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

Cookbook Cookalong No. 3 – Cook Now Eat Later

What can you say about the institution that is Mary Berry ? She always reminds me of my late grandmother – I think it’s the white hair and the aga – but whatever it is you just know that you can trust her and that she’ll hep you in the kitchen. I mean look what happened when she left the bake-off , we were all devastated!

I also feel a certain affinity with her as she once travelled around demonstrating electric ovens . Wonder when I’ll ever get back to doing that ?

Book cover

This book is no exception and it lays out very clearly all you need to prepare and cook ahead. Each recipe has a side bar detailing what you can prep ahead, how to freeze ( if applicable) and how to cook in the aga ( which could be adapted to a slow cooker).
The recipes are comforting – just what we expect Mary to cook for us 🤗
What did I cook ? The Italian Chicken with Olives and Tomato topped the facebook group poll so that was what I cooked , And I have to say I was much more impressed with the finished dish than I thought I would be !
I was unable to get olives stuffed with anchovies so I used pimiento stuffed olives (I left them whole) and added in some chopped anchovies. These definitely added to the flavour and I’ll be adding them to more dishes in future.

Chicken with olives and tomato
Italian Chicken
Roast green beans
roast green beans with Parmesan crust

I served the chicken with green beans and potato wedges. Rather than boiling or steaming the beans I roasted them with lemony Parmesan breadcrumbs and they were delicious. I used a mix of white and purple potatoes both for taste and colour .

purple and white potatoes
purple & white potatoes

Altogether it was a great meal 😍

The one dish that I had hoped would top the poll was the stir-fried vegetable lasagne – I’m going to have to satisfy my curiosity and make it for myself!
I love Mary Berry’s desserts and my favourites from this book are the Raspberry Frangipane Tarts (p. 208) and Divine Lemon Pots (p 219) . I’ve been using the lemon pots on my catering menu for years and they always go down well.

You can find lots of the recipes on her website

My verdict : There are some lovely recipes in this book – most of them comforting and familiar but I don’t think it’s an essential for your library .

If you missed the 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 to Jeff Harvey for the great food photography

Catering, Chef, Cookery Classes, Cooking, family meals, Food, Healthy Eating, Recipes

Who’s on wash-up?

Any caterer will tell you that one of the biggest tasks we face after any job is the wash up.  I have some (not so good!) memories of trying to wash plates out the back of a wedding marquee using hot water drained off the potatoes – I kid you not. I hasten to add this was not in Hey Pesto! – we prefer indoor sinks and dishwashers!

As regular readers will know I love to cook –  both in my catering kitchen and my house kitchen – and I have a tendency to use a lot of dishes and pots.  Unfortunately I don’t always have an assistant to wash up after me so my dishwasher is a very essential piece of kit.
Continue reading “Who’s on wash-up?”

Catering, Chef, Cookery Classes, Cooking, family meals

Comforting Curry

I know, I know – it’s been a while since my last blog but now that the weather has changed I’m likely to spend more time indoors and I promise to try and be a better blogger ….

Sometimes you just need comfort food and last night was one of those nights. There were chicken fillets in the fridge,some random vegetables left in the basket and there’s always coconut milk and curry paste in the pantry so it had to be Thai curry for dinner, the perfect dish for these Autumn evenings.

I promise it will be ready in 30 minutes – quicker than waiting for a takeaway to arrive so why not give it a try. Continue reading “Comforting Curry”