Wednesday, 30 January 2013

random recipes #24 - round-up

... I had a sneaking suspicion that this months random recipes would be a little more random than usual and you've not let me down... sometimes I fear that i've pushed you too far but each month you always surprise me with the love and for that I am ever grateful...

... and I suppose I'll start at the beginning with the random recipe and book that inspired me to come up with this months theme and that's my own recipe for croque monsieur taken from Mark Bittman's amazing How to Cook Everything that I found in my step-mum's collection...

and you'll find the rest of your incredible entries after the break 

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

belleau minestrone

day sixteen: 13.9 stone (181lbs) - like a rusty old cog, it's taken an age to start moving...

... I bought a white cabbage in mid-december with every intention to make bucket-loads of coleslaw for christmas but once we'd bought our tickets to go and visit dad in california I kind of forgot about planning anything after christmas-day lunch so the cabbage went into the bottom of the fridge and sat their forlornly whilst we went away... and then a further week when we were back, sadly mewling at me every time I opened the fridge door...

... and there's just one thing that springs to mind when I see those slabs of giant white cabbages and that's minestrone... and it's been an age since i've made a large pan-load of the stuff.  This soup is ideal for those with little time on their hands but still want something incredible to eat when they get home.  I tend to make as large a pot of this as I can on an evening, after i've eaten so that I'm not tempted to grab a bowl and then it lasts for a few meals over the next few days... it's entirely vegetarian so it's a meal for both of us and it's packed with bucket-loads of veg and fresh herbs so it improves in flavour as the hours tick by... and at the end of a hard day there is nothing better than knowing I have a bowl of the good stuff waiting for me on the stove...

belleau minestrone
like most soups here at belleau, this one is made up of anything that's left in the fridge and the pasta cupboard and there's something wonderfully satisfying about making space in that pasta cupboard isn't there?  It means you can fill it with other crap that falls out and throws itself all over the floor when you open the door... the secret to this bowl of fabulousness is the large teaspoon of dried oregano... it adds a punch that you don't get from fresh and once you've grated some cheese on top it tastes a lot like pizza soup... if that's a good thing...

1/2 large white cabbage - cut and sliced into bits
1 large onion - finely chopped
1 large teaspoon dried oregano
1 large carrot - diced
2 large sticks of celery - diced
1 leek - sliced and diced
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
a handful of frozen peas
a handful of macaroni
2 pints good quality vegetable stock
fresh rosemary and thyme
2 bay leaves

in your largest soup pan saute the onions in a little butter and olive oil and throw the oregano and chopped fresh herbs in at this stage and let those flavours mingle

add the carrots, celery and leeks, stir around, place the lid on and let the veg sweat for 5 or 6 minutes until soft

add the tinned toms, the cabbage, the bay leaves and the stock and let it bubble gently for 20 minutes, then turn off the heat, add the pasta and the peas and let it sit for at least an hour before re-heating and eating, if not over night.

clearly i'm entering this bowl, packed full of herbs, into our Karen's lovely Herbs on a Saturday...hosted this month by Vanesther at Bangers and Mash...  it's a bit of an institution over at Lavender and Lovage and encourages us all to use more herbs when we cook...

eat and of course, enjoy!

Sunday, 27 January 2013

grilled cheese croque monsieur - a random recipe

... one of the reason's The Viking and I put on so much weight this holiday was our addiction to these cheesy little babies... 'grilled cheese' as they call them in the good old US of A but 'croque monsieur' to you and me.  I feel a bit of a cheat giving you a recipe for these as they are essentially a 'cheese-toasty', as we called them when I was growing up but then this is a recipe from the great American cookbook How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman and if I learnt anything from my trip to the states it was that they do stuff their way and if you don't like it then don't eat it and go home and do it your own way... just don't bother arguing with them... and whilst the croque monsieur may be a French culinary institution with as many methods to perfection as the humble British scone, the grilled cheese is something altogether different...

...Mr Bittman gives us a mind-boggling plethora of options for the grilled cheese, from the classic Tuna Melt to the oh-so-sweet Grilled Nut Butter and Banana Sandwich... oh yes... but wether you go for wholewheat, sourdough, brioche, buttered, un-buttered, sugar-coated or just plain, the method, as outlined below, is the same... and that's what I love about this mountain of a book, it has ALL the options you could ever think of.  This is less of a book that someone at my level of cooking skill reads but rather refers to when stuck for ideas... it's like google in paper form... it ALWAYS has the answer... i'm glad my step-mother Jette had a copy in her kitchen and i'm even happier they sent me a copy for christmas...

grilled cheese croque monsieur
this is absolutely and positively NOT on my diet regime which is why i'm not going to be eating this but feeding The Viking with it instead... I feel slightly guilty doing this as I've never considered myself a true 'feeder' but clearly i must be and now that the diet is in full swing I think I may have just upped my game... make the cake... don't eat the cake... feed the cake to neighbour or friend... does this make me evil... well i'm not going to worry too much about it, especially after the ooh's and ahh's coming from the dining table...

2 slices of bread... i'm using a home-made wholemeal loaf but seriously you can use anything... the book recommends something slightly sweet like brioche or challa
A large chunk of grated gruyere cheese
1 egg beaten with a little milk
a chunk of vegetarian parmesan or lincolnshire poacher finely grated
1 teaspoon of english mustard or horseradish sauce
fyi i'm not using slices of ham as this is a veggie version for The Viking... feel free to add it as you see fit

beat the egg and milk with the grated parmesan and mustard then slice 2 nice thick slices of bread

soak the bread slices in the beaten egg mixture until it's all soaked up

place a small, heavy pan on the heat, add a nob of butter with a little olive oil and once melted add one slice of the soaked bread quickly followed by the grated gruyere and then topped with the other slice of soaked bread

lay a plate on top of the sandwich and place 2 or 3 food tins on top to weigh it down - cook for 2 or 3 minutes until the underside is golden brown, then flip the sandwich over, place the plate on top with the tins and cook again for another 2 or 3 minutes

once brown all over, cut in half and eat and of course enjoy immediately!

Friday, 25 January 2013

fleur de sel caramel oatbars

day eleven: 13. 10 stone (183lbs) - is this on my diet... i don't think so...

... imagine a taste so wonderfully complex and difficult to get your head around that, one moment you're not quite sure you like it and the next you're thinking you've never tasted anything so exquisite... welcome to the world of salted caramel... now i know i'm by no means the first person to taste or cook with this glorious elixir of the gods but I am relatively new to actually eating the stuff and up until two weeks ago The Viking was a definite non-eater... he being from the right-wing school of 'sweet is for pudding, salt is for putting on roast potatoes'... but after our visit to the Oakville Grocery in Sonoma Valley I have made a convert of him... at last...

... the little pot of caramel I bought uses milk from the lovely jersey cows grazing on the fresh green grass of the Petaluma hills and salt hand-skimmed off the Pacific coast... well it does if you believe the prose written on the back of the pot, which I do, whole-heartedly of course... and its virtue is it's sin...

fleur de sel caramel oat bars with apple butter and dried fruit
I think one calls this a larder cake or store-cupboard surprise as it quite literally has all the healthy stuff I had in my cupboard thrown into it, so I apologise for the 'cups' measurements here but it was the easiest way I could keep track of stuff and to be honest this kind of thing doesn't really need a recipe, it's all about trial and error... as long as you get the sweet balance right... remember that the dried fruit will add a lot of sweetness which means you don't have to add any 'real' sugar... the apple butter is also sweet, so i'd advise to add all the sweet stuff sparingly...

1 cup of porridge oats
1/2 cup golden rolled oats
1 cup crushed mixed nuts and fruit
1 tablespoon desiccated coconut
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
2 teaspoons poppy seeds
3 tablespoons apple butter (you could use apple puree and more honey)
2 teaspoons fleur de sel caramel
2 teaspoons golden Lincolnshire honey

place all the dry ingredients into a large bowl and mix well together

place the apple butter, honey and caramel into a pan and gently heat until it bubbles

add the wet to the dry and stir until all the dry is coated then pour into a parchment lined 9cm x 9cm square tin and bake on 120C for 25-30 mins

once out of the oven let it cool entirely before cutting it into bars

warning: tenuous blogger challenge link alert
this months AlphaBakes challenge, hosted so beautifully by Caroline from Caroline Makes and Ros from The More than Occasional Baker and which I didn't have time to do in December has the letter D as it's theme... these oatbars are made by me, Dominic and therefore more than qualify for an entry... don't they... being Dominic's Oatbars...

eat and of course, enjoy!

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

apple butter chicken thighs with cocoa nibs

day nine: 14stone (196lbs) - staying this weight but feeling like a god...

... with the globalisation of every high-street it's getting harder and harder these days to go away to another country and purchase something that is truly unique or simply made locally to that particular place... you have to be prepared to travel, explore and discover those secret little boutique emporiums that still do exist, in order to find something special... and i'm a real stickler for reading labels too, after-all, something may look pretty and home-made but if you're in California there's no point buying something in an artisan shop that was home-made in France... seems a bit pointless... I want my local, local thank you very much...

... and so it was that The Viking and I found ourselves navigating the winding roads of the Sonoma Valley with my auntie Jean in the back seat telling us the story of how, many years previously she had been along this way and come across the most delightful grocery store... and that if we should happen to see it we should stop for a bite to eat and perhaps purchase some little goodies to take home...  and as if my magic, like the infamous town of Brigadoon rising through the mist somewhere along the St Helena Highway we came across the Oakville Grocery... a store so delightfully packed with home-made produce...row upon row of fabulous tempting jars of caramel... marmalade... mustard... a little deli-counter... packets of the most incredible salted chocolate popcorn that I can still remember the way they tasted even now... and jars of glorious, thick, rich and deeply concentrated apple butter...

apple butter chicken thighs with cocoa nibs
for this months we should cocoa challenge our host Choclette from the Chocolate Log Blog has given us the very tricky task of cooking without sugar and this includes the chocolate... i've cheated entirely... twice... once by cooking a savoury dish which means i'm hardly putting much effort into working this out... and two by using apple butter which although isn't a sugar product it does contain sugar in its cooking process... so sue me... this dish gave me the sticky sweetness I've been craving this past week without being sickly cloying and the cocoa nibs seemed to dissolve into the juice creating a wonderfully rich and intense gravy... I got two meals out of this and served it with fresh green beans, which I adore...

... i'm painfully aware that many of my chicken thigh dishes look similar and this is true however I try and style them but I do hope you can gather from the ingredients that they most definitely don't taste the same in any way... vivre la chicken thighs!

1 packet cornfed free-range mixed chicken thighs and legs
2 tablespoons apple butter
2 teaspoons cocoa nibs
1 stick celery - roughly chopped
1 large carrot - roughly chopped
1 bulb of garlic - halved through the middle
4 medium mushrooms - quartered
1/2 fennel bulb - roughly chopped
2 sprigs rosemary
2 sprigs thyme
olive oil
salt and pepper

lay the chopped veg and herbs into the base of a large oven-proof dish, drizzle lightly with olive oil then place the chicken thighs on top

spoon the apple butter on top and then, using your hands massage it into the chicken, then sprinkle the whole dish with salt, pepper and the cocoa nibs

cover tightly with foil and bake in the oven on 120C for an hour, then remove the foil, turn the portions over, turn the heat up to 180C and bake for a further 15 mins, then turn the portions over once more and bake for a final 15mins or until gloriously golden and sticky

eat and of course, enjoy!

Sunday, 20 January 2013

lemon and orange cake

day six: 14stone (196lbs) - I feel slimmer just being this virtuous...

... so this cake is a bit of an experiment and whilst i'm not claiming that it's diet-proof it is most certainly on it's way to being virtuous whilst still being bloody delicious... it contains no flour and is therefore lower in carbs than a regular cake - i'm using ground almonds instead... it contains no fat at all - it uses the eggs to bind, the eggs which 'up' the protein quite considerably... and it contains a nominally reduced amount of sugar as i'm using a sugar substitute called Truvia... I can't remove all the sugar as sugar does actually add structure to the cake and whilst I may be desperate, i'm not stupid... the original recipe is Nigella's classic Clementine Cake and is an absolute breeze to make... i've included a lemon in mine because that's what I had in the fruit bowl... any citrus fruit will work and it's because of this that i'm entering it into January's brilliant tea time treats bloggers challenge hosted by Karen at Lavender and Lovage and Kate at What Kate Baked...

... i'm loving this snow... for those of you not in the UK, pretty much the whole of the country is swathed in a thick blanket of whiteness... as usual, the few inches we had overnight this week have completely paralysed us, were we in Canada or Norway we'd suck it up and get on with stuff... but being the proper British types we are, we've managed to grind to a complete standstill... I absolutely love this feeling... snow is mostly such a happy event, it reminds me of christmas and fun, silly times and living in the middle of nowhere also means virgin sledging slopes at any time of the day... and we're due for another huge downpour of snow this evening, so the fire is lit... chicken thighs are in the oven and I have cake... there's very little more I need in life really... it also creates the most spectacular light for taking photographs.  It's as though the whole of the garden has become a giant light-box... genius!

lemon and orange cake
this cake is rather odd because essentially it's a sweet almond flan, which doesn't sound all that appetising... and it is very eggy even though i've reduced the eggs from the original recipe... but it's the wonderful sharpness of the fruit that truly makes this cake... of course the lack of flour and fat make this perfect for celiacs so my niece Emma should love this cake, even if it's not smothered in chocolate...

... a note about the dark crust - i've baked this cake at least 5 times now, both with normal sugar and with reduced sugar and the crust always darkens... it doesn't taste burnt, it must just be the egg content and I suppose I could double line the cake tin to reduce this but i've also noticed that if you look closely at the photographs of this cake on the website and in her book, she has cut the crust off... which as far as I can tell means she has the same issue... it's up to you but I like it how it is...

2 large oranges
1 lemon
5 eggs
100g sugar
1/4 cup Truvia (or a further 125g sugar)
250g ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder

place the fruit into a large pan full of water, cover and bring to the boil.  Boil gently for 2 hours but keep your eye on the pan and top up when needed

drain the pan and then once the fruit is cooled whizz up the fruit, skin and all, with a hand-blender until you have a beautiful pulp

in a large bowl, whisk the eggs, then add the rest of the ingredients, whisking as you go... pour in the pulped fruit and whisk again

pour the batter into a greased and line 20inch spring-form cake tin and bake on 170C for 40mins, then cover the top with a little foil or baking parchment and bake for a further 20mins or until a skewer inserted comes out clean

... one last note about this cake is that, as promised by Nigella, it tastes better after 24 hours and then again 24 hours after that... if you can keep it for that long...

eat and of course, enjoy!

Friday, 18 January 2013

aubergine and bean hot pot - dish of the month

day four: 14stone (196lbs) - no movement but I doubted anything would be so quick...

... it's a tricky time to start a healthy eating plan with this dreadfully cold weather not inspiring me to eat anything but stodgy food and my jet-lag, which fully kicked in today... why your body waits a few days before it hits you with that 3am 'wide-awake' thing I will never know... doesn't really add up to the greatest start but these are all excuses really and I recon that if I can get over this hump I can do anything... and actually i'm currently quite enjoying the challenge of taking recipes I love and really want to eat and warping them slightly to fit in with the diet... 

... i'm employing a lot of tricks I learnt on the Atkin's but trying to use them in a healthy and sensible way... reducing carbs being one of the things I know my body reacts well too and my 3am wake up this morning wasn't such a terrible thing as I turned on the light and poured my way through one of my lovely Christmas presents from The Viking, Nigel Slater's The Kitchen Diaries II... a simply divine book of literature and food... it's an inspiration to read and so lovely in fact, to pick it up on January 15th and read a recipe that he prepared on January 15th knowing how wonderfully this would work for all of us in this British winter... a concept that isn't entirely lost on Janice from Farmersgirl Kitchen or Sue from Heaven on a Plate who have come together to create a new bloggers challenge called Dish of the Month... no this doesn't refer to me... silly... it's all about cooking from this wonderful cookbook each month and it's going to be so exciting as the seasons change, watching how it develops through the year...

aubergine and bean hot pot with a cheesy cauliflower and broccoli crust
now this is my version of the dish... i've changed the recipe slightly to fit in with what i had in the kitchen and i've completely changed the topping from a breadcrumb crust to a cauliflower and broccoli crust, to fit in with my low-carb regime... the great thing about this dish is that I wanted to make a big pot that would last a few days so that I don't need to leave the house whilst this snow storm passes over head... if you want Nigel's original version I urge you to go out and buy the book or rent it from the library... or buy it on-line... you will not regret it...

for the hot pot
2 400g tins of beans - I used 1 tin of haricot and 1 tin of black-eyed
1 aubergine - chopped into large chunks
olive oil
1 large onion - medium chopped
2 garlic cloves - finely sliced
3 sprigs of rosemary
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
1 and a half tins of chopped tomatoes

for the cauliflower and broccoli crust
1 medium cauliflower
2 broccoli heads
1 clove of garlic - finely chopped
100g strong cheddar finely grated
the grated zest of one lemon
3 sprigs of rosemary - leaves finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 tablespoons olive oil

you will need a large pan or casserole dish with a lid - pre-heat the oven to 190C fan

to make the hot pot, first take the cut aubergine and gently fry it in a large pan with plenty of olive oil until golden and soft - you will get a more even result if you do this in two batches - set aside to drain on some kitchen paper

using a little more oil, gently fry the onions until soft, adding the sliced garlic, rosemary and oregano half-way through... the onions should be very soft with no colour

add the chopped tomatoes and once gently boiling, add the beans and aubergine.  Fill one of the empty tomato tins with water and add this to the pan too, let it come back to the boil, then cover and place it in the oven for 45 minutes.

to make the topping, remove the florets from the top of the cauliflower and broccoli and chope them as finely as you can... a second in the food processor would do it

place the cauliflower and broccoli crumbs in a bowl, add the rest of the ingredients and mix gently until combined

after 45 mins take the hot pot out of the oven, spoon the topping on top and place back in the oven, uncovered for about 20 minutes or until the top is golden and crisp

eat and of course, enjoy!

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

smoked haddock and sweetcorn chowder

day one: 14stone (196lbs) and something's gotta give... now that 2013 is fully in the swing and i'm back from my glorious trip to California it's time to gather myself together and sort out the one thing that has been plaguing me for about a year now... my weight...

...writing a food blog is all very well and good but it means that a lot of food needs to be consumed so that I can write and share with you my dear friends and i've been doing this with gay abandon over the past couple of years... cakes and bakes... stews and roasts.. sweets and pastries... they all add up to a waste line that has become un-fathomly grotesque and if the lithe men of California have taught me anything it's that this 42 year-old body can look bloody fabulous and I need to do something about it now before it all gets too late... i'm no fool, I know it's not going to be as easy as it was 10 years ago when I previously lost a lot of weight following the Atkin's Diet and i'm not keen to follow that regime as closely as I did last time as I fear it wasn't as healthy as I thought... plus I also don't want to deprive you lot with endless salads and grilled chicken but I will be eating a lot less cake and a lot more wonderfully healthy and fresh food... i'll also continue to take part in all my favourite blog challenges, just adapting them to suit my diet... and I have many beautiful blogs such as Lavender and Lovage and Tinned Tomatoes who have extremely creative and healthy recipes to turn to for inspiration... plus, if my trip to California taught me anything it's that you can still be healthy whilst being wildly creative... i will also need your help as i'm going to be very open about the weight-loss... and inevitable weight gain... I have even taken a before picture of me in my pants but believe me, you really don't want to see that... I may share it with you once the weight begins to drop significantly... but this may take a huge amount of alcohol to persuade me...

smoked haddock and sweetcorn chowder
and so to start and also prove that diets don't have to be boring i'm making this rich, thick and creamy soup, inspired by my visit to San Francisco... to reduce the carbs i'm using cauliflower instead of potatoes to thicken but essentially the recipe is the same as a classic clam chowder although it has a little twist as I can't get hold of any clams... i've also made a very simple veggie version by eliminating the fish but following exactly the same process in every other way...

1 medium onion - finely chopped
1 medium cauliflower - finely chopped
2 small leeks - finely chopped
1 stick of celery - finely chopped
1 cup of frozen sweetcorn kernels
450g smoked haddock
1 pint of vegetable stock
1 pint of skimmed milk
salt and pepper
fresh thyme

place the haddock in a large saucepan, cover with the milk and fresh thyme and let it gently simmer for 2 or three minutes. Let it cool then remove the fish, reserving the liquid.

using the same pan (sans fish and milk) add a nob of butter and a little olive oil and gently saute the onions and garlic until soft, then add the leeks, cauliflower and celery, place a lid on a sweat until all the veg are soft

add half the cup of sweetcorn, the milk from the fish and a little stock until the veg are covered and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes then blend with a hand-whizzer thingy until just blended

add the flaked fish, stir with a little more olive oil and let it cool slightly before serving.

eat and of course enjoy!

Monday, 14 January 2013

california baby! - part 2

... home and wet snow... and whilst those silly Californian's were complaining about the cold at 55 degrees and glorious sunshine The Viking and I were more than happy... and whilst these photo's may not be the best proof, it wasn't ALL about the food you know... well... maybe...

... driving from Cambria through to Santa Monica and arriving in LA just in time for the most incredible sunset as the ocean glistens like jewels to say welcome... staying at the Seashore Motel on Main Street in Santa Monica was like a trip back in time to an era of cool and hip dudes man... cycling along the Venice beach promenade trying to avoid the weirdo's but loving them just the same... breakfast at The Fig Tree... lunch at The Fig Tree... drinking the night away on Abbot Kinney... driving down Sunset Boulevard past the Chateau Marmont and dreaming of Hollywood stars...

... triple stacked turkey sandwiches with sweet potato fries whilst watching the sun sink into the ocean... cakes and cookies on Melrose Place... shopping for ridiculously cheap Levi's on 3rd Street... having quite our fill of taco's thank you very much... meeting with old friends and their beautiful new wives and dancing the night away in cool LA clubs... oh the utter joy of January sunshine!

... normal service will resume once I haul myself through the snow and back up to the cottage... I have a billion of your blog posts to read and then quite a lot of Californian inspiration to share... along with about 2 stone in weight to lose...

... now will that be white... wheat... sourdough... rye... bagel... english muffin... oh STOP already!

eat and of course, enjoy!

Monday, 7 January 2013

california baby! - part 1

... from dad's 70th where I somehow got very very drunk, to Cambria where we're now snuggled in the cutest little Creekside Inn... it's been a wonderful, fun-filled and fabulous food-fuelled week... and I thought I'd share some moments with you all...

... dad's birthday cake made from mini tubs of ice cream... my auntie Jeanie and then my cousin Beatrice, the final family members to turn up and surprise dad... eating a short stack of thick full-cream pancakes at the Black Bear Diner in Sonoma... driving down the highway one, south of San Francisco to Nepenthe, which I consider to be the best restaurant in the world and having a giant basket of quite simple fan-fucking-tastic french fries in the fog hanging over the pacific ocean...

... staying the night in a cabin nestled at the foot of a crowd of giant redwood trees in Big Sur... laughing at the elephant seals as they suckle their cubs on the beach near San Simeon... eating a huge deli-style sandwich whilst sitting on the beach - a sandwich so large even I couldn't finish it... and on to Cambria and a wonder around the quant galleries and seemingly endless amount of food and kitchen shops.. pure joy...

... one more week to go and we're heading to LA tomorrow... more fun... more food... more California baby!... and of course, enjoy!

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

random recipes #24 - another country another kitchen

... yesterday afternoon The Viking and I knocked on my dad's front door in Sonoma, California to surprise him for his 70th birthday... you should have seen his face... apparently he'd just been moaning to his wife that she hadn't been putting enough effort into organising his birthday party and then we turn up... it was genius!... his party isn't until the 4th but in the meantime we're in sunny California and being surrounded by sunshine, family and good food it's given me inspiration for this month's random recipes...

... i've asked my step-mum Jette if I could choose my random recipes from her cookbook collection this month and i'd like you all to do the same... no, not from her collection but from someone else's kitchen... you all must have a good friend or a neighbour, or even your parents or grandparents who must have the most interesting collection of books... and you can be as random about it as you like... perhaps ask them what their favourite book is, or get them to do the selection for you over the phone and read out the recipe... however you do it it should throw up some interesting recipes...

... Jette's current favourite book is the hefty How to Cook Everything Mark Bittmen, which is probably why they bought me a copy for Christmas and it's companion book How to Cook Everything Vegetarian for The Viking... it is a bible of a book and literally has the answer to cooking anything that may be an enigma to you... with chapter that cover everything from soups to desserts and even has full menu's for major holiday celebration meals from Chinese New Year to a traditional Jewish Friday Night Dinner... I will never be lost again... it is very American which I find fascinating and even skim reading it today it's amazing to read the small differences in how to cook all kinds of things... and there on page 167 is a recipe for Croque Monsieur... you really couldn't get any more random!

so here's how to join in...

1 - decide who's kitchen you're going to turn to
2 - somehow randomly choose a book from their collection (I leave this to you...) and open it randomly
3 - make the recipe on the page you open - do not cheat, you're only cheating yourself!
4 - you may adapt the recipe for health/dietary/product availability purposes only
5 - post the recipe on your blog linking back to me and my blog
6 - include the random recipes badge in the post
7 - email me a link to your post to
8 - challenge deadline is Jan 28th 
9 - if you tweet your posts please mention @belleaukitchen, and use the hashtag #randomrecipes and I will retweet all those I see
10 - your post can be submitted to other blogging challenges, just make sure this complies with the rules of the other challenge.

... The Viking and I are off South to LA for a few days next week so look out for a few posts about the wonderful food and beautiful sunshine... oh and Happy New Year!

eat and of course, enjoy!



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