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A wee taste o’ the Irish


Jan Swoope



It never fails. When St. Patrick’s Day rolls around each March, it seems there is a touch of the Irish in all of us.  


Shamrocks, spuds, Guinness and leprechauns tend to be the first things to mind when we hear of the Emerald Isle, but when it comes to food, it’s worth knowing the old country’s culture is built on more than just potatoes. 


To understand Irish cuisine, it helps to look at the history of the land itself. In the seventh century, when monks first documented Ireland’s agriculture practices, the potato wasn’t even buried beneath the landscape at that time, writes James Patrick Kelly for The Daily Fork. 


For centuries, Irish diets were influenced by crops grown and animals raised in its temperate climate. Its earthy cooking — sometimes called a peasant cuisine — was centered around filling dishes like corned beef and cabbage, a meal often associated with the sainted Patrick’s special day.  


Eire’s beef, mutton and pork, shellfish, domestic poultry and geese, as well as native berries and nuts, were at the heart of the dinner table. The potato was introduced in the sixteenth century and became increasingly ubiquitous, at least until the devastating potato blight of the 1800s, a crisis of far-reaching effects in both Ireland and America, where many of its people immigrated. 




Fresh outlook 


In today’s Ireland, there is a new pride in traditional Irish cooking, combined with new approaches spurred in part by cooking guru Darina Allen. Her Ballymaloe House and Cookery School took the top Good Food Ireland Award. The school located near the sea, in County Cork, is situated in the middle of a 100-acre organic farm and has invigorated an emphasis on cooking with high quality regional ingredients. 


“The connection between farming and cooking is vital,” Allen has said. 


Large cities like Dublin and Cork are becoming world-class food towns, offering inventive cuisine. A European influence is increasingly evident throughout the green isle. A survey of “best restaurant” sites such as reveals listings for La Picolla Italia in Carlow, Et Voila French Bistro in Wexford and a Spanish restaurant and tapas bar in Galway. 


Some things, of course, don’t change. Potatoes remain ideally suited to the country’s soil and climate and are used in dishes ranging from soups to cakes. Those Irish recipes handed down from generation to generation still have their place of heritage in a busy and modern Ireland. 


Enjoy these recipes from And a Happy St. Patrick’s Day — Beannachtam na Femle Padraig, in Gaelic — to you.  




    ON THE WEB: 






  • (Ballamaloe Cookery School) 










    For the dressing: 


    1/2 cup regular or low-fat mayonnaise 


    2 tablespoons malt vinegar or white wine vinegar 


    2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon, or 3/4 teaspoon dried 


    1 teaspoon whole grain Dijon mustard 


    2-3 teaspoons water 




    For the salad: 


    4 cups torn romaine lettuce 


    4 cups selected salad bar ingredients (pickled beets, sliced cucumber, sliced tomatoes,  


    sliced celery, sliced onions, grated red cabbage) 


    Five hard-boiled eggs, peeled, sliced 




    4 ounces cheddar cheese, cut into wedges  


    4 ounces blue cheese crumbles 




  • Combine mayonnaise, vinegar, tarragon and Dijon mustard in a small bowl and whisk to blend. Whisk in enough water by teaspoonsful to make the dressing thin enough to pour. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 


    n Arrange lettuce on a platter as the base of the salad. Place salad bar ingredients, eggs and cheddar cheese on top in an attractive pattern. Top with crumbled blue cheese. Drizzle dressing over salad. 






    Servings: 12  




    One corned beef brisket (about 5 pounds) 


    Two medium onions, peeled and quartered 


    Four black peppercorns 


    One bay leaf 


    1/2 teaspoon rosemary, crushed 


    1 quart water 


    Six medium potatoes, peeled and quartered 


    Six medium carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces 


    1 cup celery, cut into 2-inch pieces 


    One medium head green cabbage, cut into eight wedges 




  • Place beef in a large Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid. Add onion, peppercorns, bay leaf, rosemary and water.  


  • Bring to a boil; simmer covered for three and one-half hours, or until meat is fork tender. 


  • Add potatoes, carrots, parsnips and celery to the Dutch oven. Place cabbage on top of the meat. Cover and cook for one hour, or until vegetables are tender. Remove the vegetables and meat to a large platter and serve with mustard or horseradish.  










    3 cups chopped potatoes 


    1/2 cup chopped onion 


    Two large eggs 


    2 tablespoons flour 


    1/2 teaspoon salt 


    Sour cream 




  • Blend potatoes, onion and eggs in a blender or food processor until finely grated. Add flour and salt until mixed well.  


  • On a preheated and greased griddle, spread one heaping tablespoon of mixture into a 2 1/2 inch pancake and repeat. 


  • Grill over medium heat until the top looks dry; flip and cook on the other side. Serve with butter or sour cream. 










    Servings: Four to six 




    One 9-inch deep dish pie shell 


    One 10-ounce package frozen chopped broccoli, about 1-1/2 cups 


    8 ounces fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced 


    1 cup milk 


    Three eggs, beaten 


    1 tablespoon margarine, melted 


    1 tablespoon flour 


    1 teaspoon salt 


    1/2 to 1 teaspoon pepper 


    1 cup Kerrygold Irish Vintage Cheddar, divided 




  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  


  • Bake pie crust about 10 minutes, or until bottom is slightly brown. Let cool.  


  • Cook broccoli until tender and drain well. Combine milk, eggs, margarine, flour, salt, pepper and 3/4 cup cheese and whisk until well blended. 


  • Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup of cheese over the crust. Layer broccoli and mushrooms on cheese. Pour milk and egg mixture over all.  


  • Bake at 375 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. 










    Three large egg whites 


    1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar 


    1/4 teaspoon salt 


    3/4 cup sugar 


    1 1/2 cups heavy cream 


    3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract 


    Kiwifruit or any kind of sliced fresh fruit or berries 




  • Line a cookie sheet with foil. Using a 9-inch round plate or cake pan as guide, with a toothpick outline a circle on the foil. Preheat oven to 275 degrees. 


  • In a small bowl, with mixer at high speed, beat egg whites, cream of tartar and salt until soft peaks form. Beating at high speed, gradually sprinkle in sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition until the sugar is completely dissolved and whites stand in stiff, glossy peaks. 


  • Inside the circle on the cookie sheet, spoon meringue mixture, shaping meringue into a “nest” about 1 1/2 inches high around the edge.  


  • Bake 1 1/4 hours, or until the meringue is lightly browned and crisp. Cool meringue on the cookie sheet on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  


  • With a metal spatula, carefully loosen and move the meringue from foil to wire rack to cool completely. When cool, place on a serving plate and store in a cool dry place. 


  • In a small bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat heavy cream and vanilla extract until stiff peaks form. Fill the meringue with cream and top with fruit just before serving. Do not store the meringue in the refrigerator; it will absorb moisture and become soft. (You may also use this recipe to make six individual pavlovas.) 








    Yields: About 20 




    Four 1-ounce squares unsweetened chocolate 


    2-1/2 cups confectioners sugar 


    6 tablespoons butter, room temperature 


    1/4 cup Bailey's Irish Cream 




  • In a heavy 2-quart saucepan over low heat, heat four squares of unsweetened chocolate, stirring frequently, until melted; cool slightly.  


  • Stir in confectioners sugar, butter and 1/4 cup Irish Cream until the mixture is smooth and blended. (Mixture will be thick, so you


Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.


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Reader Comments

Article Comment Mr. Food commented at 3/18/2010 2:51:00 PM:

Oooooooooooooooh, it's so gooooood!


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