A few weeks back I was asked to attend an evening of fish and chips at Canteen, the small chain of British Restaurants. I've been to Canteen a couple of times before and have always enjoyed it so was more than happy to say yes. Canteen was set up by a trio of lads (rather young lads, makes one feel a tad unsuccessful) to fill a gap in the high street dining scene, whilst many of the world's cuisines are represented they thought (and I agree) there was a wallowing void where the country's own food was concerned and set about filling it. As they've gone from one to four establishments in a fairly short time period they must be doing something right.
Fish and chips is their best seller but their version could be thought a bit controversial by the purists, no beef dripping here (damn pescatarians) and - even more so - a coating of breadcrumbs over batter, although they did turn us out a bit of battered fish that evening, not that that's any use if any of you lot visit. I surprised myself by preferring the breadcrumbs anyway. The fish there varies dailies and we got plaice, I was never going to complain with a giant plaice goujon and chips (crisp without and soft within), especially with the much maligned but personal favourite mushy pea which had been kept beautifully green through the addition of bicarb (a fine tip from Chef and owner Cass).
I left the evening well sated and more knowledgeable about the constraints of a commercial kitchen, not to mentioned armed with the correct tools to keep my peas colourful - I also left with a shiny copy of the Canteen cook book.
I am a cook book addict, I started this book with the intention of cooking the books (geddit?), specifically the couple of hundred cook books that sit on two bookshelves in my kitchen. I failed miserably, moving onto restaurant reviews, travel, made up recipes and recipes pilfered from the internet and altered. I still love my cook books though and this one is a great addition to the already sagging shelves. The recipes are all British - obviously - with lots that will be familiar to you if you've eaten there before - Arbroath smokie, peppery salads, pies galore (their second best seller) and scotch egg to name a few. A Welsh rarebit has been on my to-eat list for ages though (plus I'd found a warm and flat half-can of bitter leftover from the night before) and so I decided to test their version out - and here it is.
There was a good balance between cheese and other flavours, the wholegrain mustard adding texture where previous rarebits I've eaten have been smooth. It worked well, which is always a plus point for ones first recipe attempt from a book. I think next up might be their pork pie as I fancy giving the northern delicacy of warm pork pie with mushy peas a go, will give me a chance to try out Cass's green pea tip too.
Welsh Rarebit, 2 slices
75gr decent strong cheddar
1/2 egg yolk
1ts Worcestershire sauce
2TB Wholegrain mustard
2 slices bread, I used granary
Mix the milk and ale and warm up.
Make a roux with the butter and flour, cooking for a couple of minutes to get rid of the raw flour taste.
Beat in the milk and ale till smooth.
Take off the heat and mix in everything else except the bread - obviously - and stir till melted and combined..
Toast the bread then spread the mixture liberally on to one side.
Toast until golden, it colours very easily so turn the grill down a bit below full whack or put the grill pan on a lower shelf.