All posts filed under: Ireland

black.teas.img_7826

What’s the difference? Tasting Ceylon Teas

English Breakfast, Irish Breakfast, English Afternoon… Why so many names when they’re all “100% Ceylon Tea”? My husband gave me a box set of black teas for Christmas. I poured intently over the dozen-or-so varieties only to discover that, while the tea names varied, the labels all listed the same ingredient: 100% Ceylon Tea. The issue came up again this month: I am fueling my book tour with gallons of tea … and yet every cuppa is little more than a brew of 100% Ceylon Tea. Isn’t the definition of insanity Doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results? I had to find out what was going on. My next move? A literal “pouring over” with hot water. Every morning I sipped a different tea only to remain perplexed: I couldn’t detect a noticeable difference in the teas. Feeling more and more duped, I decided to host an official tea tasting.  And, since I wanted to be sure of the results, I did it with my husband and friend. How to set up an accurate tea tasting: Whether you’re …

Irish Red Velvet Cake Recipe

O’Hara’s Irish Red Velvet Cake with Bailey’s Buttercream

Think you need to eat green this Saint Patrick’s Day? Think again. Come Saint Patrick’s Day, few desserts can stand up to the mighty Guinness Chocolate Cake – until now.  Irish Red Velvet Cake is as cheery as a wee leprechaun’s cheeks and as fiery as his beard. The crimson batter contains a dusting of cocoa and is bound with buttermilk – both characteristics of a traditional Red Velvet Cake, popular in the American South. But a few glugs of O’Hara’s Irish Red Ale gives this otherwise ordinary cake Celtic edge. This delightful Irish-American fusion makes an ideal dessert for the 40 million Irish Americans who celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day every year. (And, since Saint Patrick’s Day is more widely celebrated by Irish Americans than the Irish, this fusion turns out to be quite apropos.) What is an Irish Red Ale? Irish Red ales are reddish-brown in color and full-bodied. In the case of O’Hara’s, toasted malt sweetens the drink, while a bit of hops deepens the finish. Too much of the bubbly brew can give the Irish Red Velvet Cake a yeasty, bread-like flavor – a modest 1/2 cup does the trick. Cutting back on the …

guinness-cake-in-mug-square

Make Saint Patrick’s Day even better: pour a mug of Guinness…cake!

Your friends are about to come over for your annual Saint Patty’s Day bash. They’re expecting the corned beef and cabbage, the glittery green shamrocks on walls and hats alike. They’re even expecting frosty mugs of beer. But they might not be expecting a cake they can “drink.” We’ve been down this road before: ultra moist Guinness Chocolate Cake with Bailey’s Buttercream. But this year I gave the recipe a festive spin by serving it in a frosty beer mug. Not to worry — this isn’t about smooshing cake into a cup – the trick is easier, classier, and more beautiful than you might imagine. The only special equipment required? A few clean, dry 15-ounce cans. In winter, this problem is easily solved by having soup for dinner. Grease and flour the cans (baking spray makes quick work of the job). Then line the sides with a strip of parchment paper (make sure the parchment sticks up 11/2-2 inches above the rim and covers the complete circumference – no need to cover the bottom). Fill …

Chocolate-Guinness-Cake

Monday Meal Review: Ireland

THE SCENE There she was, sitting on the rickety bus bench, fiddling with her cellphone. As I drove by I looked at her. She was old – ancient, really. Her head, lost under the brim of her giant camo hat, barely came up over the bench she was sitting on. Not quite four feet tall, her tiny frame was lost in a sea of plastic bags – filled with enough food to last her the week. I’ve watched her for the last few years, the way a busy person observes the changing foliage – in regretful passing. I’ve seen the effort it takes her to do her shopping – 6 bags of groceries, 2 cases of soda…  crossing four lanes of traffic at rush hour (never at the cross walk; it’s too much of a detour), steadily carrying one bag at a time. She’d carefully place each bag down on the bench, then shuffle back to the other side of the street to get another. As usual, I was headed somewhere when I saw her – to …

IMG_4587

Irish Brown n’ Oat Soda Bread

Makes 1 loaf I like a bread that can stick to my ribs, but not necessarily to my hips. I don’t think I’m asking too much, and I think I just may have found the answer to my prayers with this Irish Brown n’ Oat Soda Bread. It’s healthy (75% whole wheat) and hearty (thanks to a happy sprinkle of oats). This dense, savory, crusty quickbread is best eaten warm, slathered with butter, even though the butter will definitely stick to your ribs and your hips. It’s worth it, though. Feel free to thank Ireland. Ingredients: 3 cups wheat pastry flour 1 cup white pastry flour 1/2 cup steel cut Irish oats (I used the 3 min oats by McCain’s) 1 tsp baking soda 1 tsp salt 2 cups buttermilk (a bit more or less, as needed to get a sticky texture) butter, for brushing top of loaf (optional) Method: This recipe is as easy as 1, 2, 3….4. 1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Whisk together the dry ingredients: whole wheat and regular pastry flour, …

IMG_4510.sharp

Boxty Pancakes

Makes 5.5 cups batter I like a good excuse to dance in the morning. Preferably while in my fuzzy bathrobe, with spatula in hand (for a microphone, of course), while singing 100% off-key. Boxty pancakes are just the ticket. They look like a thick crêpe, but taste more like the love-child of tangy mashed potatoes and hash browns. These filling, stick-to-your-ribs pancakes are often used to wrap up food, from meat and gravy, to scrambled eggs. Best of all, cooks everywhere dance a little jig when they make them. NOTE: This batter does not store well (the potatoes turn black when they oxidize), so scale the recipe down if you don’t have a small army coming over for breakfast. Adapted from the recipe in The Country Cooking of Ireland by Colman Andrews. Ingredients: 2 lbs russet potatoes, chopped 1 1/2 cups buttermilk salt 1 cup flour butter, for cooking Accompaniments: green onions, scrambled eggs, meat, etc. Method: First step, get in the mood with a little  Irish folk rhyme and dancing. Boxty on the griddle, And Boxty on the …

IMG_4626

Cashel Blue & Caramelized Onion Pizza

There’s no quicker way to beat the blues than to dig into a slice of pizza. Irish pizza. I know what you’re thinking. I thought the same thing. But, trust me – while pizza may not sound very Irish, it is, in fact, much beloved on the Emerald Isle. They simply add a little something special, to make it their own. Let’s zoom in for a close up, shall we? Did you see the secret ingredient? When you bite in, it’ll be tingly. Creamy. Almost spicy. For cheese lover’s everywhere it is oh-so-familiar. Blue cheese. Cashel blue, to be exact. This cheese has been winning awards, pretty much since the first batch, and I can see why. It’s fabulous. When its young, it is firm and crumbly (and more mild); and when it’s aged, it’s soft and creamy (and extra stinky). The one pictured above was definitely soft and creamy. And extra stinky. So, next time you want to make a pizza Irish, simply crumble on Cashel blue cheese and bake as normal. You can find it …

Guinness-Stout-Chocolate-Cake

Dark Chocolate Guinness Cake with Bailey’s Buttercream

Makes an 8″ layered cake So here we are, cooking the world A-Z… and I come across this epic Irish cake. I make this adaptation and… just like that – my life is complete. I don’t have time to do my hair or makeup, but – I promise you – I’ll always have time for this cake. It’s rich and dark, like an Irish sky at midnight… brightened by sweet, sweet Bailey’s buttercream, which gilds everything like moonlight. The perfect pair. The perfect balance. Especially for breakfast.  In my slippers. When no one is looking. (Possibly with a big cup of Irish coffee). Don’t worry – the alcohol cooks off, and the Bailey’s frosting? It simply contains the same amount of alcohol as you’d find in vanilla extract. So, go for it, take a bite of Irish nighttime. NOTE: You may find it easiest to bake the cake and do the frosting “crumb coat” one day, then the next day decorate it with the final layer of frosting.  Update, March 2013: I added more powdered …

Ava-with-Irish-Soda-Bread

Menu: Ireland

See that moisture in Ava’s hair? Yeah. It’s not dew. The thermometer read 114F yesterday. This is the kind of heat that sticks to your hair – even with the air conditioner on full blast. Considering the conditions (forecast of 116 today!), I desperately wanted to avoid the stove this week. I looked at cookbook after Irish cookbook. Yet, try as I might, there was no way to avoid turning on the stove for our Irish Global Table. We’re talking about a country that eats stews. Roasts. Mashed potatoes. Breads. These warming, hearty meals are the most celebrated Irish dishes. There was no way a salad was going to cut it. We’re going to have to time travel to winter, just for the week. What sounds good to you? Boxty Pancakes [recipe] A day begun with Boxty pancakes is a good day. Despite the name, I’d call this more of an Irish crêpe – loaded with hearty potatoes and tangy buttermilk. Great with butter and chives, just like a baked potato. Brown n’ Oats Soda Bread [recipe] A …

Photo by Ian Macnab

About the food of Ireland

Collnaharragill Upper, Kerry. Photo by Ian Macnab Ah, Ireland. You caught me off guard. You see, this week I knew to expect the trinity… Potatoes. Guinness. Meat.  But, as an Italian-Hungarian-American, the last thing I expected to discover was that my childhood diet often beared a striking resemblance to that of an Irishman. We ate potatoes mashed with carrots and turnips. We ate homemade soda bread [recipe], slathered with soft butter. We even ate roast lamb with mint jelly. Strange. Strange. Strange. I must be part Irish. There is no other possible conclusion. Then again, I have a feeling lots of Americans eat Irish food, especially on the East Coast. Right, Mom….? Truth is, I’d be happy if Ireland was my homeland. She is so pretty. So green and fair. Clearly her nickname, the Emerald Isle, was well earned. Yes. Her beauty is fresh; whenever I think of her I want to frolic and laugh and dance over the vibrant hills. What can I say – she brings out the child in me. A word about potatoes Know for her love of …