When we have weeks like this where we have no holidays or observations I tend to look to the history books for some inspiration for my column. 
This Tuesday will be the 71st birthday of Sir Thomas John Woodward who we know as Tom Jones, and although it’s not unusual to pick out a singer for food article it was either him or Dean Martin who was also born on June 7th {as was Colonel Gaddafi} but I thought a nice Welsh rarebit would be better than a Tom Collins. Incidentally when Tom Jones moved to the United States in 1974, he bought Dean Martin's former mansion in the East Gate Old Bel Air in Los Angeles.
Tom Jones was born in Pontypridd in South Wales. His family was mainly of English descent, with both of his paternal grandparents being born in England and his maternal grandmother born in Wales to English parents. Most of his ancestral roots appear to lie in Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Somerset.
Jones began singing at an early age: he would regularly sing at family gatherings, weddings, and in his school choir. Jones is dyslexic and he did not like school or sports; however, he was able to gain confidence through his singing talent. At age 12, Jones was struck down by tuberculosis. Many years later he said, "I spent two years in bed recovering. It was the worst time of my life." During convalescence, he could do little else but listen to music and draw.
In 1964, Jones recorded several solo tracks with producer Joe Meek, who took them to various labels, but had little success. Later that year, Decca producer Peter Sullivan saw Tommy Scott and The Senators performing in a club and directed them to manager Phil Solomon, but their partnership was short-lived.
The group continued to play gigs at dance halls and working men's clubs in South Wales. One night, at the Top Hat in Cwmtillery, Wales, Jones was spotted by Gordon Mills, a London-based manager originally from South Wales. Mills became Jones' manager, and took the young singer to London. He contrived the stage name, "Tom Jones," which not only linked the singer to the image of the title character in Tony Richardson's hit film, but also emphasized Jones' Welsh nationality.
Many record companies found Jones' stage presence, act, and vocal delivery too raucous and raunchy. Eventually, Mills got Jones a recording contract with Decca. His first single, "Chills and Fever," was released in late 1964. It didn't chart, but the follow-up, "It's Not Unusual" became an international hit. The BBC initially refused to play it, but the offshore pirate radio station Radio Caroline promoted it. The heavily orchestrated pop arrangement perfectly meshed with Jones' swinging, sexy image, and in early 1965, "It's Not Unusual" reached number one in the United Kingdom and the top ten in the United States.
In 1966, Jones' popularity began to slip somewhat, causing Mills to redesign the singer's image into a more respectable and mature crooner. Jones also began to sing material that appealed to a wider audience, such as the big country hit "Green, Green Grass of Home". The strategy worked and Jones returned to the top of the charts in the UK and began hitting the Top 40 again in the USA. For the remainder of the decade, he scored a consistent string of hits on both sides of the Atlantic.
Before we get started in the kitchen let’s give a nod to old dean martin by having a couple of drinks first. Of course we have to have a Tom Jones!
1fl oz gin
1fl oz fresh lemon juice, plus 1 slice lemon, to garnish
dash sugar syrup
crushed ice
1fl oz Welsh blackberry and elderberry 'port' (Elderport)
splash lemonade
1 bramble berry, to garnish (optional)
Pour the gin, lemon juice, sugar syrup and Welsh blackberry and elderberry 'port' into a cocktail shaker.
Add a scoop of crushed ice and shake hard. 
Strain the mixture into a highball glass and top up with lemonade. 
To serve, hook the lemon slice over the side of the glass. Garnish the glass with the bramble, if using.
Nice. Now that we are limbered up a bit let’s make some Welsh rarebit.
The origins of Welsh Rarebit have been lost in the mists of time. There is much speculation about whether it should be 'rarebit' or 'rabbit'. I lived in Wales and have never heard it called 'rabbit'. Most of us call it 'cheese on toast', It isn't just cheese on toast though; there's a little more to it than that.
Welsh rarebit or Welsh rabbit {even though there isn’t any Bugs Bunny near it!} is a dish made with a savory sauce of melted cheese and various other ingredients and served hot over toast.
The names of the dish originate from 18th century Great Britain. Welsh rarebit is typically made with Cheddar cheese, in contrast to the Continental European fondue which classically depends on Swiss cheeses.
"Eighteenth-century English cookbooks reveal that it was then considered to be a luscious supper or tavern dish, based on the fine cheddar-type cheeses and the wheat breads. Surprisingly, it seems there was not only a Welsh Rabbit, but also an English Rabbit, an Irish and a Scotch Rabbit, but nary a rarebit."
Various recipes for Welsh rarebit include the addition of ale, mustard, ground cayenne pepper or ground paprika and Worcestershire sauce. The sauce may also be made by blending cheese and mustard into a Béchamel sauce or Mornay sauce. Some recipes for Welsh rarebit have become textbook savory dishes listed by culinary authorities including Escoffier, Saulnier and others, who tend to use the form Welsh rarebit, emphasizing that it is not a meat dish. In the United States, a frozen prepared sauce by Stouffer's can be found in supermarkets.
James Martin’s {no relation to Dean} Welsh rarebit with quick tomato chutney makes a delicious snack or light lunch.
For the tomato chutney
4oz caster sugar
4 plum tomatoes, chopped
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
½ tsp dried chilli flakes
2oz apple, peeled, core removed, chopped
2 sprigs fresh thyme leaves only

For the Welsh rarebit
4oz Ogleshield cheese, or similar firm cows' milk cheese
4oz cheddar cheese, grated
½ fl oz full-fat milk
1oz plain flour
1oz breadcrumbs
dash Worcestershire sauce
1 free-range egg
1 free-range egg yolk
½ tsp English mustard powder
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 slices thick crusty white bread
For the tomato chutney, heat a frying pan until hot, add the caster sugar and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until the sugar has melted and is pale golden-brown.
Add the chopped tomatoes, vinegar, chilli flakes, apple and thyme and cook for 2-3 minutes. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
For the Welsh rarebit, preheat the grill to high.
Heat the cheese and milk in a saucepan, stirring regularly, until the cheese has melted.
Add the flour and breadcrumbs and cook for a further 2-3 minutes stirring continuously. 
Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool.
Whisk in the Worcestershire sauce, egg, egg yolk and mustard. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Meanwhile, lightly toast the bread on one side. Spread the cheese mixture onto the un-toasted side of the bread and grill for 1-2 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling and golden-brown. Serve the rarebit hot with the chutney.
AND FINALLY…. A man went to the doctor with a strange complaint. 
"Well it's like this Doc, when I drive to work in the morning through the country lanes I start to sing 'The green, green grass of home'. If I see a cat then it's 'What's new, pussy cat?'
 It's so embarrassing, even when I'm asleep and dreaming, I still keep singing. Last night, it was 'Delilah', and my wife was not amused!" 
"Yes, it would appear that you have the early symptoms of Tom Jones syndrome." 
"Well I've never heard of that, is it common?" asked the man. 
"It's not unusual," replied the doctor. 


Welsh rarebit