W is for Welsh Rarebit

A slice of hearty bread topped with a spicy cheese sauce and grilled… that is Welsh rarebit, a comfort food if any dish can be called that. Served hot, it is one step (or many steps) above the grilled cheese sandwich of our daily lives.

As the name signifies, it has its origin in Wales, among the peasants who often substituted cheese for meat as meat was too expensive. An earlier version named ‘caws pobi’ (meaning toasted cheese) can be traced back to medieval and Tudor times, at least since the 1500s. Before the name Welsh rarebit caught on towards the end of the 18th century, there was a period of time when the dish was called ‘Welsh rabbit’ as seen in a cookbook from the year 1725. Some historians are of the opinion that it was perpetrated as a joke. Anyone remember the Boaty McBoatface episode of a funny name?

Anyways, the dish is popular in many parts of Britain and the rest of the world. It has a place of honor in the Welsh cuisine as one of the earliest traditional dishes of the region, with September 3rd celebrated as the Welsh Rarebit Day.

Though there can be variations in the recipe with more/ less mustard or the inclusion of Worcestershire sauce or cayenne, beer and cheese are the constants. The best cheese for the dish is a sharp cheddar. This is a very easy dish to make, with just a few ingredients and steps to follow. 

If an egg is served on top of the toasted bread and cheese sauce, it is called a buck rarebit.

Interesting fact: There is no existing word ‘rarebit’ except in relation to the dish; no noun, no verb, no word at all.

W is for Welsh Rarebit

Difficulty:BeginnerServings:4 servings



  1. Heat the butter in a pan over medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the flour and stir to combine.
  2. Continue to cook, stirring, till the flour starts to get brown, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Add the cayenne to the pan. Give it a quick stir. Take care; cayenne burns very quickly.
  4. Whisk in the beer using a silicone whisk.
  5. Add the mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Continue to whisk till the mixture has thickened.
  6. Turn heat to low, and add the cheese, stirring well until you get a smooth mixture.
  7. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Remove from heat and pour into a flat container to set. The sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a day.
  9. When ready to prepare the dish, set the rack on the top slot of the oven and pre-heat the oven to broil.
  10. Lightly toast the bread slices and spread the sauce thickly on the bread slices.
  11. Place under the pre-heated broiler until the cheese is bubbly and the toast starts to brown.
  12. Serve hot immediately.
Keywords:Bread with cheese, Cheese, Welsh

Easy Twice Baked Potatoes

Spuds, taters, tubers… whatever name you call them by, a potato is a potato is a potato. And to misquote Shakespeare, “a potato by any other name would taste as great”! (Actually, he said… “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”, but I think he should have made Juliet speak about the potato rather than the rose! 🙂

Think about the innumerable ways in which potatoes can be cooked… you can roast, fry, or boil them… bake, stuff or sauté them… They gel well with any meat or fish… or they can stand on their own. They are good spiced up or plain; they can be the main dish or a side. And whatever you do with them, they taste sooo awesomely good!

Can you tell I’m a major fan of the potato? Yes, I love, love, love them! Not only for their great taste, but for their versatility and adaptability to whatever I want to do with them… I can trust the potato not only to rise to the occasion in any dish, but shine like the brilliant star it is!

All kidding aside, I do find the potato my go-to food in a hunger emergency. Also, many of my comfort foods are potato based. And the addition of a potato or two can improve most dishes, I do believe. What is more, I am sure that most of the world would agree with me on this. After all, potatoes are the world’s fourth largest food crop!


A baked potato is one of the most basic form of potato that you can think of. But a twice baked potato can be simple or complex, as you desire. And that is its charm too.

The principle is simple… you bake the potato…


Cut off the tops and scoop out the flesh, leaving a thick skin all around.


And use various stuff to flavour the scooped out flesh. Here you can let your imagination run wild, as most of the spices we commonly use will go well with potatoes.


Pile up everything back into the potato skin and place in the oven for the second round of baking.


When almost done, sprinkle some cheese on top and brown again.


All done! A few scallions for decoration is all the finishing touch needed.


This can be served as a meal when paired with a hearty salad, or can be a side to a meat dish.





Easy Twice Baked Potatoes
Recipe type: Snack/ Lunch
  • 2 large potato
  • 1 tsp of vegetable oil
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ¾ cup white cheddar cheese, separated
  • 1 scallion
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degree farenheit.
  2. Choose 2 large potatoes of same size.
  3. Scrub and wash them thoroughly.
  4. Dry the potatoes with a paper towel and prick them all over with a skewer.
  5. Smear vegetable oil all over the potatoes.
  6. Place the potatoes on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.
  7. Check doneness by inserting a skewer into the centre of a poatato
  8. When done, take out of the oven and allow to cool.
  9. Cut off the top on the long side.
  10. Using a spoon, scoop out the flesh, leaving a thick wall all around.
  11. Mix the scooped out poatato with ½ cup of sour cream and ½ cup of shredded cheddar cheese.
  12. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  13. Fill the ixture in the potato skins.
  14. Place in the oven and bake till the top starts to brown, about 15 minutes.
  15. Sprikle the reamining ¼ cup of cheese over the top and return to the oven.
  16. When the cheese starts to brown, take out from the oven and cool on a rack.
  17. Sprinkle the top with thinly slices scallion.
  18. Serve with a dollop of sour cream.

Mediterranean Summer Bread Pudding

This Sunday, I have a party to go to. And I’m planning to make a bread pudding with lots of lovely stuff – white chocolate, bananas, cranberries – in it to take along. But then, that is only on Sunday… and people have to eat till then, right? I was not in a mood to go food shopping in the middle of the week. Looking in the refrigerator, I realised I had bits of different cheeses that I needed to use up. But how? And remember, I had bread pudding on my brain… voila, the end result is this Mediterranean summer bread pudding!


Why Mediterranean summer? One thing I wanted in the dish was baby spinach… always have it on hand. So we have assorted cheeses and spinach. What goes with that? Of course, olives and lemon! The combination reminds you of a lovely Mediterranean summer, doesn’t it? 🙂


This dish would shine with feta cheese as stated in the recipe, but I used an assortment of cheeses, the leftovers from earlier recipes… a bit of gouda, bit of mozzarella, and even a bit of brie. And of course some pecorino on the top. It tasted so yummy!


Once I arrived at the theme, the rest was easy. Add the standard spices that go with the cuisine… allspice, cumin, red chilli flakes, and oregano.


You can make this with white bread as well, but of course, whole wheat bread is always better*. Whichever bread, make sure that it gets ample time to soak up the juices, before you pop it into the oven.


Finally, I like to grease the baking pan with butter. If you prefer, you can use olive oil for this purpose.

* Hey, doesn’t that sound like a slogan? “Whole Wheat Bread is Always Good!”






Mediterranean Summer Bread Pudding
Cuisine: Mediterranean
  • 6 large slices whole wheat bread
  • 1 cup baby spinach, tightly packed
  • 5 artichoke hearts, thinly sliced
  • 12 black olives
  • ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp allspice powder
  • ½ tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tbsp shredded pecorino cheese
  • Unsalted butter to grease the pan
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degree fahrenheit and butter a 9 inch baking pan.
  2. Cut the crusts off the bread slices and cut them into ½ inch cubes.
  3. Cut the baby spinach finely.
  4. Slice the artichoke hearts thinly.
  5. Slice the black olives into thin circles.
  6. In a large pan, mix together the bread cubes, spinach, artichoke hearts and olives. Make sure that the vegetables are not wet so that the bread doesn’t get soggy.
  7. Transfer the bread and vegetable mix to the buttered baking pan and spread evenly.
  8. Spread the crumbled cheese evenly over the bread mix.
  9. Beat the eggs well with the milk. Add olive oil, lemon zest and juice, allspice and cumin powders, red chilli flakes, and oregano. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix thoroughly.
  10. Pour this mixture over the bread and cheese.
  11. Keep aside for 30 minutes to allow the bread cubes to soak in the liquid.
  12. After 30 minutes, gently press down the contents of the pan and sprinkle the top with the pecorino cheese.
  13. Loosely cover the pan with aluminium foil and place in the heated oven.
  14. Bake for 30 minutes. Then, remove the foil and continue baking uncovered for another 10 minutes or till the cheese starts to get brown spots.
  15. Slice and serve with a tomato salad on the side. A semi-dry white wine goes well with this Mediterranean summer bread pudding.


Quesadillas for Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo… is not an excuse for margaritas! In fact, it commemorates the against-all-odds victory of the Mexican army against the much larger French forces of conquest at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. Though the victory in the battle did not lead to victory in the war, it served as a morale booster and matter for pride for the Mexican army and people. Interestingly, that war was the last time a European power invaded any country in the Americas!


Today Cinco de Mayo – Spanish for ‘fifth of May’ – has come to signify a tribute to Mexican heritage and pride and is celebrated widely in the United States and in Mexico. Usually parties with awesome Mexican food drink and music…


When you want to go Mexican in terms of food, there is plenty of choice. And all of them are sooo good! This year my choice is quesadilla, but of course, with a twist.

Quesadilla is one of the quintessential Mexican dishes. One of my favourites to make as well, because of the variety one can work with it. And I’m certain that the quesadilla as it originally was hardly resembles its modern version.


Essentially, a quesadilla is a tortilla stuffed with cheese and various fillings and folded and heated through to form a half moon shape. The cheese is the one constant ingredient, as attested by the ‘queso’, cheese in Spanish, in the name itself. And it is always some type of melty cheese. A combination of cheddar, Monterey Jack and Pepper Jack cheeses works well. Or any one of them alone will also work. Pre-packed Mexican blends available in the store makes it super easy.


I decided to stick with one traditional variety this time… South Western with traditional filling of corn, red pepper, and onions flavoured with cumin.


And three variations! A Vegetable Medley for my veggie lover friends, a Tikka Chicken for those who like it hot, and a Sesame Chicken for the spicy-not-hot bunch.


Once all the ingredients were ready and chopped, and it’s a lot of chopping, believe me, assembling each one was the fun part. And they are so yummy hot off the griddle, with a cooling side of guacamole, salsa or cilantro-lime-sour cream.


Guacamole is something that goes well with a lot of things, especially of Mexican origin. Only problem is, it gets over so fast!


And of course, accompanied by margaritas before and after…


Just wondering… whether the French celebrate Cinco de Mayo… 🙂


Recipe for Quesadillas

  • 10 whole wheat tortillas
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 lbs shredded cheese, combination of pepper jack and cheddar or a Mexican blend

Note: Recipe for fillings follow.

1 Heat a flat griddle, on medium heat.
2 Brush with olive oil.
3 Place a tortilla on the griddle.
4 Sprinkle cheese liberally all over the tortilla.
5 Place the filling of your choice on one half of the tortilla.
6 Carefully fold the other half over, and press with a spatula to seal.
7 Turn over and cook the second side.
8 When both sides are somewhat crisp, transfer to a plate and cut into four wedges.
9 Serve with guacamole, salsa and sour cream.


South Western Filling

  • 1 cup whole corn kernels
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 cup tomatoes, fleshy part chopped
  • ½ cup cilantro, minced
  • A pinch of cumin powder
  • Salt to taste

Mix ingredients together and place over cheese on the tortilla on the griddle.


 Vegetable Medley Filling

  • ½ cup potato, cut into small cubes and boiled
  • ½ cup carrots, shredded
  • ½ cup broccoli, only the crown chopped
  • ½ cup corn kernels
  • ½ cup red pepper, chopped
  • ½ cup red onions, chopped
  • ½ cup black olives, sliced
  • ¼ cup cilantro minced
  • 2 tbsp pickled jalapenos, minced
  • salt to taste

Mix ingredients together and place over cheese on the tortilla on the griddle.


Tikka Chicken Filling

  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp chicken tikka masala powder (available in Indian grocery stores)
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • A pinch of turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp paprika or a mix of paprika and cayenne
  • 1 tbsp crushed garlic
  • Salt to taste
  1. Cut the chicken into small bite size pieces.
  2. Mix with all the spice powders, sour cream and salt. Keep aside for 30 minutes. It can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
  3. Preheat the oven on the broiler setting.
  4. Line a flat pan with aluminium foil and lay the chicken pieces in a single layer.
  5. Broil on the top most rack of the oven for 10 minutes.
  6. When done, remove from the aluminium foil and cover and keep till ready to use.


Sesame Chicken Filling

  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped red onion
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp red chilli flakes
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 bunch scallions
  • Salt to taste
  1. Cut the chicken into thin strips.
  2. Slice the green leafy parts of the scallions.
  3. Marinate the chicken pieces with the soy sauce, sesame oil, chopped onion and garlic, chilli flakes and salt. Keep aside for 30 minutes. It can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
  4. Heat a pan and when the pan is hot, add the sesame seeds.
  5. When they have spluttered completely, add the marinated chicken. Stir together. Cover and cook.
  6. When the chicken is done and the liquids are evaporated, add the sliced scallions and take off the heat.
  7. Keep in a covered container till ready to use.