Donal Skehan
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  • 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
  • Flower Hmong tribe at Bac Ha market this morning selling fresh vegetables and sugar cane... #DonalVietnam
  • Great meal this evening! Finally in Sapa after the longest bus ride ever today 8am-11.30pm! Up early tomorrow morning to film at Bac Ha Market... #DonalVietnam
  • BBQ pork and pumpkin greens at the most rocking little restaurant in Sapa! #DonalVietnam
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Kitchen Hero: Great Food For Less!

Champion of the home cook, Donal Skehan, is back with a collection of tasty, easy-to-make dishes that cost less..

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The Hunt For Wild Garlic!

My earliest memories of wild garlic are from school, where it used to grow along the pathway covered by trees. We used to pick the leaves and flowers and bring them into class, only to be told off because of the unbelievably pungent smell. While we never ate it back then, little did I realise that this wonderful free food could be transformed into so many delicious dishes.  Wild garlic has been used in Irish cooking for hundreds of years.

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Wild Garlic Pesto

Just like any other pesto, this one can be used in pasta, served with meat or fish or slathered onto freshly baked bread. This recipe makes a fairly generous amount, but if you’re going to the trouble of making some you might as well make a big batch.  I specify 200g of wild garlic leaves, which is roughly a basket full. When you’re preparing the leaves, give them a good wash and drain as you would salad leaves and then remove any long stems.

Makes approximately 1 litre
120g of Parmesan cheese, grated
350ml of extra virgin olive oil
100g of pine nuts
200g of wild garlic leaves, stems cut off, washed and dried
Sea salt and ground black pepper

Place all the ingredients into a food processor and blitz until smooth.

Add a little more oil if you prefer a looser consistency.

Season with sea salt and ground black pepper and taste.

Transfer to clean jars and top with an extra drizzle of oil to create a seal.

The jars will keep in the fridge for at least one week.

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Vintage Cookbooks and Chocolate Chip, Oat and Raisin Cookies!

I’m always on the lookout for vintage and retro cookbooks, and over the last few years I’ve amassed quite a collection. Not only are they wonderfully nostalgic, there are plenty of delicious recipes which are still bang up-to-date. Of course there are also plenty of recipes for aspics and animal innards, things which most people these days would turn their noses up at.

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Chocolate Chip, Oat and Raisin Cookies

These make wonderfully chewy and crumbly cookies which are easily adaptable, just use whatever ingredients you might have in the storecupboard. Feel free to swap out the chocolate and raisins with other dried fruit, nuts or seeds.

Makes 24 cookies
225g of butter
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
160g of caster sugar
120g of light brown sugar
2 large free range eggs
1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
190g of plain flour
240g of rolled oats
80g of raisins
100g of good quality dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 180˚C and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Using a standalone mixer or hand mixer, cream the sugar and butter until it becomes pale and smooth. Add the eggs one by one, mixing well after each addition so the mix doesn’t split. Little by little add in the flour and bicarbonate of soda until it is completely incorporated. Using a spatula fold through the oats, raisins, vanilla extract and chocolate chips until completely combined.

Place 12 heaped tablespoons of the dough on each baking sheet and place in the oven to bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. You may need to swap the trays halfway through the cooking time in order to get an even colour on the cookies.Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before transferring to a wire wrack to cool completely.

Enjoy with a glass of milk!

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The perfect pastry recipe at the Brown Hound Bakery…

I’m finally finished filming for the new series of Kitchen Hero: Great Food For Less! After some fairly full-on days in the kitchen recording back-to-back recipes, we spent a rather enjoyable week filming out and about. One of my highlights was a visit to the Brown Hound Bakery in Drogheda, Co. Louth. A totally unique and incredibly inspirational spot in the most unlikely location, the bakery is the brainchild of owner Jeni who, with her husband Reuven Diaz, runs the fantastic restaurant Eastern Seaboard and Mo’s, a rather unusual takeaway which blows other fast food joints out of the water!

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Craig Thompson’s Flakey & Buttery Rustic Rhubarb Tart

Craig is the owner of Shandaken Bakery in NYC. The secret is all in the pastry, which nuzzles itself somewhere between puff and shortcrust and has a rather unique almost sourdough taste thanks to the addition of apple cider vinegar. The pastry is extremely easy to work with and makes a wonderful base to both savoury and sweet fillings. Craig uses rhubarb here but you can use whatever filling you want.

Makes 2 Tarts

For the pastry:
250g plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons caster sugar
1 teaspoon flakey salt (Maldon is great)

170g very cold, unsalted butter(cut into small cubes)
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
80ml ice cold water

For the filling:
4-6 large stalks of rhubarb (greens removed and discarded, stalks cleaned, and chopped into medium sized chunks)
75g caster sugar
3 tablespoons plain flour

Using a pastry blender, cut the butter into flour mixture until the crumbs are the size of little peas.

Transfer the flour and butter crumb to a large bowl and make a well in the center of the crumb.

In a separate small bowl, lightly beat together the egg, apple cider vinegar and ice cold water to incorporate.  Pour the cold egg mixture into the well of the flour mixture.

Using two large forks, gently toss the flour mixture into the egg mixture (treat the mixture as though it is a salad of delicate greens, being careful to not over work the dough).

Add a little more water, a drizzle at a time, until the mixture just holds together.

Turn the dough out onto greaseproof paper, wrap, and chill for a good 30 minutes before rolling out.  The dough will make one large tart, two medium tarts, or many small ones.

Portion the chilled dough into varing sizes (1 large, 2 medium or many small), depending on how many tarts you would like to make.

Toss rhubarb, caster sugar and flour in a medium sized bowl, then set aside.

On a generously floured work surface, roll out individual dough portions into rounds about 1/8″ thick.  Transfer dough rounds onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.

Pile prepared rhubarb into the center of each pastry round, distributing all of the rhubarb between rounds.

Fold the edges of the pastry inward, over the rhubard, leaving the center of the rhubarb exposed, and creating a barrier so the juice can not escape as the tart cooks.

Brush the outside edges of the pastry with egg yolk.  Bake the tart in a hot oven, 210˚C for 25-35 minutes (or until the sugar and juices bubble in the center of the tarts).

Remove the tarts from the oven and alow them to cool until warm before enjoying.  Yum!  Devour and enjoy!

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