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Archive for the ‘Irish Food’ Category

This is a classic for a reason and you really shouldn’t wait until St Patrick’s day to make it; although for some reason that’s what we do every year. It’s a meal in a bowl but if you want to go all out you can serve it with colcannon and turnip mash with bacon and onions. Beware… we kept on taking seconds … and thirds…

Wine Suggestion: The Irish have a great affinity with Spanish wine, so we picked a Mencia from Bierzo, the Dominio de Tares “Baltos” which was full of flavour as well as vibrantly fresh with resolved and mildly spice tannins.

Irish Stew – serves 6 to 8

  • 900g boneless lamb neck or shoulder, trimmed and cut into cubes
  • 900ml lamb or chicken stock, home-made preferably
  • 50g pearl barley, washed
  • 225g potatoes, cut into chunks
  • 225g carrots, thickly sliced
  • 225g leeks, well trimmed and thickly sliced
  • 225g pearl onions, peeled (if you can’t get these you can use halved shallots)
  • 100g smoked bacon, diced
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • chopped flat-leaf parsley to garnish

Put the lamb pieces into a large flameproof casserole and pour over the stock.

Bring to the boil, then skim off any scum from the surface and stir in the barley. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for 50 minutes, until slightly reduced and the lamb should be almost tender.

Add the potatoes, carrots, leeks, pearl onions, smoked bacon and thyme and simmer for 30 minutes or until the lamb and vegetables are completely tender but not falling apart. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Scatter the parsley over the top and serve.

(Original recipe from Neven Maguire’s Complete Family Cookbook, Gill Books, 2016.)

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We had to try this idea from Gill Meller’s book Gather in order to use some dulse flakes from Aran Islands Seaweed. The dulse flakes give a smoky umami flavour to the dish. It takes a while in the oven but it otherwise very simple and tastes even better if made in advance, as stews often do. We served with creamy mash, cabbage and turnip for a hearty Sunday lunch.

Wine Suggestion: A dish that needs a suitably rich red wine to match; one where the rich fruit has high levels of anthocyanins and phenols in a ripe framework. The Altosur Malbec from Tuppangato (the highest part of the Mendoza area) in Argentina came out of the rack and its blackberry, blueberry and plum flavours with brambly, rich tannins was an ample choice.

Beef shin with dulce – serves 4

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 800g beef shin, sliced thickly
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 4 large garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 celery sticks, thinly sliced
  • 3-4 sprigs of thyme
  • ½ a glass of red wine
  • 2-3 tsp powdered smoked dulse (we used dulse flakes, see note above)
  • 300ml chicken stock or water

Heat the oven to 120C/Gas 1.

Heat the oil in a heavy flameproof casserole. Season the beef shin well with salt and pepper, then brown on all sides until it takes on a really-good colour all over. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add the onion, garlic, celery and thyme and cook gently over a low heat until the onions are soft but not coloured. Return the meat the pan, then add the wine, dulse and stock or water and bring to a gentle simmer.

Cover the casserole with a lid and place in the oven for 4-5 hours, or until the meat falls apart easily. Season to taste and leave to rest for 25 minutes before serving with mash and other veg.

(Original recipe from Gather by Gill Meller, Quadrille, 2016.)

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Wild Garlic Mash

Wild garlic has a short season in April and most years we make all kinds of things with it. This April we only managed some mashed potato – but very delicious mashed potato it was!

Wild Garlic Mash- serves 2 generously

  • 700g floury potatoes
  • 25-50g butter
  • 25g wild garlic, roughly chopped
  • 100ml double cream

Peel the potatoes and cut into same-sized chunks. Boil until completely tender.

Dry the potatoes off in the hot pan, then mash until smooth.

Meanwhile, melt a generous slab of butter in a small frying pan. Add the wild garlic and cook for a minute or two until softened. Pour the melted butter and wild garlic into the mashed potatoes.

Pour the cream into the same frying pan and bring to a bubble, then pour into the potatoes. Season well with salt and freshly ground white pepper, then beat the mash with a wooden spoon until smooth and fluffy.

 

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Potato & leek soup with smoked Gubbeen cheese & chives

This is no ordinary leek and potato soup but rich and complex with a subtle smoky flavour from the cheese. We’ve been cooking from Gill Meller’s latest book, Time, and the recipes are stunning.

This is the kind of soup that goes well with Northern Irish Wheaten Bread.

Leek & Potato Soup with Smoked Gubbeen & Chives – serves 4

  • 1 litre of vegetable stock or chicken stock
  • 3 floury white potatoes (about 350g), peeled and cut into 1-2cm cubes
  • 3 medium-large leeks, sliced into 1cm rounds
  • 25g butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 shallots or 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 or 3 thyme sprigs, leaves stripped
  • 100ml double cream
  • 50g smoked Gubbeen (Gill suggests smoked Cheddar or goat’s cheese), grated, plus extra to serve
  • a small bunch of chives, finely chopped

Bring the stock to the boil in a large heavy pan. Add just a third of the potato, bring the stock back to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 6-8 minutes, or until the potato cubes are tender. Add a third of the leeks and cook for a few minutes to soften, then drain the vegetables in a colander set over a bowl to catch the stock.

Return the pan to a medium heat and heat the butter and olive oil. When bubbling, add the onion, garlic and thyme leaves. Cook, stirring, for 4-5 minutes, then add the remaining leeks and potato to the pan, seasoning well with salt and pepper. Cook gently for 3-4 minutes, then add the reserved stock and bring to a gentle simmer.

Cook the soup for about 15 minutes or until the leeks and potatoes are tender. Remove from the heat and blend until smooth.

Return the soup to the pan. Add the cooked leeks and potatoes from earlier, along with the cream, grated cheese and chopped chives. Season again, then put back on the heat and bring slowly to a simmer. Stir well, remove from the heat, and stand for 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with some extra cheese, chives and seasoning.

(Original recipe from Time: A Year & a Day in the Kitchen by Gill Meller, Quadrille, 2018.)

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Potato soup

An invaluable recipe especially in Ireland as we always seem to have surplus potatoes lying around. This is what we cook when ‘there’s no food in the house’ and it’s pretty good.

Potato and fresh herb soup – serves 6

  • 50g butter
  • 425g potatoes, peeled and cut into 1cm cubes
  • 110g onions, cut into 1cm cubes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp chopped herbs: parsley, thyme, chives
  • 850ml chicken or vegetable stock
  • 125ml creamy milk

Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. Wait until it starts to foam, then add the potatoes and onions and stir to coat in the butter. Add the salt and some black pepper. Cover with a butter wrapper or some greaseproof paper and the saucepan lid. Sweat gently for about 10 minutes while you bring the stock to the boil in a separate pan.

When the vegetables are softened but not coloured, add the herbs and stock, then continue to cook until the vegetables are completely soft. Whizz the soup until smooth and season to taste. Thin with some creamy milk if necessary and garnish with some more herbs.

(Original recipe from Darina Allen’s Ballymaloe Cookery Course, Kyle Cathie Ltd., 2001.)

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Champ

This is how Julie’s Granny served champ, with a great big lump of Irish butter in the middle!

Irish Champ – serves 4 as a side or 2 on it’s own

  • 700g potatoes – it helps if they are roughly the same size
  • salt and white pepper (no black pepper please)
  • 6 tbsp milk
  • 4 scallions, finely chopped
  • 50g butter (plus extra to serve)

Put the potatoes (unpeeled) in a pot and cover with cold water and a good pinch of salt. Bring to the boil, then simmer until completely tender (usually about 20 minutes but keep checking and don’t let them go to mush).

Heat the milk with the scallions for about 5 minutes.

Drain the potatoes and peel while still hot. If you have a potato ricer you could use that but we tend to use a standard masher.

Beat the butter into the mashed potato with a wooden spoon, then stir in the warm milk and scallions. Season well with salt and white pepper.

Serve the potatoes in a warm bowl. Make a dip in the middle with the back of a spoon and add a lump of good quality (preferably Irish) salted butter.

 

 

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Kassler roasted with cabbage & potatoes

Our mate Brett got us this genuine Kassler, a pork loin expertly cured and lightly smoked by Ed Hicks in Dun Laoghaire. If you can’t find Kassler use a smoked bacon loin or rack and prepare yourself for the best bacon & cabbage ever.

Wine Suggestion: We chose a classic white Burgundy, 100% Chardonnay made in oak from a winemaker in Meursault, Patrick Javillier. He makes a couple of Bourgogne Blanc’s from a couple of very particular sites in Meursault and boy are they good. This time we chose his Cuvée Oligocene which is a vineyard partly in Meursault and partly in the ordinary Burgundy classification (despite it being the same soils and aspect). This makes this wine a bargain and we love it.

Roast Bacon with Cabbage & Potatoes – serves 6-8

  • 1kg potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 450g savoy cabbage, cored and roughly chopped
  • 1kg boned kassler/smoked bacon loin or rack
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter

For the Sauce

  • 25g unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 600ml chicken stock
  • 50ml Madeira or Port
  • 1-3 tbsp Dijon mustard

Pre-heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.

Put the potatoes into a large saucepan, cover with cold salted water, bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes, then drain.

Par-boil the cabbage in another large pan of lightly salted water for 2 minutes. Drain into a colander and refresh with cold water, then use your hands to squeeze out the excess water.

Put the bacon into a large roasting tray and place in the oven. Roast for 10 minutes before adding the butter. When the butter has melted, add the potatoes and roast together for 20 minutes, turning the bacon & potatoes in the butter now and then.

Now push the potatoes and bacon to one side and add the cabbage. Season the potatoes and cabbage with salt and roast for another 10 minutes, turning everything in the smoky butter.

Meanwhile, make the sauce by melting the butter in a small pan and adding the flour. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, then take off the heat and whisk in the chicken stock until smooth. Place back on the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

After 40 minutes in total remove the bacon from the oven and check that the potatoes and cabbage are cooked. Transfer the vegetables to a warm serving platter, then slice the bacon and arrange on top. Keep warm.

To finish the sauce, de-glaze the juices in the roasting tin with the Maderia or Port and add to the sauce. Whisk in the mustard and season to taste with salt and pepper.

(Original recipe by Paul Rankin.)

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We think that Denis Cotter from “Cafe Paradiso” is equally inspired, a genius and slightly mad with his creations. Every dish is constructed as layers of flavours that as a whole are quite engaging and delightful. We loved this dish and each element really adds something extra and delicious.

Roast parsnip farrotto with pine nuts & citrus-rosemary butter – to serve 4

  • leaves from 3 sprigs of rosemary
  • zest of 2 oranges and 2 lemons, in large strips
  • 200g butter, softened, plus extra to finish
  • 1.5 litres vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 250g shallots, thinly sliced
  • 400g parsnips, peeled, woody cores removed, and cut into large dice
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 300g farro
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 100ml dry white wine
  • 75g hard cheese (we used Parmesan), finely grated
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts, lightly toasted and chopped

Put the rosemary and zest in a small saucepan with 30g of the butter. Heat gently until the butter starts to sizzle, then remove from the heat and leave to infuse for at least 30 minutes in a warm place. Strain through a sieve and throw away the solids. Stir the flavoured butter into the rest of the butter. Either keep warm or soften again just before serving.

Bring the stock to the boil in a large saucepan, then turn it down and keep at a low simmer.

In a wide, heavy pan, heat the olive oil and cook the shallots and parsnip for a couple of minutes over a medium heat.Add the thyme, honey and vinegar, then cover with baking parchment, lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. The parsnips should caramelise a bit but will stay firm.

Add the farro and garlic, and cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring now and then. Remove the thyme sprigs. Add the white wine, bring to the boil and simmer until the wine has been absorbed.

Pour in a ladleful or two of hot stock and simmer, stirring occasionally, until it has been absorbed. Keep adding stock in this way for 40-50 minutes, or until the grains are soft and chewy. Stir in the cheese and season well with salt and pepper.

Spoon the farrotto into warm bowls, drizzle with the citrus butter and scatter with pine nuts.

Wine Suggestion: This dish has some strong flavours so you can’t go for anything too light or you will risk it being overwhelmed. An oaked Semillon from Australia would have the weight, the freshness of acidity and the natural citrus flavours should complement and enhance the dish. We went for Stephanie O’Toole’s Mount Horrick’s Semillon and it was delicious.

(Original recipe from Denis Cotter’s For the Love of Food, Collins, 2011.)

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Wholesome and heart warming lunch when family drop by. We like to only partially blend or soups sometimes as it gives a great smooth consistency and keeps some of the flavoursome lumps.

Leek and potato soup – serves 6-8

  • 2 carrots
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 2 medium onions
  • 400g leeks
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 400g potatoes
  • olive oil
  • 2 chicken or vegetable stock cubes

Peel and roughly chop the carrots and onions and slice the celery and garlic. Quarter the leeks lengthways and cut into 1cm slices.

Put a large pot over a high heat and add 2 tbsp of olive oil. Add all the chopped and sliced ingredients and mix well, then cook for 10 to 15 minutes, partially covered, until the carrots have softened and the onions have started to turn golden.

Peel the potatoes and cut into 1 cm dice. Add 1.8 litres of boiling water to the stock cubes, then add to the vegetables along with the potatoes.

Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes with the lid on.

Season and serve or blend until smooth, or give it a half-hearted whizz like we did.

(Original recipe from Jamie’s Ministry of Food by Jamie Oliver, Penguin 2008.)

 

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The sauce for these mussels is a revelation: full of wonderful flavours and balance, rich and yet light. Don’t be afraid of the amount of whiskey you put in either – it really works.

Irish Whiskey Mussels – to serve 6

  • 2kg mussels
  • 1 large leek
  • 1 stick of celery
  • knob of butter
  • 250g undyed smoked haddock, skin removed and pin-boned
  • 150ml Irish whiskey – we used Green Spot
  • 200ml double cream
  • small bunch of flat-leaf parsley
Wash and debeard the mussels and throw any that won’t close away.

Finely slice the leek and celery (keep the yellow celery leaves for sprinkling over at the end). Put a wide, deep pot on a medium heat and add some olive oil and a knob of butter, along with the leek and celery. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the vegetables are soft then flake in the smoked haddock and pour in the whiskey. Set the pan alight and wait until the flames die down – mind your eyebrows.

Add the mussels and double cream. Stir well, put the lid on the pan and cook for 4-5 minutes or until the mussels have all popped open – throw away any that stay closed. Move the mussels to a large bowl with a slotted spoon. Bubble the cooking liquor until it thickens. Roughly chop the parsley and add to the pot. Taste the sauce for seasoning and pour it all over the mussels Scatter the celery leaves over and serve with bread or skinny chips.

(Original recipe Highland Mussels by Jamie Oliver from Jamie’s Great Britain, Penguin 2011.)

Wine Suggestion: Pick a nice dry and good quality German Riesling which should give you racy acidity, minerality and Riesling flavours which work well with the mussels and smoked haddock. We had a stunning example from Wagner Stempel – well worth checking out this up and coming producer from the Rheinhessen region (infamously known for Liebfraumilch!). Or you could always have a shot of whiskey!

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We love  champ, and this recipe adds an extra layer of deliciousness. This idea is from Jamie’s latest book and we especially liked the addition of yellow celery leaves at the end.

King of mash: Irish champ

  • 1kg potatoes
  • 2 scallions
  • 1 leek
  • 150ml milk
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 50g butter
  • a small handful of watercress (we omitted this as there was none in the shop)
  • a small bunch of flat-leaf parsley
  • a small handful of yellow celery leaves

Peel the potatoes and bring a large pan of  salted water to the boil. Cut the potatoes into 2.5cm chunks then add to the pan and boil fast for 12-15 minutes, or until completely tender.

Meanwhile, slice the scallions and leeks as finely as you can. Put them in a saucepan with the milk, bay leaf, butter and plenty of seasoning. Bring to the boil, then simmer gently for about 7-8 minutes.

Drain the potatoes and let them steam dry for a few minutes in the hot pot. Mash the potatoes, adding spoonfuls of the milk as you go. Taste and season. Roughly chop the watercress (if using) and stir through the mash (discard any thick stalks).

Just before serving reheat the mash with a lid on over a gentle heat. Stir in the parsley and celery leaves and serve with more butter if you like.

(Original recipe from Jamie’s Great Britain by Jamie Oliver, Penguin, 2011.)

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It’s another Irish Food Bloggers Association Cookalong and this time the theme is Irish. We were tempted to do an Irish stew but thought that was a bit obvious, we thought about beef and Guinness but that’s not all that original either and then to make things more difficult we invited a vegetarian for dinner.  It was then that we thought about using some Irish cheese as the base for a dish and after eating many variations of cheese and pastry all week we came up with this. Irish potatoes, leeks and a west Cork Cheddar all baked up in a pie. Delicious!!

Serves 4-6

  • 650g waxy potatoes
  • 750g leeks
  • 50g butter
  • 200ml creme fraiche
  • 180g Bandon Vale Vintage Cheddar, grated
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • 500g puff pastry
  • beaten egg for glazing

Heat the oven to 200C.

Peel the potatoes and cut them into slices. Boil in plenty of salted water until tender (it’s ok if they go a bit mushy).

Meanwhile, throw away the very green bit of the leeks and slice the rest into rings. Wash really well in cold water to get rid of any grit.

Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the leeks. Cover and cook over low-medium heat until tender – about 20 minutes.

Mix the  leeks, potatoes, creme fraiche and cheddar and season well with salt, pepper and a little bit of nutmeg.

Roll the pastry into two rectangles (about the size of your baking sheet).

Pile the potato mixture into the middle  of one sheet and leave a good rim around the edge. Brush the edges with beaten egg and lay second piece of pastry over the top and press the edges down, pinching firmly to seal. Trim off any excess.

Brush all over with the egg and cut 3 or 4 slits along the width of the top.

Bake for 40-45 minutes until golden.

(Original recipe from Nigel Slater Tender Vol 1 – A tart of leeks and cheese)

Wine suggestion: A full-bodied white was nice with this. We had a Santenay Blanc followed by an oaked Semillon from the Clare Valley.

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