Monday, 6 July 2015

super-fast home-made ale, mushroom and pea pie

... what people who don't live in the UK don't realise is that there's a really good reason we obsess about the weather... it's because we never really know what it's going to be like out there.  There are, quite simply, no guarantees.  Even if the weatherman tells us on a Monday that the rest of the week is going to be a searing heatwave it's still likely to be raining and cold on Wednesday... and even though we live on a comparatively teeny island the weather only a hundred miles from where i'm sitting now could be completely different to how it is here.  What it means is that when is comes to the summer the only thing we can plan for is rain.  If you've planned for rain then you'll be OK.  It can be tiresome at times and many a marquee has gone up in defiance of rain that never came but it is truly better to be safe than sorry.  What this temperate climate also means is never quite knowing what you fancy to eat.  If the weather was a constant 30 degrees throughout the summer months you'd know you'd be eating salads and barbecues every day but when those blustery rains and cold fronts blow you start thinking about stews when you know you shouldn't...

superfast home-made mushroom and pea pie
sometimes on a Sunday I want the traditions of a Sunday roast but without the hassle of having to actually do any roasting... it's more of a feeling on Sunday that i'm after... bit of gravy perhaps and some nice green veg.  Last Sunday we were out in the wolds for a bit of a drive to take in some scenery and The Viking mentioned pie... well that was it.  I'd started to rub flour and butter together in my mind and we speedily turned the car around and headed for home.  This pie is super-fast for something so rustic and homemade.  You make the filling whilst the pastry is chilling and resting in the fridge so there's very little down-time. As well as the ale i'm also using some classic Bisto Roasted Onion gravy powder which makes this not only tasty but cuts down a lot of 'gravy-making' time... I have no issue with using these kinds of quick fix classics, I simply don't have the time not to so in total I think it took an hour and a half from arriving home to sitting down to eat which is not bad going for a tasty Sunday lunch...

for the quick herby shortcrust pastry
225g plain flour
110g butter at room temperature
some fresh herbs such as thyme or rosemary - finely chopped
a little cold water to mix

for the pie filling
4 large field mushrooms - cut into large chunks
5 shallots - roughly sliced
100g Quorn mince - (I had some that needed using in the freezer but you don't have to include this)
rosemary and thyme - finely chopped
150ml Bisto Roasted Onion gravy mixed with
100ml dark ale
a large handful of peas

start with the pastry by placing the the flour and butter in a bowl and using your fingertips, crumble it together until it resembles breadcrumbs, then mix in the fresh herbs, salt and pepper and a dash of cold water.  Using a butter knife, begin to stir it together and when it starts to form a ball get your hand in and bring it all together into a dough.

flatten it out into a disk, wrap it in cling film and pop it into the fridge whilst you make the filling

heat the oven to 170C

melt a generous amount of butter with a dash of olive oil in a large pan then throw in the onions and let them gently caramelise for roughly 10 mins and once they're soft and beginning to brown, turn up the heat, add the Quorn if using and the mushrooms, stir them around and let them sit until they start to make a noise, at which point stir them around, add some salt and plenty of pepper along with the fresh herbs and let them sit again until they start to release their juices... turn down the heat, stir again and let them cook until they begin to turn golden and the juices evaporate.

add the ale and gravy and the peas and let the whole dish gently bubble away whilst you roll out the pastry

flour your work surface well and roll out the pastry ensuring you create a large enough piece to cover the pie dish

trim off some thin strips of pastry and pinch them to the rim of the pie dish making a ring of pastry to which you can attach the pastry lid

carefully ladle the filling into the pie dish, brush the pastry rim with milk and lay the pastry on top.  Seal the pastry by pinching it with you thumb and forefinger and then brush the whole lot with milk

bake for 25 mins or until the pastry turns golden

eat and of course, enjoy!

Thursday, 2 July 2015

orange zest swiss roll

... there's been a bit of a hoohah in the local village.  This year, as regular as clockwork the Aby Village Show will take place on the 16th August and this year, as regular as clockwork the locals of Aby and Belleau have eagerly awaited the arrival of the little paper pamphlet that gets hand delivered through their doors but this year, not quite like clockwork, an audible gasp of consternation and surprise could be heard from the good folk of these two small villages of the Lincolnshire Wolds... you see as they turned the double-sided, folded to A5 printed sheet to discover which of their favourites they'd be baking they noticed that gone was the Victoria Sponge!... Gone was the fruit pie and GONE... dear reader... gone was the scone... I realise this is an act of unthinkable disaster but it is the sad truth.  In an effort to be more 'down with the kids,' the powers that be (Ann from number 6) have shaken things up a bit.  Quite honestly they've barely strayed from the path with this one and added the classic Swiss Roll and Bakewell Tart to the category list instead... all though quite frankly how they can take the beloved scone from the proceedings is beyond my... utterly beyond.

orange zest swiss roll
this is an absolute classic with a teeny twist in that i've added a dash of orange blossom water and some orange zest to the mix... other than that this is pretty much how it should be.  Some recipes call for a layer of cream or butter cream but the rules are the rules and i'm informed by the pamphlet that this should be a Swiss Roll with jam filling.  End of.  Wether it's a winner will remain to be seen...

125g golden caster sugar plus extra to dust
3 large free-range eggs
125g plain flour plus extra to dust
1 teaspoon orange blossom water
the zest of one orange
½ jar of strawberry or raspberry jam

pre-heat the oven to 200C. Lightly brush the base of a 33cm x 23cm Swiss Roll tin with vegetable oil. Cut a sheet of greaseproof paper to fit the base of the tin exactly. Brush the paper with a little more oil, then dust with a mixture of caster sugar and flour.

put the sugar and eggs into a large bowl and whisk with an electric hand whisk for 10 minutes, until pale and thick.

sift half the flour into the mixture and fold in very carefully until no traces of flour are left. Repeat with the remaining flour. Fold in a few drops of orange blossom water and the orange zest.

gently pour the mixture into the prepared tin and use a spatula to smooth it evenly into the corners.

bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden and risen and just firm to the touch then set aside.

lay out a damp tea towel on the work surface and lay a piece of greaseproof paper on top. Dust the greaseproof paper with caster sugar. Run a knife around the edge of the warm sponge and turn it out on to the sugar-dusted paper and then peel the paper off the back of the sponge.

ensure the jam is easy to spread by stirring it vigorously with a spoon and then pour it out onto the sponge and spread out evenly, leaving a little border of clean sponge all around.

make an incision about 1cm in from the short edge near you, being careful not to cut through the cake - this makes it easier to roll up and then start rolling, using the incision to help you make the first turn. Use the paper and tea towel to help you roll tightly.

once rolled wrap it in the paper and tea towel and lay it seam-side down until cold.

trim the ends before serving...

eat and of course, enjoy!

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!



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