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Cook Like a Star! (September 1, 2006)

Irish Chef Conrad Gallagher's Dublin restaurant Peacock Alley was awarded a Michelin star in 1998, making Conrad, then aged 27, the youngest chef to win this accolade. He went on to open Traffic in 2002, which soon became the toast of tout New York. He's worked with international chefs at Trump Plaza, le Cirque and the Waldorf Astoria (home of the original Peacock Alley!), as well as with Alain Ducasse in France.

Can this man cook? Oh, ha ha... don't be silly. The big question is can you and I cook like Conrad Gallagher? Well, yes, and we're not laughing, as we have his latest two cookbooks, One Pot Wonders! and In 3 Easy Steps.

They both deliver as promised in the titles. Gallagher describes One Pot Wonders! as containing recipes designed so that with a little thought and preparation – and sometimes even with none at all – they can be cooked using just one pan, and in many cases they can also be served in the pan! He has simplified many recipes without sacrificing the end result so that even the smallest kitchen can product these epicurean dishes. And the icing on this cake: much less dishwashing at the end!

In 3 Easy Steps, our chef has created more "user-friendly" recipes that even a novice can do... fast! As always, he encourages using the finest and freshest ingredients possible, and gives directions for preparing them without fuss for guaranteed success.

Go on, invite friends over and dazzle them with your talent and a little help from a real star! Thanks, Conrad!

On today's menu:

Download this article in printable form as an Adobe Acrobat PDF (96 KB)


Brewer's Foie Gras

Another foie gras recipe? Yes, and this delicious version from One Pot Wonders! uses goose liver pâté, which is always easy to come by.

Steve Brewer, who created this dish, is a close friend of Conrad, who describes him as having "passion for foie gras and cooking." The combination of the silky liver with orange, vanilla, tangy cress and a chile gives you complex flavours that last long after the final, divine bite.

Serves 4 (2 in our house!)

  • 4 ×¼ lb foie gras (goose liver pâté)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2½ cups water
  • 2 Tbsp orange blossom water
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp orange juice
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 24 orange segments
  • 2 Tbsp butter, cut up
  • Watercress, for serving, or if unavailable, use arugula
  • Sliced chilies, for serving
  • Deep fried salsify strips, for garnishing (optional)

Season the foie gras and place in a sauté pan over high heat. Sear on both sides, then remove from the heat and reserve. Rinse out the pan.

Make a syrup by combining the water, orange-blossom water, sugar, lemon juice and orange juice in the pan. Add the vanilla bean and cook for 8–10 minutes. Strain the syrup through a sieve into a bowl, removing the vanilla bean. Split the bean, scrape out the seeds, and add them to the syrup. Rinse out the pan.

Return the foie gras to the pan and sauté over medium heat until golden brown. Add the orange segments. Pour in the syrup and cook until it has reduced to a thick sauce. When ready to serve, add the butter.

To serve, sprinkle with watercress and sliced chile. Garnish with strips of deep fried salsify, if using.

Tony's wine recommendation:
Alsace Muscat, Ontario Riesling Icewine, or Rheingau Riesling Auslese


Octopus with Roasted Pepper, Olives, and Sun-dried Tomato Pesto

Remember all those boiling vats of octopus at local markets and fairs in Spain? Well, we eat octopus, but never thought we would take the time to cook it ourselves until Conrad gave us this recipe from One Pot Wonders! It's easy to do, and the results are just great! You'll need to plan a day or so ahead to do the oven-dried tomatoes and roasted red pepper.

Serves 4

  • 2 lbs baby octopus, tentacles cut in half
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 Tbsp roasted red bell pepper strips
  • 3 Tbsp oven-dried tomatoes, thinly sliced (recipe follows)
  • 1 red onion, finely sliced
  • 1½ cups black olives
  • 2 Tbsp basil leaves
  • 2 tbsp shredded mizuna leaves *
  • 6 tsp sun-dried tomato pesto
    Tomato Dressing
  • 1 Tbsp sun-dried tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

Mix the octopus and tentacles in a shallow dish with the olive oil, salt and pepper.

For the tomato dressing, whisk together all the ingredients until well incorporated. Place the peppers, oven-dried tomatoes, onion, olives and basil in a large bowl. Pour in the tomato dressing and mix well.

Heat a char grill until very hot and lay on the octopus and tentacles. Using tongs, toss the octopus continuously to ensure even cooking. Add the cooked octopus to the mizuna leaves, mix well, and place on 4 plates. Spoon a teaspoon of tomato pesto on top of each one and serve with the red pepper salad.

Oven-dried Tomatoes

  • 6 plum tomatoes, cut in half
  • Coarse salt
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil

Place the tomatoes in a roasting pan and sprinkle with the coarse salt, thyme, garlic and olive oil. Place them in the oven at the lowest possible setting and let them dry out overnight.

*Mizuna: It's the feathery, delicate salad green found in farmer's markets and specialty produce markets. It's one of the greens in Mesclun, what we call "designer salad mix"!

Tony's wine recommendation:
Tavel Rosé, Soave, white Côte de Rhône


Rare Pigeon with Red Onion and Focaccia

Was it Paris where you first had pigeon... that smart little neighbourhood bistro where you fell in love... but, hey, never dreamed of fixing it at home. Well, Conrad has solved that little problem, and while this recipe takes some sleuthing to find the birds (a good butcher will have them fresh and will bone them for you!), once you've landed them, preparing and cooking is easily done. From In 3 Easy Steps.

Really! We promise!

Serves 4

  • 2 medium red onions, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed and finely chopped
  • 8 thyme sprigs, 4 with leaves picked
  • 50 g (2 oz.) butter
  • 4 slices of focaccia, cut into cubes
  • 4 whole pigeon, deboned
  • 150 mL (5 fl. oz.) red wine
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Sauté the onions, garlic and thyme in the butter and add the cubed focaccia. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  2. Season the pigeons and stuff with the bread and onion mix, tying them up well with string (see picture).
  3. Heat a little oil in a hot pan and seal the pigeons all over and then deglaze with the wine. Place in a preheated oven at 425°F and cook for about 5 minutes. Serve with the red wine as the sauce. Garnish with thyme.

Tony's wine recommendation:
You can go either medium-bodied red (New Zealand Pinot Noir or Ontario Gamay) or medium-bodied, dry white (Pouilly-Fuissé, unoaked New World Chardonnay)


Warm Apple Crumble

The perfect winter dessert contains warm apples, and this almost instant crumble is a stunner... Light the fire, darling, put on the music, dessert will be done in a jiffy! Serve with a good ice cream... and if you've planned ahead you'll make the Cinnamon version that follows.

Let it snow!

Serves 4

  • 4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and finely diced
  • 2 Tbsp Calvados
  • 3 Tbsp caster sugar (superfine)
  • Pinch of allspice
  • 200 g (7 oz.) flour
  • 100 g (3½ oz.) butter, cubed and chilled
  • 50 g (2 oz.) demerara sugar (dry raw sugar)
  • Cinnamon ice cream (recipe follows)
  1. Mix together the apples, calvados, caster sugar and allspice. Spoon into individual medium-sized ramekins and refrigerate until needed.
  2. Sift the flour into a bowl and rub in the butter until crumbly. Mix in the demerara sugar and sprinkle over the fruit mixture in the ramekins.
  3. Bake in a preheated oven at 350°F until the crumble turns brown. Serve piping hot.

Cinnamon Ice Cream

Serves 8

  • 850 mL (1½ pints) milk
  • 1.2 litres (2 pints) cream
  • 350 (12 oz) granulated sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod, split, scrapped and both seed and pod added to the milk
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 5 large eggs
  1. Combine the milk, cream, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon in a saucepan. Cook over a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved – about 15 minutes.
  2. Beat the eggs until fluffy and stir in the hot milk mixture, taking care not to curdle the eggs. Cook until it coats the back of a metal spoon. Strain into a clean bowl and refrigerate.
  3. Churn the ice cream until frozen and freeze.

Tony's wine recommendation:
cream sherry, 10-Year-Old Tawny Port


We wish to thank Raincoast Books and Kyle Cathie Limited for permission to publish material and photographs from One Pot Wonders! and In Three Easy Steps by Conrad Gallagher.

One Pot Wonders!: Text © 2000 Conrad Gallagher
Photography © Gus Fiolgate 2000
Book design © Kyle Cathie Limited 2000

In Three Easy Steps: Text © 2005 Conrad Gallagher
Photography © Gus Fiolgate 2005
Book design © Kyle Cathie Limited 2005


Happily enjoyed by Helen Hatton and Ron Morris.

Download this article in printable form as an Adobe Acrobat PDF (96 KB)




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