Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Simply Eggcellent #5 - how do you like your eggs in the morning?

... with the popularity of last months 'anything goes' link-up I thought i'd set a little bit of a theme for July...  For many, eggs mean just one thing - breakfast.  They have been a mainstay of the morning meal for hundreds of years and they can be served in such a multitude of ways that it seems fitting to single out the morning to celebrate eggs.  Some would say there's nothing more basic than a fried egg but then other would suggest that there's even an art to frying - do you have it 'easy over' or 'sunny side up'.  I like my eggs scrambled for breakfast.  I like a nice buttery thickly folded scrambled egg with perhaps a slice of bacon or some salty mushrooms, served with a crunchy sourdough toast... but if i'm eating brunch I always go for an eggs benedict or eggs florentine served on a lightly toasted muffin a drenched in a thick hollandaise sauce... utter luxury but well worth it as that golden yolk glides through the warm creamy hollandaise and soaks into the bread... and usually my beard...

kale and avocado breakfast muffins

...but it doesn't have to be the plain egg-on-its-own that we're celebrating, any breakfast or brunch item is worth putting forward... the muffin is a wonderful breakfast cake, or perhaps a quiche for brunch, or how about baked eggs... or banana pancakes... oh joy, it's going to be utter heaven!

banana pancakes

how to take part in the simply eggcellent bloggers link-up

it's really easy to take part; all you have to do is create a beautiful breakfast or brunch recipe using free-range eggs, post it up on your blog and then link back to this post... if you include my simply eggcellent badge in the post and use the link tool below I will collate all the posts at the end of every month and produce a special round-up of entries...

feel free to tweet and instagram me your pictures using the #SimplyEggcellent hashtag and I will retweet and like all those I see... you can find me on social media @belleaukitchen

the ubiquitous 'full english'

eat and of course, enjoy!

Monday, 29 June 2015

Simply Eggcellent #4 June Round-Up - #AnythingGoes

... it's been an astounding month for eggs this June!  You've all done me proud... many of you more than once and have proved how incredibly popular and versatile those free-range eggs really are... and for this, I thank you. So without any further ado let's show-off a wonderful collection of egg-inclusive recipes shall we...

1. Mocha Choca 'Lette Blah Blah from Fanny at Keep Calm and Fanny On
2. Summer Berry Tart by Charlene at Food Glorious Food
3. Orange and Blueberry Polenta Traybake from me at Belleau Kitchen
4. Bacon Banana Bread by Deon at FoodJam

5. Chocolate and Hazelnut Cottage Cake by Laura at I'd Rather Bake Than...
6. Fraisier by Patisserie Makes Perfect
7. Egg Leek and Potato Curry by Camiila at Fab Food 4 All
8. Maple Banana Cakes by Eating Enhanced

9. Muffins Margherita by Nasifriet at By The Way...
10. Gluten Free Spinach and Cheese Ravioli by Kate the Gluten Free Alchemist
11. Tumeric Butter Beans with Dill and Eggs from Shaheen at A2K
12 Puff Pastry Tartlets by Elisa over at Lemon and Lime Thyme

13. Chocolate, porter, salted caramel and Oreo Cake by Craig at The Usual Saucepans
14. Baked Scotch Eggs by Sally the Recipe Junkie
15. S'mores Cupcakes by Elizabeth at Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary
16. Caramelised shallot and goats cheese tarts by Jean at Baking in Franglais

17. Strawberry Pavlova by Janice over at Farmersgirl Kitchen
18. Cranberry and citrus cookies from Linzi at Lancashire Food
19. Gooseberry and Elderflower Cheesecake from Suelle at Mainly Baking
20. Strawberry Crumble Muffins from Kate the Gluten Free Alchemist

21. Moroccan Lamb and Egg Tagine from Gingey Bites
22. Rhubarb and Ginger Pavlova by Claire the Foodie Quine
23. Swedish Cheese Pie by Karen from Lavender and Lovage
24. Sea Vegetable Quiche from Shaheen at A2K

25. Cinnamon Crumble Muffins by Nasifriet at By The Way...
26. Roasted Strawberry Chocolate cupcakes by Choclette of at Tin and Thyme
27. Basil and Nutmeg cheese Soufflé by Lili from Lili's Cupcakes
28. Slowcooker Brioche and Strawberry Pudding by Lucy at Baking Queen 74

29. Green Harissa Poached Eggs and Aubergines by Shaheen from A2K
30. Curried Egg Mayo with Ham Baked Potatoes by Camilla over at Fab Food 4 All
31. Raspberry, lemon Poppyseed Muffins from Emily at Cooking for Kishore
32. Strawberry and White Chocolate Mousse Tarts from Beer and Baking

33. a stunning Rhubarb-Strawberry Meringue Pie from Kate the Gluten Free Alchemist

... so there it is - a WHOPPING selection of eggstravagant eggceptionial egg dishes... thank you all so much for taking part and I look forward to seeing you all back here for the July #SimplyEggcellent link-up

eat and of course, enjoy!

Friday, 26 June 2015

ginger beer sticky ribs

... I absolutely adore spare ribs... there's something about food that's invented to be picked up and get messy with that I love.  Like many people in the UK it was Chinese food that first introduced me to ribs as a kid.  I would always order them without fail and be salivating whilst I peeled back the cover from the foil box and the heady scent of sweet garlic escaped.  I would gnaw those little beauties down to the bone and sometimes beyond, making a complete mess of my entire face, hands and no doubt my shirt.  It wasn't until I was much older on my first visit to the States that I experienced the American Rib in all it's sticky glory.  At that time I had no idea quite what a big deal it was and how ribs were a massive part of the American food culture but with their love of the bbq it all becomes crystal clear but fascinating how two cultures such as the Chinese and American seem worlds apart but they have very similar foods and now that we're in the middle of a food culture explosion here in the UK it's fascinating to see a return to the food I loved as a kid but delivered in a slightly different way.

ginger beer sticky ribs
my ribs are a fusion of both the American sticky rib and the Chinese garlic rib and they're extremely simple to make and utterly utterly divine... i've taken the concept of the coca cola cooked ribs and given it a twist with some gorgeous Bundaberg Ginger Beer.  I love ginger beer and anything ginger so this was an easy win for me... i've even enhanced the ginger flavour with large chunks of fresh ginger that have become sticky sweet little bombs of flavour in all the slow-cooking...

enough for two greedy pigs...
8 pork ribs (i've gone for the mathematics of 4 ribs per person but frankly I could eat twice as much)
50g chopped pancetta
7 shallots - roughly chopped
1 fingers length of fresh ginger, peeled and diced
6 bulbs of garlic - crushed
1 375ml bottle ginger beer
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 teaspoons Chinese Five Spice
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon english mustard powder
3 tablespoons tomato ketchup
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

pre-heat the oven to 150C

place the ribs into a large oven-proof dish that has a lid.  Pour over the ginger beer and throw in all the other ingredients and then get your hands stuck in and smoosh it all together.

pop the lid on and roast in the oven for at least an hour, then take the lid off, turn the heat up to 180C and roast for a further 40 minutes, turning half way... you should end up with a gloriously sticky sauce and some beautifully darkened, meat falling off the bone, ribs

if you want to cook these on the BBQ then simply do the first stage in the oven and then transfer to a hot grill

eat and of course, enjoy!

Sunday, 21 June 2015

cherry frangipane tart with a chocolate polenta crust

... I've managed to sneak back to the cottage for a couple of days.  The Viking had to stay in London, something that he particularly dislikes at the weekend but insisted that I go home.  Don't for a moment think, dear reader, that this was some kind of selfless sacrifice.  Oh no.  I was given precise instructions for dead-heading flowers and recording the motorbikes.  I'm not entirely sure which has priority but I'm pretty convinced if he could drag the TV out into the garden he wouldn't actually need me at all.  To be fair, I understand his passion for the garden.  He has transformed what was once a lovely but rather plain strip of grass and boarders into a stunning traditional cottage garden.  The beds are frothy with bee-loving flowers and he's planted it with a sort of un-trained, wild abandon which has given in such a natural feel.  Last year we even reclaimed back part of the over-wide driveway and extended the beds at the front of the house and so our view over the wolds as we sit and drink our morning coffee is one of utter beauty and tranquility.  The Viking started truly working on the garden at the same time that I started my blog 5 years ago.  The recession was in full swing and business was quite which meant we both had more time on our hands.  Thankfully we both found creative outlets that allowed us to express and I think we're appreciative of this in our own ways.  Even though I occasionally cook in the London flat I itch to get back to my kitchen at the cottage and I know The Viking feels the same way about wearing his gardening gloves. It allows him to breathe and be more than just a cog in the machine... during late May and early June our garden looks its absolute best so I do feel very privileged to be here and witness it in all its glory...

cherry frangipane tart
there's an abundance of cherries in the shops at the moment and I absolutely love them... I could eat them for days and it's very rare that i'll actually be bothered to bake them into a cake but this little frangipane tart is so perfect and pretty easy to make and there's something about cherries and almonds that work so well together... the addition if the cherry brandy lifts the tart from the 'rather wonderful' to the 'little bit special' and it's unlikely that i'd use the cherry brandy for anything else so I've got to use it when I can...

for the chocolate pastry
200g plain flour
25ml polenta
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
100g unsalted butter
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 egg - beaten
a little cold water to mix 

for the frangipane filling
140g golden caster sugar
140g ground almonds
140g butter - melted
1 large free-range egg plus 1 large free-range egg yolk
2 tbsp cherry brandy
500g cherries with their stones removed

make the pastry by all the ingredients to a large bowl and beating together with a knife, add a little water to form a dough. flatten it out onto cling film, wrap it and leave to rest in the fridge for 20 mins

pit your cherries and set them aside

make the filling by placing the sugar, ground almonds, butter, egg and egg yolk in a bowl and beat well to make a paste, then stir in the cherry brandy and chill for 20 mins.
pre-heat oven to 160C. and grease a 23cm fluted, loose-bottomed tart tin

roll the pastry out onto a floured surface and line the tin. Fill it with baking parchment and baking beans and bake for 20-25 mins, removing beans and paper after 15 mins. 

spread the almond paste onto the base of the pastry then cover the top with the pitted cherries and bake for 25 mins until darkly golden - let it cool completely before serving

eat and of course, enjoy!

Thursday, 18 June 2015

oven roasted quinoa with salmon and asparagus

... naturally and historically the best easy fast-food is mostly based on a carb-heavy layer with protein on top... think of the pizza, the burger or the humble sandwich.  Throughout history this food has made the most sense, many of them pre-date and in fact have no need for cutlery to eat.  They are peasant developed hand-food and all of them glorious.  Frustratingly whilst on my #AlternativeEatingPlan or a low carb diet, I can't simply 'grab a sandwich'... I have to plan ahead and most of the stuff I have to eat has to be eaten with a fork.  We've been doing a lot of late nights at the office recently - I even pulled a 38 hour shift straight through and of course when the team want pizza at midnight I can hardly say 'sorry guys, it has to be carb-free' because then i'd sound like (and indeed be) an utter dilbert... I just wish someone would open a restaurant just for the low carb lover... it would have lettuce wraps, cucumber subs and big bowls of gorgeous pre-made salads heavy with flaked fish or chicken so whilst you scoff on your pizza slice I can join you without everyone having to change their eating plan...

oven roasted quinoa with salmon and asparagus 
there's a certain rather lovely middle-class supermarket chain that I go to nearly every day for my lunch because they have the most wonderful selection of quinoa salad pots.  I'm crazy for quinoa and if you haven't tried this ancient south american grain yet you really must give it a go.  It is as easy to cook as bulgar wheat or rice and a great alternative to both.  I've actually never cooked the stuff before but then we don't eat a huge amount of rice, pasta or grains in this household so finding an alternative was never an issue but now that we're cutting down our gluten intake and reducing carbs quinoa seems to be the ultimate weapon... Most instructions on how to cook suggest boiling it but because I'm keen on making authentic one-pot dishes at the moment I wanted to try roasting it... as it happens it turned out to be a great way to cook the quinoa and the asparagus at the same time giving them both a little roasting and boiling... I was supremely impressed and will be making this dish again many times i'm sure...

2 salmon portions - I used some incredible lightly smoked salmon steaks I picked up at Sainsbury's which weighed 240g combined
1 bunch of asparagus
130g quinoa
250ml cold water
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 tablespoons fresh lemon thyme -roughly chopped
police oil and seasoning

pre-heat the oven to 170C

you will need a large baking dish in which you need to lay an over-large strip of baking parchment

spread the raw quinoa onto this baking parchment and lay the asparagus on top, sprinkle with a little olive oil and season well with salt, pepper, fennel seeds and fresh lemon thyme and bake in the oven for 8 minutes

open the oven and pour the water over the quinoa and asparagus and then bunch the parchment paper up around the veg and quinoa so that the water can boil and steam at the same time... close the oven door and cook for a further 5 mins

season the fish well with salt and pepper and then after the 5 minutes remove the dish from the oven, carefully open the paper and lay the fish on top, close the paper over the whole lot and place it back in the oven for a further 10 minutes until the fish is beautifully pink and the quinoa is fluffy and plump

eat and of course, enjoy!

Saturday, 13 June 2015

lemon curd fudge cake

... this week The Viking and I decided to take an after work stroll along the South Bank.  The South Bank is a stretch of the river Thames that runs from the London Eye east towards Tower Bridge and is predominantly a wide, paved promenade that was once, not so long ago, a no-go area concrete graveyard of municipal type buildings and carparks but has recently become a rather wonderful mix of art installations, restaurants, street-food vendors trucks, skate parks, book stalls and pubs.  There's a lot going on and between the National Theatre, Hayward Gallery, Shakespeare Globe and the Tate Modern you can cram an afternoon full of food and culture.  To be honest, on closer inspection the restaurants are mostly the ubiquitous chain restaurants but with a lot of alfresco dining areas it all looks rather lovely and you can get as much from simply walking past it all as you will from entering any of the buildings or sitting down to eat...

... as it happens, out of all the choice of places to eat we made a bad decision and had a dreadful meal at the BFI cafe which left that rotten 'fried-food' feeling in both our mouths but we paid £37 for the luxury of not being a tourist and left the place without complaint... we then took in a movie, which whilst enjoyable with popcorn (to take away the taste of the meal) and water cost us £40.  All in all the evening was a rather pleasant feast for the eyes if not for the stomach or the pocket...  I'm not entirely sure where i'm going with this little post but I guess the moral of this little tale is that it's not just the tourists who occasionally pay through the nose for the pleasure of life...

lemon curd fudge cake
so a weekend in London inevitably means a cooking marathon with Jenny my neighbour.  Last weekend was no exception and Jenny was very excited about a cheesecake type thing that her god-mother Anita had served to her recently.  She said it was one of the best cheesecakes she'd ever eaten and according to Anita it was also supremely easy to make.  So much so that Anita had hand-written the recipe down just for me! Well, how could I resist..? Of course the proof of the pudding is in the eating and the making of this cake and I have to tell you this is a stunning pudding... like a cheesecake but fudgier... lemony, zesty and had that perfect balance of sharp and sweet that I adore.  On further research it turns out to be a Mary Berry recipe that both Anita and then I have adapted as we've gone along.  Too easy not to make so go and make it... now...

you can either make your own lemon curd - and in fact you could make any kind of curd... rhubarb curd would be amazing in this cake... or you could simply purchase a good quality one such as the awesome zesty lemon curd from waitrose

for the base
7 plain digestive biscuits - crushed
50g butter - melted
25g demerara sugar

for the filling
2 eggs
150g caster sugar
300ml double cream
50g plain flour
grated zest and juice of 2 lemons
1 tablespoon lemon curd

for the topping
150g TOTAL Greek yoghurt
2 tablespoons lemon curd
fresh fruit of your choice

preheat the oven to 180˚C and line the base of a 20cm round springform tin with baking parchment

in a bowl mix the crushed biscuits with the melted butter and sugar. Stir until all the biscuit is coated and then press into the base of the prepared tin

make the filling by whisking the eggs and sugar together until blended... pour in the cream, sift in the flour and whisk until blended

stir in the lemon juice, zest and curd and whisk again until combined

pour the whole lot into the tin on top of the biscuit base and bake in the preheated oven for about 35-40 minutes, until the filling has set and is pale golden brown on top - remove from oven and set aside till cool

for the topping mix the ingredients together and spread over the cold cake and then dump the top with fruit

i'm linking this lemon curd fudge cake to the Recipe Clippings link-up hosted by Janice over at Farmersgirl Kitchen

eat and of course, enjoy!

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

oven roasted tomato, basil and mozzarella quiche with gluten-free pastry

... i'm enjoying experimenting with the whole gluten free thing at the moment.  I've been spurred on by my sister Matti's visit but since she's departed we've continued to experiment.  It's not that I have a gluten issue but The Viking suffers from terrible arthritis in his hands and it's thought that arthritis could have a link to gluten intolerance so i'm more than happy to see where this leads and in fact it gives me an excuse to play around with recipes.  I haven't been brave enough to actually bake bread but I may give it a go this weekend... all in the name of science you understand...

oven roasted tomato, basil and mozzarella quiche with gluten-free pastry
on my regular trip through blog-land I spied this scrummy Mediterranean Summer Tart pie from Kate the Gluten Free Alchemist... I love the way it's so completely packed with veg and the GF pastry looked so wonderfully crumbly too I was utterly inspired.  What i've made takes its flavour heritage from the classic Italian combo of tomato, mozzarella and basil and i've gone for a more traditional style quiche filling, albeit using a low fat creme fraiche and cottage cheese... the quiche was glorious and very pizza-like when it was warm out of the oven as the mozzarella was still soft and oozing but it changed quite considerably once it had cooled down to become a firmer quiche-like tart.  It can be a little time consuming baking the tomatoes first but the aroma filling the kitchen is well worth it.  The gluten free pastry was very very crumbly, nothing like regular pastry at all and not particularly easy to work with but it tasted divine... which is all you need to know...

for the gf almond pastry - taken from Kate's blog
130g brown rice flour/rice flour
50g corn flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
½ teaspoon sea salt
40g ground almonds
110g cold butter (cut into small cubes)
1 large egg
1 tablespoon cold water
fresh chives - finely chopped

please note I didn't have any xanthan gum but I used 180g of lovely Doves Farms gf flour which contains the rice flour, corn flour and xanthan gum

for the quiche filling
250g baby plum tomatoes or similar vine ripened baby toms - halved
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
fresh oregano
150g mozzarella
fresh basil
4 large free-range eggs
300g cottage cheese
200ml creme fraiche 

turn the oven to 140C, line a baking sheet with oven-proof paper and lay your tomato halves cut side up on the tray.  drizzle with olive oil and a little balsamic vinegar and season well with salt and pepper and freshly torn oregano - bake for at least 30 minutes but longer if possible - I do mine for up to an hour, turning the heat down to 100C after 30 mins

next make the pastry by placing the flours, salt, ground almonds and butter in a large bowl and mix together with your finger tips until you have a crumbly texture.  Stir in the chopped chives then beat the egg and water together and add to the pastry and begin to stir together with a knife.  Once it comes together get your hands stuck in and bring together to form a ball of dough.  

flatten out the dough a little then wrap in clingfilm and pop in the fridge for 30 mins.

butter well a 20cm fluted flan dish and then once the dough has had time to rest in the fridge carefully roll it out on a well floured work surface and lift it into the dish... my pastry fell apart and was an utter mess but I managed to jigsaw it into the dish and press it all together and it worked fine.

lay some parchment paper on top of the pastry and fill with baking beans and bake in the oven on 160c for 15 minutes until a pale golden - then remove from oven and set aside.

beat the eggs together with the creme fraiche and cottage cheese and pour it into the pastry case then tear the mozzarella and drop it onto the filling along with the torn basil, then lay the roasted tomatoes on top

bake for 30 mins on 170C until golden and glorious and eat as soon as it's cooled slightly 

i'm entering this quiche into the Pastry Challenge founded by Jen over at Jen's Food and hosted this month by Lisa over at United Cakedom with the theme of breakfast and brunch... and I think a quiche falls perfectly into the brunch category.

eat and of course, enjoy!



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