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Dessert

A couple of weeks ago, I had a good rip into the Irish mango scene. Practically every mango in every supermarket is as hard as Ronnie Kray on a bad day. Many of you will be too young, too foreign or too well brought up to know of the bold Ronnie. He and his brother Reggie made up the Kray Twins, who ran much of the crime in the West End of London during the 1950s and 1960s. They were a bad lot who killed their enemies with shocking regularity, dealt in drugs, gambling and extortion. They even mixed with politicians and celebrities. Unforgivable. I digress. I think you get the point about the hard mangos. This was my bugbear until I visited Ingredients Oriental Supermarket in our local village of Stillorgan.

I have a bit in common with apricots. I can be a bit dull and uninteresting, often outshone by others. However, like apricots, if I’m pickled in brandy for long enough, I too am transformed into a thing of glorious beauty and attractiveness. Perhaps I might abandon the analogy at this stage as this personal transformation only goes on in my head, the effects don’t last and the memory tends to make me shudder with guilt and remorse.

poached-peaches-1-of-8I tend to do our weekly shopping. The Wife likes to have a kiwi fruit with her morning muesli. I like to deliver a week’s supply of perfect kiwis to preserve her good humour and to avoid waste. While in the supermarket, I behave like an old woman with a wheeled shopping basket, squeezing the fruit to find what I want and what I don’t. If my thumb goes through the skin, leave it behind. If it’s like rubbing my chin with three day old stubble, I leave it there too. Getting fruit at the correct ripeness is not easy. So, I get upset with the retail fruit marketing baloney I read. There is a stand out phrase “ripen at home’. What this means is the fruit is at the three day stubble stage and you can take a flyer on it. It may ripen or it may just go mouldy. So, when I inadvertently picked up a pack of ‘ripen at home’ peaches, I needed a plan.

Cherries (1 of 1)Wandering the fruit and vegetable markets in southern France can be inspiring. This year, we have spent some time in the big Sunday market in Libourne, about 40k outside Bordeaux on the Bergerac road. There was the usual range of wonderful stallholders, selling delicious produce at fantastic prices. I was attracted by some magnificent looking cherries. I wanted to buy them. The Wife advised, as she often does, caution. What were they for? Had I a plan? Did I know what I wanted to cook with them?

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

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.

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. 

Cherry Cobbler (5 of 12)Heralding the end of the season, the price of cherries dropped suddenly a couple of weeks ago. Given that I had a virgin cherry stoner, purchased on the last French holiday, I thought it time to lay my hands on half a kilo of these delectable treats. The plan was to prepare a simple Cherry Cobbler. A quick trawl of the Internet, revealed thousands of recipe options. As is my way, I decided to meld a number of these into something approaching a reasonable concoction.

Apricot Tart Tatin You know the story. A beautiful girl from the slums of some south American dive wins the Miss World contest and her life is transformed. She goes from washing herself and her impoverished sisters and brothers in an abandoned oil drum to starring in Maxx Factor commercials and bathing in goat’s milk. The little darling spends days modelling top fashion and sipping Evian water. Mercedes insist on her driving around in one of their better small saloons. When she is not being gainfully employed, she is entertained by those at the apex of the social pyramid. That’s how it’s meant to be…. With this as the backdrop, I hear you muse; “Since winning two coveted prizes in 2013 Blog Awards, what has changed in your life Conor?”

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