Today With Pat Kenny
The mid-morning current affairs magazine with the stories of the day, sharp analysis, in-depth features and consumer interest
The mid-morning current affairs magazine with the stories of the day, sharp analysis, in-depth features and consumer interest
It has emerged that the son of a former TD has been arrested by Gardai on the case of a plot to murder three people.
Paul Williams is following the story for the Irish Independent and he joined Pat this morning.
IFA president John Bryan on why his organisation is opposed to farm assets being included in the means test for third level grants.
His parents are neuroscientists who read him Huxley at bedtime. No wonder Josh Ritter has a way with words – now adopted as one of our own – his latest album called ‘The Beast in it’s Tracks’ has just been released and I’m delighted to say he’s with us this morning. It’s a very personal album about the breakup of his marriage but it’s not a dark album. He came into talk to us and play us a tune this morning.
The Oscar nominated Argo told the true story of a pretend film production at the centre of hair brained escape plot to get free 6 American Embassy employees from Iran in 1979. Produced by George Clooney and Directed by Ben Affleck, who also plays the role of Antonio Mendez who masterminded the escape.
Matt Baglio co-authored the original book Argo with Mendez and he spoke to Pat this morning.
Venezuela's revolution has no gulags, no torture chambers, but in wasted potential lies tragedy. Provoking adoration and revulsion in equal measure, Hugo Chávez is a leader like no other. He can boast genuine accomplishments. He put poverty and social exclusion at the forefront of debate. He made millions feel they had an ally in government. And he called time on US browbeating in Latin America. But the price was high – Gutted institutions, a caudillo (strongman) cult, and economic dysfunction. In his new book, Comandante, acclaimed journalist Rory Carroll sheds light on the inside story of Chavez’s life and his political court in Caracas.
It was an extraordinary week with two stories dominating the news agenda - in Rome yesterday we had the extraordinary image of the Swiss Guards leaving their post at Castel Gondolfo at exactly 7 pm local time marking the symbolic end of the papacy of Benedict XVI. While here at home the week has been dominated by unions giving their reaction to the Croke Park extension document.
Joining Pat to take a look back at the week Liam Doran, General Secretary of the INMO; Jill Kirby, personal finance columnist with the Sunday Times; Patsy McGarry, religious correspondnet of the Irish Times and barrister Maria Steen from the Iona Institute .
Well many of you will have been encouraged by the appearance of a little daylight over the past couple of days. Some of you may have even had a glimpse – just a glimpse – of sunshine. The daffodils are all but out and it appears that the dark, dank, wet winter has finally shown us its back. Hopefully. So with boundless optimism, what about doing a couple of recipes from sunnier climes.
Pat was joined by food writer Mei Chin.
Black beans, chorizo, and rice plus avocado, pineapple, and coriander guacamole.
Note on chorizo: Maria Rosa used soft Spanish chorizo, what the Spaniards call “cooking” chorizo, available at Fallon and Byrne (La Demoncacion, fresh chorizo Iberico). Soft Mexican chorizo at is at Morton’s (raw, unsmoked) and Ed Hick sausages does a soft raw version also. I like a generous amount of chorizo if you can find the soft kind, so that it is an equal balance of meat and beans. You can feel free to adjust.
However, substituting the harder, Spanish chorizo, slice thinly and use 150 grams – it should be there only to flavor the beans.
RECIPE (for 2-3 persons but can be doubled/tripled)
½ onion finely diced
½ sweet, long red pepper, finely diced
½ a Serrano chile, finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
handful of coriander stems, finely minced
300 grams soft Spanish chorizo (see note)
1 tin black beans, liquid drained and reserved
6 cherry tomatoes
juice of one lime (optional)
handful of coriander, chopped.
Start all above ingredients in cold oil, add a pinch of salt, and let soften for 3-4 minutes, over medium high heat. Then add soft chorizo, see note above, and let cook until well browned and giving off its juices. (5-6 minutes) Add cherry tomatoes, quartered, (cherry tomatoes are better flavored this time of year) or ½ can of diced tomatoes, and then one can of black beans, drained, plus 2 tbsp of reserved bean water. Let simmer until the beans are heated through. If you want your beans to hold their shape, this is brief, 3-4 minutes maximum (I prefer this.) If you want your beans thicker, you can let it go for as long as ten minutes, adding more water/bean water as necessary. Taste for seasoning – if it doesn’t come together, add more salt. Stir in half a handful of minced coriander and the lime juice.
Avocado and pineapple guacamole.
(Note I haven’t been able to find pre-prepped pineapple, so I use a quarter, and then save the rest for breakfast.)
¼ pineapple, finely diced
1 avocado, diced
¼ red onion (from leftovers above)
two-three handfuls of coriander leaves, chopped.
Combine above with dash of sea salt, two tsp of honey, juice from one lime, and a slug of olive oil. There will probably be more than you need, but most people are happy to eat it as a salad as well as a garnish.
To assemble, either have rice (to do it properly, steam with a bit of bacon rind) and/or flour tortillas. Additional garnishes – coriander, crème fraiche minced red onion and queso fresco/feta cheese. Especially when this is for more than two people, I like serving this family style, this way people can assemble just the way they like it.)
Probably one of the first “Mexican” dishes that blew my mind. I grew up on the east coast, where they were not as readily available as in California. Also I didn’t know that fish and seafood were staples in certain parts of Mexico. This is gorgeous, sunny day, surfer, street food. You eat them from stands, standing up, on the beach. I crave them constantly.
The version of fish tacos that I am used to eating, when I am outside, is deep fried, and often the fish is tilapia, not a fish that I particularly enjoy. I love the deep fried, but find that it’s lovely, and less time-consuming (as well as healthier) to roast or sear your non-tilapia fish. But seriously, if you want to deep fry your fish, you should feel free to. Both ways are delicious.
For 2-3 people (can be doubled/tripled again)
500 grams of firm white fleshed fish – halibut, swordfish, and monkfish ideal or cod. Otherwise the same marinade/recipe can be used with shrimp. Or poured over a seared tuna steak. (see Variations)
½ juice orange
2 glugs of olive oil
handful of coriander well chopped
2 cloves garlic finely minced
1/8 red or green cabbage
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp honey
2 lime, juiced
generous handful of coriander, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
About 1/2 hour before, toss fish, cut in two inch cubes by four inch cubes with the juice of one orange, 2 glugs of olive oil, two crushed cloves of garlic, squeeze of lime, and a healthy pinch of sea salt, and a handful of chopped coriander. My favorite is the super firm white fish, like monkfish or halibut, cod or hake will suffice – just keep in mind that it flakes easier. Also, in terms of presentation, the loins of the cod (the center bit) holds better together when it is cooked.
Shred 1/8 head of red cabbage and salt generously. Let stand. (Note about cabbage – you can certainly do more, and if you love raw cabbage salad, then it will be a treat.)
Preheat the oven to 250 and set the rack on the highest. Essentially you are broiling the fish.
Drain any water that might have accumulated in the cabbage and toss with 1 tbsp honey, pinch of salt, juice of two limes, a handful of coriander, and a glug of olive oil. Taste for seasoning, it should be pleasantly sweet/salty/sour. You can also put some asian flavors into it, a dash of fish sauce or a glug of sesame oil. The other thing I like to add is chopped almonds.
(Note: sometimes I just salt the cabbage and use fresh, without the dressing. Currently I like the mixture of flavors, but sometimes I like the plainness of straight raw cabbage. Also, it’s a lot easier.)
When the oven is blazing hot, put fish into the oven and let cook for 10 minutes. The fish should not be overcooked, in fact ideally it should almost be raw in the center. You will know when it is done when you smell it cooking, and it should begin to be a little golden on top, and flaking on the outside. Squeeze the juice of half a lime on top.
Preheat corn tortillas, either on the stove, just flip one side, and then the other, or in a microwave with a damp kitchen towel for 1 minute. Tortillas should be flexible and warm.
Dice one avocado and toss with a pinch of salt and olive oil.
Variations: I love yellowfin tuna, a little pricey but richer, so it will go further. Keep the tuna as a whole steak, and instead of roasting, sear like a steak, but only for 2 minutes per side.
The tuna should be quite rare. Then pour the orange/lime/garlic marinade and let sit as you assemble the rest. Slice the tuna against the grain and use as below.
Also, shrimp, preferably fresh, that you have peeled and deveined, goes wonderfully in this dish. Throw in the marinade as you did the white fish, and cook, only start checking after five minutes.
Or deep fry your fish in your favorite batter. I use either a tempura batter (corn starch and soda water) or a beer batter. You should try this at least once, for it is wonderful. I especially like it with cod or hake.
To assemble, put tortilla, then cabbage salad, then three cubes of fish (or three slices of seared yellow fin), a sprinkling of avocado, and slash of crème fraiche and a squeeze of lime. Also, I like to sprinkle each with a bit of flaked sea salt – it brings out the flavor. Alternatively, you can serve family style, and have everyone assemble themselves, but this way it is prettier. There should be at least two tortillas per person, at least to begin with.
CHICKEN TORTILLA SOUP
Fried tortilla garnish. When I was a child, my favorite Chinese soups often involved a deep fried garnish (chow mein noodles, deep fried rice crisps, deep fried julienned potatoes) with broth ladled on top. You can do the same with the fried tortilla strips, pile them at the bottom of the bowl, and when the steaming hot soup is ladled on top, they make the most wonderful popping and hissing noise.
Personally, I like a very rich base without the work, which means that I actually purchase high quality chicken stock (this is expensive but worth it, I get mine at Fallon and Byrne) and braise chicken thighs in it for at least an hour, up to three. (I love a twenty-hour stock, but I rarely have the time.) I then remove the meat and let the bones continue simmering in the broth while I assemble the rest of the soup. Also I use chicken thighs, which are cheaper, but which I prefer, because they are more flavorful and richer in flavor, and add body. But if you prefer chicken breast meat, use that instead, but remove it from the broth after ½ an hour.
You can vary this soup, depending on what vegetables you have on hand. In the summer, the vegetables can be the star. For instance, I use frozen sweetcorn here –preferable when it is out of season. Definitely when sweetcorn is in season, you should use fresh.
Chicken tortilla soup (for 2-3 with leftovers)
4 chicken thighs
450 mL chicken stock
450 L water
one small onion
¼ cup of olive oil
½ - 1 serrano, minced with seeds
one small red onion
4 garlic gloves, minced fine
generous handful of coriander stems, minced
1 red pepper, diced
200 grams/one cup of corn.
juice of three limes (enough to equal 4 tbsp)
lime slices, coriander, 5 tortillas julienned and fried in ¼ cup of oil until crisp.
Other garnishes, diced avocado, queso freso, feta, crème fraiche, diced cherry tomatoes tossed in a bit of salt.
In a medium stockpot with a little bit of olive oil, brown six, well seasoned with salt and pepper chicken thighs with a roughly cut small onion. Then pour 4 quarts of chicken stock over it, let come to a mild boil, and then simmer for over an hour, or until the chicken is falling off the bone. (Actually, if I have two stockpots, I brown the chicken and the onion in the smaller pot, transfer it into the larger pot to simmer in the broth, and then use the olive oil to cook up the vegetables for the rest of the soup.)
Remove chicken and onion. Discard onion, shred chicken meat, discard skin, and reintroduce the bones to the pot (optional).
In another stockpot (or I use a skillet with five inch sides), start four cloves of garlic, one red onion minced, with two tbsp of olive oil and a hefty pinch of salt. Add a handful of coriander stems, chopped, and let cook down until the onion is softened (approx 3-4 minutes). Add one red pepper (sweet or bell) chopped, and Serrano chili and let cook over medium high heat until softened. Add shredded chicken, then the corn, and then the strained broth and the squeezed juice of two-three limes. At this point, taste the soup – it might need more salt or acid at this point. Keep simmering while you make the tortilla strips.
Slice four corn tortillas into 2-3 cm strips. Heat 3 tbsp of olive oil in a pan until hot, and then pan fry the tortilla strips until crisp. Drain on a kitchen towel.
To serve: One bowl of soup with the following garnishes. If you want the “hissing’ effect, put the tortilla strips at the bottom of the bowl and ladle the soup on top. Pass around a bottle of hot sauce if the soup is not spicy enough.