Friday, March 19, 2010

Irish Colcannon and Soda Bread

I'm very proud of my Irish heritage and a few years ago I had a wonderful opportunity to spend some time in Ireland. While I was there I found a wonderful little cookbook that not only has great traditional recipes, but also has a little bit of a history of each recipe as well.


Colcannon is a mash made of white vegetables, typically served at the midday meal. At Halloween, coins are wrapped in foil and buried in the colcannon for children to discover as they eat. If you're used to a typical St. Patrick's Day dish of Corned Beef and Cabbage, try the Colcannon instead next time. It's definitely worth it, in fact, it's so good you should make it more often than just March 17!

1 medium-sized head white cabbage
2 medium-sized parsnips
3-4 medium-sized onions
8-10 medium-sized potatoes
salt and pepper
1 pint water (2 1/2 cups)
4 oz butter (1/2 cup)

Cut cabbage into four, remove stumps and wash each leaf thoroughly in salt and water. Put four or five outer leaves aside, chop the remaining leaves finely. Wash and scrape parsnips, remove skins from the onions (I also peeled the potatoes). Cut parsnips, onions and potatoes into half inch slices. arrange a layer of potatoes on the bottom of a saucepan, cover with a layer or parsnips, then a layer of onion, the a layer of cabbage; season well, continue layering the vegetables and again season well. Pour water over the vegetables and cover vegetables completely with the outer leaves. Put the lid on the saucepan, bring to the boil and cover; simmer until cooked, 25-30 minutes. Strain off any excess water. Remove the outer leaves of cabbage. Mash the vegetables well, add the butter and mix well. Put into a serving dish. Serve hot with plenty of creamy butter. Serves 4-6.

Soda Bread

1 lb flour (4 cups)
pinch of salt (1/4 tsp or so)
1 level teaspoon breadsoda (baking soda)
10 fl oz buttermilk or sour milk (1 1/4 cups)

Preheat oven to 400F. Sieve the flour and salt into a large bowl. Pute the breadsoda into the palm of the hand and work with the back of a spoon to get rid of lumps. (You don't actually have to do this part... it's cool to see how it used to be done though.) Add to the sieved flour and salt. Make a well in the and add the milk. Mix until it forms a loose dough. (I actually had to add about 1/4 c more milk) Mix well and form into a circle; make a cross-cut on the surface and place on a lightly floured baking sheet; put into the oven. The bread is baked when it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom (about 40-45 minutes). When baked, place on a wire rack to cool.
**Be careful not to over mix the dough because it will become very tough.
**If you don't have buttermilk, add 1 Tbsp white vinegar or lemon juice per 1 c milk and let stand for 5 minutes.

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