Friday, 31 December 2010

Lincolnshire Pride - New Year giveaway

... one of my reasons for starting this blog was to extol the virtues of Lincolnshire food and Lincolnshire producers... a much neglected and often over-looked county (just try playing 'Where's Lincolnshire?' next time you watch the BBC Weather...) ... and whilst I regularly use produce, when in season, from the county I feel that I haven't really sung it's praises regularly enough...

... and so whilst thinking about what kind of Christmas presents to buy our dear friends Richard and Peter, (both foodies) the idea of a Lincolnshire hamper came to mind... I like to call it 'gifting with produce'... or  even 'locally sourced love'... but most definitely a 'present with pride'.

The Lincolnshire Hamper contains:

A bottle of Heart of Gold cold-pressed rapeseed oil
A bottle of Belvoir Ginger Cordial
A jar of Lincolnshire Honey
A pack of Lincolnshire Poacher cheese
A pack of Cote Hill Yellow cheese
A loaf of Myers Lincolnshire Plum Bread

... and because it's soon to be the new year and I'm so damn proud... (drum-roll please)  ... for the first time ever on this little blog of mine, I am giving away a Lincolnshire Hamper, as above,  to one of my lucky readers... all you have to do is post a comment telling me what your favourite local food is (local to you, that is...) and I will randomly pick a winner in the new year... because the giveaway is food based i'm afraid its UK address's only please but this doesn't mean my international friends cannot enter, they could win this for a UK based friend or relative... lovely... good luck to all... and may I wish you all a very happy and healthy 2011!

eat and of course, enjoy!

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

cold-pressed rapeseed oil

... it was with a sense of smug delight when I read in the new Nigella book 'Kitchen' that she would recommend using British grown cold-pressed rapeseed oil almost exclusively instead of extra-virgin olive oil... smug, because the stuff grows outside our front door for most of the summer... and delighted because, as she says in her book, it's about time we, the Brits, could be proud and feel culinarily superior about something so simple as oil...

... it has a wonderfully nutty and mustardy flavour and as you can see a glorious yellow gold colour... still quite rare to find in the shops but AMAZINGLY our local co-operative stocks it as part of their 'grown locally' range... so I'm doubly smug!..

... I would personally recommend the Heart of Gold brand as it's produced in Lincolnshire and really is a superior oil... but I'm sure rapeseed oil is produced all over the UK... we just have to get out there and start using it, asking for it at the supermarket and talking about it...

... and now, at the end of the summer, when the rapeseed plants are emitting their rotten, cabbage-like perfume, I can lift my head and proudly say... 'that is the smell of glorious gold oil my dear friends... just ask Nigella!'

the reason they invented Christmas

... I have literally eaten my weight in chocolates... not sure how i've managed to stay breathing between mouthfuls but somehow i've survived and it's only partway between the big day and NYE... finally finished off the bit of the goose that got cooked... and very surprised at how delicious cold goose is... it's very dark and meaty... I think i've almost preferred it as leftovers...

... and so to the real reason they invented Christmas... the left-over sandwich... in which Lucretia makes her star turn... along with some pork stuffing, lettuce for crunch, tomato for a clean acidic bite and good old-fashioned mayonnaise for lubrication... now this is divine inspiration!

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Christmas Day Part 3 - my goose is cooked

... so I walked over to our local yesterday and picked up my goose... and she's a HUGE bird... carrying her back in the snow was a very real Christmas moment... arms aching and brain spinning with ideas... and the second she got home I realised i'd made my first big mistake... goose was too big for the roasting pan... well, to be honest, goose was too big for Christmas!

... now you may think this is sacrelige on Christmas Day but I thought about lunch, my pocket and ever expanding waist line and then I got out the carving knife and have created a big enough feast for today plus enough to go into the freezer for 3 more meals (yes it was that big a bird!)... she took a lot of sweat and tears but I finally got her down to a size to fit into my largest pan and prepped her for the cooking...

... and isn't she a beauty!... so proud...

... all that's left for me to do is unbutton the trouser and breathe...

Merry Christmas once again to you all... x

Christmas Day Part 2 - The Vegetarian Alternative

... as long as it's smothered in gravy The Big V is happy... well I've made the gravy but what's it going to be poured over you ask...?

I have been viewing considerations for about a month now... first it was going to be a veggie lasagne... we joke about this every year but haven't quite lowered to this point yet... then it was going to be a veggie wellington... then a Quorn Roast... but then Gary Rhodes shouted down to me from the bookshelf and I remembered a layered suet pudding I made years back that it simply divine and really is the King of puddings... it also speaks directly to my suet loving Viking through his very soul... so there you have it... hands down winner!

Layered Mushroom and Caramelised Onion Suet Pudding

4 large onions - finely sliced
8 large field mushrooms
150g vegetarian suet
300g self raising flour
200ml cold water
fresh herbs and seasoning

- slowly caramelise the onions in a deep pan with a couple of teaspoons of sugar, this should take about an hour but turn them very frequently until they are golden

- meanwhile bake the mushrooms with plenty of oil and herbs in the oven until they are tender, they could also be turned once or twice

- make up the suet pastry, roll it out and line a pudding basin, making sure you leave enough pastry for the lid

- begin to layer the pudding, onions then mushrooms until full, you may have to cut some of the mushrooms to fill the layers, then place the pastry lid on top

- cover in foil with a pleat in the top of the foil to allow for air to expand and steam for 2 hours

utter joy!

Christmas Day Part 1

Merry Christmas one and all!... don't you just LOVE Christmas?

Father Christmas was kind enough to bring me, amongst other goodies, a beautiful pestle and morter and Nigella's Kitchen... how did he know... and i've been so naughty this year!

I've decided to split these posts throughout the day so as not to bore you with over-long postings, just quick snippets of what's going on in Belleau Kitchen

First... the sourdough...

... sandwiches will be of vital importance at the end of the day... so this is the first thing I have to do...

... i've left Lucretia in the fridge for a month now, feeding her weekly but not baking with her so she's quite, quite sour... but has made simply the best loaf yet... i've used white flour only and olive oil and it's light, airy and fluffy... am very happy!

Friday, 24 December 2010

Christmas Eve Clementine Cake

i'm re-posting this as it was always meant to be for the Forever Nigella challenge set by Sarah at Maison Cupcake but I forgot who it was for and lost patience... so here it is again folks (and i'm late as usual!!)...

... ahh, Christmas Eve and it's just started to snow!

this is Nigellas cake ... well, it's not Nigella's it's mine...

... this is perhaps quite literally the easiest-to-make and most Christmassy non-Christmas cake ever... you could do it quite literally, with your eyes closed and ... if you can keep those pesky grabbing hands away from it for long enough... will indeed taste better after a day or two... and as if these weren't reasons enough to make it, the whole process of making this cake will make the house smell so incredible you and all the living creatures within a 5 mile radius will know it's Christmas!...

you can find the recipe on the delightful Nigella website here

eat and of course, enjoy!

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Get Ahead - Caramelised Onion Veggie Gravy

This is inspired by Jamie's Get Ahead Gravy... but this one really is mine...

... now... we all have those Christmas lunch, time saving, 'do-it-the-night-before' little nuggets that we've picked up from the odd TV program or book, or great aunt Sadie... but let's be honest, come the big day we've probably forgotten them and the reality is us running around in a deep sweat wondering why the bloody oven isn't getting hot enough and no lunch is NOT FUCKING READY YET!!!!

... and I watch these cookery programs and think to myself, well yes HRH Delia, it may come out golden and roasted for you but to be frank you've got 2 ovens the size of small cars plus months to prep and a budget the size of a small Eastern European country to purchase the best of the best with...

... so when I saw this recipe for gravy and in particular good old Jamie Oliver himself telling me to make it not just the day before but a few days before, a little light bulb went off in my head... this TOTALLY makes sense... gravy is always a last minute stress, yet such a vital ingredient and if all you have to do is reheat it at the last second then all the power to you...

... and whilst you may think this seems an odd item to get fussy about remember that The Big V is a Northern boy... and this means that gravy is probably THE most important part of the meal... 

So, as i'm catering for myself and The Big V this year I have to make a veggie gravy but I have included the meat version for you too so that you can see how simple it is... however I will ONLY be making the veggie version (MY version) and then adding goose juice to my portion of it... hope this makes sense and you're following so far?... either way I promise you the most delicious, hassle-free gravy ever...

Caramelised Onion Veggie Gravy

2 celery sticks - roughly chopped
2 medium carrots - roughly chopped
3 large onions - quartered 
5 bay leaves
5 fresh sage leaves
4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 star anise
olive oil
salt and pepper
4 tablespoons plain flour
a glass of white wine
2 litres of good quality veg stock

and if you're making the non-veggie version you will need

2 rashers smokey bacon
8 chicken wings (crack the bones with a sharp knife)

- pre-heat the oven to 200 and put everything into a big roasting pan, drizzle with a good glug of oil, sprinkle with the sugar, pour in half a pint of mixed stock and white wine and bung it in the oven for at least an hour... check it regularly... you want the onions to caramelise but not burn, so turn it all frequently, top up with stock if it's looking dry and keep going till the onions are golden... it's this colour that will give your gravy the intense flavour and dark colour.

- once it's suitably golden, turn up the oven to full whack and pour in the rest of your glass of wine and the stock and with a wooden spoon shuffle all the roasted veg around so that you get all the bits stuck on the bottom of the pan off.... let it simmer in the oven for a further 20 mins (you can do this stage on the hob if you prefer but make sure your tin is hob-proof)

- now get a potato masher or a hand held blitzer and roughly mash the stuff together and begin to add the flour one tablespoon at a time, it should slowly start to thicken and the longer you let it sizzle the darker brown it will go.  Again this can be done either in the oven or on the hob.

- once you're happy with the colour and consistency you need to taste for seasoning and then pass it through a sieve till it's a smooth glossy gravy.

- let it cool and then freeze.

- on the big day take it out of the freezer at the same time you start to cook, this way it should be ready to reheat just as you're ready to serve... or like I will, portion it in to halves and add the meat juice to your bit...

... my only other pre-Christmas Day tip is to prepare and dress your bird on Christmas Eve... then all you have to do (other than open prezzies) is bung it in the oven.

eat and of course, enjoy!

Monday, 20 December 2010

fah la la la la la la la la

... a banana loaf for no other reason than because I had 2 old bananas...

... last night we had a delightful carol service at our local church... it's a teeny parish church that barely gets used but once or twice a year when it has a dusting down for a wedding or funeral... there are only 11 houses in the village and with most of us being old, married already, not the marrying type or ...old, its unlikely to get used much... so it was all the more delightful when we got together and decided to ask the local vicarette (she's a little bit Geraldine Granger... a little bit...) to hold a carol service...

... and we sang our little hearts out... all the classics; from 'Hark the Herald' through to Silent Night...all accompanied by our neighbour on the stunning church organ... I even read a portion of the Christmas story... could there be a more perfect Christmas for a Jewish boy from North London?

Banana, Walnut and Coconut Loaf

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)

2oz chopped walnuts and 2oz shredded coconut 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

The house will thank you for the smell...

eat and of course, enjoy!

Sunday, 19 December 2010

a pie for a pie

... as usual I'm a little bit late for this one (it's always the same old excuses) but now we're well and truly ensconced at the cottage I can finally relax and catch up with all the lovely cooking... and the lovely Julia from A Slice of Cherry Pie set this challenge over a month ago... pretty simple; bake something, take a photo of the snow and then write about it in a new post...

... a weeny bit disappointed that the second big freeze of 2010 hasn't quite reached this part of Lincolnshire... oh it has snowed... but nowhere near as much as some friends and family around the country... we are due for a heavy downpour during the week, so fingers crossed...

... so here's a pic of the entrance to our little village which The Viking took last week...

... and here's a pie...

Vegetarian Winter Pie

... we were watching TV this morning and for no apparent reason The Viking said the word 'pie.'  I think he says things randomly so that they enter my subconscious and I'm forced to do something about it... well whatever... it worked pretty well...

I have some chicken thighs in the fridge and I was planning some kind of stew-type thing and working out what I could do for The Big V when it dawned on me that perhaps I could forgo the meat this time and make one lovely, delicious, veggie pie that would make us all happy!... I dug out some Quorn Chicken Style Pieces (available at all good UK supermarkets) and made this very warming winter pie...

... I've made a cheesy herb pastry to add a little zing and I'm very happy with it!

For the Filling

one medium onion - finely diced
2 cloves garlic - crushed
1 medium leek - chopped
1 large carrot - diced
1 medium potato - diced
a handful of mushrooms
a handful of frozen peas
1 bag of  Quorn Chicken Style Pieces
some homemade gravy
a glass of white wine

For the pastry

12oz plain flour
4oz butter or margarine
2oz grated cheese (I've used a strong cheddar)
1 teaspoon mixed herbs (fresh is good but dry will be perfectly fine)
1 egg
some cold water to mix

- first make the pastry... then refrigerate for at least 30mins

- whilst it's in the fridge make the filling... saute the onion and garlic in a large pan of melted butter and oil, once softened add the  Quorn Chicken Style Pieces and saute till brown... if you can't get these or prefer not to use them you could try adding an extra vegetable such as a suede or more mushrooms... or real chicken?

- add the rest of the veg except the peas and saute till soft... you could put the lid on the pan for 5 mins.

- make up a good veggie gravy, with some white wine and add it to the pan and let the whole thing simmer for a while adding a couple of bay leaves.

- add the peas, stir and then turn off the heat and let it cool for an hour letting the flavours build in intensity.

- roll out half the pastry and line the base of your pie dish... this will be the first outing for one of my 40th birthday presents, a Le Creuset special..., then fill the pie and place a pastry lid on top and decorate accordingly... I've gone with holly leaves for a festive flavour.

- bake in a warmish oven till golden brown... let it cool for 10 mins and then serve.

oh the joys of a good pie...

eat and of course, enjoy!

Saturday, 18 December 2010

mince pies many ways

... as you know, i had great plans to make my own mincemeat this year but you see life just has a habit of getting in the way... and just as I was feeling guilty... (that's Christmas blog guilt to you and I dear friends).... suddenly two amazing things happened...

... one, I took a trip to Fortnum and Mason in Piccadilly, which quite frankly has to be the MOST Christmassy place in the whole world and is sure to put you in the Christmas spirit even if your heart is the size of a shrivelled sultana covered in ice, and discovered their mini mince pies which have lemon and orange peel in their pastry crust...

...and two, I discovered Marks and Spencer Chocolate Mincemeat... oh yes, you read the right... CHOCOLATE mincemeat... need I say more?!?

... now i've gone a little crazy here because I wanted to make traditional mince pies but also wanted to try my hand at a couple of other ideas i'd seen over the years... one is a mince pie topped with a light coconut macaroon topping... and the other is a rolled 'strudel' style pie, inspired by my mum's regular strudel.

... ive also gone pastry crazy and done two types of sweet shortcrust... one with the grated lemon and orange zest and one chocolate shortcrust, with cocoa powder sprinkled in,  just in case you don't get the full chocolate hit from the mincemeat... you simply make a regular sweet shortcrust pastry and add the extra ingredients before you add the water... simple.

... we also have a carol service at our local church tomorrow and I thought i'd take these with me for some festive pre-singing fun... Christmas has well and truly arrived!

Friday, 17 December 2010

Christmas Pudding

... there are some arguments sorry, 'traditions' at Christmas that however much we say we won't repeat next year, we simply can't do without...

... the 'angel no fairy no star, at the top of the Christmas tree' debate...

... the 'who's going to stay sober to drive home Auntie Betty' debate...

... the 'just put the fucking party hat on you muppet... it's Christmas' debate...

... the 'we're going to watch the Queens Speech, no we're not we're going to watch Harry Potter' debate...

... the 'we always eat at 3pm on Christmas Day...but I'm so HUNGRY' debate

... anyway, I think you get the gist... one of the 'disagreements' we always have is whether to go for Christmas Pudding or Christmas Cake... I'm a lover of the fruit cake, with the layer of marzipan and the white frosting... The Viking prefers the pudding although usually by the time we've imbibed the gigantic enormity of the main event there's usually very little room for anything, especially if I'm saving myself for Goose and Coleslaw sandwiches later...

... and anyway the plan this year was to go for Delia's Luxury Carrot Cake with added whisky... that was until I won a Forman and Field Christmas Pudding from the lovely Kavey on her brilliant blog KaveyEats... I've never won anything on a blog before so I'm very chuffed and the good people at Forman and Field managed to deliver it this week, so I have it in time for Christmas!

... it looks so tempting, coming wrapped in muslin and in its own ceramic steaming bowl and delivered with a huge pot of Brandy Sauce... I'm so excited I may burst!

Thanks Kavey!

Monday, 13 December 2010

and the award goes to...

as most of you know... and many of you really do... blogging is not something that I take lightly... it's hard work... enjoyable... but hard work none the less... and if it wasn't for the passion I have for food (and eating) I would have given this up a long time ago... like many of you, I hold down a full time job for goodness sake, so this blogging lark really can be a midnight hobby sometimes...

... so I feel terrible that I haven't acted on this sooner but it has been rather hectic around here for ages and I wanted to take the time to do this right and proper... I truly believe in 'paying it forward' and feel honoured and humbled to have been given these blog awards.

MINI RANT ALERT!!... can also I mention, before I begin with the formalities, that I loath the design of these awards... i'm such a stickler for design and have spent a good portion of time thinking about the design and layout of my blog... and these awards have clearly been degraded over the years that it's high time they had a re-design... i'd be happy to redesign them but i'd hate to offend... so if anyone can trace them back to their original blogger, do let me know...

The Versatile Blogger Award

this is my first ever award, and I am hugely grateful to BrownievilleGirl for it...

... the rules are that I have to tell you 7 things about myself and then pass on the award to 7 blogs that i admire... so here goes:

1. Even though I have a very good sized kitchen I regularly dream of a bigger one.

2. In the summer I cycle 6 miles to the gym and 6 miles back... in the winter, I don't

3. I have a black labrador dog named Holly who i love more than life itself... she's 12 years old and I  fear for the day she'll die on a daily basis... (sorry this isn't supposed to have been sad)

4. Until I came to live here i had no clue where Lincolnshire was let alone that the Lincolnshire Wolds even existed.

5. I love Science Fiction and I read a lot of it.

6. I lost 3 stone on the Atkins diet about 7 years ago and have never been happier... it taught me a lot about what we put in our mouths and call food... I am still totally obsessed with my weight

7. The Vikings real name is.....

and it is my honour to pass this award on to these 7 blogs of distinction:

The Reluctant Vegetarian
Chocolate Log Blog
Delicious Delicious Delicious
Veg Box Boy
James Ramsden
Purple Podded Peas
Recipe Rifle

... and just to prove how international this blogging lark really is I have also been given the Sunshine Award by the delightful Nicoletta at Bread and Butter

The Sunshine Award

these rules are pretty simple... firstly I have to thank Nicoletta for the award... which I humbly do, then I have to pass it on to 12 blogs I love to read... so here you go:

Around Britain with a Paunch
Closet Cooking
From Beyond My Kitchen Window
The Kitchen Maid
My Kitchen in the Rockies
The Spice Garden
Rose Cottage
Feasts and Festivals
Chocolate Teapot
21st Century Urban Housewife
Tea and Wheaten Bread
My Farmhouse Kitchen

... and there, my dear friends, you well and truly have it!...

Saturday, 11 December 2010

tree for two

... like many families across the UK, if not the world, every year, The Viking and I set aside a special day to decorate the house and tree... and even though i'm a good Jewish boy, or maybe in spite of the fact that i'm a good Jewish boy... I simply adore this tradition.

... the day can be any day in December... sometimes it's as early as the first weekend, sometimes its as late as Christmas Eve... it all depends on what's happening with work and where we're going to be... this year we've come in nice and early...

... it's a magical day and it starts with going out to our local Christmas tree farm and cutting down our very own tree!... we tend to go for a Nordmann Fir, which has a fabulous blueish tint to it and tends to keep its needles quite well... we went for 6ft, 5inches this year... which is just touching the ceiling...

... the tree comes home and is placed in its special tree stand which we fill with water to feed the tree... this has worked so well for us over the years, it needs topping up every few days but keeps the tree nice and healthy looking until the 6th Jan.

... we then pull all the old decorations down from the loft and decorate the fireplace and windows, allowing the tree to settle until we decorate him last... we have a collection of old and new decorations that have been with us for a while... but they're all ice blue or white on the tree and 'Victorian' elsewhere... we both have design backgrounds and suffer from ADD so a tidy, well balanced but stylish tree is the only way!

... all this is done with a DVD of White Christmas on in the background and when it gets to Bing and co singing the final White Christmas, we're pretty much done and ready to stand back and admire our handywork...

... I was due to make mincemeat for pies today but I seem to be slightly paralysed by what i have planned to do... so i'm just going to sit back and enjoy the tree...

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Lovely Linda

... the simply marvelous guys over at Linda McCartney Foods have started a new competition to find the UK's tastiest meat-free dish and the chance for this dish to become a new product in their range!... how fab would that be... and of course how could I resist the challenge...?

... as you all know, I am a voracious meat eater but I live with The Big V and have been creating tasty alternatives for over 6 years now... and in my never ending plan for world dominance I thought I'd submit a few of these dishes just to try my luck...

... and this is where you, my dear readers, come in... 2 of my dishes have been selected as part of the their weekly favourites and for me to be in with a chance to go through to the next round I need your votes...

... if you click on this link, find my two dishes (a courgette pie and a veggie sausage stew... both under my real name of Dominic Franks) and 'rate' them...

... of course, you could enter yourself and feel my wrath... it's up to you...


Monday, 6 December 2010

christmas cooking list... preparation is overated!

...somewhere deep inside I feel i should be more organised for my Christmas this year as it will be my first Christmas as a food blogger and I want to be really well prepared...

... but sometimes I feel that 'over-preperation' can be just as much the catalyst for stress as being un-prepared... it's as though you have set yourself an un-reachable goal... and this can only lead to disaster... plus there are a lot of foodie things for Christmas that are supposed to be prepared in advance, such as Christmas Cake and soaking prunes for mincemeat...

... and anyway, if you feel the need for a perfect Christmas (god know's why?) you can always visit Esther's GENIUS blog recipe rifle for the ultimate list of do's and don'ts for the big day...

... however, somewhere, in the hidden depths of my mind I do have a list of what I plan to make and what I'd like to achieve this year and this list goes something like this:

1. bake these amazing looking Panettone for Christmas gifts... thanks for the inspiration Chele!

2. bake these naughty but totally traditional old-school macaroons for nibbling on and for when guests pop in for tea and Baileys... they freeze really well.

3. will make some mince pies... never done it before but I have every confidence that Delia will help!

4. am planning a roast goose and a glazed ham... so I need to read up and I must order these this week!

5. will make my favourite Luxury Carrot Cake instead of Christmas Cake because nobody likes Christmas Cake... Delia hits the spot again!

6. will also make Nigellas AMAZING moist clementine cake... and add loads of Glenmorangie whisky!

7. will make this extra special Veggie Wellington for The Big V... The Guardian website does us proud!

8. will make a large batch of my very special veggie sausage rolls for nibbling on between Christmas and New Year.

9. will make fresh, home-made, coleslaw for those all important post lunch sandwiches...

10. will get in enough booze to sink a very large ship!

... and pretty much that's it... the 'trimmings' come very easy to me you see because I only have one rule during Christmas and that's 'over-cater'...

... would love to know what you're all planning for the big day and if you have any special tricks to keep things calm...

Sunday, 5 December 2010

roast chicken with garlic

... another Sunday another chicken in the oven... something simple but packed with flavour this time with my version of 'chicken with 40 cloves of garlic'... um... 'chicken with 20 cloves of garlic'... I know...I know... I've totally pushed the boat out here!

... there's something magnificent about a golden roasted bird on a Sunday that just turns the day from an ordinary one into something special... and it's such a simple thing to do... turn on oven, slather bird in oil/butter/whatever and bung it in till it's golden... the original '40 cloves of garlic' recipe is as hard to pin down as the agreed method but in essence the idea is that the garlic cloves should go into the dish un-peeled and it's this that adds the distinct mellow roasted garlic flavour... and I promise you, even if your not a fan of garlic, this is so mellow and so delicious that I urge you to try it next time you roast your bird...

... my method is to stuff the cavity with 2 quarters of a lemon and 2 quarters of an onion, then scatter the rest around the bird... I also roughly chopped a couple of carrots and celery sticks to scatter around... next you take your garlic cloves and bung them around too, shove some into the cavity as well.

... next is the only tricky bit... you need to get two large slices of butter and insert them, along with a garlic clove and some rosemary underneath the skin of each breast... this is a bit 'hands-on' as you have to separate the skin from the breast but its soooo worth it as you get a really moist flesh...

... drizzle oil over the who bird, add a teeny bit of water, season and then roast on a high oven for a good hour and half (it's supposed to be 20mins per lb but go by your own guide... all I know is that you should turn the bird over, onto it's breast after 30 mins and then back onto its back 30 mins later... this allows the juices in the chicken to run through the bird and keep it nice and moist... baste regularly and add a little more water once you've turned it back on its back, again, adding extra moistness...  there's that word again!

... eat and of course, enjoy!

Saturday, 4 December 2010

roast tomato and sweet potato soup

... well I made it safely back to the cottage... it was touch and go at some points past Boston but Red Sonja did me proud... and it has well and truly snowed here... at least 2 feet on the ground... it looks so beautiful and in the words of Johnny Mathis 'it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas'...

red Sonja at rest on the snowy drive

... in my absence The Viking has not only cooked himself up a storm of delights... (it's not that he can't cook, it's just that he can't cook in my kitchen... geddit?) but he had also walked 6 miles to the nearest supermarket to stock up on supplies... so here I am, on the doorstep, bags laden with groceries and we're all ready well stocked... so as well as the usual doubling up of everything,  I now have a lot of tomatoes and rather a lot of sweet potatoes... a quick shifty through my current chef-love of the moment Nigel Slater, and a roasted tomato soup gave me inspiration.

Nigel uses red peppers in his and doesn't add the spices either but I think the sweet potato adds a velvety texture and the spices add some depth and much needed warmth...

roast tomato and sweet potato soup

800g tomatoes (I used roughly 8 plum tomatoes)
1 large sweet potato
1 medium onion
6 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1 1/2 pints veg stock

- cut all the veg up into wedges, sprinkle with the sugar, season and roast in the oven on 170 for 45 mins, turning frequently... you want to roast the veg and not burn them... the onion should caramelise slightly.

- after 45 mins tip the roasted veg into a pan with some butter and add the fennel seeds and garam masalla, let these roast for a minute or two before adding the stock.

- simmer the soup for 15 mins and then liquidize into a creamy, velvety soup

...I'm serving it simply here as I'm on this daft pre-Christmas diet but this would be lovely with a piece of hot melty cheese on toast floating on it... but then again, wouldn't most things?...

... oh and don't worry if you think i'm just eating soup... i'm not...

eat and of course, enjoy

Thursday, 2 December 2010

powertools down

yes it's bloody freezing and snowing everywhere but some of us do actually have to work!... so whilst The Viking is stuck in snowdrifts at the cottage... and having to walk 6 miles to the nearest shops lest he eat poor Holly... I am down in the big smoke launching a new range of power-tools for the lovely people at Bosch.

...won't bore you with the details but you can read all about it on the new event blog I've started for my company The Persuaders... and feel free to follow...

needless to say we're serving the guests some delicious food courtesy of the lovely Hel's Angels from chef Janostle... we're serving mini 'home-cooked' style food to go with the 'at home' theme so we've got mini shepherds pies, Cornish crab with grated fennel tartlets and goats cheese tarts with wild mushroom.

totally delicious...

... oh and I'm re-posting because I forgot to mention the genius IXO Vino... it's a power-tool with a brilliant corkscrew attachment... now you may think something like this is totally defunct... why do we need a motorised corkscrew?... well, other than those unfortunate people with arthritis, who will doubly appreciate the ease of this magic machine, it totally works, takes seconds and you get a power-tool with all the attachments to boot! (plus it comes in a snazzy wooden 'wine crate' style box)... what's not to love?

... and then I have to decide if I'm going to brave the A1 and get back to the kitchen!



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