Perhaps this should be retitled “We have a decent bottle of Spanish wine and we had better drink it before it goes off.” My only reservation with that is, while true, it might not tell the recipe story. It is the inspiration but not the dish. So, let’s stick with Spanish Inspired Monkfish, Chorizo and Bean Stew as the title and please forgive the mentions of the seventeen year old bottle of Faustino 1 that went with (and in) the food.
I’m a rugby fan. Irish rugby is united. United way ahead of the politics of our little island. So when Ireland plays internationals, there are two Irish ‘anthems’ played. One is the Irish national anthem “Amhrán na bhFiann” or “A Soldier’s Song”, representing the 26 county state of the Republic of Ireland. The second is “Ireland’s Call”. This is played as a unifying anthem, given that Ireland’s rugby team is drawn from all 32 counties on the island.
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.
Reading around the internet about cooking reveals some interesting stuff. My latest bugbear is over-complication. I see some ‘brand name’ chefs obfuscating processes needlessly. I wonder why? Perhaps it’s to preserve some mystique around their ‘art’. Perhaps it’s that they just don’t know any better. Or, perhaps it’s for more commercial reasons?
No, it’s not a new, fancy style of dressing for your summer salads. It’s not a gourmet delight and it’s not a high point in my culinary development. It breaks all the rules of physics in that there is three times more ingredients go into the dish than there are in the end result. Yes, it’s my Thrice Beaten Mayonnaise.
Pretty aggressive headline, don’t you think? There are a couple of reasons for this. Reason number one is because that’s what the people around the table told me. Reason number two is that I want some reaction. I am fed up reading recipes for meatballs (and all sorts of other stuff) that just can’t be any good. In my research for this post, I came across one recipe that recommended boiling the meatballs in the sauce for three hours. Fine if you want to fire them out of a canon to sink a ship but not much use if you want to eat them. Get real.
My revered mother in law Noreen is an excellent cook. She has an encyclopedic knowledge of all things culinary. When called upon to feed a small group or a large crowd, never has she disappointed. When she prepares a soup, a future fond memory is born. Her leg of lamb is legend. Her almond merengue with cream and raspberries is truly ‘to die for’. We don’t get to enjoy her culinary triumphs often enough.
Over a year ago, I posted about my home-made burger. On reflection, I have to admit that there was little to make it stand out from the crowd. Time for a big rethink. Time for a reheat and while I’m at it, time for a challenge. There are over 300 million of you out there who believe that you make the best burgers in the world. Yes, Americans, I’m talking about you. You certainly make and eat the most burgers, consuming over 40,000,000,000 of them each year. Yes, forty billion burgers. But the best? I doubt it. Not withstanding the growing horse meat scandal across Europe, that will run for donkey’s years, we have the better ingredients here in Ireland.
Last weekend, a couple of friends and I decided that it would be a good idea to go for a long cycle on Sunday morning. It had been snowing and the forecast was for things to clear. So, with a degree of abandon, we met soon after sunrise and headed south. Temperatures were holding above zero and after about 30 minutes cycling the pain (along with the feeling) went out of my extremities.
First, the back story, then the recipe. My youngest was earning some extra cash by helping with some shredding in the office. A huge pile of shredding if the truth were to be told. She managed to fill 37 sacks of shredded documents in one day. Given her great work rate and in an effort to keep the “How much ‘ya payin’ me?” conversation to a modest enough number, I brought her out for lunch at a local cafe. While we were waiting for our food, we were discussing family dinner for the following Sunday. A leg of Wicklow lamb had made its way into my possession and this was to be the base of the meal.