Four great recipes that celebrate Irish food
We often ignore the great ingredients on our doorsteps. It’s time to get back to our food roots
Raw turnip, parsnip and carrot salad with honey and ginger dressing. Photograph: Emma Jervis
I love cooking in Ireland. We’re so blessed on this beautiful island with the best ingredients, food producers and growers. However, we sadly neglect the privilege we’re given in Ireland with ingredients. I would propose that this St Patrick’s Day we turn back to our food roots and re-establish an appreciation for all this country’s soil can offer us.
I came to Ireland 16 years ago for a week-long holiday, and was so impressed with the raw ingredients I went back to England, put my house on the market, packed up my daughters and within a year opened Good Things. When I look back over the years I can say my greatest honour is working with the freshest and most flavoursome ingredients.
The joy of sourcing our ingredients is something we forget to enjoy as we become consumed by convenience. The thrill and connection we get from meeting a grower, a producer, a fisherman, the cheese maker and butcher allows us to create a relationship to our food, and as a result we become more conscious as we prepare and eat it.
This also lends itself to good dinner conversation, and, more importantly, the creation of community.
One of the highlights of last summer was discovering that one of our customers is the proud grower of the curliest cabbages, so we swapped dinner for many green heads!
It’s so easy for us to take for granted what we have on our doorstep. I always find that when I head abroad on a food-centric holiday, I come back with lots of new ideas but with an renewed awareness of the purity of our ingredients. I get endless pleasure in taking a dish from another country and adjusting it to work with Irish ingredients and making it our own.
So today take a moment to realise what we have on our doorstep, raise a glass in thanks for our rich soil, hard-working growers, fishermen and producers, and celebrate the quality of Irish ingredients.
Raw turnip, parsnip and carrot salad with honey and ginger dressing
I love root vegetables whatever way they are cooked, but since discovering the joy of eating them raw I find I am incorporating them more into my diet. The ginger dressing works perfect with the sharpness of the turnip and the sweetness of the parsnip and carrots. Serve this as a starter on its own or part of a salad plate.
1 kg mixture of turnip, parsnip and carrot
1 ½ cups olive oil
1 ½ cups lemon juice (about four to six lemons) and all the zest from the lemons
¼ cup minced ginger
Salt to taste
1. Either grate the vegetables on the largest side of a hand grater or use the largest grating attachment for a food processor.
2. To get the best results for your dressing, place the olive oil, lemon juice, zest, ginger and salt in a liquidiser and whizz until very smooth.
3. Add the dressing to the vegetables until very well dressed, and sprinkle with chopped parsley.
4. Any remaining dressing will keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge, and will work perfectly for a kale salad.
Irish stew with parsley and dulse crusted dumplings
We all know you can’t beat a good bowl of Irish stew, and when we top it with crusted dumplings we experience the ultimate comfort food. I find myself adding seaweed to all lamb dishes as it really enhances the flavour and offers all those nutrients.
1.35kg neck fillets of lamb and nest end of neck cutlets (mixed)
2 tbsp seasoned plain flour
350g onions, thickly sliced
225g carrots, cut into chunks
2 medium leeks, washed and sliced
1 large potato, peeled and cut into chunks
1 rounded tbsp pearl barley
Salt and freshly milled black pepper
For the dumplings
175g self-raising flour
6tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1tbsp ground dulse
Salt and freshly milled black pepper
To garnish: 1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1. Start off by drying the pieces of meat on kitchen paper, trim away any excess fat, cut the fillets into 1½in (4cm) rounds, then dip them, along with the cutlets, into the seasoned flour. Now arrange a layer of meat in the base of the casserole, followed by a layer of onion, carrot, leek and potato, and a good seasoning of salt and pepper. Then add some more meat and continue layering the ingredients until everything is in.
2. Next sprinkle in the barley and pour in approximately two pints of hot water and bring it all up to a simmering point. Spoon off any scum that comes to the surface, cover with a well-fitting lid and leave it to simmer on the lowest possible heat for two hours.
3. About 15 minutes before the end of cooking, pre-heat the oven to 200C, then make up the dumplings. Rub the butter into the flour add the seaweed and parsley with a good seasoning of salt and pepper. Now add just sufficient cold water to make a fairly stiff but elastic dough that leaves the bowl clean. Knead it lightly, then shape it into 12 dumplings.
4. When the stew is ready, remove the lid, place the dumplings all over the surface, then transfer the casserole to the highest shelf of the oven (without a lid) and leave it there for 30 minutes or until the dumplings are golden brown and crusty. Serve the meat surrounding the vegetables and dumplings with some of the liquid poured over and some in a gravy boat, and sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley.
Apple meringue pudding
Apple pie is part of the Irish food tradition, and over the years meringue in some shape or form has found its way to our table. Putting apple and meringue together is so perfect, and this makes for a very quick but impressive dessert.
1kg eating apples
Cinnamon, or cloves
Sugar to taste
For the meringue
3 egg whites
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp vinegar
60g blanched and split almonds
1. Heat the oven at 50C (gas mark ½ ).
2. Peel, core and chop the apples.
3. Melt the butter in a large pan, Cover and simmer gently until there is about an inch of juice in the pan, then turn up the heat until the apples are cooked. They won’t burn if the heat is low enough to start with: water is to be avoided.
4. Season with sugar and cinnamon or cloves. Give the mixture a good mash with a fork or potato masher.
5. Spread the purée into a shallow ovenproof serving dish, and leave to cool.
6. To make the meringue, beat the egg whites until stiff. If you have a machine to do this, use it.
7. In the meantime, mix the sugar and cornflour together, give it a sieve if needed. Add it to the beaten egg white, along with the vinegar, and give it all a good fold in.
8. Pile the meringue up on top of the apple, keeping the meringue thin at the edges as it will spread a little while cooking. Stick the almonds all over the meringue. For 1- 1¼ hours. If the meringue could be browner at the end of this time, turn the heat up a little.
9. Remove from the oven, and serve warm or cold with cream.
Cheese and stout fondue
Serves four to six
This is from Elizabeth David’s book An Omelette and a Glass of Wine. This is the ultimate celebration dish for our country, using our beautiful cheeses and a great opportunity to use one of our many craft beers. I often use a mix of cheeses here depending on what I have in the fridge.
1kg strong cheddar, grated
4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp cornflour
1. Put the grated cheese and stout into a fondue dish or a medium saucepan and heat slowly and stir continuously.
2. Add remaining ingredients and stir until the fondue thickens slightly.
3. For dipping use chunks of your favourite bread. I do like to use a moist treacle brown soda cut into squares here.