Monday, February 14, 2011

I heart you

Thanks so much to all of you - Basketcase has been nominated in the Best Food and Drink Blog category for the Irish Blog Awards. I'm really delighted and grateful to everyone who gave it their vote and who takes the time to read or contribute to the blog - all your comments are greatly appreciated - good, bad or insane. On this valentines day, I heart all of you.

I'm also thrilled to see the amount of people reading and engaging in the issues raised on Basketcase; it's a sign that the origin of food is important to many people, and the realisation that cheap factory farmed rubbish hurts Irish food producers, and ourselves the consumers at the end of the day.

Cooking is great but not if what is on the plate came from a food or farming process that you wouldn't want people to know about. I've been inside a 10,000 unit pig enterprise in Holland and it ain't pretty, and I really mean that. Keeping Irish farming in the hands of farming families and keeping food producing away from monolith multinationals is an important way to secure a decent food culture in Ireland, and a shorter, healthier food chain. Thanks again to everyone, and keep telling me what you think of the blog and what you'd like to see more, or less of.

By the way, I didn't make the hearts in the above photo, I'd love to have, but desserts are my weakest element. What I really need to to do sometime is a pastry course; I recently interviewed Louise Lennox - the pastry chef from RTE's "The Restaurant" for an upcoming food feature and she has won me over with her passion for sweet things and chocolate creations. She says she even uses chocolate as a facemask, "and if you get bored, you can just lick it off" - exactly the kind of cooking I like.
In the meantime on this Valentines Day I am going retro and serving fillets from my local butchers O'Donovans - (pictured here - the butchers not the fillets), with Neven Maguire's Diane Sauce. I have a nice Montepulciano d'Abruzzo to match; it's a good full bodied fruity red, perfect for steak and an inexpensive change from Guigal Cotes du Rhone which is drunk far too often in this house.
Here's the recipe for Neven's sauce, happy Valentines Day to all, and more importantly, happy eating x

Ingredients - serves 4
1 tablespoon olive oil,
4 x 8oz/225g each sirloin steaks,
1 teaspoon butter,
1 small onion, peeled and diced,
5oz/150g button mushrooms, sliced,
¼ pint/150ml white wine,
110ml brandy,
2 tablespoons worster sauce,
¼ pint/150ml beef stock,
¼ pint/150ml double cream,
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
squeeze of lemon juice Method

Melt the butter in a hot frying pan. Add the shallot and mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes. Add brandy, it will flame up for about 5-10 seconds then subside when the flame burns off. Add white wine and reduce by half.
Stir in stock, worster sauce and cream. Reduce to a sauce consistency, which will coat the back of a spoon. Sprinkle in parsley and lemon juice. Season to taste. Set aside and keep warm until ready to serve.


  1. I prefer a Béarnaise sauce myself. Since we've all become non-smokers the latent lactose intolerances are being tossed into the mix. So with the Béarnaise sauce you can replace the clarified butter with an Olive oil. And it makes the mixing not such a pain.

  2. I love Béarnaise sauce! I used to think it was difficult to make but it isn't, and so delicious I just eat it straight from the bowl, which probably isn't a great idea. The Diane sauce a la Neven's recipe is really good though - ss the mushrooms are cooked first in the Brandy they suck it up like little sponges and keep the brandy flavour even when the cream, lemon etc take over a little bit. So the brandy remains and chimes great with a nice rare fillet. Béarnaise with artichokes as well - fantastic x