Archive for the ‘Cookery Courses’ Category

Upcoming Cookery Classes

I’m having a little trouble editing my website at moment so here’s the goings on at my kitchen for the next couple of months.  Thursday evening cooking club classes always include dinner and I’ll have more of those scheduled for the new year.

Course Duration Date Time Price
Pasta Sauces from ScratchDemo & Dinner 1 evening Thurs 22nd Nov 7-9pm €30

Sold out

Pizza from Scratch: Hands-on 1 evening Thurs 1st Dec 7-9pm €30
Entertaining: Dinner Party Dishes ½ day Sat 3rd Dec 2 – 5pm €65
Christmas Baking 1 evening Thurs 8th Dec 7-9pm €30
Cook Yourself Slim 4 evenings Thurs 12th Jan – Thurs 2nd Feb 7-9pm €120
Kids Cookery Camp6-10 years 4  mornings 14th – 17th Feb 9.30-12 €80
Kids Cookery Camp11-13 yrs 4 afternoons 14th – 17th Feb 2-4.30 €80


Warm Beetroot, Mushroom & Leek Salad

As a student of nutrition for 4 years in Dublin I sought out a fitting place to work – Cafe Fresh in the Powerscourt Townhouse.  It’s a vegetarian/vegan/wholefood restaurant run by Mary Farrell.  Mary was good to us there and staff lunches were by far the healthiest fare in Dublin.  My dingy flat diet was mainly lentil soup/stew; with fish, mashed potato and broccoli on a splash out day.  Cafe Fresh provided welcome variety and some great recipes that I still use.  They served a lovely organic roast beetroot, mushroom and shallot salad.  This version is inspired by that and is a real earthy dish for November.

Warm Beetroot, Mushroom & Leek Salad

Serves 1 for lunch or 2 as side-salad for dinner

1/2 tbsp rapeseed oil

1 tsp butter

2 egg-sized fresh beetroot, boiled until tender

3 flat mushrooms, roughly chopped

1 leek, roughly chopped

sea salt

1/2 tsp English mustard

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tsp fresh thyme leaves

1/2 tsp dried marjoram

sea salt & black pepper

toasted seeds to garnish

Heat the butter and rapeseed oil in a frying pan over medium heat.  Add the leeks and season with salt – cook for 2-3 minutes.  Add the mushrooms, thyme and marjoram and another pinch of salt and continue cooking until the mushrooms are just tender.

Peel the beets and slice them into wedges.  Stir the warm beets, mustard, black pepper and balsamic vinegar into the mushroom/leek mix off the heat.  Taste and adjust seasoning.  Serve with toasted pumpkin & sunflower seeds on top.

This is good by itself but I ate it with beetroot cous-cous (yes, I am turning pink!).  I had some fresh beetroot juice leftover from my kids class (where we made beetroot icing for beetroot and chocolate muffins), which I brought to the boil and poured over dry cous-cous.  The cous-cous absorbed the colour and earthy flavour of the beet juice.


Junior Chef Camp 2011

I’ve been meaning to share some of the experiences from this years Summer Cooking Camps.  Every summer, Easter, mid-term I run cookery camps for children between 6 and 14 years of age.  They come to my kitchen for 2.5  – 3 hours every day for a week, where they have hands-on cookery lessons, garden sessions and dining experiences!  It all started in summer 2009 with a one week course.  This summer I had 3 consecutive weeks of cookery camps.  The interest in teaching our children to cook is growing!

Some of the wonderful things about teaching children to cook is their enthusiasm, their willingness to get their hands, arms, face, clothes…… in there, their creativity (adding pictures below) and the happy look on their faces when the end product is edible! Sometimes they eat a bit there and then, but mostly they just want to bring the result to their parents/family to show what they’ve done and sample it together.

A typical day at cooking camp would be:

  • Feed the hens and check for eggs
  • Gather some veggies and herbs for cooking
  • Hands-on session
  • Healthy Snack
  • Finish cooking/baking
  • Identifying herbs session
  • Home
So if you were at cooking camp this summer here are some of your photos.  Well done!

My Junior Chefs

Today starts 3 weeks of Junior Chef: Summer Cooking Camps.  I have two groups every day – younger in the morning (7-10), older in the afternoon (11-14).  They are brilliant and really get into my way of cooking – i.e. going to forage in the garden before coming to the kitchen.

Here’s they’re gorgeous mini-quiches from today using our free-range eggs, courgettes, chive flowers, nasturtium flowers, carrot, onion, garlic and cheese!  Adventurous cooks!

Junior Chef Mini-Quiches

Feeding Bees

I’m not a bee-keeper, although it’s in the family – my paternal grandmother was and my father is.  Sometimes bees are fed sugar to speed up the honey production – obviously not making a great quality honey.  I undertook this practice, however, yesterday when I had to rescue a bee.  I spotted him/her in the bathroom on Sunday crawling around.  I was really busy so didn’t consider much what he/she was up to.  I came back on Monday and he/she was in the same spot looking a lot lazier.  The species looked something between a bumble bee and a honey bee – furrier than a honey bee but smaller and slimmer than a bumble bee.

I fished up the bee in an empty toilet roll holder and brought him/her outside to a herb bed, thinking he/she would gather some moisture and find the energy to fly away.  I looked at it for a while wondering what would happen next and then realised this poor creature hadn’t eaten or drank in at least 24 hours.  How amazing for something so small.  I tottered into the kitchen and made a very small amount of concentrated sugar syrup with sugar and water.  I allowed it to drip down the side of the large pot and it pooled a little at the bottom where my poor bee was resting.  The minute he/she detected something, his/her tongue shot out. The length of it shocked me – longer than it’s antennae or legs even.  He/she lapped up the fuel and within 5 minutes was flying through the air.

The long dark red/brown tongue

So apart from part-time, small-time bee-keeping I’ve been a very busy bee myself.  So much that I haven’t been blogging at all even though I wanted to dedicate a post to a lamb dish for the Roscommon Lamb Festival ( Instead I’m going to post a picture today from My Junior Chefs who were in my kitchen and garden last week for the Easter Baking Camp. They baked gorgeous cakes on the last day and one of them has lambs on top.
The lamb festival was a great success, happening from Wednesday 27th April to Monday 2nd May.  Mental weekend but I’ll look forward to being involved again next year.

If you’re ever wondering what kind of cake to cook for children – chocolate seems to be a good choice.  They could pick any cake they liked in groups and chocolate came up trumps.

That’s a little of what I’ve been up to but looking forward to next recipe post – think I’ll still go for a lamb dish.

Baked Ricotta Cheesecake mmmmm

As promised I’m sharing some recipes from my just completed ‘Cook Yourself Slim this Spring’ classes.  Thank you to my lovely group.  Last night we enjoyed some treats of the guilt-free variety – cream-free chocolate truffles, ricotta cheesecake, healthy berry crumble and more!  It’s all about using real ingredients to satisfy the taste buds completely.

I made this cheesecake again this morning for my brother’s birthday lunch – it’s so simple and easy to prepare.  We had it with berries and some soya yogurt (which I only just started using – bought a 500g tub to check it out and it’s very low-cal as well as being a perfect accompaniment to a sweet dessert like crumble or tart – not as sharp as natural yogurt and with a little hint of vanilla.  Soya products are good for us – especially women around the time of the menopause.   A component mimics the action of oestrogen in the body and can alleviate some of the symptoms that go along with this time in the life.)

Baked Ricotta Cheesecake with Poached Plums

For 4

4 Jacobs gingernut biscuits

2 tsp butter

130g / 5oz ricotta cheese

110g / 4oz extra light cream cheese

30g / 1oz caster sugar

1 egg

1 lemon, juice & zest


2 purple plums, quartered

30g / 1oz caster sugar

100ml water

1 bay leaf

1 whole black peppercorn

½ lemon, juice of


  1. Preheat the oven to 160 C.
  2. Start by preparing the plums.  Heat the water and sugar together over a medium heat and add the bay leaf and peppercorn.  Once the sugar has dissolved add the quartered plums and cover with a lid.  Bring the boil, turn down the heat and keep at a very gentle simmer for 15 minutes.  Add more water if it evaporates too quickly.  Remove the lid and increase the heat slightly.  Continue simmering with the lid off to reduce the cooking liquid until you have quite a thick syrup.  Take the pan off the heat and stir in the lemon juice.  Remove the bay leaf and peppercorn.  Allow to cool.
  3. Melt the butter in a small saucepan.  Crush the biscuits up roughly and stir them into the melted butter.  Divide between 4 small ramekins and press down well into the base.  Refridgerate until ready to use.
  4. Beat the egg with the caster sugar until well combined.  Beat in the cheeses, lemon juice and zest.  Mix together well.  Divide the cheese mixture between the 4 ramekins.  Smooth the tops and bake in the oven for 20 minutes until the top feels set but has a very slight wobble in the centre.  Allow the cakes to cool in the ramekins at room temperature.  For serving use a knife to loosen the edges of the cheesecake from the sides of the ramekin.  Invert and empty the individual cakes onto a serving plate.  You will be serving these like upside down cheesecakes.  Place 2 quarters of plums on the top of each cheesecake and drizzle the tasty syrup over and around the plate.

You could also make this in a spring-form tin but I would triple the recipe and bake for almost an hour.

This comes in at 215 calories per portion!  Pretty good for a fabilicous dessert. Ginger, lemon and cheese is a good combination – may even be good to have another hint of it in the syrup if you’re a ginger fan.  It’s also good with a little berry compote.

Mexican Cuisine Class

Last weekend Hugo from Cafe Azteca came down and delivered his brilliant introduction to Mexican cuisine.  This was the real thing as everyone found out – most guacamole is not real guacamole and so on.  Here’s the menu on my new pink chalkboard door in the new dining room (thank you Michelle for colour scheme –


So ‘pico de gallo’ is your basic salsa – tomato, onion, garlic, coriander, lime juice, salt.  The many uses for these few ingredients amount to lots of dishes. Adaptations are always good news for the busy cook.  Hugo also brought with him various dried chillis and explained them and their heat value. We made beautiful dark red, cooked salsas by just varying the dried chilli with the above ingredients for pico de gallo (minus lime juice).

Hugo making salsa

One of the best things about this class for me is making tortillas from scratch. When I look at the back of supermarket ‘tortillas’ I’m scared by the list of ingredients because Hugo’s recipe is just corn masa flour and water.  The flour is not the easiest to come by and sold by Hugo (Cafe Azteca, Lord Edward St., Dublin).  The flavour is very earthy and real compared to what we’re used to.  This corn is naturally gluten-free so good for coeliacs if you can ensure an uncontaminated variety.  With the homemade tortillas we made quesedillas and sopes.  Eaten with chicken, melted emmental (we used Kelly’s Moonshine Organic swiss-style cheese from Mullingar and it was gorgeous!) as well as a mushroom/courgette mix for the veggies and washed down with Corona.  For a non-alcoholic drink Hugo suggested a flavoured water – so I whizzed up a whole pineapple (peeled, cored & diced) with 4 tbsp sugar and diluted to drinking consistency with water.  It was delicious and very Mexican I’m told!

We were then treated to a tune on the Irish whistle by our guest chef.

A little entertainment from the chef

So looking forward to the next level for more insight into real Mexican cuisine.

On a health note this type of food is seriously healthy – the salsas are full of fresh veg and require no oil and still burst with flavour.  Avacados contain monounsaturated fats – one of the healthiest around and brilliant for your heart.  This brings me to my next class on Saturday 5th Feb which is ‘Love Your Heart Cooking’ where I promise to hand over fabulous recipes that are good for you too.