What’s for Dinner?
And some soda bread too
– The Best of Relish Cookbook, by the editors of Relish Magazine (The Countryman Press, 2009)
Serve with some soda bread (recipe follows) for a true taste of old-fashioned, Irish home cooking.
4 tablespoons butter, divided
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups chopped onion (about 2 medium)
2 leeks, sliced
3/4 cup sliced celery (about 3 stalks)
8 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, cubed
1 (12-ounce) bottle Irish red ale or beer
5 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
Coarsely ground black pepper
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups whole or 2% reduced-fat milk
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Kerrygold Dubliner cheese or 4 ounces Gruyere and 8 ounces sharp white Cheddar
3/4 cup finely minced parsley (optional)
4 ounces crumbled blue cheese (optional)
Bacon slices, cooked and crumbled (optional)
1. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a 6-quart stockpot. Add oil, onion, leeks and celery; stir. Cook over medium heat about 10 minutes; add potatoes, ale, broth, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; simmer, covered, over low heat, until potatoes are tender, about 1 hour.
2. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan. Gradually add flour, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Cook 3 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. Slowly add milk, stirring with a whisk until hot and thickened. Add cheese; stir until melted.
3. Slowly add sauce to potato mixture; stir well to combine. Cook over very low heat 10 minutes.
4. Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle with parsley, blue cheese and bacon, if desired.
Irish Soda Bread
A St Patrick’s Day favorite from my wife’s Irish grandmother.
4 cups sifted unbleached wheat flour
1 cup raisins (and add some extra currents if you want to make it a little different)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons caraway seeds
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter, softened
4 eggs, separated
1 to 2 cups milk (batter should be sticky but not stiff)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
brown sugar for topping
sesame seeds (optional for topping)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Mix flour, raisins, baking soda, salt and caraway seeds in a big bowl. Reserve.
3. In a separate bowl, using an electric beater, mix the butter together with the sugar until smooth. Blend the butter into the flour mixture until well combined.
4. Put the egg yolks, milk and vanilla into a small bowl and mix. Reserve
5. Beat the egg whites in a clean bowl until stiff.
6. Make a hollow in the middle of the flour mixture. Pour in the milk mixture and then the stiff egg whites.
7. Carefully fold the liquids into the dry ingredients, scraping the bottom of the bowl. Let the mixture sit while you butter the pan(s). You can use either a round bundt pan, or two 9-inch loaf pans.
8. Gently spoon the mixture in, and then top with brown sugar and sesame seeds, if using.
9. Bake for about 45 minutes until a thin knife or skewer pulls out clean. Let cool completely before turning out of the pan.