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

Happy New Year and all that …..

Happy New Year! I’m full of good intentions this morning – well who isn’t? 😉

2013 was exciting, if a tad stressful – the best bit being moving house and installing not one but two kitchens – one for me and one for Hey Pesto!
Now I have no excuses so  it’s time to start making plans for the year ahead……..

I want to :

  1. concentrate on the ‘cookery school side’ of the business – starting with my lighter cooking course on 14th January. I’ve been blown away by the feedback from my classes so far and I can’t believe how much I love doing them.
  2. continue to grow my catering business. I can’t believe it’s 9 years since I started Hey Pesto!
  3. blog more – I know, I know, I said that last year but there were far too many distractions. I also want to finally get round to creating a website (Stop laughing – yes you!)
  4. cook more for pleasure – now that I have a library for my cookery books I need to use them! (I shall also be looking for ‘guinea pigs’)
  5. enjoy lots of good food in the company of good friends and loved ones.

Another thing that I am very conscious of is the amount of food that is wasted. I tried to cut down last year but bad habits crept back in… So since Christmas I have trying to use up everything – I haven’t been food shopping since Christmas Eve and have managed to produce a number of tasty meals – ok I know we all overstock before the holidays but………

Of course I’m also going to be “super” healthy in 2014….well maybe I should start with healthier…….I even got a birthday present of gym membership (a less than subtle hint perhaps!)

So my first meal of 2014 is going to be a Vegetarian Crumble to use up all the sad vegetables still lurking in the pantry.

Vegetables

Spiced Vegetable Crumble

No Servings:         4 -6
Oven:                   180ºC/ gas 4     

What you need:

  • 1 – 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 onion,  chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp ground tumeric
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1-2 cm fresh ginger, grated
  • 1/2 jar passata
  • Approx 750g mixed root vegetables, chopped
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • 75g flour
  • 75g Kilbeggan Porridge Oats
  • 50g butter
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

What you do:

  • Heat the oil in a large pan and sauté the onion for approx 5 mins. Meanwhile dry fry the cumin nad coriander seeds and roughly grind in a pestle and mortar (Okay you can use a spice grinder but think of the exercise!)
  • Add the garlic, spices and ginger to the onions, cook for another minute then add in 2 tbsps of passasta. Cook for another minute then add in the rest of the passata.
  • Add in the chopped vegetables – I used carrots, celery(not a root veg I know but it was in the basket), sweet potato and parsnips. I also threw in the half packet of chestnuts that were languishing in the fridge since I made turkey & leek pie.
  • Transfer the mix to a casserole dish and pour in your vegetable stock.
  • Make the crumble topping by rubbing the butter into the flour and oats. Add in the cayenne pepper – both for colour and seasoning. You could use paprika if you prefer.
  • Top the vegetables with the crumble mix and bake for 30-40 mins. until the top is golden and bubbling.

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My dish is ready to go into the oven but as it has stopped raining I may even attempt to go for a walk!  Looking forward to dinner later with a nice glass of red wine  – well it is still Christmas ….

Happy Cooking and Happy New Year!

PS What are you planning for 2014?!

This is how the Crumble turned out and if I do say so myself it was rather tasty!

Vegetable Crumble

 

Catering, Christmas, Cookery Classes, Cooking, Food, Recipes, Vegetarian

Vegetarians deserve Christmas too!

When I was in college and living away from home for the first time I decided I would become a vegetarian. I have to to say it was more from  economic than altruistic reasons … that and the fact I had a major aversion to handling raw meat!
This ‘phase’ lasted for about 14 years – and ended abruptly 3 days into my time studying in Ballymaloe Cookery School when I decided that if I was going to cook for a living I needed to know what everything tasted like  And yes it was a rasher sambo that ‘brought me back’ 😉

During my years as a vegetarian I drove my poor Mum mad every Christmas by refusing point blank to touch turkey or ham and insisting on cooking my own dinner down to the vegetarian gravy!

Over the years this nut roast became a Christmas favourite tradition and even my very carnivorous brother gave it his seal of approval.

So if you’re looking for a veggie option for Christmas Day then your search ends here……….

Best Ever Cashew Nut & Mushroom Roast

No Servings:         6
Oven:             180ºC/ gas 4/350ºF      

What you need:

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  •  1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  •  8 oz/225g cashew nuts, roughly chopped
  •  4 oz/110g breadcrumbs
  •  1 egg
  • 3 medium parsnips, cooked and mashed
  • 1 tsp each fresh rosemary & thyme
  •  ¼ pt/ 150 ml vegetable stock
  •  Good knob of  butter
  •  8 oz/ 225g mushrooms, sliced.

What you do:

  • Heat the oil in a large pan and sauté onion for few mins, Making sure to add a pinch of salt. Add the garlic then cook until soft
  • In a large bowl mix nuts and breadcrumbs together with the beaten egg.
  • Add in the mashed parsnips and the herbs, followed by onion and garlic. Make sure you add all the cooking juices in to avoid any dryness in roast
  • Stir in the stock and season to taste. Set aside
  • In your pan sauté mushrooms in butter until soft. I always add a little sherry or vermouth at this stage…. it gives a lovely flavour!
  • Butter  and line 2 lb loaf tin. Put a line of your best mushroom pieces down the middle of the base – this will be the top of your roast when you turn it out so make sure they look good!
  • Then press in half the nut mixture. Cover with a layer of mushrooms and top with rest of nut mixture.
  • Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour. When cooked remove from oven and allow to stand for 10 mins before turning out.
  • Serve it hot with all the usual Christmas accompaniments or have it cold with salad and chutney.

Note: You can half the recipe and use a 1 lb loaf tin if you want to cook this for 2-3 people

And if you’re looking for a delicious vegetarian gravy …….. all you need to do is put 1 pt/500ml water, 2 tbsp soy sauce and 2 tbsp redcurrant jelly in a saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the jelly. Blend 2 tbsp cornflour with 2 tbsp orange juice and 1 tbsp sherry. Stir a little of hot liquid into cornflour mix, then add back into saucepan, whisking well to ensure no lumps! Simmer over gentle heat until slightly thickened. Season to taste. 

Enjoy!

Happy Cooking and Happy Christmas!

Catering, Cookbooks, Cooking, Food, Healthy Eating, Recipes, Vegetarian

Comforting Vegetarian Cuisine

As I may have mentioned not only do I collect cookbooks I also collect recipes…. Also did I mention that I was a vegetarian for about 14 years?

I was talking to the guys in my local vegetable shop, The Farmer’s Gate, about recipes we could give their customers that use  produce from the shop.  So I went back through my recipe notebook for inspiration and came across this one for Savoury Vegetable Crumble. I think the original came from a  vegetarian magazine way back when I was dedicated to the cause. It’s been adapted a bit over the years and here’s the latest version.

You can use any mix of vegetables for this dish but winter root vegetables work really well. Tonight I used leeks, celery and carrot as they were in my vegetable rack. I also added a red pepper for colour.

What you need:

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 cm ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • Mix of vegetables  – such as 2-3 carrots, few sticks celery, 2 parsnips…..
  • 500 ml vegetable stock
  • 1 400g tin cannelloni beans
  • 75g/3 oz spelt flour
  • 50g/2 oz butter
  • 75g/3oz Kilbeggan Porridge Oats

What you do:

  • Sauté the onions and the chilli until soft but not coloured.
  • Dry fry the cumin and coriander seeds for a minute then grind in pestle and mortar with the other spices. Then add to the onions and chilli and cook for a few mins.
  • Add in the purée, cook for another minute, add vegetables and toss to coat in the spice mix.
  • Finally add in the stock and the beans. Bring mix to the boil and then simmer over a low heat for 15-20 mins.

  • Make the crumble by rubbing the butter into the flour and then add in the oats.

  • Transfer the vegetable mix to a casserole dish and scatter the crumble over the top.

  • Bake the dish at 190 C/Gas 5 for 25 mins until crumble is cooked

I served the dish with some minted yoghurt – a perfect warming dish  for a dark winter’s evening!

Happy Cooking !

And yes, before you ask – it was the rasher sandwich that ‘brought me back’!

Baking, Cakes, Catering, Christmas, Cooking, Food, Recipes

When is a recipe a family recipe?

When is a recipe a family recipe?  Does someone in your family have to develop the recipe from scratch or can it be a recipe that is used a few times and then becomes a family favourite?

I’ve been involved in several conversations on this topic and my maths brain tells me that there has to be a finite (albeit large)  number of recipe combinations so there are bound to be duplicates making it harder to credit the original originator of a recipe!

I believe that recipes  evolve  through sharing and experimentation. I have scraps of paper from family and friends glued into my recipe notebook  including a very precious  one dictated by my late Grandmother for her famous brown bread – once I figure out how much is in a ‘handful’ I’m sure it will work…..

I have a ‘to try’ box filled with recipes cut  from magazines and papers that I want to try …..someday

I have a vast collection of cookbooks that I love to cook from – but more often than not I’ll change something as I’m going along.

Don’t you hate it if  you  ask somebody for a recipe and they refuse to share it as it’s a ‘family secret’?

I make a lot of Chocolate Roulades – in fact it’s one of my main desserts. I love making a mini version to go on a mixed dessert plate.  I was given the recipe by the lady who owned the catering company I used to work for. I changed the quantities slightly to make it work in a bigger tin., and added the brandy! Years later I came across practically the same recipe in one of the Avoca books – so does the recipe belong to the person who first gave me the recipe, to the author or to me ???

I hate to think of myself as possessive so I’m more than willing to share this wonderful recipe, whoever it  actually ‘owns’ it.  I hope you like it.

What you need:

  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 6 oz/175g dark chocolate
  • 6 oz/175g  caster sugar
  • 3 fl oz/ 75 ml brandy
  • ½ pt /300ml cream, whipped

What you do:

  • Melt the chocolate with the brandy, either slowly in the microwave or in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.
  • Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until you get to the ‘ribbon stage’ – you really need an electric whisk for this unless you have really strong arms!
  • Fold in the melted chocolate into the egg mix. Then in a clean bowl whisk the egg whites until stiff (the egg whites not your arms!)
  • Using a metal spoon fold the egg white in stages into the chocolate mix. Then pour into a lined large Swiss roll tin
  • Bake at 180 C/Gas 4 for 12-15 minutes, until firm to touch.

Leave to cool completely

  • This is the important bit – cover with a damp towel and leave to cool completely
  • Dust the top of roulade with icing sugar and invert onto parchment paper.

  • Spread the cream evenly over the surface (feel free to add fresh berries as well)

  • Using the parchment paper to help  roll it up like a Swiss roll

  • Decorate the roulade with icing sugar and strawberries or grated chocolate

  • Serve and watch it disappear!

PS This works really well as a Christmas Log – decorate it with chocolate leaves and a robin!

Anybody else got a favourite recipe they’d like to share ?

Happy Cooking !

Baking, Cakes, Catering, Cooking, Food, Recipes

Chocolatey Caramelly Cheesecake

Did I mention I’m not a dessert person? I know this may place me in a minority but in my defence I do enjoying making them for others. And sometimes I even find a recipe that tempts me to have a sliver……

I knew once I saw the Peanut Caramel Cheesecake in Good Housekeeping’s ‘Chocolate Collection’ that it was going to be one of those recipes destined to become a firm favourite. I tried it out for a family occasion but never got to taste as much as a crumb – which is always a good sign.  Then I did it for as part of dessert buffet and had several requests for the recipe.

So when some of my college friends came for a barbeque last weekend (and yes we did get to eat outdoors –  without fleeces and raingear!) there was no question about what I was doing for dessert! And it was a HIT!

I have made one or two changes to the original recipe including leaving out the peanuts in my last version cos I’m always worried in case someone has a peanut allergy. I hope you like it…..

What you need: 

  • 150g dark chocolate digestives
  • 50g butter, melted
  • 500g Philadelphia ( the full fat version please)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (vanilla paste would be even better ..)
  • 3 egg whites
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 50g dark chocolate ( I use 70% ) , chopped
  • 60g dried pineapple pieces *
  • 2-3 tbsp of Ballyshiel dulce de leche

in the original recipe this is 75g salted peanuts

What you do:

  • Line a 22cm springform tin with butter and baking parchment.
  • Crush the biscuits in a plastic bag using a rolling pin. Mix the crushed biscuits and melted butter together and press into the base of the tin.
  • Whisk the cream cheese with the vanilla until smooth and creamy.
  • Then (in a spotlessly clean bowl) whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks. Gradually add in the sugar to form a glossy meringue like mixture.
  • Carefully fold the meringue mix into the cream cheese using a metal spoon.
  • Then fold in the chocolate and pineapple into the mix.
  • Finally swirl in the dulce de luche and pour the mix onto the biscuit base.
  • Leave cheesecake to set in fridge overnight – or if you’re in a hurry pop it into the freezer for a few hours.
  • Remove the cheesecake from the tin and topwith more dulce de leche and grated chocolate…….
  • Serve and watch it disappear!

I dare you not to come back for a second slice!

Happy Cooking !

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

There’s no chocolate in it honestly!

As you may have noticed  I  have a ‘slight’ addiction to cookbooks. I also have a tendency to collect recipes from magazines, newspapers etc  – I have a box of pages and clippings from various publications that I have garnered from numerous sources ………..

Some look tantalising when I’m in the hairdressers or in a waiting room but once assigned to the ‘box’ they never leave, others make it straight to the kitchen for testing and some even go on to become firm favourites.

One such find was a recipe for an Espresso Tart – I think it came from a Food & Travel magazine and my apologies for not acknowleding the original owner of this recipe but your details aren’t on my valued clipping.

I’m not really a dessert person but I do like this (must be the caffeine).  Almost everyone who tastes it is convinced there’s chocolate in it but as you’ll see there’s none.

This  tart is divine on it’s own but can be raised to another level if you serve it with a mascarpone sorbet. I often make it into individual tartlets to serve at dinner parties and it’s always well received

Individual Espresso Tart with Sorbet

I brought one of these tarts to Inishfood in May and I’ve been asked to share the recipe – so this is especially for Donal, Imen and Bríd.

Espresso Tart

Oven Setting: 180ºC/ Gas 4

What you need:

  • Sweet Shortcrust Pastry *
  • 125g butter
  • 250g muscavado sugar
  • 2 tsp espresso coffee (finely ground – I use Illy)
  • 6 tbsp Kahlua or Tia Maria
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 50g self raising flour, sieved

What you do:

  • Line a 24cm loose bottomed tin with your pastry and leave to chill
  • For the filling, heat butter and sugar until sugar dissolves, then ad the coffee, liqueur and eggs.
  • Gently fold in the sieved flour and pour the mixture into the pastry case.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 35-40 mins – you want a ‘squidgy, fudgy’ texture- be careful not to overcook!
  •  Leave to cool before serving.
* I use 1lb flour, 8oz butter, 1-2 egg yolks, 1 tbsp caster sugar and a little water to make my pastry – this should give you    enough for 2 tarts. You don’t need to blind bake the pastry for this recipe.
Espresso Tartlets
As I said this tart can be served as an excellent dinner party dessert with ice cream or créme fraiche but best of all with mascarpone sorbet which is not as complicated as it sounds – please try it as the taste combination is divine!

Mascarpone Sorbet

What you need: 

  • 250g tub mascarpone
  • 250ml  milk (the proper full fat type please!)
  • 150g caster sugar

What you do: 

  • Whisk the  mascarpone with the milk until thick, smooth and lumpfree. Then stir in the sugar.
  • If you have an ice cream maker, pour in mix and leave to stir until thick and creamy, then freeze until needed.
  • If you don’t have an ice cream maker then pour mix into tupperware box and freeze for an hour. Then whisk in frozen edges back into centre of mix to break up any ice crystals. Freeze for another hour then beat again. Repeat until sorbet is thick, creamy and frozen.

Now all you have to do is sit back and enjoy – and now you know there’s no chocolate in it, honestly!

Happy Cooking !

 

Catering, Cocktails, Food, Shopping

Summer (yes Summer!) Cocktails……..

My poor blog has been much neglected of late. Despite all my resolutions there always seems to be something else that to done or somewhere else I need to be………

There’s lots I want to share – like the weekend at Inishfood and all the amazing food; the surprise no-menu that I had in Springfort Hall….and of course recipes that I’ve tried from my cookbook collection……..

So let’s start with the most recent – Summer Cocktails in Fallon & Byrne .

I love this shop – they have the most amazing selection of fresh fruit and vegetables; great variety of oils, vinegars, seasonings, savouries, cheese and chocolates to name but a few; one of the best deli counters for lunch or coffee and of course a very tempting wine cellar…….

So when I received a tweet from them asking for my email address I was intrigued…..and not disappointed when I received  an invitation to an evening of summer cocktails, nibbles and natter!  Through the magic that is twitter I soon discovered others that had received a similiar invitation and it looked like shaping up to a lively evening………

It didn’t disappoint – I met up with the lovely Aoife otherwise known as Babaduck and the  debonair Paul from The ShoeBox  in Kilkenny for a catch up and  wander up Grafton Street (there are times I regret leaving Dublin). The sun even made an appearance for the occasion!

Then at the appointed hour we presented ourselves at Fallon & Byrne where the wonderful Jennifer treated us like royalty (despite my falling up the stairs!)

We meet Paul Lambert the man behind the Cocktail Menu who explained that they were using the fresh produce from the food hall to add that difference to their cocktails – and on tasting we agreed! There was so much fresh fruit and herbs in the cocktails they were almost healthy.

I opted for the Poppy Honeysuckle to start – a blend of Jameson whiskey, elder flower liqueur, Sauvignon Blanc, honey, pressed apple juice, lemon juice & passion fruit syrup – all served in a ‘grown up’ Martini glass. I am not a whiskey fan but this was divinely palatable! My companions chose the French 75 and the Mojito.

The staff were most attentive and as soon as our glasses were empty they ‘insisted’ on serving us more….

I went for the Passion Fruit & Jalapeño Margarita (jalapeño-infused tequila, passion fruit, mint and lemon juice) on the recommendation of Lily from A Mexican Cook in Ireland. I’m a bit of a chilli addict and my taste buds loved this. This time my companions went for an Old Fashioned & a Rspberry Caipirinha.

We were also treated to some beautifully crafted canapés – naturally I was very interested (call it industrial espionage!!).  I need to work on getting mine to look this good!

My favourite was the goat’s cheese tartlets followed by the gazpacho – I loved the cups!

It was great to catch with friends and  put faces to more twitter friends –   Rozanne , Caitriona, Aoife (Daily Spud), Aoife (Icanhascook), Dorcas, Catherine….

Before leaving I had to try one more cocktail – a mojito on Paul’s recommendation! Then Cinders headed back to the country  whilst the rest of them partied on to the Tapas Trail launch……..

Thanks to Fallon & Byrne for a lovely evening and to Jennifer for her hard work in organising the event

Take my word for it you should go and try their cocktails for yourself – they will definitely brighten up your summer and if you want my recommendation go for the jalapeño margarita  …

Pssst they have “buy one get one on the house’ cocktails on Mondays & Tuesdays…………….

PS Special thanks is also due  to my ‘chauffeur’ who put up with my post cocktail  giggling all the way home!

Catering, Cooking, Food

A Grand Experience – my brush with fame!

I grew up in Tullamore. I went to school beside the Grand Canal. I even went on my holidays to Vicarstown- on- the- Canal (well somebody had to!) . But until a few weeks I had never been on the canal ! In fact I’m ashamed to say it I had never even been inside the inner harbour in Tullamore (that’s the one behind the big gates on Harbour Street , yes the clue is in the name!!!)

Now I can say not only have I been on 2 barges but I have cooked on one!

After Taste of Offaly I received a phone call asking me would I like to cook local produce as part of A Grand Experience,  a film documentary being made by Mixed Bag Media about the Grand Canal and all Offaly has to offer. Would I what? Just try and stop me!

Meetings were held and I was dispatched to source lots of local food – and do you know we have a wealth of amazing produce in Offaly?

The film is a part of Offaly County Council’s public art project and follows 3 local artists  on the six-day journey along the Grand Canal on the historic Lora Marie 68m barge. The artists were Offaly playwright and Pure Mule author Eugene O’Brien, singer-songwriter Wayne Brennan and Veronica Nicholson, a photographer and installation artist who were recording their impressions of Offaly during the journey

The night the 68M arrived in Tullamore Harbour with crew and artists on board – I fed them Offaly Lamb from Annaharvey with a Moroccan Twist and  Sticky Toffee Pudding. I wasn’t ‘acting’ that evening – just delivering! The 68M is a fabulous Heritage barge lovingly restored and I’m only sorry I didn’t get to spend a week on it!

The following morning everything kicked off – well for me anyway! I was cooking brunch on another barge, Saoirse ar an Uisce – well I thought I was cooking brunch until a panic phone call told that due to engine trouble it would now be breakfast! See the joys of stardom!!

So early on the Thursday morning I loaded up on my fabulous Offaly produce and headed for the canal to start cooking.

On the menu was:

Kilbeggan Oats Granola with Glenisk Yoghurt & Rhubarb Compote

*********
Pigs on the Green Black Pudding Sausages & Streaky Bacon

Tullamore Meats  Black Pudding with Hey Pesto! Red Onion Marmalade

Clanwood Farm Leek & Potato Tortilla with Mossfield Cheddar

*********
O’Donohue’s Traditional Soda Bread

Derryvilla Farm Blueberry Muffins

Coolfin Gardens Country Loaf

*********

Mossfield Farm Cheese, Butter & Milk

Derryvilla Farm Blueberry Jam & Relish

Limefield Honey

Hey Pesto! Geashill Strawberry Jam

*********

O’Donohue’s Fruit Scones

Kilbeggan Oats Cookies

Ballyshiel Mini Banoffee Pies

********

 Cooking in a galley kitchen  whilst 1) waiting for local dignitaries, the artists and 2) trying to ignore the camera crew was different and great fun! (Did I mention I love the variety my job offers?)

The Bacon Sizzling!

The Artists enjoying the granola – the sausages were a big hit too!

This was me trying not to laugh and ending up looking ridiculous in the Galley

Once everyone was fed and watered I was delighted to stay on the barge (engine trouble sorted!)for my first canal trip and follow the 68 M albeit only as far as Boland’s Lock .

I had to say goodbye as I was off to Dublin to cater another job.

I want to say a huge thanks to all the Offaly Food Producers who were so generous with their fabulous produce and to Martina & Garett for inviting me to part of this project, and to everyone who made me feel so relaxed and welcome on the day.

I’m looking forward to the Film ‘Premiere’ and keeping my fingers (and toes) crossed that I don’t end up on the cutting room floor! I’m available for autographs………….

PS now that you see what a wealth of local food we have why not support our local producers? You can buy the products listed in The Farmer’s Gate and Farm Factory Direct both in Tullamore and in  The Organic Store in Birr.

 

Catering, Cookbooks, Cooking, Food, Recipes

Beetroot & Goat’s Cheese Tartlets

Thursday is normally dinner night here – it’s when I try out new dishes and we sit down to taste them with a glass (or two!) of wine. Due to various work commitments this changed to Tuesday this week and I was all set to try out a cornbread recipe and a few new starter ideas ….until the phone rang at 5pm asking me to cater a breakfast meeting at 7.30 the  following morning.

Thankfully the main course of ‘Rioja-braised lamb shanks with chorizo & garlic’ from Lorraine Pascale’s book ‘Home Cooking Made Easy‘ was underway so I could devote myself to baking scones, muffins etc.

But then I realised we needed a starter so it was time for the store cupboard (my new fridge!)  and some inspiration ……..and that classic combination of beetroot & goat’s cheese! I had a packet of pre-made pastry cases that I wanted to try so it was tartlets for starters and they worked out well! They’re quick and simple so give them a go….

For 2 you need :

Goat's Cheese & Beetroot Tartlets

  • 2 pastry cases (I got mine in Marks & Spencers)
  • 2-3 cooked baby beetroot
  • 1 egg
  • approx 100ml Glenisk Cream
  • 30g St Tola Goat’s Cheese

What I did:

  • Cut beetroot into chunks and placed in pastry case
  • Whisk cream and egg together and pour over the beetroot (you probably won’t need all the mix)
  • ‘Dot’ the tartlet with cheese
  • Bake at 180C/Gas 4 for 10 -12  mins until firm and golden
I served them with green leaves and a drizzle of Highbank Apple Syrup…
The Verdict – ‘we’ll have those again please!’
The Main course was absolutely divine and ideal for the current weather! I just had one little niggle – I could only get Knorr stock cubes and they made the sauce very salty! Note to self – get some other stock ….. 
Lamb Shanks with Rioja
 Thursday’s dinner is now likely to be something like a quick bowl of pasta. Wonder what I’ll try for next week’s tasting……….

Happy Cooking !

PS if you’re looking for the lamb shank recipe here it is http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/rioja-braised_lamb_66249
Catering, Cooking, Food, Recipes

Nature’s Larder

There are lots of free foods available in nature – and I’m lucky to have a prolific patch of one of them,  wild garlic, near my house. Some of my neighbours may have  spotted me a few weeks ago heading into the woods armed with my basket and wondered ‘what is she up to now?’ ! I was simply harvesting  a large bunch of delicious wild garlic…

I used some of the leaves in a mixed salad and more wilted into pasta but the majority of it was transformed into delicious garlic pesto.

And this is how easy it is:

  • First wash the garlic leaves in salted water (to kill off any unwanted protein!!) and then rinse and dry in a salad spinner.
  • For approx 150g leaves, you need to whizz 100g parmesan and 100g cashew nuts in the food processor until it looks like breadcrumbs.
  • Add 1 large garlic clove (roughly chopped) and a pinch of salt .
  • Then add the wild garlic leaves and pulse.
  • Pour in enough rapeseed  oil to get to a ‘wettish’ mix (sorry it’s hard to quantify this bit!) and Hey Pesto! you’re done!
  • Pour the  pesto into clean sterilized jars and make sure the top is covered with additional oil before sealing.

These quantities should yield 3-4 jars of Wild Garlic Pesto.

The pesto is delicious with pasta, on pizzas, as a dip…..We use it on parmesan shortbreads topped with goat’s cheese as one of our canapés.

ps you can substitute other herbs such as basil, coriander or parsley for all or part of the wild garlic.