book review, cookalong, Cookbooks, Cookery Classes, Healthy Eating

Cookbook Cookalong No. 5 – Persiana

My good friend Derick or @ChefyD as he’s better known is responsible for introducing me to this book . He invited me to a party (anyone remember parties?) way back in 2015 but forgot to mention I’d be working for my supper! He had found this new cookbook he wanted to try so we set to picking out dishes . We had great fun ( he didn’t shout at me that much 🤣) making Cacik ( a delicious cucumber dip) , marinated feta, tomato and pepper dip and lots more – I think we did about 10 recipes in total and they were all delicious. A favourite was born.

Persiana book cover

Since then I have used this book on a regular basis in my kitchen – adapting some of the recipes to suit buffet lunches etc.

I have bought Sabrina’s subsequent books but I have to admit I don’t love them as much and I always go back to Persiana.

So what did I cook for the cookalong ? Firstly it was tough to find dishes I hadn’t tried and then I was delighted that the Bandari Monkfish Tails (p 147) topped the poll (and so was Jason my fishmonger😉) . Despite the list of ingredients this is very simple to make – I blitzed all the marinade ingredients together and then marinated the monkfish for 40 mins.

I started the dish in the pan as per instructions but I finished mine off in the oven.

Monkfish tails
Brandari Monkfish Tails
Cutting the fish
The colours were so vibrant and inviting, I couldn’t wait to taste it

The book recommends serving the monkfish with a Shirazi Salad (p 178) and I would too!
Again the colours and the flavours were so vibrant – perfect for a miserable February evening

shirazi salad bowl
Shirazi Salad

I wanted to serve freekeh with the fish but couldn’t find a suitable recipe for it in the book so I made a pilaf with red pepper and pomegranate. Have to say I was very pleased with how it worked out 😊

freekeh pilaf with pomegranate in blue bowl
Freekeh Pilaf

My verdict : Do you have to ask ?? Everyone should have this book in their library !

And I have to thank @ChefyD for both introducing me to the book and for gifting me his original copy xx

You can catch up on the Cookbook Cookalong 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
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

book review, cookalong, Cookbooks, Healthy Eating

Cookbook Cookalong No. 4 – A Change of Appetite

There used to be an ad with the tagline ‘there’s both eating and drinking in it’ ( I think it was for soup) . That’s how I feel about Diana Henry’s books – they’re a collection of food stories rather than just recipes.
I have four of her books in my library – and another on my wishlist. It was hard to choose just one but I felt the subtitle of ‘where healthy meets delicious’ suited where we all are at the moment.

In the introduction, Diana outlines her attitude to healthy eating and I felt like I had found a kindred spirit – The phrase ‘deprivation is not on the menu’ is my new mantra . She also says that the main thing you can do for good health is to eat proper home cooked food, limit anything processed, keep an eye on refined carbs, switch to wholegrain for at least some meals and up your vegetable intake. You won’t get any arguments from me.

So what did I cook? I’m very interested to learn more about Japanese cooking so I picked two dishes from her Spring section ( the book is divided into 4 seasons) – teriyaki salmon (p.60) and Japanese ginger and garlic chicken (p.63) both with interesting sides .

My store cupboard didn’t stretch to all the ingredients and shopping outside my local area isn’t on the cards so I made a few substitutions – red miso instead of brown , ordinary pickled ginger instead of pink and ponzu instead of mirin . I’m also intrigued to try shisho leaves and will be keeping an eye out for them – but on the day I used mint leaves as recommended. The recipe uses chicken thighs but I used chicken fillets as I had some in the fridge .

Japanese chicken
Japanese ginger and garlic chicken with smashed cucumber

I loved everything about the two dishes, even with the substitutions. The recommended sides – smashed cucumber with the chicken and pickled vegetables with the salmon – were also delicious. Clean eating at it’s best!

teriyaki salmon with pickled vegetables

Diana Henry is the food writer for the Telegraph – and the chicken recipe is here but it is now a subscription website. You’ll find the recipe for the salmon is here .

I recommend following her on instagram @dianahenryfood where she posts delicious daily recipes.

My verdict : I’ll be trying lots more from this book and I think you should have it on your bookshelf – even if there aren’t pictures for every recipe 😊

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

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”

Chef, Cookbooks, Cooking, Recipes, Uncategorized

Apples, apples everywhere………….

Okay so I finally started a blog and decided on a theme – now my dilemma was which cookbook  got to open the show!

Thanks for all your suggestions and I will get round to them all I promise – even to Hugh (eventually….) !

The problem was solved by the amount of apples in my kitchen demanding to be used (thank you to all my wonderful neighbours). I decided to stew and freeze some of them and then remembered a recipe for a ‘sauce’ cake. Cue  Sophie Grigson’s Country Kitchen

This book was a Christmas present from my sister after my time in Ballymaloe Cookery School  and her inscription  ‘to the petite chef with the big ideas’ still makes me smile!  The splashed pages and the handwritten notes will convince you that this is one of the workers in my collection – I love the Rhubarb & Honey Compote, and her sweet & sour red cabbage is a Christmas must.

In the introduction the book is described as  ‘a record of a year’s cooking in a country kitchen – but with a modern twist’ . This is borne out in recipes such as ‘pot-roast pork with star anise, ginger. tamarind and port’ or ‘cauliflower with sundried tomatoes, garlic and capers’ .

The book is laid out by season with beautiful photographs and informative notes on ingredients. The recipes are well laid out and easy to follow and most importantly they work! My biggest peeve is that it doesn’t have a photograph for every dish – I like to know what I’m aspiring to!

My favourite and most used from this book is Sophie’s recipe for ‘Gooseberry Sauce Cake’ – simple and quick and adaptable for most fruits. I’ve tried it with gooseberries, rhubarb, plums and most recently with apples and the result is a lovely moist cake everytime!

So if like me you’re overrun with apples you should give this a try:

Apple Sauce Cake

What you need:

  • 10oz/280g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 40z/110g caster sugar
  • 40z/110g demerara sugar
  • 4oz/110g butter, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 pt/300ml stewed apples

All set!

the original recipe includes 1/2 tsp salt which I omitted as I use salted butter
What you do:
  • Firstly stew your fruit – I used a mix of sweet and cooking apples as I like the difference in texture. Peel, core and chop the fruit. Then stew with a little water over a low heat for 20-30 mins. I didn’t use any particular quantities as I froze the rest of the fruit in 1/2 pint portions for future cakes!
  • When fruit is stewed to your liking measure out 1/2 pt for your cake (btw apologies for any confusion and if I appear old fashioned but I tend to bake in imperial and cook in metric!)
  • Mix all your dry ingredients – flour, baking powder and sugars together
  • Fold in wet ingredientsFold in the lightly beaten eggs, melted butter and vanilla extract. Finally stir in the stewed apples.
  • Pour into prepared tinPour mixture into a lined 9″/23cm springform tin and sprinkle a little extra demerara sugar over the top.
  • Sophie’s instructions are to bake the cake at 180C/Gas 4 for 45 minutes. Having tried it on several occasions it takes 30-35 minutes in my oven at 170C Fan so I’d advise you to check it after 30 mins!
  • Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10-15 mins before turning out. Then there’s nothing left to do but serve it with some lightly whipped cream!
The finished product!
***************
There are lots more recipes in this book that I’ve earmarked to try and as this is the first year my pear tree has produced any fruit next up is Sophie’s  fresh pear relish……….
Cookbooks, Cooking, Food, Recipes, Uncategorized

Books, Books and more Cook Books!

I love books – I grew up in a house full of them – and one of my best childhood memories is going with my Dad to the bookshop to buy a new one as a weekly treat (and the row that ensued one week when I refused to pick ‘Robinson Crusoe’!)

I still consider buying books a present to myself and there are some that I’ve had for years that I could never get rid off.  And then there’s my cookbook collection…………

Those of you who know me on Twitter will know that I suffer from a ‘slight’ cookbook addiction and that cookbooks have a tendency to follow me home from shops!

Surely a girl can never have too many shoes or cookbooks?

I have approximately 200 cookbooks (well 188 to be more precise!). I know this because due to recent house-painting they all had to be removed from the shelves so allow the painters near the walls and I took the opportunity to count them!

The true number probably exceeds 200 as I found a few more today which had obviously been mis-filed! And then of course there’s the collection of booklets, food magazines, recipe files; not to mention the five lever arch folders from my time at Ballymaloe ( cookingisfun.ie)!

As I was re-filing them I noticed that while some were much thumbed and much-loved there were others had barely been opened but were sitting there like trophies (yes Gordon I’m talking about you!)

So then I had an idea – why not use my cookbook collection as the basis for my blog (with a few other bits & bobs thrown in of course!) . All those books that are sitting there looking pretty will now have to pay their way! I’m challenging myself to work through them and try a  recipe a week and give my tuppence worth on the book!

Now I need to examine my collection carefully and select the first star………………Any requests?