book review, cookalong, Cookbooks, Cookery Classes, Cooking, desserts, entertaining, Food, Recipes, Vegetarian

Cookbook Cookalong No. 9 – Naturally Vegetarian

One of the positives of the last year is the number of lovely people I have ‘met’ since I started doing my Friday Cookalongs to pass the time during Lockdown . The Hey Pesto Cookalong Group has members who check in regularly from Italy, Scotland, England, Spain, Canada and of course Ireland – they’re like my cooking family
Since I introduced the Cookbook Cookalong in January I’ve been cooking from books in my own library. But I’m always open to suggestions and when Jess, our Canadian ‘ambassador’ was so enthusiastic about ‘Naturally Vegetarian’ I decided to order it .
This may sound over the top but from the minute it arrived I feel in love with the book – the feel, the weight, the layout and most of all the photography – the fact that I have similar serving dishes had nothing to do with it honestly!
I had never heard of the author, Valentina Sofrini, before but on researching her I discovered she is an Italian food photographer who after a move to New York decided to cook the food that she grew up with but with vegetarian emphasis. She returned to Italy to write about a year of seasonal , plant based cooking on her family farm in Gradara. The book is divided into sections on basic recipes, how to make pasta, seasonal menus and traditional pantry items and preserves. I could feel myself being transported to Italy as I read through it ( if only!)

book cover with dishes in foreground

So what did I cook:

The dish that topped my Facebook poll was Fennel Gratin with Saffron & Nuts (p.124) which includes Crumb Topping alla Romagnola (one of the basic recipes p49)

Now I can take or leave fennel – I like it with fish or in a remoulade but I wouldn’t have listed it in my top vegetables. Until last night that is – this gratin is a gamechanger! When I was making the crumb topping I thought it was too garlicky and might over power the dish but it didn’t . The addition of saffron is one I would never have thought of – I normally reserve it for Spanish dishes and I’d never heard of the powdered version .

I could enthuse longer but you’ll just have to try it for yourselves – trim and cut 4 fennel bulbs into wedges ( the recipe says 6 from each bulb but I did quarters – Italian fennel must be bigger!) Steam them for 10 mins and then allow to cool ( I skipped this bit) . Mix a pinch of saffron with 60 ml of olive oil and add in salt, pepper and nutmeg. Toss the fennel with this and the flavoured breadcrumbs, sprinkle over dried marjoram (just realised I forgot this bit , well i didn’t actually have any) , and 40g ground almonds . Bake for 15-20 mins at 200C until top is golden .
PS I used her hint and added grated parmesan 😉

fennel gratin in veg dish
Fennel Gratin

I know the book is Vegetarian and the gratin would stand up as a dish on its own but in my mind fennel should be served with fish and when Jason, my wonderful fishmonger suggested seabass, I was sold . I panfried the fillets and served them with a lemony caper butter . It was a mtach made in heaven with baby potatoes as teh bridesmaid!

seabass and fennel on plate
Dinner is served

About an hour before the Cookalong as Jeff was setting up teh cameras I decided we needed to try Chocolate Cake with Pears (p. 92 ) and am I glad I did 🤗 Even though I cheated and used tinned pears (time was of the essence!) this was a big hit – the caramelising them in brown sugar and rum helped. The recipe uses coconut oil, spelt flour, potato starch (I susbtituted cornflour) and yogurt among other ingredients . I may have had two mixers going before we went live but did I mention it was worth it ?

chocolate cake - cutting slice
Chocolate Cake with Pears

My verdict:

Do you have to ask ? Even if I never cooked from it I fell in love this book and I will definitely be trying more recipes from it . If you like Italian flavours, vegetarian dishes, eating in season and food photography then might I suggest you add this book to your library

Cheers

PS It’s only €9.99 in Easons. at the moment …

If you missed my Naturally Vegetarian Cookalong you can catch up here
The Friday Cookbook Cookalong happens every Friday at 6.30 pm on my facebook page – why not drop by and say hello – we’re a friendly bunch 😊

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. 
📷Special thanks as always to Jeff Harvey for the great food photography 📷

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

Cookbook Cookalong No. 8 – Fast, Fresh and Easy Food

Lorraine Pascale appeared on the food scene about 10 years ago as a change to her modelling career. I loved her TV programs and the accompanying books. Her paella recipe is my go to and her lamb shanks slow cooked in Rioja are firm favourite with the Chief Taster. I have tried other recipes from her books and none have disappointed.

I thought one of her books ( of which I have 5 in my library ) would be perfect for my Friday Facebook Cookalong – so I picked Fast, Fresh and Easy Food as I realised I hadn’t actually tried any of the recipes in it.

So what did I cook:

The dish that topped my Facebook poll was Baked jerk chicken with pineapple salsa, coconut rice and beans (p. 98) . Jerk chicken has been on my to try list for a while so this choice suited me plus I wanted to pretend I was relaxing in the Caribbean sun 😎

The book says that the dish takes 40 minutes from start to finish – I talk too much during the cookalong to test this timing but still we did it in an hour!

plated meal - chicken, rice and beans
Dinner is served


To be honest I started to worry about the way the dish was going not long after we started but hey, that’s the gamble I take with the cookbook cookalong 🙄

plate of chicken drumsticks
Jerk Chicken

The chicken turned out okay but I found that the overriding taste was that of allspice. Now I know this is a main constituent of the dish but next time I’ll add scotch bonnet chili rather than the tabasco used in this recipe and I’ll marinate the chicken in advance.

pineapple salsa
Pineapple salsa

I was very sceptical about the cherry tomatoes in the pineapple salsa and I’m still not convinced 😉
Instead may I recommend the pineapple salsa I’ve been using for years :

  • What you need:
  • 1 fresh pineapple, cored & finely diced
  • 1 red chili, deseeded & finely chopped
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. finely chopped coriander or mint
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime
  • Salt, Tabasco
  • What you do:
  • Mix pineapple, chili, red onion, herbs, lime zest & juice. Add salt & Tabasco to taste.
  • Allow to stand for about 30 mins to allow flavours to develop.
rice and beans
Coconut Rice and Beans

Now it comes to my most disappointing part of the dish – the rice and beans. I ended up adding a lot more liquid than in the recipe to cook the stated amount of rice. I added the lime to try and improve it and as a personal preference I added black beans instead of kidney beans.

My verdict:

Overall I found this dish very disappointing – espevailly as I said, I’ve never had any issues with her other recipes. Hopefully it was just a one off – if I try any more from this book I’ll report back . Thanks to those of you who tried the dish and confirmed my suspicion that the dish would benefit from marinating.

In the book’s favour, it is well laid out a with timings and a picture for every recipe, but if you want to buy one of Lorraine Pascale’s books I would recommend ‘Home Cooking Made Easy‘ over this one.

If you missed my Fast, Fresh and Cookbook Cookalong you can catch up here

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. 
📷Special thanks as always to Jeff Harvey for the great food photography 📷

PS I found padron peppers in my local Polish shop last and I cooked this as part of the cookalong – they saved the day ☺

pardron pepperes
Padron Peppers

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

Cookbook Cookalong No. 7 – Chinese Takeaway Cookbook

Let me start by saying that I’m not the world’s greatest fan of Chinese takeaways – gloopy sauces and MSG just don’t do it for me! But a few weeks ago this book seemed to all over social media so of course I had to order it (easily lead, me, never! 🤣) and I thought it would be perfect for my Friday Facebook Cookalong

Cover - Chinese Takeaway Cookbook

The first recipe I tried (pre the cookalong) was Drunken King Prawns with Mixed Vegetables (p. 76) . I had to make a few substitutions with the vegetables but all the other ingredients were pantry staples. The finished dish looked great and tasted ok but I just felt it lacked a certain wow factor.

I couldn’t judge a book on one recipe so I decided to wait til after the cookalong to give my verdict.

So what did I cook:

The dish that topped my facebook poll was Shredded Crispy Chilli Beef (p.91) – a dish I have to admit I had neither ordered or made. It’s not a cheap dish to make as you need fillet steak – I used Island Farm Foods steaks from my freezer.
Earlier in the day I watched Kowlyn making this dish online- thankfully because he alters the method from the printed recipe – but even still coating and frying the beef got very messy . And from feedback from those of you that cooked along , I know I wasn’t alone in this mess.

To be honest I’m not sure it was worth the effort and it definitely didn’t do justice to a beautiful piece of meat.
If I was to repeat this dish I would make the delicious sauce and simply stir fry the beef in it .

Crispy shredded chilli beef
Crispy Shredded Chili Beef

Next up was Chinese Broccoli in Garlic Sauce (p.115) – now this was a gamechanger ! I’m not a big fan of cooked broccoli but this was crunchy and full of flavour and I’ll definitely be making it again 😉

I used tender-stem broccoli and added in a few lonely green beans from my vegetable drawer.
If you want try this dish for yourself here’s what to do : fry 2 garlic cloves in oil for 15 mins, add the broccoli steams and a sliced onion , cook for 2 mins, then add in broccoli leaves for another minute. Then you add 1 tbsp Chinese rice wine, 2 tbsp oyster sauce, 1/2 tbsp each of dark and light soy sauces, 120 ml vegetable stock (I forgot to add this but I didn’t miss it),1/4 tsp each of salt and white pepper and 1/2 tsp sugar. Bring this to the boil and then thicken the sauce with 1 tbsp cornflour. Drizzle with sesame oil to serve. Enjoy😉

Broccoli in Garlic Sauce

The Egg Fried Rice (p. 129) was also worth doing – I would never have thought of adding oyster sauce to fried rice

Egg Fried Rice

My verdict:

Overall I like this book and there are a few more dishes I want to try. The book is well laid out and I loved all the information about techniques and customs in the introduction. There are timings with every recipe and almost all have pictures.

Do you need to buy it? I’d check out Kwoklyn’s website first as a lot of the dishes are included there – and there’s a free ebook at the moment 😉

All dishes

If you missed my Chinese Takeaway Cookbook Cookalong you can catch up here

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. 
Special thanks as always to Jeff Harvey for the great food photography

Cookery Classes, Food, radio, Recipes

Start your day the romantic way

We’re all in need of a little spoiling at the moment so for Valentine’s Day why not make an extra special breakfast treat for someone, or indeed for yourself

You might have heard me talking about romantic cooking with Will Faulkner on Midlands 103 during the week. Well as promised, here’s how you can make a delicious romantic breakfast of heart shaped French toast stuffed with chocolate sauce …..

heart toast with white chocolate

To make things easier on yourself I recommend that you make the chocolate spread in advance. Trust me, it’s much better than any well known brand 😉

What you need:

  • 125g cream
  • 35g sugar
  • 75g dark chocolate, chopped or in callets
  • 100g bar hazelnut chocolate, chopped

What you do:

  • To make the spread, heat the cream and the sugar together in a small saucepan. Careful, don’t allow it to boil.
  • Place both chocolates in a bowl and pour the warm cream over it.
  • Whisk until you have a smooth chocolately mix. Allow to cool.

Once your chocolate spread has cooled you’re ready to make the french toast and assemble your dish. You will need:

  • 4 slices bread – preferably brioche
  • 1 egg
  • 75 ml milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp. caster sugar
  • 25 g butter
  • Icing sugar
  • Toasted hazelnuts and raspberries to serve

What you do:

  • Whisk the egg, milk, vanilla and sugar together in a wide bowl.
  • Using a heart shaped cutter , cut out the centre of each slice of bread.
    Spread chocolate on two of the slices and then top each with the other pieces ie you will have two sandwiches!
  • Press the edges together to prevent the spread leaking out
  • Dip each of the sandwiches into the egg mixture and allow to sit for a minute on each side to soak up mix.
  • Heat the butter in large frying pan, add the sandwiches and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side until golden brown.
  • Transfer to your serving plate (s), add raspberries and chopped hazelnuts and sprinkle with icing sugar .

Your romantic breakfast is now ready to present to the object of your affections….. Enjoy 😘

cutting the toast

Happy Romantic 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. 

Special thanks to Jeff Harvey for the great food photography📷

Cooking, entertaining, radio, Recipes

When Valentines and Pancakes collide

This year Shrove Tuesday is only two days after Valentine’s Day so when the lovely Sinead in Midlands 103 asked would I do some romantic dishes I thought what better than to combine the two in a delicious heart shaped pancake stack ❤

Lemon & blueberry pancake stack aerial view

To make this plate of deliciousness you need lemon curd and it’s so easy to make, trust me.
I use Darina’s recipe and it hasn’t let me down since I first made it in Ballymaloe

Lemon Curd

What you need:

  • 50g butter
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 2 lemons, zest and juice
  • 2 eggs and 1 egg yolk, beaten together

What you do:

  • In a bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water, melt the butter and add the sugar, lemon zest and juice.
  • Whisk in the eggs and continue to whisk until the mixture coats the back of a spoon.
  • Take off heat and allow to cool – it will thicken further.
  • You can keep any leftover curd in the fridge for a week though I doubt if it will last that long 😊

Now you can start to make your pancakes – these are American style and are thicker than our traditional pancakes. Try and make them heart shaped if you can – I used a mould that I bought in Dunnes Stores last year – it was designed for frying eggs but if you know me you’ll know that that’s never going to happen in my kitchen!

Blueberry Pancakes

What you need:

  • 300g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp bread soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 250 ml buttermilk
  • 1 pink lady apple, grated
  • 100g bluberries and extra for serving …
  • butter or oil for frying

What you do:

  • Mix the flour, bread soda and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Make a well in the centre, then gradually whisk in the eggs and the buttermilk.
  • Once the mixture is smooth, stir in the grated apples and the blueberries
  • Melt a little butter in a non-stick pan or wipe with sunflower oil.
  • When hot, add small ladles of batter to the pan to make small pancakes (use a mould if you have one)   Cook for 2-3 mins until bubbles appear and the bottoms are set. Flip and cook for a few mins more. 
  • Transfer to a plate and keep warm while you cook the rest of the batter.

To assemble the stack, start with a pancake, cover it with lemon curd and repeat !
Serve with lots of fresh blueberries

pancake stack side view

Don’t forget it’s a sharing stack….

cut pancakes

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. 

📷Special thanks to Jeff Harvey for the great food photography

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.

If you missed the cookalong you can watch it back here

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. 
Baking, Cookery Classes, Cooking, entertaining, radio, Recipes

Trick or Treat


We can’t do Trick or Treat as normal this year so let’s try and make Halloween at Home special . I know I promised on Midlands 103 this morning that I would post the recipes that we discussed so here’s a rather quick post to give you some inspiration

You’ll also find recipes for a Graveyard Cake and Sammy the Spider on my blog.

halloween treats selection

Halloween Toffee Apples

Makes   4

What you need:

  • 4 apples
  • 4 lollipop sticks or skewers
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • Black food colouring

What to do:

  • Put the sticks into the stalk end of the apples. Put the apples on a baking tray or plate lined with baking parchment
  • Put the sugar into a large saucepan with the lemon juice and 50 ml water. Bring to a simmer and let the sugar dissolve – don’t stir it!
  • Carefully add the golden syrup and let the mixture bubble until it looks like toffee. To test if it’s done take out a little on a spoon and drop it into a cup of cold water – it should harden straight away. If it doesn’t continue to boil for another few minutes and test it again.
  • Add a few drops of food colouring and take the pan off the heat.
  • Dip the apple into the toffee, you may have to tip the pan to cover all the skin. (BE CAREFUL) Let any excess toffee drip off and put on the baking parchment to harden
  • Repeat with the other apples.

Spooky Forest

What you need:

  • For the mousse:
    • 150g marshmallows
    • 50g butter
    • 250g dark chocolate
    • 60ml boiled water
    • 250 ml cream
    • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
    • Good splash Cointreau (adults only!)
    • Zest of 1 orange
  • Trees:
    • White chocolate, melted
    • Googly eyes
  • Soil:
    • Blitzed Oreo cookies

What to do:

  • To make the mousse:
    • Put marshmallows, butter and chocolate and water in a bowl over a pot of simmering water. Stir occasionally until melted. Add in orange zest.
    • Whip the cream and add vanilla extract and Cointreau
    • Take chocolate mix off heat. Fold cream into chocolate until smooth.
    • Pour into glasses
    • Leave to set in fridge
  • For the trees:
    • Trace some scary trees onto baking parchment (you’ll find lots of templates online). Then melt some white chocolate and pipe/brush onto the shape
    • Attach eyes and leave to set
  • To Assemble
    • Top the mousse with the crushed cookies
    • Then carefully peel the trees of the parchment and stick into the mousse
    • Decorate with mini pumpkins etc.

Marshmallow Zombies

What you need:

  • Marshmallows
  • White chocolate, melted
  • Lollipop sticks
  • Icing pens
  • Googly eyes

What you do:

  • Put each marshmallow on a lollipop stick and dip into white chocolate
  • Allow chocolate to set – standing in a glass is the easiest
  • Then decorate the marshmallow with eyes and drawing on a mouth

Happy Cooking & A Very Spooky Halloween!

Yvonne xx

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

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 😉


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

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