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While thinking about this recipe, I got to consider my storyline. It should be an easy one to write. Halibut is my favourite fish and right now, I am having a great time with many of the Thai flavours that bring out the very best in fish. With very little thinking done, I hit upon “curry favour”. I could easily bend that around to “favourite curry” and have a play on words. This would be easy.

During our summer holidays, we got to stay on a plum farm in Agen, in the south of France. While we were there, we got to enjoy lots of the truly fine local produce. Our hosts gave me a supply of delicious prunes (dried plums) which I enjoyed so much, I had to get more to try the classic dish of the region Agen Prunes in Armagnac. It would have been rude to not try it given that Agen sits beside Armagnac and it really is a delight. Have mine been successful? Like I say in the headline, I’ll tell you at Christmas. I made them last week (October) and they are now hidden away in a dark press in preserving jars. They are out of sight so they have a good chance of making it to December 25th, by which time, they should be perfect.

These little tasties are a great example of international cooperation. The finest Irish lamb is combined with some delicious spices to give us Indian Style Lamb Chops. They were perfect with the Spinach Dahl I posted last week. They are delightful and I prepared plenty. There were three of us sitting down to eat. Three chops is plenty for one person. There are eight chops in a rack. You know what I did. 

Are you wearing a fitness tracker? You know your step count, your blood pressure, heart rate, how long and how well you sleep and even your calorie consumption. Admit it, you obsess. You sweat the small stuff. You don’t get that sleep you can measure because you are stressing over missing your daily step count. This messes with the BP and the HR too. It gets worse, you use the app to track your friends. You stress because they are doing more than you. This raises your BP and HR even higher. It is definitely time to take your pulse.

I love crumble. A decent crumble is a series of contrasts. Texture, taste, tone – all three are complemented by the addition of a bit of creme fraiche which brings temperature and luxury to the party. My grumble with crumble is that so many of them skimp on the crumble and don’t do contrast. If you make a crumble with rhubarb and ginger, you can afford to leave the base mixture pretty tart. To contrast that, the crumble can be nice and sweet. The crumble has to crumble too. That could be another grumble.

Did I tell you? I’m a vegetarian. I plan to move on to full vegan next. After that, I will live only on pulses until my last pulse.  There is only one little bit of weaseling in this. It’s all just “not yet”. Are you a little disappointed in me? Have I lied to you? Or, is it OK to really pump up one (good) aspect of what you do while you weasel the more important (bad) stuff you do?

Let’s face it. If you want to make anything sound that bit special, say it in French. A shrimp might be worth scoffing down. But a langoustine is something that has to be eaten with the reverence its embellished title deserves. Pommes Anna evokes crisp cotton tablecloths, silverware, crystal glasses and fine wines. With due deference to my eldest sister, “Anna’s potatoes” really doesn’t do much for the imagination. So when I cogitated preparing some sweetened duck legs in a plastic bag, it really had to be Duck a l’Orange Sous Vide. It may seem like déjà vu as I have done Duck a l’Orange here before.

“Boiled Chicken! You must be joking.” I hear you muse. But, this is no joke. Not only is this Chinese style boiled chicken delicious but it has a real bonus in store for you. But more of that later. This recipe uses a cooking method favoured by Chinese peasants. It is known as cooking on  reducing heat. In a country where firewood was in really short supply, this method had a lot to commend it.

Sorry in advance, but this one is a bit of a rant. “Go Back Where You Came From” This seems to be the underlying sentiment and backbone of some philosophies trumped at and by us today. I am offended on a number of levels. Firstly, the correct English is “Go back to from whence you came.” So, if you don’t understand your own language, don’t shout it at strangers.  My second level of offence is at the intolerance we show for each other at state level, and at every stratum of society, all the way to the most vulnerable. Thirdly, I am offended by the appropriation of the best culinary delights of numerous nations by those who believe the originators of those same recipes should “Go back where they came from.”  I don’t go with this line of reasoning. I welcome diversity and I believe that we need to welcome the people as well as their recipes. So, when my Indian friend Prateek started a conversation about Indian cooking, I took the conversation to a logical conclusion and cooked these Indian Style Lamb Shanks.

Is there such a thing as an authentic recipe for Chicken Tikka Masala? I doubt it very much. When I did my bit of research for this delight, I came up with a number of conflicting claims on the original. For many years, I thought that it was just some greasy, mild creamy muck that came in a jar from the supermarket. You know the type of stuff, hot colour, thin taste and a huge desire to drink lots of water later in the evening. There are claims that a Pakistani chef, operating in Glasgow, having run out of curry sauce, added some spice to his tomato soup and Chicken Tikka Masala was born. Others believe it to be an Indian original and I believe that England also lays a claim to its origins. In truth, most Chicken Tikka Masalas I have ever tasted didn’t merit anybody claiming the original.  So, I thought I should try my own.

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