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Spotted DogThere are many ‘versions’ of the story of St. Patrick. Given the time of year, I thought I should clarify the situation and give you the cold hard facts about the man. The first thing we know is that he was Welsh. This we know by the type of crosier he carried. There are rumours that he might have been a Scotsman but any sheep farmer knows that the Scottish crozier has a very different head to the Welsh. Scottish sheep have a thicker necks than Welsh and as a result, the Scottish crozier has a more open crook, making it useless for snake scooping. St. Patrick hunted snakes with the aid of a dalmatian hound. In fact, the great Irish patron saint named one of the three (for there are only three) traditional Irish foods after the dog.

Euro cake (4 of 4)

Great Britain is pondering leaving the European Union. The British currency is the Pound. I was thinking of making a pound cake. To hell with that. I refuse to promote the currency of a nation that may leave Ireland swinging in the cold wind of European island isolation. No, I will modify the traditional pound cake recipe and make instead a Euro Cake

Salmon en croute (8 of 9)Salmon en Croute“, such an urbaine sounding title for a very tasty dish. But, let’s just forget the ‘Francification’ and call it ‘salmon in a crust’.  Without the fancy title, the elegant dish becomes pretty ordinary sounding. When it’s sounding ordinary and ‘of the people’, I find I can write about it. Let’s face it, I’m an ordinary guy and I just can’t handle fancy. Though, I hope you can because this is one sophisticated tasting treat.

Marmalade puddingI believe it’s important to face up to one’s shortcomings. If you can get into the way of doing this, it is very good for the soul. It also allows you negate the scornful snickering and finger-pointing of those with less emotional intelligence than you. I am lucky enough to live in a bliss-filled house where the Wife never alludes to my failings and daughters have only praise for my efforts in the kitchen. My beloved mother does as she has done for over 50 years. She doles out gentle encouragement for my culinary adventures. That’s all true up to a point. We passed that particular marker when I tried to cook Whiskey Marmalade Steamed Pudding

Dublin Pastie (12 of 12)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?

Grafton Street at ChristmasI 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.

Sausage rolls (13 of 14)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.

Chocolate fondant (11 of 13)“You never do desserts.” came the criticism. This was not friendly, constructive comment. It was said through sneering lips. As much as to say “Any fool can roast a leg of lamb or fry a pork chop. But, it takes real talent to cook a dessert.” That got me thinking. No, I don’t do a lot of desserts. That doesn’t mean I can’t. It just means I don’t. But, I could not let the scoffing criticism go. I started looking at puddings and confections. 

Fig GaletteThey say figs are good for the digestion. But, that’s not what I mean by the headline. No. This brief post is here to celebrate the very short Irish fig season. The figs are not Irish but we seem to get exposed to them for the briefest of spells each Autumn. So, just like the figs, this post is just passin’ through. 

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