Sunday, 28 November 2010

bowl of purest green

... the problem with the foodblog is the food... all the lovely food...!

... I know i've moaned about this before but we're talking nearly a full stone since I started blogging this spring... and now it's coming up for Christmas and I have so much planned and most of it involves sugar and/or fat of some kind...( and there's no WAY i'm cutting back on Christmas treats...) plus there's the 'we should cocoa' monthly challenges (yes Chele and Choclette I AM blaming you for my increasing waisteline...)

... so... no more cupcakes... no more chocolate... no more pork belly... I have just under a month to get back on track... healthy eating and a bit of carb reduction...(sorry Lucretia... I promise to feed you but no bread till Christmas Eve...) but this doesn't mean dullsville... not in belleaukitchen... I can promise you some delicious, warming and very tempting healthy and fresh food... well it' a challenge I can try and stick to for a week at least...

... and we're going to start with a bowl of purest green... (last of the sourdough served to The Viking, not me!)

Pea and Rocket Soup

1 onion - finely chopped
1 medium leek - finely chopped
1 large carrot - finely chopped
1 large bunch of rocket (or you could use one of the supermarket bags)
1 small bag of frozen peas (frozen is better than fresh... we can discuss this at a later date)
2 pints good veg stock

- in a heavy pan saute the onions in butter and oil till soft, add the leek and carrot and saute further for a few mins more

- season with salt and pepper and some fresh herbs... I used rosemary which always works so well with pea, and then place the lid on and sweat the veg on a low heat till soft.

- add the peas, the stock and then the rocket and let it simmer for 20 mins.

- whizz with a handheld and serve

the rocket adds a peppery twist to the peas... lovely, warming and filling for another snowy day in Lincolnshire

eat and of course, enjoy!

- add salt and pepper

Saturday, 27 November 2010

death by cupcake

Martha Stewart's carrotcake cupcakes

... i don't think I have patience for this... when I was a kid I would always start a creative project with wild enthusiasm and such joy for life but, and I begin to realise this has clearly continued to be a repeated pattern into my adult years, would soon grow tired and frustrated with anything that needed fiddly control work or subtle detail...

... this is patently reflected in my style of cooking, which is more 'throw it into a pot' and see what happens, than detailed crimping or piping... i think its the reason why I only started baking bread this year... I just didn't have the patience... and it's probably why I just can't get the hang of icing cupcakes...

... I really want to create those amazing piped swirls but they simply wont come to me... and YES, I've patiently made stupid Italian Swiss German Latvian Meringue Butter Cream Stiff Peak Icing whatever...

Hummingbird Bakery's Red Velvet cupcakes

... I've read my Martha Stewart's Cupcakes cover to cover and I still can't get the hang of it... I even made a simple cream cheese frosting today which went wrong... too sloppy... how can it be?

... the cakes themselves taste awesome... even if I say so myself... and the good people of Aby, for whom they have been baked, for today's Christmas Bazaar, seem pretty happy... even though I think they look like the kind of cupcakes a child would make... I believe lessons may be in order...

... now how do I drop subtle hints to The Viking that that's what I'd like for Christmas?

dark red inside 

eat and of course, enjoy!

Friday, 26 November 2010

sourdough Friday

... not sure what happened here...

... well, that's not true, I know exactly what happened... everything was going according to plan... Lucretia worked her magic on the sponge... kneading went well and first rise was perfect... then I plaited it and left it for second rise... and left it... and left it... and a whole day later it seems to rise sideways...

... what can i say... tasted AMAZING... light, airy and the most sour it's been yet... just a little wide.

... I used my regular recipe but this time added one egg and used 2 cups of wholemeal and one cup rye flour...

I have to say this is the best tasting one yet!... i seem to be improving as Lucretia improves... is it me or is it her?

eat and of course, enjoy!

Thursday, 25 November 2010

slow roasted pork belly with apple, ginger and Glenmorangie

... it's snowing...!

... apparently some weather boffin type person has worked out that this is the first significant early winter snowfall for 17 years... there are parts of the UK under more than 1 inches of snow...! woo hoo!

The Viking has left me alone in the kitchen, travelling down to London for a couple of days and what this means for me is 'meat Thursday'... it's not that he doesn't allow me to eat meat during his presence in the house, it's just that due to his committed vegetarianism I tend to err on the side of chicken and ham and save the blood or fat till he's out of the way... which isn't all that often... so this is a cause for celebration!...

... and so I turn to Pork Belly... the most fatty and succulent of all bellies... a much maligned and misunderstood dish... and to those who don't eat the fat... I yell at the top of my voice "it's supposed to be eaten... it contains all the flavour and if you only eat it on special occasions it wont do you any harm you carrot munching stick-insect!'

... pork belly has actually had a bit of a revival recently in gastropubs up and down the country and I salute that... and I suppose I also have to salute his nibs Jamie Oliver for boosting its popularity... but its neither of these reasons why I love it so much... for that passion I have to thank Alejandro who trained with El Bulli and is one of the worlds leading 'scientific' chefs... I was lucky enough to dine in his beautiful mountain top restaurant a few years ago and eat the most incredible, unctuous, crispy, heady scented pork belly i've ever eaten...

... we were working closely with Glenmorangie whisky, designing event guidelines for them as they had recently been acquired by the LVMH group.  The guidelines were a lead for the international markets on how to promote the newly rebranded whisky... how to put on a launch party, what venues to use, what the staff should wear, what food to serve at the parties...etc etc... we also designed a set of menu's for the guidelines and employed the fabulously talented Alejandro to work with the whisky and create food to compliment the tasting....

...and one of the dishes he designed was this roasted pork belly with apple, ginger and Quinta Ruban Glenmorangie...

... it's the slow roasting, combined with the ginger and orange scents in the whisky that make this dish so rich and succulent.


1 cut of pork belly (I bought mine ready cut into fingers but you could use a whole slab)
2 cox's apples - cut into wedges
1 medium onion - cut into wedges
fresh ginger - grated
salt and pepper
fresh thyme
a glug of Glenmorangie whisky - Quinta Ruban if you can get it.

- score the pork belly skin and rub with the salt and grated ginger

- place the apples and onions into an oven proof dish, sprinkle with thyme and a little olive oil

- place the pork belly on top of the apples and onions and then slam it into a really hot (200) oven for 30 mins, then turn down the heat (160) for a further 2 hours.

- 30 mins before the end of cooking splash on a generous glug of Glenmorangie... the smell in the house will be unbelievably good!

- serve with something green

eat and of course, enjoy!

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

billionaires shortbread

... I adore shortbread and have always been a fan of this wealthy persons kind... so when this months 'we should cocoa' challenge told us that caramel was the key ingredient, who was i to argue but make these delicious so-sweet-your-teeth-squeak treats?

... never made caramel before... I think I could have used a darker sugar to get that really golden colour but to be honest it tastes perfectly good, so I can live with it...

I've been inspired by Nigella to add salted peanuts to the caramel... I wouldn't have done it but when I found this recipe for the shortbread I read the comments and nearly all of them said they'd add salt to either the chocolate layer or the caramel layer, so I thought with my stomach and went with the salted nuts... the result is unusual but bordering on delicious!.... and still quite quite sweet!

Billionaires Shortbread

for the shortbread:
250g plain flour
75g caster sugar
175g butter

for the caramel:
50g butter
50g light muscavado sugar
1 x 397g can condensed milk

a handful of crushed, salted peanuts

for the topping:
200g plain choc

- pre heat the oven at 180 and grease your tin (I used a ceramic dish) roughly 33cm x33cm

- to make the shortbread simply mix all the ingredients into a dough and press into the base of the tin, bake for 20min until golden, set aside to cool

- to make the caramel simply melt the ingredients together in a pan, gently bring to a simmer for 5 mins until it thickens, stir ALL the time, add the peanuts and pour onto the cooled shortbread base, set aside to cool.

- melt the chocolate in the microwave and poor over the caramel and again, set aside to cool.

actually the most simple but effective recipe and they really are super sweet... did I mention that?

eat and of course, enjoy!

Monday, 22 November 2010

I'm on the TV mam!

... for my legions of dear dear fans... and mum... tonight and tomorrow on the Good Food Channel at 8pm... I make my TV debut... Stupidly I don't subscribe so I don't get to see what I look like with a stinking cold on TV...still... plans for world domination continue... now where'd I leave that tin of condensed milk? .. I've caramel to make...

Sunday, 21 November 2010

sunday lunch at mum's

... stuck in London this weekend due to work commitments and two 40th birthday parties!... why is it that i don't get invited to anything all year and then two friends decide to have a party on the same day?...

... did have a wonderful evening though... two very different parties, the first was my cousin Will's 40th, where, for a surprise my other cousins (Beatrice, Eddie and various wives/girlfriends/old-friends) formed a band to sing 5 of Will's favourite songs... it was very 'off-the-cuff' ... a bit like a scene from an indie movie... but totally excellent and everyone loved it... this was followed by our old friend Ben's party, which was a completely different affair...

... Ben is, well shall we say a 'celebrity hairstylist' to the likes of Victoria Beckham, Leona Lewis and Amanda Holden... his party was at the very glamorous Bloomsbury Ballroom and was fabulously sparkly... Leona even sang Happy Birthday to Ben... wasn't quite as 'off-the-cuff' as Will's party... a different kind of fun!

... sadly this also means no recipes from the kitchen this weekend...

... not ALL bad news though... it does mean I get to spend an unexpected Sunday with mum and the rest of the family... and this means mum's AMAZING cooking... genius!... and as you're probably all aware, I get most of my cooking inspiration from mum (and if you're not, then its worth a trip down memory lane here)... so it's always a special pleasure and wonderful treat to hitch myself onto a meal or two... I love sitting in the kitchen and watching her cook, it's like my own live TV show!

... on the menu today is chopped liver on sesame crackers, mum's classic marmalade chicken with mash potato, served with roast veg, glazed carrots and long-stemmed broccoli  followed by her open apple flan and  flour-less French chocolate cake... how lucky am I?

... even though i've not cooked any of these I thought i'd include the recipes because i'll be making them at some point anyway...

a lot of chopped liver

2 x 400g packs of chicken livers
2 medium onions - finely chopped
6 eggs - hard boiled

- saute the onions till soft, add the livers and seasoning and fry gently till done (I like mine slightly pink)

- pulp in a magimix... it's important that you don't blend... so you can use a grinder or ricer if you don't have a magimix... this is NOT a pate so don't make it smooth. (mum is talking to me as I write this and stressing this fact, which is why I keep repeating... don't BLEND....PULP!!!

- grate the eggs and fork them into the chopped liver

open apple flan

6 large Bramley apples
1 teaspoon cinnamon
a handfull of sultanas
apricot jam

- line a pastry tin with shortcrust pastry... mum NEVER blind bakes... do as you choose.

- stew 4 of the apples in large-ish chunks with the cinnamon until soft-ish, then as they're cooling down add the sultanas

- brush the pastry case with a thin layer of apricot jam, add the stewed fruit and then slice the remaining 2 apples and lay them creatively on top

- melt some more apricot jam and a little water in a pan and brush the top of the flan for that glorious glazed look... bake in an oven (180) for about 40 mins till golden and bubbly

french chocolate cake

6oz plain chocolate
4oz unsalted butter
4oz caster sugar
2oz potato flour
1 level tspn baking powder
4 eggs - seperated
1 tspn vanilla essence

- melt the chocolate and sugar in a microwave for 5 mins (I assume the French originally used a bain-marie... but you never can tell) then add the butter for a further 4 mins

- whip the egg-whites into a frenzy (stiff peaks)

- stir the egg yolks and vanilla essence into the chocolate mixture and then stir in the flour and baking powder

- finally, fold in the egg whites

- pour into a 8inch loose bottom cake tin and bake at 170 for 35-40 mins, leave it in the tin for 5 mins before you try anything clever... mum tops with a very basic chocolate icing recipe and some white chocolate stars

Sunday, 14 November 2010


...or 'rendered chicken fat' which is a key ingredient to perfect knaidlach... are you following so far?

... so, as hard as I found it to pin down a traditional minestrone recipe... try asking your mother for a traditional Jewish chicken soup recipe... it's about the chicken... no, it's about the knaidlach (matzoh balls dumplings)... no, it's about using a whole chicken... no, your grandma made the best chicken soup... no, ask your auntie, she makes it, I don't...

... thanks mum, thats great!

... the facts are these... the chicken really does make all the difference and therefore you should buy the best chicken for the job and this should be a kosher pullet, which, unless you raise your own chickens is pretty unlikely you'll be able to find... so the next best option is a broiler... your butcher will know... but if he doesn't then a whole free-range chicken will work... but keep it small and whole...

... and the other main thing to get the ultimate flavour is to cook it long and slow... this will give you the intense depth of flavour and golden honey colour that you're after... other than this, quite frankly, add what you like... traditionally it would be quite simple... carrot and onion... lots of peppercorns... and some lovely small knaidlach if you fancy... these little balls of light and fluffy matzohmeal are heaven in a bowl and will soak up the taste of the chicken soup and be un-like anything you've tasted before!

... as is always typical with my cooking, I thought I had matzoh-meal in the cupboard but when I went to make the knaidlach I realised I didn't... so there are none in this picture, but the memory and more importantly the recipe is there... and whilst there's absolutely no substitute for a knaidlach and I know my Jewish friends will really laugh at this but I did throw in some brussel sprouts... just for the shape!

naturally i've gone my own way here... but the essence is there and the flavour is intense... infact the smell permeating the cottage is mouth-watering... and in the true Jewish traditional way, you're all invited over for a bowlful... dinner is served!

Belleau Chicken Soup

1 smal whole chicken
1 onion - roughly chopped
1 carrot - roughly chopped
1 medium leek - roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorns
salt, pepper and herbs

Traditional Knaidlach

2 beaten eggs
2 tablespoons of schmaltz (you can use butter or olive oil as a substitute)
1 cup of medium matzo meal
1 dessertspoon ground almonds
1 cup boiling water
salt and pepper
a dash of cinnamon (this is an extra, which some people may not like, but I love)

- for the soup, simply place everything in a large pan, add water and a couple of sprinkles of good quality vegetable stock such as Marigold Bouillon  and let it slowly bubble for at least 2 hours

- once the soup is nice and golden, remove from heat and take out the chicken and the veg... you can also skim off some of the chicken fat as it floats to the top of the pot, but to be honest, I love this and think it adds to the flavour.

- many people like to serve it as a clear broth with a couple of knaidels floating in it, but I like to tear the chicken meat from the bones and return these with the vegetables and have a heartier soup

- to make the knaidlach, simply mix all the ingredients together thoroughly and shape into small balls... refrigerate them first before you add them to the soup about 10 minutes before you wish to serve them.

... in my opinion this is the best reason to be Jewish...

eat and of course, enjoy!

Saturday, 13 November 2010

eat your minestrone Joe...

...that's all you ever say!

ahh... a steaming bowl of Minestrone... could there be anything more comforting on an autumn afternoon?...

... or anything more difficult to pin down an actual authentic recipe?... there seem to be so many, from the traditional to the contemporary... from 'my mothers' to 'my great grand-fathers... only Italian men can really make a minestrone'... oh and then some start with bacon (which The Big V wouldn't appreciate) and some use cannelloni beans... some use pasta, some rice... they all do have a few things is common, such as they all start with the classic Italian triumvirate of onion, celery and carrot, resembling the Italian flag... and mine is really just a variation of the classic, with a few of my own little twists...

oh and really simple to make... much needed after the event we just got back from in Birmingham this week... lets just say that I'm screaming inside... and leave it at that...

My Minestrone

one medium onion - finely chopped
2 sticks celery - finely chopped
1 carrot - finely chopped
1 medium leek - chopped
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 1/2 pints of good veg stock
a handful of fine green beans - chopped into thirds
a large handful of chopped cabbage
2 garlic cloves - crushed
a mixture of fresh herbs
a glass of pink champagne
a handful of teeny pasta (I found these adorable baby egg conchigliette that fit the bill perfectly)
grated cheese

- first rule of any minestrone... make this in the morning... or even the night before... there's something magical in the fact that it needs to go cold and then heat up again before it tastes divine!

- in melted butter and olive oil, saute the onions in a heavy pan or casserole dish until translucent, then add the carrots and celery and then the leek, place the lid on and let them sweat for 5 mins.

- take the lid off, season, add the garlic and herbs and let them saute some more.

- turn up the heat and add a glass of white wine (we had some left over pink champagne... like you do!)

- once the liquid has reduced add the tin of tomatoes and the stock

- add the cabbage and green beans and a couple of bay leaves, place the lid on and let it simmer for 30 mins

- turn the heat off, add the pasta and let it cool.

- heat to serve and sprinkle with a strong grated cheddar (for the true vegetarian) or the classic parmesan.

eat and of course, enjoy!

Sunday, 7 November 2010

honey, curry and satsuma chicken I set myself a chicken challenge a couple of weeks ago and i've been gathering some great recipes from all over the culinary world... the idea is to do wildly different and interesting recipes alongside some old favourites... but, as always, this is about the love of chicken, not a task or a trial... which is why this conversation took place about an hour ago...

...'Mum... I need an interesting thing to do with a whole chicken and quite frankly I can't be bothered to cut it into portions... what ideas have you got?'

...'what about marmalade chicken?'

...'no... done that a while back... need something else...'

...'what about honey and curry chicken?

...'oooh, what's that?...'

...'just make a paste with curry powder and honey and then rub it all over the chicken and roast it... easy'

...' yup, that'll do...'

... mum suggested I loosen the paste with orange juice, which I didn't have so have used some satsuma juice and quarters instead.  I also used some garlic and large chunks of fresh ginger liberally distributed about the bird to add to the fresh spice flavours of the curry and to compliment the honey.  A chopped carrot and onion should also gloriously add to the dish... roast it on a high oven wrapped in foil to stop the honey burning... remove the foil after an hour and turn the chicken over to sit on its breast for 15 mins, then turn back again to crisp up for the final 15 mins... very simple and packed with sweet honey and subtle curry flavours!

eat and of course, enjoy!

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Vegetarian Sausage Stew

we've only just got back to Belleau.... and I hate coming back so late in the week... you see it's been a heck of a week down in London... we've been working on a huge fashion event to launch Forever 21 in the UK... so it's been a frantic few days of no sleep, ditsy fashion models, bitchy hair stylist, screaming get the picture...

... one bonus is that we used THE most wonderful caterers called NOMAD who consider themselves 'food designers' rather than caterers... and their food truly is exceptional in both its creativity and finished look... of course I was running around like a mad man and didn't get a moment to take any pictures but you'll have to take my word for it that they looked and tasted amazing...

... now we're finally back at the cottage and the plan is NOT to leave the living room or kitchen for 2 days... I've pre-shopped, so I have everything I need... I literally have to cook and eat.

First on the agenda is this weeks sourdough loaf... didn't get a chance last weekend, what with all the prepping for the event and so my weekly 'sourdough Friday's' didn't quite get off to a roaring start... even this week it's more like sourdough Saturday... but what the heck...onwards and upwards... I used 3 cups of wholewheat flour this time.... and isn't she a beauty!

Next  is something warm and hearty and healthy... the problem with staying in London and working odd hours is that we tend to eat crap all day and have little room for anything fresh or green... so a nice vegetarian sausage stew was well deserved...

Now this is one of those 'throw-what-you've-got-in-a-pot' kind of dishes that you know, dear reader, I love to make... it's no '30 minute meal' because the longer and slower you leave it to cook, the better it will taste... and even though you're using veggie sausages this should be no excuse to forgo the intense flavours and earthy vegetables that a good stew should have.  I'm serving this in a big bowl, by itself, without the accompaniment of a mash but I think with the inclusion of parsnips and green beans, do we really need the extra carbs?

Vegetarian Sausage Stew

A quick note on veggie sausages... there are many to choose from and most of them taste like cardboard and should be avoided at all cost... of course it usually comes down to taste and availability but I think there are certain brands that work well with certain dishes... for this I've gone for Quorn classic sausages... another good brand is Cauldron, which also produce a firm 'meaty' sausage with plenty of oil

1 pack (6) of veggie sausage cut into large chunks
1 onion - finely chopped
2 carrots - cut into large chunks
1 parsnip - cut into large chunks
a large handful of closed cup mushrooms - quartered
2 cloves of garlic - crushed
a large handful of fine green beans cut into thirds
3 peppers - cut into chunks (home grown and kindly given to me by my neighbour...)

1 pint of good quality vegetable stock
1 tablespoon flour
1 large glass of red wine
herbs and seasoning to taste
2 bay leaves

- in a heavy casserole pan saute the onions in butter and olive oil until translucent

- add the sausage and brown, the crisper, the better, then sprinkle with flour, like you would cubes of beef, remove the sausages and set aside.

- add the mushrooms and saute until slightly brown, then add the carrots and parsnip and saute for 5 mins, add the sausages back to the pan and then the garlic and herbs... I used thyme and rosemary... season and let it all sweat and intensify in flavour... the trick is to do this all slowly, building layers of taste.

- add the stock and a teaspoon or two of gravy powder (try and use a good quality one... you're using it for the thickening and browning rather than the chemical taste these usually give off...) and also add a squirt of tomato ketchup.

- throw in the green beans and peppers and then bung it in a medium oven for as long as you've got... a couple of hours is good.

...oh and finally... 5 plants... one whole summer... and on November 6th I pick my first (and only) home-grown tomato... what the global-warming is that all about?... tasted damn fine though...

eat and of course, enjoy!



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