One of the things that has really surprised me since I first started spending time in Wales a few years ago is the lovely range of locally produced food and drink that is on offer. Indeed, I wrote about this in my recent piece for Comment is Free, and one of the products I gave a particular mention to is Caws Cenarth – organic Welsh cheese produced by a family business on a farm in Carmarthenshire. The family started out making Welsh Farmhouse Caerffili, but has since branched out to smoked and other varieties of Caerffili – and, more recently, other cheeses such as Perl Wen, Perl Las, waxed miniature cheeses and Golden Cenarth.
I first came across Cenarth at a food festival where I bought three varieties to try, and fell in love with all of them! So, at the recent Great British Cheese Festival in Cardiff Castle, I made a point of seeking out the Caws Cenarth stall to stock up!
Having tried a number of the Cenarth cheeses, I’ve got two firm favourites. The first is Cennin Cenarth – a waxed cheese with leeks and white wine that has a delicious, distinctive, savoury flavour. I like to eat it just on its own as it’s such a fantastic taste – and I could happily polish off an entire round of it in one sitting (but haven’t as yet, for decency’s sake!)
My other favourite is the Golden Cenarth: a washed rind cheese, which won the Supreme Champion accolade at the British Cheese Awards in 2010. This one comes in a wooden box and is ideal for baking whole, as you might with a camembert. I like nothing better than baking one of these – it only takes about 15 minutes on a heat of around 170C (that’s in a fan oven), and serving it with some fresh crusty bread and some gorgeously sticky caramelised onions.
I did this on Sunday night and it looked so delicious that I shared a photo with my Facebook friends, many of whom asked for the recipe for the caramelised onions – which are spectacularly easy to make. I cook a lot and love trying new recipes, many of which I make up as I go along, hence I’ve not shared any before, as they would probably read a bit like this “add a dollop of this and slosh in a bit of that, then leave to simmer until you’ve had a quick shower and hung up the washing…” – I’m not very keen on weighing and measuring and timing things! But the caramelised onions are not only easy to make, but also easy to explain, so here goes with sharing my caramelised onion ‘recipe’!
Ingredients – makes more than enough to accompany one Golden Cenarth
3 onions (red are preferable as they’re sweeter, but white are fine too)
200 ml red wine
50 ml balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp soft brown or Demerara sugar
1 tbsp redcurrant jelly (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper
Halve the onions then chop each half finely crossways – to produce fine ‘half ring’ pieces.
Melt the butter in a frying pan and add the chopped onions over a low heat, stirring regularly so they don’t stick to the pan, until they’ve softened, but not browned – they should be just starting to go clear.
Add the red wine and balsamic, sprinkle over the sugar and stir, then simmer for around 20 minutes, stirring in the redcurrant jelly around half way through, until the liquid has reduced and gone thick and sticky.
Season with black pepper to taste.
It’s worth mentioning that any of the quantities can be adjusted to taste if you want a more or less intense flavour – you’ll just need to adjust the simmering time slightly depending on the quantity of liquid you end up with.
And it’s as simple as that! I like to serve these immediately while still warm, but they keep for a good few days in the fridge and can also be reheated (add a little water if they go too thick and sticky). As well as tasting fantastic with the Golden Cenarth, they are also a great accompaniment to cold meats and cheeses or in a sandwich or salad. We just ate the cheese and onions with fresh crusty bread as an indulgent supper, but I’ve also made this as part of a spread of tapas-style dishes.
Caws Cenarth is available direct from their website, www.cawscenarth.co.uk (although there is a minimum order value of £25) and they seem to exhibit at most of the local food festivals. I’ve also seen the cheeses available in local delis, including Wally’s Deli in Cardiff. The Golden Cenarth retails at £4.75 and the waxed minatures, including my favourite with leeks and wine, are £3.95 each.