Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Saint Patrick's Day Feast

Sunday, my brother, sister-in-law, niece and I had a little pre-St.Patrick's Day Celebration, a fairly good approximation of a authentic Irish meal, that I though I would share with you. It will be followed by my secret Irish brown bread recipe, you lucky devils.

We started with some shrimp. Now usually, when this is served in Ireland, they use wee, little shrimp, but like this, served on a bed of lettuce with salad dressing, what we would call thousand island dressing. That was followed by some vegetable
soup. When we traveled in Ireland, it became a bit of a joke. You go into a place for lunch and they will say there is a 'soup of the day'. You ask what it is and the answer always is "vegetable" soup. What veggie that is is rarely mentioned. Sometimes the soup will be orange, so lots of carrots, sometimes it might be green, sometimes white, all depending on the dominate vegetable. But it is always a pureed veggie soup and it is almost always very good.
As was mine, of course.

Then, the main course. Ham, corned beef, boiled potatoes, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. A word now about corned beef. There is NOTHING...ok, very, very little...Irish about corned beef. It is almost totally unknown in Ireland and you will never see it on a menu or in a store. What they do eat is when then boil something and serve it with cabbage and potatoes and a variety of vegetables like cabbage, rutabagas, turnips, carrots, sprouts, is ham or a 'bacon' joint. Not corned beef. So, we had both, ham and corned beef..because we are, of course Irish-American.

For dessert, I baked my attempt at an Irish style apple tart. According to my brother, our Aunt Maure makes the perfect Apple Tart and while mine was close it was not perfect. Unlike our apple pie, their tart is quite thin, not terribly sweet and very subtly spiced. Served with a dollop of barely whipped, slightly sweetened heavy cream.
I will keep trying.
The niece also made some nice "Irish Potatoes", again, unknown in Ireland and some 5 Minute Key Lime Tarts...which were green.

And finally, there is the bread. Brown bread, a whole wheat quick, that is non-yeast, bread is, to me, the quintessential Irish bread. One that I have worked on recreating as perfectly as I could. One problem is that Irish whole wheat flour in not the same as American flour. Ours is made from a hard wheat, theirs from a soft wheat. For years, I would sneak a few 5 lb bags home in my suitcase...not sure that is legal...but then, happily, I found that King Arthur Flour carries a very acceptable substitute, so I buy a couple of bags and freeze them until I need them. Then there is our buttermilk, which I thing lacks some of the tang of the Irish version. So I added plain yougurt as part of the 'liquid'.

When my cousin Catherine and her husband Paul came over to the USA, she tasted bread made according to my recipe and pronounced it very good, so I think I have succeeded.

Brown Bread

3 cups Irish style whole wheat flour
1 cup white flour
1 cup raw Irish oatmeal
1 tsp. baking power
1 tsp. baking soda
1 TBS. wheat germ
1/2 tsp. salt
1 TBS. sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup plain yogurt
1 cup buttermilk, plus enough to moisten

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the remaining three, wet ingredients. Mix the wet into the dry and then add enough additional buttermilk to make a rather wet dough. With moistened hands, quickly form into round loaf, handling as little as possible, and put on a baking sheet to bake free form or into a 2 qt, round Pyrex bowl , if you like a perfect round loaf, to bake.
Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes then reduce to 400 for remaining 45 minutes. Cover with foil if it starts to brown too quickly.
When done, it will sound hollow if you tap the bottom.
Wrap in a tea towel to cool.

This is my contribution this to this week's Weekend Cooking.
"Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend."
Be sure to check out the other entries this week. As always, hosted by Beth Fish Reads.


  1. One of my daughters was home last week and we were remembering things about Ireland (last trip was 9 years ago, sigh). I had to laugh about the soup - and I had a lot of it while there. We also loved the Toasted Special found at most pubs. Grilled cheese, tomato and ham. Yum.

  2. I love your recreated authentic Irish meal, especially the soda bread. I'm glad you found the KAF flour, I've been curious about it for a while!

  3. Oh - the entire meal looks delicious (sans brussel sprouts - I have never acquired a taste for those). I think the Irish Apple Tart should be your next Weekend Cooking post :)

  4. I am drooling over this meal. The Iris Tart sounds like the perfect dessert.

  5. What a fabulous post! Great sounding recipes and wonderful photos. Happy (belated) St. Patty's Day!

  6. Wow. Now I'm hungry!
    You mentioned Irish potatoes... did you mean Colcannon? That's the best stuff ever!

  7. Nothing Irish about corned beef?? The meal looks delicious (minus the brussel sprouts, as Molly says) This is a great post!

  8. Very interesting about the corned beef! After reading Ulysses however, I have thought it best to eschew "authentic" Irish food. The sensory image of the frying kidneys "with the faint scent of urine" has stayed with me for all the years since I first read it! :--)

  9. How wonderful to hear about your real Irish meal. Very informative. Your bread recipe sounds and looks delicious. Great post.

  10. Hey, you forgot to call me! What a delicious looking meal.

  11. mary..on a 'soft' (rainy) Irish day, that soup is grand.

    beth..I love the KAF flour...and their web site and their recipes..

    molly, to do that, I will need to make another tart and who, oh who, would eat it?

    diane, my brother thinks so!

    melissa, the only problem is remembering to take the photos before we eat it! lol

    wackymummy, colcannon is delicious, but no, she made the Irish Potato candy, with coconut and cinnamon.

    joann, I have never seen corned beef in ireland.

    rhapsody, Ireland was always a poor, rural country and no part of the animal was wasted. I draw the line at kidneys..or brains...but I do love calves tongue.

    margot, I try to make this a learning

    kathy..oh...I forgot. lol

  12. Ooh, it all looks so good minus the bs. Another non fan here of sprouts. Can you get Irish oatmeal in NJ? I'm sure the podunk stores here don't carry it. How about regular old Quaker? Is that okay?

  13. You can pass me the Brussels sprouts! I'm happy to eat them. Be sure to let us know when you have that apple tart perfected; I'd love to have that recipe!

    I love KAF and that's all I use -- wheat, white wheat, bread, rye, all-purpose. Do you use their whole wheat or their white wheat for the bread? I need to make it!

  14. kaye, you can buy McCann's Irish Oatmeal in the supermarkets here. It is a whole oat, not rolled and steamed like USA oats usually are. you might find another whole oat..or you might just skip it and increase the flour 1/2 cup wheat and 1/2 cup white. I think it adds a nutty touch.

    beth, I was thinking I was the only Brussels sprout fan here!
    they make an Irish style whole wheat...KAF in the post is a link to it. I was reading the comments on the site and see they have a recipe on the back of the bag for brown bread...I never noticed that and will have to check it out.

  15. Caite....that's almost exactly the bread recipe I baked - I never thought to add the yogurt. I also second using McCann's for the oatmeal-the nutty crunch is just perfect. This recipe guarantees the bread is one of the best parts of the whole meal....particularly if you slather it with Irish Butter!!

  16. Tina, like I said, I think our buttermilk is lacking and the yogurt adds the tang. Also, you are so right about the Irish butter. Happily, we can buy that in the supermarket here too now, along with some Irish cheeses.
    Some soup, cheese, bread, maybe a nice beer (when my Lent 'water only fast' is over.)

    Darn, I need to make myself a loaf now...

  17. I have to say my nana in Dublin made corned beef and cabbage every Sunday until the day she died, so Irish people do eat corned beef!

  18. Thanks for sharing your Irish meal with us. It looks and sounds delicious!

  19. Colleen...But then I always have my doubts that Dublin is really Irish.
    Ok, maybe it is not totally unknown in Ireland, but I can honestly say on many, many trips, I have never seen it. Now black pudding....

    Bonnie, my pleasure. Not as much as eating it, but still a pleasure.

  20. I could feed on those shrimps, which don't look small to me, all day. The pureed vegetable soup looks yummy also. This is a delicious meal. It makes me drool just looking at it! :)

  21. Looks wonderful. And THANK YOU for the info on corned beef. I mean, I knew it but I was so happy to see you talk about it. When I lived in Ireland briefly in my early 20s there were so many myths that were busted for me, that I grew up with as an Irish American- corned beef among them. THANK YOU for the great post!

  22. What an awesome post! Wish I had been there to enjoy all the good food - it all looks and sounds great.

  23. Marie, now you have me curious as to what other Irish myths were busted.

    Darlene, glad you enjoyed it!

  24. great post, the soup looks and sounds wonderful.


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