Saturday, 31 July 2010

Sunrise Muffins

... woke up ridiculously early this morning, especially after last nights debauched slugging, so I made these babies to fill the house with the smog of baking goodness and gently wake everyone else up...

this recipe comes from Jason Schiller, pastry chef at Macarthur Place in Sonoma CA and they are good...

recipe (don't ask me about cup conversions, they all differ depending on dry or liquid... I just chose a cup and stuck with it...)

1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp cinnamon (I thought this was way too much so I did 3 tsp... perhaps it's a misprint?)
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
1 tsp allspice

4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 oil (I used sunflower)
1/4 cup dark corn syrup (I used golden syrup)

1 lb grated carrot
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup grated apple
1/2 cup shredded coconut

Sift together the dry ingredients, set aside

beat together the liquid ingredients and sugar until just evenly mixed

add the dry to the liquid and mix till just combined

add the remaining ingredients and mix till just combined

fills 24 muffin cases and bake at 350 for 20 mins

They were very good and felt wonderfully summery and healthy even... great cure for hangovers following a couple of fried eggs on toast!

eat and of course, enjoy!

pizza field mushrooms

I'll be very very drunk by the time I'd really want to post this, so i'm writing it earlier in the day and will add the photo once the dish is ready... not that you'll notice any difference, I just want you all to be in on the loop...

...oh not another weekend of alcohol fuelled nonsense from Belleau Kitchen i hear you cry... I promise you this is not a weekly thing.. oh... ok... it is a weekly thing but what you don't understand is that we only have friends who are absolute soaked lushes... so what are we to do?...

ok... so I've adapted this from my own recipe for garden pesto field mushrooms and was inspired by our guest Peter's desire for pizza with no carbs... if I don't say so myself it's a little masterstroke of genius... I mean.. how do I make a pizza with no carbs?  place the pizza toppings onto giant field mushrooms and there you have it... all the cheesy, tomato pizzaness off a pizza... sans carbs.... a mushroom bruschetta if you will.

I know it's total over-indulgence on my guests but why not?  It gives me a good excuse to get creative and these are not exactly hard to make...

you start with a classic slow cook tomato sauce then pre-bake the well seasoned and oiled large mushrooms in the oven for about 10 mins on each side, just to get them soft and ready for the toppings... once you're hungry, spread the sauce over the mushroom (gills up) and then add whatever other toppings you like... some nice fresh mozzarella, peppers, spicy sausage... the world is quite literally your oyster... oooh, oysters... and bake till cheese is nice and golden.

I also whipped up a simple Total Greek Yoghurt Sundae very simply with some berries (raspberries, blueberries and cherries) honey and a little sugar... very fresh and clean and the perfect end to the meal.

eat, drink and of course, enjoy!

Friday, 30 July 2010

Beach Quiche with Total Greek Yoghurt

the boys are back in town..... so, this is the final of a triple header of weekends of madness at the cottage and it should be a blast!  I'm trying to plan ahead so that I can at least post some decent blogs whilst being the perfect host and create some delicious meals...

we got back from London late last night and my brain wasn't quite in the planning mode but I knew I ought to start thinking about it, nevertheless we didn't purchase anything on the way back to the cottage so I wasn't expecting to be able to be quite so creative this morning...

... but I just LOVE opening the fridge to find the perfect ingredients.... last weekend mum had promised to make one of her special quiches and she had bought the basic ingredients and they lay scattered in the fridge unused, so when I spied the pot of cream which was seriously in danger of going out of date I knew I had to make a quiche that we could take to the beach tomorrow... only issue was the cottage cheese that I would normally have used to mix with the cream had fully died a death... I needed something creamy but with a sour tang to counteract the the richness of the quiche...

... and the doorbell rings and who should it be but the lovely man from Asda delivering a bumper pack of Total Greek Yoghurt that I had received courtesy of Julie at Traffic... genius timing Julie... well done... into the quiche it goes! (I used half a tub of the full fat one)

so there you have it... nice and prepared for the weekend ahead... chilling champagne in the fridge... tomato sauce for the pizza field mushrooms slowly cooking on the hob... maybe i'll pour myself a glass in preparation... what time is it?

I know you've probably seen this recipe before and it is an old favourite of mine... but I love it and it just tastes bloody amazing so i'm not apologising for making it again!


For the pastry:
8oz plain flour
4oz softened butter or margarine (or 3 oz of butter and 1oz grated cheddar cheese)
pinch of salt
tablespoon of water

For the filling:
1 onion - finely sliced
2 cloves of garlic - crushed
a handful of small mushrooms - finely sliced
1 courgette finely sliced
4 veggie sausages, sliced
3 large eggs
10fl oz of double cream
1 small carton of soured cream (or cottage cheese or in today's case... half a 500g tub of Total Greek Yoghurt)

to make the pastry simply add the fat to the flour and rub it in until it resembles bread-crumbs, (I will sometimes use 2/3rds butter and 1/3rd grated cheese) then add the a tablespoon of cold water and bring it together with your hands until it forms a ball of dough.  If you want the pastry to be really rich you could also had a beaten egg at the bread-crumb stage and this should be enough moisture to bring the dough together.

place the dough ball in a plastic bag or wrap in clingfilm and place it in the fridge for at least 30mins.

Now, saute the onions and garlic until soft (sometimes I will let the onions really caramelize as they add a wonderful sweetness to the dish) then add the mushrooms and saute the whole lot till it's all full of flavour and nicely coloured.  In a separate pan, saute the courgette slices.

In a bowl beat the eggs and add the cream and Total Greek Yoghurt and whisk furiously till light and frothy.

Roll out the pastry very very thin.  Line the flan dish with it.  Now, you have 2 options here...either blind bake the pastry using baking beans, or as my mum (and hence me also) has always done, don't bother... if you roll it thin enough the pastry will cook in the oven with the filling on top anyway and it remains light...

Now, mix the sauted stuff with the egg/cream mix and pour into the flan dish and bake in the oven at 180  for about 40mins or until golden and risen on the top.  It shouldn't be eaten straight away.. best to give it half an hour so that it can set slightly and be eaten just warm...not cold and not hot.

eat and of course, enjoy!

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Russell made a pizza...

just a quick one here.... but whilst Russel, The Big V and I are working on our new project for world domination he fabulously whipped up the most wonderful home-made pizza for our lunch!

lucky us!


600g strong white bread flour
2tbsp milk powder
2 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp caster sugar
34g butter
2 1/2 tsp yeast
330ml water

this recipe goes into a breadmaker but you could just add all the ingredients and hand knead it for 10 mins, then let it rise for an hour.

use a pizza stone or a pizza tray with holes... any topping of your choice and bingo!

eat and of course, enjoy!

Sunday, 25 July 2010

5 star fish dinner day of the family weekend and 'twas off to the beach we took... it has become something of a tradition to celebrate my mum's birthday with a picnic on the Lincolnshire coast, complete with wind-breaks, rugs, beach towels, buckets and spades, sand in the sandwiches and plenty of bubbly to polish it all orf!

... we're all quite traditional when it comes to picnics and this year we made the classic; tinned salmon with spring onion and mayonnaise spread into sandwiches with thinly sliced cucumber... along with egg mayo and cheese and pickle... we also had plenty of left-overs from last nights bbq...  doesn't seem like much yet we still had 3 bags and a large freezer box on the beach with us!

the beach was teaming with starfish today, we must have counted them in the hundreds, some as big as my hand!... it was a fun lunch and my niece and nephew had a blast in the sea playing with the dog... who is now laying down, snoring loudly in her bed.

... typically rain called off a prolonged beach day but it didn't stop us going back to the lake by my brothers cottage to catch some more carp... if i'd have known fishing was this easy and fun i'd have taken it up a long time ago... they literally jumped onto the bank!...

... very very tired now... that wonderful kind of exhausted you only get from beach, sun, sand and a little pink champagne...

final weekend of mayhem next weekend and then we deserve a break from Hotel Belleau Kitchen... although to be honest i'm very excited about Peter and Richard coming to visit... we're always guaranteed a weekend of fun, food and booze and i'm sure i'll have no worries twisting Peters arm into a guest spot in Belleau Kitchen... maybe Sunday lunch?...... Peter, go buy a chicken.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Visit the meat.... Eat the meat....

the weekend continues with the family...

...mum's birthday dinner last night at the local was exceptional...Dawn's roasted lamb cutlets were superb... perfectly pink and flavoured delicately with honey and thyme. They were sublime and yes, we're very lucky to be able to order special stuff from them, for which we are very grateful.

today we took the Lincolnshire Wolds Steam Railway from Ludborough to North Thoresby... A journey which took 10 minutes in actual time but took us about 100 years back in time, it was delightful. Then a visit to Rushmore Country Farm where we saw pigs, rabbits, goats, ponies, and a selection of bored looking birds of prey... Never sure about caged birds but the kids loved it and it's always good to teach about where food comes from...

Tonight it was barbecue time and mum made a selection of fabulous lamb burgers and turkey burgers, they are both made very simply with minced meat, chopped onion and egg although there is a secret ingredient in the lamb burgers... ( I can't tell you that it's anchovies or one of the readers of this blog might get very upset...)...whilst I rustled together some salads including a potato and green bean salad, which I dressed with a mayonnaise, lime juice and mustard dressing... a coleslaw with currents (my secret ingredient is salad cream) and an avocado, tomato and mozzarella salad.

We started with hallumi which is always such a winner on the barbie for it's salty rubberyness and we also have plenty of leftovers for our beach picnic tomorrow...

...The Viking also thinned out my carrots today as he said I'd over-crowded them and they wouldn't grow very big... judging by the photo I guess he's right... again!

Friday, 23 July 2010

and another weekend of madness

so it's mum's birthday today and this means the annual family migration up to Lincolnshire... this year my brother, his wife and their two kids are renting a wonderful cottage near the little town of Belchford in the depth of the Lincolnshire Wolds.  The cottage is on a farm called Poachers Hideaway and is one of 5 converted barns... it's a perfect little idyll with 150 acres of rolling hills and fishing ponds...

... now I am NOT a fisherman, when we were young my brother used to dangle his rod whenever we went anywhere he could catch fish, from Mevagissey to Mallorca but I would always get bored within 5 minutes and wonder off to the shops, or to a local sweet shop... but today, within 15 minutes I had caught 4 ginormous carp and was loving every second.  They were all thrown back to live another day but what a rush of excitement and joy as mum sat with us on the bank, cup of tea and slice of banana cake in hand and the kids ran around screaming with delight with every fish, big (and small, Jason....) they landed in the net... pure summer joy!

They all arrived last night so I prepared a loaf of challa, which is a traditional Jewish plaited loaf made with egg and honey.  I've made a version of this before but always followed a more old English recipe for plaited loaf, whereas this was an official challa recipe and it turned out really good. Slightly sweet and eggy, which is perfect....mum and I knocked together our classic easy meal of chicken thighs and legs roasted with vegetables and risotto rice... I have posted the recipe for this previously but it's always such a winner and so simple to make... the only problem was that we were all very hungry that we tucked in so fast I completely forgot to photograph it!

oops... was good though!

Off to the pub tonight for merriment and birthday shenanigans... the wonderful thing about our local is that we can order 'off menu' and Dawn is preparing some lamb cutlets for us... mum's favorite.... can't wait!

Here's the recipe for the challa bread:

1 sachet easy blend dried yeast
1tsp clear honey
8fl oz lukewarm milk
50g melted butter
12oz plain flour
1 tsp salt
2 eggs lightly beaten - in separate bowls - one for the mix and one for glazing

Combine the yeast, honey, milk and butter, stir and leave for 15mins to dissolve

In a large bowl, mix together the flour and salt.  Make a well in the centre and add the yeast mixture and one of the beaten eggs.  Stir to make a dough. (It will be very sticky and may need extra flour for kneading)

Knead till smooth and elastic (a good 15 mins) then transfer to a clean bowl, cover and leave to prove for 1 1/2 hours.

Grease a baking sheet. Knock back the dough and divide into 3 equal pieces.  Roll to shape each piece into a long strip for plaiting.

Lay 2 of the strips over the third to make a star shape and plait from the centre, tucking the ends under.  Do this on the baking sheet, then cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for 30 mins.

Brush with egg and bake in a hot oven at 190 for 40 - 45 mins or until golden and sounds hollow if you tap it.


eat and of course, enjoy!  or as I have now learnt... knitting not nibbling! (don't ask...)

Thursday, 22 July 2010

proudly featured

as this weeks guest blogger on the Local Food Advisors website... very proud, thank you x

got a hell of a weekend ahead, what with mum's birthday and the family coming to Lincolnshire this weekend... all I can say it watch out locals...

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

grilled field mushrooms with garden pesto

Annie... are you reading this?  now put down your newly purchased 'phallus' pepper-mill and repeat after me...' cooking is a pleasure not a is a pleasure not a chore...' and now open that bottle of red and pour a HUGE glass for yourself and prepare to make these very simple but excruciatingly tasty pesto mushrooms...

today is muggy... not nice.  No sun, just clouds... thousands of those goddamn thunder-flies that get under your skin, crawl up your nose, into your ears and seem to do the tango... horrid.  today is really for sinking into a cold pool then going out for a late dinner on some Mediterranean shore... but alas, here we are in Belleau and the field mushrooms are calling.

Poor Annie from The Reluctant Vegetarian has her 'spawn' and many friends to stay and needs to impress (god knows why) with some vegetarian dinners, so I thought she could do these little beauties... I've made them before on this blog but they suit a summer evening so well and the 'garden' pesto really should be called a 'fridge' pesto because it's anything you have in there whizzed up with some nuts and cheese... the dish works well for multiple numbers because it's so easy and repetitive and everyone gets one.

I'm using courgette and spring onion this time, along with basil and rosemary but you can use any variation of garden herb or nuts for that matter... walnuts work very well.

Take your large mushrooms and place them in a heavy oven-proof dish, drizzle them in olive oil, salt and pepper and lightly grill them on both sides... just until they are juicy but still firm... don't over do it, they'll get some more one the topping is on.... take them out from the grill and let them cool slightly whilst you make the pesto...

... whizz up whatever greens you have, with some oil, garlic and the pine nuts, then grate some strong cheese into it and mix it all up and spread it onto the gill-side of the mushrooms and grill to a golden perfection!

Serve with a light salad and relax in the knowledge that the full-on taste sensation will make those that eat it think you are a trained chef who just happened to be their mates mum...

eat and of course, enjoy!

Monday, 19 July 2010

Cherry Clafoutis

thank you BVG for this wonderful idea... I've never made it before but it's a winner...

so, the answer to 'what to do with a bowl of luscious, plump, dark red, hand-picked, free, road-side cherries'... is 'make a cherry clafoutis'... originally a French dish, this is a perfect solution to an excess of the cherry... custardy, creamy, fluffy and deeply intense whilst retaining that wonderful cherryness that happens to cherries once they're baked.

it also, so perfectly sums up July in Lincolnshire... ripe and sticky!

the only issue was that once i googled clafoutis I was inundated with millions of slight variations in recipe for such a simple dish... why is it that every one's recipe instructions started with... 'this is a classic French pudding' yet none of them were the same!  I must have scoured roughly 50 recipes, from The Times, to Jamie Oliver... from James Martin to my classic French cookbook (which believe it or not, didn't have the recipe!!!)... some added cream... some added ground almonds... some had currents...?

in the end I plumped for the James Martin version, with a little added help from Jill Dupleix from The Times... anyhoo it turned out very good, so I think I've done OK.

300g cherries - pitted (no idea how many I had, just used them all!
300ml milk
3 eggs
60g caster sugar
60g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

First, murder your cherries... quite literally, it looked like I'd killed someone... red spots everywhere!

next, in a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar to a nice white froth, then add the vanilla extract, add the milk, then sift the flour and baking powder and give it a final whisk.

now, place the cherries in a shallow pie dish, pour the batter onto it and bake in an oven for about 30 minutes or until well risen and golden... once it looks ready take it out and leave it to cool and set slightly... but not too long, you want to eat it warm, like a set custard pancake!

eat and of course, enjoy!

life is quite literally a bowl of cherries!

look at these beauties....!

as I've mentioned previously there is a certain lane between here and Louth where about 6 or 7 cherry trees grow by the side of the road... it's been weeks but they are finally that perfect deep, dark red colour.... so I'm on my way back from the gym this morning and I just couldn't resist pulling over and harvesting a few... which turned into a few pounds!  I didn't even need to get out of the car... just rolled down the window and reached out, so heavy were the branches with their offerings...

Well... they'd be bird food otherwise and there is simply nothing better than reaping the benefits of natures bounty.... and this is all from one tree, I need to go back today or they'll be eaten, or rot on the tree...

... so here's my dilemma... I just love cherries, so do I simply eat them from the bowl or turn them into something fabulous like a pie?  Oh decisions decisions....

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Vegetable Paella

something soft and gentle to sink into this evening.... and believe me we need a soft landing tonight...

... I've been meaning to make this since we got back from Mallorca and tonight seemed the perfect excuse to indulge... it's a very basic recipe to which I've added a selection of roasted vegetables including mushrooms, carrots, aubergine and my home grown beetroot. (there's something so rich and velvety about roasted beetroot that I simply adore.)


1 large spanish onion - finely chopped
3 cloves garlic - crushed
a selection of mushrooms - finely sliced
250g paella rice
1 aubergine - roughly chopped
a selection of small home-grown beetroot - roughly chopped
about 10 baby carrots
1 medium tomato - finely chopped
1 1/2 pints good veg stock
paprika and other seasoning

in a large flat bottomed pan (preferably a paella pan... not that I have one...) saute the onions and garlic in olive oil and butter until melty and translucent, add a sprinkle of paprika for punch and colour.
then add the mushrooms and saute till golden.
next add the rice and coat in the onions, then add the stock, turn down the heat, place a lid on the pan and simmer gently for about 15-20 mins
once the liquid has gone, add the oven roasted veg, place the lid back on and leave it to settle, off the heat for 10 mins.

deep and rich and smooth

eat and of course, enjoy!

the daily bread

well... about to take the girls to the station... it's Sunday morning and we survived... just.

The girls arrived at 9pm on Friday night and after a whistle stop tour of Skegness it was back to the cottage, out with the asti (don't go there) then the wine... until 3am!  I even managed to make a quiche during the drunken tomfoolery... Haven't been to bed at 3am for a good few years but still managed to get up and bake bread on Saturday morning... yes, dear reader, it's all about the glory with me... I may be exhausted and ready for bed again (its 1pm) but at least I baked a loaf!

The Quiche is veggie sausage, onion, mushroom and courgette... a weird combo but somehow it worked, in fact it was a bit like a breakfast quiche... well I was drunk when I made it.

We spent the day yesterday walking on the beach, driving through the wolds and avoiding sudden downpours with games of trivial pursuit.... Jane the mad bee lady would scream everytime anything with even a small buzz flew past her head, which caused much hilarity, whilst me and Gina 'Mash and Beans' Jones beat them to take the glory of Belleau Trivial Champions 2010

oh and we also had to fit in some mini-scones to take over to a party last night which I had promised to a friend and decided to make these bizarre lemonade scones I had seen here

Where do I start with the scone?  Look at them... small... fluffy... light and DISGUSTING! This proves my theory that you should never trust an American with a scone recipe...  we were suspicious with the lack of sugar and the lack of fat but The Big V stressed that I should stick to the recipe and I suppose he's right... well if this is how they're supposed to taste, you can forget it... wrong, wrong, wrong.

very tired...

Quiche Recipe

For the pastry:
8oz plain flour
4oz softened butter or margarine (or 3 oz of butter and 1oz grated cheddar cheese)
pinch of salt
tablespoon of water

For the filling:
1 onion - finely sliced
2 cloves of garlic - crushed
a handful of small mushrooms - finely sliced
1 courgette finely sliced
4 veggie sausages, sliced
3 large eggs
10fl oz of double cream
1 small carton of soured cream (or cottage cheese)

to make the pastry simply add the fat to the flour and rub it in until it resembles bread-crumbs, (I will sometimes use 2/3rds butter and 1/3rd grated cheese) then add the a tablespoon of cold water and bring it together with your hands until it forms a ball of dough.  If you want the pastry to be really rich you could also had a beaten egg at the bread-crumb stage and this should be enough moisture to bring the dough together.

place the dough ball in a plastic bag or wrap in clingfilm and place it in the fridge for at least 30mins.

Now, saute the onions and garlic until soft (sometimes I will let the onions really caramelize as they add a wonderful sweetness to the dish) then add the mushrooms and saute the whole lot till it's all full of flavour and nicely coloured.  In a separate pan, saute the veggie sausage slices and then the courgette slices.

In a bowl beat the eggs and add the creams and whisk furiously till light and frothy.

Roll out the pastry very very thin.  Line the flan dish with it.  Now, you have 2 options here...either blind bake the pastry using baking beans, or as my mum (and hence me also) has always done, don't bother... if you roll it thin enough the pastry will cook in the oven with the filling on top anyway and it remains light...

Now, mix the sauted stuff with the egg/cream mix and pour into the flan dish and bake in the oven at 180  for about 40mins or until golden and risen on the top.  It shouldn't be eaten straight away.. best to give it half an hour so that it can set slightly and be eaten just warm...not cold and not hot.

eat and of course, enjoy!

Friday, 16 July 2010

2 things to share with you...

I have a lot planned for food this weekend with Gina and Jane coming to visit but I'll either get very drunk tonight and not manage much over the next few days or I'll be good and my culinary creative juices will flow...

Obviously I want to impress with home baked bread, something fabulous for a beach picnic and some kind of cakey thing (I'm still thinking of those lemonade scones...) but we have little over 24 hours with them and we are still in London, so not quite sure when it's all supposed to happen...

... oh and we've finally ditched the dreadful Talk Talk and their stop-start broadband crap and have taken Sky Broadband on for a trial... the switch-over happened yesterday and we've not been back to the cottage to test it yet, so it's possible I wont have any Internet for a while!

in the meantime, I have 2 things to share with you from my week in London... now you know I don't usually do restaurant reviews but I wanted to show you the fish and chips I had at The Island in Kensal Green.

I met up with dear Eleanor and we drank and laughed and ate fish and chips... the fish was excellent and moist, with a dark, golden, crisp batter.  The chips were more like mini roasties than a chip but this didn't
exactly bother me and they were served with a mushy pea smear on the plate, which was also very tasty
although I could have done with twice the amount.

the other thing is this fabulous veg medley that mum has made for a dinner party she is throwing (without me) tonight...

How simple is this, yet it looks like little roasted jewels in a dish?  it's courgettes, baby plum tomatoes, aubergine and mushrooms, all roasted in separate dishes and then thrown together to be served.  The house smells intoxicating!

That's it for now...

eat and of course, enjoy!

Monday, 12 July 2010

rainy day roast chicken

what happened?

one minute we were enjoying the hottest summer on record... day after day of sunshine and heat... and then POW!... cold, wet, windy... this better be a small glitch in 2010's computer programming, I have a lot of outdoor stuff planned...

but I feel that miserable weather calls for hearty, old-fashioned pots of warming lovelyness that can only come from the depths of the oven.

I had a little of that fantastic tomato sauce left over from the pizza I made on Saturday... it was so rich and unctuous... I urge you to make loads of it and freeze some, or keep some in the fridge... you can use it with so much... I even had it spread on toast for lunch today with a few slices of strong cheddar on top... delicious!... anyhoo, I wanted to get creative with it for dinner and thought it would be great spread onto chicken thighs and potatoes and then roasted... and that's exactly what i did.

Yes, it's an old favourite here at Belleau Kitchen but the one-pot roast is so easy and so effective I can't really complain... I roughly chopped some onions, garlic and celery and also cut some potatoes into chunks, placed it all in an oven proof dish, seasoned with s and p and some fresh herbs and then placed the chicken thighs on top, seasoned again then added a little glug of white wine and gave it all a good drizzle of olive oil.

I did the same for The Big V but used Quorn chicken pieces (I know some of you probably think i'm crazy and un-inventive using Quorn but... and you need to see some of my old posts on this... The Big V wants what I'm eating... just without the meat) I roasted them in a hot oven for just over an hour, turning the thighs every 20 mins or so, so they remain moist and still get golden all over...(the Quorn dish needed a little veg stock half way through to stop it drying out) ...and it came out the most glorious golden red colour and tasted superb and had that deep deep intense tomato taste.

eat and of course, enjoy!

Sunday, 11 July 2010

broad bean and sausage, spaghetti salad

one of the many wonderful things about living this blissfully bucolic life are the gifts brought to you by friendly neighbours... Belleau is a teeny village and June and her slightly scary brother Geoff live at the last house down the hill.  Geoff tends an enviable veg patch and is very generous with his harvest... and today June brought me a bag of broad beans and told me I can 'do cooking with 'em'... thanks June.

I've got to say that broad beans aren't on the top of my weekly shopping list and even if I did have a veg patch as big as Geoff's I still don't think I'd grown them in such abundance... nevertheless I've found a lot of lovely recipes, so I'm going to freeze half of them and this evening we're having a simple salad of beans, spaghetti and sliced sausage.

It's kind of an adaptation of a Valentine Warner recipe for broad bean and ham salad, which looks enchanting in the photograph... I've gone for some veggie sausage tonight... (I can't always make one for him and one for me y'know... it gets quite tiresome...) and the beans are the real stars here, so what the hell.  I've added some spaghetti to expand the dish as we're having this for supper, but you could leave it out and still have a lovely meal.

Shell the beans, then boil them in salted water for no more than 3 minutes, after which you drain them and then run them under ice cold water.  Val says to peel them if they're old but seeing that these babies were still growing when I shelled them I've peeled half of them, just for fun and a variety in texture.

The sausages are sliced and pan fried till nice and crispy.  I've thrown the last cloves of that delicious roasted garlic I made on Friday to add a deep smoky edge.

Tossed all together with plenty of s and p and a glug of olive oil... what could be finer?

eat and of course, enjoy!

last minute sugar rush.... Raspberry Muffins

they're staring at you....

I seem to be making a variation of these once a week but last nights version were proper bottom of the barrel jobs... that's the problem when you have drunk neighbours and The V gagging for something sweet... muffins are quite simply the easiest things to throw together... and they thrive on being lumpy and badly made, so if you're a bit tipsy too, it really doesn't matter!

Step 1: open cupboard
Step 2: pull out what's left (in my case; a bit of raspberry jam, a bit of marmalade and some borrowed raspberries..)
Step 3: follow recipe as closely as you can, substituting what you have for what the recipe asks for
Step 4: bake and hope for the best
Step 5: use olive oil if you haven't got vegetable oil... it worked for me!


250g Plain Flour
100g caster sugar
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
125 ml vegetable oil
remainder of a jar of marmalade (about a third)
remainder of a jar of raspberry jam
some actual raspberries
the juice and grated zest of one lime

beat the eggs into the oil then add it to the flour, sugar, bicarn and baking powder and mix in a large bowl.  Don't worry about perfection here, there's something about muffins that seem to thrive on lumps and mess.
Then add the bit's of stuff you found and mix it all up.
Add to muffin cases and bake on 200c for about 20mins.

Other than the fact they look like scary lop-eyed raspberry monster faces... they tasted great!

eat and of course, enjoy!

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Pizza the action

Sorry about the title but I always wanted to use it so today's my excuse!

Can you believe that I have never made pizza before?  I think that before the blogging started I was on a very boring (but tasty) rotation of familiar, regularly made meals... this experience has opened my eyes and made me stretch my culinary skills.  I think we all tend to have a small circle of favourite dishes which we rotate with frequency and then occasionally branch out to slightly more daring recipes, but still within our excepted boundaries... for some reason, Pizza was just never on my list.

Whilst working in London we've been eating a LOT of pizza ... it's relatively cheap and we try and choose decent Pizza places such as Pizza East in Shoreditch.  I'm not reviewing here and although their pizzas are pretty good, I always think I can do better but seeing that i've never made one before I could hardly comment...

So, knowing my good blog friends, I knew i'd be able to find a decent pizza dough recipe (the toppings I believe I could stretch to being inventive myself...) and where better to go than Luigi from Tales of Italy  the full pizza dough recipe is here and also some excellent tips and musings... it's a great blog.

Pizza Dough

1/2 teaspoon fast action dried yeast
300g strong white flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
150 ml water

It's a basic dough recipe and you combine all the ingredients anyway you like. (by hand, by sea, by air...) It needs a good 30 mins to rise, but once it's risen you can stretch it and shape it into your base.  Very thin is what i'm after.

I also wanted this to be packed with flavour and i've plenty of time this weekend so I thought i'd roast some garlic to include in the dish.  Roasted garlic is always good to add a depth of garlic flavour to any dish... it's a mellow depth, if that makes sense... I roasted the garlic on a low heat with olive oil and rosemary for about an our.  I've used the garlic in the tomato sauce and with the mushrooms for the topping.

So, i'm not in anyway trying to make an authentic Italian pizza, just following the basic steps ... pizza dough... tomato sauce base... topping... so i'm sure many of you out there have more authentic recipes but this is what i've done.

Tomato Sauce

2 tins of good quality chopped tomatoes
roasted garlic (4 cloves)
6 shallots (very finely chopped)
rose wine
balsamic vinegar
salt, pepper and sugar
rosemary and bay leaf

For the tomato sauce i've followed an old recipe that I use for the courgette pie I made back in May, which is basically sweating the finely chopped shallots until they literally disapear, then adding two tins of good quality chopped tomatoes, some rose wine, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, a teaspoon of sugar, tomato ketchup and herbs... and I let this gently bubble for at least 2 hours till it's a totally reduced sweet sticky sauce.

As Luigi tells you in his blog, the trick is to get the oven very hot and to use some kind of pizza stone or flat tray.

Once the pizza dough is rolled out to the thinnest you can get it, you place it on the hot stone and as quick as lightning add the toppings, which in my case is the sauce (not too much), some garlic mushrooms which have been slightly pre-sauted, some spinach and i've torn up a mozzarella ball to top it.

It should take no longer that 10 mins in the hot oven but it depends on how well done you like your pizza.

It tasted great... I wish I had one of those wood-fired oven so I could achieve that incredible smokey taste but nonetheless i'm pretty please with myself.

do it like this and then you too can get a pizza the action!

eat and of course, enjoy!

Friday, 9 July 2010

Carrot and Onion Fritters... or 'how I became a bee.'

So we've been decorating the cottage... we've been meaning to do it for a while but now that we have 2 friends coming up next weekend and my mum and the family coming up the weekend after to celebrate her birthday, we thought a little cottage tart up was in order...

... and it's those annoying fiddly bits that we've got to do like painting the skirting boards and the bathroom floor... anyway it's a very hot day here today so the paint is drying super-fast!

I though something easy but fun and tasty was in order and I was inspired by watching Nigel Slater on TV last night to make these little beauties.  What I love about the way he cooks is his laid back style and his 'just chuck in what you've got in the fridge' attitude, which is exactly the way I like to cook... without a recipe book or the constraints that come with them... sometimes it's a disaster... no wait a minute!  my cooking is never a disaster, just 'genius in the making.'

The other thing that happened today was that I became a bee.

My courgettes have been so incredibly showy every morning with their huge yellow flowers but that's pretty much it... like impotent pimps, they display their wares then shrivel and die... I lost my 4th potential courgette from this pot and I just couldn't understand why.  Well thank the lord for YouTube... it turns out that this is a very common problem... there's no one doing the cross pollination on the plant.

click here to check out this film (go on it's only short and totally fascinating.)

the long and short of it was that I had to remove the male flowers from the plant, peel back its frilly shirt (ooh er!) and rub its bits on the female flowers bits... it was pure vegetable porn!

and hopefully I'll end up with some decent courgettes next week.

3 medium carrots finely grated
2 medium onions finely grated or sliced
2 tablespoons flour
2 eggs beaten
salt and pepper
olive oil
roughly 2 tablespoons grated cheese

You simply put it all in a bowl and squidge it round till it's thoroughly mixed and feels as though it wont fall apart in the pan... you can add other herbs or less/more flour and the cheese can be anything you have that can be grated.

then form them into patties and shallow fry.  Nigel says the trick to good patties that wont fall apart is to let them cook till very golden on one side, then turn and do the same with the other... don't keep turning them... you get more flavour this way and a better consistency.

I served them with a simple salad but they'd make an excellent burger with a slice of halloumi... or served with a sweet relish.  I had planned to make a rosemary aioli but didn't have all the ingredients... but I botched this together using rose wine instead of white wine vinegar... and... it didn't taste bad... bit too much mustard powder, which again is all I had, but it went with the fritters perfectly.

eat and of course, enjoy!

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Guest Kitchen... Mum's Banana and Raisin Loaf

What's better than going back to mums with a bunch of over ripe bananas, going out for the day and coming home to mum having turned them into a banana and raisin cake...?

We came back to London today for meetings and mum put up with us and the dog again...bless her!

... So this is her kitchen and my mum making a guest spot on Belleau Kitchen...


8oz s.r. flour
4oz margarine
4oz brown sugar

In a bowl, mix the above into breadcrumbs then add as much cinnamon as you like (1/4 teaspoon ish)

4oz sultanas or raisins or dates go in next
Then add 2 mashed ripe bananas
Beat 2 eggs and add these and mix it all together.

Pour into a loaf tin and bake in the oven for 45 mins at 170c

Thanks mum x

Eat and of course, enjoy!

Monday, 5 July 2010

a non-cherry, cherry pie

should have posted this yesterday but too knackered to finish it!...

...still living in a 'Famous Five' novel, Tracey and I took a driving trip up into the wolds to the beautiful village of Tealby... her brother has bought a beautiful house there but I was more interested in the plump white cherries that were hanging lugubriously from the tree in his orchard.

... they were so perfectly ripe I couldn't get enough and we were quite surprised as it's slightly early in the season, or maybe not for the white fleshed ones... we usually pick the dark red ones that hang along the lanes around the cottage, tempting us like mini rubies hanging just out of reach!

... so we picked a bag full and went on our merry way... she drove... I ate.. and ate.. and ate.. and THEN had the idea to make a cherry pie!... with only about 10 cherries left we were disheartened until we remembered our cherry lane...

... I ran home and whipped up some sweetened shortcrust pastry (with a little added ground almonds for extra depth) then off we went, armed with large Tupperware, parked off the road in a hidden copse, ready to pick, only to discover that our cherries were not the same cherries and have at least 3 weeks to go before they ripen...

... I've made my pastry... what do i put in my pie? Tracey suggested freezing the pastry, a perfectly good suggestion I'll agree but I wanted my pie!

... so, like so many good things in this world, I cobbled together a pie from the 10 cherries I hadn't eaten, a couple of apples, a pear, some frozen brambles and rhubarb (thanks Tracey) and some sultanas for good measure!  ... also, a little tip from mum... always spread some jam or marmalade in the bottom of the pie... this way i can use less sugar in the fruit and it adds a nice sticky quality to the finished pie.

here's the recipe... it's a bit odd but that's the nature of the pie...


9oz plain flour
3oz ground almonds
3oz soft butter or margarine
1 tablespoon sugar
pinch salt
cold water to mix and bind

2 apples - roughly chunked
1 pear - roughly chunked
3 frozen bags of brambles (roughly a large mug per bag)
1 frozen back of chopped rhubarb
10 small white fleshed cherries (stones cut out)
a handful of sultanas
a pinch of cinnamon
a glass of pink wine
2 table spoons of sugar

jam or marmalade to line the pastry...

Make the pastry in a large bowl, rubbing the butter into the flour and ground almonds, then add the sugar and then the water, using a pallet knife to bring it together until till it forms a dough. Wrap in a plastic bag and place it in the fridge for 30 mins.

In a large pan add all the fruit and the sugar and simmer till it's warmed through, then turn up the heat and add the wine and cinnamon and let it reduce slightly.

Roll out half of the pastry and line your pie dish and pre-bake for 15 mins, then spread some jam or marmalade on the bottom of the pie.  Pour the fruit in and place the rolled out pastry lid on top,  make four slits for the air to escape and brush with a little milk and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake on 150 until pastry is golden.

eat and of course, enjoy

Sunday, 4 July 2010

spinach, mushroom and fresh pea tagliatelle

I'm exhausted after the sneezing and eye scratching from the hay-fever and after the day I've had I can't think, let alone cook, so this is a quick an easy one inspired by the Viking's love of tagliatelle and anything creamy... plus there were some fresh shelled peas at the supermarket today and I love me some peas and I needed the carbs... and who can be bothered to stand in front of the stove on such a glorious day as this?


fresh pasta
1 x bag of spinach
1 x bag of fresh shelled peas (frozen will work perfectly well)
6 chestnut mushrooms
4 shallots - finely chopped
2 cloves garlic
a small pot of cream
a glass of white wine

in a deep frying pan saute the onions and garlic in some butter and olive oil, then add the sliced mushrooms and saute some more... add the white wine and let it reduce by half then season and add the sage and thyme.

put the pasta water on to boil and steam the spinach over the water.

add the cream to the onion and mushroom pan, then throw in the peas and let them heat through... when they're this fresh I like them slightly crunchy.  then add the spinach.

drain the pasta and add it to the sauce, stirring well... and serve.

eat and of course, enjoy!

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Grandma Jennie's marmalade cake

this cake comes from my mum's mum who was a good, basic home cook but an excellent baker of cakes.  I've never made this before but whilst talking with mum about the blog, my family history and all things culinary, this recipe came to the surface.

what I love about it is that its not one of those fancy new-fangled cakes, this is a simple sponge that comes from a time when cake was served in the afternoon with tea and in every household in Britain at 4 o'clock someone was tucking in to a slice of cake.

it's ever so light and fluffy and the marmalade is only there as a subtle hint of orange... I've actually adapted it by using a 3 fruit marmalade containing oranges, lemons and grapefruit but a basic shredded marmalade would suffice.

I also love the fact that mum has kept her mum's original hand-written, cake stained recipe, which she's clearly altered, adapted and updated over the years.

It makes 2 loaf tins (20cm base) which I didn't have so made 1 large and 1 small...

I've included a photo of the hand-written recipe for you but just in case you can't decipher it here's how to make it:


9oz self raising flour
3oz ground almonds
8oz margarine
8oz sugar
4 eggs
2 tablespoons hot water
2 dessert spoons (4oz) marmalade
flaked almonds or sugar to sprinkle on top

I threw everything into a bowl and whisked it up with my hand held blender whisk thingy, then poured it into the loaf tins... (i used a large silicone loaf tin which is an excellent invention but mum's tip is to line the tins with foil, in a long strip down the centre and then you can lift the cake out really easily and peel the foil away.

Sprinkle the top with flaked almonds and a little caster sugar then bake for 45 minutes on 170c but watch it after 40 mins as it will turn golden quickly.

eat and of course, enjoy!

see how my garden explodes

you would not believe how the garden has exploded with growth over the week that we were away... I have mini courgettes and the carrots have gone bonkers... although i think I've totally overcrowded them and will no doubt end up with mini carrots, which i shall call 'baby' carrots and to hell with it!

I simply cannot wait to start cooking with everything... i'm enjoying scouring recipe books in anticipation... I was perhaps slightly over-excited about the prospect of the veg and picked one beetroot and one carrot and as you can see...  it think I have a while to go...

also, it seems we have a strawberry thief in the village... just as they turn red they magically disappear.  I'm assuming it's a bird but if you read in the news about a spate of garden related murders in Lincolnshire you know I've caught the neighbours at it!

made a salad with British asparagus, home grown lettuce, mozzarella and olives for lunch.  I can't get enough of the asparagus and I think I'll attempt growing my own next year... if i'm allowed the room in the garden!

eat and of course, enjoy!

Friday, 2 July 2010

Pardon the Padron

all packed away and tidy...

... in true 'Shirley Valentine' style we met a lovely couple whilst on holiday... however they were no Dougie and Jeanette... although for the 48 hours we enjoyed together;  trading stories, nice places to visit, putting the world to rights and of-course recommending good restaurants to eat in... we did our fair share of sticking together like The British tend to do...  Tony and Allison very generously took us out for dinner to a lovely little restaurant tucked away in the narrow streets of old Pollensa town... they even suggested that we all order the vegetarian paella (The Big V was ecstatic...) as they had been recommended it themselves from a local who ate there regularly... and it was good.

The chef had clearly thought about making it authentic in essence, but without the meat or fish... something which the Spanish can be quite stubborn about... but this dish was excellent in texture and taste.  It had apple, raisins, walnuts, carrots and what I think was a black bean sauce to add that sweet but salty flavour that you expect from a paella.

We started with the obligatory Pimientos de Padron which are fat, mild, chili pepper from the Padron region of Spain that are fried and covered in salt... very very good...  I think I may be making this meal over the summer... so watch this space!

But what I think both the Big V and I loved most about this meal was the wonderful, generous company, the shared knowledge of a good meal and the fact that we now owe them a meal in some hidden place, somewhere in the world!

I did make a couple of meals at the apartment whilst we were there... we found some fabulous local asparagus and some great big fat plum tomatoes so I made a salad or two and I also cobbled together these toasted mini bruschetta using a strong local cheese, tomato and a home-made aioli...

and I couldn't not include an little bit about my favourite ice-cream vendor... I mentioned him previously and how he's probably been making and selling ice cream for over 50 years and it's damn good ice-cream... most evening you'd find us wandering down Pine Walk, picking up a scoop or two and then walking past the huge boats in the port and dreaming of sailing away... top flavours this year were Mandarin and Raspberry... Coffee... Rum and Raisin... Cherry Cheescake... Hazelnut and Chocolate Mint.... all home-made and all mouth-watering!

well... it's back to the Kitchen for me now and armed with inspiration I hope to create some sumptuous dishes over the next few weeks... bringing a little bit of that Spanish sunshine into our home... and  I also have a LOT of blogs to catch up on...

eat and of course, enjoy!



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