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Pork belly stuffed with prunes (7 of 10)

I don’t often do this. But, I’m not recommending that you cook this recipe. Don’t misconstrue me. It’s not a bad recipe. It’s a pretty tasty way to prepare pork. But, having sourced some prunes (I’m not at the stage of life where prunes are part of my regular diet) and after laying my hands on a slab of free range pork belly, I can’t really recommend it. But, where did it all go wrong?

Salmon with teriyaki sauceThe Wife and I are pretty ordinary people. That is the wife is pretty and I am ordinary. We don’t go crazy with fine dining in multi-starred restaurants and I usually restrict my wine budget to less than the price of a tank of petrol. It’s not that I object to great food and fine wines. I did a lot of fine dining in my younger days as an advertising account director. Not quite the stuff of Mad Men, but close enough. Nowadays, I get a bit miffed when my partaking in a meal is like a bit-part actor in a Broadway show, where the chef is the star with a chorus line of waiters in support. My role is only to eat the food, not complain and then pay the exorbitant bill when the culinary curtain falls. No, This is not for me. I prefer simpler things.

Rabbit and olive stew (15 of 16)I really am lucky in many aspects of my life. As an occasional lotto ticket buyer, I have a know that all I buy is the period of anticipation in advance of the reality of not winning. Sometimes, even that can represent good value. For clarity, I have not won the lotto. No, my luck is a bit different. It reveals itself in the love and support of my family and occasionally, through my bunch of great buddies with whom I go cycling. “How does any of this have anything to do with Rabbit Stew with Olives?” I hear you think loud. Let me explain…

Smoked haddock, goats cheese and spinach ravioli (13 of 15) I want you to think of this ravioli as the culinary equivalent of a Facebook post. Not because I went to the trouble of digging out the fancy plate with the blue edge, the matching napkin and the table cloth in a colour almost exactly that of the Facebook logo. These all give some subtle brand support but, they are not the point. In reality it’s all a bit more psychological. 

Chicken and bean stewI was going to title this ‘An Idiots Guide to Cooking a Stew‘. But, I reckon the folk over at Dorling Kindersley would sue my idiot carcass all the way to illiteracy and back. They are the rightful owners to the Idiot’s Guides. So, I can’t use the title. Instead, I’m being a bit more general in my descriptor. I’m also being inclusive. Inclusive is good in this day and age. I don’t want to offend any particular minority grouping so I am making the statement that “Any Idiot Can Cook This Italian Chicken and Bean Stew”. Yes, that includes you. 

Venison (19 of 21)I arrived home from work last Friday evening to find a strange man in our kitchen. Actually, it was my hunting friend Brendan. It’s not that he’s strange per se. It’s just that I wasn’t expecting him and I certainly wasn’t expecting him to have two beautiful cuts of venison as a gift for the Wife and I. He reminded me that he had promised to drop some in at some stage after a shoot. The promise to “drop some in” is one made often by hunters as a way of ending conversation with greedy non shooters. It leaves everybody’s dignity intact and is not a promise that anybody expects to be kept. I understand this and, recognising myself in the latter description accepted the promise for what I believed it to be worth. 

Spiced lamb shank (1 of 1)-2As I was struggling for an original dinner idea, I decided to ask a couple of foodie friends for suggestions. Given that I have cooked lamb shanks every which-way in the last while, when the best idea that emerged from their deliberations was “Why not do a lamb shank?” I wasn’t impressed. However, I hadn’t cooked them sous vide. So the thought arose and it didn’t really inspire me.

Ostrich with armenia cherry sauce (15 of 15)I’m not a head-in-the-sand kind of guy. I was brought up by my fantastic parents to face up to the anguish that life flings our way. When we get grief (the real stuff, not the “somebody stole my parking space” kind), psychologists say that we go through five distinct stages. These stages ware replicated in a lot of my cooking.

Beef and Guinness Stew Vide (17 of 18)I was out for a pint with a couple of friends recently. We were in a bar, on Dublin’s Thomas Street. There were a very few customers and the only action going on was the rhythmic ticking of the clock. As usual, when one is having drink and enjoying the company of Tara Sparling and her persistently patient better half, Mark, everything was good in the world.
Side note on Sparling: I first met Tara at a blog awards ceremony a couple of years ago. She writes about all things books and literary. In my opinion, she is one of the funniest writers around. Check out her blog here

Chicken wiht 40 cloves of garlic (1 of 1)It’s such a wheeze. Blog posting, I mean. All you have to do is have an idea and start typing. Easy. It’s so simple, particularly when you have a dish called Chicken and 40 Cloves of Garlic. It practically writes itself. All you have to do is type out the various ’40’ related ideas that present themselves and fling in a simple recipe. What could be easier?

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