Such decadent deliciousness! Today I am posting a recipe for a rich, thick, cheesy - yet rarely made anymore delight. Reduce the recipe down to it's basics, and it is just an open faced toasted cheese sandwich. It is to laugh...
Here's my story of my very first Welsh Rarebit...
8 years ago, I had an opportunity to visit England on business. I worked for a few days, and then Jackie and I enjoyed a vacation. I did quite a bit of research on what to do and especially where to eat. One of our evenings I was trying to capture the feel of Charles Dickens and a true Olden Tymes London meal. I found that meal at RULES restaurant. Established in 1798, Rules advertises itself as the oldest restaurant in London. The restaurant owns an estate in the high countryside where they source their wild game that the menu is famous for. the restaurant is conveniently located near several West End theatres. We dined before a show, and enjoyed the experience so much that we returned after the show for our dessert and coffee.
The restaurant is stunningly beautiful. the setting, the decor and certainly the menu lived up to my every expectation. I was on a bit of a cheese kick during this vacation. I was thrilled to see cheese trays on many dessert menus (sadly usually absent on US menus). But at Rules, they featured this fancy dancy toasted cheese sandwich as an appetizer paired with a soup.
And oh my gods... I never forgot that first taste!
And so, this is now my third installment of my romantic Christmas Eve meal. I am hoping to nudge some of you to consider a similar culinary experiment for any possible romantic day in your life. An Anniversary, birthday or Valentines Day would be perfect. A couple days ago, I told you about the 8 AM hour, when I made Asiago / Blue Cheese Crisps, and why that menu item was romantic for my wife and me. Yesterday, I made BLUE CHEESE SAUCE over Homemade POTATO CHIPS - Restaurant Quality Appetizer and 7 things about ME!!! And they were VERY VERY good! Again, we spent an hour reliving a few romantic moments during the 9 AM hour while I prepared the dish!
So, it's 10 AM... And it's time to get international...
I actually have FOODYCAT (an Australian blogger I have only recently started to follow... Love her) to thank for giving me the idea for the Christmas jaunt down memory lane. Way back on November 9th, she posted her recipe for Welsh Rarebit. It triggered the memory of RULES, and started my mind wandering to the idea of a meal made just of recreated restaurant memories. You can see her recipe (along with a wonderful sounding Carrot soup) by clicking HERE.
OK, enough set-up, let's get to the recipe. WELSH RAREBIT has existed for over 300 years. Many of the earliest English cookbooks feature a recipe for the dish. There are many legends for the origin of the name, but the truth is lost to history. The one I like to believe is that the dish did indeed originate in Wales. the Welsh people were poorer than their English cousins. While Englanders would dine on Rabbit, the Welsh would have to make a meal of cheese. Those same talented Mrs. Cratchits' of the 17oo's that gave the world Yorkshire Pudding, also gave us this dish. A classic case of necessity being the Mother of "culinary creative" invention.
The word "rarebit" has no other use or meaning in the English language. In a snooty 1926 edition of the Dictionary of Modern English Usage, H. W. Fowler (who has no real sense of humor) claims: "Welsh Rabbit is amusing and right. Welsh Rarebit is stupid and wrong." Well, amusing or stupid...
Here's what I did... I followed Foodycat's recipe pretty straight forward...
4 slices of good, sturdy bread
1/2 cup brown ale
grated cheese (I used a mixture of mature chedder and parmesan)
In a small pan, make a roux of the butter and flour. When it starts to bubble, gradually add the ale, stirring constantly until you have a smooth sauce. When the sauce comes to the boil, gradually add the grated cheese, stirring constantly while it melts.
How much you need is a matter for you and your cardiologist - I used about 150g. When the cheese is almost melted, taste and season with a splash of worcestershire sauce, a sprinkle of cayenne pepper and a teaspoonful of mustard.
Place the slices of bread in a shallow baking dish (I used parchment paper). Pour the hot, smooth cheese over the slices of bread, and put the baking dish under the grill (broiler) for a couple of minutes (watching closely) until the cheese colours and bubbles.
One other change I made, I used thick slices of Italian bread for this. I decided to fry them up (both sides) in some olive oil, so the cheese was poured over toast. As I read foodycat's recipe, she puts the un-toasted bread into the broiler. I certainly liked the texture of the crispness of the toast.
In no way did this disappoint. It was rich and hardy. Very thick and had all those amazing flavors. the texture with the toast was wonderful. It certainly held up to the added liquid. I believe the toast helped to keep this from becoming mushy bread.
Restaurant quality... You bet, in every way. the taste texture and look were exactly what I remembered and was what I wanted to achieve.
This Welsh rarebit recipe, like Mary Poppins, practically perfect in every way." Jackie and I spent the hour talking over memories of that vacation. So, memories and a fancy dancy toasted cheese... Not just practically perfect in every way , but absolutely perfect in every way.
And hey... After this hour, it's only 11 in the morning... LOTS of recipes to follow!