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Ray with oven chips and tartar sauce (12 of 12)“How..”, I hear you ruminate, “…can the baldy little man consider himself to be lucky?” It’s true, I do face as many challenges in my life as the next guy (or gal). But, this time, the ball broke the right way and my ship came in (if you will pardon me mixing my metaphors so blatantly). I had taken a weekend off. I really was just not in the mood to plan and cook a meal. I hadn’t the enthusiasm to get the camera out and really didn’t fancy writing anything new. I was on the couch and I was staying there. 

Steamed trout with fennel (1 of 13)“Go West” – a gay pride anthem, an Ulster Rugby chant and advice dispensed by the then editor of the New-York Tribune, Horace Greeley in 1851 as “Go west young man, and grow up with the country.” The pride anthem was originally released by the Village People in the late seventies and brought up to date by the Pet Shop Boys in 1993. I have that version on my iPod.  I sang the Ulster Rugby version, with tears in my eyes, along with 18,000 others at my hallowed Leinster Rugby ground, the RDS, to honour Nevin Spence, a very talented Ulster Rugby player who died in a tragic accident on the Spence family farm in 2012. I can claim no association with Horace Greeley.

Cedar Plank Salmon (1 of 1)-4I get conflicted. Various people tell me that I should be earning a decent few quid from the blog. The reality is that is not possible. I write what I like, post to my own schedule and if something gets up my nose, I am happy to share my spleen contents with the world. If one is writing for commercial gain, the spleen venting, nose contents descriptions and haphazard scheduling are all no-nos.

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.

Seafood Squid Ink Pasta (10 of 10)OK, it’s dark. But, that doesn’t make it a dark secret, per se. In fact, it’s just dark. There really is no secret about it. I could have gone down a “My Dark Past” route with this. But, Michael Jackson cornered that particular market a while ago. I could have suggested that the squid was caught in the Dark Net but, the Dark Net is not a place in which any of us want to get caught. So, I went with Dark Secret. 

Monkfish in oats (13 of 13)Here in Ireland, we really struggle with ‘original Irish recipes’. Any discussion on traditional cuisine usually ends up in a culinary cul-de-sac with everybody agreeing that bacon and cabbage is the high point while boxti and coddle bring up the rear. A ‘pint of plain’ being the tipple of choice to accompany most everything. It’s not very inspiring. The principal reason for the lack of traditional culinary diversity is tied to our history. We were, for a long time, a peasant nation, doffing our caps to our masters while eating potatoes to survive. We barely subsisted on small holdings while absentee landlords from across the pond extracted what wealth the country had. 

Tamarind Prawns (10 of 11)Just in time for the Chinese New Year, I could have titled this “Extremely Easy Oriental Part 1”, had I thought about it a bit more. At the risk of paraphrasing Jamie Oliver, this is a 30 minute meal. In this instance, the 30 minutes includes eating time. The star of the dish is the tamarind. On a recent trip back to Ireland, my brother who lives in Dar es Salaam, brought me a supply. Not that Dar is in the Orient. But, it’s easier to find there than here.

Seafood paella (19 of 21)I love a bit of authenticity. Particularly so when it comes to my kitchen equipment. So when it came to getting my hands on a paella pan, I did my research. They are a shocking price here in Dublin. So, reluctantly, as you can guess, I got on a plane and flew to Spain. Now, there really is no point in seeking out the ‘real deal’ on the Costa del Sol. One is more likely to be served roast beef with Yorkshire pudding than any traditional Spanish dish down that neck of the woods. No, I took myself to the beautiful village of Cadaqués, on the north-east coast. The village was home to that creative genius and surrealist, Salvador Dali. What better place to buy one’s cookware?

Salmon Sous Vide (6 of 7)“Sous Vide. What’s that?” “Is that some Spanish stuff?” “Boil-in-the-bag. Like they do on Masterchef”. Such were the reactions to my introducing Sous Vide to the cohort of the Great Unwashed that fronts as ‘my friends’. I did have a debt of honour to repay. So I needed to cook some Sous Vide Salmon and present it as well as I possibly could.

Squid Ink Risotto (1 of 1)A long while ago, I cooked a squid risotto. That time, I carefully preserved the ink sacs to blacken the rice and to add some extra flavour. This time, I managed to buy a couple of sachets of squid ink. I was planning to do something very tasty to try to convince Eldest Daughter (ED) that not all shellfish and crustaceans are revolting. She was living with the memory of a bad shellfish experience and was pretty appalled by the thought of anything in or out of a shell. I had my work cut out.

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