking

My favourite cut for a steak is the Rib eye, cut from the rib section the muscle gets a good working during the animals life so along with a good marbling of fat it has a good flavour.

Serve with Lyonnaise Potatoes, or chips and with some Bearnaise Sauce drizzled over.

Step 1: Getting ready
Allow you steaks to get to room temperature before cooking, so remove from the refrigerator at least an hour before you need them.

Step 2: Preheat the pan
Begin by placing the griddle or heavy based frying pan over a high heat and allow it to become very hot.

Step 3: Oil and season
Now brush both sides of the steak with a light coating of oil and season both sides with salt and pepper to taste. It’s always a good idea to season your steak just before cooking it. Otherwise, the salt with draw the all moisture out of the meat and will affect the taste.

Step 4: Fry the steak
Now that the griddle pan is really hot, place the rib eye onto it. If you are using a regular frying pan, pour a little oil on it before adding the steak. Then cook the meat until the bottom is crispy and brown.
Don’t crowd your pan, don’t cook more that 2 steaks at a time otherwise the temperature of the pan will drop and the streaks will stew rather than fry
You can check to see how it’s cooking, by turning one end up, to see how the crust is building up. Brush once more with oil, season and turn it over to the other side. Don’t ever turn the meat more than once. It makes it very tough. Now reduce the heat to medium.

Timings for a 2 cm thick steak at room temperature before cooking

      • Blue: 1 minute each side
      • Rare: 1½ minutes each side
      • Medium rare: 2 minutes each side
      • Medium: 2¼ minutes each side
      • Medium-well done: 2½ – 3 minutes each side.

Step 6: Remove and rest
When ready, remove the rib eye from the pan with your tongs and place it immediately onto a wooden board or a rack. It is important to let the steak rest 2 or 3 minutes before serving. This will allow the juices to disperse throughout the steak, enhancing its flavour and allowing the steak to relax, ensuring it’s not tough.

Rib Eye after cooking

Bearnaise Sauce

Bearnaise Sauce
Bearnaise Sauce

Bearnaise sauce is a derivation of the classic Hollandaise sauce, the difference is that it’s flavoured with Tarragon. Bearnaise is my favourite sauce to accompany a good pan seared steak (preferably a big old lump of well aged Rib Eye).

Serves 4 – Gluten Free*


  • 300g clarifed butter or ghee, melted and kept warm
  • 4 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 4 shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon stalks, plus 2 tbsp whole tarragon leaves
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 meduim free-range egg yolks
  • 1 tsp lemon juice



  1. Pour the vinegar into a non-reactive saucepan. 
  2. Add the shallots, chopped tarragon stalks and salt, to taste. 
  3. Heat gently over a medium heat until the volume of liquid has reduced by more than half. 
  4. Strain and set aside until completely cooled.
  5. Lightly beat egg yolks with one teaspoon of water. Stir the egg yolk mixture into the cooled vinegar, then add the lemon juice.
  6. Pour the mixture into a bowl suspended over a pan of simmering water (do not allow base of the bowl to touch the water). 
  7. With an electric whisk, whisk constantly until the sauce has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon and has increased in volume.
  8. Remove the bowl from the heat and slowly pour in the clarified butter in a steady stream, continuing to whisk, until the mixture is thick and smooth.
  9. Fold in the tarragon leaves and season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Pop the bowl back over the water (off the heat) to keep warm until ready to use, then pour over your best grilled steak or some poached Salmon.

*Gluten Free – Although I make every effort to ensure that the ingredients listed are gluten free, you should double check at the time of using as products change their base ingredients frequently

Scallops with chorizo

Scallops with chorizo
Scallops with chorizo

This simple starter is based on one of my favourite Tapas, it only takes a few minutes to prepare less to cook but you’ll remember this delicious dish for ages.

Serves 4- Gluten Free*


  • olive oil
  • 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 cooking chorizo , sliced into rounds the thickness of a pound coin (ensure your Chorizo is Gluten Free for a Gluten Freen Recipe)
  • 12 scallops, cleaned
  • a large bunch flat-leaf parsley, leaves roughly chopped
  • a handful of roasted red peppers from a jar, sliced roughly


  1. Whisk 3 tbsp olive oil with the sherry vinegar and shallot and season well.
  2. Heat a little olive oil in a pan, then fry the chorizo until cooked through and coloured.
  3. In a separate pan, heat a little olive oil then sear the scallops for a minute on each side until golden and crusted, seasoning as you turn.
  4. Add the oil from the chorizo to the dressing, then toss the parsley and pepper strips in before arranging on warmed plates with the chorizo and scallops.

Serve, with slices of fresh crusty bread (like Soda Bread)

*Gluten Free – Although I make every effort to ensure that the ingredients list are gluten free, you should double check at the time of using as products change their base ingredients frequently

Braised Pig Cheeks

Braised Pig CheeksImage:
Braised Pig Cheeks

Pig cheeks are a forgotten but extremely tasty cut of meat and as they are out of fashion they’re still relatively cheap too. A couple of weeks ago my other half bought a pack of them at out local supermarket, after I had been describing a menu with braised cheeks on in a restaurant I visited  during a trip to Montreal a few years ago. I popped them in the freezer as I didn’t have the time to do them justice and cooking them they deserved, the cheeks respond best to a gentle braising.
With this easy recipe from Nigel Slater, the ingredients take less than 15 mins to prepare and the oven does the hard work.

Serves 4 – Gluten Free*


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 pig’s cheeks (the pillow shaped bit)
  • 3 carrots, roughly chopped in to medium sized pieces
  • 2 brown onions, peeled and roughly sliced 
  • 1 red onion, peeled and roughly sliced 
  • 2 sticks of celery, roughly chopped in to medium sized pieces
  • 4 big fat cloves garlic, sliced thinly
  • A generous bunch of fresh thyme
  • a short piece of orange zest
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 350ml red wine (the bolder the better)
  • 350ml vegetable stock (use a Gluten Free Stock for a gluten free recipe)
  • 2 tbsp flour (use a Gluten Free flour for a gluten free recipe)
  • 2 tbsp Apple sauce or fruit jelly


  1. Heat the oven at 160C
  2. Warm a thin film of oil in a heavy roasting tin over a moderate heat, then season the cheeks with salt and pepper and brown them lightly in the oil. 
  3. Remove and set aside.
  4. Add the carrots, onions, celery, orange peel and garlic to the pan in which you browned the cheeks, letting them soften and colour very lightly. 
  5. Return the cheeks to the pan, tucking them among the vegetables, scatter over the flour, season with more salt and black pepper and cook for a minute or two.
  6. Add the thyme, the bay leaves, wine and stock.
  7. Bring to the boil, cover loosely with moistened baking parchment.
  8. Bake for 2½ to 3 hours until tender. Checking occasionally to make sure the liquid isn’t reducing too far. 
  9. After an hour or so, it might be prudent to taste and add up to two tbsp apple sauce or other fruit jelly to the gravy.

Serve with buttery mashed potatoes.

*Gluten Free – Although I make every effort to ensure that the ingredients list are gluten free, you should double check at the time of using as products change their base ingredients frequently