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Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Post the Sixty-second (in which our heroine is on the business end of some Schadenfreude)

Serves me right, really.  It's not like a haven't indulged in it myself over the years.  Come on, we all have.  It's one of life's little pleasures.  This time around, I was on the receiving end of my boss's delight in my misfortune, which came in the form of Leinster being unceremoniously dumped out of the Heineken Cup at the weekend.  Only the second time ever that the reigning champions haven't made it out of the pool stages, ladies and gentlemen.  And, typically, it happened the year the final was in Dublin.  The bloody money I've spent going to finals the past few years, and we collapse like an over-beaten souffle the year it's on our doorstep. Le sigh.

Anyway, allow me to furnish you with a little background on your heroine's fall from grace.  My boss is a very proud Ulsterman, from the wilds of Co. Down.  Any rugby fans among you will remember that Leinster beat Ulster in the Heineken Cup final last year.  Your correspondant may have placed a small wager with her boss at the Christmas party that Leinster would go further than Ulster in the competition again this year.  Your correspondant may have also foolishly agreed when her boss suggested upping the ante in said bet from €20 to €50, and shaken on it in front of several witnesses, despite all the indications that Leinster weren't heading for a record-breaking season, even back in December.  As it happened, our season effectively ended the very next day after that very party, when we allowed Clermont to beat us in the Aviva.  Rule #1 of the Heineken Cup is that you have to win your home games.  We were beaten by ASM both home and away, and come the final pool game in Exeter last week, we had done almost enough to qualify for the quarter-finals as the second-best runner-up, *if* one of several other results went our way.  We needed Toulon to beat Montpellier or Racing Metro to beat Munster.  As it happpened, neither of those teams turned up on their days, and Munster went through on try difference.  Our early season had been absolutely riddled with injuries and we had just left ourselves with too much to do, too late.

And so, to the schadenfreude.  I sent my boss a text on Sunday once we'd been knocked out saying I reckoned I could reasonably qualify for compassionate leave on Monday as I was in mourning for our cup dreams.  His reply?

"I'll show you the same compassion you showed to me last year..."

So yes, it may have been a slight mistake to leave the Heineken Cup on his desk the week after the final with a Post-It on it saying "Enjoy; it's the closest an Ulsterman will get to it :-)"

Touché, Boss. Touché.

And so, to the food.  This is one of those entries where I have absolutely no lead-in to the recipe whatsoever.  You'll just have to deal with it, I'm afraid.  These came about as a result of me drooling at something on Man V Food (a very regular occurrance), attempting to recreate it at home, and it actually turning out successfully (a not so regular occurrance).  So, avid readers, I give you...

Juicy Looseys - makes 4 burgers

750g round mince                                 3 cream crackers, crushed
1 clove garlic, crushed                          1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 tbs dried oregano                              1 egg yolk
200g cheese, cubed                              Salt & pepper

1. In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients except the cheese.  Give it a good going-over, til everything is really well-combined.  Divide into eight equal balls, then press out into thin, wide burgers - think McDonalds rather than GBK here...

2. Place a few cubes of cheese into the centre of four of the patties.  You could slice the cheese instead if you wanted, but I find that using cubes makes it easier to be precise (did you ever think you'd hear that word in relation to my cooking?!) and makes for more even melting.  Here's a pic, just in case you genuinely don't have a clue where I'm going with this...

3. Flatten the edges of the patties, stick one on top of each of the cheesy ones, and crimp the edges tightly with a fork, and then your fingers.  You really don't want any leakage potential - it defeats the whole purpose of the exercise. Stick back in the fridge for half an hour to firm up.

4.  Preheat your grill as hot as you can possibly get it.  Bung your burgers onto the grill tray and don't touch them at all until you're ready to flip them.  Turn them over, prick a few times with a fork or toothpick to allow the steam to escape, and brown the other side.  Serve, in a bun or nekkid, with whatever condiments y'all usually like on a burger.  I always have mine with sweet potato fries, but I confess myself too lazy to give you the method for them tonight, so sue me...