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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

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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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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.
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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

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

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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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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…..

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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.

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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.