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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Some Summer BBQ Recipes!

I shot this little summer BBQ spread back in April for the Irish Independent, back when we had that lovely stretch of sunshine.  I’m in NYC for another day or two but got a text from a friend in Dublin telling me not to come home because the weather is so bad over there.  Well I hope it picks up because I have lots of BBQ inspired recipes to try out and hopefully these recipes might get you out grilling rain or shine!

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BBQ Jerk Chicken with Mango Salsa

The wonderful things about marinating meat is that you can prepare them so far in adavance.  Pop the meat in the marinate in a releasalble bag in the fridge overnight and the flavours will intensify. Marinated meat can also be frozen. This jerk chicken marinade is quite quirky and has lots of interesting flavours like lime juice, cinnamon, honey and ginger. It sounds like an odd combination but makes for many layers of flavours and served straight from the BBQ with this mango salsa, it’s total sunshine food.

Serves 4-6
For the chicken
1 large free range chicken, cut into breasts, wings and legs
2 scotch bonnet chillis, finely minced
3 limes
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 thumbsized piece of ginger, minced
3 teaspoons of all spice
1 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
6 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 tablespoons of honey
6 tablespoons of tomato ketchup

For the salsa
2 ripe mangos, peeled, stone removed and roughly chopped in chunks
1/2 cucumber, center removed and diced
4 spring onions, finely chopped
1 small chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
Juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Sea salt and ground black pepper
A good handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped

Place the chicken in a large resealable bag and add in the rest of the chicken ingredients.  Seal the bag and give it a good shake until everything is completely combined and the chicken is evenly coated.

Leave in the fridge to marinate for at least 2 hours or overnight if you have the time.

Combine all the ingredients for the salsa (except the coriander) in a mixing bowl and season with sea salt and ground black pepper. Mix through the coriander when you’re ready to serve.

Remove the chicken from the fridge 30 minutes before you are ready to cook. Get the BBQ to a medium high heat and cook the chicken pieces for 15 minutes turning only once during the cooking time, until the chicken is completely cooked through.

The different pieces will take slightly different cooking times so a good way to check if they are cooked is to insert a meat thermometer at the thickest part and check that it registers 82.2˚C for drumsticks and thighs and 73.9˚C for breasts.

Serve the chicken with the mango salsa and some cous cous if you need a bit more sustenance!

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Irish Blue Cheese Burgers with Soda Bread Baps

I love that these burgers have a bit of an Irish twist, the homemade soda bread buns are full of flavour and far healthier than those air filled sweet ones you buy in the shops. The blue cheese is a wonderful addition here too and make sure to pick some wonderful Irish blue cheese for your burgers.

Serves 6
1 tablespoon of rapeseed oil
2 red onions, finely chopped
500g of Irish beef mince
1 heaped teaspoon of Dijon
1 tablespoon of worcestershire sauce
1 large free range egg
A small handful of dry breadcrumbs
Sea salt and ground black pepper
60g of Cashel, Bellingham or Boyne Valley Blue Cheese
2 baby gem lettuce, broken into leaves
2 large tomatoes, in slices

For the soda bread baps:
200g of wholemeal flour
250g strong white flour
1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
1 large free range egg
350ml buttermilk
2 tablespoons of rolled oats

Preheat the oven to 200˚C and dust a large baking sheet with flour.

In a large mixing bowl, combine together the flours and bicarbonate of soda and make a well.

Measure the butter milk into a pyrex jug and then crack in the egg, whisk to combine.

Pour the mix into the well and then using a wooden spoon, bring the mix together with the dry ingredients until you have a dough.

Form six little palm sized buns and place on the baking sheet and sprinkle with rolled oats.  Transfer to the oven for 40 minutes.

Remove from the oven and set on a wire wrack to cool completely.

For the burgers, fry the red onion in a frying pan with a little oil over a high heat to start and then lower it once it gets a little colour and then cook gently for about 8 minutes until softed right down.  Set aside to cool completely.

Combine in a large mixing bowl the beef, mustard, worcestershire sauce, egg, breadcrumbs, cooled onions and season with sea salt and ground black pepper.

Form the meat mixture into 6 burger patties and place on a plate, cover with cling film and set aside in the fridge until you are ready to fry them.

To cook the burgers, place a large frying pan over high heat and add a little oil.  Fry the burgers for 4-5 minutes either side until they are cooked all the way through.  When you turn the burgers on the pan, add a slice of blue cheese to each one.

To serve, split the soda bread baps and fill with baby gem lettuce leaves, sliced tomato, the burgers and a good dollop of ketchup!

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Empire State Of Mind…

There is nothing better than travel to open your mind and mine always gets pretty much blown open when I visit NYC.  I’m over stateside at the moment for some meetings and while here, my main priorities amongst other things are of course where to eat!  The one problem with NYC is that there is literally so much to see and taste that it can be quite overwhelming.  On my last visit I compiled a list of some of my favourite spots to visit and eat, so the aim this time was to discover one or two new additions.  I got lots of tips on facebook and twitter and big thank you to everyone who shared theirs! The thing is, that as soon as you find a brilliant little place, about 5 have sprung up around the corner, so it is fairly impossible to keep up.  There really is no definitive guide on eating here because it is ever evolving.  The positive is that there is a massive amount of inspiration and incredible food to be found in this ever changing city and all you have to do is leave your hotel to be immersed in it.  The places I did manage to get to were incredible on so many levels, atmosphere, tastes, flavours, decor, scenenery and I always leave with a hunger for more!  I’m currently in LA for the next week, so any foodie tips are greatly appreciated and we are heading back to NYC for a few days so anything you think I might be missing out on please do share.

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