Thursday, 30 June 2011

Random Recipes #5 - round-up

cookbooks make great gifts don't they...?  well if you're anything like me they become objects of lust, then objects of worship... but then very quickly become objects of neglect as we slip back into our cooking routines...

... well it seems that this month we've all broadened our horizons slightly and actually cooked from those newly aquired cook books... and what a random lot of little bloggers we are...

... again, totally humbled by the entries... so much so that i'm giving away another book next month because you're all so bloody lovely...!

... so on to the entries and first to the gate this month (and only 24 hours after I got my entry in for her blog challenge...) was the hyper competitive Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog with these Chocolate Walnut Torte Squares selected randomly from Chocolate by Random Press

next up was the brilliant Mel from Sharky Oven Gloves with these stunning Black Olive and Sundried Tomato mini-loaves which she randomly chose from Mini Cakes by Ilona Chovancova

Aveen from the beautifully photographed Baking Obsessively used her Dorie Greenspan Baking from My Home to Yours for the very first time (even though she's had it for a few months, so cooked these two delicious treats, Lennox Almond Biscotti and Dories Classic Brownies!

now Michael, from Me, My Food and I, who's off on his travels again, well he baked from Nigella (of course!) and his latest How to Eat... can't grumble as he made this delightful Almond and Orange Blossom Cake

Phil from As Strong As Soup went thoroughly traditionally British for the second time with this fab looking Ard Daraich Sponge Pudding randomly chosen from the Constance Spry Cookery Book

and with our first savoury dish this month we have the wonderful BrownieVille Girl with this fabulous Sole Normande randomly chosen from The Food of France by Maria Villegas and Sarah Randell.

Jac from Tinned Tomatoes... surely the busiest blogger this side of the Atlantic, brings us this very pretty Blueberry Crumble Cake from The Free-range Cook by Annabel Langbein.

and more blueberries here from Sarah from What I Baked This Weekend with these lovely Blueberry Muffins from the brilliant Gwyneth Paltrow.

the brilliant Susan from The Spice Garden got these scrummy Marsala Burgers from a recent blog book win, Rachel Rays Look and Cook... oh god i'm hungry!

Susan from Not Just Any Old Baking has made this most enviable Apple Pie Crust with Cheddar she got her husband to choose (so she wouldn't cheat!) from The Great British Book of Baking

next up is Michelle from Food, Football and a Baby with this amazing home-made linguine with butternut squash which she found from Ross Dobson's Market Vegetarian... she even broke a dish for me!... 

Bea from For The Love of Food made these sweet little Raspberry Trifle Cupcakes chosen randomly from the brilliant Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days... so lovely...

and then Kate from Kates Cakes and Bakes made these 'bird-food like' fruit nut and honey bards from The River Cottage Handbook - Cakes... oh, those are her words not mine, I think they look lovely!

Victoria from 21st Century Urban Housewife seems to be on some kind of health kick... no,  not sure what that is either dear readers... but she managed to randomly select this very scrummy looking warm pea and tomato salad she found in Dennis Cotter's For the Love of Food

poor Debbie from Cooking up a Storm in a Teacup had a complete disaster making a Frangipani she 'adapted' from Round the World in 80 Dishes: The World Through the Kitchen Window... she did then make a successful chocolate cake to make up for the disaster but it's the disaster i'm showing here!

Angela from This is what I eat has made this delightful Cappuccino Mousse that she randomly selected from The All New Good Housekeeping Cookbook... she addicted to coffee so very pleased with the selection and i'm not surprised, i could do with some of that myself right now!

C from Cake Crumbs and Cooking completed two challenges in one with this scrummy Strawberry and Banana Smoothy she selected from Hungry by the Innocent Smoothie people

and then how could we forget the lovely, the charming, the guilty party themselves, Lou and Steve from Please Do Not Feed The Animals with this totally yummy Praised Chicken from Nigella's Kitchen

then of course there was my offering taken randomly from Vanessa Kimbell's brilliant new book, Prepped!... It was a hard task drinking these rhubarb vodka's I can tell you!

and finally, with a cheeky flourish we end this month with these hysterical Honey Dog Biscuits baked by Jean from Baking in Franglais for her lovely dog Lulu, which she randomly selected from her most recently gifted book, Cooking for your Dog!

that's it... time for sleep and to stare at the hole where my kitchen used to be...

... eat and of course, enjoy!

Monday, 27 June 2011

sunday in the pak choy with George (and Jenny)

the benefit of having a good friend like Jenny who loves food as much as me are the many hours spent happily yapping away, discussing what's going to be or has gone into our bellies...

... i've told you about my glamorous friend Jenny before, she used to be a model and now she's a music producer and singer/songwriter... oh and my best friend...

Jenny.... and yes, she may be skinny but the girl eats for Britain!

... it's not just talking about what we're about to eat but also what we've eaten, where we've eaten it, how we prepared it, who we ate it with, where we bought the ingredients, how we ate it, why we ate, if we'll ever eat it again... cook books we love, books we hate, chef's we find annoying, chefs who inspire... places we've been, food we've never eaten but can't wait to try, pots and pans, butter over oil, utensils we'd recommend, the heat of the oven, the way to peel garlic, where to buy... how to eat it, how to serve it, what to serve it with, who'd like what and when to eat it... I could go on and on and on...

and another weekend with Jenny and George brings yet another fabulous culinary journey that promises to be more than just dinner on the table...

... a few weekends ago it was all about Asian cooking, starting with a tempura feast (both Jenny and I are tempura making virgins) and followed by a spicy Thai coconut noodle bowl of love ... i've been told to say that it's more than a soup, more of a meal, in a bowl...

... we've enjoyed ourselves so much we thought we'd share every stage of the cooking fest with you, from raw ingredient through to finished fabulousness... with a little help from my friend the cam-corder... yes my friends, this is the premier of Belleau Kitchen's first ever vlog!


We'll start with the tempura shall we?  It's pretty basic because we used a ready made Tempura batter we found on our visit to the Asian Supermarket... you can use a huge array of vegetables, finely sliced... just go for your favourites.  We used; beetroot, sweet potato, pepper and carrot and we also used some squid rings and a couple of raw king prawns.

The trick was getting the oil really hot and then being super-fast with our frying.  As we made it it went onto an oven tray and was kept warm in the oven.

Thai Noodle Soup

here's the moment you've all been waiting for... the vlog... It's a little bit of fun but I think it says it all... 


the recipe for the thai spice paste is as follows:

3 cloves garlic - finely crushed
2 sticks of lemongrass - finely chopped
2 large pieces of fresh ginger - finely chopped
coriander with stalks (try and get the stalks, they are packed with flavour) - chopped
juice and zest of 1 lime
sugar (to taste)
red chilli - finely chopped (to taste)

- Mix it all together in a bowl, could be simpler!

The Thai Curry Paste

the raw vegetables to go into the soup

Hope you enjoy as much as we did!

Friday, 24 June 2011

summer stew

it is summer isn't it?

whilst it's not particularly cold out there it's hardly what i'd call a scorcher... I guess all us Brits need to finally come to the realisation that summer has moved to April and May and that from June onwards we can expect drizzle... fairly warm drizzle... like the tropics... only not tropical!

it's the kind of confusing weather where you're unsure what to cook... salads in the evenings just don't cut the mustard, yet a full on, dark and fatty stew just seems wrong... so a lovely, light stew, packed with flavour and slowly roasted is, i feel, a perfect fit.

Slow Roasted Chicken Stew with Brown Rice and Lentils

I had these frozen chicken breasts left over from my Sainsbury's delivery a few weeks back but you know me, I'm not mad keen on this tasteless, dry meat, but I hate waste and actually I think they're perfect in here for this... i've also thrown some fennel seeds in for an extra aniseed hit, which is lovely but still light and summery.

I think this is a great dish for a lazy, rainy weekend when all you want to do is turn the oven on and let it do all the work...

4 chicken breasts - cut into large pieces
2 carrots - cut into chunks
1 medium onion - cut into wedges
1 small red onion - cut into wedges
4 cloves of garlic - left whole with skin on
a handful of green beans
a handful of cabbage - sliced into large pieces
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 a cup of green lentils
1/4 a cup of organic brown rice
1 pint of stock
1 glass of white wine
fresh herbs of your choice - I used fresh tarragon and thyme

- in a large roasting dish, or casserole dish roast the veg and herbs and fennel seeds, with a glug of olive oil and half the glass of wine, do this stage gently on 160c for about an hour, until they're tender and just beginning to turn golden.

- reduce the heat to 100c, then add the chicken, a fresh batch of torn herbs, lentils, rice, stock and the rest of the wine, cover with either a lid or foil and let it gently roast for a further 2 hours until it's completely tender and the rice and lentils have soaked up plenty of chickeny juice.

eat and of course, enjoy!

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

chunky white chocolate and golden syrup, chocolate muffins

I think The Viking is a little fed up of me baking cakes for other people and not throwing him any treats... daily he will come into the kitchen with a child-like broad grin as he eye's up the treats freshly warm from the oven... like the Bisto kids, the wafting of sugary goodness has lured him in from the garden only for him to have me tell him that the cake's not for us... poor love.

... then, on an unlikely clear-out of my baking cupboard I found a bar of white chocolate I had forgotten was there... I also spied a large bottle of golden syrup, which I know is one of The Vikings favourite things... (yes, sometimes I will find him pouring the stuff directly from the bottle, down his throat!)

... and so I though a treat was in order and these muffins were born.

white chocolate and golden syrup, chocolate muffins

I was always told that a badly made muffin is the best kind of muffin... they need very little stirring and lumps are a bonus... so go crazy I say!... and I love the way these muffins have cracked and caved-in... they're like little chocolate volcano's and I adore them like this... you could add mashed banana to make them moister but i've had my fill of banana recently...

225g plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarb
80g light brown sugar
2 eggs
125ml vegetable oil
100g white chocolate (broken into large chunks)
2 tablespoons golden syrup
1 teaspoon cocoa powder

- preheat the oven to 200c and line a muffin tin (should make 12)

- just bung the whole lot together into a large bowl (excluding the white chocolate) and mix it up until it looks like a lumpy mess

- add the chocolate chunks and then spoon into muffin cases... I like to over-fill my muffin cases so I tend to get 10 muffins rather than 12

- bake for 15 minutes until risen and cracked.

eat and of course, enjoy!

Sunday, 19 June 2011

kitchen madness - warning of forthcoming sporadic blogging

its all gone a bit bonkers over here at Belleau Kitchen and Belleau Cottage...

... we have a beautiful home,  I never imagined the day that I would truly own the dream home that I now, in fact live in... but you know how it is... I often lie awake at night, moving walls in my head, turning furniture, adding a window here and a conservatory there... and of course it was always the kitchen that I had the biggest plans for.

... last year we had some plans drawn up to extend the back of the house... the idea is that we tear down the back wall of the cottage and build an open-plan dining room, out from the existing kitchen, opening onto the lovely garden with those fancy, floor to ceiling, folding doors... pretty much doubling the space of the room.

... the actual kitchen won't be any bigger but I will finally have that dream space where I can cook and talk to people seated in the same room... it sounds glorious but the reality is that for the next 2 months the cottage will be an utter mess and in a couple of weeks I won't have any kitchen at all as they remove the units to knock down the wall!

say goodbye to this... the wall on the left of the picture will soon be gone!

... both The Viking and I try as hard as we can to be environmentalists... so we're not throwing out our beautiful kitchen, we plan to sand it down, paint it some fabulous chalky blue colour and then re-fit it in a slightly different configuration... oh and I am getting a new range cooker... (I have lived with the crappiest oven in the world for the last 8 years!)... but this will be my biggest luxury!

I am very excited... but of course, whilst I will strive to be creative with the microwave we plan to set-up in the spare bedroom, I imagine my blogging may become rather sporadic over the next few weeks.

... I will try and stock up on some cooking whilst I can... and I do have one or two fab guest posts from good friends, and of course, it will give me plenty of time to bother all my blogging friends over on all your fabulous blogs... so hopefully that should see us through...

in the meantime, don't forget your Random Recipes... (I feel like a school teacher!) and more importantly... don't forget to...

eat and of course, enjoy!

Friday, 17 June 2011

Lucretia's last stand...

as you know, Lucretia sadly passed away a couple of weeks ago... and the worst thing about it was that a week before her un-timely demise I think I had finally got to grips with her... anyway, i wasn't going to post this but I thought perhaps I was being fooling not to... so here you go...

as you know I have an on / off relationship with my sourdough... i've been through hundreds of recipes, thousands of trials... i've had the temperature up high... i've had water in the oven to create steam... i've kneaded and then not kneaded and until this morning i've had sourdough that was ok... but not quite right...

... and whilst i'd like to credit one person to my success today I think, to be fair it's been a combination of my original recipe, with Luc's help and more than a little bit of know-how from Ruth... and it seems i'm getting there...

... not quite perfect but now I know what not to do and will adapt next time... my main issue is that my oven only goes to 190c and although it's fan assisted and has never given me any bother baking or roasting anything ever before, it doesn't quite cut the mustard for sourdough...

I used Ruth's brilliant recipe and step-by-step guide which you can see for yourself here but I used a loaf tin and then my original technique of putting it into a cold oven to bake...

... and the result... not quite perfect but I got that glorious combination of soft and chewy inside with a crispy crunchy crust... love it!

eat and of course, enjoy!

Thursday, 16 June 2011

a banana cake for the BBC

banana and chocolate loaf with chocolate cream cheese icing

... just a quick note to say I've been invited back onto my local radio show tonight (Thursday) evening at 8pm...

... this time it's with the lovely James Hoggarth and i'm driving over the Humber Bridge to Hull to meet him and talk on his show.

you can listen live on-line from 8pm if you go here (sorry, UK only i'm afraid) or listen again for up to a week here... or check out the facebook page for the radio station where we'll post some fun images i'm sure.

I've baked him my banana cake... with added chocolate chips... which should hopefully sweeten the deal!

... wish me luck!

Monday, 13 June 2011


... if there's one thing I know, it's how to bake the perfect Yorkshire Pudding... and I would know... my mother is a Yorkshire Lass... and whilst she didn't teach me how to make them, (HRH Delia of Smith did)... I reckon it must be in the blood...

... and a bloody good Yorkshire deserves nothing better than to be eaten on a regular basis... forget a Sunday roast... well, no, don't forget a Sunday roast, a Sunday roast is a bloody good thing and there is nothing quite like a Sunday roast served with a bloody good Yorkshire Pudding... but my point, which i will get to now, is that a Yorkshire Pudding should be eaten more regularly than on a Sunday and with more than just a dark roasted meat.

... it of course, goes with anything you fancy and if you use a light vegetable oil instead of a heavy animal fat, you will find that it even works well as it was originally intended... as a pudding.

... for you see, whilst the Yorkshire Pudding was created as a meat filler or substitute for the poor, any left over Pudding was eaten with a spoon-full of jam, much like a fluffed up pancake, which is essentially what the Yorkshire Pudding is.

... so I urge you, instead of waiting for next Sunday to roll around, get out your eggs and flour and release your inner Yorkshire!

Yorkshire Pudding
this will make 6 regular Yorkshire's or is good for two giant Yorkshires Plates as The Viking likes to call them, particularly when he fills them with his meal and pours gravy over them, or will work as the perfect batter for a 6 sausage Toad in the Hole.

if you want to go for the traditional shape you'll need to go for a traditional Yorkshire Pudding tin, which is kind of like a flatter muffin or cupcake tin... which will actually work really well too (believe me i've tried) or you can make one big Pudding in a small roasting tin or enamel dish.

the one big rule with a successful Yorkshire is a very hot oven...

3 oz plain flour
1/2 pint of milk
1 egg
1 dessertspoon of oil per Yorkshire Pudding

- turn your oven to at least 200C

- once it's hot place the oil into your tin and put the tin in the oven (the oil should be smoking when you add the batter)

- place the flour in a bowl, make a well in the centre and break in the egg

- take a small whisk and begin the whip it up, pouring in the milk as you go... froth it up into frenzy and then transfer it into a pouring jug.  Let is sit whilst your oil heats up.  The batter doesn't have to sit for any length of time (I have tried all kinds of time periods and it seems to work any which way) it's just you may as well do it in this order.

- once the oil is hot pour the batter into the tin.  if you're making individual Yorkshire's I find it is better to use a generous pouring of batter mix for each Pudding as I prefer a thick fluffy batter.

- bake until risen and golden, which should be about 15 minuted but keep an eye on them.

don't forget to keep a few back for eating with jam!

Saturday, 11 June 2011

a very large birthday cake

a few days ago i got a call from a lady asking me to bake her a cake for her husbands 60th birthday... she said that they'd tried my cakes at the Gunby Hall tearoom and would I make a motorbike themed chocolate cake to feed at least 20 people... to be picked up this Friday!

... now obviously this fed directly into my ego and I said yes without a moments hesitation...

and then I had my moments hesitation... I thought about the whole themed thing... thought about what size cake tin i'd need to bake a cake to feed 20 people... panicked about the recipe i'd need to fill the cake tin... and very quickly called her back, explaining that whilst I can bake cakes, I really am not a 'themed cake' kinda guy and that i'd be happy to bake a fancy chocolate cake perhaps but would not be able to go further than this... a little bit of me was hoping she'd leave it at that and find another cake maker but no, she said never mind, don't worry about the theme and just bake me a lovely cake...!

... and then the panic really set in... what size do I need to bake the cake..? do I go square or round...? where do I find a super-sized cake tin..? how on earth do i scale up my regular chocolate cake...?

... of course, there was only one answer my friends...and I got on-line super-fast to order a 12inch square cake tin and a couple of packets of those fancy chocolate cigarillos...

... and then the search began for the recipe... and at this point I must tell you that my very good and dear blogger friends came so beautifully to the rescue... if ever you need a fabulous recipe for chocolate cake don't hesitate to ask any of the following people who I thank deeply from the bottom of my heart...

... Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog... Susan from Not Just any Old Baking... Luc from Chicken and Wine... Louise from Comida y Vida... Gill from Tales of Pigling Bland... and of course the lovely Ruth from The Pink Whisk, for it was her recipe I went for in the end... although I have to say I was suspicious till it came out of the oven... she even spent a very late hour between Thursday night and Friday morning cheering me on and guiding me through the final stages of the bake...

... clearly i'll never make a tidy brick layer, but I kind of like its rustic look!

a 12 inch square chocolate birthday cake

for the cake mix:
560g butter
825g sugar
7 eggs
190g self-raising flour
560g plain flour
3 tsp bicarb of soda
160g good quality cocoa
620ml milk
80ml white wine vinegar

for the filling:
600ml double or whipping cream
2 large boxes of strawberries - sliced
4 bananas - sliced

for the icing:
300ml double or whipping cream
200g full fat cream-cheese
200g marscapone
115g icing sugar

2 pkts of chocolate cigarillos

you'll need a 12 inch square cake tin which you should butter and triple line with greaseproof paper.  Set the oven to 160C or 150C fan.  you will also need some foil handy should you notice the cake catching.

you will also need a very large mixing bowl!

- mix the milk with the vinegar

- cream the butter and sugar till light and fluffy, then add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each one.

- add the dry ingredients and the milk mix in halves until it's all gone.

- pour into the cake tin and bake for 1hr and 50 minutes... keep an eye on it and if it looks like it may catch, simply throw some foil over it.

- my oven is odd and it came out perfectly after 1 hr 40 minutes.  I left it overnight to cool and there was no sinkage in the morning.  It then went into the fridge for at least 4 hours to chill so I could cut it without bother.

- the next stage is a simple layering job with your favourite fruit and whipped cream.

- the icing is my usual favourite cream cheese icing, to which I added a 200g bar of dark chocolate.

and here are some fun pics showing the baking journey I took late on Thursday night...

... eat and of course, enjoy!

Thursday, 9 June 2011

cheese-on-the-inside cheeseburger

it was barbecue weather this weekend up in Lincolnshire and with guests at the cottage I couldn't resist but to fire up the coals... all I had to do was to find the perfect thing to grill... and the thing is I feel like i've moved on from the days of cooking a billion things on the bbq... hundreds of packs of sausages, chicken legs and those nasty processed burgers that come 'ready seasoned'... I guess because of our crappy, un-reliable weather, it seems to be a uniquely British quirk that we're not experts at using the bbq as an outside oven, rather we see the sun, buy coals and do this mad splurge of shopping followed by a ritual of burning meat and under-cooking chicken... 

... we are slowly learning from our international cousins that there is another way... choose just the one item, make it yourself and cook it beautifully on patiently burning coals (none of this gas bbq malarky... not for me anyway!)

... and so it was with total inspiration from the brilliant Food Viking (no, not related in any way to my own Viking) I found myself purchasing a pound of minced steak and a block of very strong cheddar cheese...

... and then it started to rain!

cheese-on-the-inside cheeseburgers

my recipe gave us 6 very generous burgers, you could probably make 8 but we're all greedy pigs here...
... the Food Viking gives a great step-by-step to forming the burgers, so I won't go over it again here!

500g minced Tetford Longhorn steak (purchased from the excellent Meridian Meats in Louth)
a bunch of spring onions (about 7) finely chopped
7 medium mushrooms - finely chopped
4 garlic cloves - finely chopped
a sprig of rosemary and thyme
a tablespoon of tomato ketchup
a tablespoon of light soy sauce
1 egg - beaten

a large amount of strong cheddar cheese

- with a little oil and butter in a pan, gently saute the onions, garlic and mushrooms until soft, set aside to cool

- once cool, place all the ingredients (excluding the cheese) in a bowl and smoosh together with your hands, let this sit in the fridge for a good hour

- form the mince into burger size patties, halve them, then flatten each half.

- with one half in the palm of your hand, add a good spoonful of the grated cheese and then place the other half of the pattie on top. bring the seams together and roll the pattie around until you have a nice fat burger

because of the rain I pan-fried them all until golden and then finished them off in a very hot oven for a further 5 minutes... they were dripping with flavour as well as the cheese and were quite simply bloody fantastic!

- serve in a nice, soft white bread roll... the only way to go baby!

eat and of course, enjoy!



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