Tag Archives: Ireland

St. Patrick’s Day Treats

Blasket islands

Blasket Islands, County Kerry, Ireland

Happy (early) St. Patrick’s Day to you! Ireland is my most favorite place in the world, but St. Patrick’s Day is far from my favorite holiday. In New York City, we’re invaded by tourists and everyone drinks to excess and it’s just not pretty. So if you’re like me, and will be holing up in your apartment this Sunday with a nice Smithwick’s and a slice of brown bread with Kerrygold butter whilst listening to The Pogues, here are a few recipes you might make while you’re at it.

Cranberry scones

Brown bread

Guinness cupcakes

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Cranberry Scones

LaurenFoodE cranberry scones
For those of you who don’t know me IRL (that’s internet speak for “in real life”), you might not know that I spent six weeks studying abroad in Dublin the summer before my senior year of college. It still lives in my memory as the best consecutive six weeks of my life, mostly because it was six weeks of zero responsibility. Sure, I had to read some Irish books and write the occasional essay on them, but mostly my trip was about hanging out in pubs with the friendliest people on the planet, meeting friends who’d end up my lifelong pals, and traveling around a country teeming with greenery and Guinness. Sounds nice, eh?

One really cruel thing they do to you in Ireland is serve you a scone with Kerrygold butter and a cup of tea on your flight home, just to remind you of the incredible place you’re leaving. The only reason I didn’t cry when they served it to me is because I could barely keep my head up from exhaustion. Let’s just say I didn’t get a whole lot of sleep or sobriety during those six weeks.

Whenever I get a chance to relive that blissful experience, I take it. This recipe is just one of those moments.

On the menu:
Cranberry Scones
Makes 8
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

2 cups flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
3 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
5 Tbsp cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1/2 cup craisins, roughly chopped
1 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.

Using a pastry cutter or your fingers, cut in the butter to the flour mixture until course crumbs and some larger pieces of butter remain. Stir in the craisins. Using a rubber spatula, stir in the cream until combined.

Dump dough onto a clean countertop or cutting board and knead 5 – 6 times, until the dough is one large sticky ball. Press the dough into an 8 inch round cake pan. Dump back onto the counter or cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 8 identical wedges.

Bake on an ungreased baking sheet for 11 – 15 minutes, or until the tops of the scones are brown. Let cool for around 10 minutes on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature alongside  a nice, hot cup of Irish breakfast tea.

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Suggested Reading

Doolin, Ireland

Just a quick “Happy Monday!” post to alert of a great article by Frank Bruni, former New York Times restaurant critic, that ran in the Times on Friday about Bruni’s trip to Ireland. If you’ve never been to Ireland then you will only get a tiny hint of what he’s talking about, and if you have been this article will probably give you nostalgic goosebumps. If you live there… you’re probably rolling your eyes. Whatever.

To Ireland, A Son’s Journey Home

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I ate the day, deliberately

Allow me a completely self-indulgent moment to be a full-on geek. Last night I attended a poetry reading by one of my absolute favorite poets, Seamus Heaney. When he read this one aloud, I was immediately reminded of why I love to write, and why I specifically love to write about food. This poem is as much about food as it is about history and conquest, but like all poetry… the reader can take what he will. I promise, tomorrow I’ll be back to photos of sweet and/or cheesy goodness.

Today we feed our brains.

Oysters
by Seamus Heaney

Our shells clacked on the plates.
My tongue was a filling estuary,
My palate hung with starlight:
As I tasted the salty Pleiades
Orion dipped his foot into the water.

Alive and violated,
They lay on their bed of ice:
Bivalves: the split bulb
And philandering sigh of ocean
Millions of them ripped and shucked and scattered.

We had driven to that coast
Through flowers and limestone
And there we were, toasting friendship,
Laying down a perfect memory
In the cool of thatch and crockery.

Over the Alps, packed deep in hay and snow,
The Romans hauled their oysters south of Rome:
I saw damp panniers disgorge
The frond-lipped, brine-stung
Glut of privilege

And was angry that my trust could not repose
In the clear light, like poetry or freedom
Leaning in from sea. I ate the day
Deliberately, that its tang
Might quicken me all into verb, pure verb.

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Beannachtai na Feile Padraig!

Ireland holds a special place in my heart, and it has very little to do with the green shamrocks and drunk dudes from New Jersey getting into fist fights in the streets of Manhattan. It has everything to do with this:

Dingle Peninsula, Co. Kerry

I spent six weeks exploring Ireland under the guise of “study” abroad in the summer of 2006. My time on the Emerald Isle supplied me with some of my fondest memories, and one day in particular stands out as one of the best of my life.

As the rain poured down on the small coastal town of Dingle in County Kerry on the Western coast of Ireland, a small group of us decided that despite the weather we’d venture the mile or so into town. We couldn’t spend one whole precious day sitting in the hostel. So we donned thin rain jackets, insufficient footwear, and our most ambitious spirits and powered through the sheets of rain that pummeled down from the skies. I have never laughed so hard and I have never been so drenched. By the time we reached Murphy’s Pub, each of us was soaked down to our skivvies and desperate for an Irish coffee, a bowl of chowder, and a thick slice of brown bread.

Many pints and bowls of chowder later, we were still damp but warm, sated, and happy. I know it was the company that made that day what it turned out to be, but the brown bread didn’t hurt.

Toasting in celebration of making it all the way into town! Murphy’s Pub, Dingle, Co. Kerry

This will never replicate the dense, dark bread served at most pubs and Irish restaurants in Ireland itself, but in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I thought I’d fill my apartment with a familiar scent.

On the menu: Irish Brown Bread
Makes 1 round 9-inch loaf
(Adapted from Epicurious Brown Bread Recipe)

4 cups whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 cup milk

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter a 9- by 2-inch round cake pan.

Whisk together flour, wheat germ, salt, sugar, baking soda, and cream of tartar in a large bowl until combined well. Blend in butter with a pastry blender or your fingertips until integrated. Make a well in center and add buttermilk and regular milk, stirring until a dough forms. Gently knead on a floured surface, adding just enough more flour to keep dough from sticking, until smooth, about 3 minutes.

Transfer dough to cake pan and flatten to fill pan. With a sharp knife, cut an X (1/2 inch deep) across top of dough, 5 inches long. Bake until loaf is lightly browned and sounds hollow when bottom is tapped, around 35 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then turn out onto rack and cool, right side up, about 1 hour.

You can serve this right away but it slices more easily after sitting at room temperature for a day.

Best served when your clothes are damp from a long walk through the rain in Dingle, heavily buttered and accompanied by sassy lasses and a frothy pint of Bulmers cider.

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