Food, Life, Laughter and a little Cooking

Supper Club Night at Jen’s Kitchen

Dear all!

I am holding a number of supper club nights over the summer at our home at Clonfadda. What’s a supper club? Basically I’m opening my home and kitchen up as a kind of underground restaurant.

You can book in with 6 or 7 of your friends, or book yourself in and meet new people.

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Organic Olive oil-Epheser Turkish Olive Oil

One of my extended family lives in Turkey, and she very kindly gave me a bottle of organic olive oil to try.  I use olive oil in practically all my savoury (and some of my sweet cooking too), so the struggle was real as to what dish to make to showcase this gorgeous product.

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The first positive is the aroma. Epheser Olive Oil is positively buttery, which, for me, is exactly the association you need.  It’s organic which makes it better for me, and my family.  Making my food better as a result. And did you know Olive oil tasting is as much of a science as wine tasting?

It is scientifically proven that the Mediterranean diet is the healthiest in the world, and I’m quite sure their use of olive oil is high on the list of reasons why. Olive trees have been grown around the Mediterranean since the 8th millennium BC. “A plant-based EVOO diet improves insulin function and lowers fasting insulin and glucose levels, protects against weight gain and reduces the risk of various cancers.”

Pizza
Epheser Olive Oil is Turkish, and as a land associated with year round sunshine, I can almost picture the olives bursting with sunshine!  The Ab-u Hayat farm only squeezes and bottles olives from its own olive gardens at the top of its own olive tree farm. This kind of production is rare, with very few olive oil producers in the world producing like this, and therefore the production amount is limited. The olive oil is squeezed from green and healthy olives and I can imagine it smells like freshly cut grass.

When you think of olives, you probably wouldn’t immediately classify them as a fruit. But indeed they are. The olive is the small, bitter-tasting fruit of the olive tree. Olives are classified as fruit because they’re formed from the ovary of the olive flower, and they are seed-bearing structures.

olive oil cooking eating Epheser Olive Oil

Epheser Olive Oil

Olives can be picked when unripe and green, or left to ripen on the tree, their colour changing to purplish-black. Either way, they are too bitter to eat straight from the tree: they need to be treated first, often by being soaked in brine.  Funnily enough I am not a fan of olives, although the large green ones stuffed with garlic always have the most wonderful aroma.

In the end I went with pizza.  As I could use the oil in the passata, the dough, and as a finish to the dressing.  Perfect. In Every Way, I look forward to them stocking it in Ireland!

Pizza with Epheser Olive Oil

Pizza- the best possible reason to test recipes

 

My favourite Potato Schiacciata Recipe

This dish came about as I wanted a pizza type dish. But had no urge to make (or defrost my own passata)

And I had a jar of homemade onion relish. And always am willing to make some kind of bread dough on any given morning.

So game on.

A traditional Sicilian flat bread, the Schiacciata,  as with all Italian dishes there are hundreds of variations. Some with minced savoury meat, others with grapes. Though my preference is for those to be made into wine…..

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Old Fashioned Treacle Tart

Prior to the 17th century, treacle was used as a medicine; it was considered very good for the blood and was therefore used in antidotes to poisons. It starts cropping up in recipes for gingerbread in the mid-18th century. Jane Grigson mentions a gingerbread recipe from 1420 in her book English Food where spices and breadcrumbs were mixed together with plenty of honey to make a gingerbread that did not have any pastry crust. And although the name implies the tart is made with treacle, from when golden syrup was more readily available, treacle was rarely used.

I always have breadcrumbs in the freezer, the upside of making so much bread. Fresh soft white breadcrumbs are best, but I used a mixture in this case.

Treacle Tart

Ingredients

150g flour
90g butter, cold and cut into cubes

salt

1-2 tablespoons of cold water
1 egg (Wash)

2 tablespoons of cream
325g golden syrup
25g butter
1/4 teaspoon all spice
150g fresh breadcrumbs

Method

First make the pastry. Rub the butter into the flour, until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the salt. Add in the water 1 tablespoon at a time until you see the mixture coming together. Once the pastry has formed into a ball, knead briefly and wrap in cling film and place in the fridge.

Treacle Tart

Leave the pastry chill for about 30 minutes then roll it out gently to fit an 8″ fluted tart tin. I don’t need to grease the tin as mine is well weathered but if you are using a new or nearly new tin then grease it first. Return the lined tart tin to the fridge to rest while you make the filling. Roll out the leftover pastry into strips to make the lattice on the top of the tart.  Lie these on some baking parchment and refrigerate.

Pre-heat your oven to 180ºC, and put a thin baking sheet on the rack. I wouldn’t normally advocate using an extra layer under pastry but in this case IF your filling leaks, you won’t thank me for the sticky mess on the bottom of your oven!

Treacle Tart

Next heat the butter in a saucepan with the golden syrup until the butter is melted. Stir in the spice, the breadcrumbs and the cream. Remove the tart shell, and the pastry lattice from the fridge and gently spoon the breadcrumb mixture into the tart.  Brush the edges of the tart gently with the egg wash and carefully place the lattice on top, pressing into the base to seal.

Treacle Tart

The filling looks a little mean  the size of tart tin, but the filling will expand and also with such a sweet centre, less is most definitely more in this case. Egg wash the whole lattice.

Place the tart on the baking sheet in the oven and cook for approximately 25 minutes. Leave the tart cool in the tin for about 10 minutes then take the tart tin off carefully.  Place on a cake plate to cool.

Serve warm of cold with some softly whipped cream.  Enjoy the decadence and and nostalgia. Divine.

 

Banana Brownies

When you have too many bananas there’s only so much you can do.  Banana bread is the usual staple bake. It’s simple and cost effective.  And quick.  But this time I wanted to add more than the usual handful of chocolate drops into the mixture.  So I came up with this, equally easy,  but slightly more decadent recipe.

Bananas are the staple fruit of most households, and athletes.  when we go any major orienteering event there must be hundreds upon hundreds of bananas consumed. Bananas are an excellent source of potassium and vitamin B6, fibre and carbohydrate, and supply some vitamin C. Since they have a lower water content than most fruit, bananas typically have more calories as well as a higher sugar content compared to other non-tropical fruits. This is good for those, like me, who will, no doubt be out on a mountain for quite some time!

Bananas are soothing to the digestion due to their high content of pectin – as soluble fibre that not only lowers cholesterol but normalises bowel function. The high fibre content of bananas helps you to feel full, another bonus if you will not see food again for some time.  No point being distracted from your running by a grumbling tummy!

The resistant starch in bananas also has a prebiotic effect, helping to keep gut bacteria happy by increasing the production of short chain fatty acids for digestive health. And you all by now know my obsession with healthy gut bacteria!

Banana Brownies

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Guilt

Guilt is for me a gnawing feeling I get in my gut. A little voice inside telling me I’m not good at the multi tasking that is my day to day life.

So I have

Mum guilt.  Probably had this for nigh on 19 years….

Family Guilt. Am I spending as much time with my family/ extended family as they need me to.

Friend Guilt. Am I being a good friend to all those who support me.

And that’s just for starters….

And I’m like a juggler.

Guilt

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My obsession with Pistachios continues….

I don’t really like nuts. In actual fact if I order a dessert and arrives with nuts (ALWAYS happens if you order a brownie), more often than not there’s an undeclared nut in it. Saying that, I have always eaten pistachios.  My poor Dad use to crunch his way down the drive if I had dropped any shells. This recipe ticks alot of boxes for me.

Chocolate √

Pistachios √

Smoked Salt √

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Pistachios, I fear, like pinenuts are going to be a thing of the past at some stage due to climate change. So maybe this recipe will have to change for the next generation. Makes me just a little sad. More than a little sad if the truth be told.

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Tarte Bourdaloue au Chocolat

Sometimes only the French can make something so simple sound so elegant. This tarte bourdaloue au chocolat. is, in essence a chocolate French Pear tart.  But that doesn’t sound so posh now does it??

Tarte Bourdaloue au Chocolat

Ingredients:

2 tins of pears in syrup

400g of water

200g of sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

For the pâte sucrée: (Tarte case)
130g flour

20g cocoa powder

75g butter

30g sugar

100g raspberries

1 egg yolk & about 15g iced water (I never measure it)

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Pork Belly with Potatoes cooked in milk

There has been alot of controversy in the media lately about pork. Rightly so.  Society due to various recessions and “modernisation” has led to cheap food produced through mass farming. And it’s not a good thing.  I always try to be as ethical with my purchases as possible.  And with pork and chicken this is essential.  Pigs are very closely related, disease wise to humans, therefore are often pumped full of drugs to prevent disease as they live so close in proximity to each other when being intensively reared.  So my point- eventually- read the label.  Do your best. This dish is crying out for some really well reared pork.  This method of cooking it in milk is an Italian classic…

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Filled Brown Butter Cookies

Brown butter seems like such a cheffy thing.  It’s not.  Promise. And really gives a depth of flavour.  Mind you, you can’t leave it alone while browning, and it’s a little like caramel.  Turn your back on it for one second and it’s gone too far.

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