Monday, September 18, 2006

Chargrilled chicken breast with balsamic onions

Since my girlfriend absolutely adores chicken, it is our meat of choice on a regular basis. It is also very convenient since it is cheap and very easy to cook. I saw this recipe on tv (BBC I think) and decided to try it at home and steal it for my own if it was any good. Turns out it is pretty tasty so I felt obligated to share this with my friends and family.

2 chicken breasts
salt and pepper to taste

2 large potatoes
2 large carrots
knob of butter
1 scallion (spring onion)

6 button mushrooms, whole
1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
knob of butter

1 large onion
1 tsp oil
2-3 tsp balsamic vinegar

Peel the potatoes and carrots and cut into finger-long sticks and put into a pot of boiling water (slightly salted). When tender (not fully cooked), drain the water and put into a bowl with cold water to stop them from overcooking.
Fry the mushrooms in butter and garlic until ready and keep warm in the oven while the rest is prepared.
In a saucepan fry the onion in oil until clear and soft (2-3 minutes) then add the balsamic vinegar and let simmer until the onion caramelizes (4-6 minutes). When ready simply remove from the heat and put into a bowl on the side.
For the chicken, heat up a frying pan (grill pan if you have one) and add a little oil. Clean chicken breasts and season with salt and freshly ground pepper and grill them on the pan until ready.
While chicken is grilling, remove potatoes and carrots from the cold water and fry in butter in a saucepan. When nearly ready, add scallions to give taste.
Place potatoe and carrot stick in the centre of the plates (arrange neatly), put chicken breast on top and place 3 garlic mushrooms around the plate. With a spoon, draw a circle with the onions around the whole plate, distributing generously.
The sweetness of the onions combines perfectly with the flavour of the mushrooms and chicken, to complete the experience, of course it is recommended to open a nice bottle of wine and light some candles to set the perfect mood. Hope you enjoy.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Henry's Seven 2003 from Henschke

A fantastic red wine from a great producer. I discovered this one in the Corkscrew winestore in Dublin.

Grape varieties:
Shiraz 67%
Grenache 28%
Viognier 5%

Recommended vintages:
2004 (Great) - drink in 2006-2008
2003 (Great) - drink in 2006
2002 (Exceptional) - drink in 2007
2001 (Excellent) - drink in 2006

This wine is very deep color with intense fruit aromas (plums and raspberries) and oak. The texture is smooth, the white grape (Viognier) giving great silkiness, structured with nice tannins and a good long finish.
This wine has been sealed with a Stelvin screw cap to prevent cork taint and give ultimate freshness.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Fondant potatoes

Fantastic with any fish or meat dish and a very versatile dish, the fondant potatoes are such a tasty version of baked potatoes.

2 large baking potatoes
sour cream
olive oil
salt & pepper
(any other spice for variety)

Parboil the potatoes until tender (not fully cooked), peel them and slice in thick slices. In a bowl mix all other ingredients and add potatoe slices and mix thoroughly. Place slices into a muffin tray or anything else to give them a shape and pour the leftover mixture over the potatoes. Bake in the oven until soft, remove from muffin tray and place on a plate and serve.

Steamed Hake with baby vegetables

Since my girlfriend absolutely adores fish, I try to cook as much fish as I can and it is about time that I put one of my recipes down on paper. Among my favourite fish to cook are; monkfish, catfish, whiting, blossom and hake.

Hake (Lýsingur) has white flesh and comes in long fillets, ideal for easy home cooking. One of my favourite recipes is an infusion of polish influence (horseradish) and it goes fantastically with almost any vegetable that is in season.

200-300g hake (1 large fillet)
2-4 teaspoons (to taste) horseradish relish
1 cup whipped cream
salt and pepper

2 cups fish stock
150g sugarsnaps
1 pack baby corn
1 bunch baby carrots
1 small leek
1 crushed garlic clove
50 ml cream
50g cold butter
thyme for seasoning

Skin and cut the fillet in half. Fold the horseradish relish and cream together (don't stir, be gentle) and spread on one side of the fillet. Season well with salt and pepper and roll each fillet up so it looks like a rolled up mattress, with the horseradish cream in the middle.
Put fish stock in the bottom of the steamer, with baby carrots and baby corn. Crush garlic clove with the palm of your hand, place it in the fish stock and sprinkle with thyme. Bring to boil and let simmer for 5 minutes. Place hake rolls in the top section of the steamer and steam for 5 minutes (or until ready).
In a saucepan, melt butter and sauté sugarsnaps until tender. Generously sprinkle breadcrumbs over the sugarsnaps and let rest.
When the hake is ready, remove it from the steamer (along with the vegetables-throw the garlic away), add the cream to the stock and reduce well until it is a bit thicker. Stir in the cold butter just before serving.
Place sugarsnaps in the centre of the plate, arrange baby carrots and baby corn on top. Gently put the hake roll on top and drizzle everything with the sauce.

Serve with chilled white wine, fondant potatoes (see next recipe) and freshly baked bread (absolutely necessary to soak up all the lovely sauce on your plate)!
I cooked this for Kasia today, much to her delight and we hope that you will be able to enjoy it as much as we did.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Tequila, golden tequila

I have never been able to enjoy tequila, a drink -within my group of friends- much linked with Sveinbjörn "Bob the Builder" Sveinbjörnsson (one of my closest friends). The fact of the matter is that in Iceland, tequila is had in a specific manner, a generous portion of salt before drinking and a bite of a lemonslice after consumption.

However, while on vacation in Greece with Kasia, I was taught that the two distinctly different tequila kinds (golden and silver) require completely different drinking procedures. The silver one is accompanied by the aforementioned salt and lemon, giving a more bitter, astere taste. At our favorite beach bar, Rasta, our bartender -Stavros- (who used to work somewhere in Africa) invited me to a shot of tequila. I politely declined and said I do not like the taste of it. He responded by promising me free drinks for the rest of my stay if I did not like the way he drinks his tequila (and yes, of course he was drinking while working, otherwise it wouldn't be a proper beach bar). He served me a shot of tequila and then took a thick slice of an orange and dusted it with cinnamon powder and told me to try it. I slammed down the shot and ate the spiced orange and I must say that a more pleasant aftertaste I have seldom experienced. Amasing. Our bartender friendly explained (when questioned) that golden tequila requires a more delicate, southern hemisphere approach than the silver one.

Even Kasia, who never drinks strong spirits (and yes, she is from Poland), enjoyed this new way of enjoying a much misunderstood drink. I recommend that you go and try it, something different from the mass consumption culture of Iceland, try to enjoy a drink for the taste of it!

The secret to a wonderful sauce is a...

...wonderful sauce recipe book :) In all honesty, my life has not been the same since I found this fantastic book in Eason (a book store in Dublin). I realise that many of my friends from the kitchen of the merrion will probably look down on me after hearing this but that does not change the fact that this little book contains the most simple, richest and tastiest sauces I have ever tried. Over 150 savoury sauces and around 50 sweet ones, this purchase has been one of my favourite additions to my recipe collection. Somehow it does not matter what we are cooking at home, I always find something I can make from the ingredients I have in my cupboard.

This book is available at from as low prices as £3.99 and I highly recommend it as a starter book for your sauce making.

The ultimate man-sauce: Bernaise

Throughout the years I have come across various recipes of this most wonderful, flavoursome of sauces. The ultimate steak-companion will always be the Bernaise sauce (in my opinion at least). I decided to post my favourite recipe of this sauce next because it is involved in many of my favourite dishes (including steak, steak sandwich and steak). Like I said in the beginning, there is an endless supply of recipes for this sauce, it seems like each chef adds his/hers own touch to it. Since I came here to Ireland I have tried at least 4 different variations, containing ingredients such as tarragon vinagre, chopped parsley, white wine, etc. So far, by far the best recipe I have tried has been the most simple one (which is probably it's greatest attribute, everyone can make it without having to go to some fancy-smancy shop in the suburbs) and I would love to share it with you.

Ingredients: (serves 4)
80 ml white wine vinegar
2 spring onions (scallions), roughly chopped
2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon (or roughly 1/2 teaspoon freeze dried)
2 egg yolks
125 g cubed butter

Vinegar, spring onions, tarragon into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let simmer until it has reduced by a third. Put the mixture aside to cool down completely.
Once cool, strain the mixture into a steel bowl (heatproof) and add the egg yolks. Place the bowl over a saucepan of hot water and whisk until thick and pale. Be very careful, if the mixture gets too hot, the eggs will scramble, if it is not hot enough it won't mix properly.
Add the butter, few cubes at a time and whisk after each cube, until thick and smooth.
Add an extra egg yolk and more butter for thicker, more creamier sauce (not always desirable) and serve while warm.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Whole cooked lemon & thyme chicken

My friends probably already know this recipe because I have made it quite often and it never fails to impress. The combination of lemon, thyme, garlic and butter harmonise incredibly well with the chicken and the prosciutto adds a nice distinct flavour.

1 whole chicken
500 g salted butter, room temperature
1 bunch of thyme sprigs
1 chopped garlic clove
1 packet prosciutto or parma ham, roughly cut
zest from 1 whole lemon
300 ml white wine
3 large potatoes, diced
4 large carrots, diced
1 packet baby corn
2-3 whole garlic cloves
black pepper to season

Clean the chicken, turn it breasts up, and separate the skin from the meat by gently sliding your fingers in between skin and meat. Move the fingers around until there is plenty of space on top of and around the chicken breasts (you should be able to fit almost your entire hand). Cut once into each thigh with a small knife.
Mix butter, thyme leaves, chopped garlic, lemon zest and prosciutto in a bowl. Stuff the mixture in the pockets you made between the chicken skin and meat and spread it evenly. Put a small amount into the cuts on the chicken thighs.
Cut the lemon into thick slices and stuff into the middle of the chicken, filling it completely.
Place potatoes, carrots, baby corn, whole garlic cloves (crush them with the palm of your hand first) into a baking tray, pour the wine generously over them and season with sea salt and black pepper.
Place the chicken on top of the vegetables and put the tray into the oven at 180 degrees until chicken is completely cooked.

The seasoned butter melts through the chicken (making the meat very tender) and blends with the vegetables and wine, creating a lovely sauce for the chicken. Serve with freshly baked garlic bread and rice.
This recipe has many variations, garlic, butter and wine amounts can all be increased or decreased according to taste and any root vegetable or hard vegetable can be used. Hopefully you will enjoy this as much as we have throughout the years.

Grand Opening!!!

Welcome to the first postings of this website. I opened this website in order to provide my family and friends with some insight into our life here in Dublin. I figured that would be no better way to accomplish that than through the stomach and flavourbuds.

I will be posting recipes that we have successfully (or not?) tried at home, as well as briefly commenting on the selection of wines accompanying these lovely meals.