Any day that involves Welsh rarebit from a food market is the best kind of day in my book. My sheer inability to stay indoors at the weekend (even if it is wet and/or chilly) has lead to some of the best kinds of days. Wandering around bustling food markets at lunch time, hungry and overwhelmed by choice is like crack to me. I have spent more than my fair share of weekends in that glorious state this summer.
The Real Food Market at Waterloo is my favourite by far. It’s a mixture of fragrant, steamy stalls, with a wide selection of cuisines and artisanal producers selling their lovingly made wares for you to take home. Not to mention that being a short stroll from the South Bank means that you can enjoy your meal overlooking the Thames whilst being serenaded by a plethora of street performers.
I completed two full laps of the market before going with my initial gut reaction and ordering a pickle-topped slice of creamy cheese on sourdough toast from The Little Welsh Rarebit. It was crunchy and gooey, with the rich, buttery cheese cut by the sharp, miniature pickles.
I have a special place in my
heart belly for cheese on toast, to the point where I have had to enforce a temporary embargo on it now that I spend more lunchtimes home alone – my over-consumption was bordering on a problem! My usual ‘poison’ is thin strips of strong Cheddar on thickly sliced white bread, with a side of sriracha to dip in. The Welsh rarebit I eagerly devoured at the market was made with a beer-based bechamel, flavoured with bold cheese and traditional English condiments stirred through. It was only a matter of time before I recreated the recipe in my own tiny city kitchen.
^^^ welsh rarebit from the market ^^^
One of the things I love about Hackney is there is no shortage of local producers, so in the spirit of food markets I selected ingredients from my own doorstep. For the beer I looked no further than London Fields Brewery. They make the most amazing beers and ales (Hackney Hopster is my favourite), and its bar the Tap Room is the right mix of hipster and relaxed, such that anyone can feel at home there. Whilst I should have made my own bread, I am completely addicted to the sourdough from Spence Bakery. I would buy a loaf a week if it wasn’t for my homemade bread series!
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serves 4 recipe by Jennifer Brown
200ml local dark beer (I used London Fields Brewery - Love Not War)
1 tsp English mustard
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
100g strong cheese (I used 50g strong Cheddar and 50g Double Gloucester)
1 egg yolk
8 slices of sourdough
pickles to serve
- In a small pan warm the beer to a lukewarm temperature, this is especially important if the liquid is cold from the fridge. Return to the jug you measured the beer in.
- In the same (now empty) pan, melt the butter. When completely liquid add the flour and stir constantly until it goes golden brown, about one to two minutes.
- Add the beer to the pan, about 40ml at a time, stirring well between each addition, until completely absorbed and the sauce is smooth before adding the next splash of liquid.
- Stir in the mustard, Worcestershire sauce and cheese, and remove from the heat to cool slightly. Don’t worry if the cheese doesn’t completely melt, it will when it’s grilled.
- Whilst the sauce is cooling toast the sour dough bread on both side.
- Once the sauce is lukewarm stir through an egg yolk, the temperature can be above room temperature but you want it cool enough that it won’t cook the egg at this point.
- Spoon the rarebit sauce over the bread and return to under the grill until golden brown.
- Serve hot with pickles on the side.