For breakfast this morning I created a wee piece of heaven by way of a delicious sliced kumato, seasoned with black pepper, Gruyere cheese, and a poached egg atop a wheat English muffin served with a prosciutto wrapped rasher of smoked bacon in the middle. To smooth its passage I made a nice big pot of Brazil's finest rich roasted blend. For perfection itself the entire ensemble was served up on square Belgian plates, pure glazed white in colour, trimmed with fine gold thread, a present from a long standing friend. I shall ignore the fact that written on the back in a neat hand the words 'Property of the Hilton Hotel' can be clearly seen. I'm sure Paris's family has enough to go around and these won't be missed.
This good friend goes by the name of Harry Rumble. His claim to fame is that he is in fact distantly related to the infamous Joe Byrne, colleague of the notorious Irish / Australian, Ned Kelly. Joe Byrne was a lover of horses. So much so that he was deported from Ireland for stealing 30 or so thoroughbreds from an English landowner near Roscommon. Good man that Joe! Quite a feat for a relative of Harry, considering that he is someone who gets asthma every time a horse passes wind within a mile of his house. Now Harry, a man of considerable intellect and quite an expert on existentialism and the meaning of life, not to mention vintage motorcycles, Roman architecture and single malt whisky, has one big weakness.
According to his charming wife, I bring out the worst in Harry and unleash in him a beast that is hard to tame and impossible to handle once a notion is put into his head. Oh, I know what you are thinking, debauched sessions of week long drinking bouts ending in unbridled lust, pillage and cold nights spent on lumpy mattresses in pish stained polis cells waiting to be bailed out by our wives. No, you must be thinking of this guy, not me. I'm the quiet one who ends up having to carry him home after half a pint of shandy and a sniff of the barmaid's apron. Not so much a singer, more of a hinger on oul ladies doorsteps as he relieves his stomach of the remnants of expensive gold all over his black slip on shoes.
No, for the love of all things culinary, when Harry and I get together we spend our time debating, not debauching, the art of creating the perfect skink. Harry is a real chef, unlike masel, and has worked with a few of the greats himself. He has a mission in life to create the worlds tastiest broth by using only the bare minimum of ingredients, relying totally on his knowledge of combinations of the best produce to hand. I swear, that man could make hot water and salt taste like ambrosia, nectar and the ultimate elixir of kitchen life. Me, on the other hand, I like to rely on tradition, freshness and just a cheeky wee hint of good luck. Not to mention a selection of frozen homemade chicken stock (our secret, reet?). I will soon be dining at his table with his delectable wife. I will be on my best behaviour I promise. I will also be discussing my favourite soup recipe, Cullen Skink. Do have a wee bash yourself and let me know what you think.
You will need.
A large smoked haddock raked free of wee bones
1 medium white onion, finely
1½ pints milk
2 tablespoons good butter
8 oz mashed
Salt and white pepper
1 bay leaf
2 Scallions, chopped
Bacon Goujons, about a handful and a half
Partially cover the smoked haddock with spring water, any bottled water will do if you live outside of Scotland, damn heathen hordes the lot of yis, in a shallow pan, skin
side down. Bring to the boil and simmer for 4/5 minutes, turning once. Glance quickly at the photie on the wall of his holiness the Pope before you take the
haddock from the pan and remove the skin and any remaining wee bones. Break up the fish into
flakes, return to the stock and add the chopped onion, bay leaf, salt and
pepper. Simmer for another 15 minutes. Strain, remove the bay leaf but retain
the stock and fish. Do not get sidetracked at this stage of the process, otherwise I shall not want to work with you anymore. Add the milk to the fish stock and bring back to the boil.
Add enough mashed spud's to create the consistency you prefer (don't be afraid
to make it rich and thick like that American eejit on the Fox network, aye, that's the one.) Add the fish and reheat. Check for seasoning. Just
before serving, add the butter in small pieces so that it runs through the soup. This is important, so do not for the love of your God skip the step.
Serve with chopped parsley on top, accompanied by triangles of toast and a chilled bottle of Chardonnay, a well established low maintenance wine that produces a clear crisp zing of buttered oak and crispy apple when served with all fish courses. Enjoy. Should you require religious or alcoholic assistance in my 'short' absence, please contact the wee man in Limerick, he has the key and will gladly let you in.
Wipe your feet though, eh?