Summer Mussel Soup

A light mussel, asparagus and fresh pea broth, infused with the flavours of south-east Asia

summer mussel soup

You don’t normally associate the summer months with soup making, especially broths. At this time of year the only soup you’re probably hoping to make is a chilled one to cool yourself off as the mercury rises. I love an iced soup on a hot summers day and have a few in my repertoire. Unfortunately it never really gets hot enough here in Dublin to make any of them. The summer’s not over yet so I live in hope!

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How To Make Fish Stock

Every cook should know how to make a good fish stock, its quick, easy and free. Well almost. The only cost is the price of a few vegetables, a glass of white wine, and a half  hour of your time.

ingredients for fish stock

If you’ve ever wondered why the sauces in top restaurants always taste just a little better than what you cook at home the fact that they make their own stock probably plays a part. That and the use of large amounts of butter, salt and cream. Us restaurant chefs are trained to be a bit heavy-handed with these ingredients.

Making some stocks is like looking after a child, they require constant love and attention. You’ve got to roast the bones and make sure the don’t burn. Chop and roast the vegetables. Bring everything to the boil and simmer in gently for eight hours skimming off any impurities all the time. And even then you’re not finished, because it need to be strained and reduced.

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Champagne Glazed Strawberries With Vanilla Ice Cream

You know summer has finally arrive in Ireland when you see locally grown strawberries hit the markets around the beginning of June.

strawberries with champagne

During the long winter months we’re forced to eat expensive and tasteless imports flown in from god knows where. I never really bother with them especially at  €5 for a small 200g punnet. Although they look pretty and can add a splash of colour to a dessert plate in the middle of December they can’t compare to the sweet and juicy homegrown ones that are so abundant right now the shops are practically giving them away.

Theres a real glut of them on the market by early July and it’s definitely a case of supply exceeding demand. I managed to pick up all the berries for this recipe soooo cheap. At just €1.25 for a large 300g punnet I bought so many I’ve been on a bit of a strawberry bender. I’ve been chopping them up and putting them in my breakfast cereal in the morning, making delicious smoothies, and devouring them with a nice dollop of cream.

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Mackerel Escabèche

Mackerel Escabèche – Fillets of fresh mackerel poached in a vinaigrette flavoured with balsamic, saffron, and spices.

mackerel escabeche

I need help for my mackerel addiction. My infatuation with this fish has been going on for a while now and I can’t see it ending anytime soon. It’s just so tasty and cheap that if I see some freshly caught fillets sitting on a fish counter they somehow magically end up in my shopping basket.

I realise that not everybody shares my craving for this cheap and sustainable seafood. I’ve tried putting in on menus in various restaurants where I worked over the years and it’s never been a great seller.

People just don’t know what they’re missing. Mackerel is packed with omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, as well as b vitamins to boost your immune system, and is a known antioxidant. Read More

Mussels With Cider And Speck

The one must have to go along with this recipe is a big, crusty loaf of bread. You’ll need it to mop up all the sweet, briny juice that collects at the bottom of the bowl once you’ve finished devouring all the mussels.

mussels with cider and speck

This is a take on the french classic moules marinière. The cool thing about mussels is that there cheap, cook quickly, and are a sustainable form of aquaculture.

If you reckon you don’t like mussels then try my gratinated mussels in garlic butter. It’s another classic and the dish that turned me on to them when my uncle cooked it for me as a teenager. Shell fish and garlic butter, you can’t really go wrong! And that’s the aroma you get wafting through your kitchen when you start to cook this too. The smell of garlic been gently cooked in olive oil really gets the juices flowing.

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Buying Fresh Fish – Don’t Waste Your Money On Last Weeks Catch

When I’m cooking a piece of fresh fish for my dinner I like to imagine it was swimming around in the briny sea that very morning, or at least within the last 24 hours. So you can imagine my disappointment when I opened up some mackerel I’d just bought at the supermarket to find some fillets that were a bit smelly, dry and a little past their best.

I’d failed to follow the advice I’m about to give you here. Not only that, but i’d gotten a bit bamboozled at the fish counter.

how to buy fresh fish

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