A friend of mine was suggesting something fun to cook in celebration of Ireland’s imminent victory played away against old rivals England in the 6 Nations Rugby Championship. One of us mentioned Toad in the Hole, as classic an English dish as one can find and a suitably juvenile play on words. There is a bit of the teenage sniggerer in many of us and when I found myself in the butcher’s later in the morning, I had to buy some Toulouse sausages (another pun, in case you didn’t get it) to make this simple and extremely lardy (Perhaps like the English rugby team?) dish.
I have seen lots of recipes for Chicken Paprika. Mine is unique (as you might expect). It’s uniqueness doesn’t come from any particular skill I have in the kitchen. It comes from having thoughtful friends and family. Thoughtful friend, Richard McGary sent us a box of chilis earlier in the year. While Richard was cogitating his selection, eldest daughter was busy in Budapest drinking low-priced beer and negotiating strings of paprika chilis for my delight. So in honour of both Richard and eldest daughter, I give you my take on Chicken Paprika.
If you are planning to cook rack of lamb, it’s best to get your maths right before you go out to the shops. It is not difficult. There are eight chops on each rack. If there are less, it is either rack of (insert other animal name here) or somebody has been scoffing what is rightfully yours. If there are more than eight then it is rack of (insert name of animal that lives near a leaky nuclear power plant here). The maths problem comes about because rack of lamb is a “three chops each” dish.
This is the second in my mini series dedicated to showing some really easy and extremely tasty Chinese inspired dishes. But, before we get into that, I have a bit of a problem. A few years ago, one of the media statisticians in our business was presented with a list of numbers and a simple question; Which is the odd one out?
Being a bit of a boffin (no relation) he got to thinking about the problem. He opened a spreadsheet and got to work…
Yes, I am fooling around again. Earlier in the year, I gave rhubarb fool a go. I liked it but there were a couple of niggles. My previous rhubarb fool was pretty tasty, pretty good in all respects. But, perhaps it could have been lighter, Perhaps it could have been rhubarbier (new word). Perhaps I need to completely rethink the idea of the fool. So, it’s time to fool you twice, if you don’t mind.
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.
The image that springs to mind is of some unfortunate elderly man, presenting some young fillie with trinkets and baubles while she seemingly feigns disinterest. His gifts are accepted, his advances are rejected, his pride is decimated. Yes, there’s no fool like an old fool.
There’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.
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.
This is part one in a two-part series that I have decided to run. Those of you of a more mature vintage will remember David Carradine in the 1970s TV series Kung Fu. You will remember the slow pace of things and the blind master imparting pearls of wisdom to his understudy Carradine. The younger amongst you will now be thinking about Kung Fu Panda and feeling warm and excited about the cuddly characters. I find that very sad. If you fall into the ‘more recent vintage category you need to play this to gain true enlightenment for reading this post.