May 2013

Halibut and walnut dressing

Very simple ingredients of oil, balsamic, walnuts and fish.

I can be a bit of a feckin’ ejit. That’s Irish colloquial for fool. My favourite seafood on the planet is halibut. I laid my hands on two beautiful filets of that fine flatfish. I had little or no ideas what to do and less ingredients in the fridge. So, I decided it was a good time for me to be ‘creative’.

Chicken with Peppers and Black Beans (19 of 19)Do you guys think I’m doing this for my own amusement? I have to tell you I am not impressed. I spend the early part of the week cogitating “What would they like to see?”  “What would be good enough to share with them?” “I’ll need to buy another couple of plates, they are probably bored with these ones…” The thought process goes on. The angst builds until I finally settle on cooking something that I am convinced will win you over. The latter part of the week is spent ensuring I have the best and the freshest ingredients. Saturday, I check my camera gear. Tension in the household mounts. On Saturday evening or possibly Sunday, I take control of the kitchen and cook and photograph for you. Then I process the pictures and try to think of something to say.

IMG_0165Reading around the internet about cooking reveals some interesting stuff. My latest bugbear is over-complication. I see some ‘brand name’ chefs obfuscating processes needlessly. I wonder why? Perhaps it’s to preserve some mystique around their ‘art’. Perhaps it’s that they just don’t know any better. Or, perhaps it’s for more commercial reasons?

Chicken Liver PatéThere is an old saying about poor cooking: “Tastes like hospital food.” I suspect that this really doesn’t have currency nowadays. Generally speaking, the food served in Irish hospitals appears to be a pretty good mix of carbs, proteins and other goodness designed to keep the patients in reasonable health until they depart the hospital or the world. This was not always the case.

My late father was, amongst many other things, a pathologist. For some years, he operated from a lab in the basement of the Richmond Hospital in Dublin city centre. In my 20th year, I got an attack of acute appendicitis. This was back in the 70s when this meant being rushed to the hospital and having a large incision in the gut to remove the offending and offensive organ.

Roast leg of lambI like a nice bit of leg. Lamb leg that is. Not that I don’t admire a nicely turned ankle. But, this is not the place to discuss such things. And, as a small aside, I had my own pins described recently as “I’ve seen better legs on a snooker table”. I will save you the need to pass comment here on all matters leg related except for the spring lamb.

MayonnaiseNo, it’s not a new, fancy style of dressing for your summer salads. It’s not a gourmet delight and it’s not a high point in my culinary development. It breaks all the rules of physics in that there is three times more ingredients go into the dish than there are in the end result. Yes, it’s my Thrice Beaten Mayonnaise

Monkfish Wellington (1 of 1)Those of you who have read part 1 of this 2 part mini series will possibly be expecting some word play and banter around the general ‘Wisdom’ theme. Sorry to disappoint but, I am not going there again. No, this time I am going to impart some gathered wisdom around dinner party behaviour. First, I will back-fill with a little tale from my distant memory. 

Monkfish Cheeks This is part one in a two-part series that I have decided to run. Those of you of a more mature vintage will remember David Carradine in the 1970s TV series Kung Fu. You will remember the slow pace of things and the blind master imparting pearls of wisdom to his understudy Carradine. The younger amongst you will now be thinking about Kung Fu Panda and feeling warm and excited about the cuddly characters. I find that very sad. If you fall into the ‘more recent vintage category you need to play this to gain true enlightenment for reading this post.

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