MARCH is ushered in by St David's Day on the 1st. Apparently,
his followers at the monastery he founded refrained from meat and
beer, settling instead for bread and water. Quite how he would have
taken to the many variants of the Welsh lamb stew, cawl,
is another matter. By now, the meat is more mature and flavoursome,
hogget or even mutton, and makes for a perfect Lamb
casserole. This one brings in influences from Brittany and
Cornwall, where he was also active.
450g (1 lb) cubed lamb
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 50g (2 oz) tin anchovies, with oil
1 large onion, sliced
1 tin (197g/14 oz) chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon capers
2 large field mushrooms, sliced
300ml (½ pt) red wine
1 stock cube (lamb or beef)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 slices of white toast
Coat the lamb in some seasoned flour, then heat a little oil in
a flameproof casserole and fry off the meat until brown. Remove to
a plate, and throw into the casserole the garlic, anchovies, and
onion. Fry together until the onion just starts to brown.
Add the chopped tomatoes, capers, and mushrooms, stirring over
the heat for a few minutes. Make the wine up to 600ml (1 pint) with
the boiling water, crumble in the stock cube, then add to the
casserole, with the lamb, and bring everything to the boil. Turn
down, season, stir in the oregano, cover, and place in the oven at
190°C/375°F/Gas 5 for 45 minutes.
Roughly chop the slices of toast into small crumbs, and scatter
over the top. Bake for a further 30 minutes, this time uncovered,
and serve with boiled potatoes.
David is the patron saint of poets, and Dylan Thomas was one
great son of Wales whose birth centenary we mark this year. A sense
of faith suffused much of his work, but I am taking a cue from his
Under Milk Wood to give a recipe for
Junket. This has been around for centuries,
although everyone seems more interested in panna cotta these days.
Rennet is not easy to find, but is well worth the effort. Use
full-cream or gold-top milk (never UHT).
568ml (1 pt) whole milk
1 dessertspoon caster sugar
1 teaspoon essence of rennet
optional flavouring: 2 teaspoons of orange flower/rose
water or tablespoon rum/brandy
Heat the milk and sugar to "blood heat": not to the boil, but
warm enough to dip your finger in without discomfort. Stir in the
flavouring first, if being used, and then the rennet, giving a
quick but gentle stir - no more, as it will start toset, and you do
not want it to break up.
Pour into one large shallow dish, or divide between four bowls;
grate nutmeg over the top, and leave to stand for 30 minutes or so.
Once it is set, you may chill and serve it with cream, if you