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Five spice duck with plum sauce (10 of 12)I am lucky enough to have a number of friends who hail from China. One of their number (who shall remain nameless for fear of my causing any embarrassment) went back to her home city to visit a sick relative. Knowing of my love for Oriental cookery, she brought me back a knife. I thought I should celebrate by starting a small series on Chinese inspired dishes.

Chicken Sekela Those of you who don’t know me so well would not know that we are a reasonably far-flung family. My sister and her family live in Norway and my youngest brother (the baby, ahhh.) and his family reside in Tanzania. As you could imagine, there is high excitement in our household when youngest brother and family and eldest sister come to visit. It’s not often we have such an international get together. Part of this excitement manifests itself in my cooking for them and us. We try to do it nice and casual and allow the meal act as an excuse for enjoying each other’s company. However, I do like to experiment where I can.

Smooth Paté (1 of 2)If you have read my piece on hospital food, you should be interested in this post. In some of the comments (online and off) about my best efforts at recreating a 1970s recipe for chicken liver paté, there was an implied criticism. “More like a tureen.” or “Are they pieces of livers in there?” or “Have you ever done a smooth one?” left me with the impression that while you all loved my efforts, you might have had a different view if you had to eat the stuff. 

Honey Mustard Chicken Drumsticks (6 of 7)

I laughed at the word NOMINATE. I am destined to get your vote. Think about the appropriateness to a food blog; NOM in ATE. Get it? Of course you do. Now, if I expect you to nominate me in the Irish Blog Awards, I need to give you something. So I am giving you this fantastic recipe for Honey Mustard Chicken Drumsticks. I came across the recipe and modified it from The Barbecue Book by Eric Treuillé & Birgit Erath published by DK – The best barbecue book I have ever encountered. 

Lime and Coriander Chicken (2 of 10)Glen Frey did a great job with ‘The Heat Is On’. I find it hard to imagine that I could raise any enthusiasm for the opposite. Imagine a song called ‘The Heat Is Off’. I had received my instructions from Texas (more of that here) and I was going to cook a pretty tongue melting chili concoction for my invited family guests. They were going to enjoy one of the hottest dishes I have ever created. It was going to be hot and great. For sure, the heat was on! That was until I got an early morning call from my mother. 

Three chili chicken with limeThere’s an old story about a farmer from Texas visiting Ireland. When he got to his three storey hotel, he tipped back his ten gallon hat and remarked that in Texas they had hotels that reached the sky. He went on a bus tour of Connemara and when he saw the mountains, he said that the mountains in Texas were at least ten times bigger. Just outside Lisdoonvarna, the tour bus broke down and the Texan had to walk into town.

Chicken with Peppers and Black Beans (19 of 19)Do you guys think I’m doing this for my own amusement? I have to tell you I am not impressed. I spend the early part of the week cogitating “What would they like to see?”  “What would be good enough to share with them?” “I’ll need to buy another couple of plates, they are probably bored with these ones…” The thought process goes on. The angst builds until I finally settle on cooking something that I am convinced will win you over. The latter part of the week is spent ensuring I have the best and the freshest ingredients. Saturday, I check my camera gear. Tension in the household mounts. On Saturday evening or possibly Sunday, I take control of the kitchen and cook and photograph for you. Then I process the pictures and try to think of something to say.

Chicken Liver PatéThere is an old saying about poor cooking: “Tastes like hospital food.” I suspect that this really doesn’t have currency nowadays. Generally speaking, the food served in Irish hospitals appears to be a pretty good mix of carbs, proteins and other goodness designed to keep the patients in reasonable health until they depart the hospital or the world. This was not always the case.

My late father was, amongst many other things, a pathologist. For some years, he operated from a lab in the basement of the Richmond Hospital in Dublin city centre. In my 20th year, I got an attack of acute appendicitis. This was back in the 70s when this meant being rushed to the hospital and having a large incision in the gut to remove the offending and offensive organ.

Roast chickenI’ll admit it. There is a dumb-assed competitive streak in me that most men will, and no women can, understand. I leave my eldest daughter out of this as she is the only female I know who has a peppering of this lunacy. When she’s with me, every flight of stairs is an opportunity for a race, every doorway a chance to get through first and even getting groceries in the supermarket is a test of speed and endurance as tins of beans and fresh vegetables are thrown into the trolley as she runs by to finish her list before I do mine.

I’m not  a big man. I stand about 5′ 8″ in my socks (not a sight you would want to see). When I married the Wife a good few years ago, I was smart enough to be sure that I married somebody smaller than me. That way, she would represent no physical danger. As I have matured over the years, I realise that there are more ways to be threatened by the Wife than with simple physical violence. Red Cooked Chicken Ingredients

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