Powys is a county in the central-east region of Wales, (bordering England) and these are a collection of local and regional recipes handed down within families who have lived and worked in the Powys area. All of the recipes below are regionally authentic, originally coming from recipe books published in the 1800s or 1900s, with the weights and measurements adjusted (alongside the old standards) where appropriate for the modern kitchen.
FFEST Y CYBYDD (THE MISER’S FEAST)
Place in the pan layers of peeled potatoes and sliced onions and a little salt, cover with water and bring to the boil, then place on top of the vegetables some slices of bacon and simmer slowly until cooked. This dish was so named because the miser was supposed to eat the vegetables flavoured by the bacon one day, while the bacon was kept to be eaten cold with oatmeal dumplings or plain boiled potatoes the next day.
TRELENNOD BLAWD CEIRCH (OATMEAL DUMPLINGS)
12 oz (340g or 3 cups) fine oatmeal, 4 oz (115g or 1 cup) self raising flour, 3 oz (85g or 3/4 cup) suet or margarine, 2 oz (60g or 1/2 cup) currants, pinch salt, approx 1 cup (200ml) buttermilk or water.
Mix all the dry ingredients together then add just enough liquid to make it firm. Roll into small balls, the size of a large walnut, in oatmeal coated hands. Poach them in chicken stock for about 40 minutes. Drain the dumplings before serving. The dumplings may break up in an overcrowded pan.
CACEN GNEIFIO (SHEARING CAKE)
1 lb (500g or 4 cups) plain flour, 1 rounded teaspoon baking powder, 8 oz (225g or 1 cup) butter, 12 oz (340g or 1 1/2 cups) soft brown sugar, 1 tablespoon caraway seeds, grated rind and juice of 1 lemon, 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg, 1/2 pint (300ml or 1 cup) milk, 2 eggs, pinch of salt
Rub the butter into the flour sifted with the baking powder. Add the sugar, lemon rind and juice, caraway seeds, nutmeg and a pinch of salt. Slowly pour in the milk, mixing well all the time, and finally add the well beaten eggs. Line a 9 inch cake tin with greased paper and pour in the cake mix. Bake for about 2 hours in a moderate oven 350F (180C) – lowering the heat to 300F (150C) after the first 1/2 hour (30 minutes). If the cake browns too quick, cover the top with greaseproof paper or foil but remove it for the last 1/2 hour (30 minutes) of cooking. When slightly cooled, turn out of the tin and place on a wire rack.
NYTH CENNIN (LEEK NEST)
4 leeks, 2 oz (60g) butter, 6 oz (170g) grated hard Welsh cheese, plus a little extra grated cheese, 8 hard-boiled eggs, 1 lb (500g) boiled and mashed potato, pinch of sea-salt and black pepper, 1 tablespoon flour, 1/4 pint (150ml) of cream, 1/4 pint (150ml) milk.
Hard boil 8 eggs, then remove and allow to cool. Peel and boil 1lb (500g) of potatoes for 20 minutes in salted water. Strain and then mash the potatoes in a large mixing bowl. Clean the leeks and chop them up quite small. Then cook them in boiling salted water for 10 minutes. Strain the leeks and add them to the hot mashed potato, mixing them in. Add to the leek mash 1 oz (30g) of butter and 4 tablespoons of cream, then season with salt and black pepper. Mix this in carefully, keeping the mash light. Spoon this leek mash into a wide but shallow casserole (oven-proof) dish. Keep the leek mash to the edges – making a ‘nest’. In a saucepan melt the remaining 1 oz (30g) of butter, season, then stir in the flour to cook out a little – then gradually add in the cream and milk, stirring all the time over a gentle heat. Once stirred in bring up to just under the boil and add in the grated cheese to make a thick sauce as it melts – then remove this from the heat. Shell the hard-boiled eggs, chop roughly and place in the centre of the dish in the middle of the leek mash. Pour over the eggs, into the centre of the dish, the cream and cheese sauce. Sprinkle over some extra grated cheese, then brown under a hot grill. Serve hot.
CAWL CENNIN (LEEK SOUP)
1 lb (480g) Leeks, 1 onion, 2oz (60g) butter, 1 lb (480g) potatoes, 2 pints (1 Litre) chicken stock, salt, pepper, 1 tbsp chopped mint, 1/4 pint (150ml) single cream
Trim the leeks and wash them and slice; peel and slice the onion. Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the leeks and onion and fry gently for 10 minutes. Peel and cube the potatoes, add to the other vegetables. Add the stock and bring to the boil, then simmer for 1/2 hour. Mash everything down (or blend everything together using a blender or liquidiser). Return to the pan, season, add the mint and stir in the cream. Heat gently through without boiling and serve.
2 onions (peeled and finely sliced), 6 stalks of celery (scrubbed and finely sliced), 1 0z (30g) butter, 1 1/2 pints (900ml) of milk, 1/2 pint (300ml) of water, a blade of mace, salt, pepper, 1 oz (30g) cornflour, 6 oz (180g) welsh cheese (grated), chopped chives and chopped parsley to garnish
Prepare the vegetables and fry them gently in the butter, without letting them take on any colour. Add the milk and water, salt, freshely ground black pepper and a blade of mace and bring up to the boil. Then simmer over a low heat until the vegetables are tender (about 30 minutes). Take out the mace and mash the soup down (or blend everything together using a blender or liquidiser). Back on a low heat add into the soup the cornflour – which has been mixed together into a paste using 1 tbsp of water and then a little of the soup to thin, (do not add the dry cornflour directly into the soup without making it into a paste first). Stir the thined cornflour paste into the soup and stir continuously until the soup is brought up to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes just under the boil and adjust the seasoning. Turn the soup down onto a low heat. Just before you want to serve stir in the grated cheese until it melts – then serve, topping off with chopped parsley and chives.
2lb (1Kg) Best End Welsh Lamb, 1 carrot, 1 onion, 1 small turnip, 1/2 lb (240g) broad beans, 1/2 lb (240g) garden peas, 1 small cauliflower, 1 tbsp chopped parsley, salt, pepper, 2 pints (1 litre) water.
Preperation. Trim excess fat from the meat and put it into a large saucepan with the water. Bring up to the boil and simmer gently for 2 hours. Leave to go cold till the following day and skim off the fat and impurities which will have solidified on top. Take out the meat and cut into medium sized cubes.
Shell the peas and beans; peel and slice the carrot, onion and turnip very small. Add the vegetables and the cubed meat back into the water the meat was boiled in (minus the skimmed off fat and impurities). Bring this up to the boil and then simmer on a lower heat for 30 minutes. Season the broth. Wash and clean the cauliflower and break it up into tiny sprigs. Add to the broth, simmer for 20 minutes, add in the chopped parsley and serve.
OYSTER STUFFED MUTTON (1680 A.D.)
Meryell Williams of Ystumcolwyn
Take a pint (600ml) of oysters and put them in hot water to make them white; they must be taken out as soon as they are put in. Put to them half a pound (240g) of beef suet and a little marjoram, and parsley. Shred 2 anchovies, 4 yolks of eggs hardened, 2 yolks unboiled, about 2 or 3 dozen capers and a little pepper and salt, 3 or 4 cloves, all this well mined together. Make 2 holes in the shoulder of mutton, and stuff it on both sides. As soon as it is stuffed it must be wrapped in a sheet of white paper well basted with fresh butter, keeping it well basted till it is roasted.
When your mutton is half roasted, take broth or water, half a dozen spoonfulls or more, and 2 or 3 spoonfulls of claret and a little salt, 2 shallots, to baste your mutton put your suace over the fire, put one or two cloves, some capers or sampire, 2 spoonfulls of vinegar, so boil it and put it upon the mutton. You may set some oysters or mussells if you please.
PEAR AND CHERRY FLAN
4 oz (115g) flan pastry, pears and cherries, 1/4 (15oml) pint fruit syrup, 1 1/2 oz (45g) sugar, 1 teaspoonful arrowroot, 2 teaspoonfuls apricot jam or redcurrant jelly, squeeze of lemon juice.
Prepare flan case. Arrange fruit in flan, Blend arrowroot with a little of the syrup. Add the remainder together with the sugar. Bring to the boil and cook until clear and of a coating consistency. Stir in lemon juice and jam or jelly if required. Pour over fruit whilst still warm. If preferred, the arrowroot may be replaced by geletine in the proportion of 1/4 – 1/2 oz (15g) gelatine to each 1/4 pint (15oml) syrup.
Filling: ½ lb (250g) rhubarb, 1 oz (30g) flour, 8 oz (225g) sugar, 1 egg. A beaten egg and extra golden brown sugar to sprinkle over the tart.
Pastry: 8oz (225g) flour, 4 oz (115g) butter, 1 tablespoon caster sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 egg yolk, a little water to bind.
Make the pastry: rub the butter into the flour, add the sugar and cinnamon, then bind with an egg yolk and a little water until a firm pastry dough is made, leave to rest. Make the filling: skin and slice the rhubarb thinly. Mix the sugar and flour together in a bowl and add the beaten egg; beat well together and add the rhubarb. Line a deep plate (or tart tin) with two-thirds of the pastry rolled out and cut to fit. Spoon the filling mixture in. Roll out the rest of the pastry, cut into narrow strips, twist them, and then form them into a trellis (criss-cross) pattern over the filling – trimming where needed. Brush over the pastry twists with a little beaten egg and sprinkle over some sugar. Bake in an oven at 400F (200C) for 30 to 40 minutes – until the fruit is soft and the pastry is crisp and golden brown. Serve slices with cream.
STEWED CARP (1680 A.D.)
Meryell Williams of Ystumcolwyn
Take your Carp and knock it in the head. Then put it into cold water for half an hour. Scale it and open it, clean it and dry well, and flour it on both sides. When you have ready your frying pan with fresh butter done very brown, then put your carp in and fry it brown on both sides. then have ready your stewpan with some claret (red wine) put in the Carp and a little lemon. Peel 2 or 3 cloves, a little mace and let it stew on a slow fire for 3 quarters of an hour (45 minutes). Then turn it, and when it is enough take it upon the dish.
Then make your sauce with what it was stewed in, straining it first, then put two anchovies, a little mace, a little pickle of mushrooms, a little juice of lemon. Take some butter turned in flour and give it a boil and so serve it up, and put some mushrooms and toasts of white bread in the dish.
GWYDD – GOOSE (STUFFED ROAST GOOSE WITH SPICY APPLE SAUCE)
12 lb (5Kg) goose, goose and giblets, 4 tablespoons lard or oil, 3 tablespoons Port or red wine, 1 small chopped onion, 1/4 pint (300ml or 1/2 cup) dark ale or stout
For the Stuffing: 4 oz (115g or 2cups) fresh breadcrumbs, 1 tablespoon chopped sage, 1 medium peeled cored and minced apple, 1 medium sliced chopped onion, 1 separated egg, chopped goose liver, salt and pepper.
For the Sauce: 1/2 lb (225g) cooking apples, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon vinegar, 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs, pinch dry mustard, pinch cinnamon
Boil the giblets (keeping the liver for the stuffing) in salted water to cover for 1/2 an hour (30 minutes). Mix all the stuffing ingredients together except for the egg white, whip that stiffly and add last. Stuff the bird with this and secure. Put into a roasting tin, pour over the oil, cover with foil and roast in a hot oven 400F (200C) for 20 minutes to the pound. After the first 20 minutes lower the heat to around 325F (170C). Baste the goose three or four times until 15 minutes before it is ready, then pour off the surplus fat, keeping the remaining basting juices which are poured into a saucepan, add the giblet stock and season well. Add 3 tablespoons of Port or red wine and let it reduce on the top of the stove to make gravy. While the goose is cooking bake in the oven the peeled and cored apples for the sauce for 30 minutes – when baked mash the apple in a saucepan with the chopped onion which were softened by frying in a little butter, then add the sugar and ale. Reduce this sauce a little and then stir in the breadcrumbs, vinegar, mustard, cinnamon and a little of the goose gravy. Simmer it all for 10 minutes and serve hot with the bird. Serves around 8.
TORBWT WEDI EI FOTSIO (POACHED TURBOT WITH GRANVILLE SAUCE)
4 thick turbot cutlets, 1 medium onion finely sliced, 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, water to cover, salt and pepper.
For the Granville Sauce: 1 chopped shallot or small onion, 1 pounded anchovy, 2 tablespoons sherry, 2 teaspoons wine vinegar, 6 peppercorns, pinch of nutmeg and mace, 1 tablespoon butter, 1 tablespoon flour, 6 tablespoons cream
Slice the onion very finely and lay on the bottom of a pan, add the parsley then put the turbot cutlets on top. Season well and pour over barely enough water to cover. Put a lid on top or cover with foil and very gently poach for 15 to 20 minutes depending on the thickness of the cutlets. Leave in the water until needed.
Meanwhile make the sauce by simmering in a double boiler the first 6 ingredients until the shallot is soft. Using another saucepan, melt the butter and stir in the flour. Mix well until smooth. Add the mix from the double boiler and simmer, stirring all the time. When smooth and cooked, add the remaining 6 tablespoons of cream. Stir well, strain or liquidize and serve warm with the drained fish. Serves 4.
HAM COOKED WITH CIDER
5 lb (2.25Kg) ham soaked overnight in cold water and drained, 1 large onion stuck with 4 cloves, 1/2 lemon, 1 teaspoon brown sugar, 1 pint (600ml) cider, top up with water.
Put the ham into a large saucepan (which holds the ham snugly), add all the ingredients. The liquid should barely cover the ham but if necessary add more water. Bring to the boil then simmer gently for 25 minutes to the pound. Let it cool in the stock then peel the ham of the skin, and sieve and reserve the stock.
Mix together: 4 tablespoons of clear honey, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 4 tablespoons crisp fine grated breadcrumbs, 1/2 teaspoon mixed spice, 2 tablespoons of made up mustard powder. Moisten with some cider.
Score the ham fat with a sharp knife. Pour over and coat the ham all over with the glaze mixture, working it into the ham. Line a baking tin with foil and put the ham in with about 1/2 pint (300ml or 1 cup) of ham and cider stock poured around the base. Bake in a moderate oven 375F (190C) for about 30 minutes.
BARA GWENITH (WHOLEMEAL BREAD)
3lb (1.4 Kg or 12 cups) wholemeal flour, 1 tablespoon black treacle (molasses), 1 heaped tablespoon lard or other fat, 1 oz (30g) dried yeast, 1 heaped teaspoon brown sugar, pinch of salt, approx. 1 1/4 pints (750ml) of warm water.
Makes 2 loaves. Ensure all ingredients and utensils are warmed. Rub the fat into the warmed flour, then dissolve the yeast and sugar in approximately 1/4 pint (150ml or 1/2 cup) like-warm water and allow it to froth up. Add the yeast mixture to flour and mix the dough with more warm water in which the treacle and salt have already been dissolved. About 1 1/4 (750ml) pints of water will be required in all. Add a very little more if the dough seems too stiff but do not make it too wet. Knead for 5 minutes then divide the dough into two and place into two greased, warmed loaf tins of about 10 inches (25cm) by 4 inches (10cm). Cut 3 diagonal nicks across the tops of the loaves and put in a warm place with a cloth on top. Leave for an hour or until the dough has almost doubled in size. Pre-heat the oven to 425F (210C) and put the loaves in. After 10 minutes reduce the heat to 400F (200C) for another 30-35 minutes. Turn out of the tins and cool on a wire rack. When properly cooked, the loaves when tapped on the bottom will sound hollow.
½ lb dandelion leaves, 1 gallon (4.5 Litres) water, 1lb (500g) raisins, 1 oz (30g) ground ginger, 1 oz (30g) cream of tartar, 1 lemon (quartered), ½ lb (250g) sugar, 1 oz (30g) yeast.
Boil the dandelion leaves and raisins for 15 minutes in the water, then strain and retain the liquid, allow to cool. (The plumped raisins should be separated from the nettles, drained, and used again in a cake or bara brith). When lukewarm add the sugar, ground ginger, cream of tartar and the lemon quarters. Then add the yeast to the beer and stir it in. Cover and leave stand overnight somewhere warm. Next day remove the lemon and squeeze in the juice, stir. Cover and leave stand for a few more hours. Strain the dandelion beer through some muslin cloth, then bottle. Loosely cork the bottles for a day then firmly cork the bottles and store. Serve chilled.
6 heads of elderflower (in bloom), 2 lemons, 2 tablespoons sugar, 2 pints (1.2 Litres) water
Pick the blossoms off the elderflower stalks and put them into a large jug with the sugar, water and very thinly sliced lemon rind / peel from the two lemons. Cover and let it stand overnight. Next day squeeze the lemons and add the juice. Strain through some muslin cloth, pour into a glass jug, chill and serve cold.
6lb (2.75Kg) boned rib of beef or rump. 1/2 lb (250g) coarse salt, 4 oz (115g or 1/2 cup) soft brown sugar, 1/2 oz (15g or 1 level tablespoon) saltpetre, 3 tablespoons beef dripping or oil, 1 large sliced onion, 6 sliced carrots, 2 teaspoons each of ground black pepper, cloves, allspice and mace, 1 bayleaf, 1 pint (600ml or 2 cups) stock
Serves about 8. Mix the salt, sugar, saltpetre and spices together, put the meat in a deep earthenware dish and rub the salt mixture all over it. Cover and leave for 10 days, turning the meat each day and rubbing the salt mixture well over all the joint. After 10 days, remove the meat and wash thoroughly, dab it dry with kitchen paper and tie up in a shape convenient for carving. Heat the beef dripping or oil in a heavy fireproof pot or casserole dish and lightly fry the onions, bayleaf and carrots. When the onion has softened, put the joint of beef on top of the vegetables and pour stock around. Transfer the casserole to a moderate oven 300F (150C) and cook for around 4 hours. Lower the heat after 1 hour to around 250F (120C). From time to time, check the liquid has not dried up, adding a little more if required. This spiced beef should be so tender that it can be pulled apart with a fork. Either serve hot as it is or turn out into a deep dish, strain the juices and pour over, place a plate on top and then a weight on top of the plate and leave overnight. Serve cold in slices.