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Showing posts from March, 2014

Steam power.

The less you mess about with fish the better. Proof: (a) the Japanese eat it raw, and (b) turning salmon into mousse and stuffing it into a salmon mould is not as popular as it was in the 1980s. I have to point out that the dishes was so common it was frequently served at open-air luncheons with the temperature in the high 20s and the table in the sun ... If you don't fancy raw fish, steaming might be the the next best thing. Despite the fondness I occasionally display for the food I ate as a child, the fish I was served was quite often cooked Cajun-style, but without the exotic spices: blackened. It might have been my fault. I always came in late for dinner. The other night I steamed some firm white flesh fillets in foil in the oven using a few Asian flavour enhancements. Oven-steamed fish. Take your fish fillets, lay them in some double-folded foil, and add some finely grated ginger, a splash of soy sauce, a splash of mirin or rice wine, and a couple of finely chopped spr

A shorter history of table decoration.

Trends come and go, some faster than others. In some cases, keep the original article and you won't have to buy another every time it comes back into fashion. You'll save a fortune. Take table decoration. There are three types of people in the world. People who dine on tablecloths, those who use placemats, and others who eat from plates set on the naked table top. I have been each of these at various times, but returned to the first category thanks to my collection of retro tablecloths. The collection includes cloths of Irish linen that are virtually indestructible. Tablecloths went out of fashion somewhere around 1970; the only ones you could buy subsequent to that were horrible cheap imports that pilled when you looked at them, or bunched up exasperatingly when you moved a plate. They also lost several shades of colour after one hour on the clothesline after the first wash. By contrast, the earlier ones were so heavy you had to starch them and the colours in the retro-pat

Golden brown potato pancakes.

Tuesday night was pancake night and this year we made potato pancakes for a savoury change. It’s usually maple syrup, or lemon and sugar, or blueberry and ice-cream or even mandarin segments and lemon yogurt. The pancakes were crunchy and delicious. They have to be cooked well to develop that crisp, salty, potato flavour, like classic potato cakes from old-style fish and chip shops. Next morning, the children were walked over to the church at ten o'clock from their classrooms for the Ash Wednesday mass. The school principal had invited parents and grandparents to attend if they were free. The priest distributed the ashes. Towards the end of the service, a phone rang. Or, to be more precise, it chirped. Whoever owned the phone had made its ring tone a bird's noise. In the church, it sounded odd, like someone had brought their pet budgerigar along. Some people looked around. A woman at the end of the pew in front of the one I was in put her hand into a handbag and pulled