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Sous Vide

Duck with mango sauce (8 of 9)I’m a sucker for fruit. I love the taste that makes me feel so alive and that feeling of fresh fruit juice, dribbling through my unkempt beard. One of my absolute favourites is mango. Living here in Ireland, I don’t get that feeling too often as we tend to get a pretty poor substitute for the real thing. The supermarkets conspire with international fruit companies to supply what is oft referred to as ‘market appropriate produce’ to different countries. They also charge ‘what the market will bear’ when setting prices. Hence, we in Ireland end up with mangos that would be more use in a civil disturbance than they are as a fresh fruit. I believe that we overpay for the privilege too. 

Featherblade steak (2 of 9)Steak night is a great concept. Particularly if one can get one’s hands on top quality meat. We are lucky in that respect. But, steak night would be no fun if we just cooked and ate a steak. We needed a bit of experimentation as we did with part 1. For part 2, we decided to check out the merits of Feather Blade steak both flash fried and sous vide. 

I’ve been doing a bit of cooking with amarena cherries of late. A special offer in the supermarket sent me over the edge of reason and I bought more jars than I will need this side of a catastrophic meteor strike. They say that necessity is the mother of invention and I needed to find some additional recipes for these delicious biter-sweet balls of shininess. A small amount of thinking brought the thought of Sous Vide Duck Breast with amarena cherry Sauce. A conversation amongst friends led to the idea of cooking the skin separately and a delicious dish was born. 

meatloaf-10-of-12I hope I won’t offend you. But really, meatloaf? How dull and dreary can a slab of mince meat be? It’s so often overcooked, grey, crumbly and tasteless. Yet, so many of you go all dreamy and wistful at the mention of the hateful lump of meat. This is a bit of nostalgia that needs to updated. I need to improve your meatloaf for you. Many ‘traditional’ recipes require no more than some beef, some lamb, some sawdust, a chopped onion, salt and pepper (OK, the chopped onion is optional. You need the sawdust to get the traditional gritty texture.). 

veison-fillet-sous-vide-7-of-8

In part 1 of this two parter, I had a go at some of the French living here in Ireland. I need to spread my net wider. A good bit of racism goes a long way and we have plenty of it here in Ireland. My problem isn’t with the dumb-assed outrage at women wearing burkinis or even with the Brits for Brexiting. No, my issue is with the wily way so many of the ‘Bloody Foreigners’ are making it difficult for me to hate them. Let me tell you how the Breton and the Mexicans conspired to confound my natural distaste for anybody from anywhere else. 

pate-de-campagne-4-of-4

We Irish look proudly at great cities like New York or Chicago and boast that our forbears built them. Our little island has sent its sons and daughters to all points on the compass to start new lives and to put down roots. Our influence spans the globe in science, engineering, literature and politics. When one looks to France, one sees so many of the great wine dynasties founded by the Irish ‘Wild Geese’. Names like Barton, Phelan and Lynch are all Irish and are now intertwined in the multi-generational success of the French wine trade. We have a lot of which we should be proud. 

pigs-cheeks-sous-vide-3-of-5Do you see what I did in the headline? That subtle little play on words. A sort of culinary double entendre. The pig’s cheeks, cooked sous vide are cooked rare. Pig’s cheeks are not very easy to come by. Both play to add a bit of wit to the headline. You will just have to take my word for it, this is a rare treat. It is not very difficult to prepare any element of this dish but, you will need to have your timing chain well adjusted. 

belted-galloway-rib-2-of-10Dutch Courage – I know, I know. You will be assuming that I’ve been at the wine again. Perhaps having a couple of ‘swifties’ while the beef cooks. That warm glow of a nice glass or three of red while a meal cooks can be a delight. But, no, on this occasion, it was not me gathering the Dutch Courage. 

Walnut risotto with pigeon (19 of 20)This happens to me most weeks. I wonder what I’m going to cook for the Wife and myself on the weekend. I usually get my ideas by perving the windows of butcher shops and fishmongers.  I’ve even been asked to leave one butcher’s shop when I explained, in response to his “What can I get you?” that I was “just looking”. This approach works most of the time but, like any creative process one can’t time the arrival of ideas to coincide with the warming of the saucepans. A couple of weeks back, I had done my window gazing, I had thumbed the couple of yards of cookery books that live in my ‘blog room’ and even spent some time Googling everything from cheese sandwiches to filet mignon. Then I had a look through the Irish Food Bloggers page on Facebook. 

Sous vide chicken with herb polenta (8 of 9)The Americans are gas. They have the biggest democracy on the planet and they end up with the Donald as one of the two contenders for the most powerful position known to man (or to woman, if Hillary gets the gig). ‘The Donald’ has tried to attract specific groups by playing to their fears. This will prove to be a mistake. If I were to take a similar approach, we would build a wall in the Irish sea and I would call out some lovely Irish blogs (like Donna Hennessy’s A Cookbook Collection or Katia Valadeau’s Proper Food and say that you shouldn’t vote for them because they are run by women. Worse than that, Hennessy is the name of a drink and that Valadeau one is not even Irish. How can we let these people into an awards competition, let alone into the country? But, I’m not ‘The Donald’. Have a look at their blogs (if you must) and then vote for whoever you think is worthy. 

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