Donal Skehan
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  • 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
  • Wok fried lunch today! Lots of greens including Morning Glory or water spinach stir fried with pork fat and fish sauce... #DonalVietnam
  • Rice fields on the way up to Sapa... #DonalVietnam
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Dennis Cotter- For The Love Of Food- Cookbook Competition

No foodies cookbook collection could be considered complete without a Dennis Cotter book in the mix.  Not only are they beautifully written and illustrated, they are full of inspiration for meat free meals and more.  Dennis runs the fantastic Café Paradiso in Cork city where diners are treated to his creations including dishes like “sweet chilli-glazed panfried tofu with asian greens in a coconut & lemongrass broth, soba noodles and a gingered aduki bean wonton” and “rosewater & almond baklava with cardamom yoghurt ice cream and passionfruit syrup”. His latest book, “For The Love Of Food”, does not disappoint and after eating in Cafe Paradiso earlier this year, I was dieing to get my hands on a copy.  The book is broken up into simple straightforward chapters like “Risotto”, “All Wrapped Up”, “Bowls” and “Sweetness” which not only offer up a delicious selection of tempting recipes but are also packed with advice from Dennis.

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Vanilla & Coconut Risotto with Spiced Mango and Pistachio

You can think of this as a risotto for breakfast, which sounds strange, or rice pudding for breakfast – less weird and only a little naughty.  Or you can think of it as rice porridge for breakfast, for what is risotto anyway but rice porridge? This procedure follows the classic risotto method of absorbing liquid into rice in stages, though I would be inclined to let the rice cook a bit more than for a savoury risotto. The recipe calls for sweet wine. This doesn’t mean you have to crack open your precious expensive dessert wines. A slightly sweet Riesling or Muscat is what’s needed, though you might get away with that Liebfraumilch you’ve got hidden away for visiting aunties.

This recipe comes from Dennis Cotter’s “For The Love Of Food”.

Serves 4

For the spiced mango
100g/3oz caster sugar
1 star anise, coarsely ground
4 cloves
1 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
1 large ripe mango

For the vanilla and coconut risotto
400ml/14fl oz milk
1 x 400ml/14fl oz tin of coconut milk
2 tbsp caster sugar
1 vanilla pod
15g/oz butter
200g/7oz Carnaroli or Arborio rice
4 tbsp sweet white wine
finely grated zest of 1 orange
finely grated zest of 1 lime

To serve
2 tbsp shelled pistachio
nuts, coarsely chopped
nutmeg, for grating

First make the spiced syrup for the mango: put the sugar, star anise, cloves and ginger in a small saucepan with 5 tablespoons of water and bring to the boil, then remove from the heat and leave to cool and infuse. Pass the syrup through a fine sieve. Peel the mango and slice the flesh from the stone.

Put half of it in a food processor, add 2 tablespoons of the spice syrup and blend to a purée. Add a little water, if necessary, to get a pouring consistency. Check for flavour and sweetness, and add a little more syrup to taste if it needs it.

Slice the remaining mango into matchsticks and put them in a bowl with a tablespoon of the mango sauce.

To make the risotto: put the milk, coconut milk and sugar in a saucepan and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to at a simmer. Split the vanilla pod lengthways and scrape the pulp into the milk. Heat the butter in a wide, heavy pan over medium heat, add the rice and toast it, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add the white wine and simmer until it has been absorbed. Add a ladle or 2 of the hot milk mixture.  Stirring often, let this simmer until it has been absorbed, then add more of it.

Continue in this way for about 20 minutes, until the rice is tender and you have a nice porridgey texture. Stir in the citrus zest.

Serve the risotto in shallow bowls. Pour over a little mango sauce and place some of the sliced mango on top. Scatter over the pistachios, grate over a little nutmeg and serve.

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Quinoa and Green Salad with Mango Dressing

Quinoa is such a nutritious and versatile pantry item. It makes great salads and who could say no to a fresh summery dressing made with beautiful mangos.

Serves 2
cup quinoa
2 large handfuls of green beans
3 cups mixed salad leaves

Mango Dressing
2 ripe mangos
2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
1 cup fresh basil leaves
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Cook the quinoa as per the packet instructions. Set the cooked quinoa aside and allow to cool. Blanch the green beans and refresh them in cold water to keep the bright green colour.

Add the flesh from the mangos, balsamic vinegar, basil leaves and olive oil to a large jug and blend with a hand blender briefly.

Add the cold quinoa, beans and salad leaves to a large bowl. Pour a generous amount of the mango dressing onto the salad and toss.

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Thai Beef and Mango Salad

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I am addicted to really fresh and vibrant Asian flavours like the ones in this dish. People have mixed feelings about coriander, but I am a complete convert; it really enhances the taste of a dish like this.  Don't worry too much about having all the ingredients, and feel free to chop and change as you wish.  Make sure to slice your beef as thinly as you can to make all the difference to every mouthful! Don’t panic about having all the right veggies – if you can get the steak and the dressing sorted, the rest can vary.  Vegetarian Option: Rather than using beef, serve on top of cooked thin rice noodles, they will soak up all that delicious dressing.

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