When we woke up we could see our breath billow out of our mouths as if we’d swallowed a smoke machine. Our bedroom windows were so cold they had silvery ice on both sides. And the horses in the stables looked out past icicles. The clear sky had invited the frost to paint its early morning picture and had left the grass twinkling in the light and crackling underfoot. At times like this winter is my favourite season.
After a bowl of raisin strewn porridge and some super-strong coffee I set off for a bike ride around the exhaustingly beautiful Somerset hills as part of my training for July’s Antwerp Half Iron Man. On days like this, cycling for a few hours in the clear English countryside air is a joy rather than a chore.
On my final few miles, as my fingers started to go numb as I passed the local hunt charging around on their horses, I tossed aside the thought of a simple ploughman’s and decided instead, to give the humble Welsh Rarebit a Somerset twist. With the combination of gooey smoked cheese, morcilla, horseradish, mustard, an egg and good bread, this was so much more than just cheese on toast. This was a Smoky Somerset Horsebit.
2 thick slices of sourdough rye bread 200g of smoked cheddar 1 egg 1 dessert spoon of horseradish cream 1 teaspoon of strong mustard Some crumbled smoked sausage (such as morcilla or chorizo)
Cut the bread thickly and toast.
Grate the cheese and mix together with the egg. Stir the horseradish cream, mustard and crumbled sausage into the cheesy-egg mixture and slather on top of the toast.
Grill for 5 minutes until the cheese has melted is starting to brown.
Serve with some chutney and a cup of tea.
The smokiness of the cheese and the horseradish elevate this from being just cheese on toast, to being something that you’d happily cycle all morning for. And the horseradish is a great way of jolting your body and mind back into life. The morcilla is optional, but it does help to make this a bit richer and more satisfying.
We still love to go on trips around the UK, staying in BnBs or camping in search of a good meal or two - hence, Around Britain with a Paunch. Quite often the trips have been prompted by Diana Henry's Gastro Pub Cookbook. Here's where we've been to: