Quick & Easy
By Beverly Barbour
March is the month of the Irish
Mother Nature does a brilliant job of coloring Ireland. She uses many, many drops of rain and the entire country responds with a wide palate of tints and shades of green. Freshness shows in their cookery (as they call it) which goes well beyond the corned beef and cabbage which the Irish claim is an entirely American dish never to be found in Ireland.
What is to be found in Ireland is the smiling side of Irish cooking, which reflects the character of the Irish people themselves. Both the food and the people who prepare and enjoy the fine Irish fare are delightful. Try these recipes and I'm sure you will agree.
All of the recipes below are from a book called, "Elegant Irish Cooking, Hundreds of Recipes from the world's foremost Irish Chefs." It was assembled by Noel C. Cullen and the dishes are beautifully photographed by Ron Manville. This is not a new book; it was published in 2001 by Lebhar-Friedman Books, a New York City publisher. If your palate is interested you can probably find copies on the Internet.
Baked Eggs with Smoked Salmon
Cook eggs in individual ramekins (scaled down soufflé dishes) or porcelain or earthenware. I sometimes bake them in mugs--one per person--or oven-proof soup dishes.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly butter each ramekin. Separate egg. Put egg white and cream into bowl and whisk. Season with salt and pepper. Add smoked salmon. Place a whole egg yolk in each ramekin with egg white mixture. Place ramekin(s) in a deep baking pan. Pour boiling water halfway up the side of the ramekin. Bake in preheated oven 10 to 15 minutes, or until risen.
Roasted Peppered Salmon with Tomato-and-Basil Relish
This dish works particularly well with farm-raised salmon. Place the Tomato-and-Basil relish in the center of warmed deep-dish plate. Arrange the salmon on top. If fresh limes are not available, use lemon. Makes 4 servings.
1 pound salmon fillet, trimmed, with all pin bones removed
2 shallots or scallions, diced fine
Peppered Salmon: Preheat oven to 350 F. Cut salmon into 4 equal parts. Coat salmon with cracked peppercorns and dill. Grate lime or lemon zest over salmon. Place on lightly oiled sheet pan. Bake 6 to 8 minutes.
Tomato and Basil Relish: Place 1 teaspoon olive oil, garlic and diced shallots in a saucepan and sauté over medium heat, 1 minute, without browning. Add white wine and juice of the lime: reduce by half. Add tomato chunks and basil leaves. Mix and gently heat, 1 minute.
Traditional Dublin Coddle
This is considered a "tightener"--a filling supper accompanied by Irish Soda Bread. Too much of this and your belt will definitely have tightened.
1 1/2 pounds lean ham or slab bacon, cut into 8 1-inch chunks
Blanch ham or bacon, with sausages, in boiling water, 5 minutes. Drain and cool. Place sausages and ham/bacon into a 4-quart pot with potatoes, thyme, onion and parsley. Season. Cover with stock. Cover pot and gently simmer for 1 hour until fork tender. Do not allow to become mushy. Makes 4 large servings.
Traditional Irish Soda Bread
When made with raisins this is known as "spotted dog." This is the old-fashioned way of making it where you cut the fat into the flour so that as it melts during baking to make the bread flaky and tender.
4 cups all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 325 F. Generously grease with butter two 8-inch round cake or pie pans or one large baking sheet. In a large bowl, sift and combine flour, baking powder and baking soda. Add salt, orange zest, and caraway seeds. Use a pastry cutter or 2 knives to cut butter and sugar into flour mixture until the dough resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in currants. Set aside. In a medium bowl, combine honey with 1 1/4 cups buttermilk. With a fork gradually stir into flour mixture until all dry ingredients are moistened. Turn out onto a floured surface (dough will be sticky). Knead 1 minute. Cut dough in half. Shape each piece into a round loaf. Place each loaf in center of a round pie pan or arrange on greased and flour-dusted baking sheets. Dip a sharp knife into flour and cut a cross 1/2-inch deep across the top of each loaf. Brush loaves with egg-and-milk glaze. Let stand 10 minutes before baking. Bake in preheated oven 65 to 75 minutes. To test for doneness, turn the bread over and tap underneath. If the bread sounds hollow, it is fully cooked. Let cool on racks before slicing. Slice thin for serving. Makes 2 loaves.
On St. Patrick's Day all Americans become Irish!