Baking, Christmas, Cooking, Food, Recipes

Christmas Treats

There’s nothing nicer than receiving a foodie gift made with love – like these tasty vanilla shortbread.

Take some time out to make a few batches of this delicious shortbread and package them up in pretty boxes or in gift bags tied with festive ribbon and you’ll be welcome at any Christmas gathering!

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Baking, Bread, Chef, Cookery Classes, Cooking, entertaining, Food

Tear & Share Bread

You know the feeling when friends drop in unexpectedly and you hear yourself saying ‘you must stay for lunch/dinner’ all the while doing a frantic mental search of your fridge and thinking ‘what on earth can I serve’ ?

Well worry no more – with a few staples in your fridge and pantry you can rustle up this quick savoury bread in about 20 minutes. Throw a salad together while it’s cooking and Voilá! your friends will think you are a true Domestic God/Goddess
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Baking, Cakes, Cookbooks, Cookery Classes, Uncategorized

Farewell to Summer

What an amazing summer we’ve had – who knew outdoor living in Ireland could be so much fun! My barbeque was in constant use and I finally got to use all my garden furniture.

One of the bonuses of the sunshine is that my apple tree is laden down with fruit. Last time the harvest was this bountiful the Chief Taster and I carefully picked the fruit, wrapped them individually in paper and stored them in crates. This project did not have a successful outcome….. So I’m looking for ideas to use them up before the birds eat them. All suggestions welcome.

One thing I’m going to do is stew and freeze a batch of them so I can make one of my favourite cakes over the coming months. It’s a Sophie Grigson recipe that can be adapted for almost all fruit and it’s so simple you have to try it .
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Baking, Cakes, Cookery Classes, Cooking, Easter, Food, Recipes

Easter Chicks Chocolate Cake

bunnies and chocolate

Mention Easter and what comes to mind? Chocolate of course – in all shapes and forms – the more the better !

 

chicks on eggs

We have a traditional Easter Egg hunt here on Easter Sunday with competition to see who can find, and in some cases, eat the most eggs !

 

Thankfully the last few years have been dry so the Easter Bunny had plenty of choice when it came to hiding places in the garden.

Easter Egg Hunt CollageI even found a few ‘escapees’ a few days after !

After the hunt is over there there has to be coffee and cake – to help the adults recover. And what else could it be except chocolate cake?
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Baking, Catering, Christmas, Cookery Classes, Cooking, Food, Recipes

Christmas at Hey Pesto!

I love Christmas – especially the build up and the anticipation, and of course the food!

It’s a busy time in the Hey Pesto! kitchen so my blog has been a little neglected so I thought I should do a quick update.

We’ve had great fun with our Christmas demos complete with chocolate cottage construction challenges which were great fun !

Chocolate cottage
Chocolate Challenges

By the way we have one more evening class on Tuesday 8th if you’re looking for inspiration for Festive Party Food!
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Baking, Cakes, Cookery Classes, desserts, Recipes

Happily Ever After Tart

Now that January is over and we’ve all been good and stuck to our resolutions to eat healthier (what do you mean you haven’t??)  it’s time to start thinking about treats for Valentine’s Day.
And speaking of resolutions it’s high time I stuck to mine and updated my blog.

I’ve been doing some research on aphrodisiacs in advance of my Valentine’s cooking and I’m now a font of trivia!

Did you know that basil was used for seduction by women in Moldova? Or that Catholic priests in Spain banned avocados because they found them obscenely sexual? Continue reading “Happily Ever After Tart”

Baking, Cakes, Cookery Classes, desserts, family meals, Food, Healthy Eating, Recipes

Junior Cooks & Soda Bread

My nieces, nephews and friends’ children seem to love cooking here and I enjoy working with them and encouraging them to try different things. Though I suspect the freedom to make a mess could be one of the main attractions ………

I’ve been asked more than once if I would do cookery classes for children so with two of my nieces visiting and my friend Kay about to head back to Brunei with her two children, I decided it was time to experiment.

We started with traditional Soda bread ….Thanks to Isabella and Savannah for setting up the table

Soda BreadThe table didn’t stay clean for long once the mixing started.  I think there was a competition to see who could shake out the most flour and some of the mixes were a bit wet! They loved the stories about the cross in the cake to to represent the four provinces and there were lots of holes made to let the fairies escape.

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Baking, Catering, Cookery Classes, desserts, Recipes

Midlands Cheesecake

When asked about Irish food producing areas the Midlands is rarely the first place that comes to mind  but did you know that we have our own honey, ice cream, yoghurts, sausages, cordials, cheese, chocolate, bread, chorizo …..to name but a few products

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Baking, Films, Food, Restaurants, Wine

Lights, Camera, Action

Last summer I catered for the film ‘A Nightingale Falling’ which was made by Mixed Bag Media here in Offaly. I loved doing it as it allowed me to experiment with things other than canapés and corporate lunches and also made me  embrace the discipline of working to a budget ( not an easy task for me!)

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Baking, Cakes, Cookery Classes, Cooking, Food, Recipes

Chocolate Hot Cross Buns

When we were children everywhere was closed on Good Friday, the Fast day was adhered to and you weren’t even  supposed to speak between 12 and 3pm. There wasn’t  anything to watch on TV except the Long Good Friday.  The only good thing was the bag of hot cross buns that my Mum used to buy from McGinn’s bakery. These sticky buns were delicious with lashings of butter – we protested that they counted as a collation and so formed part of the Fast Day diet.

Good Friday is now almost  like any other day except for Hot Cross Buns that is. McGinn’s no longer exists – it’s now the CopperPot Still Pub. I’m not even sure how many people observe the Fast Day anymore.

In the last few years I have started making my own hot cross buns to see if I can recreate that childhood taste. I’ve had various degrees of success but I never seem to remember to write down how I made them or which recipe I followed.

This year I am going with a twist as I want to include Hot Cross Buns in my Easter Chocolate Class in Butlers Chocolates.  And because people like to know how to reproduce what I demonstrate I’ve even remembered to write down how I made them 🙂

I took my inspiration from a number of recipes but I’ve broken a few rules by adding everything in together. I came across the idea of using the muffin trays on the Taste Australia website and it’s such a good idea I can’t believe I hadn’t come across it before.

There’s a bit of time involved in making these but trust me they’re worth it 🙂

Chocolate Hot Cross Buns

Makes 12 

What you need:

  • 450g strong flour
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 25g cocoa
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 2 *7g sachet dried yeast
  • 150ml milk, made up to 200ml with warm water
  • 50g butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 75g mixed peel
  • 75g Butlers milk chocolate, chopped
  • Zest & Juice of 1 orange
  • To decorate:
    • 4tbsp plain flour
    • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
    • Water

What you do:

  • Make your dough by mixing together the flour, sugar, cocoa, mixed spice and yeast in bowl of your Kenwood.
  • In a jug mix the warm milk mix, melted butter and beaten egg. You want this mix to be lukewarm so it will activate the yeast.
  • Pour this mix into the dry ingredients and knead using the dough hook ( or you could do by hand if you’re feeling energetic!)
  • Once the mix comes together add in the mixed peel, chocolate, orange zest and juice and continue to knead for another 5 mins.
  • When the dough mix is smooth and springy transfer it to an oiled bowl. Cover lightly with clingfilm and leave to rise in a warm place for an hour.
  • Once the dough has doubled in size, knock it back and knead for a minute or two (by hand this time!)
  • Line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper liners. I knew I’d eventually find a use for the lovely ones that have been languishing in my baking cases box for the last two years.
  • Divide the mix into 12 equal pieces and roll each piece into a ball and place one in each hole of the muffin tray.
  • Cut a cross in the top of each bun using a scissors . Cover the tray and leave to rise for another 20 mins.
  • Heat your oven to 200C/180Fan/Gas6
  • To top the buns mix the 4 tbsp. of flour with enough water to form a paste.  Put the paste into a plastic bag, snip of the corner of the bag and pipe into the cross on each bun.
  • Bake in a hot oven for 12-15 minutes. To check  they’re cooked tap one of the buns on the bottom and you should hear a hollow sound
  • To get that lovely sticky glaze on top melt the 2 tbsp. sugar with a tablespoon of water and then brush over the top of each bun.

Hot cross buns

These hot cross buns are best enjoyed warm with lots of butter. The Chief Taster is in the UK on business so I’ll have to make another batch when he gets back to see what he thinks of the chocolate twist. Any excuse I know….

Buttered bun

 

 

Happy Cooking !