I love a bit of authenticity. Particularly so when it comes to my kitchen equipment. So when it came to getting my hands on a paella pan, I did my research. They are a shocking price here in Dublin. So, reluctantly, as you can guess, I got on a plane and flew to Spain. Now, there really is no point in seeking out the ‘real deal’ on the Costa del Sol. One is more likely to be served roast beef with Yorkshire pudding than any traditional Spanish dish down that neck of the woods. No, I took myself to the beautiful village of Cadaqués, on the north-east coast. The village was home to that creative genius and surrealist, Salvador Dali. What better place to buy one’s cookware? Continue reading
While I was researching Cornish Pasties, I discovered that the former tin miners are a pretty defensive lot. They have the humble pasty protected under European legislation. By way of contrast, with their pasty protectionism, when the Duke of Wellington invented the Beef Wellington (I believe he carried a fillet steak and mushrooms into battle, hidden inside his left boot.), he didn’t say that the Beef Wellington couldn’t be prepared outside Ireland (for he was an Irishman). No, being both Irish and generous of spirit, he allowed anybody, anywhere prepare the now famous dish. By contrast with the complex and delicious Wellington, the humble pasty was originally some leftovers, wrapped in pastry, by a tin miner’s wife. So why, oh why, can one not prepare a Cornish Pastie anywhere outside Cornwall? Continue reading
“Sous Vide. What’s that?” “Is that some Spanish stuff?” “Boil-in-the-bag. Like they do on Masterchef”. Such were the reactions to my introducing Sous Vide to the cohort of the Great Unwashed that fronts as ‘my friends’. I did have a debt of honour to repay. So I needed to cook some Sous Vide Salmon and present it as well as I possibly could. Continue reading
This is dedicated to the end of economic austerity in Ireland. As is my way, I know what you are thinking. “What has a bit of pork belly to do with financial collapse and years of hardship for an entire nation?” In truth, the pork belly for me has become a symbol of our ingenuity and our ability to make the best of a pretty dire situation. Let me explain my thinking. Continue reading
A long while ago, I cooked a squid risotto. That time, I carefully preserved the ink sacs to blacken the rice and to add some extra flavour. This time, I managed to buy a couple of sachets of squid ink. I was planning to do something very tasty to try to convince Eldest Daughter (ED) that not all shellfish and crustaceans are revolting. She was living with the memory of a bad shellfish experience and was pretty appalled by the thought of anything in or out of a shell. I had my work cut out. Continue reading
I really don’t care if you think that this is an act of despicable laziness and crass in the extreme. It probably is a bit of both. Two Christmases ago, I posted about my mince tart. It is buried deep in the bowels of One Man’s Meat. A year after that festive, culinary triumph, I went to a lot of trouble to prepare traditional shortbread biscuits. They too are buried, just not as far down the list. If you are new to the blog, you will be delighted to have a couple of recipes, served up just too late to prepare for Christmas 2014. If you are an old codger who tends to forget things that happened over a month ago, these will be new to you. If you take insult at the ‘old codger’ descriptor, take heart, in time, you will forget that too. Continue reading
Any of you of ‘a certain age’ who have a navy blazer and a pair of sensible grey slacks hanging in the wardrobe, look away now. You are not going to like this one. I will admit that there are many things to like about Christmas. I suggest that you make a ‘nice’ list for yourself and refer to it on those occasions when you lose your temper queueing for the turkey and ham, or when the family presents don’t arrive from the magical Internet.
There are also a few pretty strident arguments as to why Christmas is a hateful time of the year. There is the guilt salving commercials on TV pleading for just €10 a month to fund the administration of some burgeoning charity. There is that feeling of self-loathing we get as we deftly ignore the carol singers’ outstretched bucket on our way to yet another Christmas boozing session. And there is the Dreaded Sausage Roll. Continue reading
I have to caution you. I have conspired with others to break the law in bringing you this tale. I had decided I should tell you the story of Spiced Beef and the Spoiled Brat. It would be relevant and would allow me to post something festive without having to deck the kitchen with holly. All I had to do was cook the spiced beef. That’s where my descent into the murky underworld of international criminal activity began.
Many years ago, to maintain my razor-sharp weekday appearance and to keep the dry-cleaning bills to a minimum, I invested in a trouser press. The device keeps a nice sharp crease on the suit pants and I only need to think about dry-cleaning when my lunch spills out of it’s glass. To set up a bit of contrast and to keep a good self-image during the working week, I sloth my way around in old jeans or tracksuits at the weekend. Continue reading
Yes, the picture really does tell the story. Beef Cheeks in Red Wine. A good friend of mine was suggesting recipes to me. He talked me into cooking beef cheeks (a first for me). He got to my penny wise side by extolling their value. They really are a cheap cut. That appealed, as anybody who knows me knows, I have a Scrooge side. The skinflint in me was happy until I decided to follow a recipe recommended by a more extravagant friend. Continue reading