Saturday, 28 August 2010

mini quiches for Paula and Graeme

Paula and Graeme are celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary this weekend and are throwing a little party at home... as is traditional with these kinds of parties we all tend to muck-in and bring food....  It's a lovely way to throw a party and it takes the stress and emphasis off the hosts, so they can sit back and relax and have as much fun as the guests.

i've decided to make these little tartlets... they're so simple to make and usually get snaffled up pretty quickly... i'm using my usual quiche recipe but instead of mixing the cooked veg with the cream and eggs before it's poured into the pastry case, I like to carefully spoon the cooked veg in first, dividing the ingredients evenly between the mini cases and then pouring a little of the mixture on top.

In other news...

... it may go a bit quiet from me for a week or so as The Viking and I are off to California... we start in LA mixing a bit of business with pleasure and then we're driving up the coast road to San Fran and then beyond to visit my dad who lives in Sonoma.  It's going to be an excellent trip, from the mad world of LA to the more gentle cool of Northern California... and of course plenty of eating and drinking along the way.  Plus I get to visit one of my most favourite restaurants in the world The Little Door in Los Angeles.

I will try and update with pictures and stories... but wish me bon voyage for now!

Monday, 23 August 2010

Free-Range Carrots - roasted carrot and coriander soup

this year i decided to plant my carrots slightly ad-hoc in style and so threw loads of seeds into the planter, with plans to thin them out as and when... obviously this didn't happen and I've ended up with a bumper crop of mini-carrots... but the other strange thing is that they also seem to have sprouted in some other unusual places.... places that, as far as I remember, weren't their original destination...

... they've cropped up in between the cracks in the patio, in the clematis planter (a good 3 metres away) and in the flower boarder across the lawn... now, either I've been careless with my packet of carrot seeds and sneezed whilst sowing, or I have the worlds first free-range carrots...

always wonderful in many dishes, from the ubiquitous (and in my opinion, decidedly dull) carrot and coriander soup to the naughty but nice carrot cake muffins... and for today's delight I've done a soup which is a little twist on the norm as I've roasted the carrots first with some garlic, fennel seeds and rosemary and then blended them into a rich, deep, tasty soup with, I think, a bit more body and punch.

I finely chopped and in a heavy pan I sauted a medium onion in butter and olive oil, I also threw in some straggly bits of celery I found in the fridge.  The carrots took about 35 minutes to roast and then they were added to the pan followed by about a pint and a half of good veg stock.  I gave the soup a further 30 minutes and then threw in some fresh coriander and whizzed the whole thing up into a smooth velvety soup....  a dollop or two of cream and we're in carrot heaven!

eat and of course, enjoy!

Saturday, 21 August 2010

and the winner is...

... not me...

... little known fact:  The woman from the WI has a handbook that tells her exactly what size, shape, texture and taste to look for.... I need me one of them handbooks... she turned up to our little village hall with a tape-measure!...

Tina pretty much swept the board on the baking front... as for me, well, what can I say?

Oh and the Red Velvet Cupcakes and the chocolate cake didn't even get classed... I think the East Midlands isn't quite ready for Red Velvet... although the cupcakes did go for the record amount of £5.50 in the auction!... bless you Elaine x

I'll write up more tomorrow with pictures, when I sober up, but let's just say that much fun was had by all and it's the taking part that counts not the winning... yeah whatever...

... roll on 2011

The Aby Village Show - part 3

today's the day!  It's all very exciting... I can feel the tension in the air...

... I could say things like...'it's only the local village show'... and ... ' it's just cooking, relax, don't worry'... but I know i'd be lying to myself.... our little community is so important to us here and I love being a part of it and this is just another way for us to be involved and have fun.

I've had a couple of kitchen disasters... I still can't bloody well pipe icing exactly how I want it to be (even though I slaved and slaved over the icing recipe...) and it always ends up spooned on... and my chocolate sponge cake doesn't look quite like I was expecting... but what can you do eh?

I need to submit my entries by 11am, then the judging happens, then at 2pm the show is open to the public and we all go over to see who's won... followed by an auction of all the product... an absolute blast...

... and so finally I can reveal that representing Belleau Kitchen 2010 we have:

Miss Cottage Loaf

Miss Chocolate Sponge Sandwich with Buttercream filling

Miss Red Velvet Cupcakes with Buttercream icing and lavander flowers

Miss Four Fruit Scones

Miss Shortbread Round

i'll report back later today... can't wait for the fun to begin... wish me luck...

eat and of course, enjoy!

Friday, 20 August 2010

The Aby Village Show - part 2

Just a quick update to show you what I managed today....

... it is amazing how you can both get so much done and also so little!  I tried to be stress free, relax and enjoy the experience but it can get so messy in the kitchen, both actually and mentally and I had so many recipes going round the brain... and trying to remember to photograph everything...

... anyway... my toughest decision was to make it all today or make it in the morning... but it's all about timings and whilst i'd like it all to be as fresh as a daisy it's totally impossible.

But I've got quite a bit done...

swiss meringue buttercream for both the cupcakes and the chocolate sandwich cake

red velvet cupcakes... ready for the icing

chocolate victoria sponge sandwich cake

my dough has risen for the cottage loaf

so... everything's ready to be decorated for tomorrow... i'll make my scones fresh in the morning and i'm going to make a shortbread round tonight... but do I make my bread now or in the morning?  If I form it into the bread shape, will it keep fresh till the morning before baking?


Thursday, 19 August 2010

The Aby Village Show - part 1

So... here it is folks, the lead-up to the biggest, most important date in the culinary world... forget Taste of London in Regents Park or The BBC Good Food Show at Olympia... we're talking about The Village Show in Aby, Lincolnshire...

... it takes place on Saturday in the village hall, built as a chapel in 1911 and the home of many a function from 80th birthday parties to yoga classes, from the community jumble sale to the weekly bingo night ... and the show is currently in its second year.

... Belleau Kitchen regulars will know why it's such a big deal to me and those who don't can read about it here... but let's just say it involves 4 outsized scones and a poisoned dwarf...

... I wanted to go out all guns this year and enter every category but between our launch this week with Jedward for Talk Talk and not planning my 40th i've kind of run out of time...

BUT... i'm back in the cottage now and will begin tomorrow with my baking and this is what I plan to do: (and the descriptions are taken directly from the entry card....)

1 x chocolate sandwich cake - 3 eggs, butter cream filling, no topping
4 x decorated individual sponge buns (I assume they mean fairy/cup cakes?)
1 x round of shortbread (am a little confused here... what does a round mean?)
1 x cottage loaf
6 x biscuits

and of course 4 fruit scones.... ( I have the winning recipe from last year, so lord knows what may happen...)

I think i'll be OK with the choc cake (although any recipes always welcome) and i'm going to use an amazing butter cream icing recipe I found on the Whisk Kid blog... the fairy cakes i'm going to do the Hummingbird bakery recipe and use the same buttercream icing with some pretty little things on top... shortbread and cottage loaf i've made before so i should be OK and I have a new biscuit recipe from my grandma Jennie that I could try out.

I'll up date you all in real time once they're baked and then again once they're entered on Saturday but for now, wish me luck!

Monday, 16 August 2010

Banana Loaf bread and butter pudding

this has got to stop...

... I think my mother is trying to fatten me up... and it's got to stop.  Every time she comes up to the cottage she brings something fabulous from her kitchen, usually a cake or some other sticky sweet goodies.... and since starting this blog I'm sure i've piled on the pounds... after today I feel I may have to resist the puddings and stick with the savoury dishes for a while... not quite a diet but perhaps a conscious effort to cut back the sugar...

this week mum brought a banana loaf with her, the recipe for which you can find here... it's a damn fine cake on it's own but a lot to get through for just the two of us so The Viking, who seems to be on some kind of baking trip this weekend, suggested making bread and butter pudding with the half loaf we hadn't managed to munch through... yes dear reader, we turned a very sweet banana and raisin loaf into an even sweeter, deadlier pudding, covered in an eggy custard... the only way, I find, to kick start a diet!

once you've made your loaf and eaten half of it, cut it into slices and butter both sides of each slice.  Layer it into an oven-proof dish, sprinkling cinnamon as you layer.  Then make the custard recipe below (it's taken from Delia's Complete Cookery Course) and pour it all over the dish and bake for 30mins on 180c or until set.

custard recipe for a bread and butter pudding

12fl oz milk (or 10fl oz milk and 2 fl oz of double cream)
2oz caster sugar
3 eggs (beaten)
a dash of vanilla extract

simply mix it all together and pour onto the pudding and bake... so easy, so deadly!

eat and of course, enjoy!

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Saturday Kitchen vegetable curry with naan bread

... this doesn't happen very often...

... it's raining outside so we're watching TV on a Saturday morning whilst eating breakfast... normally we'd be outside on the 'upper' terrace surrounded by nature but not today... anyhoo, the TV is displaying it's usual crap mix of repeated American 'comedy' and some Miss Marple from 1981 when the channel hopping Big V stops at Saturday Kitchen and happily sits there and watches... comments enthusiastically even!

Normally he'd just flick swiftly on, moaning that they never cook anything vegetarian, so what's the point of watching but today... no.  Today we're watching the lovely Anjum Anand help a fireman make a lamb curry with green chillies and naan bread and The Big V is saying things like...'ooh, we could make that with vegetables'... and 'I could make that tonight'... needless to say I went outside to double-check i'd woken up the correct house....

below is the recipe for the veg dish The Viking made... or you can find the lamb version here.

we also made a lovely yoghurt raita using some of the Total Greek Yoghurt we have left and some fresh mint from the garden.  The mint was chopped finely and stirred in a left to marinate for an hour.

For the marinade:
1tsp ground tumeric
1tsp ground fennel seeds
1 tsp garam masala
1bsp white poppy seeds
salt to taste
3 large garlic cloves
1 tbsp peeled and roughly chopped fresh ginger
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium tomatoes, chopped

For the body of the curry (where the lamb would go):
a handfull of button mushrooms
1 packet of Quorn pieces
7 cauliflower florettes
1 courgette roughly chopped
a handful of green beans

For the curry:
3 tbsp vegetable oil
3/4 tsp nigella seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
17fl oz veg stock
5 short green chillies, slit through, seeds removed but otherwise left intact
2-3 tsp fresh tamarind paste
2 hadfuls fresh coriander leaves and stalks, chopped

1. for the marinade, place all the ingredients except the veg to be used in the body of the curry and blend in a processor until smooth
2. add the veg to this and marinade for as long as possible (overnight if you can)
3. For the curry, heat some oil in a  large pan or casserole dish, add the nigella and cumin and stir fry for about 30 secs or until the cumin begins to brown
4. add the marinated veg and saute until soft and slightly browned. Taste to ensure the spices have been cooked and have no harsh elements
5. Add the veg stock and bring to the boil, then turn down the heat, cover and simmer for 35-40 minutes, check the pot and add more water if the curry looks dry.
6, halfway through cooking, heat some oil in a small pan and gently fry the chillies for 2 mins, stirring often, pour this into the curry
7. Once the veg are cooked, uncover and stir in the tamarind paste, then the coriander.  Serve with the naan below

Naan Bread
For the dough:
9oz plain flour
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
4fl oz milk with 2 tbsp oil

1. sift the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder into a bowl
2. make a well in the centre of the flour and add the milk and oil,
3 slowly mix together the dough, working from the centre and incorporating all the flour from the edges. You may need more flour or more liquid, depending on how sticky or dry the dough is.
4. once it comes together, turnj it out onto a floured surface and knead for 10 mins, then place in an oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave it in a warm place for 15 mins.
5. after the dough has rested, form it into 5 balls
6. preheat the grill to medium and place a heavy baking sheet on the upper shelf to heat
7. roll the dough ball out quite thinly, ideally into a teardrop shape, sprinkle over with torn coriander, or poppy seeds, or chopped garlic and press the topping into the dough.
8. place the naans onto the hot baking sheet and grill for 1 - 2 minutes or until lightly browned
9. brush with butter and serve hot

bit of a mammoth meal to put together but didn't he do an amazing job?

I will eat and of course, enjoy!

Friday, 13 August 2010

Rhubarb and Raspberry Flan with Streusel topping - Guest Chef in Belleau Kitchen

as all of my regular readers will know, my mum is a big influence on my cooking and food world in general... nearly all the recipes I forward to you are from her, or adaptations of recipes she has cooked for years and adapted herself... so it's with great pleasure that I welcome my mum as a guest chef in Belleau Kitchen.

but what to cook... eh mum? well, mum's a dab hand at pastry, anything pastry, savoury or sweet... very often she'll make double amounts of pastry and freeze some, so some kind of tart was called for and as it happens Tracey's rhubarb is on the rise again and this second crop have wielded some gorgeous pink stalks... perfect for a Rhubarb and Raspberry Flan with Streusel topping.

if you've never cooked with them before rhubarb and raspberries make excellent bedfellows, the tartness of the rhubarb is complimented by the sharp sweetness of the the raspberries... a little tart with a little sweetie... naughty!  No sugar is used here as the jam and topping make it sweet enough...

for the pastry:
8oz Flour
4oz Butter (we used Flora buttery)
1 dessert spoon of sugar
1 beaten egg

for the flan:
rhubarb cut into small chunks
a punnet of raspberries
some jam (we used raspberry but any jam will do)

for the streusel topping:
4oz flour
2oz butter
2oz demarera sugar
lots of cinnamon

1. crumble the butter into the flour, add the sugar and mix, then the egg and a drop of water and bring together into a dough - refrigerate for 30mins
2. pull off 2/3rds of the pastry and roll it out to as thin as humanly possible (you may need to ask your mum to help...) and line a flan dish

3. spread the un-cooked pastry base with jam

4. pack the flan with fruit
5. make the streusel topping by crumbling it all together and then sprinkle evenly onto flan
6. bake on 190c for about 30mins or until topping goes golden

Now, you should (if you're my mother, or anything like her) have enough pastry left over to make these fabulous Strudel Biscuits... they came from mum's mum (grandma Jennie) who used to just make them from a new ball of dough but they seem the perfect thing to do with left-over straggles.

1. roll out the dough into a rectangular shape

2. spread with jam (mum insists on Apricot jam but we only had raspberry...)

3. sprinkle with raisins or sultanas and nuts

4. roll up the pastry long ways (again, very tricky, you may need your mum to help...)
5. cut into little segments and lay out on a baking tray, brush with milk and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar
6. bake on 190c for about 15mins or until golden

so, how about that from my guest chef.... 2 dishes for the price of one... thanks Mum x

...and best of all, now that mum has got in on the action, The Viking wants his turn and will be cooking something fabulous tomorrow night... lucky me!

eat and of course, enjoy!

our local

I know i've mentioned this before but we consider ourselves very fortunate to live within throwing distance of a local pub which is truly the heart of the village and not only do Dawn and Keith look after us in their own special way but Dawn lets us order 'off menu' as long as we give her (and her butcher) enough notice...

... mum and eric made an impromptu visit to the cottage this week to see us, although sometimes I feel that they've only come to eat at the pub and sample Dawns wonderful lamb cutlets, roasted to perfection in honey and thyme... pink and dangerously tasty!

The Railway Tavern in Aby has just won the coveted East and West Midlands region Best Community Pub Awards 2010 and they thoroughly deserve it... congratulations Dawn, Keith and Holly for all the hard work! (and for calling the butcher at a moments notice.)  They are off down to the big smoke on the 8th September to compete in the grand final and we all have no doubts they'll be coming home with the trophy!

Monday, 9 August 2010

Roast chicken wrapped in maple cured bacon

I love my job, I really do but there are some days when, dreaming of world domination, I wish I could tell my daffy clients to go stick it where the sun don't shine.... today for instance i've been searching for a venue that I know doesn't exist yet I go on searching, desperately trying to please the client... and the numb-skulls that work at these places... for goodness sake!...  WHY don't you know the capacity or ceiling height?!?! What is it you fucking do then?

... where's my cookbook and little shop selling fabulous things i've created in the kitchen?

... calm down... breath... well, dear reader, tonight for dinner we are having chicken thighs, smothered in cream-cheese and freshly torn basil and then wrapped in a wonderous maple-cured bacon that is wafting the most mouth-watering smells up through the house...

always on the search for something different to do with my beloved chicken thighs (so cheap and so tasty) I stumbled across this in one of those free-bee cookbooks that you get with coupons and this one was from Philadelphia Cream Cheese.... i've even done a veggie version for The Big V using Quorn sausages, smeared in the cream cheese and  wrapped in veggie bacon, although Lord knows what it'll taste like!  I think The Big V is getting a little fed up of me messing with his food...

... I don't think I need to explain how to make them (smother thighs in cream cheese and basil, s and p and then wrap in bacon... roast for at least an hour) but there you go.

happier boy now

eat and of course, enjoy!

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Sunday Spanakopita

Sunday, because it's a lazy spanakopita... that is, without any spinach as I couldn't be arsed to go out and get some..!

The Viking is insisting that we're on an economy drive and to be honest, whilst my heart sinks at the thought of economy burgers and beans for my tea, he's not wrong... and thus it has been decided that we need to eat everything we've already bought before we go out and buy anything else, which makes total sense if you've planned meals... which I guess I need to start doing if this spinach-less spanakopita is anything to go by...

... but you know, the basic principle is there... feta cheese, filo pastry and Greek yoghurt... (last of the stuff I had sent from Total) ... my friend Xanthe insisted I put Greek Yoghurt into and she'd know... but i've just used the veg I had in the fridge rather than the spinach i thought I had in the freezer!

... and it has turned out damn fine... a triumph if it pleases you... well it's please me and The Big V...  It has that tartness from the yoghurt and feta which is perfectly balanced by the sweetness of the leeks and peas... so here's the recipe:


I was inspired by a fab recipe I found at Closet Cooking... 

about 5 medium mushrooms - sliced
1 leeks - chopped
1 cup frozen peas

or if you want to stick to tradition
2 pounds spinach (steamed, squeezed, drained and chopped)

1 cup feta - crumbled (this equates to 1 pack of feta)
2 tablespoons Total Greek Yoghurt 1/4 cup dill - chopped
1/4 cup thyme (chopped)
1 bunch green onions (sliced)
3 eggs (lightly beaten)
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
filo pastry sheets

1. Saute the mushrooms, leeks and peas till tender.... or steam the spinach...
2. Mix the veg (or spinach), feta, dill, thyme, green onions, eggs, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
2. Brush the bottom of an 8x8 inch baking pan with olive oil.
3. Brush the top of a sheet of filo pastry with olive oil and place it in the pan. (You may have to cut the filo pastry to fit the pan.) Repeat until you have 6 layers.
4. Place the spinach mixture on top of the pastry.
5. Brush the top of a sheet of filo pastry with olive oil and place it on the spinach. Repeat until you have 6 layers.
6. Bake in a preheated 180C oven until golden brown on top, about 30-50 minutes.

eat and of course, enjoy!

Saturday, 7 August 2010

100th post celebration cake - or a double case of curdling!

I turn 40 this year... actually in about 5 weeks time and I think i've been pretending that it's not happening or that i'm totally fine with it all... but you know how, when you push something into the darkest corner of your mind, something else evil emerges? Well I guess the fact that The Viking and I have a screaming row every single time he or I mentions the birthday is proof that i'm not so blase about the whole thing...

... it's not the turning 40 that is stressing me out, it's the organising something to celebrate that I'm not easy with... what kind of party should I have...? an all out swinging disco or a dinner...? do I have a party in London or Lincolnshire, or both...? who do I invite...? will they come...? can I be bothered with the hassle...? and then The Viking, who incredibly shares his birthday with me, wants to organise some kind of surprise but I'm Mr organisation and seem to be treading on his toes at every turn... oh god why!?!

... anyhoo ... another thing to celebrate is that Belleau kitchen has reached its 100th post... and this is it... look around... GLORIOUS isn't it?...

... i'm sure i've reached here way too quickly for my own good... 100 seems like it should have taken longer but you know me, rambling on about food whenever I get the opportunity!

so i thought I ought to bake a cake to celebrate, i love baking cakes, there's something decidedly old-fashioned and traditional about it and also something naughty, to cook a cake for yourself... and I needed to practice for both the up-coming Aby Village Show and also my birthday, for which i would love to bake something out of this world... but not sure yet.

This was a Lavender Chocolate Sponge...

well, this wasn't exactly the success I hoped for... i've made loads of sponge cakes before and they never curdled but for some reason both the sponge mix and the icing curdled on me at different stages... and I took it all so nice and slow and followed the recipe to the letter (or did I?... no, I bloody added some Total Greek Yoghurt to both sponge and icing...) and the recipe is one of Delia's for goodness sake...

... and I refuse to throw it away, its a huge waste.

as it happens, both cake and icing tasted great and it doesn't look too bad... just must try harder next time although The Viking just said to me that its 'so great that my experimentation is going through the roof whilst the quality is dropping'... thanks big fella!


4oz butter
4oz caster sugar
2 large eggs
a few drops of vanilla essence
4oz self raising flour
2 tablespoons of cocoa powder
greek yoghurt (but watch it!)

pre-heat oven to 170c and line 2 7inch sponge tins

cream the butter and sugar till light and fluffy
beat the eggs and then, teeny bit at a time, beat the egg into the creamed butter and sugar (this is where it curdled for me...)
then add a few drops of the vanilla and two tablespoons of the yoghurt
now, with a metal spoon add the flour and cocoa powder, mixing gently till it's all incorporated (the sponge wont be dark chocolate in colour, it will just have a hint of chocolate.

divide into the two sponge tins and bake for 25-30 mins

next I made this icing recipe (thanks Mr P,) but excluded the strawberries (although this would be just as nice) but added some lavender flower heads and a touch of purple food colouring.

I've used a little bit of raspberry jam and a layer of the icing to sandwich the two sponges together and doesn't she look pretty?

I think I may make some peanut butter cookies for 101... I have a good recipe from my grandma which looks pretty fail safe!

eat and of course, enjoy!

Friday, 6 August 2010


um... weather... hello!?!?!

The Big V picked me up from Lincoln station today and after a gentle stroll up and down Steep Hill, with its myriad chocolate shops and fancy boutiques... it really is a lovely city, the giant Cathedral dominating all it surveys... we had lunch (of course) followed by a trip to Waitrose... sigh...

... and then winter set in back at the cottage and quite frankly who can blame her... summer did a lousy job of it so someone may as well take over...

... chunky veg soup is the only answer and this is my answer to minestrone.  I'm using new potatoes today instead of pasta because they had some lovely looking local ones in the supermarket... do I need an excuse?... no.


1 onion - finely chopped
1 large carrot - chopped chunkily (is this a word?)
2 celery sticks - chopped chunkily
1 leek - chopped chunkily
a tin of chopped toms
a generous handful of new potatoes - chunked
1 courgette chopped
a handful of chopped cabbage
a large handful of runner beans - chopped into bits
2 cloves garlic

2 pints good veg stock
a selection of herbs and seasoning

saute the onion in a large heavy pan on a low heat till translucent and then add the carrot and celery and a selection of fresh herbs (i used rosemary and thyme and a bay leaf) put the lid on to sweat for 5 mins (the veg... not you)

add the rest of the veg and the tinned toms and place the lid on again for another 5 mins.

then add the stock and a glug of white wine and the two whole garlic cloves and let it simmer gently with the lid on for as long as you can... it should really cook slowly for an hour or two... but you need to watch it doesn't reduce too much... in fact if you can make this the day before your reward for patience will be an intensely flavoured chunky soup.

the giant cheesy crouton is exactly that... very strong cheddar on toast.

eat and of course, enjoy!

The Secret Larder

Last night I went alone to my first supperclub....

...I chose the best, or perhaps it would be better to say that it chose me... James Ramsden is infamous for not only being a VERY young and VERY talented chef, exhaulted blogger and all-round nice guy but also for his 'Secret Larder' supperclubs which are notorious for serving wonderful culinary delights and having a 3 month waiting list!

Last night I got lucky... not only was I down in London this week but because some fool pulled out... James put the word out via twitter that there was a spare place going free at the exact moment that I logged on to twitter and I swooped in and nabbed the spot... boy am I glad I did...

... from that moment I was flung into a frenzy of delayed tube trains and taxi cabs, walking into a room full of strangers not knowing what to expect and feeling very nervous... meeting said strangers at high-speed and then dining with the loveliest bunch of people... it was a wonderful experience and I feel very privileged!

after a most welcome mint julep handed to me by James's delightful sister Mary I was introduced to the crowd for a little light banter before we sat down for food.  The menu had a Creole flavour to it... James sub-titled the evening 'New Orleans night' and we started with a small bowl of prawn gumbo which was a light but flavour-packed intro to the tastebuds, swiftly followed by oyster po'boys, something I have never eaten before but is a deep-fried oyster in a light batter, served on a gem lettuce leaf on-top of a chunk of warm French bread.  A bizarre texture, like a velvet slipper in a crunchy overcoat, but delicious nonetheless.

Our main course was short ribs served with spicy potato wedges and a red onion coleslaw... damn fine.  The rib had been slow baked (I assume) and it was moist but totally melting off the bone... living with The Big V I rarely treat myself to this kind of meat indulgence so I was in hog heaven.  Our final course was a dangerous bread pudding with beer and chocolate sauce... one of those puds that you know you're too full to eat but it somehow goes down anyway?  The whole meal was finished off with a Tennessee Coffee... Bourbon, coffee and cream which packed a punch that sent a few people home not long after... it was un-drinkable... yet somehow got drunk!

It was so wonderful to see James and his gang of mini-slaves working hard in the kitchen and delivering such amazing results from his own home... (fabulous range cooker... very envious) who needs restaurants?... and we were also surrounded by brilliant photography of jazz musicians, specially hung for the occasion.  The photographer, Edu Hawkins, who was there at the supperclub, had given his images to James for the night and it was excellent to be surrounded by such incredible art.

So, that's it... totally hooked on the whole supperclub idea now... think i'll start my own local version.

a little note re the lack of photos... in my rush to leave the house last night and the fact that I didn't know the etiquette behind these things I didn't take my own camera.  I borrowed one from the very sweet Charlie who has promised to send me them as soon as she can... come on Charlie, pull yer finger out!...

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

think pink!

what a way to brighten up a dull day and make a poorly boy feel better... (did I mention I had a cold...?)

this is made of leftovers from the previous post, a highly visible scarlet risotto... beetroots always taste so intense and a further 12 hours in the fridge with the risotto has rendered them doubly tasty!... i've added a large dollop of Total Greek Yoghurt, a) because i've got sooo much of it in the fridge from being sent some by the lovely people at Traffic and b) because it lightens up the dish so beautifully in both colour and taste... the sourness of the yoghurt cuts through the salty tang of the risotto and compliments it perfectly.

I've sprinkled some finely chopped spring onion and radish for punch and bite... it's just a perfect little dish for poorly me... (did I mention... oh...)

eat and of course, enjoy!

Monday, 2 August 2010

scarlet risotto

I'm unwell today... I have a cold ... I have a sore throat...I don't like it... it makes me grumpy... our fridge smells of fish even though there has been no fish in it for months... I have a client who is expecting a treatment back for an event by tomorrow... not happy...

... and i'm expected to tweet now for goodness sake...

read this... then this... now look at the picture below...

that's what happens when it goes right and you grow your own beetroot and pick it on the day you cook with it... very pleased with myself... and now I'm going to bed...

Sunday, 1 August 2010

neither breakfast nor lunch

... sometimes the only way to recover (from anything as wide ranging as a hangover, through non-specific illness to basic hunger) is with a classic fry up... but the bones were tired and I'm coming down with a cold... complete with blocked but runny nose, so the last thing I wanted to do was stand in front of the stove and cook... this brunch is basically 'breakfast in the oven' and apart from the toast and of course the scrambled eggs everything is baked to perfection... it's so easy.

...basically place everything in an oven proof dish and roast... start with the sausages, then as they start to bake add the mushrooms and bacon into the same dish... its a wonderfully easy idea and you do very little but enjoy the golden baked glory.

my sausages were Lincolnshire chipolatas and along with the un-smoked back bacon, came from our local butcher who recently won the BBC butcher of the year award... the bread was an amazing Gouda bread from the Cheese Shop in Louth, which had hunks of Gouda deeply embedded within it's hearty goodness... I also used the remainder of my rich tomato sauce made for the pizza on Friday...

...a far as the scrambled eggs are concerned I have very specific rules... which I follow to the letter and always have perfect successful eggs every time... that I picked up from HRH Delia... 2 eggs per person and one extra per meal and a splash of milk, whisked till fluffy, then poured into a heavy bottomed hot buttered pan... the trick is to whisk the eggs continuously... stopping only to occasionally remove the pan from the heat to keep it from sticking... you keep whisking till they are just before you like them (so for me this is slightly runny) and then take them off the heat till ready to serve as they will continue to set in the pan... don't season till after they are cooked or they will go grey... but then plenty of pepper... I'm about ready for bed and it's only 2pm...

eat and of course, enjoy!



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