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

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. 
book review, Cookbooks

New Year New Theme

Featured Book : Mowgli Street Food

book cover Mowgli Street Food

Little did I think when I started to live cookalongs last April that I’d still be doing them 8 months on ! Last year I cooked some of my favourites every Friday evening and that, together with the wonderful people that I’ve met through my facebook group, Hey Pesto Cookalong kept me going through the strange days of 2020.
This year I decided to change it around a bit – I have a rather large library of cookbooks ( some might call it an addiction!) but I seem to keep using the same books over and over. So for the sake of my books (and my sanity) I’m going to pick a different one and try some new recipes . I’ll also let you know whether I think the book is worth adding to your collection.

Week 1 was a recent addition to the library – Mowgli Street Food by Nisha Katona. I’d never heard of this restaurant chain until my good friend and fellow home economist , Sinead, recommended it at Christmas. She raved about it so much I had to buy it!

The premise of the book is Indian Street Food and the dishes served in the Mowgli restaurants – it’s well laid out with different sections with interesting introductions. I learned such things that ‘chat’ means lick , the surprise of the tiffin box, that onion and garlic is sometimes forbidden to HIndus and perhaps most worrying , that street food vendors use aromatic spices to keep meat smelling fresh !

So what did I cook? The first dish I tried was the Masala Omelette Wrap (p. 22) – I didn’t have all the ingredients but even with my substitutions this was a great lunchtime dish, especially served with the Mowgli ‘slaw (p. 140)

masala omelette wrap


For last week’s cookalong I went a bit mad and did five dishes, including the Mowgli ‘slaw :

Mowgli slaw

The Fenugreek Kissed Fries ( p. 28) – very tasty but if I was doing them again I would oven roast rather than fry them

Fenugreek potatos

Onion Bhajis (p.39) & Fish Pakoras (p. 60) – I’m not a big fan of fried food but I’ll make an exception for these bad boys anyday.

Onion bhajis and fish pakoras

Mowgli Chutney (p.147) – I loved how easy this was to make (no vinegar smell😉) and the flavours are amazing

Mowgli chutney

My verdict – this is a book that will make it to the Favourites shelf (despite there not being a picture for every recipe , my pet hate about cookbooks) . I still have a list of want to try dishes, including the yogurt chat bombs which look very challenging and the Mowgli Rocky Road.

If you like Indian food then I recommend you add this book to your library!

If you missed the cookalong , you can watch it here

Happy Cooking!

Yvonne xx

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