Tag Archives: easy

Strawberry Heaven in a tart

Who doesn’t associate strawberries with Summer? I know you can now get strawberries all year round, but honestly, there is NOTHING better than in season, local strawberries.  And as my love of pastry is always lurking somewhere beneath the surface, strawberries+ pastry= strawberry heaven.

As much as I always love my favourite recipes and make them often, it’s nice to try new things.  I picked up “The Boy Who Bakes”- Edd Kimber while in the UK on a trip.  Although I follow him on #Instagram, I had never seen him on TV on the GBBO, or tried one of his recipes.  Until now.

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Easy Apple Berry Charlotte Recipe

This Apple Charlotte recipe is loosely based on a Russian recipe.  Classic Russian cuisine abounded in nifty quick recipes for unexpected guests. This puffy dessert requires only sliced tart apples, a few handfuls of berries and a simple batter.  However as it takes so long to cook it would really only be suitable to serve to guests if you have advanced warning.  If they just popped in unexpectedly I’d probably go with scones…. 😉

Easy Apple Berry Charlotte Recipe

Ingredients:
Apple Charlotte
100g butter, melted and cooled, plus more for the pan

40g plain dry bread crumbs

3 large eggs

60ml milk

1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

280g caster sugar

225g plain flour

200g soft fruit

4 large firm tart apples—peeled, quartered, cored and thinly sliced crosswise

1 cup blueberries

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Icing Sugar for dusting

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180oC.

Butter a 10-inch oven proof frying pan and dust the bottom with the bread crumbs.

Apple Charlotte

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the eggs with the milk, vanilla and 200g of the sugar.  Beat in the melted butter until well mixed, then beat in the flour until a thick batter forms.

In another large bowl, toss the cup of soft fruit with the sliced apples, cinnamon and the remaining sugar.

Apple Charlotte

Spread one-fourth of the batter in the prepared skillet and top with the apples and berries. Using an offset spatula, spread the remaining batter over the fruit in an even layer.

Apple Charlotte

Scatter the remaining 8 to 12 pieces of fruit on top and gently press them into the batter. Bake in the centre of the oven for about 1 hour, until lightly golden and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Let cool completely, then dust with confectioners’ sugar. Slice into wedges and serve.

SERVE WITH

A dollop of crème fraîche or vanilla ice cream.

Apple Charlotte

Apple Charlotte

Divine!

 

French Toast for Mother’s Day

I know I’ve posted a French Toast recipe before, but this Rachel Allen one is so beautifully simple. So simple that anyone in the family could take it upon themselves to make it for, say Mother’s Day….

French Toast by Rachel Allen
This is my go-to book for simple quick recipes that taste of the flavours you’d expect of the dish. And with “traditional” French Toast you need not add anything except the 4 main ingredients. Then you can add all the fancy blueberries and maple syrup afterwards.

Mind you if you try to look up “French Toast Recipes” there’s a myriad to chose from.  This Guardian Article is excellent and very informative about alternatives if you chose to follow a different path to mine- so to speak….

Rachel Allen’s Simple French Toast

Ingredients

25g Butter

2 eggs (as fresh as possible)

2 tablespoons of cream or milk- use the cream.

thick slices of at least one day old white bread
French ToastMethod:

Put a heavy frying pan on the hob to heat and add some of the butter. Whisk the eggs and cream together in a shallow dish big enough to take the slices of bread.

Soak a slice of bread briefly in the egg mixture then turn over to soak the other side.  Lift up to drain off the excess liquid then place gently in the hot pan.  You may need to turn down the heat.  Let it cook away until you start to see the bottom turning golden.

French Toast
Flip over onto the other side. Cook for a further 2  minutes then put on a plate in a low oven to keep warm while you cook the other slices. Add more butter to the pan as necessary.

French Toast

NOTE: I usually make twice this recipe! But we are always hungry at breakfast

NOTE2: as a disclaimer- my wonderful daughter actually made these, I just watched and photographed.  She insisted, it was my birthday after all!

NOTE3: On the day I treated myself to a dollop of cream, some raspberries and slices of banana.

French Toast

Divine!

Cauliflower and Macaroni Cheese

Pasta with cheese sauce casseroles have been around far longer than you imagine. In the 14th century in the Italian cookbook by Brian Liber de Coquina, one of the oldest medieval cookbooks, which featured a dish of parmesan cheese and pasta.  The oldest recorded recipe of a casserole with a cheese bechamel sauce, with pasta is from 1770.  But the doyenne of British cookery, Mrs Beeton, valued the dish so much that she put not one, but two versions of the now classic into her housekeeping book. Nowadays this type of cooking is classed as comfort food.  And there’s nothing at all wrong with that.

Cauliflower and Macaroni Cheese

Ingredients:

300g macaroni

1 medium cauliflower, washed and cut into florets

75g butter

75g flour

600ml milk

150g your favourite cheddar, coarsely grated

75g breadcrumbs

1 teaspoon of herbes de provence
Cauliflower
Method

Heat the grill to its highest setting and bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Cook the pasta for 4 mins, then add the cauliflower for a further 8 mins. Drain, reserving 100ml of the cooking water.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium pan over a low heat and stir in the flour. Slowly pour in the milk, stirring constantly until it begins to thicken. Bubble for a few mins, then remove from the heat. Add the cheese, the reserved cooking water and seasoning to taste.
Cauliflower

Tip the pasta and cauliflower into a large casserole dish and stir through the cheese sauce. Mix together the breadcrumbs and herbs and scatter over the top.
Cauliflower
Grill for 5 mins until bubbling.
Cauliflower
Divine!

Tomato Soup – An Irish Summer in a Bowl

I love tomatoes.  Especially in soup.  And often at this time of year it’s the go to soup for a quick lunch.  And although there’s a teeny bit of washing up with this recipe, it doesn’t require the pain-stakingly arduous and time consuming task of peeling the tomatoes pre cooking. I like the Roma tomato variety, but sometimes you just use what’s available. They are a meatier variety so you may need more stock to get the right consistency.

Easy Tomato Soup

Ingredients:

1.5kg of ripe Tomatoes

1 medium onion

1 medium carrot

1 stick of celery

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons of tomato purée

2 bay leaves

1.2 litres/ 2 pints hot vegetable stock (made with boiling water and 4 rounded tsp bouillon powder or 2 stock cubes).
Tomato Soup
Method

Peel and chop the onion and the carrot. Chop the celery stick into roughly the same size pieces.

Add the olive oil into a large heavy-based pan and heat it over a low heat.  Add in the onion, carrot and celery and mix them together.  Season well.  Cover and leave to seat for 10 minutes until soft, stirring occasionally.

Tomato Soup

Holding the tube over the pan, squirt in about 2 tablespoons of tomato purée, then stir it around so it turns the vegetables red.  Quarter the tomatoes and slide them in off the chopping board.  Add the 2 bay leaves into a few pieces and throw them into the pan. Stir to mix everything together, put the lid on the pan and let the tomatoes stew over a low heat for 10 minutes until they shrink down in the pan and their juices flow nicely.  From time to time, give the pan a good shake – this will keep everything well mixed.
Tomato Soup

Slowly pour in the 1.25 litres of hot stock (or just water if you have no stock), stirring at the same time to mix it with the vegetables.  Turn up the heat as high as it will go and wait until everything is bubbling, then turn the heat down to low again and put the lid back on the pan. Cook gently for 25 minutes, stirring a couple of times. At the end of cooking the tomatoes will have broken down and be very slushy looking.

Remove the pan from the heat, take the lid off and stand back for a few seconds or so while the steam escapes, then fish out the pieces of bay leaf and throw them away. Ladle the soup into your blender until it’s about three-quarters full, fit the lid on loosely, covering with a teatowel and turn the machine on slow. . As the steam escapes you can increase the speed. Blitz until the soup’s smooth then pour the puréed soup through a sieve into a large bowl (A little poncy I know but the skins need to come out- it’s easier than peeling them, I promise). Repeat with the soup that’s left in the pan. (The soup may now be frozen for up to 3 months. Defrost before reheating.)

Tomato Soup

Pour the puréed soup back into the pan and reheat it over a medium heat for a few minutes, stirring occasionally until you can see bubbles breaking gently on the surface.
Tomato Soup

Quick Chicken Pie

Sometimes all you want is a bit of comfort food, even in the middle of summer (What Summer??). Chicken pie with a Parmesan and breadcrumb crust is very quick and easy.  And involves very little hard work.  But tastes so good, you need to make twice as much as it will be devoured. The chicken should be free range if possible, but at the very least Irish. It can be just tasteless otherwise, never mind the adverse affects of cheap chicken imported from goodness knows where.

EASY CHICKEN PIE

Serves 4

Ingredients  

4 Chicken Breasts, diced

1 Onion, peeled and chopped

Bread Breadcrumbs

Grated Parmesan Cheese

Some Herbs

Black pepper

200ml cream

50g butter

50g flour

Method

Put the diced chicken breasts in a large saucepan with some black pepper, herbs and the onion.
Chicken Goujons
Add enough water to cover.

Bring slowly to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.

Remove the chicken, chop into pieces and place in an oven proof dish.

Chicken Pie
Sieve remaining liquid back into pan and reduce until its approx 1 pint in liquid.

Meanwhile melt the butter until frothy, add flour and mix to a paste.”ROUX”.  Cook this for at least 1 minute.

 

Add the roux to the stock liquid, whisking over a medium heat, it will thicken after a few minutes.  Add cream and simmer for 3 minutes.

Pour liquid over chicken pieces.
Chicken Pie

Mix breadcrumbs and cheese together, sprinkle over the chicken in the dish.

Chicken Pie
Put into a medium oven (180oC) for 20 minutes until brown and bubbly.

Chicken Pie

Chicken Pie ready to serve

This pie is particularly delicious with some potatoes to mash into the sauce, but a green salad or some crunchy french beans would also go well in flavour with the pie. Me? I like it with a glass of white wine and a salad.  With maybe some roasted fruit and ice cream for dessert.
Chicken Pie

‘Tis the Season for Courgettes

I have a bit of a love hate relationship with Courgettes.  I love them as they are such a great and versatile vegetable.  And I hate them as they come in a glut.  Too many all at once causes courgette overload.  And soup, always an option, isn’t that inspiring after the fifteenth batch.

Courgettes

Courgettes fresh off the vine- they come in every shape and size

It’s a little cheeky to call this a recipe at all- maybe a posh kind of canapé! As really there’s only three ingredients, and a small bit of slicing.

The trick is to cut the slices about 10mm thick.  I know this sounds very accurate for a recipe with just three ingredients- but trust me on this one.  Any thicker and they don’t cook properly.  Any thinner and they just melt.

Courgettes
The next crucial point is not to be stingy with the Parmesan.  And although I am a purist when it comes to grated cheese (I prefer to grate it myself- over processing dislike disorder)- in this case, if you are catering for a large crowd, feel free to buy your Parmesan grated.

Of course in America this would be called Zucchini.  Which sounds quite posh, and this variety of vegetable originated there- so it’s rather apt, although the name (zucchini) came about when it arrived in Italy.

Courgette and Parmesan tastes

Ingredients

Olive Oil

Parmesan Cheese

Courgettes

Method

Preheat oven to 200°C.  Lightly grease a couple of baking trays.

Slice the courgettes into rounds approximately 10mm thick.

Brush with olive oil and lightly season with black pepper.

Top carefully with the grated parmesan and put in the oven for about 15 minutes.  Watch them carefully- you want the cheese to be a rich golden brown.

Try not to eat them all before you get to them to the guests!

Parmesan Courgettes

Parmesan Courgettes

Roasted Cauliflower- honestly- it’s a good thing

I know it sounds chic and what not- and if I’m being perfectly honest a little pretentious.  If I saw it on the menu at a restaurant, it might be one of the last things I’d consider ordering- after quinoa salad.  But it’s good.  A pretty spectacular vegetarian dish that’s easy to prepare and looks good presented on the table.

cauliflower

Originally from Cyprus, the cauliflower was introduced to France from Italy in the 16th Century.  Mark Twain is famously quoted as saying that cauliflower is simply cabbage with a college education.

Of course JUST cauliflower would be a teeny boring and not sufficiently colourful for me as a meal. So I added a warm sweet potato salad.

Roast Cauliflower & Warm Sweet Potato Salad

Ingredients:

1 large Cauliflower

4 Tablespoons of Olive oil

Some spices of choice- I like using garam masala, turmeric and coriander- ½ teaspoon of each

2 Sweet Potatoes, peeled and chopped into small “chips”

½ Teaspoon of Chilli Flakes

2 red onions, peeled and quartered

1 can of chickpeas, drained

200g of cherry tomatoes, halved

Fresh Coriander, torn

1 avocado, peeled and sliced into cubes.

Method:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, with a pinch of salt.  Add in the washed and de-leafed cauliflower. Simmer, whole for 8 minutes. Remove to the side after this time.

Heat a large roasting tray in the oven at 200oC.

Toss the red onion, sweet potatoes, chickpeas and chilli flakes in 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Roast for 20 minutes.

Mix the remaining spices with the remaining olive oil, and then spoon this over the cauli.  Add it to the roasting vegetables and return to the oven for a further 15 minutes.

Cauliflower

The Addition of Herbs

Remove from the oven, move the cauliflower to a serving dish and gently toss the coriander, avocado and tomatoes through the roasted vegetables. Serve slices of the cauliflower with the tasty roasted vegetable salad.

Cauliflower

Chicken & Asparagus in a White Wine Sauce

I just love asparagus.  And tis the season as they say.  I’ve a few recipes that I want to try, but this one  is a constant reminder of the good things in life.  And, to be honest, it’s sometimes nice, as the saying goes to pour one glass for the recipe, and one glass for yourself!

Wine

 

Chicken & Asparagus in a White Wine Sauce

Ingredients

4 chicken breasts

25g Butter

25g flour

1 glass of nice white wine

125ml of chicken stock, or water if you don’t have it

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and mashed

Large handful of fresh asparagus spears

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Fresh herbs, chopped.

 

Method

Place each chicken breast half between double sheets of clingfilm; flatten the breasts by approximately half.  Sprinkle chicken breasts evenly with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Melt the butter in a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat.  Place flour in a shallow dish.  Cover the chicken in flour.  Add chicken to pan, cook for about 5 minutes on each side or until done.  Remove the chicken from the pan and keep warm.  Add wine, stock, and garlic to the pan, scraping pan to loosen browned bits; cook this for about 5 minutes.

 

Break the asparagus stems where they naturally break, add the spear heads; cover and cook for 5 minutes or until the spears is still crisp but tender.

Remove this from the heat; stir in the fresh herbs and lemon juice. Serve the asparagus and sauce with chicken.  And of course a little extra glass of wine…

Chicken and Asparagus

Chicken and Asparagus, in a white wine sauce

Spring Parmesan Chicken Recipe

Sometimes you need something quick, tasty and a little bit special on a Monday evening.  This recipe fits the bill perfectly.  Using ingredients that most people have in their cupboard (Hands up who DOESN’T have a bit of parmesan cheese in their fridge??).

Named after the areas where it is produced, the Provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Bologna (only the area to the west of the river Reno), Modena (all in Emilia-Romagna), and Mantua (in Lombardy, but only the area to the south of river Po), Italy. Most importantly, under Italian law, only cheese produced in these provinces may be labelled “Parmigiano-Reggiano”, and European law classifies the name, as well as the translation “Parmesan”, as a protected designation of origin.  A little like the blaa in Waterford, and the Bramley apple in Armagh.  Made from unpasteurised cow’s milk, the best cheese is from wheels laid down for 2 years or longer.  Authentic Italian parmesan has ‘Parmigiano Reggiano’ stamped on the rind.

The King of Cheese is only supposed to be made up of three simple ingredients, milk, salt and rennet.  So maybe check the ingredients listing on the packet next time you buy.

Copyright Jeni Pim

It’s going to be delicious

 

Parmesan Chicken

Ingredients

50g grated parmesan

4 chicken breasts 2 egg whites

1 teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves

125g breadcrumbs

Vegetable oil, for greasing

Method

Place the egg whites in a bowl, and loosen them up with a fork.  Mix the breadcrumbs, herbs and cheese together in another bowl. Pre heat the oven to 1800C.  Grease the bottom of an oven proof dish that will snugly fit the 4 crumbed breasts. Dip each breast first in the egg white, shake it off then roll firmly in the crumb/cheese mixture.    

Copyright Jeni Pim

Place on the oven proof dish and then when all breasts are coated, place in the oven for 40 minutes.

Parmesan Chicken

Parmesan Chicken

  Serve hot with some fresh salad.