Donal Skehan
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  • Very excited to be filming at this brilliant little street food market tomorrow for lunch in Hanoi! #DonalVietnam
  • I have yet to meet a film crew who trust me behind the wheel so here I am with my buddy TT biking around Hanoi! Better him than me the traffic is nuts here! :) #DonalVietnam
  • Was up at 3.30am this morning to catch these Vietnamese ladies harvest young green rice- a delicacy in Hanoi at this time of year! Here they are using a machine to separate the rice from the stems... #DonalVietnam
  • Egg coffee for breakfast in Hanoi! Sounds very strange but a combination of egg yolks, condensed milk, sugar, butter and laughing cow cheese is whisked until fluffy and thick and served with hot coffee! Incredible rich taste- like a liquid tiramisu! #DonalVietnam
  • Filmed at one of Hanoi's oldest and most famous restaurants today, Cha Ca La Vong, where they have been serving the same one dish for over 100 years- turmeric fish which is marinated for 12 hours with galangal and fish sauce then threaded onto bamboo skewers and chargrilled over hot coals- the fish pieces are then fried in shallot oil and served to the table on a hot plate where diners mix in dill and spring onions and serve over rice vermicelli noodles with peanuts, coriander, chilli and shrimp paste. Hugely popular here and I can see why! #DonalVietnam
  • Street food at the bustling market in Sapa- this lady was selling spicy pigs ear salad... #DonalVietnam
  • Morning market shopping in Sapa! On the way to Hanoi... #DonalVietnam
  • BBQ Pork with ginger, turmeric, mint and toasted sesame seeds... #DonalVietnam
  • Just can't get over the stunning scenery here! Not bad for a Tuesday! #DonalVietnam
  • On the streets of Sapa making apple wine with apples grown by the Hmong tribe... #DonalVietnam
  • Sad to say goodbye to our fantastic Red Dao hosts for the past three days... Heading to Hanoi tomorrow to focus on street food! #DonalVietnam
  • The incredible dry store at the top of a Red Dao tribe house- here they store corn, rice and pumpkins through the winter. The kitchen is just underneath so the heat and smoke helps to dry the produce out... #DonalVietnam
  • Brilliant few days filming with the Red Dao tribe just outside Sapa! #DonalVietnam with @jonnyrocksville @lenocks...
  • Best experience of the day- a traditional herbal bath with herbs picked from the mountain and steeped in boiling water! It is used to soak the muscles after a hard day in the rice paddies! Nothing like taking a bath with a big group of strangers watching! :) #DonalVietnam
  • This little girl is eating sticky rice cooked in a bamboo shoot! The rice is stuffed into the hollow shoot and sealed with a banana leaf, then boiled until tender... Then the whole rice filled bamboo shoot is grilled over an open fire- it results in a chewy sweet rice cylinder with the most incredible texture! Really special! #DonalVietnam
  • The colourful and detailed clothing the women of the Red Dao tribe wear can take up to a year to embroider by hand... #DonalVietnam
  • Incredible day spent learning from and cooking with the Red Dao tribe in North West Vietnam- their are 5 different tribes in this area and each has their own language and distinctive traditional clothing... #DonalVietnam
  • View from my breakfast table! Stayed in Sa Pa last night high in the mountains, 1500 meters above sea level... Off to spend the day with a local Red Dao family to learn more about their traditions... #DonalVietnam
  • Have just eaten from this fairly intimating platter of mystery meat! You choose what you want from pig tongue, liver, heart and blood sausage and it gets boiled up and served with a fiery hot dipping sauce with chilli, meat broth, fish sauce and spring onions. Also interesting they eat it with potato noodles rather than rice noodles, in broth and mint... Swallow the fear, get in there and eat like the locals do! #DonalVietnam
  • Chicken for sale at Bac Ha market- incredible experience, like nothing else, have whiplash from everything I have to look at! #DonalVietnam
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Mediterranean Spatchcock Chicken

My mega way of serving chicken in the summer, it looks absolutely  fantastic served and carved at the table. You can experiment with  different flavours for the marinade, I love different combinations like  garlic and mixed herbs or even a spicy cajun mix!

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Alfresco Eating Inspiration: Mediterranean Mackerel with a Tomato Panzanella Salad…

The Irish summer is well underway, and despite the rain-cloud dodging most of us are forced to do, we still tend to get a nice stretch of sun that shows our fine country in its most beautiful light. Which leads me quite nicely to the subject of al fresco eating. While the opportunities might be limited, when the sun eventually decides to shine an Irish summer can be magical.

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Mediterranean Mackerel with a Tomato Panzanella Salad

Mackerel instantly reminds me of eating outside in the summer at BBQ’s on Ireland’s Eye with my grandad and all my cousins. Fried or BBQ’d with meditteranean flavours it goes beautifully with an Italian panzanella salad, which is packed with great tastes and textures.

Serves 4
4 Mackerel Fillets
Juice of 1 lemon
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/2 loaf of ciabatta bread, torn into rough pieces
1/2 red onion, finely sliced
1 punnet of cherry tomatoes
150g of sunblush tomatoes
1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
A good handful of basil, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 200oC.

Toss the bread chunks in a roasting tray with a generous drizzle of olive oil.  Season with sea salt and ground black pepper and then place in the oven until toasted and golden for about 8 minutes.  Give them a good toss half way through.  Remove from the oven and feed with an extra drizzle of olive oil.

In a large bowl whisk together the red wine vinegar, olive oil, and garlic and then add in the onion, cherry tomatoes, sunblush tomatoes, toasted bread and toss until completely coated.  Leave to soak up the dressing while you get on with the fish.

Place the mackerel on a plate and drizzle with a little olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and sprinkle with sea salt, black pepper and a little of the dried oregano.

Heat a large frying pan over a medium high heat and then place the mackerel flesh side down for 2-3 minutes, then turn over squeeze over lemon juice and cook for further 2-3 minutes.

Serve straight away alongside the panzanella salad.


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A Crispy Duck Kinda Day!

Sometimes I go through phases of cooking the same things over and over without thinking about it.  It’s quite natural I suppose because we are inclined to make things we’re comfortable with.  I’m more than happy to cook up something I now will turn out great and keep me and others well fed.  However sometimes I notice I’m ready to change things up.  The time comes where the same things don’t get me excited when I cook and I know it’s time to step it up and look for new ingredients, new recipes and new flavours.

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Crispy 5 Spice and Chilli Duck Salad

You could really use this spice mix with any meat, so feel free to mix it up if you can’t get your hands on duck. 5 Spice powder is a blend of cloves, star anise, cinnamon, fennel seed and sichuan peppercorns which you can pick up quite easily in the supermarket. The dressing is nice and tangy and really off sets the rich duck nicely, do use whatever freshly sliced veggies you fancy.

Serves 2
2 duck breast fillets, cut in 1/2cm slices
6 tablespoons of plain flour
1 1/2 tablespoons of 5 spice powder
1 teaspoon of red chilli flakes
Sunflower oil for shallow frying
Sea salt to season
1/2 head of cos lettuce, shredded
3 spring onions, finely sliced
2 small carrots, finely sliced

For the dressing
Juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon of sunflower oil
1 tablespoon of rice wine
1 tablespoon of caster sugar
1 1/2 tablespoon of fish sauce
1 clove of garlic, finely minced

On a plate, combine the flour with the 5 spice powder and chilli flakes.  Press each slice of duck into the spiced flour mix and set aside on a clean plate.

Whisk together the ingredients for the dressing and set aside.

Toss the spring onions, carrot and lettuce together and set aside.

Heat about 2 cm of sunflower oil in a medium frying pan over a high heat and shallow fry the slices of duck for about 1-2 minutes either side or until you get a nice golden brown colour.  Adjust the heat as necessary, the oil can get quite hot and because the duck is quite fatty it can spit quite a bit.

Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and place on a plate lined with kitchen paper.  You may have to do two batches as it’s best not to overcrowd the pan or you won’t get a nice colour on the slices.

Pour the dressing with the vegetables and toss to coat. Serve the salad in nice plates and top with the crispy duck slices. Beautiful!


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Fragrant Seafood Bowl

This soup tastes better if you use 2-3 different kinds of fish. Prawns or mussels are a great addition too. In France, this dish is usually served with oven baked croutons topped with spicy garlic paste and to me this is what makes it special.

Serves 8
125ml extra virgin olive oil
1 onion
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
2 small leeks, thinly sliced
2 tbsp tomato paste
2-3 bay leaves
4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1-2 red chillies, to taste
125ml vermouth
big pinch (20-30) saffron threads
2 x 400g cans tomatoes in juice, chopped, or 800g fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 tsp honey
2 litres fish stock
5 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 2cm chunks
salt and ground black pepper
1kg boneless fillets of firm fish
12-16 mussels and/or 8-16 large raw prawns (optional)

Heat the oil in a large pot and sweat the onion, fennel and leeks for about 15-20 minutes until the vegetables are clear and softened. Do not allow them to brown.

Add tomato paste and sizzle for a couple of minutes. Add bay leaves, garlic and whole chillies. Mix in vermouth, saffron, tomatoes and honey and cook for 20 minutes over a low heat.

Add the fish stock and potatoes and bring back  to a simmer. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until the potatoes are nearly cooked. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cut fish into 4cm chunks. Five minutes before serving, add fish and mussels, if using, and simmer for 3-4 minutes. Then add prawns, if using, and simmer for another 2-3 minutes until the seafood is cooked and the mussels open. Discard any mussels that don’t open.

Lift out and discard bay leaves and chillies. Divide soup between heated soup bowls.


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Annabel Langbein: The Free Range Cook!

Ever heard of Annabel Langbein? No? Well neither had I up until a few months ago.  While I was cooking away in the kitchen with Good Food channel on in the background, a soft New Zealand accent came from the tellybox and I was intrigued.  I sat down and watched the entire program and that was all it took for me to be totally taken in by this free range cook from New Zealand!  The program was full of beautiful scenery and most importantly lots of simple, fresh homecooking. A quick trip to google allowed me to see that she had a new book which I finally have in my hands and I can honestly say it’s fantastic.

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Strawberry State Of Mind!

Breakfast in the summer is just way more fun -fact! I put it down to the fact it’s bright when you wake up… you’re more likely to want to be up and about when the sun is shining. Of course this means making breafast a little more interesting. Porridge, as much as I have a love/ hate relationship with it, keeps me going during the colder months.

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Strawberries With Homemade Granola, Honey and Yoghurt

One of my favourite ways to serve homemade granola is with some fresh strawberries,  some natural yoghurt and a nice drizzle of honey. Add whatever nuts,  seeds, or dried fruit you like…

Makes enough for 6-8 servings
250g/9oz jumbo oats
100g/4oz of pumpkin seeds
125g/41⁄2oz raisins
3 tablespoons of maple syrup
1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder
1⁄4 teaspoon of salt

Combine all the dry ingredients apart from the raisins in a large mixing bowl, drizzle over the maple syrup and mix through. Empty the contents onto a large baking tray and spread out evenly.

Toast in the oven for approximately 20 minutes at 180°C/350°/Gas Mark 4, but keep an eye on it as ovens vary – you are looking for the oats to just turn a light golden brown. Give them a mix halfway through the cooking time and add in the raisins. Allow to cool before you transfer to an airtight container. The granola should last up to two weeks, if you don’t eat it all before then!

Serve with some organic yoghurt, strawberries and a drizzle of honey.

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The Morning After The Night Before… Well Actually The Afternoon!

Last night saw the official launch of Kitchen Hero book and TV series at Solas in Dublin!  We had a really great turn out and everyone got a taste of some of the recipes from the book and more importantly a highly exclusive glimpse of the brand new TV series before it airs on Monday!  OMG MONDAY THAT’S ONLY 4 DAYS AWAY!  EXCITED ME? Just a little! In case you hadn’t noticed.

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Scrambled Eggs with Goat’s Cheese and Rocket

A recent trip to NYC provided me with the inspiration for this little  beauty of a breakfast.  We snaffled one of these in an organic  restaurant just below the Brooklyn Bridge,  sitting elbow to elbow with a crowd of skinny-jeaned espresso drinkers.  My everyday breakfast tends to be scrambled eggs, so I was happy to try  something a little different.  Although not exactly  groundbreaking, the simple addition of rocket and goat’s cheese makes  these eggs served on a croissant a fantastic lazy breakfast treat.

Serves 2
2 large croissants
2 handfuls rocket leaves
4 large free-range eggs
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp butter
90g goat’s cheese
A few chives, snipped with a scissors, to serve

Slice open the croissants and fill with a generous amount of rocket leaves. Set aside.
In a small non-stick saucepan with a handle, whisk the eggs together until combined. Place the saucepan over a medium-low heat and, using a wooden spoon, slowly pull the eggs towards the centre. Keep the mixture moving until you have really creamy scrambled eggs. Make sure not to overcook the eggs — take them off the heat while they are still slightly runny and creamy.

Season with sea salt and black pepper and stir through the butter and goat’s cheese. Serve in the open croissants with an extra sprinkle of black pepper and a few snips of chives.

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Win Tickets to My Kitchen Hero Cookery Demonstration in Donnybrook Fair!

I am very excited to be doing my very first Kitchen Hero themed cookery class later this month at the fantastic cookery school at Donnybrook Fair!  It will be a two hour class covering lots of inspirational home cooking recipes.

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