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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?
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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 !
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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.

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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 🙂

To fry or not to fry?

I bought a deep fat fryer a few years ago because I wanted to cook Deep Fried Brie – it’s a favourite of the Chief Taster 😉  After about two uses it took up residence somewhere deep in my shed. Anything that needs to be deep fried is now baked. Well except for the brie – experiments have proven that it ‘explodes’ in the oven and it is now a dish to be enjoyed only when we’re out 🙂 

Last night we had a ‘Taste of Asia’ class with dishes from China, India and Thailand.  All the dishes were very well received including the baked spring rolls with hoisin sauce.

taste of Asia 002

Here’s all you need to do to make  a healthier version of take away spring rolls:

Spring Rolls

  What you need:

  • Selection of vegetables such as:
    • 1 carrot, finely julienned
    • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
    • Tin of Chinese mushrooms
    • 1/2 packet Beansprouts
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. oyster sauce
  • 10 Spring Roll Wrappers
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Dipping Sauce:
    • 3 tbsp. hoisin sauce
    • 1 tbsp. Nam Pla (fish sauce)
    • 1 tbsp. cold water
    • 1 chilli, finely chopped

What you do:

  • Heat a tbsp of sunflower oil in a wok.
  • Add the vegetables and stir fry  for 2-3 mins
  • Add the soy and oyster sauces, cook for another minute then set aside to cool.
  • Place spring roll wrapper on chopping board. Place a small pile of vegetables, in lower corner of wrapper – Fold bottom over, then bring in the two sides and roll over to enclose the filling – like an envelope (It gets easier!)
  • Seal the end of the pastry by brushing with the beaten egg.
  • Then brush each roll with egg and bake in hot oven (200 C Fan) for 10 mins until crispy
  • To make dipping sauce – mix hoisin sauce, fish sauce, water and chillies in a bowl.

spring rolls

You could also add shredded duck or pork if you’d like. I was pleasantly surprised that the Chief Taster polished off the veggie ones 🙂

Happy Cooking !

If you’d like to attend one of my cookery classes in Tullamore please let me know. Next week is a ‘Taste of the Americas’

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 !

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