Sadly, my Irish holiday has come to an end.
To commemorate and to say a huge THANKYOU to all the wonderful, hospitable people I met along the way, I thought I’d share what I’ve learned over the last few weeks when it comes to Irish food.
If you ever get a chance to visit the Emerald Isle grab it with both hands.
Apple Cider – a refreshing drink that isn’t too sweet and makes a welcome change from beer.
Bacon – I’m now convinced that Ireland has the best bacon in the world
Butter – a product of all the rain, green grass and happy cows, Irish butter has a wonderfully creamy flavour
Baileys – the popular cream based liqueur often used in desserts such as cheesecake.
Boxty Potato Pancakes – thin potato crepes often served with cabbage & bacon
Cabbage – the Irish love it any way – boiled with bacon, sauteed in butter or even raw shaved in a salad,
Corned Beef – brisket that has been salted then simmered until melting and tender – lovely served with mash or better yet colcannon.
Chips – part of the national obsession with potatoes – apparently a meal is not complete without some chips on the side.
Dublin Coddle – a stew combining tree favourite Irish foods – bacon, sausages & potatoes.
Eggs – usually fired or scrambled – the corner stone of any traditional Irish breakfast.
Farmhouse cheese – wonderfully diverse with everything from fresh curd cheese, to blues, to complex cheddars – perfect for cheese on toast.
Fraughan – the Irish name for wild bilberries that are in season in late Summer.
Guinness – the only source of vitamin G – a meal in itself
Garlic chips & cheese – the perfect thing to counter balance a big session of Vitamin G.
Gratin potatoes – another cornerstone of the potato obsession.
Haddock – a meaty fish that is often smoked and then served poached in milk with onions.
Irish Stew – Ireland’s national dish made with lamb or mutton, onions and potatoes – although it can also contain carrots. Apparently the secret to good Irish stew is to use both waxy and floury potatoes. Watch this space for a recipe.
Jameson – the most famous Irish whiskey
Kale – a curly leafed variety of cabbage that is often mixed with mash to make colcannon but is also lovely on it’s own wilted with a little butter.
Leeks – the key ingredient of Brotchan foltchep – a leek & oatmeal soup
Mash – Irish comfort food, mashed potato can come in many forms from straight up potatoes to Champ (mash with scallions), Colcannon (mash with cabbage) or even fancy mash with things like mustard or Black pudding. The Irish prefer light floury potatoes such as Maris Pipers for their mash.
New Potatoes – also called baby potatoes these are waxy spuds that are at their best in salads.
Oysters – mostly larger varieties served raw with lemon and buttered brown bread.
Potatoes – a national obsession – and the way to an Irishmans heart.
Pudding – pork products that are either black (containing blood) or white (without blood). Delicious for breakfast, they also make a wonderful dinner pan fried and served with mash.
Pints – the preferred serving size for beer, especially Vitamin G.
Quick Bram Brack – a traditional yeasted fruit cake.
Roosters & Records – two quaintly named popular varieties of potatoes.
Spuds – affectionate term for potatoes
Soda Bread – wonderfully rustic bread leavened with baking soda. Can be white but is generally brown.
Sausages – a key part of the traditional Irish breakfast they tend to be pork based and very finely textured.
Tea – the number one non alcoholic beverage. Strong and milky, the perfect hangover cure. Barry’s brand is best.
Uisce beatha – the Irish word for whiskey – literally translates at the ‘water of life’.
Vanilla fudge – a popular homemade sweet treat.
Vitamin G – special nutrient found only in Guinness.
Whiskey – as mentioned under J and U – key ingredient for Irish or Gaelic coffee
White pudding – another breakfast sausage similar to black pudding but without the blood, made with offcuts of pork and bacon and barley or oatmeal. Can also contain offal.
‘xcellent – how one feels after consuming a few pints of Vitamin G.
Yellowman – a toffee like confection.
Zzzzz – also known as sleep – the state induced by over indulging in all of the above.
Nigella’s Chocolate Guinness Cake
I wish I could take credit for inventing this wonderfully damp, luscious cake, but alas it wasn’t even an Irish person. You have to give Nigella credit for knowing a thing or two about good cakes.
One of the best things about this cake is that it looks like a pint of the black stuff with it’s wonderfully black crumb and creamy white topping.
I have made this with a block of dark chocolate chopped and stirred through the batter and it doesn’t really need the extra richness.
While the ingredient list is a little long, this cake is really simple to make, just melt the butter and Guinness together and then stir through the remaining ingredients.
250g (8 1/2 oz) butter
75g (3oz) cocoa powder
400g (14oz) sugar
1/2 tub sour cream (150mL or 2/3C)
275g (9 1/2oz) flour
2t bicarb soda
for the topping:
450g (1lb) Philidelphia cream cheese, softened
150g (5oz) icing (powdered) sugar
1/2 tub sour cream (150mL or 2/3C)
Preheat oven to 180C or 350F (160C or 300F if fan forced). Line and grease a 24cm (9in) springform cake tin.
Place Guinness and butter in a saucepan and heat until melted. Stir through cocoa powder, sugar, sour cream and eggs until well combined. Add flour and soda and stir until just mixed in.
Pour into prepared cake tin and bake for 45mins – 1hour or until the top feels firm and springy and a skewer inserted in comes out clean.
Allow to cool in tin.
Whip together the topping ingredients in a food processor or by hand until smooth. Spread generously over the cake.