Before I had even got to the opening chapter of C.L. Ryan's Secret Demon (click through to read my review), I knew that it would be a great book for #readcookeat recipes, because the foreword says : "Mother's food was always made with so much love, it was her pride and joy to keep her family, at all times, warm, clean and well-fed, no matter what !" I knew that the pages would be bursting with good, homely Irish cooking and I wasn't disppointed so, having eaten Irish Stew last week, as one of the recipes in this month's Irish-themed Kitchen Trotter box, I knew that we'd be in for a treat.
The food sounds quite similar to things that I already serve :
p7 Cottage pie was cooking in the oven, the soda bread was cooling on top and the buttered mashed swede and runner beans were keeping hot on top of the stove.
p106 She checked the larder again : potatoes, carrots, corned beef, flour, butter and eggs. "Right then, corned beef hash", she said to herself. I haven't made corned beef hash for a while, but it's a great family-friendly comfort food, not to mention very simple and cheap to make. There's also a mention of "corned beef pie" in the book (p152) which sounds interesting.
Megan would be great at joining with the #KitchenClearout recipe linky too !
p84 The fridge was almost empty. There were just some eggs, old tomatoes, a piece of hard cheese, an old onion, some cold cooked veg and buttermilk, for the soda bread. Angie gasped with amazement as, within just a few minutes, Megan made a loaf of soda bread which was now ready to go into the oven. When Angie asked how on earth she was going to feed her brothers and sisters, she replied "I will make a big oven omelette; it's a type of Spanish omelette. It will be really tasty, don't worry." So, she whisked the eggs good and hard, added salt and pepper and managed to find the little bottle of olive oil, which made Angie grimace. "Olive oil," she said, "for ear aches?" "One day everyone will cook with this oil," Megan replied and carried on with her preparation.
This sounds almost identical to my Spanish omelette - most recently, McCain challenged me to try replacing the cubes of fresh potato with frozen chips as a timesaver, which worked better than I expected !
I wanted to try something typically Irish though so this sounded ideal :
p17 The staple diet was usually bacon and potatoes, or 'poppies' as they were called because of their lovely deep red colour. These would explode into a fluffy ball when cooked and worked beautifully with the boiled bacon and fried cabbage that would accompany it, topped off with Ireland's own famous 'Chef' brown sauce. Soda bread was also a staple and every week Tom or Jim would drive their mother into the town to shop with the donkey and cart. The wholemeal flour, white flour and sugar would be scooped out of great vats, weighed to order and put into sturdy brown paper bags which would then be tied with string. Butter was sliced from a huge block, weighed and wrapped in greaseproof paper, something that just didn't happen in England.
Boiled bacon and cabbage is an Irish classic but I've never seen a bacon joint to boil available in the shops here, so I went for a simple version with bacon lardons and served it as a side dish with the leftover roast pork and gravy from yesterday's Sunday dinner.
Boiled Bacon & Cabbage
1/2 a green cabbage
200g bacon lardons
In a large pan, fry the bacon and onions until just soft. Don't overcook them as they will continue cooking with the cabbage.
Chop the cabbage into quarters and remove the core. Slice into thin strips.
Toss the cabbage into the pan and stir fry for a couple of minutes, then add enough water to just cover the cabbage.
Cook for 30 minutes or so until the cabbage is soft and it has absorbed most of the cooking water. Serve with potatoes and white sauce with parsley, or as an accompaniment to leftover roast meat and gravy. I loved the way the cabbage absorbed the flavour of the bacon ... although the kids complained that the bacon absorbed the flavour of the cabbage, so it depends which way you look at it !
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