book review, Catering, Cookbooks, Cooking, Uncategorized

Cooking the books …. and some fish!

I have a confession to make – my name is Yvonne and I am a Cookbook Addict.

I was brought up in a houseful of books and book lovers so I’m not quite sure when my obsession with cookery books started . I know I used to leaf through my Mum’s Good Housekeeping book and wish we had exotic ingredients like glucose and peppermint essence!

Fast forward to college and I was given a present of ‘Monica’s Kitchen’ – an absolute gem of a book even for someone like me who could barely boil an egg at the time.

Monica and good housekeeping sepia
How it started

Continue reading “Cooking the books …. and some fish!”

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!
Continue reading “Christmas at Hey Pesto!”

Catering, Chef, Cookery Classes, Cooking, family meals, Food, Healthy Eating, Recipes

Who’s on wash-up?

Any caterer will tell you that one of the biggest tasks we face after any job is the wash up.  I have some (not so good!) memories of trying to wash plates out the back of a wedding marquee using hot water drained off the potatoes – I kid you not. I hasten to add this was not in Hey Pesto! – we prefer indoor sinks and dishwashers!

As regular readers will know I love to cook –  both in my catering kitchen and my house kitchen – and I have a tendency to use a lot of dishes and pots.  Unfortunately I don’t always have an assistant to wash up after me so my dishwasher is a very essential piece of kit.
Continue reading “Who’s on wash-up?”

Catering, Chef, Cookery Classes, Cooking, family meals

Comforting Curry

I know, I know – it’s been a while since my last blog but now that the weather has changed I’m likely to spend more time indoors and I promise to try and be a better blogger ….

Sometimes you just need comfort food and last night was one of those nights. There were chicken fillets in the fridge,some random vegetables left in the basket and there’s always coconut milk and curry paste in the pantry so it had to be Thai curry for dinner, the perfect dish for these Autumn evenings.

I promise it will be ready in 30 minutes – quicker than waiting for a takeaway to arrive so why not give it a try. Continue reading “Comforting Curry”

Catering, Cookery Classes, Cooking, family meals, Farmers' Market, Healthy Eating, Recipes, Shopping

Celebrating Midlands Food

When we launched the Offaly Delicious Food Network in Tullamore at Easter last year I was so proud that we could showcase all the amazing food that we have in the Midlands.  It’s been a fun year watching it grow – there have been ups and downs but thankfully our market is now well established in its home in Kilcruttin Business Centre.

We’ve been planning the first birthday party for a while and I’m delighted to say it was huge success with lots of loyal and new customers enjoying the day . We had demonstrations, baking competitions, craft, cakes,  lots of great food stalls and even a visit from our local alpacas……

market anniversary 004

Check out this great record of the day by our favourite photographer

Continue reading “Celebrating Midlands Food”

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

Continue reading “Midlands Cheesecake”

Baking, Catering, Cookery Classes, Food

Friends, Lovers, Chocolate……….

My father used to talk about Meitheals in the West of Ireland where he grew up – everyone coming together to help their neighbour to complete a task which would have taken forever otherwise.

I saw the Meitheal concept in operation last week when very good friends gathered round to help me photograph my food offerings. The wonderful Derick, one half of Kenmare Foodies, ventured up from the Kingdom and spent the day cooking up a storm. The lovely Fiona from Hunters Lodge arrived supposedly to potwash but was quickly put to work as a food stylist (and ironer). The fabulous Paula Ryan was photographer for the day and the results are stunning. Paul from the Shoebox arrived in the afternoon and we even got him to do some work in the kitchen! Then Jacqui & Geoff appeared that evening to make us cocktails and sample the food.

Here’s a flavour of the day…

Crab Tartlets
Crab Tartlets
Curry Pots
Curry Pots
Fish & Chips
Fish & Chips
Thai Beef Salad Cups
Thai Beef Salad Cups

And then there was the poser…..

IMG_9727

And I love this one  – very Downtonesque

Dining Room

Food photography is hungry work so I had to provide everyone with a treat to keep them sweet – with chocolate cake of course 🙂

This gorgeous cake is from a Nigella recipe and then topped with lovely orange and almond chocolate which turns it into a rather large jaffa cake…..

Chocolate & Orange Cake

Oven:    180°C/fan 160°C/Gas 4

What you need: 

  • 5 clementines
  • 6 eggs
  • 225g /8oz caster sugar
  • 250g/9 oz ground almonds
  • 1 tsp (heaped) baking powder
  • 2 bars Butlers Orange and Almond Chocolate

What you do:

  • Simmer the clementines in saucepan of water for 2 hours. Check occasionally to make sure you don’t run out of water! Drain and allow to cool
  • Cut each clementine in half, remove any  pips and then whizz oranges in a food processor.
  • Line the base of 20 cm springform tin with baking parchment and  butter the sides
  • Beat the eggs
  • Mix the dry ingredients – sugar, almonds and baking powder together.
  • Add in to the beaten eggs and mix well.
  • Finally stir in the puréed oranges.
  • Pour mix into the lined tin and bake in preheated oven for 50 mins to an hour or until skewer comes out clean.
  • Allow cake to cool in tin for about 10 mins before transferring to a wire rack
  • To finish, melt the chocolate bars and spread quickly over the top and sides of the cake.

IMG_9591

IMG_9608

Happy Cooking !

Thanks again to Derick, Fiona and Paula for all their hard work – you were brilliant guys x.

Oh and the lover bit – well to quote Meatloaf two out of three ain’t bad – the CT was on business in the UK and missed all the fun.

Catering, Cocktails, Cookery Classes, desserts, Food, Recipes

Love (and Chocolate) is in the Air….

Chocolate has always been associated with sensual and romantic properties and when we indulge in it’s silky lusciousness, endorphins are released in our brains which make us feel happy and loved.

In the last year I’ve been very lucky to work with Butler’s Chocolates, giving  chocolate cookery classes in their demo kitchen in Clonshaugh. I try to theme each class around an event so naturally the February class was all about Cupid, Valentines and Love! I do 7-8 recipes per class and I’m always amazed at how quickly the tasters disappear!

I’m also doing a ‘Cupid’s Dining’ class in my own kitchen on Tuesday 4th February – a three course romantic meal guaranteed to impress that special someone in your life 😉

Hey Pesto Valentine's Day

There will be scallops , venison and lots of chocolate among other things on the menu …and of course some pink bubbles . If you’d like more details on this or any of my classes please let me know.

IMG_9807

One of the big hits from yesterday’s class was the salted caramel dessert and here’s the recipe of you want to surprise your loved one on Valentine’s Day

Cupid’s Salted Caramel Delight

Serves 2

What you need:

  • 3-4 tbsp dulce de leche – I use Ballyshiel 
  • ½ tsp sea salt plus extra to serve
  • 50g dark chocolate
  • 50g milk chocolate
  • 75 ml cream
  • Good ‘glug’ Kahlua

Salted Caramel Pots

What you  do:

  • Stir in the sea salt into the dulce de leche and divide mix between two glasses
  • Melt the two chocolates together then stir in the cream until smooth.
  • Add in the liqueur and carefully pour over the caramel
  • Allow to chill for at least 2 hours then serve sprinkled with sea salt crystals.

Happy Cooking !

PS  a message for the Chief Taster – it’s your turn to cook for me this year 😉

Catering, Cookery Classes, Cooking, Food, Healthy Eating, Vegetarian

New Ventures in Cooking

My Father was a teacher. My Grandmother was a teacher. In fact I’m sure my Great Grandmother was one too. It was assumed that I would be one too – a maths teacher to be precise.

But I decided engineering would be a better option – 200 males to 40 females as opposed to a practically all female teacher training college…..and the job prospects were more lucrative too. No contest.

So that was the end of the teacher hopes…until a few years ago my friend Kay asked me would I be interested in teaching her and a few others how to cook. I baulked. I have never been comfortable speaking in front of a group. However after a lot of persuasion I agreed to give it a shot. I cannot honestly remember what I talked about or even cooked that first night but the feedback was great and I was hooked 🙂

My Father was passionate about his teaching and I could never understand how he went to the same job for 40 years. His answer was that he had a fresh intake of pupils every year with whom to share his love of English.
I wish I could tell him that I now have a much better understanding of what he was talking about. Mind you I’m not sure what he’d say about my move from engineering to food 😉

Since that first series of classes in Kay’s lovely kitchen I did more classes in various locations including a series in Lynch’s pub – ironically my Father’s favoured watering hole. I did some in my old kitchen as well  – great fun but to say it was cramped would be kind! And all the while I was planning my perfect dream kitchen.

Then the opportunity arose to move house , home to be precise . I took over our family home in Tullamore and after a lot of building (and a few tears) I now have not one but two kitchens!
I converted the garage to a small catering kitchen and then I got MY kitchen – a bright red one complete with my Rangemaster and with large glass doors opening out onto my Mum’s lovely garden.

In fact I love my dream kitchen so much that I’m prepared to share it with anyone who wants to learn about cooking!

I did a few classes towards the end of last year just to see how it worked – what a difference space makes!
We even had two great days doing Christmas cooking where everyone sat down to a family style turkey dinner .

So now it’s onwards and upwards . I have devised a list of classes for Spring kicking off on January 14th with a short course on Healthier Cooking. There won’t be calorie counting but it will be good food cooked from quality ingredients and I promise to cut down on my use of butter and cream. We’ll be doing dishes like healthy soups, tasty stir fries, hearty casseroles and may even be fish and chips .
Other upcoming courses include Cupid’s Cooking; a Taste of the World and Easy Entertaining

spring schedule 002-001

The classes are demo based (so far…) and then at the end you all get to taste and share the dishes prepared and then go home armed with your recipe booklet. Sometimes there’s even a glass of wine though obviously not with the Healthy Eating Course!

I’m thinking of another Saturday course for Easter and a vegetarian class has been requested. The plans are endless!

I also do dinner party classes in your home – I cook you learn and eat; as well as group and individual classes. Please contact me if you would like more details on any of these.

Happy Cooking !

Catering, Chef, Cooking, Food, Recipes

Pasta Bake for Supper ?

Way back when I didn’t cook – well career women didn’t –  my idea of a cooked dinner was either a Marks & Spencer ready meal or, if I was feeling very adventurous, a pasta bake. And yes to my shame I used packet sauce – well I did add in the tuna and the sweetcorn and make the salad 😉  Actually thinking about it I feel sorry for my partner at the time – thankfully his Mother always invited us for Sunday lunch so he was guaranteed one decent meal a week!

Now thanks to Darina Allen, my time in Ballymaloe and in particular my friend Nicola, I can now make my own pasta bake . I promise no packet sauces have crossed my threshold for years 🙂

This is a variation on my standby recipe and as such I have to apologise as all quantities are approximate. I know – this used to drive me mad when I was learning to cook and it’s taken me a long time to be confident with ‘a bit of this and a handful of that’. I blame it on my scientific background.

I also wanted to blog this today to help you use up any Christmas leftovers still lurking in your fridge before Twelfth Night. Last night’s supper was to use up mine before the new year’s resolutions kick in on Monday ………

Thankfully the turkey and ham are long gone and all I had left was  Smoked Salmon,Camembert and Cream ?

So what do you do?

  • Cook and drain some pasta – I estimated enough for 2. The general guideline is 75g dried pasta per person. I’d have preferred to use penne but hey, the choice was between fusilli or animal shapes. The fusilli won
  • Sauté a shallot and some chopped peppers in a butter/oil mix. Add some chopped smoked salmon (I used 2 long slices) , a handful of frozen peas and somecapers.
  • Cook for 2-3 mins then add a good glug of vermouth(or white wine if you’ve a bottle open). Allow to reduce for few minutes.
  • Pour in cream (I had about half a large carton left , approx 250ml) and a teaspoon of  my ‘secret’ ingredient – Ikea‘s dill mustard. Trust me you need a jar of this in your fridge!
  • Then add in the cooked pasta and transfer the mix to a casserole dish.
  • Top with panko breadcumbs and chunks ofcamembert.
  • Bake for 15-20 mins at 170 C Fan  until golden and bubbling.
  • Serve with a nice big glass of wine……….and a green salad

P1020009-001

Happy Cooking !

The health kick starts Monday I promise………… I’ll be researching recipes for my lighter cooking course which starts 14th January