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.