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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Cheats’ Picnic Pork Pies!

These pies can be served with salad or coleslaw and a pint of cider, for a hearty lunch. These pies will keep for several days in the fridge, so make a larger batch and stock up.


Makes 12 individual pies
100g of pancetta or streaky bacon
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
A small handful of parsley, finely chopped
6 sage leaves, finely chopped
450g of sausage meat
A generous pinch of sea salt and ground black pepper
2 sheets of ready to roll shortcrust pastry
1 egg, beaten to glaze

Preheat the oven to 200oC/gas mark 6.

In a large frying pan, over a high heat dry fry the pancetta until it is crisp and golden.

Remove and pop in a bowl, leaving the oil from the pancetta in the frying pan.

Add in the onion and garlic and fry until soft and golden. Add to the bowl along with the herbs and sausage meat.

Season with salt and pepper.

Cut out 12 circular discs, from the pastry, to fit in a cup cake tray and then 12 smaller discs for the lid.

Press the larger pastry circles into the greased and floured tray and fill each pie with the pork mixture.

Top with the small discs and press them together with a fork.

Brush the tops with beaten egg and place in the oven, cooking for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

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Back Home and Pressed Picnic Sambo!

We got in the door from the airport last night and after a quick garden inspection, despite all the weeds and a few plants gone to seed the majority of my veggie garden is looking good! The pumpkin plants have doubled in size and have tiny tiny little pumpkins already showing!  I was worried I was going to miss the best of the peas I had planted months ago, but they are ready to pick with nice bulging pods! :)

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Pressed Picnic Sandwich

The pressed nature of this sandwich allows the flavours to permeate through all its layers. For a milder flavour, try using mozzarella instead of goats’ cheese.  Also feel free to experiment with extra ingredients and feel free to add your own touches!

Makes 1 Giant Sambo
1 foot long ciabatta loaf, sliced in half lengthways
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
A generous handful of baby spinach
10 marinated artichoke hearts

A small handful of sundried tomatoes
8 slices of proscuitto
A good handful of basil, finely chopped
100g of goats’ cheese
1⁄2 red onion, very finely sliced
Salt and pepper to season

Preheat the oven to 200oC/gas mark 6.

Place the ciabatta loaf, crust side down on a large baking tray and drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.

Pop in the oven for a few minutes until just golden and toasted.

In a bowl whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic and mustard.

Remove the toasted ciabatta halves from the tin and drizzle the base slice with a little of the dressing.

Arrange layers of the rest of the ingredients, baby spinach, artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes, proscuitto, basil, goats’ cheese and red onion.

Drizzle over the rest of the dressing, season with sea salt and ground black pepper and pop the top slice of ciabatta on and press down.

Wrap in parchment paper and pop into the fridge, pressed down with another baking tray filled with heavy tins, overnight or until you are ready to serve.

Serve in nice hearty slices for the perfect picnic snack.

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It’s Picnic Week!

It’s picnic week on the blog this week with recipes from my recent Food and Wine shoot.  We had lots of fun last month cooking through the recipes for the spread and were left with lots of great picnic inspired food to eat our way through afterwards.  The true beauty of a good picnic is that everything is prepared in advance meaning so that by the time it comes  to eating all you have to worry about is sitting back and tucking in.  With that in mind hopefully I can arm you with a pile of great pre-prepped recipes that won’t keep you in the kitchen for too long and you’ll be out enjoying the summer before you know it!

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Mini Blueberry Tarts

A quick, easy recipe that the kids can help make, and eat.  A batch of these mini treats makes a great gift for friends and family.

Makes 12
2 sheets of ready to roll shortcrust pastry
500g of blueberries
Zest and juice of one lemon
150g of caster sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
3 tablespoons of cornflour
1 egg, beaten to glaze
Whipped cream, to serve

Preheat the oven to 200oC/gas mark 6.

Cut out 12 circles of pastry to fit a cupcake tray and then press them in each little hole. Prick with a fork on the base and pop in the oven for 10-15 minutes.

While the pastry blind bakes in the oven, pop the blueberries, lemon juice and zest, sugar and vanilla extract in a small saucepan over a medium high heat and stir until the sugar dissolves.

Mix the cornflour with a drop of water and pour into the saucepan.

Simmer for five minutes or until you are left with a thick mix.

Remove the cupcake tray from the oven and add a spoonful of the blueberry mix into each little pastry case.

Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.

Serve with a little whipped cream with a drop of vanilla extract mixed through.

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