When in Wales …

It’s a pleasure to once again host mystery author Amy Reade. Yesterday she launched her new release, Murder in Thistlecross, #3 in the Malice series. If you love tales of complex characters driven to desperate acts to guard their secrets and fortune, this series is for you. 

Amy has been here before. This past August she interviewed Sylvie Carmichael, the main character in Highland Peril, #2 in the Malice series. See the interview here

Without further ado, here’s Amy.

Maybe it’s because I’m always hungry, or maybe it’s because I just love to cook, but when I write I’m sometimes surprised to find that food almost always manages to make its way into what I’m writing.

My new release, Murder in Thistlecross, is no different. I went through a cheese-and-crackers stage while I wrote the book, and you might find that the characters enjoy their cheese and crackers, too. Weird, huh? And Maisie, the cook in the castle where the book is set, provides all manner of tasty meals for the castle guests.

So I guess it’s only natural that when I talked to Maggie about writing this post, she suggested that I write about food. Sounds good to me!

The food of Wales, like the food of any nation or culture, is unique in its use of certain ingredients. In the United States, we like our potatoes and corn (and cheeseburgers). In Germany, it’s sausage and dark breads. And in many parts of the UK, it’s fish and chips.

In Wales, it’s leeks and potatoes, though there are many other foods that, while not necessarily unique to Wales, are prepared in ways that are special to Wales.

Take, for example, Welsh Rarebit. I had heard of it a thousand times, but until my husband ordered it in a restaurant several years ago, I had no idea what it was. I assumed it contained rabbit and had been spelled wrong on purpose for centuries.


It’s cheese on toast. And it’s delicious.

Clearly, neither cheese nor toast can be claimed as a Welsh specialty, but Welsh Rarebit? That’s a Welsh dish—the word “Welsh” is even in the name (the recipe is below).

Ever heard of Minwel Tibbott? I thought not. She was a Welsh historian and anthropologist who was instrumental in transcribing the words and memories of elderly Welsh people (particularly women) during the mid-twentieth century. It was her job and her passion to record their cooking methods and recipes (often dating to the late nineteenth century), many of which had never been written down, for future generations of Welsh cooks. She traveled all over Wales to properly record memories, including the old way of life, availability of foodstuffs, and culinary heritage.

So, Minwel, thank you for the service you provided to all the people of Wales and around the world who appreciate good food and good stories.

I thought I’d share a couple recipes with you before I go. All are adapted from A Taste of Wales by Annette Yates. They’re all traditionally Welsh dishes, and I’ve provided the original Welsh spelling of each dish (though don’t ask me to pronounce them—I think Welsh must be one of the most difficult languages to learn). Enjoy!

Welsh Rarebit: Caws wedi pobi

2 thick slices of bread

2 tsp. butter, softened

2 tsp. mustard (can be regular, spicy, stone-ground, whatever you prefer)

4 ounces crumbly cheddar cheese, grated (Welsh Caerphilly cheese, if possible)

Black pepper


Combine butter, mustard, and grated cheese in a small bowl. Set aside.

Preheat the broiler to high. Broil both sides of the bread until lightly toasted. Be careful to watch the bread—it’ll burn easily!

Spread cheese mixture on toast and broil again until cheese is bubbly and golden, just a couple minutes.

Sprinkle with a pinch of pepper and a pinch of paprika; serve hot.

Whinberry and Apple Tart: Tarten lus ac afalau

2 ¼ c. all-purpose flour

5-6 tbsp. sugar, divided, plus extra for sprinkling

10 tbsp butter, chilled and cut into small cubes

1 egg

Ice water

2 apples, peeled, cored, and roughly chopped

2 tsp. cornstarch

3 c. whinberries (also known as blueberries)

Milk for brushing

Sift flour and 2 tbsp. sugar into a medium bowl. Add the butter and rub with your fingers until mixture resembles fine crumbs.

Stir in the egg and enough ice water to form a smooth dough. Wrap dough and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 190 C/375 F/Gas mark 5. Roll out half of dough on a lightly-floured surface, then transfer to 9-inch pie plate. Allow excess to hang over edge. Roll out remaining dough to make a top crust.

Toss apples with cornstarch until evenly coated, then transfer to the pie plate. Scatter whinberries on top and sprinkle 3-4 tbsp. sugar over the mixture. Cover fruit with top crust; seal and crimp edges, discarding excess dough. Make a small slit in the top of the pie for steam to escape.

Brush the top of the pie with a bit of milk and sprinkle with a bit more sugar.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, until pastry is crisp and golden and filling is cooked through.

Teabread: Bara brith

1 1/3 c. mixed dried fruit and candied peels (such as raisins, dates, candied orange peel, etc.)

1 c. strong hot tea

2 c. self-rising flour

1 t. apple pie spice

2 tbsp butter

8 tbsp. light brown sugar

1 egg, lightly beaten

Place fruit in a medium heatproof bowl and cover with tea. Cover and leave at room temperature several hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas mark 4. Grease a 2-lb. bread pan and line with parchment paper.

Stir flour and apple pie spice in a large mixing bowl. Add butter and use your fingers to rub it into the flour/spice until mixture resembles fine crumbs.

Stir in sugar; stir in fruit and soaking liquid. Stir in egg.

Stir entire mixture well until it has a soft consistency.

Transfer mixture to prepared bread pan; level the surface of the dough.

Bake for about one hour until bread tests done. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then cool completely on a wire rack.

Amy M. Reade is the USA Today bestselling author of The Malice Series, consisting of The House on Candlewick Lane, Highland Peril, and Murder in Thistlecross, all of which are set in the United Kingdom. She has also written a cozy mystery, The Worst Noel, and three standalone novels of gothic suspense: Secrets of Hallstead House, The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor, and House of the Hanging Jade.

Amy is a recovering attorney living in Southern New Jersey. She is active in community organizations and loves reading, cooking, and traveling when she’s not writing. She is currently working on a contemporary mystery set in Washington, DC, a historical mystery set in Cape May County, New Jersey, and a second cozy.

Buy Links for Murder in Thistlecross

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2fObci7

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2AXt1XO

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2rqpeyu

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2n2yseL

iTunes: https://apple.co/2Dvvw5M

Independent Bookstore: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781516100194

Social Media Links

Websites: www.amymreade.com

Blog: www.amreade.wordpress.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/amreadeauthor

Facebook: www.facebook.com/groups/AmyMReadesGothicFictionFans

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/amreade

Instagram: www.instagram.com/amymreade

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Amy-M.-Reade/e/B00LX6ASF2/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Goodreads Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8189243.Amy_M_Reade

Thanks, Amy! Excuse me while I book my next vacation … to Wales.


When in Wales … — 10 Comments

  1. Congratulations on the release Amy. I have a bit of Welsh in the DNA. There was a Welsh church just up the street from the house where I was born and I grew up eating some Welsh delicacies, two of which you didn’t mention. Despite off-putting names, they’re both good. The Welsh pasty or oggie, a mix of meat, leek and other ingredients stuffed in a pastry shell. And the faggot, a sort of liver dumpling.

    • John, I have to say that liver dumpling will probably never be on the menu at my house no matter how much Welsh I may have in me. And I’ve had pasties, though not Welsh ones. I’ve had more traditional English ones. One of the things I find fascinating about Wales is the Welsh language. It’s incredible. I wish I could speak it or even understand it. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  2. It’s great having you back, Amy. I love your recipes as well as John’s—although I’ll pass on the liver dumpling.

    Have you read Rhys Bowen’s Evan Evans series? It’s also set in Wales.

  3. I enjoyed this post, Maggie and Amy. Wales is a wonderful place to visit. I, too, thought Welsh Rarebit was rabbit. I marvel at the Welsh language that includes a few sounds I don’t think I can make.

    Amy, wishing you many sales of your new book!

  4. Wow, I think all these recipes found good! Even John’s Liver dumplings! I am probably one of the few people in this world who likes liver! Put it in a dumpling, and I am there! ?

    Great post ladies!

    • Someone has to like those liver dumplings, Sharon! I do like the sound of the oggie and the whinberry tart. And welsh rarebit has always been a favorite. I used to get them at an English tea shop in Santa Monica.