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Tomatoes are messy things. Purists tell you to drop them into boiling water until the skin splits. Then remove them and cool them, peel them, remove and discard everything except the outer flesh then use this in whatever dish you have planned.

That is far too much trouble for a midweek night dinner. But, I have found a solution. While on a recent trip to the north of Italy (To cycle the awesome Stelvio Pass. It is one of the world’s most beautiful and iconic climbs).

Our pre climb preparation usually involves a few libations to steady the nerves. On the night before we assaulted The Stelvio, we went into a local town and drank a skin-full of beer and wine. To afford myself some chance of cresting the mountain in reasonable shape, I took a break and did a bit of food shopping. In the town market, I came across a chap selling flaked tomatoes. They are dried tomato pulp and pack a huge flavour punch. A bag of them made it as far as Ireland, hidden amongst the smelly cycling shorts and socks. Here’s where I put some to use.

Sous Vide Italian Tomato Beef Fillet

As with so many sous vide “recipes” there is very little to this. The ingredients don’t warrant a list. I used two big beef fillets, flaked tomato, salt and pepper. I seasoned the beef with pepper then covered the top and bottom with a crust of tomato flakes. Then I vacuum sealed them before dropping into the sous vide for an hour and a half at 55°C/130ºF.

Side note on cooking beef fillet. Fillet is the most expensive cut of beef (You can tell by some of the names there are for it. The French “mignon” adds a bit of faux class but the phonetic “fill ehhh” irks me most). I like mine cut thick (expensive) and I like to hold the fillet together with kitchen twine, if I feel it’s needed. It was in this case.  

Following the cooking, I seasoned with sea salt and gave them a quick go on a hot cast iron skillet. Half the sous viders amongst you might be getting all upset about my adding salt after cooking rather than before. Given the short cook, it makes no difference to the outcome. However, I do end up with nice salt crystals in the crust, so it’s worth doing it this way.

I served them with a very creamy mashed potato, achieved by adding an embarrassing amounting creme fraiche to the mixture. The unhealthy addition of lots of fat was offset by some broccoli. You can see it hiding behind the beef in the picture below.  The eagle eyed amongst you wil notice the melting butter in the photo at the top of this post. I couldn’t help myself….

The result is that I have no beef with tomatoes. Both because this method produced a delightful flavour packed steak with a huge tomato hit and because we ate the lot. Delicious. So, if you find yourself in the locale of the Stelvio Pass, buy a bag of these delightful tomato flakes.

Footnote on flavour: We enjoyed the tomato flakes subsequently, flaked over some steamed cod. They bring a lovely freshness to the fish. If you get the chance, grab a bag. If I get my act together, I will post a recipe for it.

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We recently got a steam oven at home. The oven has transformed our weeknight dinners Sous vide enthusiasts will know that one can cook sous vide in a steam oven too, depending on make, model etc. But, that’s for another day. During the week, we tend to eat a reasonable amount of fish with salmon being a once-a-week staple. In truth, it used to be a case of “Grilled salmon, it must be Tuesday”. This is not a good way to run your culinary life. The arrival of the steam oven has opened my mind to lots of different steamed dishes. High on the list of favourites is Sesame Ginger Chicken. It is a perfect partner to the egg fried rice I posted last week.

The picture above reflects the many ways one might do a bit of steaming. I have used the bamboo steamers over my trusty wok for nearly thirty years. They perform really well. However, the steam oven is easier and, for the time being at least, gets my vote.

Ingredients
  • 4 large, free range chicken breasts, skin on
  • 8cm/3 inch piece of fresh root ginger
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame oil*
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper

*When buying sesame oil, don’t be a tightwad. Spend the money. Like most oils for consumption, the higher the price, the better the oil. It really makes a big difference with the flavour of sesame oil. 

There is only a little bit of advance organisation needed in getting this dish together. First thing to do is to cut up the ginger nice and small.

My trusty cleaver is pressed into action for the ginger.

Place the chicken into a dish. Rub the chicken all over with the ginger, salt and pepper. Pour over the oil and toss the chicken to coat completely. Cover and leave to sit for four to six hours (or overnight, if you wish).

The sesame oil has a lovely aroma. Perfect with the ginger.

Make loose parcels out of parchment paper for the chicken. Steam the chicken for 30 to 40 minutes to ensure doneness. I have found that it can take a little longer in the bamboo steamer and I have never had faith in the old plastic tower electric steamer that I managed to oik into the recycling a few weeks ago.

Slice the chicken and serve it over rice as suggested. Don’t forget to pour the juices from the parcel over. There is lots of flavour in there too.

This is so simple and delicious. I really have to encourage you to either break out the old steamer or invest in a steam oven. It is a simple dish and a true delight.

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If there were awards for home cooking, there are plenty of contenders for the big accolades. I could put forward any number of culinary delights. Best Sous Vide Beef might be a fillet served with a lovely wine sauce. Roast Chicken of the Year would be hotly contended and there would be plenty of fish dishes hoping to net the big one. But, not many would be interested in helping the competition shine. My Egg Fried Rice is one contender. So, in my Imaginary Home Cooking Awards, the big actors can slog it out amongst themselves. We have one contender for what can be viewed as the best of the rest.

This is a great dish to feed six to eight people. Enough for an after-awards party, I guess.

Ingredients 
  • 500 grammes of Thai Fragrant rice
  • 3 large free range eggs
  • 200 grammes of frozen peas
  • 10 spring onions
  • 2 peppers (different colours for visual appeal)
  • 3 cloves of garlic (or one single bulb garlic clove)
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 5cm/2 inches of ginger root
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons of sesame oil

Wash and cook the rice in your rice cooker, saucepan or however you prefer to do it. I use my trusty fifty year old orange pot. I get the rice pretty perfect every time using no more than experience and a lid that always rattles when the rice is boiling.

Perfect rice from a 50 year old saucepan.

When the rice is cooked, fluff it up with a fork. Let the rice go cold. While that is happening, prepare the other ingredients by chopping everything up nice and small. don’t slice the peas. They are small enough as it is.

The ginger half done. This dish takes plenty of flavour on.

Break the eggs into a bowl and beat them with the fork that you used to fluff the rice. Better to fluff the rice and win “best supporting actor” than to fluff your lines and win nothing.

Best egg pouring shot I have managed to get in a long time.

Heat a large wok. Add a decent amount (2 tablespoons) of cooking oil (sorry, I neglected to show it in my ingredients list). Add the spring onions, peppers, garlic and ginger.

Best spring onion pouring shot in a while too.

Soften the stuff you have in the wok until the aromas of the ginger and garlic take centre stage. Add the eggs and stir to combine.

Then add the peas, followed by the rice, the soy the pepper and the sesame oil. Stir this for a while. You may need to bring on a body double to do it as this requires a decent amount of lifting and stirring.

Serve the rice with a favoured oriental main course. I will post my choice for that accolade next week. This is probably the simplest recipe I have ever shown here. That earns it it’s place on the podium and really makes it worth the title of best supporting actor on the great culinary stage.

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No, not a virus or a spelling error. “Omne trium perfectum” is the Latin for “Good things come in threes.” and we all know that if it’s old enough to be in Latin, there must be some truth to it.

This recipe for Lamb, Mint and Cumin Meatballs kind of proves the rule (as long as you ignore the supporting ingredients. While I’m at it, I’m showing two other recipes too. It’s best to do three, I hear.

Ingredients (for 5 people, 3 meatballs each, of course)
  • 1.25 kilos of minced lamb (neck is good)
  • 1tablespoon of cumin seeds
  • 1 generous handful of mint leaves
  • 1 generous handful of parsley
  • 1 teaspoon of chilli flakes
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper
Ingredients (for mint yoghurt)
  • 1 generous handful of mint leaves
  • 250ml of natural yoghurt
Ingredients (for tasty couscous)
  • 200 gms couscous
  • 1 handful of green beans
  • 1 handful of spring onions
  • 1 red chilli
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper
Method for the meatballs

Heat a frying pan and add the cumin seeds. Toast them until they are a nice deep brown colour.  Let tehm cool a little before bashing them to a dust in a mortar.

My pouring shots come in threes today too (or should that be three).

Chop the garlic, mint and parsley up nice and small. Add all the ingredients to a large bowl and mix well. Leave the mixture to stand in a cool place to allow the flavours meld.

There is lots of lovely flavour going on here.

Make the meatballs up by hand. Mine weighed about 90 grammes each. I managed to make 15 allowing a small amount for a quick taste test. A test that proved the efficacy of the recipe.

Three sets of three. I wonder what the Latin is for that.

Brown the meatballs on a pan with a little oil. Then you can set them aside while you make the other parts of this trio of tastiness. When it comes to it, give them 20 minutes in a 200ºC/400ºF oven.

These will be finished in the oven.

Method for the couscous

Follow the pack instructions for the couscous itself. In this case, it involved pouring it into a saucepan of hot water and boiling for 12 minutes. Queue the pouring shot.

I am really proud of this shot. The detail in the couscous is pretty spectacular.

Chop up the green beans nice and small and give them 1 minute in the microwave. This will take the edge off without overcooking them. Chop up the chilli and spring onions.

Did I say pour in the olive oil?

When you have drained the couscous, add all the other ingredients. Stir this well, cover and leave it to one side. This will need a spell in the microwave later, if you like it hot or not if you like it cold. I like both.

Method for the minted yoghurt. 

Do you really need instructions?

Come on! There are two ingredients. There is a big clue in the photograph and I am not going to spoon feed you. Though, I did spoon lots of the minted yoghurt over the meatballs.

The proof of the old saying is in the eating. Proof positive.

When the meatballs are cooked through (remember that oven step), serve them on top of the couscous and under the minted yoghurt. This is a triumph of threes. The three mini recipes go so well together. It’s proof positive of the truth of the old Latin. “Omne Trium (really is) Perfectum”. Give it a go and enjoy it.

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We just had a Bank Holiday here in Ireland. For once, the weather was OK for it and I spent more time out on my bike in the Wicklow Mountains than I did slaving over a hot stove for your entertainment. However, that doesn’t mean I have nothing to show you. The truncated cooking schedule merely means that I had to get a bit more creative and prepare something that is really tasty but takes less time than it takes to descend from Glencreee to Enniskerry (that might mean something to a cyclist). So, here’s my take on Honey Soy Glazed Chicken Thighs. After a weekend of cycling, my own thighs are now too sore to mention.

This recipe is really easy to prepare. Most of the work is done when the dish is marinading in the fridge, giving you plenty of time to get the bike out and climb a couple of thousand metres or so.

Ingredients (for two hungry people)
  • 6 free range, skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 1tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 2 green chillis
  • 5cm (2″) piece of ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 6 spring onions
  • 2 stalks of lemongrass
  • Half a teaspoon of white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of rice wine
  • 1 teaspoon of sesame oil

Trim any excess fat from the thighs. Cut three deep slashes across each thigh. This is to let the marinade permeate the meat and allow quicker cooking.

This picture is not necessary as the next picture shows all the choppables chopped.

Peel and chop up every thing else, except the stuff that can’t be peeled and chopped.

Ginger, Garlic, Spring Onions, Lemongrass, Chilli, all chopped.

Place the chicken thighs in a roasting dish and add all the remaining ingredients. Give them a good mixing to cover all the chicken with the other ingredients.

As with so many of my recipes, it’s hardly a recipe at all.

When the chicken is well coated all over, cover the dish with cling film and pop it into the fridge. You now have time enough to go for a 100k cycle up the mountains. If you are living in south Dublin or north Wicklow, that will allow a trip to Larragh and up the Wicklow Gap. If you are feeling strong, add in Turlough Hill before coming back home.

There was a lot of moving time for me while these just took on flavour. It seems unfair.

For the couch potatoes amongst you, leave the chicken in the fridge for 5 to 6 hours. Heat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF and cook the chicken uncovered for 35 to 40 minutes, turning a couple of times during the process. I used the 40 minutes to lie in an Epsom Salts bath. Very restorative.

I served mine with some quickly steamed bok choi. Delicious.

Serve the chicken with some appropriate vegetables and rice, taking the trouble to spoon over some of the delicious marinade that will have thickened during the cooking. The marinade adds a lovely extra dimension to the chicken. Don’t stint on it.

If you have done the cycling, you don’t need to worry about the calories.

Even if you haven’t taken the bike out of the shed, this is a fantastic way to enjoy some chicken. I use the thighs for this as they stand up well to the marinade. In fact, they stand up better than I do after all that cycling. Enjoy.

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The barbecue season is just about on top of us here in Ireland. It is that brief window where Gender Neutral Adult Figure Nature (Mother Nature to the less sensitive amongst you) strings three or four days together like pearls on a necklace of summer sunshine. Not that I have any issues with Father Nature wearing pearls. But, I digress. When we get the few days of tepid sunshine leaking through the damaged ozone layer above the Emerald Isle, we immediately strip to the waist and fire up the barbecue.

Normally culinary incompetent males dress in aprons festooned with slogans like “My Sausage is on Fire” or “King of the Grill” and venture forth amongst the dandelions armed with tongs, spatulas, fish slices and battery operated rotisserie devices that never work when you need them.

This is barbecue season and this is where real men step out of the shadows and try to shine. Dinner will be late. Before there is any afterglow, be it from the glory of the cooking or the combined heat of the sun and the glow of the grill, there is work to be done.

As temperatures rise above “three sweaters and a beanie”, any man, woman or child with an ounce of foresight will go to the garden shed, unlock the door (of course you keep the shed locked) and wheel out the barbecue. Once the cover is removed and placed in its space on the shed shelf, grilling can commence.

Ignore the above paragraph. You will more usefully spend your “shed time” digging out the strimmer. You will need it to cut back the grass and climbing ivy that has grown up around your forgotten barbecue over the winter months. When you try to open it, the hinges creak as the rust crumbles away. You seem to recognise that layer of fur that has grown on the grill bars. It’s the festered remains of the duck you cooked last year, just before you resolved to clean and store the grill for the winter.

Prepare the dish well away from the clouds of smoke and dust from the grill cleaning operation.

While your other half curses their way through cleaning the grill, prepare the dish, mercifully brief in ingredients. To generously feed three people, you will need:

  • 1 suckling pig rack
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 5cm/2″ piece of ginger root
  • Tablespoon of olive oil
  • Heaped teaspoon of sea salt
  • Teaspoon of black pepper

The instructions are really simple. Put some slashes in the skin of the rack to facilitate marination and cutting when cooked. Pour the oil over the meat.

A lovely bit of light in the garden at this time of year.

Add the remaining ingredients (garlic, ginger, salt and pepper) and rub int the meat. Leave it to stand in the fridge for at least an hour or better still, overnight. However, given the unpredictable nature of summer weather in Ireland, overnight is probably not going to happen.

Yes, that is a lot of garlic and ginger. Be brave.

Heat your now clean grill to very hot. Place a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the meat, avoiding any bones. Add the pork to the barbecue in a place that will avoid flare-ups. Close the lid and leave it there, untouched, for fifteen minutes.

Turn down the heat and turn the joint over (That is not barbecue speak for “Wreck the place”, just turn the meat upside down.). Leave it there while the skin crisps up. It’s hard to do this without getting a bit of blackening. Don’t worry about that.

Starting to look pretty tasty now.

Prepare some vegetables (Bok Choi was my choice) and some rice or pasta (Jasmin rice was my choice) while the meat finishes cooking. This will take about ten minutes cooking time and ten minutes resting time. I used the thermometer and took the meat off at 60ºC/140ºF. Some might find this a bit light on the cooking. I am cooking fine, rare breed, free range pork and have never had an issue with this temperature. However, if you are cooking some dodgeball stuff bought from a supermarket because it was a bargain, you are on your own.

Resting time definition: Resting Time is the ten to twenty minutes where you lose your temper with a close relative or two for their attempting to pick at the crackling on the pork. Don’t go soft on me. They deserve everything they get.

Carve the pork into double rib chops and serve to the relatives who are still talking to you.

There was no room on the plate for the rice.

When you have finished sucking on the bones, remember to clean down the barbecue and store it away. I really don’t know why I am typing this, we both know what you will do….

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I find myself at a loss for words. That is a pretty unusual state in which to be. This is an excellent dish that I hope you get to try. But, I find that when I go in search of appropriate adjectives to assist in the description, I am at a loss for words. So, I am spreading the load and asking you to fill in your own adjectives as appropriate. To help, I have compiled a list from which you can choose.

The List
  • Adorable
  • Alluring
  • Ambrosial
  • Angelic
  • Blissful
  • Delicious
  • Delectable
  • Delightful
  • Divine
  • Enticing
  • Exquisite
  • Glorious
  • Heavenly
  • Lovely
  • Luscious
  • Magnificent
  • Nectarous
  • Scrumptious
  • Sublime
  • Titillating
  • Toothsome
  • Wonderful

One of the most (adjective) things about this recipe is it has so few ingredients. The downside is that one ingredient is a leg of suckling pig.

A short ingredients list belies the (adjective) taste. Ingredients
  • 1 leg of suckling pig
  • 1 pineapple
  • 2 teaspoons of sweet paprika
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons of cooking oil

Before you leave the store, select your pineapple by doing the leaf pull test. A ripe pineapple will give up a centre leaf when it is pulled gently. If the leaf is not forthcoming, pick another pineapple.

The leaf pull test. Unlike the words, it never fails me.

Peel and chop the pineapple into chunks, following my one picture guide. Remember to cut out the core as it is pretty tough. Mix half the pineapple chunks with the paprika. Line a roasting pan with the pineapple chunks.

You should be able to work out how it’s done from this pic.

Score the skin on the leg of suckling pig with a sharp knife. Be sure to avoid cutting into the flesh. The skin should be thin and reasonably easy to slice. Rub the leg all over with salt, pepper and oil. Place it in the roasting pan on top of the pineapple and roast in a very hot oven for 20 minutes. Turn the oven down to 190ºC/375ºF and continue roasting until the internal temperature reaches 65ºC/150ºF. Remove it from the oven and let the meat rest for at least ten minutes. Resist the (adjective) temptation to pick at the crackling. The meat will continue to cook while resting, bringing it up to a safe cooked temperature.

Photography can’t describe the level of temptation. I want that crackling!

This suckling pig, if cooked correctly gives off a (adjective) aroma while resting.  However, you don’t have time to appreciate it. Pick the pineapple pieces out of the roasting tray and keep them warm. Add some flour and stir the remaining pan juices over a warm ring on the hob. Season the gravy and reserve to serve.

Adjectives just can’t do it justice. This is too (adjective) for words.

Lift the crackling from the meat in chunks. It is (adjective) and needs to be treated with reverence. Carve the meat. It is far lighter in texture than regular pork and tastes sweeter.

The gravy is a blend of the sweet and sour of pineapple mixed with the (adj) pork flavours.

Serve it with some boiled rice, and the pineapple pieces. Pour over the gravy and start ticking the adjectives off that list.

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A few years ago I wrote a brief blog post on things a blogger should not do. The stand-out advice I gave was to never start a post with some drivel like “Ooooh, sorry peeps, I haven’t posted in ages, I’ve been super-busy with my new fashion line.” My point being that the Internet doesn’t care. You don’t care and neither do I. So instead of raking my consciousness with guilt, I’m giving you a steamed cod recipe and no apology for not posting last week.

As it happens, I was preoccupied last week. But you too were filling your hours and days with profitable enterprise. I’ll bet you didn’t notice my absence. The only thing I did that may tickle your tastebuds was cook these delicious Steamed Cod parcels.

Ingredients
  • 1 450gm piece of fresh cod
  • 12 asparagus stalks
  • 3cm piece of root ginger
  • 5 or 6 spring onions
  • 2 teaspoons of soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons of sesame oil
  • A couple of pinches of black pepper

Using a sharp filleting knife, skin the fish as I show in the picture. Cut it into two pieces, making one slightly bigger than the other (you greedy thing!).

That’s a big piece of cod for just two people.

Wash and slice the spring onions into bite sized pieces. Peel and slice the ginger nice and thin. Only the bravest (most foolish) of your diners will eat the ginger. Prepare the asparagus stalks by breaking off the woody ends. Place the cod onto a bed of asparagus on a piece of greaseproof paper large enough to form a loose parcel. Place the ginger on and then add the spring onions on top. Pour over half the soy sauce and half the sesame oil. Sprinkle with the black pepper.

The sesame oil is good quality. My advice; spend the money for good oil.

Form a loose parcel with the paper. Tie the parcel with some kitchen twine. It is a bit fiddly but I make no apologies as it will prevent things falling apart mid steam.

I do a pretty good parcel. Why can I never wrap Christmas presents like this?

Place in a steamer (or steam oven) for 8 minutes. Remove the parcels and open, being mindful of the hot steam. Lift the entirety of the food from the paper using a spatula. Serve it on white rice. Pour the liquor over the dish and get it to the table double quick.

This is a really delicious and subtle bit of food. I encourage you to try it.

You will need to make no apologies for this delight of subtle tastiness. Just like I fell no need to apologise for my lack of posts….

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My focus today is on the photography end of things. I get so many compliments on my photos, I thought I should show you how I develop my results. In some ways, the photography journey has been long and difficult. In others, it has been a joy of discovery and progress. Now that I am at the stage of knowing how little I know, I am happy to share my approach. To help me along (as this is a food blog), I am using a recent recipe for Chicken with Wild Garlic. Given that this is my first ever post focussing on photography, there is an irony in many of the shots being taken with my iPhone.

The Camera

The first question most people ask me about my photographs is “What camera do you use?”. My answer to that is that it really doesn’t matter. For many years, I have shot using Canon cameras. My advice is to get a DSLR with which you are comfortable and you are ready to get underway. Don’t spend the earth on a top end camera. There is plenty of time to do that later.

My camera with trigger on top. Note the lens, the most important bit of kit.

The Canon I use is not cheap. However, the most important bit to get right is the lens. I shoot my food stuff with a fixed 50mm Canon lens that cost €129 ($150) new. The lens is the most important part of the kit. So, get a budget camera and a workable prime lens. That is all you need on the camera end.

The Lighting

I would love to be in a position to shoot my food stuff “at a North facing window, at midday” as so many photography guides recommend. That’s fine if you are planning on eating early, only taking a final plated shot and you are only shooting lunches. I shoot process that takes lots of time and the sun, like time and tide wait for nobody.

For consistency, I followed some great advice from top Boston-based photographer and all round good guy, Ken Rivard. I had shared my frustrations around changing light with Ken and he recommended I have a go at “off camera flash”. For this, I needed a flash gun, a pair of triggers and a soft-box. You can see the set-up in the photos. Just as important as the flash is the reflector set up. Mine is made of a couple of bits of white foam board with a metal strut, held up by a tin of tomatoes. It really does not matter as long as it works. I occasionally add extra focus with a piece of silver card that would otherwise be used as packaging for smoked salmon.

A classy set up? Not likely. But, it works.

This has allowed me to gain some consistency over my shots and also helps me take those pouring shots that I love so much. There is a reasonable learning curve around flash. I know I am still on that curve but I am improving.

The flash set up is very straightforward. The work is in understanding how to use it. The technical stuff

I shoot in manual mode, using autofocus (most of the time). I’m not going to make any hard and fast recommendations around ISO, aperture or any of that stuff. Not because I don’t understand it. But more importantly, you need to find what works best for you. To do that, you need to understand it too. There is no way around putting in the hard hours on this stuff. Be prepared for stress, frustration and occasional patches of joy when you manage to get the result you set out to get.

The work surfaces

I use a range of different work surfaces for my shots. If you know somebody laying a wood floor, talk nicely to them and blag the off-cuts. They make for a great wooden backdrop. I have a few of these and use them as I feel suits the mood of the shots. Dark and moody for big beef dinners and light and white for fish is one way to go.

I won’t go into the props just here. You don’t have enough time to read about the array of stuff I have amassed over the last few years. I will do a separate post on that.

So, with all that out-of-the-way, here’s a great recipe for Steamed Chicken with Wild Garlic.

Ingredients for two people
  • 2 free range chicken breasts (the third in the shots went into the freezer)
  • A decent bunch of wild garlic
  • Salt and pepper
  • Calvo Nero Cabbage

I served mine with a lovely wild garlic and hazelnut pesto given to me by a friend who died last year. He was brought back from the other side by paramedics. I was tempted to write a post called “Dead Man’s Pesto” but thought the better of it. It is delicious and apart from his friendship, this pesto makes it worth having him around for a while longer.

Lay out a sheet of cling film and cover it with enough wild garlic to wrap the chicken. Season the chicken with the salt and pepper.

See how the white floorboards work with this type of shot?

Wrap up the chicken in the leaves and fold it all together in the clingfilm. Then wash and chop the Calvo Nero, removing the tough centre stems.

This pic gives a bit more of the reality of the shoot.

Steam the chicken and Calvo Nero for ten minutes at 100ºC. Then divide up the cabbage, slice the chicken, arrange on a well-chosen plate. In this case, I was going for a lot of white to allow the greens pop. I really do think about this stuff. Have a look at the picture below. I thought that a green napkin might work well with my green and white theme. The green is the wrong colour and I rejected it. I do this sort of work while the meal is cooking.

This shot didn’t work for me. I didn’t like the clash of the greens.

Side note on the food: We eat everything I post here. It’s very different to being on a commercial shoot where every single item must look perfect. They are great fun and can be profitable but a terrible waste of food.  As we eat everything, I tend to be under pressure to get my final “plated” shots done. They are usually not perfect but, a man’s gota’ eat. 

This one really works. The whites allow the pesto to really shout.

After all that, we ate the dish. The Calvo Nero has a lovely bitter note to it and was a great foil for the subtle chicken. The pesto had a lovely punch too. One other thing to note. We ate this with some boiled potatoes and butter. I held them back from the photo as I wanted to achieve a stylish sort of look.

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Pork steak (or pork tenderloin to some) is a tricky enough cut of meat. If you want it moist, you risk serving it raw. If you err on the side of caution your meal could be as dry as my late grandmother’s sherry. This is one cut of meat where sous vide can really shine.

The sous vide method is not all about long cooking. You know the type who’s recipes involve throwing a leg of venison into the sous vide before spending an extended weekend with their in-laws in Vermont. This pork is fast food by comparison. The ingredients list is mercifully short too. Don’t be fooled by the brevity, it’s packed with layers of flavour.

Ingredients
  • 1 free range pork fillet.
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of whole grain mustard
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 3cm / 1” piece of fresh ginger root

I just can’t resist a pouring shot.

Peel and chop the ginger nice and small. Slice the pork steak in half for convenience. Add all the ingredients to a sous vide bag and seal.

This is a pretty fancy Miele chamber vacuum. All good fun.

Pop it in the water bath at 58°C/135°F. The Vermonters will have to see you another time as this takes only an hour and a half.

The tenderloin looks pretty bland at this stage. Don’t be fooled.

Take the tenderloin from the bag and brown it on a medium hot pan. Remove to a chopping board. Add the bag marinade to the pan and reduce until it achieves a nice consistency.

Be careful of the heat of the frying pan. This is just as hot as one wants it.

Slice the pork and serve it with rice and a generous dollop of the sauce. For (relatively) fast food, this is a tender delight.

Perfectly cooked pork. This is a delight.

If you are thinking that sous vide is all about long cooking, think again. This takes little time and packs a real punch of flavour. The meat melts in the mouth and will please almost anyone, even those in-laws in Vermont.

The sauce adds a lovely extra dimension of flavour.

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