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Jen Kingwell ~ In The Kitchen

Jen Kingwell ~ In The Kitchen

Written by: 
Carrie Nelson

With eight delectable dessert recipes included in Quilt Recipes, we wanted to ask Jen about baking.  And cooking.  

CT Jen Kingwell Baking & Cooking - Amitie Cafe

Oh, and the Amitié Cafe.  This is one of Chef Tana's amazing pasta salads. 

To start, I'll clarify that I think of baking and cooking as being two slightly different pursuits - while both have instances where feel and taste works, baking often requires a bit more adherence to a process, to a recipe.  Cooking is a bit more flexible. 

So Jen, baking or cooking?  Do you have a preference?

If I had to make a decision, I think baking would be my favourite. And I'm not sure if that's just because i have a weakness for all things sweet.

CT Jen Kingwell Baking & Cooking - Mum's Sponge Cake

Mum's Sponge Cake - one of the recipes in Quilt Recipes.

How is baking like quilting? 

I have always believed that cooking/baking and quilting are love languages, they're how we show the people around us how much we adore them by creating something with love.  Baking and quilting both have a technical side to them - ratios and measurements are important to get the desired finished result.

How is cooking like quilting?

Cooking is a bit like scrap quilting - you can keep adding and adding to make a pattern/recipes truly your own.

CT Jen Kingwell Baking & Cooking - Wensleydale

Wensleydale, one of the scrap quilts in Quilt Recipes.

What is your all-time favorite thing to bake?  If the recipe isn't in the book, why not? 

It's very mood dependant for me, it really does depend on the day and how I'm feeling. But if I had to pick one thing, I love making buttermilk pancakes, and I use a Bill Granger recipe so that's why they're not in the book.  I think the reason I love making them is that I only do it when we have had guests stay over, and so they represent good times.

So much about food for me is that - I don't love cooking dinner Monday through Friday night, but I love trying new recipes, and planning meals for get-togethers with friends and family.

Desserts - chocolate or fruit?  Or something else? 


CT Jen Kingwell Baking & Cooking - Chocolate Cake

Lillian's Delicious Chocolate Cake - the recipe is in the book.

Cake or pie?  Favorite cake - favorite pie? 

Definitely cake.  Pies aren't a big thing here in Australia.  You see them occasionally, but we do not have the range here that you have in the States.  When you say the word pie here, we Aussies think of a meat pie. We love our meat pies!

What is your favorite thing to cook? 

Hmm... maybe a slow cooked dish, like lamb shanks in red wine.

My favorite thing to make for lunch is...

Thai beef salad! Perfect for hot summer days after a morning in the pool.

CT Jen Kingwell Baking & Cooking - Thai Beef Salad

Thai Beef Salad from RecipeTin Eats.

My favorite thing to make for dinner is... 

It's a tie between a steak taco and lamb souvlaki!

Tacos! One of my favorite things to make for dinner in the summer is a BLT Taco by Melinda Clark for New York Times Cooking.  

My favorite "comfort food" is...

All food is comfort! You don't get a waistline like mine without having that as your motto! But I would say it has to be Italian. Pizza! Pasta! Lasagne! Scallopini! 

Is there a dessert or dish that you'd like to try making but haven't?

Yes! I've never made a souffle. I think it's the fear of failure that stops me. One day I will tackle it.

You should try it!  I'd never made Julia Child's Beef Bourguignon until my brother decided we needed to make that for Christmas one year. 

Yum! Was it good? Do I need to try this recipe?

Yes!  It was definitely worth the time, and work.  

Kitchen tool I couldn't live without... 

My Microplane.  From grating garlic to lemon rind to parmesan cheese, I think I use it every single day.  (I have two just in case.)

Kitchen appliance I couldn't live without... 

My KitchenAid - It's amazing. And it's so clever. My daughters bought me the pasta attachments for Christmas and they make it so easy to make fresh pasta! 

CT Jen Kingwell Baking & Cooking - KitchenAid

My three baking-cooking must-have tools/items are...  (And if you have three for baking and three for cooking... that works. lol) 

For baking:

  • An Oven thermometer 
  • Good quality cake tins
  • Loud music!

And for cooking:

  • ADutch Oven
  • Really good knives - you can't beat a good knife.
  • Wooden Spoons. I'm oddly drawn to a beautiful wooden spoon and I have no idea why.

CT Jen Kingwell Baking & Cooking - Wood Spoons

Wooden Spoons from Food52.

Three unusual ingredients that are always in my pantry... 

After releasing Quilt Recipes, I've realised some ingredients are not universal. For example, Golden Syrup is an Australian product that I thought was common, but it isn't.  It can be substituted with light treakle.  Cornflower too. It is actually arrowroot over here, but yours is made from maize.  And finally Custard Powder! Apparently it's not avilable in the United States?

These are common pantry staples here in Australia so I was really surprised learning they're not so common everywhere else.

Custard Powder is available in the US at Walmart and Amazon.  (Google.) 

Do you collect cookbooks?

Oh yes! You know I do because you have actually added to my collection!

I am an enabler... and you've added to mine too!  

Favorite cookbook? 

Anything Ottolenghi! Amazing recipes, and gorgeous books to have on the shelf.

CT Jen Kingwell Baking & Cooking - Ottolenghi Recipe

Ottolenghi's Chickpeas and Swiss Chard with Yogurt

I love Instagram for finding recipes - do you follow any bakers/chefs/foodies on social media?   

I sure do.  One of my favourites is Julia Ostro - her cookbooks are beautiful also.

CT Jen Kingwell Baking & Cooking - Julia Ostro

Julia Busuttil Nishimura's Chocolate Chip Cookies.  On IG - @juliaostro.  The recipe for these cookies can be found here - Chocolate Chip Cookies.

After looking her up, I added A Year of Simple Family Food to my cookbook collection.  After reading it, I had to get Ostro: The Pleasure That Comes From Slowing Down and Cooking with Simple Ingredients.  haha

Do you try recipes from blogs?  If so, do you have any favorites? 

I'm mad for Googling recipe inspirtation, whether it be a blog or whatnot. I have found some amazing recipes that way. My family's newst Christmas Eve tradition is a fabulous mac & cheese recipe that I found online, it's served with lobster.  Perfection!

Do you try recipes from magazines?  If so, do you have a favorite "food" magazine? 

Yes! Dish Magazine is a New Zealand publication I am subcribed to. It's fabulous, and I always feel really inspired once I've had a flick through the latest issue.

CT Jen Kingwell Baking & Cooking - Dish 

If you could have dinner with any three "famous chefs", who would they be? 

Gordon Ramsey. Yotam Ottolenghi. Matt Moran. Dream dinner guests, and they're cooking of course.

CT Jen Kingwell Baking & Cooking - Gordon Ramsay

Gordon Ramsay's Steak Sandwich.  On IG - @gordonramsay.

CT Jen Kingwell Baking & Cooking - Ottolenghi

Tomato Butter Pasta by Ottolenghi.  On IG - @ottolenghi.

CT Jen Kingwell Baking & Cooking - Matt Moran

Matt Moran's Fish Tacos.  On IG - @chefmattmoran.

Does Tana make/bake anything that you've not mastered? 

I could probably bake or make most things that Tana cooks in the cafe but her presentation is something I aspire too. Her food not only tastes fabulous, but it looks just as good. Sometimes, mine just tastes good. haha

CT Jen Kingwell Baking & Cooking - Tana Amitie Cafe

One of Tana's desserts at the Amitié Cafe. 

Now for a few silly food questions... 

Appliances - have you tried any of these? Insta-pot? Air Fryer? Slow cooker?  Sous vide? 

No, I've actually never tried any of those!

I don't understand the American fascination with... 

Anything pumpkin. Pumpkin Spice Lattes, Pumpkin Pie, pumpkin everything! We roast it or mash it, but you guys really take it to the next level! haha

If you come to Australia, three things you have to try are... 

Melbourne Coffee. Artisan/Small Bakery Bread.  Meat Pie. Nothing more Aussie than a pie with tomato sauce - or ketchup as you call it.

CT Jen Kingwell Baking & Cooking - Aussie Meat Pie

Aussie Meat Pie - Image and Recipe from www.kitchenwarehouse.com.au 

Do you have a set of fancy china?   

No. Our enterntaining style is much more casual in Australia. Most get-togethers are laid back and don't call for fancy anything!

Silliest kitchen gadget I admit to owning and using... (e.g., egg separator, avocado peeler, etc.) 

I can't think of any? I am pretty simple in the kitchen. I love the basic techniques of cooking so I don't have a lot of fancy equipment.


Are you hungry?

One last recipe to share.  When I was in Australia a few years ago, Jen made this amazingly good, simple pasta dish.  Everyone loved it, and we've all made it many times since.  It always makes me think of Jen, Richard, their girls, and their gracious hospitality.  

CT Jen Kingwell Baking & Cooking - Feta Tomato Pasta

Baked Feta with Tomatoes and Spaghetti - from Dish magazine

The only thing left to share is that we're starting a quilt-along for Quilt Recipes.  It's not a structured "we're all making this quilt" from the book as several of us want to make everything.  Quilts, cushions and cookies.  While a few of us might make the same quilt at the same time, we want this to be like the Sit and Sews at Amitié, we're there to stitch at our own pace, enjoy the company, and the food.  

If you haven't already seen them, we have a couple of videos with Jen to share.  Fabric, stitching, favorite notions, and the Quilt Recipes book.

What to tell you about the Quilt Recipes quilt-along.  It's a little different from many quilt-alongs, in that it's informal.  Organized but not structured.  Make any project you like, and make it at your own pace.  We're sharing tips, ideas and encouraging each other's progress.  We'll be sharing more about it in the coming weeks so watch this space.  And social media.  

If you haven't seen them, we have several videos about Quilt Recipes and Jen's next collection that are excellent.

Choosing Colour and Fabric with Jen

Jen on Stitching, Notions & Fabrics

Jen Kingwell's Quilt Recipes

Jen Kingwell's The Lookout