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Beannacht La Fheile Padraig! Celebrating all things Irish

Happy St. Patrick’s Day -

May the Irish hills caress you; may her lakes and rivers bless you; may the luck of the Irish enfold you; may the blessings of Saint Patrick, behold you - an Irish blessing.

Who was St. Patrick? Some studies suggest that St. Patrick’s real name was Maewyn Succat and that he was born at the end of the fourth century on the island of Britain (possibly Wales or Scotland). He was kidnapped by pirates, and sold into slavery in Ireland. After six years of slavery he escaped to the northern coast of Gaul (modern France) where he began studies to become a priest, and took the name Patrick (Patricus).

According to legend, Patrick had recurrent dreams, which he interpreted as a calling from God to convert the pagans of Ireland to Christianity.

In about 432 AD, Patrick arrived in Ireland and travelled throughout Ireland, establishing monasteries and setting up schools and churches in converting the Irish to Christianity. He used the shamrock, which resembles a three-leafed clover, to help explain the concept of the Holy Trinity (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit). Legend says that Saint Patrick drove all snakes out of Ireland - there are no snakes in Ireland today except in zoos.

Patrick died March 17, 461 AD; that day has been commemorated as St. Patrick’s Day ever since.

The main St. Patrick’s Day festival is held in Dublin, but St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated throughout the world by Irish people and friends of Ireland with parades in cities throughout the world.

For many, the shamrock is symbolic of Ireland, but the official symbol of Ireland is what is known as the Brian Boru Harp, on display at the Trinity College of Dublin Library.

Information from the Embassy of Ireland notes that the harp has been the official symbol or coat of arms of Ireland since medieval times. The Harp is engraved on the official seal of the President of Ireland, and the president’s flag consists of a golden harp with silver strings on an azure field. As Americans use the bald eagle, Irish use the Brian Boru harp as a mark of “Irishness,” even though it was made about 300 years after the death of its namesake. The image is seen on everthing from beer to whatever, including Irish Euro coins.

According to information from the Brian Boru Millenium Harp Festival – “Brian Boru was the Irish Warrior King that united all the Irish tribes against the onslaught of the Vikings in Ireland in the 10th century. When praying and giving thanks on his great victory after the Battle of Clontarf in 1014, he was assassinated by a rogue Viking, ending the reign of one of Ireland’s most revered and charismatic leaders.

“There are many associations with Brian Boru and the Irish harp. One historical resource claims that Brian was himself an accomplished player, but it is certainly evident that he valued the bardic arts and patronised harpers and poets in his clan. Such was his importance to Irish life, that Ireland’s most celebrated historical treasure known as the Brian Boru Harp was adopted as the harp of our national emblem.”

In the U.S., Corned Beef and Cabbage seems to have become the customary St. Patrick’s Day dish, but Irish stew might be more appropriate. Recipes for Irish Stew are little changed from those of the early 1800s.

From the website, Your Irish – Direct from Ireland:

How To Make Traditional Irish Stew

People tend to think there is a special recipe to Irish Stew but the only thing special about this dish is that it is very basic and very easy to make. There are only four ingredients to Irish Stew making it a very low cost meal.

With potatoes being the main ingredient a typical bowl of Stew is enough as one serving but the great thing about this recipe is that it still tastes good when re-heated.

It’s probably safe to say that every Irish family have their own method of making stew by adding their own ingredients for flavouring. Always remember though, keep this recipe simple.

Ingredients for cooking Traditional Irish Stew

2 large onions

4 large Carrots

1/2 stewing steak/mince or lamb

8 large potatoes

Salt and pepper (personal preference)

How to make Traditional Irish stew - Wash and cut onions into moderate size chunks and add to the pot. (don’t like onions? Do not worry, this can still be cooked without onions);

Wash carrots and cut into chunks (some prefer thicker chucks for taste);

Wash and peel the potatoes (spuds) then cut each one in half;

Slice the meat into smaller pieces. If using stewing mince roll into meatballs;

Get a large pot and fill it with water. Add the potatoes and meat;

Heat pot until water boils then add carrots and onions;

Keep on a low boil and stir every now and then until vegetables are cooked;

Serve hot!

Cooking time for the Irish stew should be approximately 60 minutes or when the meat is fully cooked and the potatoes are soft inside (check using a fork).

Serving Irish Stew -

Stew can be ate at any time of day although eating it for breakfast would be bit much. This can be a substantial meal so don’t plan on taking a jog afterwards.

In our family home our mother would make a large pot for lunch every Saturday in the winter months. She would serve it in large bowls with freshly cut bread and butter to be washed down with either a glass of water or milk.

The above recipe makes a great stew but it is common for people to add something extra to give it more taste or to thicken the stew. A small amount of beef gravy granules can do the trick, don’t be afraid to experiment.

Here are just some of the ingredients you can try for yourself - Mushrooms, Parsley, Herbs, Oxtail powdered soup, Table Sauce (Brown), Ketchup, Curry powder (no this is not a typo and actually tastes great)

Just remember though, the more ingredients you add to your Stew the further you move away from cooking a traditional meal from Ireland. Keep it basic!

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From Food Ireland, a grocery store chain:

Mulligatawny - Traditional Irish Soup

1/2 lb scrag neck of lamb [stew meat would work]

1/2 small turnip

1 large carrots

1 large onion

1 small apple

1 spring of thyme

1 blade of mace

1 tsp chopped parsley

1 oz corn flour [cornstarch]

1 tsp curry powder

White Pepper

Cut excess fat of the neck of lamb and fry in large pot till fat runs. Slice and dice the vegetables and apple, then fry the vegetables in a pan with the lamb-fat for 5 minutes. Remove the fat pieces from this pan.

Add back the meat and fry till golden brown. Add the apple, parsley, thyme and mace. Add corn flour with water, stirring continuously. Bring to boil. Add curry powder. Lower heat and simmer for 3 hours. Take meat off bones, discard bones and chop up meat and add back to soup.

Season with salt, pepper and parsley.

Serve hot; serves 6

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From The Gathering Ireland 2013 –http://www.irishrecipes.ie

Irish Apple Cake

February 21, 2013 - Posted in Dessert

Apple cakes like this one are the traditional sweet in Ireland. The recipe varies from house to house and the individual technique has been passed from mother to daughter for generations. It would originally have been baked in a bastible or pot beside an open fire and later in the oven or stove on tin or enamel plates - much better than oven proof glass because the heat travels through and cooks the pastry base more readily.

Serves 6 (approximately)

* 225g (8oz) plain flour

* 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

* 110g (4oz) butter

* 125g (41/2oz) caster sugar [brown sugar]

* 1 egg, free-range if possible, beaten

* 50-120ml (2-4fl oz) milk, approx.

* 1-2 cooking apples - we use Bramley Seedling or Grenadier

* 2-3 cloves (optional)

* beaten egg, to glaze

TO SERVE

* Barbados sugar

* softly whipped cream

* 24cm (9in) ovenproof pie plate

Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Rub in the butter with your fingertips until it resembles the texture of breadcrumbs. Add 85g (3oz) caster sugar, then make a well in the centre and mix together with the beaten egg and enough milk to form a soft dough. Divide in two. Put one half on to your greased ovenproof plate and pat it out to cover. Peel, core and chop up the apples. Place them on the dough with the cloves, if using, and sprinkle over the remaining sugar - the amount you need will depend on the sweetness of the apples. Roll out the remaining pastry and fit it on top. (This is easier said than done as this ‘pastry’ is very soft like scone dough. You may need to do a bit of patchwork if it breaks.) Press the sides together and cut a slit through the lid. Brush with beaten egg and bake in a moderate oven (180ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4) for about 40 minutes, or until cooked through and nicely browned. Dredge with caster sugar and serve warm with Barbados sugar and softly whipped cream.

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Another from Food Ireland:

Irish Oatmeal Cookies

225g/8oz Odlums Porridge Oats [old-fashion oatmeal]

225g/8oz Odlums Self Raising Flour

225g/8oz Kerrygold Butter

225g/8oz Sugar

2 Tablespoons Lyle’s Golden Syrup [corn syrup would work]

1 Tablespoon Orange Juice

Method: 1. Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F/ Gas 4. Lightly grease about 2 flat baking trays.

2. Put the butter, sugar and golden syrup into a saucepan over a medium heat and allow to melt, stirring occasionally.

3. Remove from heat and add the oats, flour and orange juice.

4. Mix well together. Drop dessertspoons of mixture onto prepared tin, keeping them about 2” apart (to allow for spreading).

5. Put trays into oven for about 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown.

6. Remove from oven, cool in tin for a few minutes, then transfer to wire tray to cool completely.

We have provided these Irish Traditional Recipes to do our bit to help ensure that every Irish Chef, Restaurant, Pub and Canteen is able to proudly serve a wonderful Irish Dish on their menu for the year of The Gathering and beyond.

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From The Gathering Ireland 2013 –http://www.irishrecipes.ie

Traditional Porter Cake

This recipe is adapted from the manuscript cookbook of Eliza Helena Odell.

350g (12oz) butter

450g (1 lb) flour

300ml (10 fl oz) porter

1 tablespoon bread soda

450g (1 lb) currants

450g (1 lb) raisins

450g (1 lb) brown sugar

225g (8oz) citron

4 eggs, broken into the cake, not beaten

rind of 1 lemon

half package of mixed spice and some nutmeg

Rub the butter into the flour. Heat the porter and pour over the soda, men pour the porter mixture over the butter and flour. Add the remaining ingredients, mix by hand for 15 minutes then transfer to a tin and bake as for the Christmas Cake.

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