Sunday, 2 August 2015

chocolate orange eton mess

... so last week I started with a personal trainer called Gareth.  I wasn't going to mention it on the blog because i've started so many things here and very rarely followed them through but then I thought that this is an on-line diary of my life and exploits and I do love sharing with you all. I love it.  We work outdoors in a local park in London and whilst i'm enjoying it immensely it is bloody hard work. I'm using muscles I didn't even know I had and because I suffer from a bad lower back our work is concentrating on strengthening my core and hamstrings with plenty of lunges and planks plus i'm using this harness gadget called a TRX which is quite frankly a little rude but I smile sweetly at Gareth and get on with it... and he doesn't suffer fools either this young chap.  He told me he was here to make it harder each week, there would be no 'it gets easier' from Gareth.  He also asked me to work on a food diary for a couple of weeks.  I'm half way through and it's utterly fascinating to actually write down everything we eat and because I have an understand of food from writing my blog it's even more so.  It seems i'm living on a 'skinny week and fat weekend' kind of diet and Gareth says this works well for me as long as I control my mid-week wine intake... I have a feeling Gareth may need his head examining...

chocolate orange eton mess
so I was talking with my non-gluten eating sister the other day and I mentioned I needed to create something sweet and a little different for the blog and she suggested an eton mess... now I love an eton mess but it's not perhaps the most creative idea so I asked her to suggest so more things but she stubbornly stuck with the eaton mess... well actually her suggestion was to make a pavlova, we eat half of it and then I make the eton mess.  I got the hint and decided that an eton mess would have to be made.  I adore the chocolate-orange combo and seeing that I'm always looking for a twist i've used that combination of flavours here and it's worked a treat with the sharpness of the orange cutting beautifully through the sweet, sweet chocolate meringue and chocolate cream.  The marmalade just takes it all to a very sophisticated place.  Of course it was only at the point of eating it that I realised i'd been doubly duped by the sister, having created her favourite pudding that also happened to be naturally gluten-free...

for the chocolate meringue
3 large free-range egg whites
150g caster sugar
50g good quality dark chocolate - grated
2 teaspoons cocoa powder

for the cream
100g good quality dark chocolate
50ml double cream

1 or two oranges, peeled and cut into chunks
the peel or zest of one orange
1 tablespoon marmalade

preheat the oven to 140C and line a large baking tray with greaseproof paper

in a large bowl whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form then gradually whisk in the sugar until stiff peaks form.  Add the grated chocolate and sieve in the cocoa and fold gently into the meringue.

gently pour the mixture onto the baking tray and smooth out into a large oval and quickly put in the oven before the mixture loses volume

bake for 40 minutes and then turn the oven off and leave it in there until the oven and meringue is cool - remove and set aside

to make the cream, gently melt the chocolate in a pan and then set aside whilst you whip the cream to a thickish consistency, then take a tablespoon or two of the cream and beat it into the melted chocolate, then take this chocolate cream and gently stir it into the rest of the cream with the cream so that you have a kind of chocolate ripple effect.

build your eton mess by either creating it all in one large bowl by simply breaking up the meringue and then adding all the other ingredients and string together or you can do it in individual pots ... break up the meringue and place a little in the bottom of the bowl, then add alternate layers of cream, marmalade and fruit and more meringue... drizzling melted chocolate and grating a little orange peel on top adds a nice flourish

I am of course linking this stunning eton mess to the Belleau Kitchen Simply Eggcellent bloggers link-up which has the theme of anything goes... I'm also linking it to the brilliant we should cocoa challenge founded and hosted by Choclette over at Tin and Thyme which also has the theme of anything goes!

this eton mess with its orange zest is also perfect for the AlphaBakes challenge hosted by Caroline from Caroline Makes and Ros from The More Than Occasional Baker the letter this month is a tricky Z... i'm also linking this up with Karen from the lovely Lavender and Lovage and her Tea Time Treats link-up which has the theme of Summer Holiday Baking...

eat and of course enjoy!

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Simply Eggcellent #6 - anything goes

... welcome to August. The height of the summer... apparently.  I'm not going to bore you with tales of  days colder than October, pelting rain and the fact that we've even had the fire on once or twice because either you're in the UK and living this lack-lustre summer with me or you're in a much lovelier part of the world and don't want to hear the tales of a soggy englishman...

August is a busy month of holidays, summer fetes and picnics on the lawn, plenty of excuses for those eggciting egg-based recipes from quiches, to scotch eggs to muffins and pies... and because we're all so busy i'm making it easy on everyone and going back to the theme of anything goes...  I want all your recipes that contain those lovely free-range eggs from the humble one-pot baked egg to the eggstravagant summer favourite Eton Mess.  Go mad with wild abandon and enjoy!

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 any beautiful 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

eat and of course, enjoy!

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Simply Eggcellent #5 - round-up of breakfast and brunch delights

... I think it may be possible that breakfast is my favourite meal of the day and if these gorgeous recipes are anything to go by then I have enough inspiration to last quite a while...

1. Cheesy Leak and Bacon Muffins from Cheryl at Madhouse Family Reviews
2. Malaysan Laska with Sarawak by Nasifriet at By The Way...
3. Red and Green Frittata from Grace at Life Can Be Simple
4. Cheese and Marmite Muffins by Laura at I'd Much Rather Bake

5. Dairy Free Almond Yorkies by Elaine from Fun As A Gran
6. Cauliflower, Blue Cheese and Walnut Cake from Suelle at Mainly Baking
7. Tuna and Egg Crepe Cake by Lili from Lili's Cakes
8. there's no way to describe these Regretful Eggs by Keep Calm and Fanny On so just go look...

9.  Heuvos Rancheros by Caroline from Caroline Makes
10. Brown Sugar doughnut batter Waffles by The Lawyers Cookbook
11. Crustless Vegetable Quiche by Helen at Family Friends Food
12. Spiralized Sweet Potato Waffles by Caroline from Caroline Makes

13. Baked Egg and Potato Wraps by Anne from Anne's Kitchen
14. Rainbow Chard and Egg Pie with Feta from Emily at Cooking for Kishore
15. Banana, Strawberry and White Chocolate Muffins from Ros The More Than Occasional Baker
16. Three Berry Pancakes from Shaheen at A2K

17. Tamale with eggs over easy from Shaheen at A2K
18. Courgette Fritters from Choclette over at Tin and Thyme
19. Bed and Breakfast Omelette by Karen from Lavender and Lovage

... and that my friends is what you call a round-up... thanks again for all the delicious links and recipes.  I am always humbled by your lovely entries.  What a feast we'd have!  Look out for the August link-up on the 1st... meanwhile

eat and of course, enjoy!

Sunday, 26 July 2015

courgette, lemon thyme and gem lettuce summer soup

... influenced by our recent sojourn to Spain, The Viking and I were discussing the merits of cold soup.  The Spanish have their wonderful gazpacho, packed with fruity tomatoes, garlic and peppers it's a great and easy way to eat a healthy bowl of summer flavours... of course the French have something similar in vichyssoise and the humble leek and potato is one of my favourite cold soups... I adore making cold pea soup - oh there's something wonderfully sweet about the little pea that makes a cold soup taste so divinely moreish...  but it's funny how, in the summer months, dishes like soup get neglected.  To be honest, who wants a bowl of steaming hot liquid... but in fact I love soup in the summer.  Cold or hot, it's a great way to get those essential veg into your diet and if you treat them right, don't over cook anything and keep it really simple you can easily serve up a glorious bowl of summer...

courgette, lemon thyme and gem lettuce summer soup
if you don't grow lemon thyme I urge you to try and hunt some down and grow it... even if all you have is a windowsill there's always room for a little pot of this glorious herb.  It does everything regular thyme does but it has an added bonus of a fresh zesty lemon scent so even in the darkest depths of winter you can add the zing of summer to any dish... it goes really well with many chicken dishes and it perks up all kinds of fish dishes really well without being too overbearing.  It's in flower at the moment and the little pale lilac flowers are edible and so pretty sprinkled onto your finished dish... the lemon thyme is part of a medley of flavours here but they make their presence known in a subtle under-current of lemon and thyme in this glorious summer soup packed with my favourite 'allotment' veg... you can throw anything in here but be careful not to overcrowd the bowl, you want to be able to taste those lovely fresh vegetables...

1 bunch (6 or 7 stems) of spring onions - roughly chopped, keeping much of the green
2 courgette - roughly chopped
8 or 9 stems of purple sprouting broccoli - roughly chopped
a large handful of spinach
100g peas - fresh or frozen
1 gem lettuce - roughly chopped
1 litre good quality vegetable stock
butter and olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon thyme
salt and pepper

in a large pan or skillet on a medium heat, gently melt some butter and a little olive oil, then throw in the onions and courgettes, toss them around and let them sweat for a minute or two

add the peas and broccoli, stir and let them also cook off for another 2 minutes

add the rest of the veg and the fresh lemon thyme, stir and place the lid on.  Turn the heat down to low and let the veg sweat away for roughly 5 mins

add the stock and let the soup gently simmer for 8 minutes... let the soup cool for a couple of minutes before serving

linking up with no croutons required hosted by Lisa from Lisa's Kitchen and Jaq from Tinned Tomatoes and also linking up with extra veg hosted by Michelle from Utterly Scrummy and Helen from Fuss Free Flavours and of course i'm also linking it to the brilliant eat your greens bloggers challenge hosted by Shaheen over at A2K

eat and of course, enjoy!

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

blueberry and marmalade eat-from-the-fridge brownies

... oh it's funny being back from holiday isn't it?  You spend those two weeks almost unconscious on a subbed and then WHAM! like a slap in the face you're back into your real life with all the elegance of a sledgehammer on a wedding cake.  It's like the holiday never happened and the only thing you have to show for it is a fabulous tan and you can't really even remember actually lying in the sun.  We managed to get back to the cottage at the weekend but that was more curse than joy as the garden had decided to explode with growth and we spent the whole weekend wading through the jungle it had become, deadheading and cutting back... to be honest The Viking had a bit of a breakdown over the amount of work but once he'd calmed down we actually managed to get quite a bit done.  I was excited because I had a tonne of strawberries that had ripened over the fortnight we'd been away and they were all waiting patiently for us to scoff but I was also slightly upset because my stunning purple gooseberries that were going to be so perfectly ripe on our return had all disappeared.  I'm assuming the birds or some fat mice but it could have been a friendly neighbour or even a passing walker out on the scrump...

blueberry and marmalade eat-from-the-fridge brownies
these are quite frankly the best brownies i've ever eaten and I have eaten a lot of brownies... they weren't supposed to be eat-from-the-fridge but I over-egged it on the blueberries just a little and with 300g worth of the little blighters bursting with juice these brownies where never going to truly set.  So I popped them in the fridge and roughly 5 hours later they were the perfect consistency... fudgy, soft in the middle but crispy on top with little berry bursts in every mouthful... the marmalade and orange zest cut through the sweetness beautifully... utter heaven.

the recipe is actually my classic fail-safe brownie recipe, so i'm not doing anything new here, just adding the fruit...

185g butter
185g good quality dark chocolate - at least 70% cocoa solids
3 large eggs
275g golden caster sugar
85g plain flour
a pinch of salt
40g cocoa powder
300g blueberries
the grated zest of one medium orange
1 tablespoon marmalade

grease and line a 20cm square brownie pan, pre-heat the oven to 160C

in a pan gently melt the butter and chocolate - do this over a really low heat and stir regularly - take it off the heat before it's fully melted and set aside to cool, stirring again as it melts

in a large bowl beat the eggs and sugar with an electric mix for about 6 minutes until it doubles in volume and becomes pale, light and airy then pour in the melted and cooled chocolate and gently fold in until it's fully combined

sieve in the flour, salt and cocoa and again, gently fold in, then add the blueberries, orange zest and marmalade and fold them in.  Pour the mixture into your brownie pan.

bake on 160C for 25 mins then remove from the oven and let it cool in the tin and then pop it into the fridge for at least 5 hours to fully set - cut into squares and serve

i'm linking these brownies over to the brilliant we should cocoa bloggers challenge which is hosted this month by its founder Choclette from Tin and Thyme as the theme is blueberries.

eat and of course, enjoy!

Saturday, 18 July 2015

pa amb oli with homemade mallorcan rustic rye bread

... as you know, The Viking and I make a regular summer pilgrimage to the Spanish island of Mallorca and for many years we've tended to stick to the simple life.  We stay in my aunt's beautiful apartment and whilst we go for long drives into the beautiful villages in the mountains we tend to keep it quite basic as this is a proper break for us and relaxing means getting into a groove of doing nothing.  It's actually quite a skill.  Neither of us are 'lay by the pool' type of people, in fact generally I can think of nothing worse than a pool surrounded by sun-loungers with other peoples sweaty bodies lying too close to mine (unless i've instigated it of course...) and so perfecting the act of nothing to do doesn't come easy but the routine of a few lengthy games of scrabble, sitting in a cafe by the sea, listening to the sound of the world spin by is an ideal scenario for us... if we're clever this can actually last all day between a few strokes in the sea and more cafe con leche than you can imagine is healthy that by the time the coffee turns into vodka, lime and soda we're more relaxed than we could ever be... follow this with some gorgeous food and you could prick me with a fork because I am done...

pa amb oli with homemade mallorcan rustic rye bread
we basically ate plates of this nearly every night instead of an actual meal... like many peasant dishes it was inexpensive but superbly easy and many people order it with layers of cheese and iberico ham laid on top but with The Viking being a vegetarian we would go for a mixture of the cheese, grilled vegetables and tortilla options and they were so good...  an amazing starter for sharing with large groups but they are also very much like a pizza so would work as a main course too and there are just so many options of toppings to chose from... rye bread is also very low in gluten.  It's not quite gluten-free but for some people it may be a nice alternative to high-gluten breads...

for the rustic rye bread
a type of rustic rye bread is the traditional bread used for this dish but I simply couldn't find an authenticated recipe for the bread we ate or the bread used for pa am oli, all the information I could find was that the dish uses a 'rustic mallorcan country rye bread' so this is what I made.  As usual i've used my favoured 'low-knead' method as this is how I feel confident making bread but feel free to use any method of your choice, the recipe is the same... I have to say this bread is spectacular and tastes very much how I remember the bread tasted in Pollenca.

this is enough for two loaves, simply half the amounts for one loaf but then as I always say, why make one when two is just as easy and delivers double the points!

400g strong white bread flour
400g rye flour or wholemeal rye flour as it is sometimes known
3 teaspoons fact action dried yeast
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons caster sugar
600 ml water
olive oil to knead

place all the dry ingredients into a bowl and stir together, then add the water and bring together with a rubber spatula until you have a sticky shaggy mess - cover with a tea towel and set aside for 10 minutes

after 10 minutes, drizzle a little oil onto your work surface, rub around with your hand and then using your oiled hand lift the shaggy mess from the bowl and place it onto your oiled surface

drizzle a little more oil into the bowl and rub this around the inside of the bowl with your oiled hand and set aside

now knead the dough 10 times and then place it back into the oiled bowl, covered with a tea towel, for another 10 minutes

repeat this 2 more times, each time you will feel the dough getting softer and silkier and it will begin the puff out too

after the last time, place the dough back into the bowl and stretch cling film over the top of the bowl and set aside for at least an hour or until the dough has doubled in size

after an hour pre-heat your oven to 220C or as hot as it will go and place an oven proof pan in the bottom of the oven

oil your work surface and then scoop out the risen dough onto the oil, you want to knock it back with your knuckles and fold it over envelope-style a few times and then, if making two loaves, cut it in half and shape each half into a ball and set aside on a baking tray lined with parchment, for another 30 minutes

spritz each loaf with water, then sprinkle on a little rye flour and rub gently with your hand.  Slash each one with a sharp knife.  Quickly open the oven and pour a little cold water into the tray in the oven and then place in the loaves and bake in the oven for 10 minutes on 220C followed by 20 minutes on 180C.  They will be done when they are risen and golden and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom

set aside on a wire rack to cool

for the toppings
any selection of fresh vegetables such as courgettes, beef tomatoes, red peppers or aubergine
2 or 3 cloves of garlic
2 extra beef tomatoes - very ripe
olive oil
a traditional mallorcan or spanish cheese  such as iberico or manchego  - if you can't get hold of this try a nutty cheddar or strong double gloucester

slice your vegetables quite thickly and then set aside - halve one of your tomatoes

in a large bowl pour in two tablespoons olive oil, a selection of fresh torn herbs such as rosemary, thyme and oregano, salt and pepper

place the cut veg into the bowl and smoosh around with your hands until the veg are nicely coated

place a griddle pan on the heat until smoking hot, turn down the heat to medium and then carefully and relatively quickly griddle your veg... they only need a couple of minutes on each side.  They need a little crunch.

slice the bread into medium slices and grill on both sides

slice a clove of garlic in half and rub the hot toast with the garlic on one side, then taking you ripe tomato, cut that in half and rub it on the garlic-rubbed side of toast.  Do this quite firmly until the tomato breaks apart.  I used roughly a quarter beef tomato on each slice of bread

drizzle each slice with olive oil and then layer the toppings of your choice onto each slice -  it could be simpler

because this dish is so frugal and basic yet tasty I am linking it to the brilliant Credit Crunch Munch hosted by Camilla from FabFood4All and Helen from Fuss Free Flavours

I am also linking it to Bready Steady Go hosted by Jen from Jen's Food and Michelle from Utterly Scrummy

Finally this dish is off the Karen from Lavender and Lovage and her wonderful Cooking With Herbs challenge.

eat and of course, enjoy!

Thursday, 9 July 2015

gin and tonic mini bundt cakes

... just a short post from me today as from the gratuitous holiday snaps that many of you will have seen on my social media pages it's not hard to tell that The Viking and I are officially on our annual sojourn to Mallorca... i've waxed lyrical about the Spanish island many times on this blog.  It is a beautiful place with outstanding food and lovely people - as with any holiday destination you just need to know where to look.  To be honest i've never felt like i've deserved a holiday more than this one and we're thoroughly spoiling ourselves... I will do a little write up of my favourite eats when i get back but until then lets raise a glass or two to the summer...

gin and tonic mini bundt cakes
of course it's at precisely this time of year that one finds oneself sitting in a bar next to the ocean with the waves gently lapping against the deck and a glass of gin and tonic  it's this time of year that thoughts turn to long summer evenings with a glass of gin and tonic in hand, chilling in the shade of a tree in the garden as the bumble bees buzz around the sweetly scented flowers

this recipe is enough for 6 mini bundt moulds and 6 cupcakes or roughly 14 cupcakes

for the sponge
210g unsalted butter softened
210g golden caster sugar
210g self raising flour
3 large free-range eggs
the grated zest of one lime
5 tablespoons tonic water
2 tablespoons Hendrick's gin

for the syrup
5 tablespoons Hendrick's gin
50g golden caster sugar
the juice of one lime

for the icing
200g unsalted butter softened
400g icing sugar
juice and zest of one lime
4 tablespoons gin

pre-heat your oven to 170c and spray your silicone bundt moulds and line a cupcake/muffin tin with 6 cases

place the butter and sugar in a large bowl and beat together until light and creamy

add the eggs one at a time beating in after each egg and scraping down the sides of the bowls with a rubber spatular as you go, then sift in the flour, add the lime, gin and tonic and gently beat in

divide the mixture between the bundt moulds and the cupcake cases till they're about 2/3rds full

bake for roughly 20 mins until they are golden a skewer comes out clean

meanwhile place the items for the syrup in a microwave proof jug and heat until the sugar melts, then stir and set aside

remove from the oven and prick each little cake all over with a skewer, then gently pour a little syrup over each cake... you should add no more than a couple of teaspoons per cake or they'll go soggy - then set them aside to cool completely

for the icing, beat the butter and icing sugar until pale and soft then add the lime juice and zest along with the gin and beat again.  If it's looking too soft simply add a little more icing sugar until it reaches the thickness you feel comfortable icing with.

decorate you cakes however you like and sprinkle over a few little bits of zest

eat and of course, enjoy!



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