My husband and I just returned from 2 glorious weeks in the west of Ireland in a little village called Spiddal. We own a guest house there which is rented throughout the year. In October, we make an annual pilgrimage to do repairs, yardwork, big clean, spiff up, etc. It is truly a labor of love and this year we only had one day of rain in 14! Quite unusual for Ireland in October. Our kitchen window overlooks the ocean. Here is a shot of the sun setting over Galway Bay.
I do a lot of cooking and baking in IRE. It is rare for us to go out to eat, although there are some wonderful restaurants in the area. Cooking in Spiddal is challenging as I have no recipe books, very few utensils or measuring cups, baking dishes…it’s a pretty stripped down kitchen and you never quite know how things will turn out, but that is half the fun! I’m going to start with some oat cookie/ cakes that were delicious and almost seemed healthy!
and nearly had the consistency of a cake; almost like a scone.
1 cup coarse whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups oats
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 sticks softened Irish butter (I love Irish butter!)
1 cup raisons
2 small apples, cut in pieces
1 cup sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. This is another tricky detail as my oven in Spiddal is calibrated in numbers from 1 to 9 rather than degrees, but the conversions are not that hard to figure out. On my oven 350 degrees is between 4 and 5. Here is a standard conversion chart:
275°F = 140°C = gas mark 1
300°F = 150°C = gas mark 2
325°F = 165°C = gas mark 3
350°F = 180°C = gas mark 4
375°F = 190°C = gas mark 5
400°F = 200°C = gas mark 6
425°F = 220°C = gas mark 7
450°F = 230°C = gas mark 8
475°F = 240°C = gas mark 9
Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the raisons and apple to the dry ingredients–the flour mixture coats the raisons and apples so when mixed with wet ingredients they don’t clump up. In a separate bowl cream together softened butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat after each addition. Mix the creamed butter mixture into the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly until just held together. Drop by heaping tablespoon on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes. Let them cool a few minutes before removing from pan and then place them on a rack to cool completely. These were great with a pot of tea!
I was watching a cooking show one night and saw an interesting recipe for potatoes. In Ireland potatoes are ubiquitous and often served several different ways at a meal: boiled, mashed, and fried. This recipe is a little different and went well with steamed carrots we had just dug from Sarah’s garden mixed with frozen peas and lamb chops from Mr. Feeney, our local butcher.
SMASHED NEW POTATOES WITH HERBS AND GARLIC
16 new, small white potatoes, scrubbed, left whole with skins on
2 cloves peeled, but whole garlic
Big sprig of rosemary
4 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup grated cheddar (I used a nice local Irish cheddar, but any cheddar will work.)
4 Tbsp. chopped Herbs-chives, parsley, sage, additional rosemary, thyme–your choice
Cover potatoes with salted water. Bring to a boil and cook until tender. Drain. Discard rosemary. Chop garlic and smash potatoes and garlic with a large fork or potato masher. Do not mash completely; leave them a little chunky. Add 4 Tbsp. butter, 1/2 cup grated cheddar, salt/pepper, and herbs of choice. I used the above herbs. They recommended tarragon and parsley on the show which sounds great, but I didn’t have any tarragon growing. Put the potatoes in a shallow baking dish (you may want to dot with a bit more butter and sprinkling of cheese) and reheat until very hot, about 15-20 minutes. Very simple, but the herbs and cheddar are a nice twist. Now on to…more potatoes!
This is an old fashioned Irish traditional way to serve potatoes and as with almost every recipe has variations. I like to make it simple with cream and lots of butter mixed into the mashed potato and steamed cabbage. It can also be made with steamed kale, green onions, regular onions or leeks. This time I did add some leeks because they are in season and I had a ton of them on hand. As I said we just raided Sarah’s garden so the root veg were plentiful. In Hungary, my Mom’s homeland, there is a dish called Kaposzta’s Kocka Galooshka, which is a cabbage and noodle dish. Very similar, but here in IRE the potatoes replace the noodles…of course!
I have since done some research and am going to try this again at home and let you know how it goes. The 2 biggest errors were: #1. I cooked at high heat and I believe the recommended method is long, slow heat; and #2 (and I KNEW this!!) I did not score the skin. Oh well, as I always say, the fun is in the doing and it won’t always be perfect, although I must say that the orange sauce I made for this plump duckling was scrumptuous so you’ll be hearing about that soon. After our first duck dinner, I cooked the duck two different ways: Duck Risotto (out of this world!) and a rich root vegetable soup made with duck stock. Not to mention the duck made about 2 cups of duck fat which was used in all sorts of ways for flavoring and frying.
Until next time, this is Cindrina (that’s my Irish chef name) saying goodbye from Spiddal, County Galway.
LIVE LARGE, COOK BIG, GET CREATIVE IN THE KITCHEN.
PLEASE TUNE IN AGAIN SOON FOR ANOTHER EPISODE OF:
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