All you need is … a love-inspired recipe for Saint Dwynwen’s Day!

To celebrate St Dwynwen’s Day on 25 January this week, we’ve invited Lia from Lia’s Kitchen to create a love inspired recipe for us …  

Dwynwen is the Welsh patron saint of lovers, and to celebrate this very time of the year when love is in the air (if “love” means hanging out inside eating and drinking lovely things because it’s cold outside) we encourage you to follow this recipe for Greek chocolate-coated caramel almonds … excuse us while we wipe the drool off the floor …

All you need is love… and Greek chocolate-coated, caramel almonds

Love is all you need! At these times when our world is going through global change on a large scale it is really important to celebrate love and all that is good around us. I hope a small, sweet treat will help you shift your mood to happy. This is my easy and delicious recipe for Greek chocolate and caramel coated almonds – a sweet something to help make it all better.

chocolate-caramel-almonds

My excuse to celebrate love (and chocolate) is our own Welsh Lady patron of love, St Dwynwen. We have a lady for our love angel here people, how is that for woman power? Even though St Dwynwen’s story is a sad one (she never got the chance to be with the love of her life) she seems to have remained a beacon of hope and positivity. Her most famous saying is: ‘Nothing wins hearts like cheerfulness.’

So, I invite you to use St Dwynwen’s day (25 January) as an opportunity to think about all the things you love in this world and to show your love to all those important to you, as early as three weeks before Valentine’s day! Love your friends, your family, that special hunk or goddess in your life. Love your community, your environment, the good things in this world, like millions of people coming together to send messages of grounded positivity and strength to each other through the global marches in January 2017. And, of course love good sustainable food!

My recipe for chocolate and caramel salted almonds is an all-time Greek favourite. It is easy and quick to make as a token of love and appreciation to those you love (including yourself). You can have so much fun with this recipe by mixing various nuts and seeds, and even dried fruit together. You can use different specialty salts and spices to add your own bespoke flavour. And it is a healthy snack too (if not abused). Below is my basic recipe using almonds. Enjoy!

Ingredients (makes 12 chocolate almond bites)

  • 100g dark chocolate (or chocolate of your choice)
  • ½ tsp coconut oil (optional)
  • 140g almonds
  • Halen Mon vanilla salt (optional)
  • Salt Odyssey smoked salt (optional)
  • Zest of one mandarin
  • Pinch of allspice
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar
  • 5 tbsp. water
  • Baking paper

Preparation (2 hours including chilling time)

  1. In a non-stick pan roast the almonds in medium heat until slightly browned. Then take off the heat.
  2. Mix the water, icing sugar and a pinch of your preferred specialty salt in a small cup (if using) and pour over the almonds. Stir mix well and return to medium heat until they are caramelised.
  3. Prepare your bain-marie to melt the chocolate, by adding boiling water to a pot, placing it on a hob (medium heat) and placing a heat resistant glass bowl (Pyrex) on top. The bottom of the pot should not touch the water.
  4. Add the chocolate broken in small pieces and stir until it melts. Add another pinch of the second specialty salt in the chocolate, if you are using salt.
  5. Add the almonds to the chocolate mixture, remove the bowl from the bain-marie, and set aside to cool down for a few minutes.
  6. Layer a baking sheet with some baking paper (non-stick).
  7. Spoon a tablespoon of the mixture on the baking paper until the mixture finishes.
  8. Grate the zest of one mandarin on top of the chocolate almond bites. Add a pinch of ground all spice over the chocolate bites, if you are using spices.
  9. Chill the chocolate almond bites for at least two hours, preferably in the fridge.
  10. You can wrap the chocolate almond bites in (coloured) aluminium foil to preserve freshness, particularly if you are making more than one batch.
  11. You can use a mixture of nuts, hazelnuts and pistachio nuts work really well. The ratio of nuts to chocolate is almost 1 unit of chocolate to 1.4 of nuts. If you are using dried fruit you can double the amount.
  12. Occasionally, I add a hint of mandarin juice or rum or cognac in the melted choc for that extra layer of flavour.

To find out more about more about Greek food join one of Lia’s Kitchen intimate cooking classes on 3 and 10 February. Lia will be introducing participants to Greek Kitchen basics but will also be sharing Greek flavours and recipes that are not yet widely known in the UK. You can book online here or contact Lia for more information at lia@liaskitchen.com.

Lia Moutselou mugshot

Lia Moutselou is a self-taught chef who has lived in the UK and abroad for the past twenty years. She runs Lia’s Kitchen and through it pop-up food events, cooking classes and social enterprise projects around the world. She inspired by Greek food, sustainability and world flavours, from her second home of Wales and places she has lived at and visited over the past two decades. For more information visit her Lia’s Kitchen website.

Meet Lia on social media: Lia’s Kitchen Facebook  /  @LiasKitchen  /   Lia’s Kitchen Instagram.

Want to find out more about St Dwynwen’s Day, including how to download this awesome card? Head for the Visit Wales website

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Entrepreneurialism, Creativity and the Nature-Nurture Debate

This is a piece put together by Lucy Thomas, Course Leader in BA Music Business at University of South Wales. She published it before Christmas on her LinkedIn and has very kindly allowed us to republish.

w_wiltshire_pentre

Finding myself with some rare time over Christmas I have taken the opportunity to write up a post inspired by some unknown family photos my mum recently shared with me. For the last few years I have been musing concepts of entrepreneurialism, creativity and the nature-nurture debate. It is not my favourite word and I’m not sure exactly what it means, but roughly it’s about new ventures and ideas. The attached photos were a wonderful discovery and have gone some way in confirming my thoughts.

Is entrepreneurialism something that can be taught or is it more of an innate, sixth sense that individuals are born with? Do some people just have the X Factor for new business generation? Obviously, most skills can be learned to some extent, but it is apparent that there are “natural entrepreneurs” who thrive in new landscapes. The traits of individuals wired this way are evident from a young age and at the very heart of it, I see the motivation as creativity and social connectivity. Interaction, expression, the bringing together of things is the driver and pleasure here. It is often the norm for profit to be the secondary result of an excellent service or product. An affirmation of value and not always the main focus as non-entrepreneurs may think.

What has led me to this point has been my own experiences coupled with observations of my oldest son and his friends over the last few years. From the age of about six he genuinely loved nothing better than setting a stall up in the front garden so he could sell, barter, exchange and most of all interact. We then moved to the coast and things got really exciting when the sun shone, people were thirsty and there were tourists. We literally had camper vans pulling up outside and kept running out of stock.

Some young children would rather eat coal than talk to a stranger, or tout a new idea, but our boy just loves to hustle. Fast forward to his dads Street Food projects there is a smoothie stall being incubated along with growing frustration that he’s only 10 and can’t go it alone just yet. We have neither encouraged or discouraged, he’s just been running with his own plans and I have learned that this is the way it is with kids. They have their own ideas no matter what yours are.

Just recently we found these photos of my Great Grandfather’s shop in Pentre selling all kinds of things including bikes and records. I love the way it’s called “W Wiltshire – Athletic, Cycle, Gramophone, Wireless and Electrical Depot”. Anyone who knew the record shop I had for 21 years in Cardiff called Catapult will probably laugh at the many similarities between my business and his, despite the hundred years or so age gap. After completing law school the path I choose at 24 was not that of a solicitor, but an unknown one in self-employment and dance music. Catapult was a launchpad for a label, events, DJ school, lecturing, fashion line and community venue. There is no set career path once you go it alone and this is the best bit.

catapult

There can be misconceptions in the ways these “going aloners” or entrepreneurs are perceived and it is particularly difficult for creatives to connect with concepts of business and profit, almost as it if devalues the authenticity of their work. An ugly monster of commercial manipulation, materialism or some such other hideous proposition. The reality is that all new ventures are exciting start-ups to be explored whatever the context and this includes creative projects, music and art. The art of business in itself is an imaginative process; an adventure where you dig deep to collaborate, diversify, adapt and ultimately survive.

Increasingly I see the entrepreneurialism term popping up in the educational sphere and indeed it was a Foundation Degree in Music Industry Entrepreneurship that drew me to the University of South Wales in 2012 and precipitated a career change in lecturing. I found it amazing that people could actually gain qualifications in this sector and was curious to decipher the curriculum processes. What I have found are innovative, transferable skills and environments where you can test things out, including yourself. There are definitely natural entrepreneurs engaging with the process, as well as more reluctant innovators, who sometimes find out to their surprise that they like this stuff.

I am aware that this is a very personal account, really just scratching the surface on a subject I’m keen to research further. Very interested in feedback and shared experiences.

catapult_decks

Footnote Jan 2017…. Since writing this post a number of people have been in touch (thank you) with information about W.Wiltshire, including this advert from the Rhondda Leader Newspaper 1917. This has enabled me to date more accurately and I’m blown away that Catapult and Wiltshire’s shops co-existed over a hundred years apart! I love the tone of the advert; the way in encourages saving money by riding bikes in a bid to push the brand. Entrepreneurialism and Wales are in my blood more than I know.

Thanks Lucy! Looky here for more info on the excellent University South Wales BA Music Business course

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