book review, cookalong, Cookbooks, Cookery Classes, Cooking, Recipes

Cookbook Cookalong No 2 – Half Baked Harvest

I’ve been following the Half Baked Harvest account on Instagram for a number of years – Tieghan’s food photography makes me hungry and her breakfast quesadilla has become a firm favourite here.

Half Baked Harvest Book

I bought the book about 2 years ago but until last week had only tried one recipe from it. I keep taking the book out to look through it and marking recipes to try so last week I put it to the test in my Friday Cookalong .

The book is subtitled ‘Recipes from My Barn in the Mountains’ and it’s bursting with dishes that Tieghan cooks for her family in Colorado and I wouldn’t mind being invited to join them. I love the story that she took over the cooking because she couldn’t cope with the chaos in the family kitchen!

selection of dishes prepped
Selection of Dishes

So what did I cook ? I started with the Gyros with Roasted Garlic Tzatziki and Feta Fries (p. 134) This is a Greek dish with lots of garlic and fresh oregano and I think that’s where I missed out – the oregano in my garden was frostbitten and I couldn’t get any fresh in the supermarket. The dried version just didn’t seem to cut it. The tzatziki was delicious – roasting the garlic certainly added extra flavour.

chicken gyros with roast garlic tzatziki
Gyros with Roasted Garlic Tzatziki

I was so looking forward to the feta fries – I mean what’s not to like about chips and cheese – but I have to admit being slightly disappointed with them 😆. Thankfully one of the ‘cook-a-longers’ tried them and loved them so I will definitely give them another try.

feta fries
Feta Fries

The second dish I tried was Seafood Bánh Mí (p.175) and I fell in love . The Bánh Mí is Vietnamese street food – a layered sandwich in a baguette – a legacy of French colonialism. The recipe includes Chimichurri and if I was to be pedantic I would say that this is an Argentinian rather than Vietnamese dressing. The traditional accompaniment would be something like sriracha sauce (a paste of chili peppers) .

I’m not complaining though – I’m all for fusion food!

banh mi side view
Prawn Bánh Mí

I used prawns instead of white fish and marinated them for a shorter time, then fried them off for a few minutes. I also added jalapenos and pickled radishes to my layered sandwich. The biggest game changer was the curry butter (traditionally the base layer is pate) – the hot prawns made it melt into absolute deliciousness (ok I’ll stop now😋)

banh mi front view
Prawn Bánh Mí

I made another version over the weekend with griddled chicken – and curry butter
Then I used the curry butter to cook chicken, salmon….. It’s become a kitchen staple and it’s so simple – you mix a few tablespoons of curry paste into softened butter and store it in your fridge . Trust me you need this in your life !

My verdict – I will use this book occasionally but it won’t make the favourites shelf 🤔

Instead of buying the book I recommend that you follow the Half Baked Harvest blog for lots of inspiration and recipes from Tieghan’s Barn in the Mountains.

Happy Cooking!

Yvonne xx

If you’d like to join the weekly Hey Pesto! cookalong or attend one of my online cookery classes then please click here  for details. 
book review, Cookbooks

New Year New Theme

Featured Book : Mowgli Street Food

book cover Mowgli Street Food

Little did I think when I started to live cookalongs last April that I’d still be doing them 8 months on ! Last year I cooked some of my favourites every Friday evening and that, together with the wonderful people that I’ve met through my facebook group, Hey Pesto Cookalong kept me going through the strange days of 2020.
This year I decided to change it around a bit – I have a rather large library of cookbooks ( some might call it an addiction!) but I seem to keep using the same books over and over. So for the sake of my books (and my sanity) I’m going to pick a different one and try some new recipes . I’ll also let you know whether I think the book is worth adding to your collection.

Week 1 was a recent addition to the library – Mowgli Street Food by Nisha Katona. I’d never heard of this restaurant chain until my good friend and fellow home economist , Sinead, recommended it at Christmas. She raved about it so much I had to buy it!

The premise of the book is Indian Street Food and the dishes served in the Mowgli restaurants – it’s well laid out with different sections with interesting introductions. I learned such things that ‘chat’ means lick , the surprise of the tiffin box, that onion and garlic is sometimes forbidden to HIndus and perhaps most worrying , that street food vendors use aromatic spices to keep meat smelling fresh !

So what did I cook? The first dish I tried was the Masala Omelette Wrap (p. 22) – I didn’t have all the ingredients but even with my substitutions this was a great lunchtime dish, especially served with the Mowgli ‘slaw (p. 140)

masala omelette wrap


For last week’s cookalong I went a bit mad and did five dishes, including the Mowgli ‘slaw :

Mowgli slaw

The Fenugreek Kissed Fries ( p. 28) – very tasty but if I was doing them again I would oven roast rather than fry them

Fenugreek potatos

Onion Bhajis (p.39) & Fish Pakoras (p. 60) – I’m not a big fan of fried food but I’ll make an exception for these bad boys anyday.

Onion bhajis and fish pakoras

Mowgli Chutney (p.147) – I loved how easy this was to make (no vinegar smell😉) and the flavours are amazing

Mowgli chutney

My verdict – this is a book that will make it to the Favourites shelf (despite there not being a picture for every recipe , my pet hate about cookbooks) . I still have a list of want to try dishes, including the yogurt chat bombs which look very challenging and the Mowgli Rocky Road.

If you like Indian food then I recommend you add this book to your library!

Happy Cooking!

Yvonne xx

If you’d like to attend one of my cookery classes online then please click here  for details. 

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 .
Continue reading “Farewell to Summer”

Cookbooks, Cookery Classes, Cooking, Healthy Eating, Recipes, Shopping

Asian Flavours

There’s been a lot of focus on Asian flavours in my kitchen lately – now that Spring has arrived I’m craving lighter, zingier food so I’m stocking up on citrus fruits, chillis and lots of fresh vegetables.

My two favourite Asian shops are the Asia Market in Ballymount and the Eurasia store in Fonthill – as those of you who come to my classes are well aware! Both are like Aladdin’s Caves full of wonderful  and exotic ingredients – and I have to admit a number of which I have no idea what to do with – I would love someone to take me on a tour and explain how to use these ingredients. I regularly buy something which necessitates a google search before I can use it ! (hints on using dried Japanese plums  welcome!)

Asian Shopping supplies

Continue reading “Asian Flavours”

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!”

Cookbooks, Cookery Classes, Cooking, family meals, Healthy Eating, Recipes, Vegetarian

A paté to suit all tastes

Many Christmases ago a friend gave me a Rose Elliot vegetarian cookbook. It was in constant use for a few years with a mixed score of successes and failures. Some recipes like her vegetarian style chilli are still firm favourites. Others such as Hot Stuffed Avocados have been long sentenced to the ‘never to be attempted again pile’ 😉

A few years ago I was watching ‘Come Dine with Me’ (don’t judge me!) and was very taken by a vegetarian paté cooked by one of the contestants. On further research I discovered it was a Rose Elliot recipe which has made it the favourites pile and has been devoured by vegetarians and carnivores alike ! The original name of ‘lentil paté’ tends make people think of dark brown, unappetising sludge so I simplified it!

Why not try it the next time you’re entertaining?
Continue reading “A paté to suit all tastes”

Chef, Cookbooks, Cooking, family meals, Healthy Eating, Recipes, Vegetarian

Irish Potatoes with a Spanish Twist

Today is National Potato Day so it’s only right to celebrate our most famous vegetable !

There are so many ways to cook our national treasure but as I’m still trying to keep the summer memories alive I’m adding  a Spanish twist to tonight’s dish. This dish will be perfect both as an accompaniment to some thing like a roast chicken breast or served as part of tapas selection.

I’ve tried a few different recipes for Patatas Bravas – you know the tasty potatoes in tomato sauce you get in Tapas Bars – and I always come back to Simon Rimmer’s version. He slow roasts the potatoes with chilli rather than the traditional method of deep frying the potatoes and then adding the sauce so it’s a healthier option.  I’ve tweaked it to my taste and I hope you like it !
Continue reading “Irish Potatoes with a Spanish Twist”

book review, Cookbooks, Cooking, Food, Recipes, Vegetarian

Books For Cooks & Corn Soup

Thursday night is date night here. I cook, he brings the wine and we both relax. It started as an excuse for me to try out new dishes using the Chief Taster as the guinea pig but with all that’s being going on this summer we went a little off track, The night we resorted to shop bought pizza I knew it was time for a rethink.

Continue reading “Books For Cooks & Corn Soup”

Cookbooks, Cooking, family meals, Food, Healthy Eating, Recipes, Vegetarian

A fritter type of pancake…

Sometimes you just need time out and this weekend was one of those times. I love being busy – both workwise and socially but things have been pretty hectic for the last two months.

I had an early night on Friday and spent a very pleasant few hours Saturday morning reading Mary Berry’s autobiography before tackling some long overdue housekeeping. The pantry had taken on a life of its own and needed to be brought back under control. Now everything is neatly grouped and visible ……for a while anyway. The tupperware is organised and the kitchen presses are organised.

Now if only I could persuade someone to do the ironing 😉

After all that hard work I had to recover on the couch with some TV and cookbooks. My book of choicewas a lovely one I brought back from Canada,  ‘The Ontario Table’ and one of the recipes that I wanted to try was for Corn Fritters

The Ontario Table

By coincidence when I was flicking through the channels I came across The Two Fat Ladies cooking corn fritters. A sign definitely …

So combining the two recipes I made the following for Sunday Brunch:

Corn Fritter

Corn Fritters (or are they pancakes?)

What you need:

  • 200g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp Irish Atlantic Chilli & Paprika salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 180ml milk
  • fresh corn kernels from 2 cobs of corn
  • Bunch spring onions chopped

What you do:

  • Mix flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
  • Whisk eggs and milk together in a jug.
  • Make a hollow in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour in egg mix
  • Fold in to make a creamy batter then add in the corn and the spring onions.
  • Drop 2-3 tbsp. onto griddle pan, allow to ‘bubble’, then turn over to cook other side.

I served the fritters with crispy Pigs on the Green bacon and my latest food addiction – Golden Beetroot Relish from In Season Farm which I found in the lovely Hereford & More shop

Technically fritters should be fried in oil but I opted for the griddle method of cooking which makes them more of a savoury pancake and therefore an option for Shrove Tuesday don’t you think?

Happy Cooking !

And even though I may have gotten a little bored last night (as predicted by the CT!), my batteries are now fully recharged and ready for the week ahead 🙂

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’!