Chef, Cookery Classes, Cooking, entertaining, family meals, Food, Recipes, slow cooking, Wine

Every goal deserves a (crispy) reward, right?

I love figures. I know you might think it strange , but I see a spreadsheet as a thing of beauty. Neat , organized columns of figures, with built in checks to make sure there are no errors.
So why then does the thought of doing my accounts fill me with fear and dread? Every October it’s the same routine – panic and chaos to get the previous years receipts and invoices in order to give to my accountant.

You’d imagine with all the enforced spare time this year that I would have done it months ago, but no, it took a reminder letter to galvanize me into action. Even the Chief Taster knows better than to ask how the codeword A is progressing !
But in the spirit of Organized October, and building on Grainne’s foundation folder – yes even friends try to help me over this fear – I delivered the files (well the bulk of) to my accountant’s office on Thursday.

Cause for celebration right? Cue Crispy Roast Duck for dinner…

Crispy duck is big favourite in this house but last few times I cooked it I only did the legs and served the meat with pancakes and plum sauce. Last week I spotted full ducks in the freezer section in Lidl so I thought I’d experiment with cooking it in my slow cooker .

So once the duck was defrosted (overnight in the fridge) and the giblets removed, I stuffed the cavity with lemon, garlic, dried limes and star anise

Duck Cavity stuffed with lemon and garlic

I didn’t want the duck to be sitting in it’s own fat as it cooked so I put some vegetables in the base of the slow cooker to act as a trivet

vegetable trivet in slow cooker

To add more flavour, I rubbed a mix of cumin, coriander and seasalt into the skin.

spice rub on duck skin

Then I put the lid on the pot and left the cooker on high for 4 hours and then turned it down low for another 3 hours.

The Chief Taster arrived in to the most tantalizing, delicious cooking smells and suggested we walk down to find a suitable wine. I delivered my files to the accountant on the way and then a Beaujolais Villages was chosen (Yes I know, I should really have insisted on bubbles to mark my achievement!!) 😉

duck cooking in slow cooker

Post walk I transferred the duck to a very hot oven (220 C) for about 30 minutes to crisp up the skin. Plus remember the vegetable trivet – the vegetables had cooked beautifully in the duck fat – so I put them in the oven too!

Duck coming out of oven

In the meantime I made a quick plum sauce, by simmering the following together over a low heat, for 30 minutes :

  • 1 punnet of plums, quartered and stones removed.
  • 1 star anise
  • Good glug of Chinese cooking wine
plum sauce simmering

Dinner was almost ready – all it needed was a big bowl of delicious vegetable egg fried rice flavoured with some oyster sauce and finished with sesame oil.

dinner is served - rice, sauce and duck

Result? It’s made it to the favourite recipe folder and I’m in the running for girlfriend of the year!!!

Just in case you think we’re total gluttons there was lots of meat left on the duck and it’s gone into the freezer to be used at a later date.

Just a thought, in these strange times when we don’t know what will happen over the next few months – this dish would be perfect for a Christmas dinner for 2-3 people 🤶

STAY SAFE AND HAPPY COOKING!

PS I don’t like to brag but I also put all my summer clothes away in the attic this week – neatly sorted of course! Now onto my next organizing project…..

PS 2 Grainne, if you’re reading this, can you please come back and sort my accounts for 2020?

Cookery Classes, Cooking, Food, Kitchen Organization, Recipes

More Organizing and a Veggie Pie

One week into my ‘Organized Plan’ and already I need to up my game! I’m still armed with my label maker but the pantry is only half organized.

I have to stop getting distracted …oh look what’s that shiny thing over there 🤣

Another of my winter projects is to file and write up recipes that I have tried and open another file with recipes I want to try – and cookbooks I need to read – so when I do get back to work I’ll have lots of new ideas (and yes I am still working on online classes…)
I’ve been revisiting some old recipes for my Friday Facebook Cookalong and last night I cooked one of my favourite vegetarian dishes – Sweet Potato & Spinach Pie. It’s a delicious warming dish flavoured with Moroccan spices (from my beautifully organised spicce cupboard!). Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Sweet Potato & Spinach Pie

Oven: 200 C

What you need:

  • Rapeseed oil
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, washed
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ras el hanout
  • Bag of baby spinach leaves, rinsed
  • Good pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 packet feta cheese
  • 1 tin chickpeas, drained
  • Black pepper and nutmeg
  • 1 packet filo pastry
  • Butter, melted  
  • Nigella seeds

What you do:

  • Bake the sweet potato for approx. 45 mins until cooked. Set aside to cool.  Then scoop out the flesh.
  • Heat a glug of oil in a pan and sauté the onion until soft. Add in the ras el hanout and cook for another minute until the onion is coated with the spices.
  • Add the cooked onion to the sweet potato in a large bowl.
  • Using the same pan, wilt the spinach leaves and season with nutmeg
  • Stir in the wilted spinach leaves into the bowl with sweet potato. Then crumble in the feta. Season with pepper (the feta will add salt to the mix). Stir in chickpeas. Check for seasoning
  • Line the base of your 20cm springform tin with baking parchment and rub the sides with butter.
  • Unfold your filo pastry and place under a damp tea towel to prevent it from drying out. Line your tin with 3 or 4 sheets, making sure to brush each sheet with melted butter. Allow the extra filo to hang over the sides.
  • Spoon your potato filling into the centre of the tin and then fold in the side pieces of pastry to form the top of your pie. Brush with butter and sprinkle with nigella seeds.
  • Bake your pie in a hot oven for 20-25 mins until golden and crispy.
sweet potato pie on serving dish

Cutting into the crispy pastry you’ll see the layers of goodness inside 🤗

cut potato pie

And I even made a baby pie – these are very handy to have in your freezer for the days when you don’t feel like cooking.

Mini sweet potato pie

Stay Safe and Happy Cooking!

PS if anyone has any hints or tips on how to stay focused and get organized please let me know 😉


Cookery Classes, Cooking, Food, Kitchen Organization

Organized October

Not that you need me to mention it but 2020 has been one strange year.

Back in March when Lockdown began I was full of great intentions – everything was going to be organized in my house, I was going to learn how to crochet, paint furniture, read all the books in the pile by my bed…

I managed to plant a wild flower garden (of which I’m very proud), paint a garden bench and reorganize my shed. And then my plans went a bit pear-shaped. My Sister and her family moved into my Mum’s house for 3 months and my Mum moved in with me. It was a great summer – lots of family meals and outings. I loved spending time with my niece and nephews. Morning walks and coffee with my sister were another bonus.

They’ve gone back to their renovated house and I’m finding things rather quiet without them ( though the cat is enjoying reclaiming her territory ). So rather than feeling sorry for myself I decided it’s time to make some new lists and make October ‘Organization Month’ . I’m hoping that writing the items down will ensure that I complete all of them…🤞

On the list so far :

As you may know I’ve been doing live cook-alongs over on Facebook – now I need to start blogging the recipes.

As physical classes aren’t an option at the moment I’m embracing the online world and working on a Zoom class schedule

I’m planning an Afternoon Tea class to raise funds for ‘Cups for Cancer’ so I’m hoping you’ll all join me for this worthy cause

Reorganizing my pantry – I’ve bought a label maker and I’m not afraid to use it🤣

As there’s not much call for Corporate Catering at the moment I need to work on ideas for restarting Hey Pesto!

On a personal note dare I mention I need to exercise more – thankfully Pilates has restarted 🧘‍♀️

There will no doubt be lots more items added so watch this space…..

I’ve started by getting my spices in order – now I have no excuse not to use them all ( all 49 of them!)

Happy Cooking!

Christmas, Cookery Classes, Cooking, radio, Recipes, Uncategorized

Festive Food on the Radio

I love Christmas. I love everything about it – I can’t wait to get my tree and decorations up, wrap presents, catch up with friends and of course plan all my festive food.

This year I started my Christmas demos with Neff in early November and whilst by now I wouldn’t mind if I never saw turkey and ham again I’m still planning and making lots of dishes and goodies to share with friends and family .

So when the lovely Sinead in Midlands 103 asked me to share some festive ideas on air I was happy to do so ( though I suspect one of the reasons that I keep being asked back is that I bring food 😉

As promised here are some of the recipes that I discussed on air with Will Faulkner earlier today

For starters, or to serve with drinks try sausage truffles or prawn shots :

Sausage Truffles

What you need:

  • 125g plain flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp smoked jalapeno powder (or smoked paprika)
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 lb sausage meat
  • 80g cheddar, grated
  • 50g butter, melted
  • 30 ml milk

What you do:

  • Preheat oven to 200 C
  • Mix your dry ingredients together then add in sausage meat, cheese, butter and milk
  • Mix well and then using wet hands form into approx. 24 balls. Chill if you have time
  • Place on lined baking sheet and bake for 20 mins until golden.
  • Serve hot or cold with a cranberry dipping sauce (mix sour cream, cranberry sauce and a dash of mustard)

 Prawn Shots

What you need:

  • 12 large (raw) prawns, peeled but with tail on
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 3 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
  • Juice of 1 limes
  • 1 red chilli, chopped
  •  Fresh mint, chopped

What you do:

  • Split the prawns lengthways (making sure to remove the black vein). Then place them on baking sheet/grill pan, drizzle with a little (chilli) oil. Cook under very hot grill for 3-4 mins
  • Mix all the other ingredients together and divide between 12 shot glasses. Then Top each glass with a prawn.
  • Or alternatively pour the dipping sauce into a dish and arrange the prawns around the side of the dish

You’ll find ideas on cooking the perfect turkey and a vegetarian roast elsewhere in my blog so I’m going to head straight to dessert, This year, inspired by a Tom Kerridge podcast, my favourite is a festive cheesecake:

Christmas Pudding Cheesecake Pots

What you need: 

  • 150g ginger nut biscuits
  • 50g butter, melted
  • 200g Christmas pudding
  • 30 ml Cointreau
  • Zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 250g cream cheese (the full fat version please!)
  • 250g mascarpone
  • 80g soft brown sugar
  • 200 ml cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

What you do:

  • 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 each shot glass (this mix should make approx. 24 pots)
  • Blitz the Christmas pudding, brandy and orange zest to a puree
  • Whisk the cream cheese, mascarpone, cream and sugar and vanilla extract together until smooth and creamy.
  • Carefully fold the pudding purée into the cream cheese mix. Pipe or spoon onto the biscuit base
  • Leave to chill before serving.

By now you should be feeling rather full so we’ll move onto what to do with your leftovers.

Potato cakes always make a good addition to Stephen’s Day and will use up leftover mash and ham

Potato & Ham Cakes

What you need:

  • 400g mashed potatoes
  • 100g Leftover ham, chopped
  • 1 egg  
  • Bunch spring onions, chopped
  • pinch of chilli powder or dash of chilli sauce
  • seasoning

  What you do:

  • Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl.
  • Shape into cakes
  • Shallow fry or bake cakes in oven (180 C) for 15- 20 mins until cakes start to crisp

And then when you’re looking for ideas to use up the leftover turkey why not try this Mexican inspired dish ….

Festive Picadillo

What you need:

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed or finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. cumin  
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp. flaked almonds
  • 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 50g raisins
  • Jar Passata
  • 300ml chicken stock
  • Shredded Cooked Turkey

What to do:

  • Heat 1 tbsp. oil in an ovenproof casserole dish and sauté the onion until soft.
  • Stir in the garlic and spices and cook for another minute.
  • Then add in remaining ingredients – almonds, vinegar, raisins, passata & stock.
  • Bring to the boil and then leave to simmer for about 20 mins.
  • Add in shredded turkey and allow to heat through
  • Serve in tortilla baskets or with rice and topped with sour cream

This has been a rather rushed post so I hope it all makes sense. Once again my new year’s resolution will be to be more organised!!!!!!!!!!

Happy Cooking & A Very Happy Christmas!

Yvonne xx

If you’d like to come along to one of my cookery classes or book me for a demo then please click here  for details. 
If you‘d like details of our catering options then please click here or contact me directly on 087 2488124
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
Continue reading “Tear & Share Bread”

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”

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?
Continue reading “Easter Chicks Chocolate Cake”

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”

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!”

Cookery Classes, Cooking, family meals, Healthy Eating, Local food, Recipes

Tasty and Tempting ….

And not a takeaway in sight!

You know that feeling  – you’ve been out all day, you’re tired and hungry and you want dinner. NOW.

We’re not big takeaway fans here but I will admit I came very close to picking up the phone and ordering one last night.
Thankfully  I hesitated and did a quick audit of what we had on hand. The situation was much better than feared. Fresh haddock in the fridge, avocados and tomatoes in the vegetable basket , taco shells in the pantry.

The result –  fast fish tacos for supper – on the table in 10 minutes, Jamie Oliver would be proud of me!
Continue reading “Tasty and Tempting ….”