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The Irish Boutique is an Irish import store that has been located in the Chicago land area for over 40 years.  The shop stocks a variety of products ranging from Irish jewelry, crystal, china, food, sweaters, caps, t-shirts and a wide variety of Irish gifts. 

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Visit our blog to read about Michelle Barry's adventures in cooking and eating Irish cuisine and to learn about new products and upcoming events. 

 

Filtering by Category: Dinner

Dead Simple: Parsley Sauce for Your Saint Patrick's Day Meal

john barry

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Hi there. How are you? I'm having a hard time believing that March is around the corner. Where did the last few month go? I am totally looking forward to the days getting longer and longer and  it warming up around here.  Plus, we are all psyched that the next major Holiday (besides Emmett's birthday, as I am reminded EVERY.SINGLE.DAY) is Saint Patrick's Day!

Spring means mixing things up with evening trips to the park, more eating out (even though that has been scaled back by the arrival of this), and possible getting the grill out. But for the next few weeks it's business as usual around here.

My father-in-law, Paddy, and I take turns hosting Sunday dinner. It’s an informal affair, just Paul and I, the kids, Paddy and my brother-in-law, John.  Nothing fancy, more often than not, dinner is just what we would normally have.  But, it’s nice to sit down to a meal together, and it’s a part of the week that we all look forward to. Last week, Paddy and John did more than their fair share. They drove to our house so we wouldn’t have to get the kids bundled up AND they brought an Irish bacon. There really wasn’t much for me to do to make dinner happen.

We typically eat our Irish bacon (and corned beef for that matter) with Coleman’s mustard on the side.  But since I was only responsible for vegetables, I decided to make some parsley sauce to go with the bacon.  This sauce is a basic bechamel with chopped parsley and lemon juice mixed in. It goes great with bacon and would probably be nice with fish (fish Friday idea!) or to spruce up some simple steamed broccoli or spinach.

You can make this sauce in the time it takes to cook some carrots and cabbage on the stovetop. I will definitely be making it again with my corned beef on Saint Patrick’s Day. With some Coleman’s mustard on the side, of course.

Parsley Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups whole milk
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • Salt to taste

Place butter and flour in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat.  I like to use a high quality salted Irish butter, such as Kerrygold, for this.  If you use salted butter, you won’t need to add much salt at the end.

Stir butter and flour together until if makes a homogenous paste and bubbles but does not brown, about 2 minutes.   

Pour milk in slowly and cook, whisking constantly, for 4 or 5 minutes, until sauce thickens.  I add milk a little at a time, keeping in mind that sauce will be slightly thicker when taken off the heat. You may or may not use all the milk.

Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice and parsley.

Season to taste.  

To say I love Irish bacon would be an understatement.  If you are looking for something to do with leftover Irish bacon, look no further. 

I've used it in all of these: 

Bacon and Pea Risotto

In soup with white beans

In split pea soup

Dublin Coddle

and, it makes a regular appearance at our house in fried rice, sandwiches, scrambled eggs, even biscuits, cornbread and scones. Bacon is my weeknight, breakfast, anytime hero.

 

Soda Bread Crumbs

john barry

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My brother and his girlfriend have been visiting this week from Saint Martin and it has been so nice to catch up with them.  The kids especially love it when they are here. Every moment ends up being an opportunity to try to steal their attention and impress Uncle Mark and Aunt Jenn.  This state of affairs is, of course, fine with me and Paul.  Increasing the ratio of adults to little kids is always a good thing, especially when those adults are Mark and Jenn.

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Mark and Jenn are both great cooks and have taught me much of what I know about cooking and feeding people. Their first night here I wasn’t sure how hungry everyone was going to be or what they would be up for. I ended up sort of paralyzed with indecision and without a dinner plan.  Fortunately, just before it was time to head to the airport, I decided to make some garlic bread crumbs out of the soda bread hanging out on the counter.  I figured, if we didn’t go out for dinner, I could use them to whip up a quick pasta dish to serve with a salad and grocery store rotisserie chicken.

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I toasted the bread, whizzed it in my food processor with a few cloves of fresh garlic and toasted the whole lot in butter and olive oil on the stovetop. You know how people say that if you want to sell your house you should bake chocolate cookies? Well, I think you should make these bread crumbs.  They smell toasty, nutty, garlicy - like something delicious is in your future. When the bread crumbs were reasonably cool, I tossed them with grated Parmesan, minced parsley and lemon zest. Then I seasoned them with a tiny bit of sea salt, nutmeg and black pepper and headed to the airport.

We ended up using them to make this simple pasta dish with some fresh pasta.  But honestly, these would be good on anything. I’m thinking of making some more to use instead of panko for this Ina Garten recipe. Or as a topping for baked fish. I usually add nuts to this sort of thing but I found that the nuttiness of the soda bread provided what I was looking for and the texture was light and perfect.

Oh, and by the way. Turns out a simple pasta dish, rotisserie chicken and a big salad can be company worthy. It made the perfect family dinner that everyone could enjoy.  

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Soda Bread Crumbs

  • 5-7 pieces of soda bread, about 3 cups crumbs
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1-2 tablespoons butter
  • 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • ¼ cup minced parsley
  • Zest of one lemon
  • ¼-⅓ cup grated Parmesan
  • Sea salt, nutmeg and back pepper to taste

 Toast soda bread and add to food processor along with peeled garlic cloves and a pinch of salt. Pulse until the bread turns into coarse crumbles.

Add oil and butter to large frying pan and heat over medium high heat until butter is melted.

Add garlic-bread mixture and toast, stirring constantly until bread crumbs are fragrant and brown. I turn the heat down at the end since the crumbs can go from toasted to burnt easily.

When the crumbs have cooled add the parsley, lemon zest and Parmesan and stir thoroughly.

Season to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

What to do with leftovers: Shepherd's Pie

john barry

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We’ve been hosting the Holiday’s ever since we moved into our house in 2012. This is mostly because we’ve got the little ones and it’s easier for us not to have to load everyone (and all of the stuff - diapers, wipes, changes of clothes, sippy cups etc.) into the car and try to figure out naps at someone else’s house.  I love having everyone over and the rest of the family does too.  I’m sure I make a better host than a guest, because I’m incapable of sitting down for very long and enjoy being busy in the kitchen, content just listening to the happy squeals of the children playing with our family and friends.

Although I try to send people home with leftovers, hosting means that we end up with most of them.  While I could fix myself the exact same plate over and over again and be in heaven, Paul gets tired of leftovers after about one meal. This presents a problem, since I am the self-proclaimed the food waste police.

Fortunately, probably in anticipation of me forcing the entire family to eat nothing but leftovers for a week, Paul solved this little problem by picking up a packet of Shepherd’s pie mix when we were at Paddy’s the day before Christmas. I had actually never made a Shepherd’s pie before, but sure enough, after a lunch of leftovers, Paul mentioned that we might want to use the rest of the leftover mashed potatoes to make one that night. At first I resisted, feeling like it was too early not to eat another few plates of Christmas dinner.  But, after realizing what short work the kids had already made of the leftover Irish bacon, I acquiesced.  Marriage is, after all, about compromise (and Paul was at least willing to eat the leftover potatoes again).

I thought there was a pound of ground beef in the freezer but we only had half a pound. This actually worked out perfectly because we were working with a limited amount of leftover mashed potatoes anyway. I added a bit of volume to the filling but throwing in some celery, garlic, carrots and peas to supplement the meager about of beef we had.

I’ve never made Shepherd’s pie before.  Granted, this one was made with leftovers and a mix, but boy was it simple. Here’s how we did it: 

  • First we preheated the oven to 400F.
  • Then we sauteed garlic, an onion, carrots and celery in a pan until they were soft but not browned.  
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  • Then we added the ground beef, breaking it up into small bits until the meat was cooked through.
  • To this we added some frozen peas, tossing them with the meat and other vegetables until they just warmed through.
  • Because we were using a small amount of meat, we added approximately half of the Shepherd’s pie packet to about ⅔ cup of water and stirred.
  • We then added the water and seasoning mix to our meat mixture and brought the whole thing to a simmer before turning the heat off.  
  • We poured the mixture to an oven proof dish and covered it with a layer of our leftover mashed potatoes.
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  • I decorated the top with the tines of a fork, per Paul’s instructions, dotted the top with some butter and put into the oven for 30 minutes.
  • By then it was all bubbly and starting to make the house smell delicious.
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The only thing I would do over again is broil the top for a few minutes to brown it a bit more.

I’m already thinking about how to make an another version of this with leftover turkey, green beans, carrots and bechamel.

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 Who knew compromise, and leftovers, could taste so good?