Monday, August 27, 2012

Dr Q, I presume…..?

NOOOoooooooo...I dropped a stitch

Once a year there comes a time that strikes fear into the hearts of those of us who are married or partnered to knitting people. People who knit we can deal with, but people who treat knitting as a 35 year old single man living with his parents treats Star Trek are truly terrifying. And spinners. Don’t forget the spinners…..and crocheters (if that’s a word). Once a year, these people amass in the fair County Cork to touch, fondle and otherwise molest innocent wools and yarns in the name of FIBRE FEIS, the annual gathering of the immortal fibre enthusiasts who fight to the death until the last one stands - THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE………..Well, OK that’s Highlander the movie but c’mon, wouldn’t that be great??

So Fibre Feis is an annual gathering of friends and family who get together once a year to meet up, camp over and discuss all things…well… fibrous. No, not the dietary kind – that’s a way different party. Long story short, Fibre Feis is a great bit of fun and food (and not an inconsiderable amount of drink) and this year was no exception. It is a BYO affair with contributors bringing everything from tomato and mozzarella salads to couscous, brownies to artisan chocolate cake and homemade beers (thanks Phil).

This year I decided to bring Dr. Pepper Pork Chops and Sinéad made two fabulous Madeira cakes (from a closely guarded secret family recipe). Thankfully, people were polite and said they enjoyed them although this did appear evident by the fact the first plate of finished chops were gone in seconds…..

To Sue and Phil and to all those who organised, contributed and turned up – many thanks for a great day and we’ll see you again next year. For those who asked, here’s the recipe – I used this volume for 12 chops.

The Brine
¾ of a 500 ml bottle of Dr. Pepper Soda (full fat, not diet)
2 Tbls Balsamic Vinegar
2 Tbls Apple Cider Vinegar
4 Tsp Dijon Mustard
4 Tsp Coarse Salt
2 Tsp Black Peppercorns
2 Tsp Dried Sage
2 Tsp Dried Marjoram
Mix all the ingredients together into a zip top plastic bag and place in a container. Place the pork chops into the bag and squeeze as much air out as possible before sealing the bag. Place the container in the fridge for 4 but not longer than 8 hours.
Take the pork chops out of the brine and pat dry with kitchen paper towels ahead of applying the rub.

The Rub
1 Tsp of your favourite chilli powder
1 Tsp garlic granules
1 Tsp coarse salt
1 Tsp smoked paprika (or normal paprika)
½ Tsp ground coriander
½ Tsp ground cumin
Few grinds of black pepper
Mix together well and apply liberally to both sides of the chops (I use a small flour shaker).

To Cook
Fry, grill or BBQ as you would for a normal chop - 7 to 10 minutes depending on the thickness of the chop and method of cooking, turning once half way through.

Only picture I could get of the finished produce (sorry)

To Serve
Hang a sign advising “the Doctor is in”, prescribe one pork chop in a crispy buttered baguette and see them again next Tuesday if it doesn’t cure all that ails them. Charging €60 is entirely optional……

Sunday, August 12, 2012

A minute on the lips, a lifetime on the Thai’s

Dr. Who is the guy… suave, sophisticated and always right and why not? He is, after all a Time Lord who, when things go wrong and the girl dies, can go back in time sort it out save the girl and appear a hero to all us mortals who didn’t cop that this was his fifth time trying….. For the rest of us time is a horrible linear thing that keeps going in one direction far too fast. Which, incidentally, is my way of saying "Sorry, I’ve been too busy to devote any time to blogging and I owe you a few recipes"

So here goes…

A couple of weeks ago, Sinead and Alice brought her parents away for a few days to the south of Ireland (Dungarvan in Co. Waterford – fantastic part of Ireland for any of our readers abroad). I was going to Donegal (far north of Ireland) for a few days on business so I couldn’t go. This did give me two days to myself (hurrah). Long story short, we both had a miserable time as the weather was rotten and my wife had to cut the week short due to a serious family illness. But on the two days to myself, I got to have buckets of prawns (‘cos Sinéad doesn’t like them). And the best way to enjoy them? Thai Red Curry, of course.

This recipe has taken a lot of trial and error to get right but (imho) if followed correctly it will give top restaurant quality results.

To make the Red Curry Paste: (This makes enough for two portions about 4 good tbsp– I freeze the second portion for later)

Red Curry Paste
8 long red dried chillies, deseeded and chopped
1 tsp. ground coriander seed
½ tsp. ground cumin seed
1 tsp. ground white pepper
2 tbsp. chopped garlic
2 stalks of lemongrass, chopped
Small bunch of fresh coriander, chopped
1 tsp. finely chopped kaffir lime leaves
3 cm. fresh galangal or ginger, peeled and chopped
2 tsp. shrimp paste (see note 2)
1 tsp. salt
using a mortar and pestle, grind all the ingredients into a thick paste (OK – I use a small blender…)
(Note 1 – on the day I made this I had no fresh ginger or coriander so I used fresh Basil and 1 tsp ginger powder)
(Note 2 - Just a warning if you have never used it - Shrimp paste has a very "pungent" aroma - please bear with it - there is no smell in the final dish - trust me, it will cook away.....)
(Note 3 - Yes I know what it looks like - get past it  and you will be rewarded....)

Thai Red Curry
2 tbsp. peanut or sunflower oil
2 tbsp. red curry paste
400 ml. coconut milk
200 ml. vegetable stock
4 small carrots sliced (parboil for 6/7 minutes to soften first)
2 red or green chilies coarsely sliced
3 tbsp. light soy sauce
2 tsp. sugar
½ tsp. salt
fresh basil leaves
Add any veg you want or use prawns / chicken / beef / pork
If using chicken/beef/pork, sauté in a little hot oil for a few minutes then reserve.

Heat the oil in a medium hot pan, then quickly stir in the curry paste
Add the coconut milk, and stir to combine then add the vegetable stock, stir briefly
Add the prawns/meat/veg, carrots, chillies, soy sauce, sugar and salt.
Bring to a rolling simmer and cook for about 10 - 15 minutes, until the sauce reduces (it should be able to coat the back of a spoon)
Add the basil leaves, stir and serve with rice or noodles

Serve with Old Jamaican Ginger Beer as it picks up on the spices and ginger in the dish and not the ( Crabbies delicious alcoholic ginger beer ‘cos I wouldn’t be having fun on my own, oh no, I would be missing my wife…. Not drinking crabbies no, not me, missing my wife not Crabbies ‘hic’