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, 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.

P1010994-001

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

 

Cookery Classes, Cooking, Food, Healthy Eating, Recipes, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

Where’s the beef – an alternative burger

When I left college (a few years ago….) I could barely boil water – I though pizza and coleslaw were major food groups and takeaways were essential!  So when I found myself in paid employment I decided in the interests of survival to sign up for a cookery class, vegetarian of course.

The class was hands-on, given by a lovely girl in Ballsbridge. It was great fun and I learned lots – you have no idea how basic my knowledge of all things culinary was at that time.

My memories of the course include the couple who read 3/4 lb carrot as 3 to 4 lbs and then spent a class doing nothing but peeling carrots; my ‘landlady’ Siobhan waiting for me to come home with Wednesday night dinner  and a realisation that I did not like kidney beans!

One of the recipes from this course that I  still use is one for Black-eyed Bean Burgers . In fact we serve them as a vegetarian barbecue option.

Last Saturday I wasn’t really in the mood for cooking (I know, hard to believe) so I was delighted to find a few of these burgers in the freezer and I paired them with  the mango and pomegranate guacamole leftover from Friday’s book club – happy days!

The recipe was requested after I posted a photo of the dish on facebook . I know the original recipe included sautéed mushrooms but I  omitted those and from memory for this batch I added in some oyster sauce and used mixed nuts.  Thinking about it I might try adding red peppers and chilli sauce the next time……..

What you need:

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 400g tin black-eyed beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tbsp tahini paste
  • 1 tbsp vegetarian oyster sauce
  • 50g/2 oz brazil nuts (or mixed nuts)
  • 100g/4 oz breadcrumbs (I prefer the panko ones)

What you do:

  • Sauté the onion in 1 tbsp rapeseed oil until softened but not coloured. Add the garlic after about 5 mins and cook for another minute
  • Pulse the beans in food processor with the nuts and approx 3/4 of the breadcrumbs (that’s 75g not 3 breadcrumbs!)
  • Add in the tahini paste (or peanut butter if you prefer) and the oyster sauce and the cooked onion and whizz together
  • If the mix seems dry add a little stock.
  • Using a chefs ring form into burgers, then ‘top and tail’ with the remaining breadcrumbs.
  • Bake in the oven (180 C/ Gas 4) for 10 mins until breadcrumbs crisp or if you prefer shallow fry them.

The original accompaniment to these was Sweet and Sour Sauce and Brown Rice – well it was the nineties! I serve them with a home-made coleslaw for barbecues but the guacamole really worked as well. It was a recipe from  Gourmet magazine that I picked up in Canada  – it’s already in the favourites folder!

I hope you like them !

Happy Cooking !

PS  The Chief Taster has requested that I point out he is not in favour of these vegetarian posts and could I please do a carnivore dish  for the next one.
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’!

Cookery Classes, Cooking, Food, Healthy Eating, Recipes

A Healthy Start – to the Day and the New Year!

Once again I’m distracted away from cook book reviews………..well I was trying to be a radio star!!!

This week I was thrilled to be invited onto the Today with Will Faulkner radio program to discuss my favourite topic – food. I thought I was going in to promote my cookery classes in Hugh Lynch’s Pub but instead was given a  brief  to talk about Healthy eating for New Year .

Thinking about this I decided that the best thing would be to make small but effective lifestyle changes – starting with the most important meal of the day – breakfast!

I had to admit, when Will asked me about porridge and how to encourage children to eat it, that I CAN’T abide the stuff – I can’t even stand to look at it, never mind cook it or worse still eat it!  However I do appreciate the healthiness of porridge oats and I have no problem eating them in other forms – bread, granola or even my Mum’s famous oatmeal biscuits!

So as  ‘props’ to my interview I brought along my favourite breakfast  (and porridge alternative!) –  Granola &  Glenisk Greek-style yoghurt and oaty brown bread – all I was missing was the coffee!

Here are the recipes for same – except the yoghurt of course!

If you can get your hands on them – Kilbeggan Organic Porridge Oats are the best in these recipes!

Breakfast Granola

This is based on a Jill Dupleix recipe – I tend to add whatever seeds and dried fruit I have to hand. My Christmas batch had a lot of dried cranberries in it! Just watch the sugar content when you’re choosing dried fruit.

No Servings:       10+ 
Oven:                  150C/Gas 2            

 What you need:

  • 400g Kilbeggan  Oatmeal Flakes
  • 3 tbsp sunflower seeds
  • 3 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tbsp linseed
  • 100g flaked almonds
  • 100g hazelnuts or walnuts
  • 50g dessicated coconut
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 4 tbsp honey
  • 3 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg (freshly grated)
  • 100g dried fruit – cranberries, cherries, apricots….
  • 100g sultanas

What to do:

  • Mix oats, seeds, nuts and salt in a large bowl.
  • Heat  honey, olive oil and spices in small pan until just melted.
  • Pour liquid over dry ingredients and mix well.
  • Spread evenly over two lined baking trays.
  • Bake for 20-30 mins, ‘shaking’ once or twice, until nicely toasted.
  • Remove from the oven and add in the dried fruits.
  • Allow to cool and then store in an airtight container for up to 1 month.
This is really delicious served with Glenisk Yoghurt – especially the Natural Greek Style one!

Margaret’s Oaty Brown Bread

This recipe comes from my friend Margaret – I love it so much I’ve asked her permission to share it.  I have substituted molasses for the egg that was in her original recipe . It only takes 5 minutes to put together – quicker than going to the shop!

No Servings:         1 Loaf
Oven:                     220C/200 C Fan/Gas 5

What you need:

  • 4oz /125g wholemeal spelt flour
  • 4oz/125g  oatbran
  • 4oz/125g  pinhead oatmeal
  • 4 oz/125g Kilbeggan oatflakes
  • 1 tsp bread soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 dessertsp molasses/treacle
  • 15fl oz/ 425ml  buttermilk

 What to do:

  • Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl. (Make sure to sieve in bread soda)
  • Make a hollow in the centre and pour in buttermilk & treacle. Mix quickly & well. Pour into lined 2lb bread tin.
  • Bake in hot oven for 20mins then reduce heat to 170C/Gas 3  and bake for another 15-20 mins.
  • Turn out of tin and check for ‘hollow’ sound.
  • Allow to cool on a wire rack.

Of course it’s not just for breakfast….

I hope you enjoy the recipes and thanks again to Midlands 103 for inviting me in – hopefully there will be more chances for me to rabbit on about all things food!

Happy Cooking!

PS there are still two classes left on the ‘Easy Entertaining’ course in Hugh Lynch’s …..