Smoked Haddock Buckoulibiac

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Smoked Haddock Buckoulibiac, with beetroot hummus

After a February outing to the north-west shores of co. Sligo, looking for Barnacle Geese, I was trying to find a dish reflecting the Polar circle, something with Northern flavours I guess; I got inspired by “ Coulibiac”, a salmon and rice dish in puff pastry from Russia but quite popular in Scandinavia. I used instead Smoked Haddock from West Cork, and a buckwheat flaky pastry to reflect my Breton origins. I also made it to a size that could be easily brought for a picnic, after a long winter stroll birdwatching along the west coast of Ireland, for example that is… Here it goes folks!

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Bipolar

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Yellow Strand Sligo

I have been putting it off for a while, or rather meant to do it for some times and somewhat forgot; Well over twenty years now in fact. But the other day, the idea of going on a wild goose chase, travelling to the north west of the island to witness the wonderful ballet of Barnacle Geese, had been resuscitated by my friend Jonathan Shackleton. I must have mentioned it in one of our conversations, and as he was soon to be heading back to Antarctica for another few weeks’ round as a guide and lecturer, time was ticking, and by the time he’d come back, they would probably be gone back to Greenland. He rang me a couple of days before to confirm, and Sunday last, we finally went.

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Buckwheat Breton Cookies ” Mullingar”

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Buckwheat Breton Cookies with Basque cider

When I am looking for a bit of inspiration, especially for a recipe, I like to go for a stroll; it could be a walk in the forest, a spin in my car, you get the idea. Yesterday, I decided to drive to Mullingar, I needed to go for a haircut, and get some Buckwheat flour. I drove the back roads, through the vast turf plains of the midlands, barren and stripped to the bone in a less romantic way that one might be used to, but it gave me a colour to start my story…

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Monkfish Forestière

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Monkfish “Forestière”…

Like I was saying in my latest story “The Juice”, the last time I have done this recipe, was eighteen years ago; I was a cook in Galway’s Nimmo’s Wine Bar… Eighteen years, boom! That went in a flash! I don’t really know why I haven’t done it again until last week, and today, I decided to share it with you. A personal creation when as a young cook, I realised that Monkfish goes very well with Earthy flavours. On this beautiful Friday evening, I hope you will enjoy it as much as “Long Walk” wine bar’s customers did all these years ago…

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“The Juice”

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Service please! ( photo shoot at The Forge – Meath).

You’d be thinking, with a title like that, we are going to get another kale smoothie or a healthy drink for guilty January… Not a chance! “The Juice”, is the French slang word for “busy”. It can be used in two different ways: “I am in the juice”, meaning that you are very busy, loads of work, bang-bang, can’t talk too much but you can manage, you are in control… On the other hand when you say ( and this could be very Breton) “ I have taken a juice”, means that tunnel vision has taken over, you have lost that control and start focusing on the one thing, while the situation around you gets more and more critical. Right now, I can only think of three professions where “Juice intake” can have various consequences. If you “take a juice” while at the helm of a plane, you and your passengers better hope that your co-pilot spots the symptoms early, or it could have a dramatic outcome. Same with air traffic controllers I guess. If you work in a call centre and start to feel overwhelmed by the volume of people treating you like a human carpet, you might want to take five, before you tell someone to go eat a lemon, which could get you an early P45 ( the end of employment form in Ireland). Then they are the cooks and the chefs; “Taking a juice” is just not an option, even if you might hear stories, it’s not ok… The phrase “it happened to all of us” is not ok… That sentence of fake empathy echoing “it’s not your fault… It’s not your fault” … You don’t know what it feels like, but I know… It happened to me once, eighteen years ago; time to face your demons Franckie Boy, time to share it with the world…

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Young Buck Risotto

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Young Buck Risotto

I think I have been sleeping for the passed three days; I know that when I went to Dublin last Monday, I wasn’t feeling too hot and by Wednesday, I was migrating from bed to sofa. A simple bug, nothing serious, but all the fatigue I had accumulated in December finally got the better of me. In my diurnal oneiric deliriums, I had some pretty crazy adventures; I roamed far and wide, met interesting people and discovered wonderful lands only known to me. I travelled back in time revisiting simple moments of peace and happiness, the beach of Erdeven and the glistening of its ocean when the winds come from the East, an apple cake cooling on the kitchen windowsill of the old school we lived in, my little sister falling in a ditch while playing hide and seek in the forest of Broceliande… I woke up feeling temporarily restored, recharged like an I-phone after hours on life support, refreshed but hungry. While I was dwelling about the reality of the irrational, another memory came back to me. When I was a kid, and only if I was sick, the recovery dish was always rice, with butter and lemon juice. Sometimes with a bit of fish or ham, but often just like that; it made me smile and I started thinking.

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