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.

Tom Kerridge’s Lemon Pepper Chicken

The Recipe

Sometimes looking through cookbooks for recipes can be fun.  Other times you see a recipe that you REALLY want to make, but don’t have the ingredients… and couldn’t be bothered heading out especially to get them. This was my case here. I liked the look of the picuture of this dish  and  wanted to try it.

Tom Kerridge

I’ve been a Tom Kerridge fan for a long time.  And he’s on my places-I-want-to-eat-in-the-next-24-months list. Sooner if I can.  I love his use of ingredients.  In this case the green pepper salsa was intriguing.  I feel the green pepper is the least interesting or edible of all peppers.  I never eat it in a Chinese takeaway, I personally think of it as the bitter relative. Of course the other problem was that I had no green peppers.  Just red ones.

Red Pepper

So I got to work sorting out what ingredients I had, and had not got.

Chicken √

New Potatoes √

Onion √

Lemon (yup- but not particularly fresh) √

Honey (not runny though) √

Garlic, Olive oil, Mustard  √√√

Tom Kerridge

The Prep

No green peppers, no fresh herbs.  Fresh herbs are rare enough at this time of year, and my shopping budget doesn’t run to buying fresh herbs for a day to day meal.  Therefore the ole herb de provence was called into play. And I just subsituted the red peppers for the green.  BUT I got distracted- and the peppers took on more colour than I hoped.  So I added some creme fraiche to make a creamy sauce instead.

Note to self: don’t get distracted. Hmm.  Easier said then done.

My not-having-all-the-ingredients-take on Tom Kerridge’s Chicken dish

It’s a beautifully simple dish to assemble.  And you could, if you are more organised than me, marinade the chicken in the morning, or the night before.  And apart from the perfunctory chopping, there’s not much manual labour.

The result was very tasty indeed.  I think because I was using a non- runny honey it was less licky and thus caramelised a little- but then as Rory O’Connell always says- colour is flavour

 

 

 

The Blood Orange- a fruit of great beauty

It’s orange time of year.  Just when the body is at it’s lowest, mother nature responds with the season of vitamin C rich fruit.  Granted they are not native to our shores, but at least the majority we import are European.  The Seville oranges make such beautiful marmalade, but the blood oranges make beautiful ANYTHING.

blood orange

Blood Orange Beauty

 

The distinctive red flesh colour is due to the presence of anthocyanins (a family of antioxidant pigments not normally associated with citrus fruits.  The flesh develops its characteristic maroon colour when the fruit develops with low temperatures during the night.

You can use them simply as a snack, or add the juice to a fancy cocktail.  They are really good as an ice cream or sorbet ingredient too.  And can be used where an orange is called for in any baking or cooking.  But I feel unless you can show off their beautiful colour, just use ordinary oranges and save the blood oranges for the extraordinary occasion.

I’ve made a couple of things to showcase the most fabulous of citrus fruits. I feel slightly bad as I regularly turn to the humble lemon for a last minute dinner or dessert.  But there’s no denying it, the blood orange has a certain je ne sais quoi.

First I made Richard Bertinet’s Blood Orange Tart from his deliciousy lickable book “Patisserie Maison“. I wasn’t entirely happy with the colour.  But the flavour of the curd was like velvet.  A real treat worthy of the effort involved with any tart.

Blood Orange Tart

And as I had leftover oranges (*smiles*) I decided to be even more adventurous and try some macaron. I filled them with both raspberry curd and blood orange buttercream.

Blood Orange

Blood Orange Buttercream and Raspberry Curd

And they were DIVINE- and that’s saying something as I’m not the biggest fan.

Blood Orange Macaron

Macaron

If Tomorrow Never Comes

As I came home from a meeting very late the other night, I didn’t really feel like listening to the radio, as at that time of the night it can be a bit “alternative”. So I stuck phone music on through the car radio and left it to chance. And Garth Brooks came on singing his well known- and loved- ballad- if tomorrow never comes. (NB due to the cancellation of his concerts I can appreciate that there are certain members of my reading audience who may want to stop reading at this stage in disgust.  Don’t.  Please. Promise I won’t mention him again.)

And my gran loved the old saying “don’t let the sun go down on an argument”.  It’s all along the same theme.  And I try to take it to heart.  Although difficult at times as I tend to take everyone’s troubles on board.  Which is not healthy- or necessary.

But if tomorrow didn’t come-

  • I know I’ve lived a really good life
  • I have an amazing family, my kids are my life, I am so proud of them.  And Nigel really is my soulmate.  I’d be lost without him
  • My friends are the best.  I am blessed to be able to call any of them at the drop of a hat to talk to (or drink wine with)
  • I am so lucky to live where I do, to be without fear of my life, and have good food on the table. And have a bed to sleep in.
  • Books and Music have influenced my life, I’d miss reading, and listening.
  • I’d miss my pets.  They have made me laugh and have made me cry.  (That means you Missy)

And so much more.  So take a moment, don’t worry about the day to day.  If all the mundane was gone. What’s left?  Write a list. Stick it on your fridge. And be thankful for it.

 

 

Valentines Day Treats

I’ve been asked to make some Valentine treats for customers and I thought I would share some ideas. Many people don’t want to go out Valentine’s night, and this year, being a Tuesday, it might suit you better to spend the evening.

“Take 6 Small Kisses

         Throw in 2 mahoosive hugs

                 A heaped cup of kindness

                              And a whole lot of love

                                          Mix together with happiness

                                                         And share between two hearts”

 

I’ll be putting the recipe for these in this months newsletter- but biscuits are always a nice gift.  Either munch on them with a cup of tea, or serve with a light chocolate mousse as a dessert.

Valentines Gifts

Valentines Gifts

Of course, with a chocolate theme comes, for me, one of my secret pleasures- Brownies.  Here I’ve made them in the shape of hearts, but they taste the same in slabs!
Monday 0602 076

And if all comes to all, you can just go all out and have a heart shaped cake…

Valentines Cake

Valentines Cake

Let me know if you want to order any of the above, or are looking for ideas to cook yourself for a special dinner-

Slow cook February

While the weather is still shocking and we’ve all managed to survive January, we are reluctant to put the BBQ together again just yet.  A slow cooked beef stew can be exactly what is required.  I don’t own a slow cooker, or a crock pot. And, to be honest, I wouldn’t really have room for one in the kitchen anyway.  So I tend to just cook my stews on a really low temperature in my oven.

Continue reading

Going grey without feeling old

This will be the first blog of many. There will be ups, there will be downs. But the consistent theme will be- drum roll please- I’m going grey.

Officially like. I’ve been going grey for quite some time.  I can even tell you when I saw my first grey hair.  It swam in front of my eyes when I was 16 years old and walking Dun Laoghaire pier. Course I pulled it out.  But by the age of 20, there was no denying it.

I was on a slippery slope. So I started dying it.  Much to my father’s dismay.  It was a lovely colour with my mothers dark hair and my father donated highlights of red.  But it couldn’t be helped. I tried to stay as close to my own colour as possible.  And used supermarket dyes.  But as I got older and marginally wiser I began to ponder the quality of product.  Especially when I’m so fussy about what goes into my mouth.

Going Grey

This is what I’m aiming for while it’s growing out, granted my hair at the moment isn’t that long, so I need to concentrate on the colour.

Fast forward 20 years. It was time to start going blond.  The times between colours was getting too short to be financially and time feasible.  And I liked being blond, it left me a little more breathing space as the grey wasn’t as visible growing out.  Well to most people anyway.  My mother in law of course never died her hair in her life, and when she died only had the fewest of greys.  The power of genetics eh?

Speaking of Science- Going Grey

As we get older, the pigment cells in our hair follicles gradually die. When there are fewer pigment cells in a hair follicle, that strand of hair will no longer contain as much melanin and will become a more transparent colour — like grey, silver, or white — as it grows. As people continue to get older, fewer pigment cells will be around to produce melanin. Eventually, the hair will look completely grey.

Going Grey

 

People can get grey hair at any age. Some people go grey at a young age — as early as when they are in school or college — whereas others may be in their 30s or 40s before they see that first grey hair. How early we get grey hair is determined by our genes.

So while I was sick in bed over Christmas I made the decision to research into going fully grey gracefully without those horrific root issues.  The dying part is easy.  Pinterest was a great help.  And I got some support from an online group I am a member of.  They said grey is now chic, and it is!

But I don’t want to feel old, and that’s the hard part.  I admit I look quite young for my age at the moment.  And I don’t want that to change.  Will becoming grey make a difference to how people treat me?

We’ll see.

Quirky Quiche

Quiche is often frowned upon as being an old fashioned these days. I like it as a lunch, or a light dinner. I love caramelised onions at the best of times, and combined with the slow roasted tomatoes is a very tasty combination.

Caramelised Onion and Slow Roasted Tomato Quiche

Ingredients

1 x quantity Shortcrust Pastry

2 tablespoon olive oil

175g streaky bacon cut into 1cm strips

10 small tomatoes

100g finely sliced shallots

1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar

3 eggs and 2 egg yolks

300ml double cream

1 teaspoon herbs de provence

50g Cheddar cheese, grated

50g Gruyère cheese, grated

salt and freshly ground black pepper

23cm (9 inch) diameter baking tin

Method:

Quiche Ingredients

Quiche Ingredients

 

Make the pastry. Use this blog to help you with that- just for the pastry #obvs

Preheat the oven to 140°C

Line the tart tin and ‘bake blind’  for about 25 minutes. The base should be almost fully cooked. Remove the parchment paper and beans, brush the base with a little beaten egg white and replace in the oven for 3-4 minutes. This will seal the base and avoid the “soggy bottom” effect.

Halve the tomatoes and place on a roasting tray, season well and splash over a little olive oil. Roast for about 1 hour, until slightly caramelised.

Heat the oil in a sauté pan and cook the bacon over a medium heat until crisp. Remove to a plate and cool.

Add the chopped shallots to the pan, cover and sweat gently on a low heat in the same oil for a further 30 minutes, adding the splash of balsamic vinegar once the onions are darkly coloured.

Meanwhile, whisk the eggs in a medium-sized bowl, add the cream, herbs, cheeses and cool bacon and onions. Mix well and add seasoning.

Quiche

Cheese and egg/cream mix

Start the layering of the quiche:

Quiche

Shallots and bacon layering on the pastry shell

I like to put the shallots first. Then the bacon.

Quiche

Finally the two types of grated cheese.

Then the tomatoes.
Quiche
Then the cheese. Yum.
Pour the filling into the pastry base and return to the oven for 30–40 minutes or until the centre has just set. Serve warm with a green salad.

Divine

Quiche

Straight from the oven….

 

Burns Night

The 25th of January is traditionally Burns night in Scotland. And although I am a fan of haggis, when I looked at the method of making a homemade version my stomach churned just ever so slightly. So I’m going to suggest an Burns Night Supper Menu using bought haggis. 

Starting with a whiskey cocktail (you might aswell start with a bang). A simple Whiskey sour will get the party started. And of course I’m using Irish Whiskey!

  • 2 parts whiskey
  • 1 part lemon juice
  • ½ part sugar syrup (equal parts sugar and water boiled for 3 minutes then left to cool)
  • ½ part egg white
  • Cubed ice

Simply put all the ingredients in something you can shake well- then strain into a glass.  Garnish with lemon if you like.

Burns Night

Whiskey Sour

Then onto mains.  Going to skip a starter, but you could of course have a potato soup, or simply some lovely scottish salmon on brown bread.

Haggis, is just impossible to get, I searched far and wide and @AldiIreland came to my rescue (Thanks Pete!).  Tatties and Neeps- code for mashed turnip (swede and potato) is the perfect accompanient.

Haggis and Tatties

Ingredients

500g haggis

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 to 4 potatoes, peeled and diced

¼ turnip, peeled and diced

good knob butter

Method

Put the haggis onto steam as per the instructions.  Usually an hour is fine.  I prefer it steamed to baked, but it’s up to you.

Meanwhile, place the peeled and diced potatoes and turnip into a saucepan with water to cover, and place on high heat to boil for 10 to 15 minutes, until tender. Drain and mash with butter and salt and pepper to taste.

Slice the haggis onto plates and top with mash. Or alternatively, for a little Scottish Class you can wrap the mash in bacon, looks good,  tastes great.

Burns Night

Haggis, Neeps and Tatties

And the dessert.  I make this quite regularly, using Flahavans porridge of course. It’s simple, tasty (especially with the whiskey)

Cranachan

Ingredients

3 tablespoons of porridge

250g fresh raspberries

a little caster sugar

350ml double cream

2 tablespoons of heather honey if possible

2-3 tablespoons of whisky

Method

To toast the porridge, spread it out on a dry frying pan until it smells rich and nutty. It will darken quickly, so use your sense of smell to tell you when it is nutty enough. Cool the porridge.

Make a raspberry purée by crushing half the fruit. Sweeten this to taste with a little caster sugar.  Whisk the double cream until just set, and stir in the honey and whisky, trying not to over-whip the cream.  Taste the mix and add more of either if you feel the need.

Stir in the porridge and whisk lightly until the mixture is just firm. Alternate layers of the cream with the remaining whole raspberries and purée in 4 serving dishes. Allow to chill slightly before eating.

Divine

Burns Night

Cranachan

Herb & Mustard crusted Salmon with Celeriac Mash Recipe

In my quest to increase the fish intake there was a request for salmon. And as most of my cooking during the week has some kind of a time restraint, most fish dishes are perfect.  This dish would be as good with monkfish (I know, I know- monkfish -again), or cod. The celeriac is a nice restauranty touch to the mashed potato, but not strictly necessary.

Salmon

Herb & Mustard crusted Salmon with Celeriac mash

Ingredients

½ a celeriac, peeled and diced

250g potatoes, peeled and diced (to the same size as the celeriac)

150g of dried breadcrumbs

juice ½ lemon

1 tablespoon of chopped herbs (I’m using dill here which would be my herb of choice for this)

2 tablespoons of wholegrain mustard

2 x 175g salmon fillets

25 butter

Method

Heat oven to 200oC.  Boil the celeriac and potato for 15-20 mins or until tender.

Meanwhile mix the breadcrumbs, the lemon juice, the herbs and 1½ tablespoon of the mustard.

Herb Crusted Salmon

Put the fish on a well oiled baking tray, drizzle over the rest of the juice and spoon the crumb mix on top. I like to be a bit loose with the crumb, in other words pile it high and don’t worry about spreading it out.  As it cooks it will naturally “deflate” and set in shape, so need need for any mad artistic pressing and shaping. Bake for 20 mins, or until the fish is cooked, and the crumb a lovely crispy texture.

Herb Crusted Salmon

Drain the veg, then mash in the pan with the butter and remaining mustard.

Herb Crusted Salmon

Season and serve with the salmon.

Herb Crusted Salmon

Divine!

 

Roast Chicken with Celeriac Chips

I’m a big fan of jointing my own chicken and putting all the pieces in separate bags in the freezer for using at various stages.  It’s a bit of a job to do it initially (I try do three of four together- makes the mess worthwhile).  Also it gives me an excuse to get some crispy chicken skin on the go.  Mmmm.  This recipe uses legs, but could work just aswell with thighs, but I might allow two thighs per person.  You need to serve it with the salad as the dressing balances the intense sweetness of the honey glazed celeriac.

Roast Chicken with Celeriac Chips

Ingredients
1 large celeriac
2 tablespoons of honey
5 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoon of semolina
2 free-range chicken legs (thigh and drumstick)
A small bunch of fresh thyme
1 teaspoon of cider vinegar
1 lemon, half zested and juiced
A pinch of caster sugar
Green salad, to serve

Roast Chicken with Celeriac Chips

Method
Heat the oven to 180°C. Peel and slice the celeriac into 3cm x 7cm chips, or just chunky chip size. Toss in a bowl with the semolina then the honey and 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and season well.
Roast Chicken with Celeriac Chips
Heat a frying pan to high, preferably one that you can use in the oven too.  In other words- no plastic handle. Rub the chicken legs with olive oil, season, then fry skin-side down for 3 minutes or until golden.

Add the celeriac chips under the skin side up chicken, then roast in the oven for 40 minutes, tossing occasionally, or until the chicken is cooked through and the chips are golden and crisp.

Meanwhile, finely chop the thyme, then shake in a lidded jar with the cider vinegar, the lemon zest and juice, caster sugar and remaining olive oil. Drizzle the dressing over the green salad being served with the chicken and chips.
Roast Chicken with Celeriac Chips

Divine.