Let's Eat With Jess

I thought today I might share a few of my favourite things and essentials that I find make my life in the kitchen a whole lot easier. Also my favourite herbs, spices and seasonings that I find I can always make a delicious tasty meal if I have them on standby. There is so much stuff out there it can sometimes be hard to know where to start.

One of my kitchen essentials is a cast iron casserole dish. While I dream of a kitchen full of Le Creuset, I haven’t quite got there yet. I picked up my dish for under $50 and it does the job perfectly. This is so handy in winter as it does the job of a slow cooker in about 90min in the oven, turning tough cuts of meat into melt in the mouth tender delights. Another pan I use a lot is my grill pan. It is crazy how much a simple grill pan can enhance the flavor of meat. Simple chicken breasts seasoned with olive oil, salt and pepper are elevated so much in flavor because of the caramelized grill marks, while remaining tender and juicy.

I recently had a big clean out of my kitchen utensil drawer, being a gadget queen it was getting a bit out of control. These are a few of my everyday favorites.

1. Heavy handled chefs knife – this is definitely an investment purchase but it will totally change your kitchen life. A sharp, nicely weighted knife makes the world of difference chopping and prepping food. You will cry less with onions if your knife is sharp!
2. Mini tongs and mini whisk – plain and simple, they are really handy
3. Wooden spoon – essential when making sauces and deglazing a pan. This was my Oma’s and so much wisdom has been passed down with this spoon
4. A full set of measuring spoons and cups – I love to cook with out measuring and doing it by taste but accurate measurements definitely have there place and can make or break a dish
5. A microplane grater – perfect for grating parmesan, lemon and lime zest, ginger and garlic
6. Lemon juicer – I use a lot of lemon juice and drink it in my water daily and this wee gadget is brilliant at getting every last drop out of even the saddest looking lemon
7. Silicon Spatula – I’ve gone through so many different spatulas with handles breaking off or melting with the heat of a mixture. This on is perfect, its strong while being flexible and a must at scraping a bowl clean

Now for some of my staple dried spices; these are the herbs and spices I use most often and can be found in lots of my recipes, a few simple combinations and you will have a delicious meal!
Paprika    Oregano    Cinnamon    Black pepper    Ground Cumin    Bay leaves    Chili powder    Ground Coriander    Dried mustard

Some of my favorite fresh seasonings and aromatics are
1. Fresh lemon and lime juice – so much better fresh than bottled concentrates
2. Fresh Mint – mint is so easy to grow and is a great fragrant addition to so many things, even just added to a jug of water it is really refreshing
3. Ginger – again fresh is best. Ginger can be stored in the freezer and grated straight from frozen and is easily peeled using the back of a teaspoon
4. Garlic – Throw away that garlic in the jar and pop a few bulbs in your trolley. Pre minced garlic is only full of additives and really doesn’t taste much like fresh garlic. When buying garlic look for brown roots on the bulb, when the roots are white or gone this often means the garlic has been bleached and is not locally grown. To peel garlic lightly squash the clove with the palm of your hand or knife and the paper will come off easily.
4. Fresh Thyme – Thyme is a hard stemmed herb that also grows easily and has such a savory taste, I often throw a sprig into casseroles and soups or in with roast meat.

Of course, I couldn't do a guest post without sharing a recipe with you guys. With any recipe one of biggest things is to read the whole recipe start to finish before you do any cooking. That five minutes at the start can save a lot of trouble half way through or when you realized you’ve emptied all your ingredients into the pot at once. Last but not least, taste your food before serving it. Don’t be afraid to season your dishes, salt and pepper are your best friends and can take something from bland and boring to restaurant quality.

I hope you enjoy it!

Serves 4
What you need...
400g chicken breast (approximately 2 small breasts)
2 rashers streaky bacon
1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp butter
1 cup chicken stock
½ cup cream
1 small fennel bulb, sliced
1 cup sliced leek
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped or grated
½ tsp lemon juice
small handful fresh chopped parsley, finely chopped
cracked black pepper

How you do it….

1.   Cut chicken breasts in half into roughly 100g portions
2.   In a pan brown chicken pieces in olive olive. Cook chicken 2 mins per side to brown.
3.   Remove from pan and set chicken aside
4.   Add butter to pan with leeks, fennel and garlic. Sauté for 5 mins until soft and golden.
5.   Add chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Add your chicken back to the pan.
6.   Reduce to a gentle simmer for 10 minutes turning your chicken once.
7.   In a seperate pan cook the bacon until crisp. Cut into small slices and put it aside.
8.   Add cream to the chicken mix and stir. Simmer for a final 5 minutes on medium-high heat.
      The sauce should thicken slightly.
9.   Season with black pepper and lemon juice. Sprinkle crispy bacon and fresh parsley.
10. Serve on a bed of cauliflower mash and wide a side of steamed greens if you wish.

1 comment:

  1. Just found your blog Tillie, it's lovely :-) I had a big clean out of my utensil draw the other week and some of my favs are the same as yours. I love my mini tongs - have 4 pairs! I also love my Joseph Joseph spatula and wooden spoon which have a little rest thing on them so you can keep them from touching the bench. Genius I thought. Your recipe looks yummy!! What is fennel bulb like, yet to try. Is the flavour quite strongly aniseed in the dish?


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