Those of you of a certain age, will recall that magicians who wanted to entertain the masses didn’t have to be suspended for days on end from glass cubes or enforce a hunger strike on themselves in blocks of ice. In the not so distant past, all that was required of them was a sharp wit, a charming (usually female) assistant and of course, the ability to perform the odd illusion or two. Paul Daniels was one such trickster. Not only did he tick all those boxes, but he had some damn fine catchphrases too. And if you thought that this more old school approach to showmanship wasn’t drawing crowds anymore, then think again. Paul is still packing them in and even after many decades in show business, continues to win praise from his peers and public.
Indeed when you are granted an opportunity with someone who has such a respected legacy under their belt, there was no way I could not ask him about the wildest trick he’s ever seen.”The production of a donkey and an elephant on an open stage by the late great Harry Blackstone. No trapdoors, no cover, and there they were. Quite wonderful!” And who was the greatest magician that ever lived?,“Merlin (if he ever actually lived) because people are still talking about him after hundreds of years.” That’s all very epic, but when it comes to food, Paul’s tastes are definitely more grounded. He may be a household name who has entertained millions, but serve him up some humble egg & chips and as he has says himself, “I am in heaven.” Sitting alongside Harry & Merlin perhaps?
PAUL DANIELS’ BAKED EGGS WITH SPICY SPUDS
INGREDIENTS, SERVES 2:
4 medium sized maris piper potatoes, washed and peeled
4 free range eggs
4 grilled rashers
6 cherry tomatoes, sliced
1 teaspoon each of smoked paprika, mustard powder and garlic powder
½ teaspoon each of salt and pepper
1 tablespoon of butter
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
Heat your oven to 180 degrees. Slice the potatoes lengthways, repeatedly to create evenly sized wedges. Lay them on a baking tray and then coat them in the olive oil. Combine all the dry ingredients and sprinkle them all over the spuds. Stick them in the oven for 45 minutes and shake the pan occasionally to prevent them from sticking.
Meanwhile,smear the butter all over the inside of two ramekins. Place 3 sliced cherry tomatoes on the bottom of each ramekin then put a rasher in each one. Carefully break an egg over each ramekin, taking care to let the white fall in first and keeping the yolk intact. Place them on a baking tray and bake for about 10 -12 minutes, until the egg has settled. Serve straight away with the spicy spuds.
Paul Daniels and Debbie Magee are doing a six date tour of Ireland that kicks off on May 1st.
This piece can also be read in far more reputable publication, The Irish Times where I have a monthly column in the cultural and entertainment guide, The Ticket.