Big Fuck Off Peanut Sauce!

Posted on: 25 February 2010 1 comment

With equal amounts of hilarity and horror, I have spent the last two weeks watching another fresh batch of hapless first rounders publicly disgrace themselves on Masterchef. Obviously it’s nowhere near the morto level that you get on the opening episodes of X Factor, but some of the contestants need a serious kick in the goolies.

There was a 21 year old Law student on tonight who quit college to pursue the restaurant dream, such was his passion for food. When he told the presenters he was going to cook ravioli he was all cocky and sure of himself, until Jon Torode questioned whether he’d have enough time to make everything. Every shot of him thereafter increasingly showed the sweat getting thicker and more plentiful on his brow, til he eventually looked like a paedo that just stepped out of a Barney suit.

His ravioli never happened. The culmination of his efforts resulted in a plate of cherry tomatoes squashed on top of some pre packaged Chinese noodles. What a schmuck. Torode pointed out that it looked like something you’d make when you got back drunk from the pub. At that point the corporate law path might have seemed like a much better call.

Oh the innocence of it all! Masterchef always seems to feature the same types of disillusioned professionals every year. The IT worker who, “thinks about food all day.” The out of work architect that yearns, “to own my Gastropub that serves classic British fare.” The emotionally frail housewife who “really needs a new challenge and wants to set up a nice family restaurant.”

I don’t know where they get their ideas about the service industry from. They somehow reckon that once they start blissfully churning out edible Nirvana, everything will be right in their lives. And even though Masterchef drops them into professional kitchens, that goes nowhere near to preparing them for the grim realities of running a bar or restaurant. Here’s what they don’t show you on the telly:

- Your kitchen porters will be Heroin addicts.
- Your commi chefs will be stoners.
- Your front of house will all be coke heads.
- Your bar manager will be an alcoholic.
- Your landlord will more than likely be a faceless bank who went on a spending spree in the 90’s for pension funds and is represented by some complete wanker in a property management company.
- You will want to kill at least 50% of your customers for being clueless morons devoid of any taste whatsoever.
- You will quickly turn into a strange mix of demon and vampire through a combination of bugger all sleep and working like a malnourished slave.

If you know anyone who wants to set up their own joint, then do them a favour and at least show them the above. Should they still want to soldier on, then give them my recipe below for peanut sauce. Everybody loves peanut/satay sauce. It’s now a standard recipe that every kitchen should be able to reproduce and this is so simple even the ex law student from Masterchef could knock it out. My one is quite westernized and it has some big ass flavours. It’s the nearest I could possibly get to replicating the one from The House of Nanking in San Fran. A fantastic restaurant.




* 1 cup of chunky peanut butter
* ½ cup of peanut oil
* ¼ cup of lemon juice
* ¼ cup of white wine vinegar
* ¼ cup of tamari sauce (Asian Market or Oriental Emporium, use soy sauce if you can’t get it)
* ¼ cup of water
* 2 teaspoons of fresh ginger
* 4 garlic cloves
* Half a fistful of fresh coriander, stalks and all
* 1 teaspoon of dried chili flakes


Throw in all the wet ingredients into a blender and then all the other ones. Blend it until it’s real smooth.


For chicken, beef or pork, you should chop up the meat and take a few dollops of the sauce and use it as a marinade. Keep them in the fridge for at least a day or so then grill or barbecue on skewers. Cook until nicely golden/brown.

For meaty fish, get some monk fish, chop it up, skewer the chunks of fish and baste with the sauce and then grill for a minute or so on each side.

Do the same with some veg like asparagus, baby Asian aubergines, red peppers and it’s pretty good with courgettes too.

My Jewish Penicillin

Posted on: 18 February 2010 1 comment

If he weren’t so dangerously unhealthy and overweight, I would wholeheartedly recommend that Brian Cowen live off this recipe for the foreseeable future. No dish can make you feel better than Jewish Penicillin, otherwise known as Chicken soup. Comfort food to the extreme, himself and Willie O’Dea could really use some right now. But my Jewish Penicillin is the full fat version, An Taoiseach’s doctors wouldn’t like that. I use all the schmaltz as the chosen people call it, the chicken skin. That’s what really makes a good stock.

A few years ago I found myself in Lisbon on a horrific bender. Twas a fantastic stag party and remarkably nobody was arrested/raped or hospitalized. During that long weekend, breakfast for me consisted of chicken soup with orzo. I swear to fuck, it kept me alive. There is something so healing about it’s collective properties.

My chicken soup is like a big massive multi vitamin. I lash in a whole bulb of garlic for starters and it’s got shit loads of celery and carrots in it. All good for mind, body and hole. Enjoy.


* 1 whole corn fed chicken (Superquinn do one for about €8)
* 6 stalks of celery, sliced diagonally into one inch pieces
* 9 carrots, washed and sliced diagonally into one inch pieces
* 1 large Spanish onion, chopped coarsely
* 1 bulb of garlic (yes the whole fucking thing), peeled and broken into whole cloves
* 1 Kallo chicken stock cube (if you can’t get it don’t bother with another brand, just replace with a little more celery salt)
* 6 shallots sliced thinly
* 2 teaspoons of Celery salt
* 2 cups of Orzo pasta (Listons on Camden St, Magill’s on Clarendon St)
* 1 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper
* 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary

Get your chicken, garlic, Spanish onion, half of your celery, rosemary and carrots and lob them all into a big fuck off pot. Fill the pot with water and heat it up with the lid on. When it starts to boil put in your stock cube and bring the heat down very low. Leave with the lid on for 1 hour.

Remove the chicken carefully and let it sit for ten minutes so that it cools down a little, you can leave the pot on a low heat with the lid off. When the chicken has cooled down enough for you to touch, remove all the skin. Throw the skin into the pot and whiz it all up with one of them soup blenders or put it all into a food processor. Then throw in the rest of your celery,carrots and rosemary along with the shallots and celery salt.

While they’re all cooking you need to start shredding the chicken, my favourite part of the prep. You just gotta remove all the meat with your hands and leave them in little bitesize chunks and slivers. When you’ve done all that lash the meat into the pot with everything else. Let it cook for another twenty minutes.

While that’s cooking, sort out your pasta by boling it in some water and a cup of the stock that you’ve been making. While it’s still al dente, drain it and lash it into the soup. Try to keep a cup of that starchy pasta water though and put that into the soup too. Good for thickening it up a bit. Stir it all up and serve.

SERVE WITH: A crusty bit of bread if you want and garnish with a pinch of finely chopped rosemary. Sneak in a wee glass of Rosé if you want to complete the feel-good factor.


Hick’s Italian Sausage Lasagna

Posted on: 12 February 2010 6 comments

Those who would doubt how deeply embedded alcohol is within our culture, should look at the uniquely Irish phenomena that is “Mickey Money Night.” The one day of the week when single mothers would get their children’s allowance and run amok in the nearest dive of a nightclub. These morally questionable drunken escapades, would generally fall on Tuesdays and have probably done more for Satzenbrau and West Coast Cooler sales than any TV campaign ever could.

While many bars have hosted Mickey Money Nights (and probably continue to do so), Scruples Nightclub in Dun Laoighre was the all time supreme market leader. Sadly, it is no longer in existence but it was situated in the basement of The Kingston Hotel. “Mickey Money Tuesday” was in fact so popular there that it was commonly known as their busiest night of the week.

These days, Dun Laoighre may be regarded as one of the beacons of Southside Dublin with it’s annual Festival of World Cultures, food market and romantic walks on the pier, but back when Scruples was still trading,the people of that town were not to be messed with. Max, the head doorman in Scruples seemingly wasn’t held in high esteem with the locals. He had been shot at, his car set on fire and various projectiles thrown at him, such as empty kegs.

Two Dun Laoighre natives who probably have a few yarns tucked away about the legendary Max and Scruples nightclub, are Ed and Brendan Hick. They also happen to make the best sausages in Ireland (I am fully aware that comparisons between their sausages and mickey money Tuesday could be remarked upon here but I’m just way too classy for that, put them in your comments if you want). The fennel seed and orange zest in their Italian sausage make it the perfect variety to use for my lasagne. You can buy them in a few different shops like Liston’s on Camden Street and Magill’s on Clarendon Street. Or you can pick them up directly off the lads at The Temple Bar Food Market every Saturday or their outlet on Upper George’s St Dun Laoighre.


- 1 packet of Hicks Italian Sausages
- 1 packet of wavy lasagna sheets
- 1 jar of passata
- 2 tins of decent tomatoes
- 1 tub of Ricotta Cheese with an egg yolk mixed into it (my preference over Bechamel sauce which can be too heavy)
- 1 tablespoon of tomato puree
- 1 tablespoon of oregano
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- 1 teaspoon of pepper
- 4 cloves of roasted garlic
- 1 medium sized onion, chopped
- 1 beef stock cube with 500ml boiling water (get the Kallo brand if you can, or ideally make your own if you have the time)
- 1 cup of dried mozzarella cheese.

- Peel the garlic, rub them in olive oil and then roast for 20 mins @ 180 degrees in your oven.
- Fry off the sausages in a pot with a little olive oil. After you’ve browned them off a little, remove them with a slotted spoon and let them rest and cool a little.
- In the same pot fry off the onion. After they’ve changed colour a little, lash in the tomatoes. Fry that for about one minute then lash in the passata, garlic, oregano, pepper, sugar, beef stock with water, garlic and puree. Bring it to the boil and then let it simmer stirring occasionally for one hour.
- As the sauce is cooking, slice the sausages diagonally, half an inch thick and place them into a separate pot.
- When the sauce is done place enough of it into the sausage pot to cover all the sausage. You’ll need the rest of the sauce, so don’t do anything with it.
- Get your lasagna dish/dishes ready.The overall size of your lasagna will depend on the size of your dish. You could definitely make enough for two medium sized lasagnas with the ingredients above. Make sure every single piece of the lasagna pasta has some kind of sauce on it, otherwise you’ll be left with hard chewy bits that will ruin everything.
- Cover the bottom of the lasagna dish with the plain sauce. Then place your first lasagna sheets in, then put some of sausages with plenty of the sauce going round it. If you lay the sausages on evenly you should be able to get about 8 – 10 slices on per sheet.
- Then you place another sheet on top of that. Smother that sheet in the ricotta/egg mix.
- Place a sheet on top of that one and repeat with the sausages. Then you throw another sheet on top of that and repeat again with the ricotta. Place the final sheet on top of ricotta and smother it in a lot of the plain sauce. Lash the mozzarella cheese on top of that and then cover and seal it with tin foil and stick it in the oven for about 40 minutes. If you want you can grill it for a bit afterwards to get it crispy on top. Like so….



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