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Poultry

Let’s face it. If you want to make anything sound that bit special, say it in French. A shrimp might be worth scoffing down. But a langoustine is something that has to be eaten with the reverence its embellished title deserves. Pommes Anna evokes crisp cotton tablecloths, silverware, crystal glasses and fine wines. With due deference to my eldest sister, “Anna’s potatoes” really doesn’t do much for the imagination. So when I cogitated preparing some sweetened duck legs in a plastic bag, it really had to be Duck a l’Orange Sous Vide. It may seem like déjà vu as I have done Duck a l’Orange here before.

Is there such a thing as an authentic recipe for Chicken Tikka Masala? I doubt it very much. When I did my bit of research for this delight, I came up with a number of conflicting claims on the original. For many years, I thought that it was just some greasy, mild creamy muck that came in a jar from the supermarket. You know the type of stuff, hot colour, thin taste and a huge desire to drink lots of water later in the evening. There are claims that a Pakistani chef, operating in Glasgow, having run out of curry sauce, added some spice to his tomato soup and Chicken Tikka Masala was born. Others believe it to be an Indian original and I believe that England also lays a claim to its origins. In truth, most Chicken Tikka Masalas I have ever tasted didn’t merit anybody claiming the original.  So, I thought I should try my own.

We recently got a steam oven at home. The oven has transformed our weeknight dinners Sous vide enthusiasts will know that one can cook sous vide in a steam oven too, depending on make, model etc. But, that’s for another day. During the week, we tend to eat a reasonable amount of fish with salmon being a once-a-week staple. In truth, it used to be a case of “Grilled salmon, it must be Tuesday”. This is not a good way to run your culinary life. The arrival of the steam oven has opened my mind to lots of different steamed dishes. High on the list of favourites is Sesame Ginger Chicken. It is a perfect partner to the egg fried rice I posted last week.

My focus today is on the photography end of things. I get so many compliments on my photos, I thought I should show you how I develop my results. In some ways, the photography journey has been long and difficult. In others, it has been a joy of discovery and progress. Now that I am at the stage of knowing how little I know, I am happy to share my approach. To help me along (as this is a food blog), I am using a recent recipe for Chicken with Wild Garlic. Given that this is my first ever post focussing on photography, there is an irony in many of the shots being taken with my iPhone.

“Cometh the Hour, Cometh the Man” – what a laugh.

My British friends, for I have a few, are more against than in favour of Brexit. I also hold an anti Brexit viewpoint. Looking on from the other side of the Irish sea I am aghast at the collapse of the already low standards held by so many UK politicians who seem to be scrabbling for party or personal power, caught up in a perfect storm of self interest. Apart, that is, from the leader of the opposition who takes up position sitting on his hands. Pathetic stuff. Perhaps the olde English phrase of “Opportunity makes the man”, from the original  “Opportunity Makes the Thief” is more appropriate to the sad behaviour we see. I am also astounded at seeing so many of my generation steal the opportunity that they squandered from the next generation. History will judge and not kindly.

Here in Ireland, we are such a bunch of hypocrites. We portray ourselves as being ruddy faced, outdoor types with knowledge that only someone born to wealthy working farmers could possess. We like people to believe we “know a fella” who can get us a poached salmon (uncooked poached that is) or a haunch of venison from “the Estate”, non, nod, wink, wink. When it comes to our feathered friends, a brace of pheasant or wild duck can always be had from “a lad I know”. This is mostly just tosh. Many of our better butchers now carry game in season and one only needs to pull on the wax jacket and green wellingtons to get from the car to the shopping centre.

Most of us who played team sports and grew up before the daft thought that “every kid is a winner and must get a medal” know the feeling of disappointment of being left out of the team, making the subs but not getting a game or even being taken off the pitch in the first half. It hurts. It also teaches some really valuable life lessons. Don’t worry, I’m not going to go off on a “Life sucks” rant. But, we all need to know how to deal with not being winners all the time. Life is just not like that. If all my recipe posts were winners, you would have read about my steak and kidney pie by now. There are winners, there are losers and there’s my steak and kidney pie. There are the ones that are really good but for some reason only make the subs bench. My really quite delicious Chicken and Black Turtle Bean Chilli has been on the bench for long enough. Time for it to join the first team.

I admit it. I’m a hoarder. Not one of those guys who lives in a clapperboard house, having to crawl through tunnels of old newspapers to get to the loo. But, not far off it. It’s the plates and bowls that have got me into trouble. I can’t help buying more and more plates that will “Look good in a shot”. They need to have a bit of style about them and they also need to be a bargain (I may be obsessed, but, I’m not stupid.). I did a quick count in my ‘blog room’. I have ninety six, yes 96 different plates and bowls. That’s an obsession, before we look at the glasses, knives and forks, chopping boards, decorative saucepans and table cloths, backdrops and so forth. With all this in mind, you would think that I would be able to find a suitable bowl for my take on Thai Style Basil Chicken. As you can see from the photo, I obviously can’t.

Many of us love cilantro. We adore the fresh, fragrant tanginess of the delightful herb. Some hate coriander. They can’t abide the soapy, earthy taste. This is genetic and there is little that they can do about it. For clarity, coriander is cilantro. They are the same thing. It’s not like “vest”. American’s wear a vest over a shirt. Europeans wear it under. It’s also not like “rubber”. Europeans use it to erase pencil marks. Americans, well Americans do something else altogether.

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