Jennifer Fox of FoxNestFood on the creative freedom food has afforded her
From her earliest associations with food to the cuisine she turns to when in need of comfort, Jennifer Fox is dishing up all her insider foodie knowledge.
Yearning to rekindle a creative spark at the tail end of maternity leave, Jennifer Fox started out by filming her family meal recipes and as if overnight, her 100-strong Instagram account was starting to garner some well-earned attention.
A food and cocktail loving content creator with a background in special educational teaching, Jennifer Fox shareds quick, easy and absolutely delicious recipes that are geared towards the busy individual who has limited time, but still wants something tasty.
Read on to get a little further insight into Jennifer’s relationship with food, covering everything from her the first meal she ever learned to make, to her thoughts on the flourishing Irish food scene…
What are your earliest memories of food?
I think my earliest memories of food bring me straight back in time to full tables of relations & friends around a generously packed Christmas dinner table. Laughing at my dad’s legendary jokes, cosy fires, guest musicians and decadent indulgence! Food always symbolises love, laughter and social interaction for me and I try to make these memories for my children now.
How would you describe your relationship with food?
Balanced! I love to eat healthy but I’m absolutely not afraid to indulge to the max. I don’t ever feel guilty because I do believe we have a good balance in our house! I adore food, it brings me joy, a creative outlet and smiles to my family’s faces.
What was the first meal you learned to cook?
Although not an actual meal, the first thing I really remember learning how to cook was bread & butter pudding in my 8 year old friend Ailbhe’s house in the mid 90’s. It was a weekly event and we used to whack on Bonnie Tyler and get to work sans adults. Over time, I perfected the recipe myself. I kept it simple, there are no frills, but it’s cosy perfection in my eyes! A true winter indulgence.
How did food become a part of your personal brand?
It was after my maternity leave had ended in September 2021 with my second child and I was yearning to rekindle a creative spark in myself that I feared I had lost somewhere along the way. I started off filming our family’s dinners along with baby versions and it developed into something different as the kids got a little older and started eating what we ate. My little page with 100 odd followers suddenly started to attract a bit of attention from what I assumed was other new moms and families looking for meal inspo to get them through the week! I’m very grateful for the support I’ve gotten on these social platforms because it has allowed me to tap into creative abilities I didn’t even know I had.
What’s your go-to breakfast?
During the weekdays, it’s a double shot latte in a travel mug with a few lashes of condensed milk or caramel syrup, and I leg it out the door to work and eat a couple of bananas or a croissant on my walk. On the weekend, my go to breakfast is crispy runny fried eggs fired on top of some sort of sautéed or fried potatoes. I’m also very partial to white or black pudding on some buttery toasted bread and a scorching cup of strong tea. Absolute heaven to me!
If you’re impressing friends and family at a dinner party, what are you serving up?
I strongly believe that food does not have to be fancy or complicated to impress. It just has to be prepared with love and care. A big one pot meal is always a great idea when you are cooking for a few people so there is less time spent stressing in the kitchen and more time engaging and having a laugh with your guests. On more than one occasion I have cooked a delicious one pot cajun bean and veggie orzo when I have a crowd over. All the flavour of a slow cooked risotto but a quarter of the time spent preparing it. It’s versatile, fast and incredibly tasty, always a winner!
Who is your culinary inspiration?
The inspiration for the meals I cook are mostly based around my family’s needs and trying to get a balanced dinner on the table every day that will suit us all. I am also inspired by my husband’s Polish background. We’ve been all over Poland & tried so many gorgeous foods. I’m in love with their warming, hearty cuisine (and their love for all things vodka!)
What would your last meal on earth be?
This is a very difficult question because it would all depend on what I felt like on that day. But right now if I was told that I could order anything in the world for my last meal it would be these items. Foie gras with warm toasted brioche and a large glass of robust red wine, a couple of lobster tails with a jug of melted garlic butter along with a couple of spicy margaritas and for balance (lol), something filthy like sauce laden in N out animal fries or Irish style taco fries.
What’s your go-to comfort food?
I am loving South Asian food at the moment. I find it very hard to get a good, authentic Indian in My home town, but memories of living in London bring me back to all the amazing South Asian cuisine that I was exposed to over there while working in a place called Southall. My favourite dishes over there were Veg Makani (I would always ask for extra cauliflower), Saag Paneer (Spinach and Paneer cheese) and Aloo Keema Matar (Spiced Lamb mince with potato and peas). I recently made Aloo Keema Matar and tried my very hardest to get the recipe to taste like I remembered. I used a recipe that I got from an old colleague from Pakistan and tweaked it slightly to try and get it to taste like it did in the restaurants in Southall.
What’s the go-to quick meal you cook when you’re tired and hungry?
I don’t even have to think about this one… it’s Garlic Chilli Oil Shin Ramyun. Shin Ramyun is a type of spicy instant noodle from South Korea and I just pimp it up with extra flavour & seasonings and top it with a crispy, runny fried egg. It takes minutes to throw together and it’s so so satisfying, comforting and delicious! Online Irish Asian stores make it easy to stock up on these instant noodle delicacies that you can’t get in the local supermarkets.
What is one food or flavour you cannot stand?
I am absolutely not picky about food at all. I love all food and would be willing to try anything. My pet peeve around food though would be lack of seasoning!
My perfect hangover cure would have to be something warming and comforting like a homemade soup with crusty bread and lashings of butter. Don’t ask me to make it when I’m hungover but if it was there or someone was willing to make it, that would be the perfect meal for me to give my battered soul a hug! I have posted some great soups on my page but the potato soup with bacon and cheddar would pip the post for this particular occasion.
Sweet or savoury?
Savoury every time! I developed a slight grá for sweet things when I was pregnant with my second child and ate my weight in cheesecakes but it was short lived and my palette is back to craving salty, umami flavours!
Fine dining or pub grub?
I love both, it just depends on the mood! You can’t beat a warm pub with a fire on, a big bowl of seafood chowder and chips with a pint of Guinness or a steaming hot bucket of creamy mussels with homemade buttered soda bread. Equally, I love the fine dining experience so much. On any special occasion, I would opt for this. You are guaranteed locally sourced, high quality ingredients, rich, decadent flavours, engaging environments and extremely knowledgeable, friendly and attentive service. It’s a real treat.
Favourite restaurant in Ireland?
This is a tough one as we really don’t get out much and haven’t had a chance to get around Ireland much as we lived in the UK before kids. In our locality though, we have a number of lovely spots where we visit as a family. Epic Pub grub in our local, the Curragower, a quiet date night in the French Table by the river, family pizzas from La Piccolo (Pizza Pancetta served with smoked lardons & red grapes-who else is serving that?), the best curries from Aroi (Malay Street Food), and a feast of dragon rolls, wakami salad & yuzu sake from Kyoto down by the Locke.
Best coffee in Ireland?
My husband Michael makes the best coffee for me every morning without fail. There is no comparison to what I get elsewhere because he completely tailors it to my taste. During the pandemic, he bought a very good coffee machine and treats it like another child! He is constantly experimenting with different beans, roasts, grinds and I am extremely happy to be the recipient of his experiments!
Go-to beverage accompaniment?
A big fat Margarita! Oh I just love them so much, they are fabulous. I saw somebody online talking about a cucumber margarita they tried on their holiday and thought that it would be right up my street. I recreated it on my page. It took a few attempts to get it to my liking but I got there in the end, it was delicious!
What are your thoughts on the Irish foodie scene?
I think in the past, people came to Ireland because of its rich culture and breathtaking scenery and the food was never a highlight and took a firm backseat. In recent years, that could not be further from the truth. From fresh local seafood (fresh Irish oysters and Guinness, come on), and a host of local, artisan food producers that are passionate about their craft, be it cheese making, bread baking, or patisserie. We are experiencing incredible things happening on the food scene. It’s wonderful to see just how many food festivals, food trucks, local markets, and food tours that are flourishing at the moment and I couldn’t be more excited to see what the future holds.
What’s your favourite thing about cooking?
I love the process of having a handful of ingredients and thinking creatively about the multitude of dishes that they could create together. My favourite thing about cooking though is feeding those around me and seeing full, happy bellies afterwards. I was born to be a feeder!
Food for thought — Is there room for improvement within the Irish food/restaurant/hospitality scene?
Speaking about my hometown of Limerick again, it is going from strength to strength here at the moment and so exhilarating to see the incredible passion of young and vibrant entrepreneurial foodies exploding onto the scene. Yes, there’s room for improvement, but the journey to get our gorgeous city to where it’s striving to be, is very exciting to experience currently.
Chef’s kiss — Tell us about one standout foodie experience you’ve had recently.
As parents to very young kids, getting out is a mammoth challenge. We were fortunate to escape for a date night recently and headed to The East Room out in Plassey House (Limerick). Plassey house is over two centuries old. The entire place is like a time capsule. I adore it’s eccentric quirkiness. It even has a mini museum upstairs that you can wonder around in between courses in search of ghosts. Every morsel of food we had that night was insanely delicious but the stand out dish was the Wagyu Beef starter (sourced in North Cork), with Coolathin Cheddar, truffle and onion, all washed down with a bold red, it was simply sublime.
Compliments to the chef — Now’s your chance to sing the praises of a talented chef, beloved restaurant or particularly talented foodie family member.
This has to be my Mother, Mary. She just has a way of bringing everyone together with food. She puts such love and thought into all of her dishes and creates every one of them with pure love. I’m always inspired by how she has used food to do this and it’s has inspired me to try and continue on this special tradition with my own children. I actively try to involve them with the cooking at home by washing and chopping the vegetables, tasting the dishes throughout the process and asking their opinion about what they think the dish needs. I can see them developing a passion and a love for it already.
Secret ingredient — What, in your estimation, makes the perfect dining experience?
It really is a combination of things. Excellent food, friendly and attentive service, ambience, cosiness and of course, who is sitting with you!
If you ever find yourself with a hunger for some foodie inspiration, Jennifer’s Instagram should be your first port of call. Check out FoxNestFood for more.