Jen's Kitchen offers a fresh approach to home cooking with exciting recipes and blog posts that emphasise hands-on cookery using local and organic produce.

Glengariff is beautiful no matter what the weather

As is normally the case on a bank holiday, we the family (minus the youngest) headed off for a weekend of orienteering.  The Shamrock oringen is held bi-annually in Cork and Kerry, and this year Glengariff was the centre of operations.  I know from experience at this stage to book accommodation early as it fills up quickly, and thanks to another orienteering mum on the same mission, we got into a quiet set of holiday homes called Ardnagashel woods.

Ardnagashel Woods

Ardnagashel Woods

Robert had gone on ahead on the Friday so Nigel and myself packed up and headed off Friday evening.  The GPS said 2 1/2 hrs which was less than we thought.  We were planning to eat on the way and had mutually decided to get past Cork first, but as we went further and further west, and it got later and later, it was looking like we were going to be having boiled egg for dinner- and nothing wrong with that!

The breads were lovely and warm

The breads were lovely and warm

Then just as we turned onto the road close to our accommodation, there was a hotel (Ouvane Falls Hotel) at the side of the road, and even though it was after nine, we chanced our arm.  They were very nice, and said we could have any of the starters and desserts but had to choose the steak or the fish.  Which was fine with us.  We both had the steaks, which were really very good, the salad was freshly prepared, and the sauces lovely.  Robert joined us half way through the meal and gallantly finished my steak, leaving me *sigh* to finish my wine.

Steak, just steak.

Steak, just steak.

Beautiful freshly prepared salad

Beautiful freshly prepared salad

Dessert looked interesting; coffee, yogurt mousse cake, Guinness cake with Jameson frosting and pistachio custard.  But they were actually quite disappointing, although perfectly edible.  The cake in particular was not what we expected, as I make a similar cake to this the texture we expected was sponge, the texture we got was much closer and solid.  Robert made the best choice, of crème brulee.

The crème brulee

The crème brulee

But being fair, the restaurant was lovely, the staff friendly and the chef came out to check us also.

Coffee and yogurt mousse cake

Coffee and yogurt mousse cake

The accommodation, in my opinion, was built during the Celtic Tiger years, as holiday homes go it was very spacious, and mostly modern throughout.  There was the added bonus of horses outside the window, which kept me amused as I finally finished filing my Ballymaloe course work to my satisfaction.

There's a horse outside ...

There’s a horse outside …

I had made an enormous slow cooked beef cheek stew for dinner for the hungry hoardes served with mashed potatoes (there was no masher so Nigel improvised), and finished with Tiramisu I had made in the morning. Perfect.

West Cork is SO beautiful.  On the Sunday afternoon we visited the bamboo park, as requested by R.  The weather had improved greatly on Saturday, and I got some lovely shots of the coastline.

The Bamboo Park

The Bamboo Park

Then off to Blairs Cove Restaurant for dinner to catch up with class mate Chris Woodward and his wife, Anne.  And that requires a whole post to itself!

New Orleans….

Last Monday. Yes. Last Monday, I was invited to attend a conference in New Orleans.  Even though I’m typing this in the airport, I still can’t quite believe it.

  
So, as the ticket says, I’m flying to Washington, then onto Nola (am already down with the lingo)

The downside is that I’m travelling by myself, which is always a bit lonely.  But the quiet* person that I am, I’ve already made friends with half the staff in the airport I’ve met!

I plan to take about a million pictures, not all of food, I promise ✈️🇺🇸

So I’ll try post pictures and tell a little bit about my travels.

Tomorrows key note speakers are Deepak Chopra and Colin Powell.  

 
Dublin airport has been reasonably easy to navigate, except my bag was searched (turns out my teddy has a long spine????), but I had to wait for the lady in front to finish.

Turns out she had two bullets in the pocket of her packed jeans. As you can imagine that doesn’t go down particularly well with airport security. Cue flashing lights and lots of “step over here mam”

My bag was then the least of their worries!!!

As we move into another season…

The elderflowers are finally finished, but we eagerly await the berries, and I always feel that when the elderflowers are gone, that the summer is coming to an end.  But then we head to the fruit cage to see what’s ripe…

Yellow Raspberry

 

The yellow raspberries are really just for eating as there are not enough, not so the gooseberries, which are now ready to pick-

Gooseberries nearly falling off the bush

Gooseberries nearly falling off the bush

We picked almost 4 kilos, and have made jam (email me if you want to buy a jar!).  The rest possibly frozen, although I did make one sneaky pie.

Mini tart ready for the oven

Mini tart ready for the oven

And now we are patiently waiting on the redcurrants and blackcurrants so we can make cordial.  Can’t wait.  I can almost hear the Vitamin C growing as I type.  The first thing my father in law always makes is redcurrant cheesecake, and this years first one was pretty damned good.

Redcurrant Cheesecake

Redcurrant Cheesecake

And soon we’ll have tomatoes to look forward to.  I LOVE homegrown tomatoes

Tomatoes- nearly ready!

Tomatoes- nearly ready!

Italian- Malaysian- Traditional- A true Fusion meal!

I recently had some friends and family for dinner, and have been itching to re-make the Beef Rendang we made in Ballymaloe.  I had made some gorgeous white sourdough at the weekend, and was planning to start with some Bruschetta.

Miscellaneous Brushetta

Miscellaneous Brushetta

One of the unexpected guests was Italian- so I was kind of glad they had been hoovered up before he arrived!

Cheese- Tete du moine and parmigiana

Cheese- Tete du moine and parmigiana

I made three varieties, Tete de Moine, with raisins and honey,

Prosciutto and Parmigiana

and Tomato, Mozzarella and basil.

Beef Rendang Prep

Beef Rendang Prep

Then the Beef with Rice and green salad, as it got a bit frantic, there are no pics of the finished beef, but after slow cooking in the coconut milk for 3 hours, it was ambrosial.

And then another Italian course- a limoncello ice cream to clean the palate,

Limoncello Ice Cream, excited to use our own limoncello

Limoncello Ice Cream, excited to use our own limoncello

Limoncello Ice cream- a little runny!

Limoncello Ice cream- a little runny!

and to finish a traditional raspberry trifle with a twist!

There turned out to be more guests then I anticipated, but it was great fun, and everybody did get fed! As always there was lots of dessert.

Fresh Raspberry Trifle

Fresh Raspberry Trifle

 

 

 

 

HerbStreet at the Grand Canal

Robert and I snagged ourselves last minute tickets to The Producers in the Bord Gais Theatre, and stopped at Herbstreet for a quick bite to eat before the show.  We got there around 6, and a word to the wise, if you ever intend eating at the restaurants near the Bord Gais theatre, my advice would be to get there early.  Just after we arrived there were streams of people being turned away.

We choose Herbstreet as we a) liked the name b) Robert liked the sound of the burger.

Super non- alcoholic drink selection

Super non- alcoholic drink selection

The menu was not too extensive and with a very welcome supplier list on the back.  Always a good sign.

Supplier List

Supplier List

I had the buffalo wings to start, there were very saucy, and hot, which if that’s what you like, will suit you down to the ground, and there were LOTS of them.  So many in fact we couldn’t finish them between us.  But Robert won the prize for best starter… Duck Confit Salad, with just a smidgen more duck meat, it would have been perfect!

Confit Duck Salad

Confit Duck Salad

But it was quite probably a tie for winning main course choice.  I had the divine, but far too big (again!- how do they make money) linguine with scallops and summer vegetables.  And although a little over seasoned, it looked and tasted lovely.

Scallop linguine

Scallop linguine

Robert, as he anticipated, had the burger, with a fried egg as extra.

Burger and skinny fries

Burger and skinny fries

The biggest disappointment of the evening was that we did not have time for dessert, and they looked lovely, if a little odd!  Our server was very apologetic that we didn’t get to try something sweet, but we said we’d be back.

Tips:

Get an outside table if the weather permits, the people watching and the canal is great entertainment.

Order the raspberry crush, it’s pure pleasure in your mouth.

Share the buffalo wings if you get them, the portion size is massive.

A Tale of Two Cars, and 2 cities

This week I had reason to travel to both Dublin (twice) and Cork.  Having been born in Dublin you would imagine its childsplay to just zoom across the lanes of traffic getting from a to b.  Not so I’m afraid.  And although I have “Lane Assist” on my GPS, not all are in it, and don’t get me started on the whole two lanes to one lane to two lanes again!

And people driving these days have NO patience! Surely everyone gets into the wrong lane at some stage? Mind you I think the politer drivers live in Dublin.  I was trying to change lanes in Cork (Didn’t realise I was in a turning lane) and got whole heartedly blown out of it, both from the driver behind me, and the one in the lane I was trying to enter.  Honest to goodness you need double deodorant before you even start as you are sweating so much!

Another glitch was the whole leaking radiator in the Outlander issue.  I am the worst person when it comes to the mechanical side of my vehicles, but am now fully proficient and qualified in the refilling of the water reservoir for the radiator.  My trusty mechanic had tried a sealant, but ultimately replacing the rad was the way to go.

Still going!!

Still going!!

On the chance it turned out to be a more serious issue, I had decided to test drive the Pajero.  We had been called out by the Waterford City and County Fire Brigades to help rescue a mare and foal.  We do some fostering for an animal welfare group, and we are the “Equine specialists”, and it was the first time I felt my outlander really struggled with the towing.  *cue EXTREMELY sad face*. She’s taken us all over Europe frequently, and even though she’s not giving up on us yet, because we are NOT mechanically minded, it was time to start looking around.

BUT apparently I can’t actually have my cake and eat it.  It is not possible to have a Pajero with 5 seats, that is NOT automatic.  And as far as I am aware, there is no real point in towing with an automatic, the fuel consumption is not economic.

The sisters

The sisters

So what happens now? We love our Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, it is incredibly fuel efficient, comfortable and easy to run, the leather seats give us a little luxury, and keep it easy to maintain.  People actually don’t believe us when we tell them we get over 3000 kms out of a tank of petrol.  We even helped them promote it!

So, suggestions please??? Is the Shogun an option? Should I just sell the kids? Surely there’s a market for someone, with a family to have a vehicle that tows???

And she’s just gone to 300, 000, maybe I’ll have to bake a cake!

300,000

300,000

 

Birthdays and Parties- The Big Family Events

As we have a large extended family, there are regular birthdays and various celebrations.  We all give a hand, and this makes life easier for everyone!

Robert was away for his 17th birthday in Romania, so we had a cake for him when he came home for his stopover-

Robert and his Birthday Cake

Robert and his Birthday Cake

It was a variation on his favourite- vanilla layers with raspberries and cream, covered in an Italian Meringue, finished with a blow torch.

This weekend I’m on savoury duty for my nieces birthday, I’m thinking a nice salad- and a vegetarian tart- maybe asparagus if I can lay my hands on some nice stuff.

Asparagus

Asparagus

We learnt so many salads in Ballymaloe, and I really came to love making those salads that weren’t simply based on lettuce.  The roasted sweet potato and red onion with bulgar and herbs is one of those.  So simple.  So Healthy.  So tasty.

Roasted Sweet Potato and Red Onion with Bulgar and herbs

Roasted Sweet Potato and Red Onion with Bulgar and herbs

The tart took more time and effort, as it has many stages, but is totally worth it.  First the pastry base is made and blind baked,

Pastry Shell ready to be baked blind.

Pastry Shell ready to be baked blind.

While that’s baking I prepared the fillings, sautéing the finely chopped onions, blanching the asparagus tips, and whisking the eggs, milk and cream.

Asparagus tips

Asparagus tips

After quickly combining everything in the shell, and a 30 minute bake…. voilà!

Asparagus Tart

Asparagus Tart

And everything went down a treat.  Now just the washing up to tackle….

 

“B” is for Baking Beautiful Bread

Baking Bread

Baking Bread

My gentle foray into food sales is making me very happy. Not for the money aspect (very little return!), but because people seem to really be enjoying what I’m making.

(And as no-one seems to want my cakes…..)

I’ve decided to sell our bread.  All will be freshly made to order;

Ballymaloe Brown Yeast Bread

Brown Yeast Bread

Brown Yeast Bread

White Soda Bread

Soda Bread Chicken Sandwich

Soda Bread Chicken Sandwich

White Yeast Rolls

White yeast bread rolls

White yeast bread rolls

Scones

Strawberry jam on scones

Strawberry jam on scones

White or Flavoured Sourdough

White Sourdough

White Sourdough

 

 

You can order them here, or contact me through Facebook or twitter, email or text!






 

 

A Wedding in West Cork- Inchydoney Lodge and Spa

My best friends sister got married last week, and not only was I lucky enough to be invited, I also had the privilege of making the wedding cake.  Which is quite stressful as they have high expectations!

The outside of the Inchydoney Hotel nad Spa

The outside of the Inchydoney Hotel and Spa

The Wedding was in the Honan Chapel in UCC, and then we headed off to the Inchydoney Lodge and Spa, in West Cork.  I have stayed there a couple of times, but never at a wedding.  It’s in the most beautiful setting and has won numerous awards for both the Spa and the hotel itself.  As we headed in our room was ready and on the same floor as the wedding venue, which makes it easier with heels, especially as the hotel lift gets very busy.

Cake Prep

Cake Prep

A very helpful “Ian” helped me bring in the cake which had to be assembled in situ.  At that stage I was able to start relaxing, as the cake was now out of the heat, and somewhere solid.  I had brought a full bag of tricks, about 6 palette knives, and numerous piping bags but thankfully it didn’t require much repair.  No picture of the cake yet! Need to clear it with the bride.

Aisling and myself!

Aisling and myself!

We were sitting down for the meal when the weather was just turning a little nasty.  The menu was on each table and other than one small omission was nicely done.  When we had ordered a magician came around- I have his card somewhere! Being a Keith Barry fan I was wondering how good this guy was! He was excellent- and at that stage I’d only had one glass of prosecco!  There had been canapés, but as seems to be the norm for me I had missed them- chatting too much I suppose- surprise surprise!

A Truly local starter

A Truly local starter

I had the Clonakilty Black Pudding starter, a little dry, and far too big for me- it was still beautifully seasoned and presented.  I followed this with the Baked Cod- no pic- sorry!  And the dessert plate was well received in general.  Mind you I think the sorbet was a little out of place.

The Dessert Plate

The Dessert Plate

The speeches were heartfelt and the dancing vigorous! And we fell into bed like Cinderella not long after the stroke of midnight.  As a plus for the hotel the after food was very good.  No dry sandwiches or stale crisps, but instead lovely variety of sandwiches, both brown and white, and some sausages and dips.  And all three layers of the cake cut, which was nice, they cut it beautifully.

Looking forward to my next week, and next wedding!

Waves in the Bay

Waves in the Bay

 

 

 

 

 

 

All I wanted was a sandwich

I had reason to visit the “big smoke” earlier this week. And by 2 o’clock was ready to throw in the towel at transporting myself around the city.

My GPS was being a know it all, bringing me routes even the most accomplished of Dublin taxi drivers may have hesitated at.

Mind you, I say that quietly for fear she (as in my trusty GPS) may just down tools and leave me stranded here. Forever.

Having made my way to more familiar territory I decided food was a good idea, to rest the leg, rest the head and appease the stomach.

The Martello Tower in Sandycove

The Martello Tower in Sandycove

Essentially all I wanted was a sandwich, on good bread. With fresh fillings. And maybe a cup of tea. But it was not to be. Everywhere I looked at disappointed. I knew arriving at the later end of lunch was dodgy anywhere, and I really didn’t want to just have something pre-made. Sigh.

There must be an opening for someone making good ham sandwiches????

The outside of Fallon and Byrne in the People's Park, Dun Laoghaire

The outside of Fallon and Byrne in the People’s Park, Dun Laoghaire

But decided then to try Fallon & Byrne in the People’s Park, Dun Laoghaire. Catering for both the sandwich wanter, and the wanter of something more- it was the chance to try someone else’s elderflower cordial that swung it.  As they are my favourite, and right bang in season, the Broadbean risotto was a goer.  And without question it was up there with risotto’s I’ve had in Italy.

Pea and Broad Bean Risotto

Pea and Broad Bean Risotto

The staff were exceptionally nice, and very helpful and chatty, a special mention to David,  my server, who made my feel very welcome considering I was by myself.

 

Trying the sourdough and the tomato bread

Trying the sourdough and the tomato bread

And then who was I to refuse dessert?  Especially Wexford Strawberries.

Wexford Strawberries, with crème patisserie

Wexford Strawberries, with crème patisserie

The setting is lovely, and I would imagine even better on a warm sunny day.  And although on the pricier end of lunch, the quality and flavours of my food made me savour every bite.

My view from my Table

My view from my Table

And as the saying is back in vogue- I will be back.