‘Weird Ingredients Cooking’ with the man who wasn’t there.

Mystery listI have a conundrum. My problem is literary rather than culinary. I caused today’s difficulty when I wrote about The Man Who Wasn’t There. It was pretty straightforward writing about something that didn’t happen and somebody who wasn’t there to see it not occur.  All that was easy enough. My issues started when I was handed this note by my friend who may, or may not, have made his second trip home from Australia since Christmas.

How do I write about the return of somebody who wasn’t there in the first place? It puts me in mind of the old Irish explanation of a bike being stolen; “There it was, up against the wall, gone”. Anyway, if you are still with me, and for clarity, despite him not being there in the first place, he did return. He handed me the above note. He also handed me a cooler box and bag of mystery ingredients. I can’t resist a challenge and the rules of engagement really got me thinking.

The beautiful mystery ingredients from Australia. What was I going to do?

The beautiful mystery ingredients from Australia. What was I going to do?

First things first. I needed to find out what the ingredients were. The grape tomatoes, wine and olive oil were easy enough, as were the white onions. The king mushrooms, Tutaekuri potato, mini squash I cracked within an hour and three-quarters on the internet. The pepper variety had me stumped. 

Under the above rules, I could add garlic, a protein and a carbohydrate. I chose pork chops and sweet potatoes. I had to add a decent amount as word spread and interest in the challenge rose. I was cooking for six. First I par boiled the mini squash.

Mini Squash

Mini squash landing in the pot of boiling water.

Then I popped them into a bowl of ice water.

Mini Squash

Arresting the cooking with iced water. It helps preserve the high colour too.

Then I chopped the onions.

A gratuitous onion shot. They had been brought from the far side of the globe for this.

A gratuitous onion shot. They had been brought from the far side of the globe for this.

Then I fried them in some of the olive oil and added a half glass of the wine to keep within the rules.

The chalenge had me outside my comfort zone. I would not have thought of adding the wine to the onions otherwise.

The challenge had me outside my comfort zone. I would not have thought of adding the wine to the onions otherwise.

Next we (help from daughter) chopped garlic and slice the pork into strips. Cue the best pouring shot of recent times. We add the olive oil to the pork and garlic.

Olive oil pouring

The oil had a nice peppery note to it. Good to see the Australians doing their own thing.

Then I peeled the potatoes. Fantastic colours are revealed.

Purple potatoes

Purple potatoes are also called Peruvian or Tutaekuri Potatoes. I am now an expert on the subject.

These were put on to steam while we (daughter again) peeled and chopped the sweet potatoes. We drizzled them with olive oil and sprinkled on some salt. Then 20 minutes in the oven.

Ready for the oven. Lovely colourful sweet potatoes.

Ready for the oven. Lovely colourful sweet potatoes.

The pork pieces were ‘twizzled’ to give more opportunity for crispy edge bits and then baked in the oven for 15 minutes.

Pork strips

I thought ‘Twizzled’ was a word of my own invention. Daughter assures me it isn’t.

Then we prepared the squash by cutting them in half, removing the seeds and stuffing them with some onion, garlic, tomato and a drizzle of olive oil.

Mini Squash

The mini squash stuffed and ready to go in the oven.

By this time, my returning friend had called by. He told us that the peppers were paprika peppers. We opened them up and they went into the oven too.

Mini Squash and paprika peppers

Mini squash and paprika peppers get a drizzle of the oil before 10 minutes in a hot oven.

I then sliced the king mushrooms and fried them off on the griddle pan.

King mushrooms

These were more meaty than the pork. Beautiful.

All that was left to do was take out the pork, mash the potatoes, assemble the dish and feed the hoard.

Purple potato mash

The purple potatoes mashed up very well. They tasted good too.

We decided on the big chopping board as the best way to present the meal. (I was later accused of being “a bit Jamie Oliver”).

The meal assembled. It didn't last long.

The meal assembled. It didn’t last long.

Challenge accepted and weird ingredients cooking completed. The man who wasn’t there has returned to Oz. The good news is he is due back in Ireland for a week in five weeks time. I’m looking forward to the next challenge. Bring it on!

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Latest comments
  • That looks amazing… so colourful! I was purple potatoes!

  • I meant to say “I want purple potatoes” not “I was purple potatoes”… that would be strange!

    • I would love some more of them myself. They were very tasty. The idea of ‘being purple potatoes’ is a bit John Malkovich for me.

  • Great colours and super photos as usual, Conor. Where can I get a friend like that who brings such great food parcels?

    • Truth is that we need the food parcels. Perhaps the Troike will bring some when they are next in town squeezing our economy.

  • Great Job Conor!

    • Thanks Justice. It was great fun doing it and he is back in a few weeks!

  • Love the stuffed squash! Great job all around.

    • Thanks Rosemary. Good fun and good company made a great recipe.

  • I would kill for those mushrooms – well okay I wouldn’t but they are a world apart from the standard fare at chavco. That’s it I’m taking the children out mushroom hunting – actually the little one is more suited to truffle hunting i think

  • We actually use these mushrooms instead of meat! Lovely, lovely spread but far too neat for Jamie O and you omitted his chillies and herbs by the handful ; oh OOPS, they weren’t brought in from Down Under, were they 😀 ?

  • Way to go, Conor! You just didn’t meet the challenge, you chewed it up and spit it out! He’ll have to do better than this if he’s going to stump you next time.

  • Very nice post, Conor. The purple potatoes are amazing! What are the yellow bits on the twizzled pork?
    (For some reason your posts do not appear in my reader anymore. I’ll see if resubscribing helps.)

    • The bits are garlic. Very tasty with the pork. I find WP appears to unsubscribe me from some of my followees occasionally too. Very strange.

      • Well at least the spicy lamb post did show up in my reader, so I hope the problem has been fixed.

  • I had some Peruvian or Tutaekuri Potatoes and the supermarket tag it with japanese purple sweet potato…
    thx to you i know the correct name on it…
    the baby squash is so cute and fancy…
    this is what they called great food combining

  • First, the makings of your dish look like a fine work of art (I’m talking Monet here!) Your conundrum is reminiscent of something I’d hear about in a Genesis tune. Good stuff, Sir!

    • Thanks Adam. A nice blend of colours indeed.

  • Mini squash, purple potatoes, wine on onions … I’m in shock! But I’m certainly not weirded out. I’m delighted. And quite hungry. Well done, sir.

  • I think you nailed the challenge 😉 I think I need an Australian friend and maybe move to a country were such cool ingredients can be brought in 🙂

    • Thanks, I’m looking forward to his next trip home.

  • The friend is not Australian and the ingredients can’t be brought in (legally). This never happened, Conor is a Photoshop prankster and general weirdo with an imaginary friend. Or is he…

  • Do you have a version of the TV show “Chopped” in Ireland?

    • Hi Michelle, no. Never heard of it.

      • Well, it works much like that, with a box of mystery ingredients. Though there are 4 contestants to begin with and they work under extremely short deadlines.

        • I think that might be fun. Though, can’t see myself on a game show of any kind unless it was to collect a multi-million prize. The amazing thing is that these ingredients were (or were not) bought in a market in Australia the day before I got the challenge here in Ireland.

  • Oh Connor! Wish I could have been a part of that hoard! Absolutely fabulous!!

  • Another lovely recipe! I really like what you did with the pork and those mini squash! I am looking forward to what you come up with when your friend who was not there shows up again! My best – B

  • Delightful post, Conor, and great looking recipe. Glad you accepted the challenge.

  • Patty pans!!! Oh to find me some patty pans! Those the mini squash, if you’re wondering 😛 Us South Africans love the little things, but I haven’t seen any in Ireland. I used to roast them with garlic & thick slices of onion, then toss with a bit of olive oil and salt. Yum.

    • That sounds very tasty. I only ever had them this once.

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