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Oriental

fillet-steak-with-orange-and-chili-1-of-11Did I mention that I won Best Food and Drink Blog in the 2016 Littlewoods Ireland Blog Awards? If I didn’t then, my bad. I should keep you better informed as to what’s gong on. If I did, then my bad too. I should be more humble about this stuff and not go celebrating and getting excited about what I do here. Speaking of the stuff I do here, I have been wrestling with doing something with beef and orange for a while now. Whenever I mentioned it to friends or family, I got a pretty frosty reception. So, I decided to use the period while my star is in the ascendency to prepare Beef Fillet with Orange, Chilli, Sichuan Pepper and Ginger.

Beef Rendang (16 of 16)The poor Irish weather is responsible for this recipe. In the same way as one is guaranteed to have a return of rain here on the Emerald Isle, you will return to this recipe. You will do so again, and again and again.  “Wow”, you muse. “Can this recipe be all that good?” It is but, that’s not exactly what I mean.

Smoked duck with orange ginger sauce (14 of 14)Most middle aged (be kind to me, late 50s is middle age) men have some unusual stuff in their garden sheds. More than half a lifetime collecting tools and labour saving implements and lots of redundant technology means that we have little space for that what really matters. When I say “we” I don’t mean me. No. I threw out all that gardening and domestic repair nonsense to make space for the Bradley Digital Six Rack Smoker. Just what every every self respecting old fart needs in his life.

There’s little point in having the latest and greatest six rack smoker if you aren’t going to smoke something. So this weekend, I smoked a brace of duck. For ye who think duck grow in a foil container in the supermarket, a brace is two. I got these in the butcher so using the old world description is good. What better way to serve duck than with some bittersweet sauce. Hence, I concocted Smoked Duck with Orange Sauce.

Oriental Pork Belly Sous Vide (11 of 13)

I have a dark secret. I lock myself in a darkened room. I make sure there is nobody around to catch me. Then I do it – I watch TV cooking competitions. Yes, I have even seen a couple of episodes of The Great British Bake Off, where Mary Berry with the help of a comedian (and the girl in the heavy specs), separate the competent from the inept. I’ve sat aghast at some of the efforts on Irish Masterchef. I’ve suffered foul-mouthed tirades of Gordon Ramsey on Hell’s Kitchen from the safety of my couch. Greg Wallace and John Torode regularly put in an appearance, criticising the pathetic efforts of people who obviously can’t cook and should not be asked to try. Why do I do this? 

Ants climbing a tree (11 of 13)We westerners have an ongoing love affair with Chinese food. Dishes such as Sweet and Sour Pork, Beef and Broccoli and Kung Pao Chicken have become firm favourites across the western world. The difficulty with this popularity is that the dishes tend to become westernised. The process of westernisation invariably takes the edge off the dish. Over time and repeated modification, to suit a jaded and flaccid western palate, it becomes a pale imitation of the original. Happily, we have not got around to ruining the delicious Sichuan dish called Ants Climbing a Tree. This is probably because we are put off by the name and have never taken it far enough to mess it up with bad cooking, fructose and preservatives. 

5 spice pork with mango (15 of 15)Despite the evidence, even scientists can’t agree on the shocking truth of this dish.  I devised this Five Spice Pork with Mango Sauce. I thought it was going to be a straightforward recipe. But, some stunning things happened, possibly making this into a superfood. You would think that a dish using so few ingredients might be a little light on flavour but, you will be amazed and even stunned by I am about to tell you. 

Chicken noodle soup (9 of 11)“Ahhh, what you need is some chicken noodle soup.”. “Chicken noodle soup will sort you out.”. “Chicken broth is what you need.”. So went the advice from various ‘clucking hens’ (well meaning people) while I spent a week in bed, festering with a chest infection. Unfortunately, when one is bed-bound and feeling rotten, the desire to make this elixir of life tends to be absent. So, given that I’m feeling better and am in no need of it, here’s a straightforward recipe for Chicken Noodle Soup.

Thai Green Curry (13 of 13)I get mad when I see recipes that include “ingredients” that really should be made up, from scratch, by the cook, to get a half decent result. When researching Thai Green Curry, I got depressed to see the BBC (UK state broadcaster), RTE (Irish state broadcaster), Bord Bia (Irish Food Board) and a raft of other popular (more popular than this) websites promoting recipes that call for a measure or two of ‘Green Curry Paste’ as part of authentic Thai curry recipes. Without a recipe for the paste, we have to assume they mean from a jar. This is not cooking. This is culinary laziness and will lead to ineptitude in your kitchen if you swing with it. If you are happy to slop some manufactured sludge from a jar into your home cooking, go for it. But, if you want to prepare a delicious, tasty, easy, Thai Green Curry, read on my friends, read on…..

Sweet and Sour Pork (14 of 15)Over many years, I have suffered the recommendation of traveling companions who insist that “If it’s got trucks outside, it must be good.” Nobody knows the roadside cafe as well as the Heroes of the Highway, talking on their CB radios and tooting their air horns as they roll 18 wheels of hunger into another greasy spoon. I don’t have any truck with truck drivers. Nor do I have any amongst my inner circle of besties. But, I do imagine (yes, imagine only) that gourmet dining is top of the list when it comes to fuelling the man as well as the 40 footer. 

A deal better than my presentation. Sous vide Pork Fillet

A deal better than my presentation. Sous vide Pork Fillet

Regular readers will know that I do a bit of cycling. The day that I post this, I will be taking part in the 2015 Paris2Nice Cycle to raise funds for an Irish national suicide charity. It involves 75 cyclists from Ireland riding over 700 kilometres, with a number of us taking on the dreaded Mont Ventoux as part of the exercise. This is the 5th year of Paris2Nice and, to date, the endeavours have raised well over two million euro for a number of worthy causes.

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