Tuesday, 30 April 2013

chicken liver pâté

Chicken liver pâté

Simple, cheap as chips (cheaper than chips actually!), and one of tastiest things you'll ever cook! That's just how I'd describe this recipe for my chicken liver pâté. No more to be said really, just get cracking, grab some crusty bread, and see if you can stop eating it once you start!

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 150g bacon lardons
  • ½ onion, finely chopped
  • 2 sprigs thyme, leaves only
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 500g chicken livers
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 shot glass brandy (optional but also very necessary!) 
  • 120g softened butter, cubed

For the topping:
  • 110g clarified butter
  • 6 small sprigs of thyme

  1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and cook the bacon, onion, thyme and garlic until the onions have softened and the bacon is cooked (don't colour it).
  2. Add the chicken livers and bay leaves. Turn the heat up a little & cook for about 4 minutes, until the liver is browned on the outside but still soft/pink in the middle.
  3. Pour in the brandy, light it & let it burn off (stand back), then simmer for around 3 minutes.
  4. Take off the heat, take the bay leaves out and leave to stand for a couple of minutes.
  5. Spoon into a food processor and pulse a few times to get a rough pâté look. Add the butter a little at a time and blitz in each time, until it's all well mixed & the pâté is smooth-ish (or to whatever consistency you prefer). Season with salt & pepper if needed (probably won't be, especially if the bacon was smoked).
  6. Divide the mixture between six ramekins/pots/cups/whatever. Allow to cool for a few minutes and stick in the fridge for a couple of hours.
  7. Clarify the butter but placing in a small saucepan over a medium heat until the solids separate (the white stuff). Sieve off through a fine sieve and keep the golden (clarified) liquid butter.
  8. Take the pâté out of the fridge, sit a little sprig of fresh thyme on top of each and cover the pate with a layer of clarified butter. Stick back in the fridge for another 3 or 4 hours.
  9. Eat. Get fat. Don't really worry about that. Eat a bit more.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

review: camden kitchen, dublin 8

One year. One whole year. That's how long it is since I first met my lovely lady. Thankfully I was allowed to give the knife a rest for one evening and head out for dinner to celebrate the occasion. I live in a great part of town, just south of the centre, surrounded by pubs, cafés, and of course restaurants. And so off we went to our favourite: Camden Kitchen.

Camden Kitchen, Dublin 8The restaurant itself is a perfect mix of cool bistro and fine dining, with a comfortable atmosphere; not one of those places where you feel you shouldn't cut your food too loudly. The staff are friendly and attentive, but not overbearing, and are knowledgeable about the lovely food they professionally deliver to the hungry.

The wine list offers a good variety of reds, whites & sparkly stuff, with prices to suit all pockets too: for example, whites range from €23 to €49 a bottle, with most also served by the glass. If you can't choose, just speak to someone for a suggestion based on what you're going to be eating.

And that leads us to the food...

Head chef & owner Padraic Hayden and his small team offer up a veritable feast of what he describes as "Modern European" dishes, locally sourced where possible (including a bit of foraging, fair play), and always seasonal. Big flavours, perfect balances, and presented oh-so-prettily, this is serious food that just won't allow you to stop eating it!

We started off in true celebratory style with a couple of champagne cocktails whilst we mulled over the menu. A Kir Royal for me and a Bellini for her majesty. A bit of fizz is always good for getting the appetite going I reckon - not that we needed any encouragement! They went down veeery well...

We ordered food and water and started trying (unsuccessfully) not to eat all of the lovely bread. Wine was on its way too; a bottle of 2009 Sancerre, Domaine des Brosses, at €39.

Starters arrived and whilst I resisted the temptation to take photos (a personal first), I did resist the temptation to dive in all guns blazing. For around 2 seconds...

Miss Chefilepsy went for the natural smoked haddock croquette, which came served with smoked salmon & spring leaves. Pretty as a picture, and tasty as a very tasty thing indeed. Good job.

I opted for the special: gambas & chorizo with lemon, garlic, croutons & salad leaves. The smell was just amazing, and transported me back to my years living in Spain. And when I say gambas, we're not talking piddling little prawns here. These were serious monsters, served grilled in their shells, and came with a finger bowl for the clean up operation afterwards - good thinking guys! This was a huge portion (I think I counted 10 of these dudes, maybe more); a couple more and it would have made a substantial lunch dish! These beasts are light though so no complaints here. Moreish, full of flavour, and fresh as the proverbial daisy.

Smile planted firmly on my face, onto the main event. Organic salmon fillet, wild garlic gnocchi, clams & cauliflower tempura for me; dry-aged Maurice Kettyle beef rib eye served with ox cheek, potatoes & roasted shallot for the ladyfriend. We'll start with my salmon...

Beautifully just-cooked flesh, crispy skin; just wonderful. The wild garlic gnocchi was a revelation; bright green in colour and piped out like puréed potato with everything sitting atop, the taste was subtle with just enough garlic flavour so as to compliment - not dominate - the rest of the food. The cauliflower was crispy on the outside and cooked perfectly, with a delicate crunch to the vegetable. Overall a lovely, lovely plate of food.

Miss C's rib eye was a more robust looking dish, yet still with the refinement I've come to expect of these top eating joints. Wonderfully juicy and perfectly seasoned, the phrase 'hot knife though butter' comes to mind when it came to cutting a piece off. For those that have yet to try ox cheek, I'd definitely recommend it. It just tastes so... beefy! And tender as you like; this must have been cooked for hours! The dish went down well I think, or so says the lack of, well, anything left on the plate, once the course was over. Another success then.

Camden Kitchen, Dublin 8Spotting our creaking and slight groans, it was suggested that we might want to take a little break before ordering desserts. Good call my man! More wine was sipped and eventually we bit the bullet and ordered.

The puds arrived within a few minutes and as soon as we smelled them, any thoughts of not being able to finish were quickly shown the door.

I often go for the dark chocolate fondant with homemade coconut ice cream & coffee froth, but bowed out this time, opting for the citrus crème brûlée with passion fruit sorbet. Mine turned out to be a great choice; rich yet light, and full of flavour, with the tart sorbet acting as the perfect palate cleanser.

Miss C did go for the fondant, having stared at mine jealously the last couple of times we've been here, and she wasn't disappointed. SO chocolately, this was a textbook fondant, with plenty of rich chocolate oozing out onto the plate. Clean plates all round for a third time.

Time to try and relax; coffee with a cheeky brandy for me, and the remainder of the wine for my better half. We must have still looked peckish somehow, as our server thought it necessary to drop a couple of complimentary lavender & honey Madeleines onto our table. These are one of the standard desserts on offer here so I'm guessing rather than throw them away, it was decided to give them a good home i.e. in our bellies! A nice touch nonetheless.

The bill came, we paid, tipped, and attempted to execute dignified waddling as we shuffled sideways out the door.

All in all this was, as always, a great gastronomical evening of dining. I can't urge you enough to try Camden Kitchen when trying to decide where to go for something just a little bit special; trust me, you'll never be disappointed. With a total spend of €132, this clearly isn't the cheapest bites you'll ever get, but when you think that covered six dishes (SIX!), champagne cocktails, wine (€39 alone, don't forget), coffee, brandy and water, I have to say, that price is a long way off being offensive.

And remember, if you pay Camden Kitchen anything at all, then you'll have just finished one of the best meals you'll have eaten all year. Worth every penny says I.

I'll be back before long I hope; I'm sure my lady & I can think of a good enough excuse, even if it's just that we're hungry...

Camden Kitchen
3A Camden Market
Grantham Street
Dublin 8, Ireland
+353 (1) 476 0125

Sunday, 21 April 2013

spaghetti with crab, lemon & chilli

Spaghetti with crab, lemon & chilli

We're all so busy these days, have you noticed? Too busy to call, too busy to relax, and certainly too busy to cook a meal. Thank The Lord that this dish only takes 10 minutes then!

Simple, tasty, healthy (and my god, moreish), this pasta meal only uses pasta & just a handful of other ingredients, plus the obligatory olive oil of course! Have it for supper, or pile it up as a main course; either way you'll make it again & again!

  • 300g white crab meat
  • Large handful of freshly chopped parsley
  • 1 red chilli, de-seeded & finely chopped
  • Zest & juice of 1 lemon
  • Large clove of garlic, finely sliced
  • 200g spaghetti
  • 3 tbsp olive oil


  1. Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water until al dente (around 8 minutes) and drain.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large frying pan (or sauté pan). Add the crab, parsley, chilli, garlic & lemon zest, and fry gently for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly to mix together & warm through.
  3. Add the remainder of the oil and the lemon juice and cook for a further 2 minutes.
  4. Add the pasta & mix well until coated with the crab sauce.
  5. Serve, eat, say yum a few times...

Serves 2

Thursday, 11 April 2013

seared tuna with tuna tartare, scallops and pak choi salad

Seared tuna with tuna tartare, scallops and pak choi salad

When we talk about cooking with tuna, many of us think of the tinned stuff, in oil, or water, or (more trendy) olive oil. Now, that type of tuna is pretty cool in its own right of course; it's cheap, it's versatile, and it makes a great addition to a salad, stirred into a tomato pasta sauce, or just mixed with some mayonnaise and thrown on toast with tomato & cheese for a quick & comforting classic tuna melt.

For dinner however, the fresh option will give you a whole different experience. Full of essential nutrients, fresh tuna really is something else! The texture is just amazing (the fresher the better), and can even be eaten raw (think sashimi), and the fish lends itself brilliantly well to Asian flavours.

Price-wise, it clearly costs more than the tinned variety, but is worth every penny, and really won't break the bank - and why should it?! A little goes a long way, and I've designed this recipe to show off a couple of ways to make the most of tuna and its beautiful qualities. As a light lunch or a swanky starter, it's all good. Enjoy!


For the seared tuna
  • 1 piece of fresh tuna (around 350g is plenty for 4 people)
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp clear honey
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds

For the tuna tartare
  • 150g fresh tuna, diced into very small pieces (the smaller the better)
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp clear honey
  • ½ lime, juice only
  • 1 spring onion, finely chopped
  • ½ green chilli, finely chopped
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper

For the scallops
  • 8 scallops, corals removed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

For the pak choi salad
  • 2 pak choi, cleaned and thinly sliced
  • ½ lime, juice only
  • Small handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ green chilli, finely chopped
  • Handful of beansprouts
  • 3 or 4 radishes, very finely sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • 1 tbsp clear honey

  1. First make the marinade for the tuna. Whisk the soy sauce, honey & sesame oil together in a bowl and place the tuna in, ensuring it gets a good coating. Leave for at least 5 minutes to soak up the flavours.
  2. Next make the dressing for the salad. Mix everything together apart from the pak choi (reserve a small amount of coriander for garnish). Set to one side.
  3. For the tuna tartare, mix all the ingredients together, seasoning to taste.
  4. To finish the seared tuna, remove from the marinade and coat in the sesame seeds. Heat a griddle pan (or non-stick frying pan) until hot, add a small amount of olive oil and carefully place the tuna in the pan. Sear on all sides and remove to rest for a couple of minutes. The whole cooking process there should only take around 2-3 minutes in total, and don't panic of some of the seeds  burn a little; they just add to the flavour & textures!
  5. For the scallops, season lightly with salt & freshly ground black pepper. Heat the oil in a frying pan until hot and cook the scallops for 30 - 60 seconds on each side, until they colour & start to caramelise slightly.
  6. Finish the salad by adding the pak choi to the dressing, making sure everything gets a good coating.
  7. To serve, place a small pile of salad on a plate. Next, slice the tuna into pieces no more than 1cm thick and place on top of the salad. Put 2 good spoonfuls of the tuna tartare on the plate and place a scallop on top of each. Finally, spoon over a little of the salad dressing and sprinkle over some of the reserved coriander.
  8. Take photos, eat, smile, wonder how you didn't make this earlier...
Serves 4.

Special mention once again to the guys at Kish Fish for supplying the tuna & scallops. You rock!

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

monkfish wrapped in prosciutto with scallops, wilted spinach and tomato & basil sauce

Monkfish wrapped in prosciutto with scallops, wilted spinach and tomato & basil sauce

Easter was upon us last weekend, and that all kicked off with Good Friday. Now for me, Good Friday is a bit of a tale of two stories. On the one hand the pubs are closed and we can't get hold of a pint during a long weekend, which just seems plain unfair. On the other hand though, we can stick with tradition and eat fish! Thanks yet again to the guys at Kish Fish, and even more so actually, as monkfish was one of their weekly specials!

Monkfish is just great; one of my definite favourites, and lovely and meaty, so it can take a good roasting, yet is still light enough to handle a strong sauce. I wrapped mine in prosciutto ham, but you can use serrano, parma ham, or even good old streaky bacon.

  • 200g piece of monkfish tail
  • 3-4 slices prosciutto ham (or an alternative - see above)
  • Olive oil
  • 6 scallops, corals removed
  • Knob of butter
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For the spinach:
  • 2 bags baby spinach
  • Olive oil

For the sauce:
  • 1 small punnet of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3-4 spring onions, roughly chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • Half a dozen fresh basil leaves, roughly torn
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

  1. Preheat the oven to 220C (fan 200C) / 425F / gas mark 7.
  2. Carefully wrap the monkfish in the ham & season with black pepper.
  3. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in an oven-proof frying pan until hot, add the fish and brown on all sides (around 1 minutes on each side should do it).
  4. Transfer the pan to the middle shelf of the oven and roast the fish for around 8 minutes or so, until the fish is cooked all the way through.
  5. Remove from the oven (be careful, it'll be very hot), place on a board and cover loosely with foil to rest for 5-7 minutes.
  6. While the fish is resting, make the sauce. Heat the oil in a small frying pan over a medium high heat and add the garlic & spring onion. Fry for a couple of minutes until softened.
  7. Add the cherry tomatoes and basil, and cook for around 3 minutes. The tomatoes will start to break down and go mushy.
  8. That's the sauce done & can be served as it is, but I blitzed mine with a hand blender until smooth - entirely up to you!
  9. Place the spinach & oil in a saucepan over a medium heat, place the lid on the pan and cook until wilted down, stirring every 30 seconds or so. Drain through a sieve or colander.
  10. For the scallops, add 1 tbsp olive oil to a small frying pan along with a knob of butter, and heat until hot (but not smoking). Season your scallops with a little salt & freshly ground black pepper and add to the pan. Cook for 30 - 60 seconds, until they start to brown & caramelise, then turn and cook for the same time on the other side.
  11. To serve, place the spinach in a neat pile in the centre of the plate, lay slices of the monkfish on top and drizzle a little sauce over. Put 3 more small dollops of sauce around the plate and sit the scallops on top.
  12. Eat, smile, tell all your friends...
Serves 2.