Posted on: 27 April 2012 1 comment


For eager and ambitious comics seeking fame and fortune, Edinburgh is their Mecca. The annual fringe festival can literally make or break an aspiring comedian.  So when I caught up with the wonderful Isy Suttie whose “Pearl & Dave” show stormed it last year, I requested some advice for Edinburgh bound funsters. “Don’t stay on a campsite to try and save money, as you will get hammered and miss your show because you can’t charge your phone and your alarm doesn’t go off. Do go and see stuff other than comedy to remind yourself there’s a whole festival on” Wise words.

Many of you will recognize Isy from her role as Dobby in Channel 4’s Peep Show but it is her own creation Pearl & Dave that has garnered much deserved praise. A true life, bittersweet modern tale of how a friend of hers found love online and her part in it all. Should she wish to turn her hand to a more auto biographical performance, she could perhaps include how her own boyfriend named a certain dish after her. One from quite a small culinary repertoire actually, “I can only cook two things and that’s one of them, so if someone who comes round who doesn’t like Isy’s Salmon or chicken Kievs, there’s trouble.” Future dinner guests, you have been warned.




2 wild Salmon fillets

1 packet of thin noodles

12 baby spinach leaves

1 tablespoon of freshly chopped coriander

6 baby corns

12 mange tout

2 garlic cloves

2 red chillies

1 tablespoon of freshly chopped coriander

1 tablespoon of sesame oil

1 tablespoon of soy sauce

1 teaspoon of oyster sauce

1 teaspoon of Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce

1 lime


Cook your noodles according to packet instructions, drain and let them sit in iced cold water to prevent further cooking. Rinse all the veg and coriander and pat it dry. Finely slice the garlic and chillies and then cut the baby corns in half, vertically. Heat the oil in a hot wok. Fry the salmon fillets skin side down until crispy and then flip them over and cook on the other side. When they’re done, put them on a plate to rest with a cover over them to keep them warm.

Start frying the veg with the corn and mange tout with a 30 second stir. Then add in the garlic and chillies and stir for another 30 seconds. Bring all the liquid ingredients and combine with veg. Strain the noodles again and bring them into the wok, stir in the spinach and coriander. Plate it all up into two portions and place a salmon fillet on top of each serving. Garnish the salmon with lime wedges and some more freshly chopped coriander.

Isy Suttie takes her Pearl & Dave show to The Black Box in Belfast on May 17th and to The Sugar Club, Dublin on the 18th of May.

PS Doing this recipe was a real treat. Peep Show is my all time favourite TV comedy. I won’t accept that Curb Your Enthusiasm or any other show is better so don’t try to argue with me – Peep Show is the bollix. End of story. And that scene with Dobby and Mark in the stationery cupboard is GOLD!

This recipe can also be read in today’s copy of The Irish Times.

The Indian Take Away Challenge

Posted on: 20 April 2012 No comments

Many of you reading this right now, will have no doubt tasted a Burdock’s Fish & Chips. The crispy batter, vinegar drenched fried spuds and lovely moist fish – a timelessly tasty essential. A smaller proportion of you will have at some point attempted to recreate that culinary delight and more than likely, failed  miserably.  You may not have realized that to get your pommes frites to the same level you get from a chippie you need to soak them in water, then fry them once, let them cool off and then fry them again later. You may not have realized that the oil the fish is fried in also has lard or beef dripping in it thus giving everything an extra big fuck off on the flavour department.

Of course it doesn’t end there. Making your own pizzas can be grand if you’ve just bought the bases but if you make your own dough, fuhgedaboutit. If you don’t have a bread mixer you will have to bust your chops kneading the dough for at least half an hour and your first few attempts will always disappoint. The dough is bound to be either too thick or too thin or you will fuck up the cooking of it and be left with a half arsed calzone.  The challenge of attempting a take away is never easy. It is with those sentiments in mind that I received a call from The Tom Dunne Show on Newstalk 106 when they asked me could I attempt an Indian Take Away.  In typical idiotic form, I agreed to it.

As I always say cooking is simply just using the mistakes of others,  so if you want to make something like a Chicken Tikka Masala, learn from the following errors I’ve made:

- Don’t use any type of oil when frying up your sauce. The ideal product to use is a clarified butter called, ghee. Of course even saying the word in a food store will bring you endless child like pleasure but it has other uses. The strong dairy taste off it is one of the defining tastes of a tikka masala. If you can’t get any ghee (insert immature giggle here), just use some good butter.

- If you want to try to emulate that great tandoori flavour you will need to barbecue or at least grill your chicken. Don’t fry it. That tastes lame.

- When I was checking out recipes, most sites seemed to overlook having to add some kind of sweetness yet they all featured turmeric. The great thing about this spice is the rich colour but for me it always sucks any sugars out of a dish. You need to counteract that with ideally coconut powder or a bit of golden sugar.  But coconut powder was revealed to me by a few different sources and it’s wicked.

- Should you wish to recreate that seriously red, gloopiness that you get in more dodgy massalas then don’t try to do it naturally with tomato paste, it’ll only end up tasting like a bad ragu. If you really want that mad glow in the dark orangey red, just use food dye.



6 cubed chicken fillets

250 ml of plain yoghurt

2 teaspoons of chili powder

2 tablespoons of grated garlic

2 tablespoons of grated ginger

1 teaspoon of garam masala

1/4 teaspoon of turmeric

the juice of 1 lime and half a lemon

1/2 teaspoon of liquid smoke – I got this in the states and it’s deadly. Buy it online here. It helps to give the tandoori buzz.

1/2 teaspoon of salt

Combine the whole lot up and lash it onto the cubed chicken. Let it marinade overnight.


1.5 tablespoons of ghee (get this in any good Asian store, if you can’t get it then just use 2 tablespoons of butter)

2 tomatoes, blanched and then skinned, deseeded and finely chopped

1 finely chopped onion

1 teaspoon of grated ginger

1 teaspoon of grated garlic

1/2 teaspoon of garam masala

1 tablespoon of tomato paste

1 teaspoon of ground coriander

1.5 teaspoons of coconut powder (get this in any good Asian store)

500 ml of cream

1 tablespoon of fresh chopped coriander


Skewer your chicken and barbecue or grill it until golden and slightly charred.


Heat up your ghee (insert more immature giggles here) and fry up the onions until soft but not caramelized. Add in the tomatoes and paste and gently fry it up for a minute or so. Then add in the garlic, ginger and spices and stir for another 5 minutes on a low heat. If it gets too dry and starts to stick, lob in a tablespoon of water. Stir in the coconut powder and then about half of the cream. If you like the consistency of your sauce to be smooth, then blitz it with a soup blender. Once you’re done, throw in the rest of the cream and stir until it’s nice and hot but don’t let it boil. Drop in the chicken, heat that through and serve it up. Garnish with some freshly chopped coriander. Serve with some rice and a decent smooth beer.


I didn’t have the time this week to attempt the onion bhaji, but I’ll be giving it a lash this weekend and sticking it up on this post on Monday. Stay tuned to Tom’s show when I’ll be chatting to himself about the whole exercise. If you genuinely follow these instructions you will be grand, I made a good few fuck ups to get it down but I’m happy with the final outcome.


Having never made on onion bhajii before, I had to throw out the net and ask for tips on this one. The wonderful Aoife McElwain whose food blog contains some amazing and very well executed recipes was a big help.  This is her original recipe here and half of what I did came from it.  And the chef and caterer Aine Maguire asked a Bangladeshi restaurateur friend of hers for some inside tips. That info turned out to be great. So basically Aoife & Aine sorted this one out for me as it’s a mish mash of both their efforts. Many thanks!

Any of the ingredients that you don’t recognize can be purchased at The Asian Food Store on Drury Street


1 large Spanish Onion

125 g of gram flour

1/2 teaspoon of baking powder

3 tablespoons of dried fenugreek leaves

1 tablespoon of ajwain seeds

1 teaspoon of ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon of salt

175 ml of cold water

Vegetable or Sunflower Oil for frying – deep fry if you can. Otherwise pan fry with about half an inch in the pan.


Sieve the flour and baking soda into a mixing bowl. Grind the ajawain seeds in a pestle and mortar for about a minute just to activate their flavours, which incidentally are amazing. Never used them before, a real revelation. Combine the cumin, salt, fenugreek leaves and ajwain seeds into the bowl and mix. Then you add in the water and beat it all into a batter.

You then need to get a mandolin to thinly slice the onion. When that’s all done, squeeze out the moisture from the onion by placing them onto paper towels. You then drop the onion into the bowl and mix it all up with the batter.


If you don’t have a mandolin to slice the onion, sort it out and buy one. They’re brilliant but take care when using. They can be quite lethal as both myself and my Uncle Jimmy can tell you – he ended up in A&E after a nasty cut.

Start making the bhajis into the size you want. If you can, use a deep fat fryer as it’s a lot easier and more consistent. With a deep fat fryer, turn it up to 180 and fry til golden. If you’re pan frying, heat it up on a medium level with about half an inch of vegetable or sunflower oil. As always with frying roadtest the heat with whatever you’re cooking – drop a bit of battered onion into the oil to see how you’re doing.  Not too hot or cold.


A couple of completed onion bhajis garnished with more fenugreek leaves and lemon.

Serve this as a starter with a squeeze of lemon and some mango chutney on the side. Winesnobs would have you drinking some full bodied red. The only full bodied red you should be enjoying with an Indian is the Ginger you’ve got in the sack with you afterwards, or during if you like mixing your pleasures. I love Indian meals with a stiff gin beforehand and some cold beers or ales with them.  Try some O’Hara’s Pale Ale with your next Indian, real smooth.

Pink Chocolate Salty Balls – Stick ‘em in your mouth and…

Posted on: 13 April 2012 No comments

Most men will pretty much do anything to get laid.  While this  has been documented many times over, my favourite demonstration of this massive failing in the male character, is  depicted beautifully in a particular episode of Peep Show. The show’s two main characters Mark and Jeremy are both very keen on a couple of ladies and are prepared to endure a horrible new age dance workshop where their female targets will be in attendance. Mark’s total lack of affiliation with anything to do with sensitive, tree huggers leads him to an embarrassing incident, where he makes a complete dick of himself in front of the whole class.  He does however, make a very impressive plea to the beatnik flower children:

“I’m sorry if you presume I eat red meat and don’t necessarily think money or Tony Blair are a bad thing. But if there isn’t room here for people who stand against everything you believe in, then what sort of a hippie free for all is this?”

This is a sublime piece of writing and a line that pops into my head all the time, especially when I’m trying to force myself to keep an open mind on something.  Like, what in the fuck is so special with pink Himalayan rock salt? And what in the fuck can I do with it?  I mean, we all know that salt with lots of minerals in it is meant to be good for you and all, but why bother with something so plain as salt when it has to travel so far? Well I’ve come up with a perfect use for it.  If you put some on top of white chocolate you can make something that looks a lot like a nipple. Thus giving you free reign to be extremely childish and name a dish called:



2 Bars of daycent white chocolate

1 teaspoon of Himalayan pink salt


Any excuse to try out new choccie is good in my book. This is great gear. Couldn’t find any Irish white choccie though?


Put some water into a pot and place a glass or stainless steel bowl on top of it. Make sure the bowl is bone dry.

Break up the chocolate into little bits and begin the process of melting it all by turning the heat onto a low level.  Meanwhile, take a confectionery tray that has nice round molds in it (I bought one for a fiver the other day in Kitchen Complements on Chatham Street) and olace a tiny bit of the pink salt into each one.


Your nipple like salty balls are nearly there

Stir the chocolate consistently until it’s all melted and smooth. Then pour it into your molds and stick the tray in the fridge. Within about an hour your pink chocolate salty balls are good to go.


Stick ‘em in your mouth and suck ‘em. I know this looks like something from Eurotrash but I personally don’t have a problem with that.


15 August 2014


21 July 2014


30 May 2014

Little J’s Slow Cooked Ribs

25 April 2014

Jason & Brenda Byrne’s Veggie Chilli

21 March 2014

Omar’s Jamaican Stew Chicken

21 February 2014