book review, cookalong, Cookbooks, Cookery Classes, Cooking, entertaining, family meals, Food, Recipes

Cookbook Cookalong No. 10 – Mexican Food Made Simple

Can you believe it’s been a year since life as we knew it stopped? Little did I think that when I started the Hey Pesto Cookalong Group last year that we would still be sharing our kitchens virtually 12 months later. We’re almost at 500 members ( come on we only need 8 more to get there!) and thanks again to those of you that interact regularly and keep me on my toes

This week’s cookbook choice was Thomasina Miers’ ‘Mexican Food Made Simple’ – a book that has been in my collection since July 2011 – if I remember correctly I bought it on a recommendation from my great friend and fellow cook Georgie. There are a few food splattered pages and lots of scribbled notes which attest to the fact it has been well used over the years.
Don’t expect recipes for fajitas like ‘marinate chicken in spice mix and fry’ , her recipes are a lot more involved than that but she does explain things very well – salsas, making your tortillas, how to fold a burrito etc are explained with step by step instructions with pictures 😊

book cover

In advance of the cookalong, I did an online shop with Picado Mexican and huge thanks are due to Lily for ensuring my order arrived in time. I have lots of lovely new ingredients to play with 😉

If you decide to try recipes from this week’s book then may I recommend you stock up on authentic Mexican ingredients from Lily & Alan’s online shop.
If you’re in Tullamore you will also find some ingredients at Bia Cantina‘s stall in Tullamore Food Fayre – Conor sells ready tortilla dough for you to roll out and cook at home and if you follow my insta stories you’ll know that I’m a fan of his homemade crisps

So what did I cook:

The dish that topped my Facebook poll was Steak Burritos (p.117) . I love dishes like this with lotTs of salsas and side ‘bits and bobs’ so I was happy with the group choice. The recipe looks for skirt steak which I was unable to get so I opted for striploin from my local farmshop instead. In hindsight rather than cutting this into thin slices and marinating it I might have been better to leave the steaks whole and slice them after cooking as I felt I didn’t get enough flavour from the pieces.

The charred spring onions on the other hand, were very more-ish , I recommend cooking twice as many as you think you’ll need!

beef in bowl
Steak Bowl

This dish is the sum of a number of parts- the beef, the tortillas, the beans, the rice, the salsa and the add-ons such as the avocado, creme fraiche and cheese. Ideally I would make everything up , leaving the beef til last, and lay all the dishes out to let everyone help themselves – this is my favourite way of family dining.

I made the Green Rice (p.64), in honour of St. Patrick’s Day, as you do! I’ve made this dish before and love the fresh herb flavours. There’s also a recipe for a delicious red version which uses tomatoes, peas and carrots.

Rice for ST Patrick’s Day!

I cheated on the black beans – I opened a tin, heated them and seasoned with lime juice😉

I did attempt to make my own tortillas (p. 100) but they fell apart. I checked with Conor in the Market this morning and he said my mistake was to roll the dough – he recommends flattening with the base of a pan. I’ll try this and report back.

salsa
Roast Chipotle Salsa

The star of the show for me was the Roast Chipotle Salsa (p. 29) . This was a flavour sensation that I will certainly be making again. You dry roast a quartered red onion, 2 garlic cloves and 4 plum tomatoes in a pan until the tomamotes are blistered and soft . The onions and garlic will roast quicker so remove them from the pan as soon as they are done. Blitz them all together with a chipotles en adobo , lime juice, coriander and salt. Voilá.
There is a recipe in the book for chipotles en adobo but I bought a tin of same – and now I have the perfect excuse to make the salsa again 🤗

To round off any Mexican evening there has to be Margaritas ( despite everyone’s Tequila horror stories!) There is a section in the book on how to make the perfect margarita with a few variations. I made a chili infused sugar syrup and added some to two part tequila to one part cointreau and juice of 1 lime – all topped up with limonata. More diluted than those in the book but hey, I have my tequila story too, but that’s for another time.

Plated burrito
The whole enchilada, so to speak 😉

My verdict:

I like this book and it has a place in my library. If you want to explore Mexican Cooking then I definitely recommend that you buy it too. Otherwise if you’d rather try a few more of her recipes (and the steak burrito) before committing check out this article and her blog .

If you missed my Mexican Food Made Simple you can catch up here
The Friday Cookbook Cookalong happens every Friday at 6.30 pm on my facebook page – why not drop by and say hello – we’re a friendly bunch 😊

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 📷

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

Cookery Classes, Cooking, family meals, Healthy Eating, Local food, Recipes

Tasty and Tempting ….

And not a takeaway in sight!

You know that feeling  – you’ve been out all day, you’re tired and hungry and you want dinner. NOW.

We’re not big takeaway fans here but I will admit I came very close to picking up the phone and ordering one last night.
Thankfully  I hesitated and did a quick audit of what we had on hand. The situation was much better than feared. Fresh haddock in the fridge, avocados and tomatoes in the vegetable basket , taco shells in the pantry.

The result –  fast fish tacos for supper – on the table in 10 minutes, Jamie Oliver would be proud of me!
Continue reading “Tasty and Tempting ….”