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 !

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 …..

Catering, Cooking, Food, Recipes

Getting ready for Christmas!

Christmas came early to Hey Pesto! this year – with my first ever full day ‘lifestyle’ course on ‘Getting Ready for Christmas’

There was great fun organising everything – turning my living room into a ‘pop-up’ dining room and my garden into a temporary flower shop!

The ‘students’ arrived at 10.30 for coffee, scones and mince pies before we started on the cookery element of the day!
In hindsight I was a little ambitious with all I hoped to cover in the morning but we did manage to get through a lot! Thankfully I had made the ice cream in advance!
The menu for the day was:
  • Canapés – Crab & avocado tartlets, sticky cocktail sausages, brie & red onion marmalade tartlets and coronation turkey vol-au-vents
  • Starter – Chestnut soup with crispy bacon
  • Main – Risotto stuffed quail, celeriac & potato gratin, jazzed-up parsnip mash, caramelised potatoes & chestnuts, apricot & hazelnut stuffing balls
  • Dessert – Christmas pudding ice cream
By 1.30 everyone was tucking into canapés and prosecco  (well except for the staff obviously!)
Crab & Avocado Tartlets
Cooleeney Brie and Red Onion Marmalade Tartlets
Coronation Turkey Vol-au-vents
Cocktail Sausages alla Nigella!

After a few last minute vegetable cooking, the guests (yes they were upgraded for lunch!)adjourned  to my ‘new’ dining room where lunch was served to them.

Chestnut soup with crispy bacon topping
Main Course – Sauce to be added!
Christmas Pudding Ice Cream

I have to apologise for the lack of colour on the main course plate – I concentrated more on different ways of cooking the vegetables rather than working on the colour! In ‘real life’ I would probably serve something like red cabbage with the quail to add colour! There was a debate over gravy – it’s not a tradition in our house so I never think of including it!

Thanks to Kate for taking the photos at lunch – we were busy turning the kitchen into a flower arranging room!

Once the guests were fed and ‘watered’ they reverted to students and Joanie from Flower Rangers took over – introducing us to the art of flower arranging and seasonal centrepieces.

Joanie shows us how it’s done!
Christmas Wreath
Centrepiece with Asparagus & Strawberries

We rounded off the afternoon with more tea with vanilla shortbread, gingerbread cookies and more mince pies.

Vanilla Shortbread
Gingerbread Cookies

After much hilarity everyone left happy with their goody bags and recipe booklets.

And once the tidying up was done Joanie and I celebrated a job well done

Cheers!

A big special thanks to my sous – chef James who played a blinder – I hope he remembers me when he’s famous!

Now the question is – do we do it all again?!