“Roasted Broccolini” from “Cooking for Jeffrey”

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Barefoot Contessa calls it broccolini, but I took a punt and thought that she meant Tenderstem Broccoli, because that’s what it looked like in the pictures. [Pause to check Google to see if I was right. I was! Apparently Tenderstem Broccoli is the brand name for broccolini in the U.K. and Ireland. It even has its own website! ]

I loved this recipe because it gives me yet another way to prepare Tenderstem Broccoli, which I love and we eat all the time. In the past, I’ve only ever steamed it. But roasting it also works. It’s delicious.

This one hardly is a recipe, given that all you do is toss the tenderstem in olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and then roast it, but that’s OK. To give credit where credit is due, I’m fairly certain that the Barefoot Contessa is responsible for my fail-safe way to roast cauliflower, which I always used to burn, until I followed her advice to cover it with foil. Looking at it now, it’s obvious that foil was what was needed, but I needed her to point it out to me.

I will definitely be making this again. I just won’t need the recipe next time.

“Roasted Broccolini” from “Cooking for Jeffrey”

“Devil’s Food Cake with Coffee Meringue Buttercream” from “Cooking for Jeffrey”

Ordinarily I wouldn’t include the title of the icing of this cake, but given the time and the effort involved to make what was probably the best cake icing I’ve ever made*, it would be remiss of me to leave it out.

*Not a typo. Truly. THE BEST CAKE ICING I’VE EVER MADE.

But the distinction of having been the best icing I’ve ever made– and I’ve made A LOT, believe me– comes with this caveat: it also took the longest amount of time and the most equipment.

For this is no ordinary buttercream, but MERINGUE buttercream. This involved me using my candy thermometer to create sugar syrup, beating said syrup into the egg white meringues for ONE HOUR (again, not a typo) and then beating in the butter and the flavourings. For the “Great British Bake Off” fans among you, this is the Italian meringue buttercream that some bakers have made in the past. If I ever try out for the show again**, I will make this.

**A story for another time.

So sure, it was a total pain to make. But honestly I can’t overstate how good and delicious this was. It also was super-easy to pipe with, because it was so light.

Barefoot Contessa advises you in the introduction of the icing that it’s a bit complicated to make and you may want to do a test run first before doing it for real. I didn’t follow this advice. Life is too short. If my skills were lacking in making this for the first time and it proved to be a disaster, I would have just made one of my tried-and-true buttercreams instead. To be fair, this does require some skill (not to mention a candy thermometer), but if you follow the directions, you should be fine.

This cake, which is the big stonking slice of cake that the Barefoot Contessa holds on the cover of the cookbook, is also good. It’s a good basic Devil’s Food Cake. The recipe was straightforward and it’s delicious.

Would I make this again? I would. I doubt very much that I would make Italian meringue buttercream for every cake I make in the future, as I’m pretty sure I’m going to reserve it for special occasion cakes only. But honestly, it was worth the time and the effort.

To reiterate: It was the best icing I’ve ever made in my life. Yum. Yum. Yum.

“Devil’s Food Cake with Coffee Meringue Buttercream” from “Cooking for Jeffrey”

“Skillet-roasted Lemon Chicken” from “Cooking for Jeffrey”

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Kirstin: It’s been an unusually cold week in London and I’ve felt the need to find some cosy cooking recipes. This one fitted the bill for our Saturday evening. Where the herbs would normally be sprinkled in this kind of recipe, Ina recommends that you whizz them up with salt and pepper, combine with olive oil and then brush on. It worked a treat, making for a lovely crispy chicken skin which was perfectly flavoured with the herbs but also with lemon, onion and garlic. Fragrant, delicate and moist, perfect for a cosy evening inside. And I’m not sharing all the puns they made while they ate this. Because you can trust me, they were flowing with all the yummy food.

“Skillet-roasted Lemon Chicken” from “Cooking for Jeffrey”

“Roasted Salmon Tacos” from “Cooking for Jeffrey”

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One of the things I love about this book already is that Ina Garten makes no apologies for using butter, cheese, double cream and other yummy things in her dishes. In a world full of “Clean Eating” tomes– particularly in January– Garten’s attitude is a breath of fresh air.

Saying that, this recipe doesn’t use any of those things. In fact, it might even be considered (whisper it) a little bit healthy. But I made it for my family anyway. It is January, after all, and while we’re not detoxing or dieting or doing anything similar, we still did have a lot of rich delicious meals over the holidays, so it’s time to reign it in somewhat.

The roasted salmon was delicious and easy. You get one large piece of salmon and cover it in chipotle chile powder and lime zest. Here in the UK, I couldn’t source chipotle chile powder, but I do have a chipotle sauce, so I used that instead. Then you roast it for 12-15 minutes. It’s super easy.

It’s a clever take on traditional tacos, using salmon like that. However, we were all less convinced by the coleslaw that went with it. No one really liked the shredded cabbage with cucumber and dill. (I didn’t mind it, but I was very much in the minority.)

When I make this again, I will again roast the salmon in chipotle, but I think I’d serve it with iceberg lettuce and maybe some tomatoes, like a traditional taco. The simple guacamole I made to go with it was also good.

 

To make this yourself, click through here to find the recipe on Redbook online.

“Roasted Salmon Tacos” from “Cooking for Jeffrey”

Cookbook of the Month: “Cooking for Jeffrey” by Ina Garten

Maureen: It took us a long time to pick a book this month. Five extra days, to be exact. [Insert sound of laughter here.]

Kirstin: But we finally found one.

Maureen: We had to muscle past all the clean eating/diet/give up sugar books traditionally released this time of year. But we did it.

Kirstin: We’re going for comfort eating in January. We want cake this month, or at least the option of cake.

Maureen: We don’t want to punish ourselves. It’s January!

Kirstin: We liked her previous book. There were lots of good meals in there.

Maureen: Yes, and my best friend gave this book to me for my birthday, so I’m glad to finally test it out. You’ve got to love a cookbook where the author is holding a stonking big piece of cake on the cover.

Kirstin: It’s true.

Maureen: No detoxes here, thank goodness.

Kirstin: We are a detox-free zone.

Maureen: It’s a good place to be.

Cookbook of the Month: “Cooking for Jeffrey” by Ina Garten

Your Wish Is My Command: My Chicken Parm Recipe

img_9644I recently waxed poetic about chicken parm. Mainly, how much my family loves it and how it’s become an essential part of our family life. Lots of you wanted to know the recipe. As before, your wish is my command, so herewith is my Chicken Parm recipe.

We eat it when we’re happy. We eat it when we’re sad. We eat it for birthdays. We eat it when we have visitors. We eat it when other people ask me to make it for them in their own house (admittedly, the last one doesn’t happen that often, but it does happen).

In any case, this is our very own Genius Recipe. Here it is in all its glory. Enjoy.

Easiest Tomato Sauce Ever. (Use for other things too!)

One clove of Garlic

Olive Oil

800g (2 cans x 400 g) Crushed Tomatoes

1 tsp Oregano

Salt & Pepper

Optional: About 1 TBL of fresh basil, finely chopped

Crush one clove of garlic (or two, or more, if you’re expecting vampires later). Fry it quickly in a splash of olive oil. Pour in the crushed tomatoes. Add oregano, salt and pepper, and basil if you’re going to add it. Let it bubble away on a medium heat while you get on with the rest of this dish.

Chicken Parm (For Four)

4 Chicken Breasts (or more. Only 4 would never serve my family, but I don’t know your life. If you’re going to up the quantity of chicken, however, increase the quantity of the rest of the ingredients below. Sorry. You’re going to have to do some math.)

1 cup Flour

Salt & Pepper

2 Eggs, whipped

Splash of milk

2 cups Breadcrumbs (either homemade [which I usually have in the freezer] or Panko). You may need to increase this quantity depending on how liberal you are with the breadcrumbs.

Garlic Powder, Oregano, Salt & Pepper

Sunflower oil

Mozzarella Cheese, Grated

Pound the chicken breasts between two pieces of clingfilm until they are a uniform thickness, but not too thin. Set up your tri-parte chicken parm stations: the first is for the flour, seasoned with salt and pepper; the second is the egg, which has a splash of milk; the third is the breadcrumbs, seasoned with garlic powder, oregano, salt and pepper. If I’m feeling fancy and/or generous, I also add a handful of parmesan cheese. Dip the breasts into each of the stations in that order (flour, eggs, breadcrumbs). 

Preheat the oven to 400F/200C.

Once the chicken is all breaded, heat up the sunflower oil in a large frying pan. (If you can’t fit all the chicken into one pan, either get a bigger pan [WE DID] or do it in batches.) Add enough sunflower oil so there’s about 1/2cm deep in the pan. Wait until it’s heated up– test by throwing in a morsel of breadcrumbs– and then fry the chicken. Fry until golden on one side, and then flip over and cook until golden all over– about 5 minutes in all. If you’re feeling health conscious, put the chicken on some kitchen roll to absorb some of the grease.

Once all the chicken has been fried, put a splash of the tomato sauce on the bottom of a baking pan. Add the chicken. Put a generous dollop of tomato sauce on each chicken, then cover/smother/engulf each chicken in some mozzarella. Put the pan in the oven.

If you’re having spaghetti with this, now is the time to cook the pasta. Put the chicken in the oven and bake for 7-10 minutes. If you’ve got the timing of a ninja, everything should be done at the same time.

Serve with spaghetti, which is also covered with the tomato sauce. Or you could have a salad, if, like some of us, you’re trying to not eat carbs at every turn any more.

ENJOY!

(Hope you guys like this as much as we do.)

Your Wish Is My Command: My Chicken Parm Recipe

“Gunpowder chicken with dried chillies and peanuts” from “My Street Food Kitchen”

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Tom: This has been one of my favourite recipes of the year which is why I wanted to have it again over the Christmas holidays. So thank you, I love it! But next time please can we have even MORE sichuan pepper?

Kirstin: Ha! Really?

Tom: Yes. I love the way sichuan pepper makes my lips go all numb. The first time we did this recipe there was mainly sichuan pepper and less chilli.

Kirstin: I really miss Asian flavours over the festive period so I’ve been cooking lots of our favourite Asian recipes this week.

Tom: Yes, I love it when my mum makes Indonesian style curry with leftover turkey after Christmas.

Kirstin: But remember to say no to the Jenever which she serves with it. I had too much one year and then took the kiddos to the science museum the day after. I’m not going that again in a hurry.

“Gunpowder chicken with dried chillies and peanuts” from “My Street Food Kitchen”