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.

I made the list!!!

I am absolutely delighted to have made the Long List for the Irish Blog Awards Ireland 2014.

My blog means alot to me, it’s really a very personal insight into my mind.  I never had a diary growing up, but this is my adult version.Not all my blogs are on food, or family, or horses.  I try to mix it up to reflect my true passions.

My last blog,

http://www.jenskitchen.ie/eventing-and-a-stumbling-block/

is definately one of most personal ones to date.  I think of myself as a very upbeat person, but this one was written during a low.

Eventing, and a stumbling block.

Today we went to Nuenna Farm for the Riding Club Horse Trials.  I had offered our services to mark a fence, as it is a thankless job that very few volunteer for, but we enjoy being part of the day.

I started the day with a run in Tramore, although it wasn’t one of my easier runs, hard on the legs and the mind, then home to fresh yoghurt with some of the fruit we picked yesterday.  So the day started well.

Yougrt with fresh loganberries, blueberries and gooseberries

Yoghurt with fresh loganberries, blueberries and gooseberries

 

Obviously we couldn’t go empty handed to spend the day with friends, so we brought a chocolate cake.  And even though I say so myself, it was really quite good.

Fresh loganberries, triple layer of buttermilk chocolate sponge and a whipped dark chocolate ganache.

The cake being decorated

The cake being decorated

The cut cake

The cut cake

The picture is a bit dark, but you get the gist.

When we got to the course we walked the cross country as so often we get too involved with marking or running around and it was nice to see all the fences all my friends would be discussing.

We spent a lovely couple of hours marking the fence, the sun was shining and all was good. The fence doesn’t look like much, and in fact there were two fences before it for the higher classes, to make it into a combination.

The fence

The fence

And I watch.  And wish it was me.

Why isn’t it me? Fear.  Stomach churning, palpitation fear.  The fear of what is something I constantly grapple with.

Falling off? I do this quite regularly, and, touch wood, tend to do everything so slowly that the fall inflects more damage to my pride than everything else.

Fear of failure? Not really this either, as I am not competitive, and have watched too many events to know that horses are great levellers.

Enough of the why. How do I help myself.  Being honest, I don’t know.  And also don’t know if I ever will get over the crippling fear.  Even writing about it is causing my heart to beat faster and I can feel my chest constricting.

Will I ever event, or compete again? Honestly, I don’t know. And it’s not the end of the world in the grand scheme of things.  Does it mean I don’t love my horses, no, I love Missy more than anything.  But sometimes it’s just makes me a little sad.

Gorgeous Day. Gorgeous World.

Today is just gorgeous. Everyone is in a good mood, ice cream sales must be through the roof!
We had the pleasure of visiting my brother and sister in laws proposed new house. It’s just up the road from us, and was just fabulous. Really big garden for the kids to pay in, lots of nooks and crannies. I just loved it.
I could really see us sitting out the back having a glass of vino while the world just rushes by. I want to wish them the VERY best with it.
We came home then to our own house and brought a couple of tubs of ice cream up the lane to the grandparents house to share.
Bliss.

View from the front door up over the trees

View from the front door up over the trees

I am very glad Eile has enough shelter with her big shaggy coat.

Eile watching it all from her bench

Eile watching it all from her bench

The following are pictures I took from outside the house and down the drive.

Into the back garden

Into the back garden

Our clematis blending in with the trees

Our clematis blending in with the trees

 

 

The drive in shade

The drive in shade

My wandering rose

My wandering rose

 

Our drive into the trees

Our drive into the trees

 

A kind of Raspberry pi….

We were rooting through my father in laws plants at the tunnel today when we came upon a number of raspberry plants at the side of the work bench.  One was a yellow raspberry, which is the same family as the “normal” raspberry cultivated in this country, Rubus idaeus, the yellow colour resulting from presence of recessive genes that impede production of anthocyanin pigments. Both are very sweet tasting and evoke many memories of my childhood.

Golden Raspberry

Golden Raspberry

They can give colour and a distinctive tartness to a sponge that I like.  Often if I’m making a pudding I will use raspberries with chocolate, truly a match made in heaven.

However, when I am baking to give away, I rarely make my favourite dish!  So this time, raspberry and almond sponge was the offering.  Simple to make, easy to cut and eat.  This is another gem adapted from Good Food Magazine

Raspberry "Pi"

Raspberry “Pi”

250g Self Raising Flour

50g Ground Almonds

200g of softened butter

300g caster sugar

3 eggs

approx 250g of raspberries

50g dessicated coconut

Heat the oven to fan 160oC, grease and line a tin 30cm x 20cm.

  1. Tip the flour, ground almonds, butter and sugar into a food processor and whizz just until everything is evenly distributed.  Remove 100g of the mix, stir in the coconut to this, and put to one side. Add the eggs to the remaining mixture in the food processor and whizz quickly. It doesn’t need to be very smooth.
  2. Spread this mixture over the base of the tin, then scatter half the raspberries over the top. Sprinkle with the coconut mixture and bake for 45 mins. Dot the remaining fruit over the surface and cook for a further 15 mins, until firm to the touch. Cool in the tin and cut into slices, squares, or whatever shape you want.

 

MMMMMMmmm

MMMMMMmmm

Traybakes

 

It’s such a cliché, but traybakes are a necessary part of life when you have children at school, family parties, social get togethers etc etc.

Recently I had to make 3 different types for a school fair.

Two were fairly similar, one completely indulgent to my tastes.

The first, Blueberry traybake with lemon curd, combines two favourite ingredients of mine, lemon curd and blueberries. (adapted from a recipe I found in Good Food Magazine 2007).  I will blog the others, raspberry and vanilla sponge, and chocolate brownie with orange cheesecake topping separately.

425g caster sugar

300g softened butter

zest of 1 (washed if not organic) lemon

6 medium sized eggs

250g self raising flour

1 jar of good quality lemon curd, or make your own

150g blueberries

200g dessicated coconut

30cm x 20cm cake tin, greased lightly and lined with baking parchment.

Turn on your oven to fan 160oC.

Combine 250g butter, 250g sugar, eggs and flour in a free standing mixer until very well combined and lightened in colour.  Carefully mix in approx half of the blueberries.

Add 3/4 of this mixture to the prepared tin, scatter the remaining blueberries over this and bake for 20 minutes until starting to firm up around the edges. Meanwhile melt the remaining butter and add the rest of the sugar and dessicated coconut to make a type of crumble topping.

Remove carefully from the oven and carefully spread the lemon curd on top.  Sprinkle over the dessicated coconut mixture and return to the oven for a further 20 minutes.  Leave in the tin to cool before cutting into squares.

Blueberry and Lemon curd traybake

Blueberry and Lemon curd traybake

 

Pizza Night

For the first weekend in so long that I can’t remember, we have nothing that we HAVE to do to any particular timetable.

So we decided to do together what we love best. Cooking. So Nigel has made bread a la Richard Bertinet.

Fougasse to test the oven temp

Fougasse to test the oven temp

The pizza dough resting

The pizza dough resting

 

 

Jordan is making two puddings; chocolate, cardamon and strawberry swiss roll, chocolate shortbread hearts, and I am making a sloppy joe sauce for the pizza, roasting off duck breast and making fresh passata.

Sloppy Joe in progress

Sloppy Joe in progress

Fresh Passata in the making

Fresh Passata in the making

 

This is my sloppy joe recipe;

500g of good beef mincemeat

1 teaspoon of olive oil

1 tin of unchopped tomatoes

2 tablespoons each of tomato ketchup and BBQ sauce (unusual for me I know!)

1 tablespoon each of Worchester sauce, dark brown sugar and Cider Vinegar.

Brown off the mince in a pan with the olive oil over a high heat, then lower the heat right down and add the remainder of the ingredients.

And the pizza-

Sloppy Joe Pizza

Sloppy Joe Pizza

 

Our other pizza’s included; Jords one, which comprised of salami, ham and cheese.

Jordan's pizza

Jordan’s pizza

Robert’s pizza had duck, ham, red onion, pesto, passata, pepper, salami, cheese and a little sloppy joe.

Robert's pizza pre-cooking and pre-sloppy joe

Robert’s pizza pre-cooking and pre-sloppy joe

Nigel and I shared a pizza, his half with sloppy joe, and mine with Sheridan’s goats cheese, and pesto added after cooking.  Delicious.

Combination pizza

Combination pizza

Desserts were really good, although we were very stuffed after the pizza!

Chocolate, cardamon and orange swiss roll with strawberries

Chocolate, cardamon and orange swiss roll with strawberries

And our first time making chocolate shortbread hearts

Chocolate strawberry hearts

Chocolate strawberry hearts

All in all we’ll all have to have a very good run in the morning!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our One Direction Trip. (Not an orienteering story)

The youngest of us is an enormous One Direction fan.  Possibly not a surprise to those who know she’s a female of 11 years old, with a pulse.

Me? Not so much of a fan.  Mind you, I went to see the film of their tour, and “meteoric rise to stardom”, as her Dad was “unavailable!”.  The film was very good, and yes, I was very surprised! It was very touching seeing how their families basically waved them goodbye to them before the auditions, then they didn’t see them for a very long time.  I’m not sure I could do that!

We didn’t get the first round of tickets, we didn’t have the money at the time, so when we heard that there was another date being announced Nigel made sure we were ready.  And with thanks to our friend Sharon, and Nigel queueing with numerous other fathers in Waterford, we got two tickets.  MCD had said that under14′s were not allowed on the pitch, and I think this was a very good idea. So we had two stand seats.  That was last October.

The crowd filling up

The crowd filling up

As the day got closer the excitement grew, we looked at every article going on the best way to get to and from, and all the ins and outs associated with such a major event.  I was even tweeting the Garda Traffic Account, who were very helpful.  For a number of reasons, we could only leave Waterford at 18.00, giving us 2 hours to get to one of the drop off points.  As we were going to be late, Nigel was enlisted as chauffeur, and as we got closer to Naas, the road signs said that the Red Cow Luas car park was full.  I was very glad at this stage we were being dropped off. As we got closer and closer we could not believe how easily we were getting there, as we had been listening to the road traffic reports on the way up and all routes seemed busy.  I can only surmise that the majority of the concert goers arrived early.

We walked excitedly with many others to our entrance point, I had only been to Croke Park once before and was unsure, but the stewards were numerous and efficient.  Unfortunately when we got to our seats only one of them was actually there, we dashed down to the nearest steward- well when I say dash, we didn’t really as it was SO high and SO steep- and he re-allocated us seats lower down and in the corner.

The obligatory mother and daughter selfie

The obligatory mother and daughter selfie

And then they were on. Although I was very disappointed with the sound, we just couldn’t hear any of the words, it was like they were singing underwater- Jords absolutely loved it.  She sang every song, it didn’t matter to her that she couldn’t hear the words, she didn’t need to as she knew them all.  Everyone around us was really enjoying it and the flicker of phone lights were lovely as the evening drew in.

We were really too far away to see them as anything other than lego mini figures, but it didn’t matter to her, we boogied with the best of them, dancing all night to the best songs ever, to coin a phrase.

We didn’t pass any merchandise stands or food stands on the way to our seats so I didn’t have to say no to any purchases. Another bonus.

A small downside to the evening was that when we left the stadium, we were not allowed turn back the way we had come, and although I am a jackeen at heart, I was completed unable to locate myself so it took a bit of chatting to various stewards until we re found ourselves, and Nigel.

Will I go to see them again? Probably not.  Best concert ever? Doesn’t even touch the Purple One in Malahide.  Amazing time spent with my daughter that I hope she will remember for a long time? Definitely.

Summer time… and the cooking is easy

Sometimes it’s just so easy. Broad Beans. Peas. Salad. Strawberries.

The first Strawberries of the season.

The first Strawberries of the season.

Almost too much choice. And the colours. Inspiring even the most reluctant of cooks.

Broad Bean Plants

Broad Bean Plants

We BBQ’d last saturday, when the weather was really lovely. As my better half “grills” to a higher standard than I, it leaves me more time to cook the extras.

I had bought some beautiful butterflied lamb from our butcher in Kilmac.  They were already marinading in copious amounts of garlic and herbs so just needed the barest of BBQ’ing to bring out the juice, and amazing flavour.

Mmmmmm

Mmmmmm

To accompany this, I roasted some new baby potatoes, again with garlic, and some slices red onion.  I made a warm mashed potato, through which I added lots of good quality olive oil. And veggies, gorgeous lettuce, and the tenderest of fresh peas and broadbeans.

Rosewater meringues

Rosewater meringues

Simple meringues, rosewater added for a touch of class.

Rhubarb ready for roasting, and yes, it's an obscene amount of sugar

Rhubarb ready for roasting, and yes, it’s an obscene amount of sugar

For dessert I slow roasted some rhubarb in orange juice, and served it with home made creme patisserie and meringues. I’m looking forward to next weekend already.

Flying without Wings

I travelled to Manchester via Ryan Air last month for work.  I am not really a fan of flying budget airlines, but price insists I do take the equivalent of an “air” bus.  There have been some small improvements in recent months to the Ryanair offering, now one is allowed a handbag aswell as a “carry-on”.  The staff were lovely, and the plane clean. Although I do not particularly like flying, especially long distances, I am not especially nervous.

But yesterday, as the pilot asked for silence for the safety announcements, you could have heard a pin drop, whereas normally the interest is at a minimum.  And I thought to myself, as I listened intently, those poor passengers on flight MH370 would also have had a safety announcement.  I find it distressing that the families have no closure.  No chance to say goodbye with a funeral.  No chance to say goodbye at all.

I have read numerous articles, from a variety of sources, detailing with speculation on the reason for the disappearance.  And possibly we will never know, and there will be no closure.

So to that end, in my small way, here is a dedication to those who are missing.

Do not Stand by my Grave and Weep

By: Mary Elizabeth Frye
Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.

 

 

The London Science Museum with a side of Posh Nosh

We decided to visit London, after the JK Orienteering event (see previous posts) over Easter for a number of excellent reasons.

1.  We LOVE the Science Musuem

2. We LOVE to try new restaurants.

3. It’s nice to spend some time together when we are NOT orienteering!

For Christmas 2014, I had got the family tickets to see Matilda the musical.  Matilda is one of Nigel’s favourite films and to be honest, they all never forgave me for going to see it with my friend Aisling last year.

So first up was to find a hotel close enough to travel in and out of London, with parking for the jeep.  Due to work, Nigel often visits Winnersh, so we chose the Holiday Inn there, it was only across the road from the train station and had a lovely pool to relax in.  Very welcome after our arduous few days running.

Kitchen utensils of yesterday...

Kitchen utensils of yesterday…

As usual there was a discussion about where to start our exploration.  It was agreed that the exhibit on the Hadron Collidor was a must as it was only a temporary exhibit and  would be a great insight into physics.

Jords at the Exhibit

Jords at the Exhibit

We walked and read, and listened and discussed until it was time to leave for lunch. As I’ve said before we like visiting restaurants of chefs that we’ve either seen or heard of.  I looked at Angela Hartnetts restaurant, but wasn’t sure if there was anything Jords would really like.  I also looked at afternoon tea at “Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley”, but it was prohibitively expensive.

A friend had been to Tom Kitchin’s restaurant in Edinburgh, and had raved about it, so I went about booking a table in the London one.  Or so I thought.  When we arrived at where I had booked, it was “Tom’s Kitchen”, owned by Tom Aikens.  Luckily, we also like Tom’s down to earth style, and were very happy with our destination!

Tom's Kitchen

Tom’s Kitchen

 

I had looked at the menu online and had been very impressed with the sharing platters and the seasonal specials- all the while STILL not realising the “Tom Mix-up”.

I knew our youngest, being a complete and utter carnivore would love the sharing charcuterie plate as a starter, and she did.  We shared it together in actual fact.

Charcuterie Plate to Share

Charcuterie Plate to Share

Robert had the smoked Salmon and beetroot to start, and the colours were fantastic.  The picture not doing it justice.

Smoked Salmon and Beetroot

Smoked Salmon and Beetroot

Nigel chose off the seasonal menu, asparagus is a favourite of ours, and the fact that it came with a poached egg was a winning combination for him.

New Season Asparagus

New Season Asparagus

Then it was onto main course.  Tom prides himself on his beef suppliers, and a sharing chateaubriand was one of the specials.  Nigel and Jords went for this dish, and they were most definitely NOT disappointed.

Chateaubriand with hand cut chips, watercress salad

Chateaubriand with hand cut chips, watercress salad

I went for another personal favourite rose veal, while Robert went for the Chicken Schnitzel, both were really moreish, and the quality of the meat was very evident in the taste.  I know it sounds boring, but there was absolutely nothing I could find fault with.

Veal with Orzo

Veal with Orzo

Chicken Schnitzel

Chicken Schnitzel

We find lunch is always a good option in London, they atmosphere tends to be more relaxed, and the staff are still fresh! The serving staff in Tom’s Kitchen were also excellent, although there seemed to be number of trainees.

Dessert also had sharing options, Nigel and Jords went for the Baked Alaska, and they made a great show of lighting it for her.  Robert won the “best Dessert choice” competition with his “Floating Islands”.  The crème anglaise was one of the best I’ve ever had.

Ile Flottante

Ile Flottante

Baked Alaska to Share

Baked Alaska to Share

At this stage we were full to bursting so Tea and Coffee were declined.  My final thoughts on lunch.

Best lunch I’ve had in London? Yes.  Better than Jason Atherton’s Maze, and also too different from Stuart Giles’ Boxwood Cafe (now closed) to compare.

Expensive? Yes but totally worth it for the occasion.

Would I return? Most Definitely.

We returned to the Science Museum and stayed until we were escorted out by security, as is our habit.  So with our minds and belly’s full we returned to the underground and made our way to Matilda, which was on in the Cambridge theatre.

We all enjoyed it thoroughly, I enjoyed it even more than the last time as we were seated much further away and some of the acting nuances were missed by me.

The “Trunchbull” truly stole the show. The “Phys Ed” scene is hilarious. GO SEE IT!!!