Archive for November, 2008

Honey, Mustard and Soy Glazed Bacon. Cabbage optional.

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008
Bacon and Cabbage

After the sheer hedonism of fresh prawns (3rd Nov) followed by self-indulgent pieces on French Wine and eating out (15th & 17th Nov) I have been flooded with complaints. “Are you aware of the recession?” wrote one reader, “Down with this sort of thing” wrote another, “An Taoiseach Brian Cowan and Minister Lenihan have displayed a stunning lack of touch and forward planning by producing a slap-dash budget that John Bruton would be proud of. Maybe the only reason they moved it forward was to get a bit more distance between it and 4th June 2009 as possible?” remarked a third. Clearly it is time to tighten the belt, ever the one to respond to the needs of the people (me, not Brian Cowan) we went to Aldi and bought a Back Bacon Joint for a recession busting €3.99. Less than the price of a pint of Guinness. How about that?

Ingredients (for 2)
1 700g Back Bacon Joint from Aldi
3 teaspoons Dijon Mustard
6 teaspoons Honey
1-2 teaspoons of Soy Sauce
Large handful of Cloves.

While bringing a large pot of water to the boil rinse your bacon in cold water, you may want to soak it for a while in the water to get rid of some of the saltiness, this is especially true if the bacon is smoked. When the pot of water is warm, but not yet boiling, add the bacon and bring to the boil. Once boiling reduce the heat way down until you have a very, very, slow simmer. Barely bubbling is good. Skim off any salty residue from the top of the water and cook for 45mins per Kg. Once done allow to cool while you mix the glaze ingredients.

When glaze is mixed and the bacon has cooled down trim the outer layer of fat from the bacon and criss-cross the top and sides with a sharp knife. Brush on the glaze and add the cloves into each intersection of the criss-cross cuts. Bake in a preheated 180C oven for 20-30mins.

A good thing about this is you can boil it up in the morning and wait to do the baking part until you come home from a hard day signing on and going to the betting shop. Presto! A recession proof dinner in 20mins. Serve with some old bits of cardboard and maybe some cabbage, only if you can afford it mind.

The Cornstore, Coal Quay, Cork

Monday, November 17th, 2008
Corn StoreImage via MunsterPubs

Ireland 3 – New Zealand 22 was the final score as the All Blacks removed our rugby self-belief in an awesome display. We took solace in having a table for five at The Cornstore. A few beers and a nice dinner and sure it will all be forgotten about.

The Cornstore is a newish, buzzing restaurant on Cork’s Coal Quay (opposite TK MAXX). It certainly looks lovely, the imposing limestone outside gives way via velvet curtained doors to an atmospheric cocktail/wine bar. I was informed by Mrs Messy the Cosmopolitans were very quaffable at €9.50 each, luckily the rugby fans weren’t too late and we were seated before the girls could down more than one each.

The upstairs is big and airy and on a Saturday night pretty noisy with the chatter of other diners echoing off the walls and hardwood floors. The dining tables are simple, reminding me slightly of something from my school days. The kitchen is at the back and done in a “Hell’s Kitchen” style where you can see right in and watch at how busy the chefs are as the plates are delivered quick and fast to the staff at the pass. Impressive stuff, watching the clatter in the kitchen and the staff come and go added to the sense of hustle and bustle and how busy the place was. However this did take away from the intimacy and gave the impression of a grill more than a restaurant, nothing wrong with that I guess, maybe that is the intention but with Lobster an option at €50 a plate I wonder.

Service was efficient. Drinks orders were filled while we looked at the menu and the starters arrived pretty quickly. Deep Fried Brie, Duck Liver Pate and Prawn Cocktail gave the menu a bit of a retro feel, the Brie was pretty nice, three large chunks with some tasty salad and a dash of Cumberland sauce. Duck Liver Pate was nicely served but the Goat’s Cheese Crostini looked a little basic with an upturned round of Goat’s Cheese looking rather intimidating.

Mains followed quickly. Crisp Duck Confit Leg for me which was excellent although the bed of pak choi and butternut squash had a bit too much of a garlic hum to it, a couple of Sirloin steaks and two pasta dishes completed the set. All were well received with no complaints. The maitre’d stopped by half way to make sure we were happy which is always welcome and sadly neglected many restaurants. The only let down came at the end where we had to wait for dessert. After 20minutes of no show we inquired where they may be, the waiter came back to report the fondant had not cooked properly and needed to be redone. Another 20minutes passed while we waited. During this time the place became extremely busy with the changeover from early to late diners but this is no excuse for a 40minute wait. When it finally arrived our diner was disappointed with the fondant, maybe the expectation had been too much. A couple of coffees to finish and off we went.

The bill came to €215 (excluding service) for five starters, five mains, two desserts, two coffees, four beers and two bottles of Pinot Grigio. Excluding the wait for desserts it was an enjoyable experience in a pretty nice setting, those who prefer a more intimate dining experience should request a table downstairs.

Chateau Fonfroide Bordeaux 2007

Saturday, November 15th, 2008
Chateau Fonfroide Bordeaux

Here’s a quick wine review done in my “I like wine but don’t know anything about it” style. Dunnes Stores have been flogging this on the cheap for quite a while now, I think they advertise it as €14.99 reduced to €7.99 and there is a good reason. Lacks depth, nose and body. Fails to mention on the label what type of grapes were used in the blend preferring to say “Its unique character (!) comes from a combination of various types of grapes and the sea”. First wine I’ve had that cites its flavour from the sea. Arrrgh maties! I drank it anyway.

Fresh Prawns in Garlic Butter with Parmesean Breadcrumb.

Monday, November 3rd, 2008
Fresh Prawns

Fresh prawns are always a treat to have. At about €12 per Kg these days they are not cheap, usually somewhere between €6 and €10 for a dozen depending on size, but they are oh so tasty. My preference with prawns is less is more so there is not much extra added after cooking. Not even a slice of lemon. In any event there is a recession on and Messy Towers are balancing the books by removal of all unwanted rocket, Parmesan shavings, cherry tomatoes, cucumber foam and other stupid finicky nonsense that gets in the way of the real food.  We’re taking the ‘no frills’ model and applying it to food. Actually a lot of Irish Restaurants would be well advised to take their heads out of their asses and use a similar approach: Just the food please, keep your foam.

Unlike their frozen Vietnamese or North Sea cousins fresh prawns are tender and sweet, not tough and flavorless. This dish is just some garlic butter and a light crumb on the outside. The saltiness of the Parmesan works with the sweet prawns. Usual disclaimer with the photos applies viz.  I am not a food photographer.

Ingredients (for 2)
12 prawns (shells and intestines removed)
Breadcrumbs from 1 slice of bread
Small handful of grated Parmesan.
1 knob of butter, about 50g.
1 clove garlic crushed.

Add the grated Parmesan to the breadcrumbs and season with salt and pepper. Toss the prawns in the mix making sure they are fully coated (the crumbs will naturally stick to the prawns). Put the butter and garlic in a dish, place in the oven at 180c until the butter is melted. Add the prawns, lightly cover with any leftover breadcrumbs and cook for 10-12 minutes. Serve as is.

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Chicken Breast stuffed with Sun Dried Tomato, Basil and Goat’s Cheese.

Saturday, November 1st, 2008

This is a great dish, it’s a bit of a pain in the ass to make but it’s nice and savoury. If there is stuffing mixture left over paste it onto some crostini, serve with salad and you have an excellent starter, without the salad it will works well as a canape…jeez I used “crostini” and “canape” in the same sentence, watch out Doorley. Let’s move on before I bust out a “hors d’oeuvres”.

Ingredients (for 2):
2 chicken breasts
2 tablespoons goat’s cheese
A good handful of sun dried tomatoes
6-10 fresh basil leaves

Place each chicken breast between two sheets of cling film and flatten by hammering with a rolling pin, you will see from the photos below I’ve hammered mine into the shape of Africa, that’s purely optional. Put the goats cheese, tomatoes and basil into a mixer and whizz it up. Season to taste. Spread the mixture into each of the flattened chicken breasts and roll up in the cling film into a sausage shape. Wrap in foil and leave to set in the fridge for 30mins+. Place into a pan of simmering water and poach for 10 minutes or until the chicken is completely cooked through. When done unwrap, slice and serve.

Now, lets get something clear before we move on. My photos suck. No excuses. They don’t do the food justice or make it particularily appetising but I’m not in this for the photography, I like eating, writing and talking about food, I don’t enjoy taking pictures of it. I’m not selling it so I don’t have to fancy it up, these are just regular photos taken with my N95.


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