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847 634 0339

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. 

Cooking Blog

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: Irish

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.

 

 Donegal Oatcakes and Tomato-Rosemary Jam

john barry

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I’ve been home most of this week with FOUR sick kids.  I’m only just getting used to having four children, let alone sick ones.   It’s been snowy and cold here, so if there is a time to be taking care of sick little ones and baking, that time is now.  

This whole cold, snowy weather, sick kids thing could really be a bummer, and while I hate that the kids are off their game, I’m feeling fortunate that it’s not this nasty flu everyone else is getting.  Also, since I’m on maternity leave, I can be here to take care of them.  And do what I would probably be doing anyway: Bake.

It’s funny how I think most people who know me would say that I’m an extrovert, outgoing, social and talkative (“excessive talking” was the comment I would get from every single teacher on my elementary school report cards).  I’m all of those things, but I’m also a homebody to the core. I can go days, weeks even, without leaving the house. I always have a list of projects I want to tackle and it’s so easy for me to just get lost in one or a few of them.  When I’m focused, I don’t notice the hours or days go by.  Paul tells me that he can identify the look in my face when I’m “in the zone” and he knows to just get out of the way. Haha.

My point is, that for me, being snowed in with sick littles isn’t so bad. It’s an opportunity for me to get things done around the house, including trying some recipes I’ve had on my list.  So, once again, I find myself cooking comfort food from the pantry.

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I’ve been wanting to try this simple recipe for Donegal Oatcakes by Darina Allen for ages.  When I surveyed the contents of our fridge and saw tomato-rosemary jam, a by-product of Paul and I both buying grape tomatoes on the same day, I thought it would complement these oatcakes perfectly. Well, as it turns out, I was right. These were nutty and homey and another easy and delicious way to use my favorite Irish flour. They are also great with fruit jam and clotted cream, creme fraiche, or greek yogurt.  They can be taken in the direction of dessert with a generous swipe of nutella - sort of like an oaty, nutty, chocolate digestive. With just five ingredients, and a little time, they couldn't be easier to make.

Put the kettle on.

Donegal Oatcakes

  • 1 cup stone-ground oatmeal
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter or lard, cubed and chilled, plus butter for serving (optional)
  • 1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1⁄2 cup boiling water

Tomato- RosemaryJam

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  • 2 cups grape tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ⅓ to ½ cup of sugar

For tomato jam:

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer until tomatoes cook down and the mixture reaches a thick, jammy consistency, about 1 hour.  Remove rosemary sprig, its ok to leave some whole leaves that have fallen off in the jam. Serve with oatcakes, brown bread, on a grilled cheese or even with chicken, fish or pork.  

For oatcakes:

Add oats, flour, butter and salt to food processor and pulse until butter is in pea-sized clumps.

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Drizzle in boiling water until dough comes together. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and roll into a ½” thick square.  Place a kitchen towel over the top and let sit to dry out for about an hour.

I rolled the dough out between the parchment I baked them on and a sheet of saran wrap. 

I rolled the dough out between the parchment I baked them on and a sheet of saran wrap. 

Preheat oven to 250F.  You can cut the cakes out with a biscuit cutter and gather and reuse the scraps or just cut them into squares as I did.

With this approach, they don't look identical (unless you rolled them out in a perfect rectangle) but I don't mind the "rustic" look.

With this approach, they don't look identical (unless you rolled them out in a perfect rectangle) but I don't mind the "rustic" look.

Sprinkle with coarse sea salt and bake, flipping once, until golden and slightly crisp, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.  Serve warm or at room temperature with butter (or Irish cheddar) and tomato jam.

It's tough to tell from the photo but these did brown slighty on both sides.  They are crisp on the outside and a soft on the inside. 

It's tough to tell from the photo but these did brown slighty on both sides.  They are crisp on the outside and a soft on the inside. 

These last about 1 week in an airtight container.

Hargadon’s Brown Bread

john barry

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I made my own soda bread awhile back and it was brilliant. I was amazed that something so simple and easy to make could be so delicious. Then I made it with Odlum’s coarse wholemeal flour.  Predictably, it was even better.

I used a recipe that was given to my brother-in-law by a customer.  The recipe included her personal baking notes. I followed the recipe as altered by the notes.  Except that I didn’t bake it in a loaf pan because I was hungry and thought that it would be done quicker if I just shaped and baked it on a sheet pan. It still took 45 minutes but it was so worth it.  It reminded me why most soda bread in Ireland is made from this type of flour. More flavor, better texture.  Although not traditional, I sprinkled the loaf with poppy seeds before putting it in the oven.  

Once the bread was done, I immediately ate a huge hunk for lunch along with some Irish cheddar, a hard boiled egg and some tomato jam. It was the perfect simple lunch. I ate some later with peach-apricot jam from this little gem right across the way from Paddy's, creme fraiche and a cup of tea.  

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Of course I had to look up Hargadon’s after tasting this bread credited to it.  According to www.goodfoodireland.ie

 Back in the mid 1800’s, when this pub first opened, Hargadons was a well-loved, local hostelry with a truly unique quality. Despite the prevalence of music bars and the myriad traditional musicians in the country, Hargadons remained a ‘quiet’ bar, devoid of music and dedicated to its position as a genuine sanctuary. This policy remained in situ until fairly recent times and despite it being relaxed in the last years, it remains free of television and devoted to conversation, story telling and of course good food. The pub has been at the heart of Sligo life for over one hundred and fifty years and despite being closed for some of them, has recently returned to its rightful place, close to the heart of Sligo folk and visitors. 

It sounds like the kind of place where this bread must have originated.

If you are baking this, you must make sure to preheat your oven before you start to get your ingredients together.  This bread comes together so fast that if you don’t, you will be waiting for your oven - not the worst problem to have.

Hargadon’s Brown Bread  

  • 3 cups coarse wholemeal flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 1 ¼ cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs

Preheat your oven to 375F.

Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.

Beat the eggs and the buttermilk together in a small bowl.

Create a well in your dry ingredients and pour the buttermilk-egg mixture in.

Using a wooden spoon, or your hands (I found it was easiest to use my hands and that no additional buttermilk was necessary) mix the dry and wet ingredients until no dry flour remains.

Shape the dough into a round on a greased sheet pan and cut an X across the top. The X should go about ⅔ of the way deep into the loaf.

Top with poppy seeds (optional).

Bake for about 45 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Cut off a hot slice, slather with salted butter and enjoy.

My lunch date. She's getting so big and talkative. 

My lunch date. She's getting so big and talkative.