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”

Chef, Cookbooks, Cooking, family meals, Healthy Eating, Recipes, Vegetarian

Irish Potatoes with a Spanish Twist

Today is National Potato Day so it’s only right to celebrate our most famous vegetable !

There are so many ways to cook our national treasure but as I’m still trying to keep the summer memories alive I’m adding  a Spanish twist to tonight’s dish. This dish will be perfect both as an accompaniment to some thing like a roast chicken breast or served as part of tapas selection.

I’ve tried a few different recipes for Patatas Bravas – you know the tasty potatoes in tomato sauce you get in Tapas Bars – and I always come back to Simon Rimmer’s version. He slow roasts the potatoes with chilli rather than the traditional method of deep frying the potatoes and then adding the sauce so it’s a healthier option.  I’ve tweaked it to my taste and I hope you like it !
Continue reading “Irish Potatoes with a Spanish Twist”

Chef, Cocktails, Cookery Classes, Cooking, Food, Recipes, Restaurants

Beating the January Blues

2 weeks into January and my resolutions are still going strong – well most of them ! I started my get fit regime (albeit gently) , had a great turn out for my first cookery class and enjoyed my first meal out of the year.

The Chief Taster surprised me with a night away in Dunbrody House Hotel – just the thing to chase away the January blues. If you haven’t been, Dunbrody is a beautiful Georgian House in Arthurstown , Co. Wexford run by TV Chef Kevin and Catherine Dundon.

We stayed in a lovely room overlooking the garden and the beautifully laid out herb garden. I will admit to being slightly jealous 😉 The CT had to go do some work so I relaxed with coffee and my book.

Then it was time to preen ourselves for dinner and pre-prandial drinks by the fire. I’m still searching for a ‘grown up’ pre-dinner drink – thanks to a recommendation from the cocktail guru Geoff Boyle I decided to try a Hendricks gin and tonic but was a little disappointed to be told that they had run out of Hendricks over Christmas. I picked a Campari from the drinks menu after that – it will not be my drink of choice 😉 . He stuck to his usual whiskey and was happy.

We were served a very tasty salmon dip while we decided on our dinner choices and then shown into the beautiful dining room.

Menu

Dinner did not disappoint. We both loved the black pudding and chorizo bread  (I shall be attempting a version..). Then I had the Smoked Salmon and the Venison , while the Chief Taster had the Pigeon and the Halibut. I  loved the flavour combination of the smoked celery root purée with the venison but I will admit to passing on the sunchoke!

We don’t normally do desserts but our lovely waitress Sarah persuaded us – so he opted for the doughnuts and coffee and I went for the cheese board which would have comfortably fed four if not six people! And then there were handmade chocolates…… All these delights were washed down by a very pleasant Lawton Hill’s Pinot Noir.
We were so full we couldn’t even manage a postprandial drink – even the stairs were a challenge 🙂

dunbrody Jan 2104 064

Would you believe the lovely Sarah turned out to be the equally lovely Paula Ryan’s niece. Talk about a small world!

Breakfast was another feast – did I mention I’m joining a gym! There were two ladies in the dining room who were heading to the Cookery School for the day and I would have loved to have gone with them but unfortunately it was time to head back to reality.

If you’re looking for a relaxing mini break with excellent food I’d definitely recommend Dunbrody House. Next time I’m definitely doing a cookery class 🙂

Speaking of cookery here is one of the dishes from my first ‘Healthier Cooking’ class – warm, comforting and healthy!

Chickpea & Red Pepper Stew

What you need:

  • 1 tbsp. rapeseed oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 red peppers, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1  jar passata
  • 1 tin chickpeas
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Seasoning
  • Fresh coriander

 What you do:

  • Heat oil over a gentle heat in a heavy bottomed saucepan, add onion and pepper and cook for about 10 mins until softened
  • Add the garlic and the paprika and cook for another minute.
  • Add in the passata plus a pinch of sugar and the chickpeas. Leave to simmer over low heat for 10 minutes.
  • Season and serve with rice, sprinkled with fresh coriander

PS Crisped chorizo sprinkled over the top may add a few more calories but it is rather delicious….

Happy Cooking !

Catering, Christmas, Cookery Classes, Cooking, Food, Healthy Eating, Recipes, Vegetarian

Happy New Year and all that …..

Happy New Year! I’m full of good intentions this morning – well who isn’t? 😉

2013 was exciting, if a tad stressful – the best bit being moving house and installing not one but two kitchens – one for me and one for Hey Pesto!
Now I have no excuses so  it’s time to start making plans for the year ahead……..

I want to :

  1. concentrate on the ‘cookery school side’ of the business – starting with my lighter cooking course on 14th January. I’ve been blown away by the feedback from my classes so far and I can’t believe how much I love doing them.
  2. continue to grow my catering business. I can’t believe it’s 9 years since I started Hey Pesto!
  3. blog more – I know, I know, I said that last year but there were far too many distractions. I also want to finally get round to creating a website (Stop laughing – yes you!)
  4. cook more for pleasure – now that I have a library for my cookery books I need to use them! (I shall also be looking for ‘guinea pigs’)
  5. enjoy lots of good food in the company of good friends and loved ones.

Another thing that I am very conscious of is the amount of food that is wasted. I tried to cut down last year but bad habits crept back in… So since Christmas I have trying to use up everything – I haven’t been food shopping since Christmas Eve and have managed to produce a number of tasty meals – ok I know we all overstock before the holidays but………

Of course I’m also going to be “super” healthy in 2014….well maybe I should start with healthier…….I even got a birthday present of gym membership (a less than subtle hint perhaps!)

So my first meal of 2014 is going to be a Vegetarian Crumble to use up all the sad vegetables still lurking in the pantry.

Vegetables

Spiced Vegetable Crumble

No Servings:         4 -6
Oven:                   180ºC/ gas 4     

What you need:

  • 1 – 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 onion,  chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp ground tumeric
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1-2 cm fresh ginger, grated
  • 1/2 jar passata
  • Approx 750g mixed root vegetables, chopped
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • 75g flour
  • 75g Kilbeggan Porridge Oats
  • 50g butter
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

What you do:

  • Heat the oil in a large pan and sauté the onion for approx 5 mins. Meanwhile dry fry the cumin nad coriander seeds and roughly grind in a pestle and mortar (Okay you can use a spice grinder but think of the exercise!)
  • Add the garlic, spices and ginger to the onions, cook for another minute then add in 2 tbsps of passasta. Cook for another minute then add in the rest of the passata.
  • Add in the chopped vegetables – I used carrots, celery(not a root veg I know but it was in the basket), sweet potato and parsnips. I also threw in the half packet of chestnuts that were languishing in the fridge since I made turkey & leek pie.
  • Transfer the mix to a casserole dish and pour in your vegetable stock.
  • Make the crumble topping by rubbing the butter into the flour and oats. Add in the cayenne pepper – both for colour and seasoning. You could use paprika if you prefer.
  • Top the vegetables with the crumble mix and bake for 30-40 mins. until the top is golden and bubbling.

P1010994-001

My dish is ready to go into the oven but as it has stopped raining I may even attempt to go for a walk!  Looking forward to dinner later with a nice glass of red wine  – well it is still Christmas ….

Happy Cooking and Happy New Year!

PS What are you planning for 2014?!

This is how the Crumble turned out and if I do say so myself it was rather tasty!

Vegetable Crumble

 

Catering, Christmas, Cookery Classes, Cooking, Food, Recipes, Vegetarian

Vegetarians deserve Christmas too!

When I was in college and living away from home for the first time I decided I would become a vegetarian. I have to to say it was more from  economic than altruistic reasons … that and the fact I had a major aversion to handling raw meat!
This ‘phase’ lasted for about 14 years – and ended abruptly 3 days into my time studying in Ballymaloe Cookery School when I decided that if I was going to cook for a living I needed to know what everything tasted like  And yes it was a rasher sambo that ‘brought me back’ 😉

During my years as a vegetarian I drove my poor Mum mad every Christmas by refusing point blank to touch turkey or ham and insisting on cooking my own dinner down to the vegetarian gravy!

Over the years this nut roast became a Christmas favourite tradition and even my very carnivorous brother gave it his seal of approval.

So if you’re looking for a veggie option for Christmas Day then your search ends here……….

Best Ever Cashew Nut & Mushroom Roast

No Servings:         6
Oven:             180ºC/ gas 4/350ºF      

What you need:

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  •  1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  •  8 oz/225g cashew nuts, roughly chopped
  •  4 oz/110g breadcrumbs
  •  1 egg
  • 3 medium parsnips, cooked and mashed
  • 1 tsp each fresh rosemary & thyme
  •  ¼ pt/ 150 ml vegetable stock
  •  Good knob of  butter
  •  8 oz/ 225g mushrooms, sliced.

What you do:

  • Heat the oil in a large pan and sauté onion for few mins, Making sure to add a pinch of salt. Add the garlic then cook until soft
  • In a large bowl mix nuts and breadcrumbs together with the beaten egg.
  • Add in the mashed parsnips and the herbs, followed by onion and garlic. Make sure you add all the cooking juices in to avoid any dryness in roast
  • Stir in the stock and season to taste. Set aside
  • In your pan sauté mushrooms in butter until soft. I always add a little sherry or vermouth at this stage…. it gives a lovely flavour!
  • Butter  and line 2 lb loaf tin. Put a line of your best mushroom pieces down the middle of the base – this will be the top of your roast when you turn it out so make sure they look good!
  • Then press in half the nut mixture. Cover with a layer of mushrooms and top with rest of nut mixture.
  • Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour. When cooked remove from oven and allow to stand for 10 mins before turning out.
  • Serve it hot with all the usual Christmas accompaniments or have it cold with salad and chutney.

Note: You can half the recipe and use a 1 lb loaf tin if you want to cook this for 2-3 people

And if you’re looking for a delicious vegetarian gravy …….. all you need to do is put 1 pt/500ml water, 2 tbsp soy sauce and 2 tbsp redcurrant jelly in a saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the jelly. Blend 2 tbsp cornflour with 2 tbsp orange juice and 1 tbsp sherry. Stir a little of hot liquid into cornflour mix, then add back into saucepan, whisking well to ensure no lumps! Simmer over gentle heat until slightly thickened. Season to taste. 

Enjoy!

Happy Cooking and Happy Christmas!

Catering, Cookbooks, Cooking, Food, Healthy Eating, Recipes, Vegetarian

Comforting Vegetarian Cuisine

As I may have mentioned not only do I collect cookbooks I also collect recipes…. Also did I mention that I was a vegetarian for about 14 years?

I was talking to the guys in my local vegetable shop, The Farmer’s Gate, about recipes we could give their customers that use  produce from the shop.  So I went back through my recipe notebook for inspiration and came across this one for Savoury Vegetable Crumble. I think the original came from a  vegetarian magazine way back when I was dedicated to the cause. It’s been adapted a bit over the years and here’s the latest version.

You can use any mix of vegetables for this dish but winter root vegetables work really well. Tonight I used leeks, celery and carrot as they were in my vegetable rack. I also added a red pepper for colour.

What you need:

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 cm ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • Mix of vegetables  – such as 2-3 carrots, few sticks celery, 2 parsnips…..
  • 500 ml vegetable stock
  • 1 400g tin cannelloni beans
  • 75g/3 oz spelt flour
  • 50g/2 oz butter
  • 75g/3oz Kilbeggan Porridge Oats

What you do:

  • Sauté the onions and the chilli until soft but not coloured.
  • Dry fry the cumin and coriander seeds for a minute then grind in pestle and mortar with the other spices. Then add to the onions and chilli and cook for a few mins.
  • Add in the purée, cook for another minute, add vegetables and toss to coat in the spice mix.
  • Finally add in the stock and the beans. Bring mix to the boil and then simmer over a low heat for 15-20 mins.

  • Make the crumble by rubbing the butter into the flour and then add in the oats.

  • Transfer the vegetable mix to a casserole dish and scatter the crumble over the top.

  • Bake the dish at 190 C/Gas 5 for 25 mins until crumble is cooked

I served the dish with some minted yoghurt – a perfect warming dish  for a dark winter’s evening!

Happy Cooking !

And yes, before you ask – it was the rasher sandwich that ‘brought me back’!

Chef, Cookbooks, Cooking, Food, Recipes

Flash Food – Laura Santtini

There was great excitement in Hey Pesto! this week when thanks to  Irish Food Bloggers Association I receieved a review copy of Laura Santtini ‘s new book Flash Cooking  from Quadrille Publishing.

This book is about ‘fast, healthful, easy-to-prepare, nutritious, flavour-packed meals, that look great, taste extraordinary and promote well- being’ ; in fact I would almost describe it as a lifestyle book rather than a cook book!

I loved the introduction and the definition of the concepts involved , for example ‘Flash Cooking (3) – show one’s culinary genius in public’!

What appealed to me most were the flavour tables for seasonings, glazes, rubinades, pastes, finishing bits, dressings etc. – they’ve opened up a whole new world of experimentation for my kitchen. And I’m delighted to say that, with a few exceptions, they’re all store cupboard ingredients.

Laura’s alchemist’s approach was definitely a ‘hook’ for me (once an engineer…) but don’t let this put you off !   The recipes are straightforward and easy to follow and most importantly, in the case of the ones I tried – they work!  Oh and the taste sensations – WOW!

The photography is stunning – my favourites are the antique cutlery shots. But I have to mention my pet peeve – there isn’t a picture of every dish 😦

My verdict – this book is NOT leaving my kitchen and I foresee lots more flavour experimentation in my future! 🙂

My advice – put it on your Christmas list! *****

There are so many recipes I want to try, including:

  • Tea-steamed Sea Bass with Vanilla Star Anise Olive Oil
  • Duck Breasts with Black Magic Elixir
  • The Dog’s Bolognese
  • Curried Sweet Potato and Ginger Soup

but this one caught my eye straightaway:

Flash Glazed Cauliflower Cheese Steaks

What you need:

  • 1 large cauliflower
  • 1 tbsp harissa paste
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (plus extra for frying)
  • Sea salt & black pepper
  • 75g Feta Cheese
  • Pomegranate Vinaigrette to serve

What you do:

  • Preheat oven to 180 C/160 C Fan/ Gas 4
  • Cut 2 thick slices of cauliflower from the centre, from top down through to the stalk, to give two ‘flower steaks’
  • Mix the harissa paste with the olive oil and brush over the ‘steaks’ on both sides
Brush the steak with the harissa paste & oil mix
  • Heat some oil in frying pan and add the steaks – fry until golden on both sides
Fry until golden
  • Then brush the steaks with any remaining glaze and  transfer to the preheated oven. Bake for 10 minutes.
  • Crumble feta cheese over the steaks and return to the oven until cheese becomes golden and starts to melt.

Laura suggests serving this with the Pomegranate vinaigrette and being delighted to find a use for the bottle in my cupboard I was happy to oblige!

  • To make the vinaigrette
  • mix 1 tsp of pomegranate molasses, pinch of freshly ground cumin, juice of half a lemon and lots of fresh mint.

When I tasted the vinaigrette on its own I found it rather sweet but this excess sweetness disappeared once it was mixed with the cauliflower steak and the feta.

The flavour combinations made my mouth zing!

Spot the difference!

This great recipe has already earned its place in my book of favourites! Thanks Laura!

I think the Lemon Halloumi recipe will be the next one to try……………

PS

  1. Delighted to see The Tasty Tart  mentioned in the credits – well done Tara!  
  2. Thanks to Mark from Quadrille Publishing for sending me the book!