Baking, Cookery Classes, Cooking, entertaining, radio, Recipes

Trick or Treat


We can’t do Trick or Treat as normal this year so let’s try and make Halloween at Home special . I know I promised on Midlands 103 this morning that I would post the recipes that we discussed so here’s a rather quick post to give you some inspiration

You’ll also find recipes for a Graveyard Cake and Sammy the Spider on my blog.

halloween treats selection

Halloween Toffee Apples

Makes   4

What you need:

  • 4 apples
  • 4 lollipop sticks or skewers
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • Black food colouring

What to do:

  • Put the sticks into the stalk end of the apples. Put the apples on a baking tray or plate lined with baking parchment
  • Put the sugar into a large saucepan with the lemon juice and 50 ml water. Bring to a simmer and let the sugar dissolve – don’t stir it!
  • Carefully add the golden syrup and let the mixture bubble until it looks like toffee. To test if it’s done take out a little on a spoon and drop it into a cup of cold water – it should harden straight away. If it doesn’t continue to boil for another few minutes and test it again.
  • Add a few drops of food colouring and take the pan off the heat.
  • Dip the apple into the toffee, you may have to tip the pan to cover all the skin. (BE CAREFUL) Let any excess toffee drip off and put on the baking parchment to harden
  • Repeat with the other apples.

Spooky Forest

What you need:

  • For the mousse:
    • 150g marshmallows
    • 50g butter
    • 250g dark chocolate
    • 60ml boiled water
    • 250 ml cream
    • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
    • Good splash Cointreau (adults only!)
    • Zest of 1 orange
  • Trees:
    • White chocolate, melted
    • Googly eyes
  • Soil:
    • Blitzed Oreo cookies

What to do:

  • To make the mousse:
    • Put marshmallows, butter and chocolate and water in a bowl over a pot of simmering water. Stir occasionally until melted. Add in orange zest.
    • Whip the cream and add vanilla extract and Cointreau
    • Take chocolate mix off heat. Fold cream into chocolate until smooth.
    • Pour into glasses
    • Leave to set in fridge
  • For the trees:
    • Trace some scary trees onto baking parchment (you’ll find lots of templates online). Then melt some white chocolate and pipe/brush onto the shape
    • Attach eyes and leave to set
  • To Assemble
    • Top the mousse with the crushed cookies
    • Then carefully peel the trees of the parchment and stick into the mousse
    • Decorate with mini pumpkins etc.

Marshmallow Zombies

What you need:

  • Marshmallows
  • White chocolate, melted
  • Lollipop sticks
  • Icing pens
  • Googly eyes

What you do:

  • Put each marshmallow on a lollipop stick and dip into white chocolate
  • Allow chocolate to set – standing in a glass is the easiest
  • Then decorate the marshmallow with eyes and drawing on a mouth

Happy Cooking & A Very Spooky Halloween!

Yvonne xx

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

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”

Cookbooks, Cookery Classes, Cooking, family meals, Healthy Eating, Recipes, Vegetarian

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?
Continue reading “A paté to suit all tastes”

Baking, Cakes, Catering, Cookery Classes, Cooking, Food, Recipes

There’s no chocolate in it honestly!

As you may have noticed  I  have a ‘slight’ addiction to cookbooks. I also have a tendency to collect recipes from magazines, newspapers etc  – I have a box of pages and clippings from various publications that I have garnered from numerous sources ………..

Some look tantalising when I’m in the hairdressers or in a waiting room but once assigned to the ‘box’ they never leave, others make it straight to the kitchen for testing and some even go on to become firm favourites.

One such find was a recipe for an Espresso Tart – I think it came from a Food & Travel magazine and my apologies for not acknowleding the original owner of this recipe but your details aren’t on my valued clipping.

I’m not really a dessert person but I do like this (must be the caffeine).  Almost everyone who tastes it is convinced there’s chocolate in it but as you’ll see there’s none.

This  tart is divine on it’s own but can be raised to another level if you serve it with a mascarpone sorbet. I often make it into individual tartlets to serve at dinner parties and it’s always well received

Individual Espresso Tart with Sorbet

I brought one of these tarts to Inishfood in May and I’ve been asked to share the recipe – so this is especially for Donal, Imen and Bríd.

Espresso Tart

Oven Setting: 180ºC/ Gas 4

What you need:

  • Sweet Shortcrust Pastry *
  • 125g butter
  • 250g muscavado sugar
  • 2 tsp espresso coffee (finely ground – I use Illy)
  • 6 tbsp Kahlua or Tia Maria
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 50g self raising flour, sieved

What you do:

  • Line a 24cm loose bottomed tin with your pastry and leave to chill
  • For the filling, heat butter and sugar until sugar dissolves, then ad the coffee, liqueur and eggs.
  • Gently fold in the sieved flour and pour the mixture into the pastry case.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 35-40 mins – you want a ‘squidgy, fudgy’ texture- be careful not to overcook!
  •  Leave to cool before serving.
* I use 1lb flour, 8oz butter, 1-2 egg yolks, 1 tbsp caster sugar and a little water to make my pastry – this should give you    enough for 2 tarts. You don’t need to blind bake the pastry for this recipe.
Espresso Tartlets
As I said this tart can be served as an excellent dinner party dessert with ice cream or créme fraiche but best of all with mascarpone sorbet which is not as complicated as it sounds – please try it as the taste combination is divine!

Mascarpone Sorbet

What you need: 

  • 250g tub mascarpone
  • 250ml  milk (the proper full fat type please!)
  • 150g caster sugar

What you do: 

  • Whisk the  mascarpone with the milk until thick, smooth and lumpfree. Then stir in the sugar.
  • If you have an ice cream maker, pour in mix and leave to stir until thick and creamy, then freeze until needed.
  • If you don’t have an ice cream maker then pour mix into tupperware box and freeze for an hour. Then whisk in frozen edges back into centre of mix to break up any ice crystals. Freeze for another hour then beat again. Repeat until sorbet is thick, creamy and frozen.

Now all you have to do is sit back and enjoy – and now you know there’s no chocolate in it, honestly!

Happy Cooking !

 

Baking, Cakes, Chef, Cookbooks, Cooking, Recipes

Chocolate Biscuit Cake

This post is especially for those of you looking for my Chocolate Biscuit Cake recipe….

I bought Tamasin Day- Lewis’  book ‘Tamsin’s Kitchen‘ a few years ago for two reasons:

1) I had watched some of her programs on TV and liked her cookery style

and

2) it was reduced in from something like €25 to €9 – who says I can’t economise?

It is a a mighty tome with the recipes arranged in sections designed to take you from ‘Easy Things’ to ‘Serious Skills’. At the start of each section there is an introduction on what to expect. She also includes little hints and tips at the top of each recipe. The downside – the recipes are written in paragraph form  rather than points making them (well for me anyway) less easy to follow and very few of the recipes have photos showing what the end result should look like.

So what have I cooked from this book in the last two years? One thing and one thing only – Tamasin’s Chocolate Biscuit Cake – and yes I know strictly speaking it’s not cooking!

I have added a few bits and pieces to the original recipe and left out the cream that she puts in the icing. These additions  may change depending on what’s in the store cupboard so my version is a cross between Chocolate Biscuit Cake and Rocky Road – but I’ve had no complaints yet!

Chocolate Biscuit Cake

What you need:

  • 4oz /110g Butter
  • 4oz/110g Dark Chocolate (I use 70%)
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 80z/225g digestive biscuits
  • 3oz/80g mini Marshmallows
  • 2oz/50g dried cranberries
  • Dark & white Chocolate to decorate

What you do:

  • Put the biscuits in a plastic bag and bash them to crumbs using your rolling pin (who you think of while doing this is your own business!)
  • Put the butter, chocolate and golden syrup in a saucepan and allow to melt gently over a low heat. Don’t allow mix to boil!
  • Add the mini marshmallows and dried fruit to the melted mix. Then stir in the crushed biscuits, making sure that they are well coated.
  • Turn the mix out into a lined shallow baking tin (approx 30 *20 cm).  Allow to cool then Leave to set for a few hours (or overnight) in the fridge.
  • Once the cake is set cover the top with melted chocolate, leave it for a few mins then cut into slices (it’s easier at this stage)
  • Then drizzle over some melted white chocolate (After a lot of trials I have discovered that white chocolate buttons are the easiest to melt – Thanks Nicola!)

Now that I’ve pulled this book from the shelves I really must try a few more recipes…….

Happy Cooking !

Catering, Cooking, Food, Recipes

Nature’s Larder

There are lots of free foods available in nature – and I’m lucky to have a prolific patch of one of them,  wild garlic, near my house. Some of my neighbours may have  spotted me a few weeks ago heading into the woods armed with my basket and wondered ‘what is she up to now?’ ! I was simply harvesting  a large bunch of delicious wild garlic…

I used some of the leaves in a mixed salad and more wilted into pasta but the majority of it was transformed into delicious garlic pesto.

And this is how easy it is:

  • First wash the garlic leaves in salted water (to kill off any unwanted protein!!) and then rinse and dry in a salad spinner.
  • For approx 150g leaves, you need to whizz 100g parmesan and 100g cashew nuts in the food processor until it looks like breadcrumbs.
  • Add 1 large garlic clove (roughly chopped) and a pinch of salt .
  • Then add the wild garlic leaves and pulse.
  • Pour in enough rapeseed  oil to get to a ‘wettish’ mix (sorry it’s hard to quantify this bit!) and Hey Pesto! you’re done!
  • Pour the  pesto into clean sterilized jars and make sure the top is covered with additional oil before sealing.

These quantities should yield 3-4 jars of Wild Garlic Pesto.

The pesto is delicious with pasta, on pizzas, as a dip…..We use it on parmesan shortbreads topped with goat’s cheese as one of our canapés.

ps you can substitute other herbs such as basil, coriander or parsley for all or part of the wild garlic.

Catering, Chef, Cookery Classes, Cooking, Food, Recipes

Offaly Good Food!

After the fun and success of last year’s Taste of Offaly I was delighted when Midlands 103 invited me back for a second year!

We have SO much good produce in Offaly and it’s a privilege to be asked to come up with ideas to cook with this wonderful food.

I have to admit I was a little starstruck when I saw my name in the Sunday Business Post (thanks Vivienne and Gillian ;-)!)

This year we had a much ‘posher’ demo kitchen thanks to Flogas  – I could actually cook in the oven this year (last year we had to pretend the oven was working!!!)

The exhibition hall was hopping all through the day and it was great to catch up with all the food producers. Thanks to everyone who supplied the ingredients and I hope I haven’t left anybody out!

This year I also had the opportunity to watch the other demos and really enjoyed watching Feargal O’Donnell from the Fatted Calf and Numb from Bang Thai cooking with our local produce – it’s great to learn from other chefs!

Plus I owe a big thanks to Feargal for helping me out with frying pans, cheese etc (though I’m a bit peeved he didn’t share the fresh tarragon!) . The Fatted Calf is definitely on my ‘to visit’ list – if only to taste more of the smoked beetroot!

As promised here are the recipes from the day…..

Pigs on the Green Pork in Tullamore Dew Whiskey Sauce

 What you need:

What you do:

  • Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a high heat. Cook the pork  pieces on one side for 2-3 minutes until golden-brown.
  • Add the butter to the pan then turn the pork over and cook for 1-2 minutes until browned on the other side. Transfer the pork to a warm plate and set aside.
  • Pour in the whiskey  to deglaze the pan,making sure to scrape up any bits of pork  on the bottom of pan. Reduce the heat and add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes, until softened but not coloured.
  • Then turn the heat back up, add the stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat again and leave the sauce to simmer for 15-20 minutes or until reduced by approximately half.
  • Pour in the cream and whisk in the syrup. Season, to taste, then add in another little dash of whiskey!
  • Add the cooked pork back into the sauce along with the tarragon, and heat through foe a few minutes before serving with rice.

Deverell’s Farm Direct Spiced Lamb Burger

What you need:

  • 450g/1lb Farm Factory Direct lamb pieces, minced
  • 1 onion, grated
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Grated zest of orange
  • Handful fresh coriander
  • 1 tsp salt

What you do:

  • This is a nice easy recipe – you just mix all ingredients together in your food processor and then form into burgers.
  • If you have time, chill the burgers for a while – I think this helps them hold their shape
  • Cook the burgers for about 5 mins each side.
  • I served them in O’Donohue’s burger buns which Cathal kindly made for me, beautiful salad leaves from Lough Boora Farm and my own red onion marmalade.

Kilbeggan Oats Biscuits

I knew I was under pressure when I tasted the biscuits on the Kilbeggan Oatmeal Stand – they were seriously good!  Pat’s wife , Lily had made beautifully crisp cookies so we had a great chat about the differences in our recipes – the main one being the that I used the jumbo flakes whereas she uses the finer flakes. the recipe I use is a childhood favourite that my Mum always makes – I hope you like them!

What you need:

  • 6oz butter
  • 6oz caster sugar
  • 1 dsp golden sryup
  • 1 tsp bread soda
  • 6 oz flour
  • 8 oz Kilbeggan Jumbo Oats

What you do:

  • Melt the butter and sugar slowly over a low heat.
  • Add the golden syrup and remove from the heat. Stir in the bread soda
  • Fold in the flour and the oatflakes.
  • Make sure everything is well mixed before rolling out the mix. Stamp out into small discs
  • Bake at 180C /Gas 4 for 10 mins until golden brown.

an Offaly Version of Cranachan!

I never got to take photos of the mini banoffees made with Ballyshiel Dulce de leche;  mini meringues with compote made using Derryvilla blueberries and  Boozeberries blueberry liqueur; and decadent chocolate delight made with Coole Swan and Glenisk organic cream ………for some reason these all disappeared rather quickly……as did the cocktail sausages!! (If anyone has any pictures from the day I’d love to see them)

We really have an amazing wealth of local produce in Offaly – please support these dedicated food producers and choose local!

Thanks again to Midlands 103, all the food producers, everyone who came along to the demos and a special thanks to my Mum and James for being my assistants on the day!

Happy Cooking!

PS there’s another exciting local food project coming up – watch this space!

Baking, Cakes, Catering, Cooking, Food, Recipes

Afternoon Tea Treat…..Lemon Cake

This is a very quick post in response to requests on twitter for  for my apparently “famous” lemon cake recipe !

I found this recipe several years in one of those little books that sometimes come free with the Good Food magazine and it’s become a firm favourite!

The original recipe used an ‘all in one’ method which I found didn’t work for me so I reverted to the old fashioned creaming of the butter and sugar first (in my trusty Kenwood of course………..)

It’s a quick and easy cake to make and it freezes well – always good to have one on standby. We like to serve it with morning coffee or afternoon tea and it always goes down with our clients.  I hope you like it!

Hey Pesto! Lemon Cake

No Servings:        15 mini squares
Oven:                    180 C/Fan 160/Gas 4
 

What you need:

  • 100g butter, softened
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 75 ml milk
  • 175g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Topping:
    • 100g caster sugar
    • Juice of 1 lemon

What to do:

  • Cream the butter and sugar together using K beater in Kenwood (or by hand if you’re feeling energetic!)
  • Add in the eggs and the milk to give nice light batter
  • Then fold in flour, baking powder and lemon zest.
  • Pour mix into a lined baking tin (approx… 20cm * 30cm) and bake in preheated oven for 30 mins – you want it golden-y colour and firm to touch.
  • Make the icing by heating together the sugar and the lemon juice until the sugar is dissolved.
  • Pour the icing over the cake and leave to cool.
  • Once cooled cut into squares ,  dust with icing sugar and serve on a pretty plate!

PS I have made a gluten free version using Dove’s Farm GF flour and a teaspoon of Xanthan Gum – it works!

Happy Cooking!

 

PS2 apologies for lack of photos of finished cake but I did say this was a quick post!

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, Chef, Cookbooks, Cooking, Food, Recipes

Christmas Canapés

I make a lot of canapés – both for business and home entertaining. This year I’ve been asked for easy canapé ideas at my cookery demos so I thought I’d share a few of my favourites. I hope you like them!

Mini Tartlets

I used to make my tartlets from filo pastry – a rather long process but I came across the idea for these on holiday last year and they have made my life much easier!

To make the tartlets you need….

You need a mini-muffin tray, a packet of wonton wrappers, some sunflower oil and a pastry brush – brush each wonton sheet with oil and mould it into the muffin tin to make a small case. (This is much easier to demonstrate than explain!)

When you’ve filled the mini muffin tray sprinkle the cases with a little salt and bake at 200 C for 4 mins. Allow to cool on a wire rack and then use or store in airtight container for up to 4 days.

This is what your end product should look like:

Mini Tartlet

The possiblities are now endless….Some fillings I use are:

  • Avocado & crab topped with some créme fraiche and dill mustard
  • Red onion marmalade and Cooleeney  brie (put in oven for minute or two to soften the cheese)
  • Prawn cocktail
  • Thai beef salad

Crab & avocado tartlets

Red Onion Marmalade & Cooleeney Brie

Sticky Christmas Sausages 

This is another great recipe from my favourite Christmas book ‘Nigella’s Christmas’  and the best thing is that they can be prepared in advance and frozen  – just put mix and sausages in plastic bag and take out of freezer a few hours before your guests are due!

What you need:

  • 2lbs cocktail sausages (approx. 60)
  • 125 ml sweet chilli sauce
  • 60 ml cranberry sauce
  • 60 ml soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. dark muscovado sugar
  • Juice of 1 small orange
  • Juice of 1 lime

 What you do:

  • Mix together all the ingredients except the sausages to make glaze
  • Put sausages in foil tray (much easier than cleaning a roasting tray!)
  • Pour glaze over sausages and mix to coat.
  • Cook for 20 mins then turn and cook for another 10 -20 mins until they’re hot and sticky.

Sticky Christmas Sausages

Smoked Salmon/Trout Wraps

This is another quick and easy idea which doesn’t really need a recipe!

Smoked Trout Wraps

What you need:

  • Tortillla wraps (I find the Discovery ones the easiest to roll!)
  • Some Goatsbridge Smoked Trout  or some Smoked Salmon
  • Cream cheese

What you need:

  • Simply ‘butter’ your tortilla wraps with the cream cheese
  • Place strips of trout or salmon on the cheese
  • Season with a little black pepper and lemon juice then roll into a ‘tube’
  • If you have time wrap in clingfilm and leave in the fridge to set but otherwise trim the two edges, cut wrap into three then cut each piece into two diagonally (again this is much easier to show!)
  • Other fillings which work are roasted peppers, parma ham, pesto……..

Happy Cooking!