Friday, 27 November 2015

hot smoked salmon, prawn and leek chowder

... it is undoubtably and finally soup weather... there's been a lot of rain here in the UK but there has also been that all important ground-frost early in the morning and it's this frost they say that tells the farmer when the leeks are finally ready for the harvest, apparently the leeks need that short sharp shock of frost to ensure they are at their most tasty and perfect... of course I have no idea if this is true but I like the idea that traditionally the weather and change of seasons is what would have lead the farmers choices, giving him the signals in natures cues to tell him when it was time to pick his crop. It's all very different now and indeed the weather patterns have probably entirely changed since the days when the first frost became an indicator but the leek season is very much still through the winter months which is when they're at their very best.  I guess one should think of them as the strawberry of the vegetable world, as one can now get strawberries all year round but we all know the ones picked at the height of their natural season taste the best... of course, being the British Leeks Ambassador I am a little biased but leeks have long been a favourite vegetable as they impart such an incredible soft, oniony flavour without being overpowering and make a wonderful addition to any soups or stews which is where we first came in, for this is most definitely soup weather and there is nothing quite like a bowl of warming love to brighten up the darkest of black fridays...

hot smoked salmon, prawn and leek chowder
this is my favourite healthy soup which proves that any kind of diets don't have to be boring! It’s a rich, thick and creamy soup, yet there's no cream and with pre-cooked smoked fish and prawns to add a little luxury to the proceedings. To reduce the carbs I'm using cauliflower instead of potatoes to thicken, but essentially the recipe is the same as a classic chowder.

1 medium onion - finely chopped
1 medium cauliflower - finely chopped
2 medium leeks - finely chopped
1 stick of celery - finely chopped
1 cup of frozen sweetcorn kernels
1 x 180g packs hot smoked salmon, skinned and flaked
1 x 200g pack of pre-cooked king prawns
500 ml vegetable stock
500ml skimmed milk
salt and pepper and fresh thyme

add a generous knob of butter and a little olive oil to a large pan and gently sauté the onions until soft, then add the leeks, cauliflower and celery, place a lid on and sweat until all the veg are soft.

add sweetcorn, stock and the milk to the vegetables and let them simmer for 10-15 minutes. Using a spoon take out one third, blend with a hand-whizzer and return to pan before adding flaked fish and prawns and let them heat through thoroughly.

stir with a little more olive oil and let it cool slightly before serving.

i'm linking this soup up to tea time treats, hosted by Karen from Lavender and Lovage which has soup as it's theme

recipe by Belleau Kitchen and photography by British Leeks where you can check out more of my delicious leek recipes

eat and of course, enjoy!

Thursday, 26 November 2015

waste not... JosephJoseph 10% discount treat

... occasionally I receive offers to review products on Belleau Kitchen and more often than not, if they're not recipe-friendly then I tend to turn them down.  It feels disingenuous of me to accept something that i'm either not going to use or use once and then let it languish in the back of the cupboard... plus I'm a bit of an old curmudgeon when it comes to change.  Even though I like to think I lead a bohemian lifestyle, I actually like things to be 'just so' in my kitchen and it's taken me a while to get everything how I like it so no, your multi-speed, steaming, fatless fryer come tumble dryer just doesn't have a place here... and don't get me started on digital applications.  If I get a request to review or join one more 'food app that will change my life' I will scream.  I won't use it.  I don't use it.  As a food lover I like to go and buy my own food and choose it, see where it's come from, be inspired by what I can see other people buying.  Food is a visceral experience... so when I received a request to review an item from the new JosephJoseph range I was a little reluctant.  I like the brand.  It has a creative aesthetic that I really like - even if it's not particularly 'Belleau Kitchen' and their approach to the practical everyday kitchen items is inspiring... but as always I don't actually need anything in my kitchen and I wasn't going to ask for something that just looked good, until I saw the IntelligentWaste Totem system.

Now there will be many of you out there who have modern kitchens with snazzy, in-built waste systems, hidden from view, just as they should be... but for those of us who have chosen a different, more eclectic look in our kitchens, finding the right waste vestibule can be tricky to say the least.  Whatever system you go for, it's probably the most used item in the kitchen and basically sits there at the end of the counter, or next to the oven, like a drunk child with dribble down its front belching the odd offensive odour at random moments throughout the day.  We've had all kinds of systems here in the cottage, from the retro metal dustbin to the tall, slender bucket.  We're also very keen on recycling here in Belleau so this means two, if not three bins if we include food waste, peelings and the like.

The Totem is the best hybrid in invisible design (when it sits next to our off-white kitchen wall it virtually disappears) and practical design.  It has a massive 50 litre large waste facility (there is a Totem 60 but it's just the two of us here...) and can be divided into a number of sections depending on your waste needs.  We use the top-loading large space as a general waste bin for all those things that can't be recycled or re-used.  This top bin comes with a smaller bin that fits within it and has a lid so can be used for your peelings and food waste.  The pop-up lid of this area also has a clever odour-reducer devise which is brilliant.  There is also a bottom drawer space that slides out on wheels that we use for the recycling such as paper, cardboard, foil and tins.  It's all amazingly light and easy to use and I am genuinely so happy with it that we're going to get one for the London flat too.

With Christmas coming up - a time when there's a lot of food waste and a ton of paper and card to be recycled this could be a great gift for those in your life who have a conscience... and the good people at JosephJoseph have given me a special 10% discount code to offer to all Belleau Kitchen readers, which is BELLEAU10

despose and of course, enjoy!

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

banana and chocolate soufflé pudding

... I am quite literally itching for Christmas.  I can't help it.  I think having spent the weekend at the cottage and popping to the local garden centre which has the most ridiculous display of Christmas decorations is what finally did it for me but I'm feeling so festive I was almost tempted to put our decorations up too. We've never put up decs earlier than the 1st December and I don't think I ever could but I must admit that I may have lit a scented candle with the aroma of spiced apples which has tipped me over the edge.  It's as though the warm weather that finally just ended had been dragging on for so long that this sudden cold snap has flicked the Christmas switch inside many of us and now we're running around like over-excited elves waiting for Santa to hand out the toy list.  It's addictive too.  Even The Viking who is a stalwart when it comes to dates and traditions has been softening to the idea of Christmas at the cottage... we've been trying really hard to be good when it comes to indulgence.  No naughty treats this month - you'll have noticed a distinct lack of sweet things on the blog - so I was quite surprised when he'd ordered us two mini mince pies at our visit to the garden centre tea room.  Talking of no treats, let's make pudding...

banana and chocolate soufflé pudding
not just a pudding and not quite a soufflé, this delightful little dessert is unbelievably simple to knock out, looks quite impressive and tastes phenomenal... there is very little more you could ask for in a pudding... t's almost healthy... or maybe i've gone too far... This months brilliant bloggers challenge We Should Cocoa - hosted by Choclette from Tin and Thyme, has the theme of bananas.  I have very rarely missed entering this challenge so i've been buying bananas for the last couple of weeks just to make sure I had them in the house and I always have cocoa somewhere in the cupboard but with the combination of not being around this month and my mind being completely blank I thought I was going to have to sit this one out until I lazily googled 'bananas and cocoa' and came up with this little gem adapted from the BBC Good Food website.

1 large very ripe banana
3 tablespoons dark cocoa powder
2 large eggs - separated
3 tablespoons caster sugar

pre-heat the oven to180C fan

i've used one small oven-proof dish but this would work using three ramekins which you need to butter and then dust with caster sugar

in a bowl mash the bananas with the egg yolks and cocoa powder until they are blended - I used a fork but this could be done in a blender of with a stick blender

in another bowl, beat the egg whites and the sugar until stiff and glossy and then gently fold this into the banana mixture

pour into the prepared dishes and bake for 10 minutes until risen and 'just-firm' to the touch with a slight wobble

eat and of course, enjoy!

Sunday, 22 November 2015

slow-cooker spinach, rocket, watercress and ricotta lasagne

...FINALLY winter is here, although if the weather reports are to be believed this sudden cold snap (and boy is it cold) will only last a short while before the more normal Spring-like temperatures return as hurricane after hurricane lashes the British Isles throwing the warmer air from the Atlantic our way.  Writing that sentence feels totally alien to me, sitting here in my thick jumper, with the fire lit and icy fingers of frost lace the windows but it really does seem as though the weather patterns have made it clear that they've changed for good and milder winters in the UK will become the norm.  It makes me wonder how this will effect our crops and cattle... will they notice?  Will we have to adjust the types of crops we grow and will some types of vegetables slowly die-out?  It will be interesting to see if we sluggishly accept the change or adapt quickly and embrace the potential it may bring... I'm hoping this is all just a blip in the cycle of life and that today's frost will finally kill off the hoards of flies and rodents before the UK becomes like a biblical version of Egypt... and our year will return to some kind of normality... but I very much doubt it...

slow-cooker spinach, rocket, watercress and ricotta lasagne
well I have to say that i'm genuinely impressed with this... it's incredibly easy to make as there's no pre-cooking so it's basically an assembly job and it has come out beautifully cooked and of course most importantly it's bloody tasty.  I'm a little relieved because my last couple of attempts at vegetarian slow-cooker cooking were a little bit of a let down - a lot of prep and ingredients and only so-so delivery.  My slow-cooker lasagna recipe is an amalgam of a few I found on-line and it was only because the devilishly clever google brought up the word lasagne as I plugged in my search.

As you can tell from my recipe list i'm using all pre-made shop-bought sauces and i've also used a bag of fresh salad mixes which have worked a dream and have all gone together to make the most wonderful and simple meals...

1 x 500g pasata (I used one of those large glass jars)
1 x 250g tub of supermarket brand tomato and garlic pasta sauce (the type they sell with the fresh pasta)
1 x 250ml tub of cottage cheese
1 x 150g Boursin Garlic and Herb cheese
1 x 250g tub of ricotta cheese
2 x 125g bags of fresh mozzarella
1 x 120g bag of mixed salad leaves (spinach, watercress and rocket)
roughly 10 sheets of dry - no pre-cook lasagne sheets
fresh basil leaves

mix together your two tomato sauces in one bowl and in another bow, mix together the cottage cheese, ricotta cheese and boursin

rub a little olive oil on the inside of your slow cooker and then spoon enough tomato sauce in to cover the bottom.

lay over this enough sheets of lasagna to roughly cover the sauce, you will need to do a bit of a jigsaw job with the sheets but don't worry about how it looks, nobody will see this

then carefully spread over a couple of tablespoons of the cheese mix followed by a handful of the mixed salad leaves which you can scatter across the top with some torn basil and mozzarella thrown over too

then it's a case of simply repeating the layers until you reach the top of the slow-cooker at which point you should try and end with the cheese and a scattering of fresh basil and mozzarella

place the lid on and cook on high for 3 hours

then turn the slow cooker off - and here's the important part - leave the lasagna to sit for at least 30 mins before serving as the whole pot will be very liquid and the dish needs time to allow the pasta to fully absorb the juices - after which time it should be able to be served like a regular lasagna.

I'm linking this recipe up to the slow cooked challenge hosted by Janice from Farmersgirl Kitchen and Lucy the Baking Queen which has a vegetarian theme this month

eat and of course, enjoy!

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

gluten-free apple and medjool date cake

... this week has been stupidly busy and it's only Wednesday.  As you can imagine the run up to the festive period is one of our busiest at The Persuaders but it always astounds me how everyone seems to want all their events on the same day... well I guess there are only so many days until everyone disappears for Christmas and there's lots to do... it's a lot of early mornings and late nights.  Last night I found myself leaving town in a cab very late and I was busy scrolling through emails on my iPhone and it wasn't until we stopped at roadworks and I looked up into the street that I realised Christmas had well and truly arrived in town.  As you know, I have a love/hate relationship with London but one of the times that I think it looks its best is when it's dressed for Christmas.  I'm not a fan of the big corporate lights on Oxford Street and Regent Street but there are so many smaller shopping streets and arcades that really put on the most incredible displays.  Some little streets such as Carnaby Street and St Christopher's Place always put a very creative and contemporary spin on their lights whilst posher streets like Old Bond Street and Saville Row look like something out of a Victorian fairytale... and then of course there's the shop windows... but I think potentially that may be a whole other post...

gluten-free apple and date cake
I made this apple and date cake a few months back when my sister Matti was staying with me and I was playing around with gluten free recipes... I wasn't so sure about this cake even though it went down really well.  I guess you could call it robust.  It's packed with flavour and has all the ingredients but for me it lacked a certain something naughty... i've never really been one for virtuous cakes, I can't really see the point and quite frankly if someone describes your food as 'interesting' then I think we all know what they mean...

... the edges of the cake look very dark but I would say it came out of the oven a dark golden brown rather than the black in the photograph...

225 g butter , room temperature, cut into cubes, plus extra for greasing
450 g bramley apples, roughly chopped
200 g medjool dates
100 g raisins
4 large free-range eggs, beaten
150 g gluten-free white bread flour, plus a teaspoon extra
100 g ground almonds
1 1/2 tbsp gluten-free baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
a good grating of nutmeg
2 tbsp pine nuts
2 tbsp demerara sugar

preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4. Grease the base of a round 23cm cake tin and line with greaseproof paper. Place the apples in a food processor with the dates, butter and half the raisins and blitz until combined. Using a spatula, scrape into a bowl and mix in a third of the beaten eggs.

in a separate bowl combine the flour, almonds, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Add a third to the apple mixture and combine, then continue adding and combining the egg and flour mixtures in alternating batches until all mixed together. Finish by folding through the remaining raisins then pour into the prepared cake tin.

combine the pine nuts, demerara sugar and extra teaspoon of gluten-free flour in a bowl and scatter over the cake mixture. Bake for 50–60 minutes, until golden and cooked through. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

i'm linking this cake up to the brilliant AlphaBakes challenge which is celebrating the letter M and one of my star ingredients is medjool dates.  AlphaBakes is co-hosted by Ros from More Than The Occasional Baker and Caroline from Caroline Makes 

eat and of course, enjoy!

Monday, 16 November 2015

hotel chocolate cookie caramel festive wreath - giveaway

... the thing is, this Christmas lark is coming at you whether you like it or not. They say that it comes earlier every year and I do have to admit that this year, it seems to have swung around again very fast but quite frankly I love it. Despite this unseasonably warm weather we're having I already have that tingly feeling in my bones about locking down for Christmas.  Last year we left these shores for sunnier climes and whilst both The Viking and I had a hugely enjoyable time we both had to admit to ourselves is that we really missed Christmas.  As you can imagine the cottage is festooned with decorations - all supremely tasteful of course - and the food and wine don't really stop flowing... well it's mainly cheese but you get the idea.  With the year we've had I am looking forward to settling down in front of the fire and not moving for three weeks...

the hotel chocolate cookie caramel festive wreath is one massive chunk of chocolate... when I first opened the package when it had arrived through the post I was a little disappointed at how small it seemed.  I think I have chocolate dysmorphia though because this is a weighty piece of divine deliciousness.  It's so thick you actually have to put a considerable amount of effort into cutting it up and I truly believe that if you have to strain to cut a chunk of chocolate then you know you're getting your moneys worth! It's actually 450g of gorgeousness. Inspired by a festive christmas wreath and crafted from delicious 50% milk chocolate. The wreath is generously studded with nibbly cocoa biscuits, shortbread biscuits and crisp caramelised Florentine squares... even The Viking who's not usually a chocolate fan was pretty much smitten with this beauty.  It's perfect for Christmas, great for sharing or gifting or just keeping for yourself and eating secretly every time you go upstairs...

the good people at hotel chocolate have very kindly given me a wreath to giveaway to one lucky Belleau Kitchen reader, all you have to do to enter is fill in the clever little raflecopter gadget thing below and then sit back and wait for Christmas...

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, 13 November 2015

ginger roast Lincolnshire pork belly

... last night I was honoured to host the Lincolnshire Life Magazine, Taste of Excellence Food and Drink Awards, held at the lovely Oaklands Hall Hotel, here in the Lincolnshire Wolds.  The awards, which are in their 19th year, celebrate the food produced in this great county and honour the chefs, makers and proprietors who love this food and who have created businesses based on their passion for it.  Whilst i've done plenty of cookery demo's and of course I love the sound of my own voice, i've never actually done anything quite like this before and so I was quite nervous... I guess the fact that I was also standing in front of a room full of nearly 200 people who I have the utmost respect for also made it all a little more daunting but once I downed a swift strong one I delivered an amusing little introduction, which seemed to raise a titter from a table or two so I think it all went quite well.  It's so funny how intensely focussed I became prior to the moment itself and then once I was up there chatting away, it all felt perfectly normal, like I was in a room full of friends and family.

Awards dinners can be quite lengthy and stuffy affairs but last night was a really fun evening, full of atmosphere and very jolly people... the food was outstanding, quite how chef Steven Bennet managed to deliver such an incredible quality of food to the tables without a single grumble I will never know but i'm just glad I could sit and enjoy the meal and celebrate the best bit of living in Lincolnshire... the food!

ginger roast Lincolnshire pork belly
of course the pork belly doesn't have to come from Lincolnshire but if you have a wonderful local farmer who will deliver free-range, organic, home-reared meat products to your door then feel free to use them... this pork belly comes from the lovely Jo and Fred who run a small-holding called Claythorpe Livestock, who i've championed before on this blog and it really is very good quality meat.  As you know, I don't eat or cook a huge amount of meat but when I do I like to ensure that it's the best quality meat I can find, preferably locally sourced and it doesn't get more local that the stuff roaming around in the fields outside my window... This recipe is unbelievably simple but will produce a guaranteed outstanding crackling, which is what we're all about right?

serves 2 to 4 depending on how much of a fat bastard you are...

1 800g piece of pork belly -well scored (you need a really sharp knife to do this so if you can ask your butcher to do it then you're winning)
3 tablespoons sea salt flakes
1 large piece of fresh ginger - at least 4 inches long - peeled and cut into smaller chunks
5 or 6 medium roasting potatoes - peeled and chopped
2 large carrots - peeled and chopped
a large sprig of fresh thyme
1 large glass of white wine

pre-heat your oven to 220C if it goes that high

ensure the pork belly skin is very dry - I do this by patting it with a couple of sheets of absorbent paper towels and then leaving them on top for 15 minutes but I have heard tell of people using a hair-dryer, which i'm not adverse to.

place the salt into bowl and add half the fresh thyme leaves and stir together

place the veg, ginger and remaining thyme into a large roasting tin and lay your pork belly on top and then rub the salt/thyme mix into the skin, leaving a thick crust of salt on top.  Place the dish into the hot oven for an hour.

remove from the oven and spoon off the salt... the potatoes and carrots will have turned very black but this is fine, they're not really there for the eating although I do love them like this.  I remove them at this stage but you can keep them in the tray for the remainder of the cooking time if you want.

sprinkle a teeny bit of salt over the pork belly and then pour in the wine around the meat being careful not to touch the skin and place the whole dish back in the oven, reduce the heat to 150C and cook for another hour... remember to set aside for 15 minutes or so before serving, which gives you enough time to steam some vegetables should you feel that way inclined

i'm linking this divine pork belly to shop local hosted by Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary which encourages us to buy from local shops and producers

eat and of course, enjoy!



Related Posts with Thumbnails