Ireland and food

This is my 281st post. I'm closing in on 300. Amazing.

The topic for today is Irish food. This month's issue of Saveur is devoted to the subject. The topic fills the magaze from page 34 to 69 and there's other mentions therein as well. In fact what I'll experiment with first--probably Monday night--is on page 84 though a recipe on page 83 is interesting as well.

The two foods covered on pages 83 and 84 are Colcannon and Pint-glass Bread. Now Colcannon can refer to a traditional Irish music group but I'm referring to the food that's traditionally eaten on Halloween in Ireland. Here's the recipe:

1 pound cabbage
2 pounds russet or yukon gold potatoes
2 small leeks, green onions or scallions
1 cup milk
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons butter
dash of nutmeg or mace

Core, quarter and shred the cabbage and place in a pan, covering with boiled salted water til tender-about 15 minutes. Peel and cut the potatoes into 2 inch pieces and cook those too in salted water for about 15 minutes in another pan. (Assign duties to different family members!) Drain the cabbage and chop into very small pieces. Drain the potatoes and mash by hand. Do not use a processor or mixer! Meanwhile, wash and chop the onion-use what is available to you, using the middle parts-not the root end or rough ends of the green part. In a pan large enough to hold the cooked potatoes and cabbage, combine the onions and milk and cook over medium heat until they are tender, about 8 to10 minutes.

Add the potatoes, salt, pepper, and mace to the onions and milk and stir over low heat until well-blended. Add the cabbage and 1/2 cup of butter and stir again to the consistency of mashed potatoes. Mound the mixture in the middle of a platter and make an indentation. Add the remainder of the butter. Serves 4 to 6.

Anybody who knows me is going to be shaking their head by now. I must admit there's very little chance that I'll ever prepare Colcannon, much less eat it. But I like reading about food in general and especially foods like this, with a tradition behind them.

The second item, the Pint-glass bread, is the one that I'm planning on making this week. The history behind it is quite recent and personal. According to the article in Saveur, Mary and Peter Ward created this recipe so that son in college would be able to make bread without needing any special utensils. All ingredients are available to a college student there and the only measuring is done using a pint glass--something any college student in the UK would have readily available. Here's a list of the ingredients:
  • 1 pint glass of all-purpose flour
  • 1 pint glass of stone-ground whole wheat flour
  • enough baking soda to coat the bottom of a pint glass
  • enough salt to coat the bottom of a pint glass
  • enough butter to coat the bottom of a pint glass
  • and three quarters of a pint glass of buttermilk.
There's a picture of the resulting bread and it resembles Irish Soda bread but with a more grainy structure. The picture above is of Soda Bread, not the Pint-glass Bread. I'll post pictures of the bread I make later this week. I don't have any buttermilk around so I'll have to buy that first.


Ash said…
I must admit, I don't think I have ever had Irish food! Sounds good! Good luck with the baking!
Here from Michele's.
Teresa said…
I have to admit that I wondered what you were thinking with the colcannon recipe. Though some aspects of it sound quite yummy -- I love cooked cabbage and like the milk-based sauce idea -- the idea of boiling milk for 15 minutes, with or without onions in it is a bit daunting to me. And I'd either eat the mashed potatoes separately, as I don't really like my foods mixed up like that, or keep them in the two-inch pieces. The recipe is confusing though.

I can't wait to hear how the bread turns out. :-)

I've never heard of Saveur...
Plain Jane said…
Confession: I only skimmed the post because I just wanted to tell you how damned cute that header photo is with the kitty instead of learning about Irish food.

Michelle said…
The bread sounds ok, but as far as that other thing, i'd hate to be standing down wind of anyone who'd eaten it!!
vanx said…
This information will be passed directly to my wife. Please pardon our rather traditional division of labor. But there is such a thing as "core competence."

Here from mega-girlfren Michele.
Romanduck said…
I am of Irish heritage, but sadly have never tried any of this! Perhaps I should get right on that! hehe. HAVE FUN!
Kimmy said…
Surprisingly... sounds yummy. Thanks for visiting!
Oh... Michele sent me :p
rob said…
Doesn't it just stand to reason that any Irish recipe would contain either potatoes or a pint?

Doesn't it?

Happy cooking, hon...


ribbiticus said…
ooh, sounds delectable! don't believe i've ever tasted irish food before...:)
Marcia said…
I'm half irish and I'm always looking for fun things to make on St. Pat's day, and I really want to make that cabbage/onion/potato mash. I think it sounds FABULOUS.

And ... Michele should send me to visit you more often. I always like it over here!
sassyassy said…
I love bread, so I will have to try this out. Despite being 1/4 Irish, I have only tried a few Irish dishes. Shepherd's pie is my favorite. I cannot stand the smell of cooked cabbage so I think the chances of me making Colcannon are slim.

Ps--if you check out my Flickr link, you will see pics of me & Di in New Orleans last summer.
Lora said…
You can't get much more Irish then that. I'm not brave enough for the Calcannon, but I adore Irish Soda Bread.

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