(Image from VintageHolidayCrafts.com)
March 17th. The day everyone is Irish. With St. Patrick’s Day coming up next Thursday, there will be many parades and celebrations starting this weekend. Because it’s never too early to start being Irish.
But, who is St. Patrick? History.com has some information. For example, did you know that St. Patrick was born in Britain, the banishing of all the snakes in Ireland is only exaggerated story telling and that he was taken prisoner by Irish raiders?
Did you also know that Irish Soda Bread was not created by the Irish? According to Sodabread.us, the earliest reference to soda ash being used to leaven bread is credited to the American Indians. The Irish made soda bread their own after poverty made it the easiest bread to put on the table. And the traditional soda bread recipe contains only flour, baking soda, sour milk (buttermilk) and salt. Once something else is added such as raisins, caraway seeds or candied fruit and it’s no longer soda bread.
Here’s a traditional Irish soda bread recipe from Sodabread.us.
(images from sodabread.us)
White Soda Bread
4 cups (16 oz) of all-purpose flour.
1 Teaspoon baking soda
1 Teaspoon salt
14 oz of buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 425 F. degrees. Lightly crease and flour a cake pan.
In a large bowl sieve and combine all the dry ingredients.
Add the buttermilk to form a sticky dough. Place on floured surface and lightly knead (too much allows the gas to escape)
Shape into a round flat shape in a round cake pan and cut a cross in the top of the dough.
Cover the pan with another pan and bake for 30 minutes (this simulates the bastible pot, see picture above). Remove cover and bake for an additional 15 minutes.
The bottom of the bread will have a hollow sound when tapped so show it is done.
Cover the bread in a tea towel and lightly sprinkle water on the cloth to keep the bread moist.
Something that would go great with your freshly baked bread is some soup. YourIrish.com has an easy Pea and Ham Soup.
Pea And Ham Soup
- 1 oz butter
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 pint vegetable stock
- 4 fl oz milk
- 8 oz cooked potatoes, diced
- 6 oz frozen peas
- 4 oz cooked ham, diced
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon single cream (optional)
Method for making Pea & Ham Soup
Melt half the butter and sauté the onion in a saucepan until soft but not browned. Add the stock and milk and bring to the boil. Add potato and peas reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes until the peas are tender and the potato starts to fall apart. Puree in a blender then return to the heat and stir in the ham and parsley. Season with the salt and pepper. Stir in the cream if desired. Heat through.
The fine people at DiscoverIreland.com went in search of some Irish recipes to share with their readers. First up, Traditional Irish Stew with Guinness. Richie Wilson of the Burlington Hotel shares his recipe.
Richie Wilson’s Traditional Irish Stew
Preparation time 25 minutes; cooking time 40 minutes; serves 4
500 g (17.6 oz) diced shoulder of lamb
1 liter (34 floz) of cold water
1 liter (34 floz) chicken or lamb stock
120 ml (4 floz) of Guinness stout (optional)
1 sprig thyme
2 bay leaves
4 large peeled potatoes, cubed
2 medium white onions, cubed
2 large carrots, cubed
6 sticks of celery, cubed
1 bunch of fresh chopped parsley
- Firstly, remove the impurities from the lamb to ensure the stock is clear and grease free by doing the following:
- Put the lamb into a large pot along with the cold water and place over a moderate heat until it begins to boil.
- Once it has begun to boil, empty the contents of the pot through a large colander allowing the liquid to run off.
- Rinse the lamb under cold running water until all the residue has been removed – now you have refreshed the lamb.
- Place the pot over a moderate heat and add in the chicken/lamb stock with the Guinness stout, if using, and the refreshed diced lamb.
- Add the thyme, bay leaves and season with salt and milled white pepper.
- Allow to simmer for 20 minutes until lamb becomes tender.
- Now add the diced potatoes, onions, carrots and celery, and continue to simmer for a further 10 minutes. (Keep the lid off the pot during the cooking process to allow water to evaporate for a more intense flavour.)
- Add the freshly chopped parsley and serve in large bowls.
Do you want to know how to make the perfect Irish Coffee? Ask a Dublin Barman, of course! DiscoverIreland.com asked Gareth to make an Irish Coffee and his tips for the perfect Irish Coffee.
Gareth’s Top Tips for the Perfect Irish Coffee
- Heat your glass, it stops your drink from going cold!
- Make sure the sugar is well dissolved in the coffee – check the bottom of the glass for granules
- One measure of whiskey is plenty – but make it an Irish measure!
- Be gentle with the cream. A light whip is all you need to layer it on top
- Pour the cream over the back of the spoon (yes, we noticed Gareth used the front, but he’s a pro!)
- Top off with a little sprinkle of chocolate
- Take a little sip and enjoy!
As always, have fun being Irish and, if you go out to celebrate, come home safely.
(Image from Thoughts from an Evil Overlord)