Saturday, 31 December 2011

Random Recipes #11 - Round Up

... wow... last day of the year... and what a month eh...?  this thing called Christmas just loomed out of nowhere, rearing its ugly head from behind a cloud of tinsel and fairy dust... but you still found time for a bit of charity this month and I'm so glad you did... you all get a gold star and one step nearer to heaven... which, believe me I really need right now!

kicking us straight of is the brilliant Phil from As Strong As Soup with this funny recipe for Microwave Chocolate Fudge taken from the dreadful (I know, I have it) Microwave Cookbook by the people at  Good Housekeeping 


next out of the charity bag is the lovely Karen from Lavender and Lovage with this Goat's Cheese Salad with Quick Cranberry Chutney taken from The Readers Digest 30 Minute Cookbook


next we have these stunning Lebkuchen chosen from Gifts from the Kitchen by Annie Rigg made by the wonderful Yummy Choo


lovely Jo next from Comfort Bites with this rather nice Pork, Apple and Sage Kebabs taken from Gary Rhodes' Great Fast Food


next is the wonderful Ruth from Makey-Cakey with this perfectly un-Christmassy Rocket, Parmesan and Pear Salad (without the Parmesan...) taken from the rather odd World Cuisine Italy (1)... better at the charity shop I say!


next is a virgin entry for Random Recipes by Laura from How to Cook Good Food... who we welcome heartily with this very good Three Cheese Ravioli and Walnut Sauce taken from the intruigingly titled Wraps Around the World!


lovely Kate from What Kate Baked is next with this very Christmassy looking Panna Cotta taken from the Hairy Bikers 12 Days of Christmas


next up is Gill from Tales of Pigling Bland with this bloody amazing looking Madiera Cake WITH hocolate lid... of all things!...taken from Good Housekeepings Cakes and Pastries


and now onto Lucy from The KitchenMaid who is pretty much acting as superwoman at the moment with a big house move and still had time to join in the random recipes madness with this Krummeltorte taken from Sophie Gray's painfully titled Stunning food from Small Change


next up is Farmersgirl herself Janice with a very inventive Turkey and Cream Sauce Bake taken from The Book of Pizza and Pasta... it should have been salmon but for some reason she had some left-over turkey...


next is lovely Lou from Please Do Not Feed The Animals who made this rather healthy Poached Salmon with Herb Dressing taken from Everyday Food by Martha Stewart


and of course, let's not forget little old me (from Belleau Kitchen) with a rather nice as it happens Creamy Vegetable Curry taken from the now greatly missed, Practical Low Fat


so thank-you once again for the lovely entries... wishing you all a very happy and healthy 2012... see you in the New Year with a new Random Recipes challenge and plenty of new recipes and fun!

eat and of course, enjoy!

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Turnip, Watercress and Blue Cheese Soup with Linseed Rolls




so the big day is over... and with all those left-overs still in the fridge, meals are becoming predictable to say the least... not that I mind, there's nothing I love more than a turkey, stuffing and coleslaw sandwich... its just that we're in that in between time where, if you're anything like me, you'll have gorged yourself on so much food you can barely look into the kitchen without feeling nauseated... the only thing is... I am still hungry... not sure what that's all about but I'm just so into my food right now... and i'm craving stuff packed with flavour but easy to make...

Turnip, Watercress and Blue Cheese Soup
This soup is something my Grandma used to make and it’s a wonderful old recipe I’ve not seen anywhere since. For 3 simple ingredients it’s amazingly tasty and is great for using up any Silton or other blue cheese left-over from Christmas.

1 medium onion – chopped
7 medium turnips – peeled and chopped
2 large bunches of watercress
2 pints of good quality vegetable stock
blue cheese to taste (I’m using a local Cote Hill Blue)
butter and olive oil

- melt the butter with a little olive oil in a large pan, add the onions and let them sweat for 5 mins until translucent
 add the turnips, stir and cover and sauté gently until soft
- add the stock and simmer for 20 mins, then add the watercress and blue cheese and simmer for a further 5 mins
- wiz in a blender or use a hand blender until smooth

The bread rolls are made using Dan Lepard's Easy White Loaf recipe but i've used some wonderful golden linseeds to top them... perfect in-between food...

eat and of course, enjoy!




Friday, 23 December 2011

a christmas banana loaf - Forever Nigella


... not quite sure where this one came from but it was those two very brown bananas staring at me from the bowl that inspired me to get busy... and at this time of year it's all mince pies and eggnog so I thought a little banana bread would shake it up a little... as you know, i'm a regular banana bread maker but for this one I turned to Nigella so I could enter this into the last ever Forever Nigella, hosted by the miniature muffin-sized Sarah from Maison Cupcake under the theme of Christmas Presence... which meant I needed to give it  Christmas twist... easily done with the addition of candied peel and dash or four of wonderful Glenmorangie whisky...  


Christmas Banana Loaf
this recipe (and method) is adapted from one I found in How To Be A Domestic Goddess and because i've adapted it I am showing you the recipe here...

8oz self raising flour
4oz butter
4oz brown sugar

In a large bowl, mix the above into breadcrumbs then add a teaspoon of cinnamon

2oz sultanas, 1 oz of candied peel and 2oz of pre-toasted almond slivers go in next
next mash 2 ripe bananas with 2 beaten eggs and a good glug of whisky and add these to the bowl and mix it all together.

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

eat and of course, enjoy! and a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS to you and all your loved ones xx


Thursday, 22 December 2011

10 hour honey and orange chicken thighs




... it's odd, this lull time between now and The Big Day... I kinda feel like I should be eating sparingly... salads and soups... and it's weird because with all the planning and lists i'm not that hungry... well my sweet tooth has gone completely out the window... but I still need to eat...

... I thought I'd give my beloved chicken thighs the  Gwyneth Paltrow 10 Hour treatment...it's so simple with barely anything to do but leave it in the oven for 10 hours... giving me plenty of time to do some last minute shopping, wrap prezzies and generally enjoy a couple of good old-fashioned Christmas movies... I wasn't quite sure how they'd turn out, not being the whole bird but boy oh boy are these babies good... succulent, tender to the point that they're falling off the bone and they have the most intense chicken flavour... and the juices that have come out of the thighs are so clear and full of wonderful richness... i'm considering doing a Christmas Turkey this way just to see how it comes out!


10 hour honey and orange chicken thighs
the original recipe calls for lemons but I only had oranges, so added a little honey too... 

8 chicken thighs
1 orange - quartered
1 tablespoon honey
1 large carrot - roughy chopped
1 stick of celery - roughly chopped
1 medium leek - roughy chopped
a lot of thyme
salt and pepper

- place the veg and orange pieces into a large oven-proof dish or casserole pot, place the chicken thighs on top, skin side down, sprinkle with herbs and seasoning and drizzle with honey

- wrap very tightly with foil and bake in the oven, set to 100C for 9 and a half hours

- after the 9 and a half hours, remove the foil, turn the heat up to 190C and bake for a further 30 mins or until the chicken is golden

eat and of course enjoy!

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

mince pies


... something odd is happening to me... I have a tingly feeling all over... I go outside and the crisp cold air wraps me in its icy grip... but I don't feel the cold... I feel warm from head to toe and as I breath out, the air turns to glitter and covers my path in fairy dust... I hear bells jingle as the last of the leaves rattle together on the trees... could this be the JOY OF CHRISTMAS...?

... the aroma of baking mince pies has filled the house with its heady scent and as though it has triggered something in the deepest, darkest recess of my mind, I finally feel in the Christmas Spirit... all our events have at last finished for this year... now is the time for me to relax and enjoy the nothingness of it all...


... I made mince pies last year but they weren't a patch on these... I've heard it said up and down the land that once you make your own mincemeat you'll never go back to shop bought... and it is most definitely true... nothing beats it... this pastry is also utter perfection and I have to nod to the wonderful Dan Lepard for this one... it calls for cream cheese to be added into the pastry mix and although I used cottage cheese instead of cream cheese, it really is a most excellent and complimentary pastry...


My Mince Pies
i'm entering the top picture into Jac's No Crouton's Required who's theme this month is Festive Photo's... and I really do feel festive when looking at its pure Christmassy essence... I hope she likes it.

for the filling
I urge you to make your own... check out my very simple whisky mincemeat

for the pastry
300g plain flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
112g caster sugar
150g unsalted butter
100g full fat cream cheese (I used cottage cheese which was excellent)
75g ground almonds
1 egg yolk
a little milk to bind

- sift the flour baking powder and sugar into a bowl, add the butter and rub until it resembles breadcrumbs

- add the cream cheese, ground almonds and egg yolk, take a knife and mix until it comes together into a dough, you may need to add a little milk here, as I did.

- chill the dough for at least 30 mins before rolling out.

- use a fluted cutter larger than the holes in the pie tray and cut out as many as you need, remembering to leave enough pastry for the lids.

- bake at 180C for roughly 20mins or until the pastry is golden.

eat and of course enjoy!

Sunday, 18 December 2011

caramelised onion and mushroom layered suet pudding



i've been reading a lot of blog posts and magazine articles recently about what to serve vegetarians for Christmas Lunch... as though its the most dreadful problem to have at this time of year... world economy gone to pot... children starving in Africa... war in the Middle East... all major issues yes, but what the FUCK do we serve those god forsaken vegetarian wankers?

well i've talked about this before... and I speak from experience... there is nothing a vegetarian hates more than being made to feel 'different' or 'special'... they want what we're having just without the meat... I know it sounds like a cop-out or like you've not made any effort but I PROMISE you... give the vegetarian the choice of a special tomato gloop thingy or a plate of roasted potatoes, freshly steamed vegetables, stuffing, maybe a Yorkshire Pudding and some yummy veggie gravy and they will go with the veg plate every time...

... but if you're really not satisfied with that answer, then make this... 


caramelised onion and mushroom layered suet pudding
could there be anything more Christmassy than a suet pudding...? and yes I did make this for him last year but what better compliment that being asked to cook it again so clearly i'm making this for The Viking on Christmas Day but i'm going to add a third layer of sage and onion stuffing to really enhance the Christmas Spirit.

For the filling:
4 large onions - finely sliced
8 large field mushrooms
1 packet of good quality sage and onion stuffing

For the suet pastry:
150g vegetarian suet
300g self raising flour
200ml cold water
fresh herbs and seasoning

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

- meanwhile bake the mushrooms in a hot oven with plenty of oil and rosemary until they are tender, (roughy 20 mins of 180C) they could also be turned once or twice

- make the stuffing mix

- in a large bowl mix the flour, suet and water to form a dough then roll it out, nice and thick and line a well greased pudding basin, making sure you leave enough pastry for the lid

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

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

eat and of course, enjoy!

Friday, 16 December 2011

chocolate orange roulade for Eric Lanlard


so... in my continuing effort towards world domination (oh god Dom, not that AGAIN...) I have been asked to audition for the second series of Baking Mad with Eric Lanlard ... it's quite exciting as I get to go down to the Big Smoke and meet the gang, charm the pants off them, get on the show, which is showing on one of the main UK channels this time and not some kind of obscure off shoot of BBC Bristol, make them fall in love with me so much that they offer me my own TV show, become a huge star... a few simple steps to world domination which start with this chocolate orange roulade...

... now I realise that I only very recently made a chestnut cream roulade but the team at the TV production company asked me to bring something along that I am proud to have baked and shows off my skills and so I thought of this little beauty... of course I couldn't just rustle up the same old same old so i've given it a little twist by using the wonderful chocolate orange fairtrade chocolate I used recently when I made my honey buns, plus I have used just a little of the wonderful syrup in the whipped cream to add even more of an orange hit... and I have to say I have hit jackpot here, even if I do say so myself!

chocolate orange roulade
I am of course entering this into this months we should cocoa, as my second entry, thank you very much...



For the roulade:
4 eggs - separate yolks and whites
150g good dark chocolate (at least 80% cocoa)
4oz caster sugar

For the filling:
300m tub of double or whipping cream
2 tablespoons of wonderful orange honey syrup
grated orange zest

- In a large bowl, beat the yolks with the sugar until soft and light.

- Melt the chocolate (I do this gently in the microwave but if the idea sends shivers up your spine, then use the classic bowl over simmering water method...) at this stage add 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of hot water to the choc mix, then add it to the egg and sugar mix.

- Next beat the egg whites till stiff and then carefully fold them into the mixture.

- Line a large Swiss roll tin with tin-foil which you should then grease well with butter or margarine.

- Pour the mixture into the tin and bake in the oven at 160C for 20 minutes then a further 10 minutes at 90C.

- Whilst it’s baking, grease another large sheet of foil and place it on a flat surface where it won’t have to be moved for a while.

Now the tricky bit...

- Once baked, take it out of the oven and immediately turn it over onto the greased foil and leave it, with the baking tin still on top for at least 8 hours... so bake in the morning and get on with making the soup, or bake in the evening and leave it overnight.

- Now you're ready to assemble; whip the cream and stir in the syrup and grated zest.

- Take off the baking tin and carefully peel off the foil that lined the tin.

- Spread the cream mixture evenly onto the surface of the roulade and then, using the excess foil, roll the roulade into shape.  It should be able to be slipped neatly onto a plate.

one step nearer world domination... eat and of course, enjoy!

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Creamy Vegetable Curry - a random recipe



it's odd that I don't make more curry... I have, in this last year made more curry than ever before but it is still amazing that it's not regularly on my list of things to cook as I completely love it... not only does it taste so good and so much better than anything shop or take-away bought but, after you have all the essential ingredients in your store cupboard, which then seem to last forever, it is so easy to do... no more complicated than a stew in fact but packs far more of a punch!... plus it's so thoroughly un-Christmas I find it a perfect antidote to the cloying sweetness of what's to come...

... plus I was recently fortunate enough to bag myself a jar of this incredibly hot Sweet and Hot Lemon Pickle made by the lovely Kavey from Kavey Eats... (well I think it's actually made by her Mamta, which who i'm sure is just as lovely) which i've used in place of the Mango Chutney called for in the recipe.

... this is my entry for this months Random Recipes and true to my word I took this cookbook down to the charity shop, along with some other, never-used books and the dear old lady was very pleased to receive them... I left with a lovely feeling of charity, knowing that whomever bought this book would be slimmer and more practical because of it...

Creamy Vegetable Curry - page 136 of Practical Low Fat (available in the Louth branch of the British Heart Foundation...)


2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 onion - sliced
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp ground ginger - I used fresh, grated
1 tsp chopped fresh red chilli
2 garlic cloves - finely crushed
400g tinned chopped tomatoes
1 tin of coconut milk
1 small cauliflower - broken into florets
2 carrots - sliced
1 potato - diced
1 tin of chickpeas
150ml thick natural yoghurt - I used 2 tbsp cream cheese
2 tbsp mango chutney
3 tbsp chopped fresh coriander

- heat the oil in a heavy pan and fry the onions until soft, then add all the spices, garlic and ginger and fry for a further minute

- add the tomatoes and coconut mil and stir well

- add the veg then cover and simmer for at least 20 minutes

- add the yoghurt or cream cheese

serve with whatever takes your fancy, eat and of course, enjoy!



Tuesday, 13 December 2011

mincemeat scones - a Christmas tea time treat


I was whipping up a batch of scones last night, as you do... trying out a new recipe, as you do... and at the moment of adding the sultanas a thought struck me... what if I throw in some mincemeat at this stage instead of the dried fruit... surely I would have something rather yummy and wonderfully Christmassy too..?

the recipe i'm not so impressed with... it was a little shaggy... but I coped... the concept however is well up there along with other Christmas miracles including the Star of Bethlehem, The Virgin Birth and even the Little Baby Jesus...

... blasphemy aside, I used my recently made whisky mincemeat, which I hadn't tasted until now and is bloody amazing, even if I say so myself... but it also really added something special to the mix...

... i'm entering these little nuggets of Christmas joy into this months Tea Time Treats, hosted so wonderfully by the divine Karen over at Lavender and Lovage and the stunning Kate at What Kate Baked.

Mincemeat Scones
even though i'm not crazy for this recipe, it did work and they tasted very good... and as with all scone recipes, lightness of hand is of the essence...

400g plain flour
1/2 pint milk
25g caster sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons creams of tartar
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
50g butter
4 large tablespoons of home made whisky mincemeat

- place the sugar into the milk and stir until dissolved

- sieve the dry ingredients into a bowl and rub in the butter as lightly as possible

- add the milk and mincemeat in alternating spoon-fulls, bringing it all together with a knife until you form a sticky dough

- flour your work surface and pat down the dough onto it, till the dough is just thinner that the depth of the cutter you're going to use.

- cut out your scones with a sharp slap and bake on a pre-lined baking tray in a hot oven (200C) for 12-14 minutes or until golden

eat and of course, enjoy!

Sunday, 11 December 2011

chestnut soup




i have quite literally eaten my own body weight in canapes...!

... this time of year... other than the frantic running around to buy Christmas prezzies, send out cards, prep The Big Meal and deal with the hoards of family and friends... most people start to wind down and relax... unfortunately for me and many of us in the event world, now is our most frenzied moment of the year... it's Christmas party after Christmas party and no, not the kind we can enjoy but the kind with moody, miserable and drunk clients who think they're hysterical, particularly after their 8th champagne cocktail and seventeenth time at Maria Carey's 'All I Want for Christmas' on the karaoke machine...

... I hardly eat because once I get home at midnight i'm either too tired or too sick from the delicious but too rich canapes i've snuffled in the kitchen thinking I better grab something or die standing up... I guess my point is that i'm not around to do much cooking of my own and when I do it has to be fast, simple, healthy and as comforting as possible...

Chestnut Soup
I will be making this as a small starter for our Christmas meal.  It has the most wonderful Christmas taste and is a great way to ease you into the spirit of what's to come.  It's also one of my mum's best soup recipes, she often made it for dinner parties when we were growing up at home and the smell reminds me of sitting on the stairs waiting for her friends to arrive before going off to bed, knowing what deliciousness they were about to enjoy!


1 large onion – finely chopped
1 celery stalk – finely chopped
2 large carrot – finely chopped
roughly 10 chestnut mushrooms – chopped
1 250g tin of chestnut puree (not the sweetened kind)
2 pints of good quality vegetable stock

- in a large pan, sauté the onions, celery and carrots in butter until soft and the onions are beginning to turn translucent

- add the chopped mushrooms, stir and then place the lid on the pan and let them sweat down for 10 minutes

- add the stock and then the chestnut puree, let it simmer for 25 minutes before blitzing with a hand-blender.

Serve with a swirl of single cream and some caramelised onions, eat and of course, enjoy!

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

chocolate orange honey buns - we should cocoa



it may seem as though i've just gone back on my word re Christmas baking but what the heck... you only live once, what can i say...?

oh yes... the house is filled with the glorious sticky aroma of oranges and sweet sweet honey... there's even the hint of cinnamon thrown in there for good measure... the fire is roaring in the log burner... the dog is upside down on her bed... and I am baking the most wonderful chocolate orange honey buns for this months we should cocoa challenge hosted by Choclette over at Chocolate Log Blog, who's theme, as if you haven't guessed, is orange...



... as a kid my grandpa Henry, who's family owned a fruit wholesalers on the Humber docks, used to come down to visit in the holidays and bring with him trays of fruit.  They were those old fashioned trays where each piece of fruit would be individually wrapped in fine tissue paper, you rarely see it now but it was a lovely thing and made eating each orange or apple like opening a present... and always, without fail, my grandma Jennie would have placed a Terry's Chocolate Orange amongst the fruit.  One for me and one for my brother.  I simply love the chocolate orange combination and still regard a Terry's Chocolate Orange as a special treat to be savoured... each individual segment a thing of beauty.

these honey buns are adapted from a recipe by the brilliant Valentine Warner and they are simply adorable...


Chocolate Orange Honey Buns


for the buns
150g plain four
1/2 teaspoon flaked sea salt
20g caster sugar
1 x 7g sachet of fast action yeast
3 large free-rage eggs, lightly whisked
75g diced butter - softened
100g co_operative Fair-trade Ghanaian dark chocolate with spices and orange oil - finely chopped

for the syrup
500g caster sugar
4 long strips of orange rind
the juice of one orange
500ml cold water
100g runny honey - I used a Mexican Orange Blossom Honey
4 tablespoons orange liqueur

- mix the flour, salt, sugar and yeast in a large bowl, add half the eggs a whisk together until sticky

- gradually add the remaining eggs, alternating them with the btter and mix to a soft dough, then beat with a wooden spoon until soft

- add the chocolate pieces and beat until mixed through

- spoon the mixture into a 12 hole muffin tray... i've used some heart shaped silicone moulds and some mini round cupcake trays... leave to rise in a warm place for an hour or until doubled in size

- make the syrup by heating the sugar and water in a pan with the orange peel - bring to the boil and let it bubble for 3 minutes

- take it off the heat and add the honey and the liqueur and let it cool

- meanwhile bake the honey buns in a hot oven (200C) for 12-14 minutes then set aside to cool

you can bottle the buns in the liqueur and eat them gradually over Christmas but I would put 4 or 5 aside, drench them in syrup and eat them fresh... they are sublime!


eat and of course, enjoy!

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