Last week I hopped off the train in Portlaoise on my way to Cork especially to make â€˜an appearanceâ€™ at a book launchâ€”not something I would do on a regular basis. Iâ€™d got an invitation a few days earlier from Jim Tynan to attend the launch of his new cookery book â€˜Jimâ€™s Kitchenâ€™. Iâ€™d already had, what even for me, was a busy couple of days; Slow Food dinner in Belfast at Nickâ€™s Warehouse, Master class in Food Tourism in Lough Erne, Co. Fermanagh, Dinner at The Shelbourne Hotel to celebrate 75 years of the Social & Personal Magazine in Ireland, a cookery class at Donnybrook Fair to support a past student, the lovely Monique McQuaid, and a visit to the Francis Bacon exhibition at the Hugh Lane Galleryâ€¦.I was very tempted to stay on the nice warm train but really wanted to support Jim. I donâ€™t know Jim well at all but admire what he has achieved over 27 years in his deli and Country Kitchen restaurant but more especially I wanted to be there because of his quiet kindness to myself and several of my brothers and sisters while my mother was ill in hospital last year. For over a week we took turns to be with her round the clock. Around noon weâ€™d pop down to Jim for a comforting lunch; bacon, cabbage and parsley sauce or roast beef or chicken and maybe some apple crumble. Just what I needed as I struggled to come to terms with the inevitability of what lay ahead. We sometimes donâ€™t realize how much a few kind words can mean to someone at fragile moments in their life.
Normally at a book launch the author and publishers would be well pleased if maybe thirty, forty, maybe fifty people turned up, well I have to tell you that literally hundreds of people turned up to wish Jim well and buy his book , I just about glimpsed him across the room, looking somewhat bewildered and overwhelmed by the huge response. I reckon he must have sold a fine percentage of the first print run right there and then on the first night.
The goodwill in the room for Jim and his family was palpableâ€”obviously Jimâ€™s Country Kitchen has touched many peopleâ€™s lives. I was delighted to be there even though my presence certainly wasnâ€™t needed to swell the numbers. Jimâ€™s book, which is full of his customersâ€™ favourite recipes, was launched by Margaret Jeffares, the dynamic powerhouse behind Good Food Ireland. Jim is a worthy member having preached the local food message for a long time now.
Here are a few of the favourite recipes from the Jimâ€™s Country Kitchen, Kealew Business Park, Portlaoise.
â€˜Jims Kitchenâ€™ is published by Jim Tynan 057 8662061.
Jim Tynanâ€™s Sweet Sticky Chicken
Serves 4 – 6
Broccoli is full of Vitamin C which is very important for our skin and general immune system.Â It is one of the few vegetable to contain Vitamin K which is good for your blood.
Most of the time broccoli is served over cooked, boiled until it is too soft.Â One of the ways I like to cook it is to roast it in the oven with some spices like cumin and coriander seeds and maybe some chilli.Â I like to do the same with cauliflower; I find it makes it more interesting.
8 pieces chicken, thighs are good for this
or brown sugar
4tbsp soy sauce
twist of black pepper
1tbsp sesame oil
Remove the skin from the chicken, mix all the other ingredients together and toss the chicken around in the sauce.Â Transfer to a baking tray, drizzle any remaining sauce over the chicken, place in a hot oven at 200Â°C and cook for 25 minutes until the chicken is cooked.
Serve with mashed potato and broccoli or pasta.Â This also makes for a nice cold lunch to bring into college or work and can be served with some noodle salad.
Jim Tynanâ€™s Potato & Turnip Gratin
Serves 4 â€“ 6
1lb/450g potatoes, peeled & thinly sliced
8oz/225g turnip, peeled & thinly sliced
5fl oz/140ml cream
2oz/56g grated Gruyere cheese or Cheddar
2tbsp Parmesan cheese
salt & pepper
Peel and thinly slice the turnip & potatoes, wash and pat dry in a cloth.Â Butter a shallow flameproof casserole or a deep gratin dish. Place a layer of sliced potato and turnip in overlapping rows on the
bottom of the dish.
Pour over 1/4 of the cream, sprinkle with a mixture of cheese (gruyere & parmesan), dot with butter and season with salt and pepper.Â Continue this process until the dish is full, finishing with a layer of cheese.Â Dot with butter and cook in a preheated oven at 170Â°C for about 1 – 11/4 hours or until cooked through.
If the top browns too much too quick cover with tinfoil.Â Serve very hot. Great with a roast joint, steak, chicken or grilled liver & bacon.
Jim Tynanâ€™s Mars Krispies Squares
Serves 4 – 6
4 Mars Bars, cut into small pieces
4oz/112g Rice Krispies
8oz/225g milk chocolate
Place the butter & Mars Bars in a saucepan and let them melt over a gentle heat, taking care not to let them burn. Remove from the heat and stir in the Rice Krispies and mix well. Place in a lined Swiss roll tin and press down, we use a rolling pin to push them down. Allow to set.
Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pot of hot water. Sprinkle the small marshmallows over the Krispies and cover with chocolate. Cut into squares.
Jim Tynanâ€™s Spiced Apple Crumble
Serves 4 â€“ 6
2lb/900g bramley apples, peeled & sliced
1/2 tspn ground cloves
8oz/225g plain flour
4 oz/112g sugar
Place the flour in a large bowl and add the butter, using your fingertips rub in the butter until it looks like fine bread crumbs, then add in the sugar.
For a variation you can use brown sugar if you wish.Â Place the sliced apples in a greased pie dish, sprinkle on the sultanas and the sugar, the ground cloves and just mix around a little bit.Â You can add about 3 tbspn of cold water at this stage; it will just help the apples to juice up.
Sprinkle on the crumble topping and press down.Â Place in a hot oven, about 180Â°C and bake for 30 to 40 minutes.
Jim Tynanâ€™s Lemon Drizzle Cake
Serves 4 â€“ 6
6oz/168g caster sugar
rind of 1 lemon
6oz/168g self raising flour
1 lb loaf tin
Cream the butter & sugar together until light & fluffy, add the eggs and lemon rind then fold in the flour with a metal spoon and then add the milk.Â Spoon into a pre-lined cake tin (7â€/18cm round or 1lb/450g loaf tin), place in a pre-heated oven 170Â°C until cooked and risen in the centre, but it will fall a little when you cool the cake.
While the cake is cooking you can make the lemon syrup by placing 4oz/112g Icing Sugar and Juice of 1 Lemon in a saucepan and heating until the sugar has dissolved.Â When the cake comes out of the oven make some holes in the top of it with a skewer and pour the lemon syrup all over it, leave the cake in the tin until it is completely cooled.
This is very nice served with some soft whipped cream and you could serve some red berries of your choice with it. A chilled glass of Limoncello (Italian liqueur) goes well with this cake.
Jim Tynanâ€™s Brandy Butter Christmas Cake
Serves 4 â€“ 6
8oz/225g butter, chopped
10oz/280g dark Muscovado sugar
10oz/280g plain flour
2lb/900g luxury mixed dried fruit
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
4oz/112g whole blanched almonds
4oz/112g ground almonds
4fl oz/125ml brandy or sherry
1 lemon, finely grated rind & juice
1 orange, finely grated rind & juice
1/2Â tsp baking powder
1 tsp mixed spice
1tsp ground cinnamon
1/2Â tsp ground nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 140Â°C.
Put the butter, sugar, dried fruit, citrus rinds and juices and brandy in a large pan and bring slowly to the boil, stirring until the butter has melted, then reduce the heat and let it bubble gently for 10minutes, stirring occasionally.Â Remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool for about 30 minutes.
Toast the whole almonds in a dry frying pan, tossing them until they are evenly browned (this helps to bring out the flavour).Â When cool enough to handle, chop them roughly.Â Stir the eggs and chopped and ground almonds into the cooled fruit mixture and mix well.
Set a sieve over the pan and sift the flour, baking powder and spices into the pan.Â Stir in gently but thoroughly until there are no traces of flour left.Â Spoon the mixture into a lined tin (8â€ square or 9â€ round) and press well into the corners.Â Dip a large metal spoon into boiling water, and then smooth over the cake mixture to level.Â Bake for 3 -3 1/2Â hours until the cake is dark golden and firm to touch.Â Cover the top with foil if it starts to darken too much.Â Leave to cool for 15 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack.
Continuing our Countdown to Christmas
Donâ€™t forget to order your Christmas turkey, goose and ham. See the Cork Free Choice website. www.corkfreechoice.com for a list of local producers.
Serves 8-12 approx.
Serve with cold ham, turkey, chicken, guinea fowl, game or rough pÃ¢tÃ©s.
225g (8oz) red currant jelly
3-4 tablespoons port
a pinch of cayenne pepper
a pinch of ground ginger
With a swivel-top peeler, remove the peel very thinly from the orange and half of the lemon (make sure there is no white pith). Shred into thin julienne strips, cover with cold water, bring to the boil and simmer for 4-5 minutes. Strain off the water and discard it, then refresh the peel under cold water. Strain and keep it aside.
Squeeze the juice from the fruit and put it into a stainless steel saucepan with the jelly and spices; allow it to melt down. Then add the peel and port to the sauce. Boil it rapidly for 5-10 minutes.
Test like jam by putting a little blob on a cold saucer. When it cools it should wrinkle slightly.
Cumberland Sauce may be served in a bowl right away or it may be potted up and kept until needed, like jam.
Cork Free Choice Consumer Group – ‘Great Meals from Inexpensive Meat Cuts’ Darina Allen will explain how to buy and prepare nutritious meals from cheap cuts of meat on Thursday 26th November at 7.30pm at the Crawford Gallery Cafe. Entrance â‚¬6.
Festive Vegetarian Cookery class – learn how to make a delicious meat free Christmas dinner with Karen Austin in Fionnuisce, Heron’s Court, Bandon on Saturday 12th December 10am – 3 pm. to book, telephone: +353 23 8846251 Email: email@example.com.
There are still some places on the Christmas Entertaining one day course at Ballymaloe Cookery School, to book telephone 021 4646785 or online www.cookingisfun.ie
The Coolest Christmas Hampers – GubbeenÂ Farmhouse is offering free delivery ofÂ their Christmas Hampers to the following Farmers’ Markets: Schull,Â Bantry, Skibbereen and Mahon Point.Â The hampers -packed in hand painted wooden trays – contain a mouthwatering selection: Gubbeen Oak Smoked Cheese, Fingal’s famous salamis, Gubbeen Cheese oatcakes, Gubbeen Greens chutneyâ€¦ Contact Giana Ferguson on 028 28231 to order or text 086 3809809.
Few people have the courage to open a restaurant in these crazy times but thatâ€™s exactly what Justin and Jenny Greene did in Lismore in Co Waterford. Oâ€™Brien Chop House serves delicious, simple food based on local produce: well hung meat from traditional butcher McGrath, and fresh fish from Kilmore Quay and home grown vegetables from the walled garden at Ballyvolane House. The word is out, itâ€™s even difficult to get a table for Sunday lunch but try a week night or lunch â€“ would be a terrific place for a Christmas party,Â telephone 058 53810 www.obrienchophouse.ie