Thursday, March 15, 2012

St. Patrick's Day Traditional Food

One of my favorite things about Irish cooking and it's history is how the dishes always make use of ingredients that are readily available and inexpensive. That's why many of the recipes for traditional Irish dishes use lamb (mutton), potatoes and onions. I have articles on Old Fashioned Living for many of the traditional Irish potato dishes and breads, which I'll give links to at the end of today's blog, so today I thought I'd share a few recipes I hadn't written about previously.

Dublin Coddle is most likely a dish that developed from the Irish stew recipe, replacing the lamb with bacon and sausage. Some recipes add carrots and garlic as well.

Dublin Coddle

1 1/2 pounds thick pork sausages, sliced, 1 inch pieces
1 1/2 pounds slab or thick sliced bacon, diced (1 inch)
1 quart boiling water
2 large yellow onions, peeled, sliced thin
2 pounds potatoes, peeled, thickly sliced
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
salt and ground black pepper to taste

Boil the water in a large pan. Place the sausage and in the boiling water and boil for 5 minutes. Remove the meat with a slotted spoon, and place in a large ovenproof dish or Dutch oven. Layer the meat with the onions potatoes and parsley. Pour over the liquid so it JUST covers the meat and vegetables. Cover and either cook slowly on top of the stove or put in the oven and cook at 350 degrees F. Cook for about an hour until the liquid is half absorbed. Taste to season more if needed. Serve hot with bread.

There are several versions of who first made Irish Coffee, but most agree it was created in the 1940's in an Irish airport and served much like a hot toddy to cold and wet tourists. Below is a recipe that is similar to the original Irish Coffee drink.

Irish Coffee

1/2 cup strong coffee
1/4 quality Irish whiskey
1 1/2 tsp. brown sugar, not white
3 tbsp. heavy cream

Rinse a glass mug with hot water to warm the glass. Add the hot coffee to the mug immediately, stir in the whiskey and brown sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Froth the heavy cream quickly, and pour it slowly over the back of a spoon that is held JUST above the coffee, so it floats on top. Serve hot without stirring. The whiskey laced coffee should be sipped through the cream.

Shepherd's Pie is another example of using what's on hand because it uses leftovers. The recipe below is pretty basic. Use leftover beef of any type, but roast beef works really well. The mashed potatoes should be fairly creamy, and adding shredded cheddar cheese makes a nice addition. Don't be afraid to add extra spices, a little extra meat, or other vegetables such as peas or cabbage.

Shepherd's Pie

2 tablespoons oil
1 medium diced onion
2 thinly sliced carrots
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups beef stock
1/2 tsp. dried thyme or 1 tsp. minced fresh
1 pound cooked minced leftover beef or lamb
2 1/2 cups leftover mashed potatoes

Add the oil to a large skillet to heat on medium. Add the onion and cook until softened. Add the carrots, stir in the flour and saute until it's lightly browned. Slowly add the stock, and the thyme. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the meat and simmer for 5 more minutes. Place in a pie dish and cover with the mashed potatoes. Place into the oven for 30 minutes at 350 degrees F.

Boxty, Champ, and Irish Stew:

Traditional Colcannon:

Irish Tea Traditions:

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Garden Tip Hodge Podge

The sun is shining, and spring is trying to arrive, even in Michigan. Yesterday I noticed the first daffodil stems poking up in my garden, which always makes me smile. Today I'm grabbing two of my older gardening books and sharing tips I thought everyone would enjoy.

The Old Dirt Dobber's Garden Book, 1944

EVERGREENS: In spite of good care, an occasional arborvitae, juniper, pine or cedar will become so ragged and ill-shaped that it destroys the beauty of the planting. These trees are not generally pruned severely, but in cases like this a drastic treatment is the only recourse. If you decide to prune, don't stop half-way; cut the top one-third out and prune the side growth at least half-way back.

CUT POPPIES: Cut freshly opened poppies very early in the morning and sear the ends immediately with flame or boiling water. Treat an inch or two of the base of the stems and char them thoroughly. Then put them in fresh water and they will last for several days without wilting. Do not cut the stems after the first searing. The large Oriental poppies may be cut the same way.

Adventures in My Garden and Rock Garden
Louise Beebe Wilder, 1923

I find the notion that Primroses will not thrive in this country rather widespread, particularly among professional gardeners. Undoubtedly it is true that our hot, dry summers are trying for them, especially where no special provision is made for their comfort in sun-baked gardens. But where there is some shade, the soil may easily be made to suit them, and moisture supplied where necessary; and in many gardens are felicitous situations where these flowers would grow as luxuriantly as we would have them, even seeding themselves, which is the true sign of a plant's having made itself at home.

Mrs. Wilder goes on to say that she has over a thousand primrose plants, many grown from seed, in her garden. She includes the following in the family of Primula: English Primrose, cowslips, oxlips, auriculas, and forms from alpine and blog conditions. She mentions a new "blue" primrose which she doesn't care for and she wishes for a green variety that was available many years before. Below are conditions she gave her plants to thrive:

-a little leaf soil or rotted manure scratched in among their growths now and again.
-watered in dry weather with weak manure water
-their leaves kept clean and free from grit
-they require a deep, rich soil, stiff in quality and fairly moist
-shelter from cutting winds and shade for part of the day

Primroses "are for sheltered, shadowy corners, lightly wooded places, where they may have as companions Hepaticas, Violets, Bloodroot, Dutchman's-breetches, small ferns and emerald mosses."

I love Mrs. Wilder's writing and will share more from her books later in the spring.

On OFL I have an article on Forget-Me-Nots, another charming spring flower: