Bellebouche Rotating Header Image

November, 2007:

Honey Potter and the Sticky Fingered Adventure

The culmination of my first years beekeeping activity and it’s time to get the first harvest extracted and potted up.

Before getting going on beekeeping I’d made contact with a knowledgeable ex-pat British beekeeper, Vic. He’d freely doled out help and advice throughout the course of the year and had offered us the loan of his extracting equipment when the time came. I’d had the honey super off the hive for quite a few weeks and it was time to get cracking.

The bees capped the frames in the super with a thin layer of wax. I’d sliced the top off of one of these previously in an impatient attempt to get at my first taste of the Bellebouche honey harvest. But, there is another way! (more…)

Autumnal Colours

Autumn trees

The colours this autumn are truly breath taking.

The French oak trees are shedding their green cloaks and putting on a performance of Joseph’s Technicolour Dream Coat.

Gold, brown, red, orange, bronze, copper, yellow, pink and lime are all taking centre stage.

Whenever I am out and about I can’t but help smile at seeing these colours.

Each season brings something special and this autumn is certainly the most colourful of our autumn’s here in France.

Autumn tunnel

Each time I visit the shops for groceries I have to drive through a small wood where the trees form a tunnel with their leaves and branches.

In the spring this tunnel is a vibrant green as the new leaves appear.

The summer provides dappled light for the green undergrowth and ferns.

Autumn brings the firework display of colours. (The photo on the right doesn’t really do the colours full justice.)

Finally,winter brings the ghostly bare branches and darkness to the tunnel.

Then before you know it, spring is on its way to start the whole kaleidoscope of colours again.

The Charentaise Smokehouse

Hat tip here, to our former favourite deli in England. The Cheshire Smokehouse.
Since building the cobbled together (some might say Rustic!) smoker I was keen to progress with things.
I had a couple of sides of salmon brined, they just needed some drying time (important to allow the surface to develop a sheen and to start the process of driving off moisture). A day suspended in the kitchen did the trick and into the smoker they went.
Choice of fuel.
I quickly migrated off the pieces of oak I was using, burning too quickly and generating too much heat. Fine for the wood burning stove inside the house, no good for my smoker. Eventually the choice was charcoal briquettes, running at a slow burn. These ran on for a good 2 hours without much attention and then infrequent top ups did the trick.I used, rather exotically, the main trunk from an old peach tree that I’d cut out. Easy to hack lumps off with a mallet and in the end I used a table saw to accumulate some small burning chunks and about a litre in volume of sawdust. Easy peasy. Sitting a cast iron plate on top of the glowing charcoal gave enough of a barrier/heat baffle to allow the sawdust to smoke and only rarely catch alight. I’ll get better with time and will refit the wood burner to have a slightly raised plinth above the fire basket – should be perfect for a long slow cool burn in future.
Smoked Salmon
I was bursting with glee when I took them out. Probably had an accumulated 18 hours or so smoking I guess. I’m not including times when the fire went out, times when I left the vent open on the wood burner and burned all the smoke away too quickly. Overnight time whilst it was, ahem, resting!
Brought the sides in, trimmed them up, the minute little pearls of the fish oil on the surface, the slightly astringent edge to the smoke, tempered by the smell of the fish. I just knew this was going to be good First slice, chefs privilege. Second slice, even better. Lots of slices later. AWESOME.
Lunch today was smoked salmon, scrambled eggs. Salty, Smoky, Rich, Astringent. Twist of black pepper was all that was necessary to finish it off. Could not have been better.
Smoked Streaky Bacon
Tonight’s supper is a boeuf bourgignon started off with the smoked bacon. Immediate great depth of flavour from this. World’s best homemade Bacon and Eggs breakfast coming right up!

Air dried ham.
I’ve had a chunk of prosciutto on standby for this, hoping to add a twist to my home made charcuterie. I hope you can see in the snap the depth of penetration of the cure and tinge from the smoking.
Smoked Garlic.
The Verdict? Excellent!
Related Posts with Thumbnails