Thursday, March 12, 2015

"I am a drinker, with a writing problem."

That was a quote attributed to Brendan Behan, a well-"versed' Irish poet, novelist and playwright, which plays right into this post.

Ireland......The very first thought that comes to mind is green pastures, rolling hills and, of course, a tip of the glass. It wasn't that long ago that the Irish that immigrated to America were "cartooned" as brawling drunkards whose last dime went into the bottle

Now that times have changed, St. Patrick's Day has many declaring their ancestry as Irish, regardless if their name is Baryshnikov, St. Pierre or Polanski. In fact, more than 30 % declare themselves of Irish ancestry in the days leading up to St. Patrick's Day and when the same poll is taken 30 days afterward, only 16 % say they are of Irish stock.

Many seek any reason, really, to indulge in original Irish liquor on just one day of the year. And Ireland is known for the superior spirits that are enjoyable straight from the bottle or mingling with other ingredients to result in a tasty treat, even if you aren't a drinker.

Ireland is much like New England. Not only does liquor bring the worst out in people, but to most of the Irish, it enhances togetherness and warmth, much like rum's effect on our fore-families. Their meals are simple and inexpensive yet provide the comfort feeling we Yankees are known for.

Let me give you just a few examples of this simplicity, but with a New England influence.



Crispy Irish Maslin Bread

Maslin literally means brass, but it also refers to a variety of grains used in the baking of bread. So keeping with tradition, in a way, I am including different grains as well as a surprise ingredient that I think you will find a perfect fit.

If you don't have buttermilk on hand or just don't want to purchase it, the perfect substitute is mixing 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice in the same amount of whole milk and let it sit for 30 minutes, or even longer. It will curdle, which is exactly what you want. The interaction of this with baking soda gives this perfectly salty/sweet bread that distinctive hollow sound and the flavor is will remind you of an old world bake shop, in Ireland of course.

Nonstick cooking spray
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, plus extra for kneading
1 cup oat flour*
1/2 cup finely crushed graham crackers
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons cold butter or margarine
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
1 egg, lightly beaten
Extra honey or maple syrup for brushing the top

Preheat oven to 375-degrees F and position oven rack to the upper portion of the oven Grease a baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine both flours, graham crackers, baking soda and salt. Add butter and cut in using either 2 knives, scissor fashion or a fork. Stir in buttermilk, honey and egg, mixing well. Turn out onto well floured work surface and knead for a minute, or until smooth and elastic. Brush off excess flour and place in the middle of the prepared pan. Brush the top with honey and sprinkle extra rolled oats over the top, slightly pressing into the dough. Mark the top with a serrated knife with two 1-inch deep gashes. Bake 40-45 minutes, or until very well browned all over. Remove to cool slightly before serving.


* Simply place the oats in a blender or food processor and have at it. In a few seconds on high and you will have powdered rolled oats, or oat flour.


Perfect Irish Yankee Soda Bread(Spotted Dog)

Yankee because of the sweet/tangy addition of dried cranberries and Soda because of the soda used........just kidding. This is called soda bread because of the chemical reaction of baking soda with buttermilk. It gives you the perfect rise and density found in old world-style breads while the crispy browned exterior is ideal for breaking open to enjoy.

Nonstick cooking spray
4 cups flour, plus extra for kneading
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 egg, beaten well
3/4 cup dried cranberries
2 teaspoons caraway seeds, optional



Preheat oven to 375-degrees F and position oven rack to the upper portion of the oven. Grease a baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Cut in butter with two knives, scissor fashion or use a fork. Add the buttermilk, egg, cranberries and caraway seeds, mixing well to form a dough. Turn out onto well floured work surface and knead for a minute or so, until smooth and elastic. Form into a round loaf, brush off excess flour. Place in middle of prepared pan and spray the top with nonstick cooking spray. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until well browned all around. Remove from oven to cool slightly before tearing into.

Bailey's Irish Whiskey Cake

Yes, I already know. There is no such thing as Bailey's Irish Whiskey. This beautifully scented, Irish cake is, however, brought to you by a Bailey and has a hint of Irish Whiskey both in the cake and on 'top'. You can, however, substitute a few drops of rum extract in the milk below or just leave out any hint of alcohol, and its' taste, altogether. The curdled milk is a great way of adding buttermilk flavor without the added expense while giving this upside down cake perfect flavor and moistness.

1/4 cup whole milk, half-and-half or light cream
1/2 cup Irish Apple Whiskey or Irish Apple Liqueur, divided
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3/4 cup(1 1/2 sticks) butter or margarine, divided
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 large, firm apple. peeled, cored and wedged 1/2-inch thick
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs



In a small bowl, whisk together milk, 1/4 cup whiskey and lemon juice and let sit 30 minutes to curdle while preparing rest of recipe. Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a 9-inch round cake pan over low heat. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the brown sugar and cook, stirring for about 3 minutes until smooth and bubbling. Remove pan from heat.

Lay the apple slices on top of melted butter/brown sugar mixture decoratively. Sprinkle the dried cranberries over the top and evenly drizzle remainder of whiskey; set aside. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and ground ginger. In another bowl, beat remainder of butter and sugar on high until light and fluffy. Scrape down sides and add eggs; beating very well. Reduce speed to low and beat in the flour, a little at a time. Beat in the milk mixture just until moistened. Spoon batter over apples and even out top without disturbing the apple arrangement. Bake 35-40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in middle come out clean. Cool cake in the pan for a couple of minutes and then run a knife around the edge of the pan to help release. Invert onto a serving platter or plate quickly and carefully. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Irish Apple Bread Pudding 'Pie'

This bread pudding is anything but typical. It is beautifully sweetened, less dense and 'gummy' than many other equivalent puddings and the sweet, caramelized crust that forms makes you want to just pick it off first then eat the rest later. Use whatever muffin you desire, I just happened to adore cinnamon but regardless of what you choose, make sure you have 5 cups total after cutting. Taitneamh a bhaint as!


4 large plain or cinnamon muffins
4 teaspoons butter or margarine
3 large apples, peeled, cored and diced, divided
1 cup apple juice or water
1/4 cup maple syrup
Nonstick cooking spray
3/4 cup milk
3 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
Juice and grated rind of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon dried ginger
Irish Butterscotch Cream, recipe below

Slice muffins horizontally about 1-inch thick. Butter all cut sides and grill over medium heat until well browned, about 2 minutes per side. Place on a plate and let cool in refrigerator for an hour, preferably overnight. Meanwhile, add 2/3 of the diced apple to a saucepan along with apple juice or water and maple syrup. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stir, reduce to low and simmer 6-8 minutes, or until it has thickened and apples are done, but still firm. Remove from heat and set aside. Spray a 9-10-inch cake pan with nonstick cooking spray liberally; set aside. Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.

Cut grilled muffins into cubes and add to a bowl along with remainder of diced apple. In another bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, juice and grated rind and ginger. Pour over muffin cubes and gently toss to evenly coat. Transfer to prepared cake pan, evening out the top. Spoon cooked apple mixture over the top evenly and bake 40-45 minutes, or until it is firm when touched in the center with a spoon or fork. Make Irish Butterscotch Cream while pudding is baking. Remove pudding to cool slightly before running a dull knife around the edge to loosen. Cut into wedges and serve drizzled with Irish Butterscotch Cream.

Irish Butterscotch Cream

Put 1 cup whole milk, light or half-and-half cream in a saucepan with 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, 2 tablespoons each of brown sugar and Bailey's Irish Cream and 2 teaspoons honey or corn syrup. Over low heat, bring to a simmer while stirring frequently to prevent scorching. After 2-3 minutes, it will be thicker and creamier, stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla and remove from heat.


                                       Traditional Pan Haggerty

Simple? Yes! Traditional? Yes! But don't let this seemingly mundane dish prevent you from make it. There are so many things I could do to this dish to keep those "food snobs" at bay, but why play with a recipe that has been enjoyed for so long in Ireland? Us Yankees have been enjoying this dish for just as long, but called Scootin' 'Long the Shore. And as much as I would like to add this and that to our version, I decided to take the critics blows for offering a "dull and idiot simple" New England classic. My response to them? You really don't want to know!

3 slices bacon, diced
1 small onion, peeled and diced
3 large potatoes, about a pound, diced
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
Salt and black pepper to taste
Sour cream, if desired


Heat a large oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Add and cook bacon until crisp or to your liking. Remove bacon to crumble and add back into the skillet with onion and cook an additional 5-6 minutes, or until onion is soft but not browned. Drain fat and add potatoes and broth. Stir to combine, bring to a boil and cover. Reduce heat to low and simmer 8-10 minutes(according to the size of your potato cubes), or until the potatoes are firm, but tender and the liquid has absorbed. If you still have liquid after potatoes are done, simple increase heat to medium and continue cooking, uncovered, for a few more minutes until it has evaporated and/or absorbed. Preheat broiler and place oven rack at least 3-inches from heat source. Remove skillet from burner, evenly sprinkle cheese over the top and broil until as crisp as you like. Remove to serve immediately. Top with sour cream if desired.


Tipperary Apple Pudding

I remember once, many years ago, trying a Tipperary Pippin Apple and was blown away at the perfect cooking nature of it. Of course, now there are so many more to choose from but that one taste has stayed with me all these years. So in honor of my first bite of a true Irish apple, enjoy this Yankee take on the Apple Barley Pudding that is so dear to Irish hearts, and palates. I gave this a little zing that I think is spot on. For an even warmer feel, try substituting allspice for the nutmeg.

Now many of you will be asking by now, why barley in a dessert? Many centuries ago, in Ireland, barley was a cereal grain that was widely used in kitchens during St. Patrick's time, which is only summized as being in the 5th century. So barley was used as a thickener, porridge, breads, pastries and, of course through natural progression, desserts of all kinds.

5 large apples of your choice, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
5 tablespoons pearl barley
2 cups water
2 cups apple juice
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon each of cinnamon and nutmeg
1 cup whipped cream or topping
1/4 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup cranberry juice or orange juice


In a large saucepan, bring the apples, barley, water and apple juice to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until barley is soft. Remove from heat and strain, reserving any liquid. Add to a food processor bowl, or in batches using a blender and puree until it resembles chunky applesauce.  Add liquid if needed to puree or more apple juice if the liquid has been fully absorbed. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and add sugar and spices, mixing well. Cover and refrigerate until cooled or serve warm.

Meanwhile, make cranberry "sauce". In a small saucepan, add cranberries and juice. Bring to a boil over medium,-high heat. When boiling, reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes, or until cranberries have started to take in the juice and swell. Transfer to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. This sauce will thicken perfectly while pureeing because of the very high, natural pectin levels in the cranberries. Pour into a bowl and refrigerate until cooled.

To serve, spoon apple pudding into 3-4 serving dishes, top with whipped topping and drizzle sauce over the top.

Pearl barley has been processed, therefore it is not classified as a whole grain. But if you would like to add hulled barley(aka pot barley or barley groats) in order to obtain the fiber, simply cook twice as long, and you will need to add one extra cup of liquid because of the longer cooking time. The consistency will not be altered because of the addition of other ingredients, but if you were to cook it on its' own, it will be much chewier and sticky. And don't forget to rinse it before cooking to help keep that stickiness down.


MasterChef,hahaha said...

Just made the brown bread it was superb. Headed to the store for barley now. Looks great and ty chef

Anonymous said...

Looks like Pan Haggerty for all of us this year.