Introduction to Irish Food

A visit to rural Ireland is filled with spectacular views of lush, green hillsides and fields. Ireland’s green countryside is perfect for raising cattle and sheep, and dairy farming. The country’s mild climate provides a long growing season for a variety of vegetables and fruits. Irish cooks take advantage of the local harvest by choosing to cook with high quality, local and fresh ingredients.

Irish cooks keep it simple in the kitchen. Dishes are prepared using basic ingredients and easy to follow recipes.

The common staples in an Irish kitchen include:

• Potatoes (you may have guessed this!)
• Root vegetables (parsnips, carrots, etc…)
• Cabbage
• Whole grains
• Beef, mutton (lamb/sheep) and fish
• Dairy products – cheese, milk, butter and buttermilk

Herbs and Spices in Irish Cooking

Herbs grow well in Ireland and are used in many soups, stews and main dishes. Commonly used herbs include parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme and bay leaves. Irish bakers like to use nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and vanilla to create delicious breads and cakes.

We have a good friend who lived in Ireland for 10 years and enjoyed this dish during her stay. It’s a simple and delicious vegetable and fruit combination that is very green. The grapes provide a pleasant sweetness which makes this recipe nicely suited for introducing little ones to Brussels sprouts.

sprout and grape pureeSprout and Grape Puree for Baby

Ingredients:
• 1 1/2 cups Brussels sprouts
• 1 1/2 cups Green grapes, washed
• 1 Tbsp. Olive oil

Directions:
Trim Brussels Sprout ends, remove outside leaves and slice in half. Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add Brussels sprouts and cook for 5 minutes. Add grapes, 1/4 cup of water and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour the mixture into a blender or food processor and puree to a smooth texture. Pour the puree into your So Easy Baby Food Trays, cover and freeze. Simply defrost cubes when ready to use.
Toddler Treat: Pumpkin Date Scones 

pumpkin sconesIreland is well-known for baked goods. Crusty on the outside and moist on the inside, the scone is an authentic Irish treat. Our recipe adds a little extra nourishment with pumpkin puree and whole grain graham cracker crumbs. The directions also describe how to make smaller sized scones for little fingers.

Ingredients:
• 1-1/2 cups Flour
• 4 Graham crackers, crushed (1/2 cup crumbs)
• 1/3 cup Sugar
• 1 Tbsp. Baking powder
• 1/2 tsp. Salt
• 1/2 tsp. Pumpkin pie spice
• 1/4 cup Chopped dates, minced
• 6 Tbsp. Cold butter, cut into 1/4-inch slices
• 1/2 cup Canned pumpkin (100% pumpkin)
• 3 Tbsp. Buttermilk
• 1 Egg

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
Whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, graham cracker crumbs, sugar, baking powder, salt, and pumpkin pie spice. Slice the cold butter into small pieces and cut it into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter or 2 knives until the butter pieces are no larger than small peas. Toss in dates and set aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk together wet ingredients: pumpkin, buttermilk and egg. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients, and form the dough into a ball.
Pat out dough onto a lightly floured surface and form into a 1-inch thick rectangle about 4 inches by 12 inches. Use a large knife or pizza cutter to slice the dough lengthwise making two equal portions. Cut each log into 4 squares and cut each across the diagonal to form triangular shaped scones (each log will make 8 scones).
Place scones on the prepared baking sheet leaving about 1/2 inch between each scone triangle. To add a touch of sweetness, brush the tops of the scones with buttermilk and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for 13 minutes, or until light brown. Place on wire rack to cool. Scones can be frozen for 3-4 months.

Family Meal: Traditional Irish Dinner

irish dinner

To many Irish-Americans, corned beef and cabbage conjures up nostalgic images of a rural Irish past. It is a traditional meal to eat on St. Patrick’s Day and our recipe is easy to prepare. We’ve also included a recipe for clove-spiced sweet mustard that is just divine!
If you prefer Irish Lamb Stew, we’ve got the perfect family recipe too. Our recipe calls for ground lamb which is easier on the pocketbook; cooks in less time than using stew meat; and has a texture that appeals to small children, too. Whether you choose to make Corned Beef or Irish lamb Stew, both are fantastic paired with our Roasted Cabbage and Potatoes.

Irish Dinner Menu
Corned Beef with Clove-spice mustard sauce
Or
Irish lamb stew
Roasted Cabbage and Potatoes
Fresh pineapple

Corned Beef with Clove-Spiced Sweet Mustard 

Ingredients:
• 1 4-pound Corned beef
• 1/3 cup Yellow mustard
• 1/3 cup Brown sugar
• Dash of Ground cloves

Directions:
Remove corned beef from the package and rinse it in cold water. Place the corned beef in a large pot and fill with water until the meat is covered. If the corned beef came with a spice packet, open it and pour the contents into the water. Bring the pot to a boil and reduce heat to low and simmer 50 minutes per pound (a 4-pound corned beef will simmer for 3 hours and 35 minutes).

Test for doneness: a fork should easily slide into the meat.
When done, remove corned beef from the water and place it on a plate. Cover with foil and let stand for 20 minutes. Slice corned beef before serving. Using a sharp knife, slice across the grain into 1/4 inch thick slices.
Clove-Spiced Sweet Mustard: Combine the yellow mustard and brown sugar in a bowl. Stir well to dissolve the sugar. Add a dash of ground cloves. Serve corned beef with the mustard on the side.

lamb stewIrish Lamb Stew

• 1 lb. Ground lamb
• 1 lb. Ground beef
• 2 cups Sweet potatoes, peeled and diced (about 2 medium)
• 1 cup Parsnips, peeled and diced up Pearl onions, frozen
• 2 Tbsp. Tomato paste
• 2 Tbsp. Garlic, minced
• 1 Tbsp. Rosemary
• 1/4 cup Flour
• 1 cup Dark beer (such as Guinness)
• 3 cups Beef broth
• 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
• 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

Directions:
In a heavy stockpot over high heat, saute the ground lamb and beef until browned (about 8 minutes). Remove the meat from the pan and set aside. Add sweet potatoes, parsnips, and pearl onions to the pot and saute 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste, garlic, rosemary and cook 2 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook 1 minute.

Add the beer, broth, Worcestershire and mustard. Add the meat back into the pot and bring to a boil. Cook for 15-20 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

 

cabbage and potatoesRoasted Cabbage and Potatoes

Ingredients:
• 1/2 head Green cabbage (small to medium-sized)
• 10 small Yukon gold or Red potatoes
• 4-5 Tbsp. Olive oil
• Salt and Pepper (or seasoned salt – we used Trader Joe’s Everyday Seasoning – Grinder)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. Cut cabbage into 6 wedges and cut potatoes in half and Place cabbage wedges on one-side of the baking sheet. Brush cabbage with half the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Place remaining oil and potatoes in a bowl, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat with oil. Spread potatoes on the empty side of the baking sheet.

Place in the oven and roast for 25-30 minutes, until a fork slides easily into the cabbage and the potatoes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving.

 

Cheryl Tallman is the founder of Fresh Baby. For more than 10 years, Fresh Baby helped has helped parents foster their children’s healthy eating habits and proactively respond to the childhood obesity epidemic that plagues our nation. Cheryl is the author and designer of the company’s award-winning cookbooks and nutrition education products that support many stages of family life including: pregnancy, breastfeeding, introducing solid foods, and feeding toddlers, preschoolers & school-aged children. Learn more at www.FreshBaby.com.

Our Favorite Holiday Recipes!

Apple Baked Christmas Ham

Ingredients:

1 large pre-cooked holiday ham
5 cups apple juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 light brown sugar
1/4 cup water

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Clean ham and remove skin. Place in a roasting pan. Pour apple juice, cloves and brown sugar over the top; cover. Bake per package directions for 20 minutes per pound. Baste periodically during cooking. Remove from oven, cool slightly. Slice ham and baste with drippings from the pan. Serve with scalloped potatoes, apple sauce, vegetables, rolls and other holiday favorites.

Peppermint Brittle

2 lbs. white chocolate
30 small peppermint candy canes

Line a jellyroll pan with parchment paper or heavy tin foil. In a microwave safe container add the white chocolate and heat on medium in the microwave for about 4-6 minutes. Stop during heating and stir occasionally until the chocolate is smooth and melted.

In a large plastic bag add the candy canes. Using a rolling pin or another similar tool, begin breaking the candy into small pieces. Stir the candy into the melted chocolate and spread in the pan, evenly.

Place in refrigerator for about 60 minutes and then break the candy into pieces.

Apple Stuffed Pork Tenderloin Holiday Feast

Ingredients:

1 4 to 5 pound boneless pork loin
2 tablespoons real butter
2 1/2 tablespoons chopped white onion
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1/2 cup raisins
Lemon and orange zest
1 cup apple juice
1 cup sour cream
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook onions in butter over low heat until soft. Remove from heat. Add in bread crumbs, apples, raisins, citrus fruit zest and salt and pepper. Cool. Meanwhile, slice a pocket in the pork between the fat layer and the meat. Place stuffing in the pocket and then roll up pork line lengthwise. Tie with a cooking string or close with skewers. Mix sour cream and apple juice together and pour into a roasting pan. Place pork loin on top; cover. Bake for 30 minutes and then turn and bake for another half hour. Reduce heat to about 350 degrees and continue cooking for another hour. Baste pork frequently. Pork is done with a meat thermometer reads 150 degrees. Serve with potatoes, vegetables and rolls. Pan drippings can be blended with white wine for a gravy if desired.

Christmas Cookie Cutouts

Ingredients:
1 cup real butter, softened
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon almond extract, optional (reduce vanilla to 1 teaspoon if used)
Assorted holiday cookie cutters

Directions:
Mix butter and sugar together until very light and creamy. Add egg and extract(s); mix well. Slowly add flour and baking soda. Divide dough into equal parts; wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll out dough on waxed paper to about a 1/4 to 1/3 inch in thickness; cut into desired shapes. Bake on greased cookie sheets for 7 minutes, or until edges turn slightly golden. Cool and decorate.

Christmas Duck With Orange Sauce

Ingredients:
1 5-pound duck, cleaned and rinsed
1 large orange, peeled and quartered
Salt and pepper

Orange sauce:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
Freshly squeezed orange juice from 3 oranges
1 whole bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon thyme
3/4 cup Grand Marnier
Grated orange rind
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Clean duck and remove all excess fat. Rub duck, inside and out, with salt and pepper. Insert orange quarters into duck cavity and place in roasting pan. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Remove duck. Pierce the breast with a knife or fork; drain excess grease. Reduce oven heat to 300 degrees and return duck to oven for 70 minutes, or until duck is quite tender. Meanwhile, blend sugar and vinegar in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat until sugar starts to caramelize. Add bay leaf, thyme, orange juice, rind and liquor. Cook for five minutes or until well blended; remove and discard bay leaf. Remove duck from oven. Discard oranges; drain any remaining excess grease. Pour sauce over duck. Serve with vegetables, rolls and other holiday favorites.

Christmas Gingerbread Men Cookies

Ingredients:
2 3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Crisco
1/4 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup molasses
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon warm water
1 teaspoon white vinegar
Desired decorations

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Blend all ingredients together until dough is well mixed. Roll out onto waxed paper, or a floured surface. Dough should be about a 1/4-inch thick. Cut into desired shapes. Place on greased and floured baking sheets. Bake for 8 minutes, or until browned. Cool. Decorate with desired frosting, candy pieces and other embellishments.

Christmas Spiced Banana Bread

Ingredients:
3 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 cup real, unsalted butter, softened
3 large eggs
6 to 7 ripe bananas, mashed
1 16 ounce container sour cream
2 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking soda
4 1/2 cup flour
1 cup chopped nuts, optional

Directions:
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Grease two large, or four small loaf pans. Mix 1/4 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon in a small bowl. Dust greased pans with the mixture. Combine butter and 3 cups sugar. Add eggs, bananas, sour cream and remaining spices. Mix well; add baking soda and flour. Add nuts, if desired. Divide batter equally into pans. Bake for 55 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Serve with fresh whipping cream.

Christmas Sweet Potato Pie

Ingredients:
1 pound of sweet potatoes, peeled
1/2 cup real butter, unsalted and softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 9-inch pie crust, prepared, but unbaked
1/4 cup crumbled pecan pieces, optional

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Boil sweet potatoes until soft and tender. Cool and drain. Mash potatoes in a mixing bowl. Add butter and mix until well blended. Slowly stir in sugar, eggs, milk, spices and vanilla. Mix with a hand mixer until creamy and potato chunks have disappeared. Pour potato mixture into the unbaked piecrust. Sprinkle pecan pieces on top. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until knife comes out clean. Cool and serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. For an extra festive touch, sprinkle ice cream with peppermint candy pieces.

Holiday Mint Fudge

Ingredients:
1 cup granulated sugar
7 ounces marshmallow cream
2 sticks real butter, softened
10 ounces mint chocolate chips or mint chocolate candy chopped
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Serving tray decoration:
Powdered sugar
Mint leaf sprigs

Directions:
Line a 9x9x2-inch pan with foil, grease; set aside.  Combine sugar, butter, evaporated milk and marshmallow in large saucepan on medium heat until it boils. Stir constantly. Boil for five minutes. Add mint chocolate and vanilla. Stir until contents are well blended and melted together. Spread into pan. Refrigerate for minimum of 8 hours. Cut into desired size squares. Serve on a plate dusted with powdered sugar and decorated with mint leaves.

Holiday Roast And Vegetables

Ingredients:
1 4 to 5 pound beef rib eye roast
5 medium baking potatoes, cleaned and quartered
1 small bag of cleaned baby carrots
1 large onion diced
1 bottle of light beer
5 cloves of fresh garlic, cleaned and minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Blend all spices and rub onto roast. Pour beer into a roasting pan and place roast inside. Surround roast with vegetables. Cover roasting pan. Bake for 45 minutes and then baste roast with beer and au jus from the pan. Return roast to oven for about 45 minutes to an hour longer, or until a meat thermometer registers 135 degrees for medium rare or 150 degrees for medium. Cooking times can vary depending on desired doneness and roast size. Once done, remove from oven and cool for about 20 minutes. Carve and serve with vegetables, rolls and other holiday dishes.

Christmas Thumbprint Cookies

Instructions:
2/3 cup real butter, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 egg yolks from large eggs
1 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 egg whites, beaten
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
Strawberry, cherry or raspberry preserves

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Blend butter and sugar together. Slowly add egg yolks, vanilla, and salt. Beat until well blended; add flour. Once well mixed, shaped dough into small balls. Dip balls into beaten egg whites and roll in nuts. Place on greased cookie sheet. Gently press down on each ball with thumb. Bake 15 minutes, or until golden. Remove from oven; cool. Fill indents with preserves prior to serving.

Creamy Christmas Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients:
1 5-pound bag red potatoes, washed and cubed
1 16-ounce container sour cream
1 stick salted butter
1/4 to 1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup freshly ground parsley
3-4 green onion stalks, sliced thin
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Clean potatoes; cut out any brown spots. Cube or slice into quarters. Boil potatoes until tender; drain. Mash potatoes with hand masher or electric mixer. Add all other ingredients and mix until very creamy. If lumps are still present, or consistency is too thick, add more milk. Serve hot with butter and salt.

Festive Cheese Dip Color Explosion

Ingredients:
24 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 1/2 to 4 cups shredded mild cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons basil pesto
1 1/2 tablespoon grated white onion
3 drops medium to hot red pepper sauce
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 cup sliced almonds
2 1/2 tablespoons chopped red bell pepper

Directions:
Mix cream cheese and cheddar together. Blend in pesto, onion and pepper sauce. Refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours. Remove and work into desired shape (balls, stars, Christmas trees). Roll cheese mixture in parsley, almonds and red peppers. Serve with an assortment of holiday crackers. Makes enough for two large cheese balls, trees or a variety of stars.

Festive Spritz Cookies

Ingredients:
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup butter
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
Food coloring
Cookie press with desired cutouts

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine sugar, egg, butter, salt and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Beat until mixture is fluffy; add flour. Beat until well mixed. Add a few drops of food coloring, 1 to 2 drops at a time until desired color is attained. Put dough into cookie press. Place desired shapes 1-inch apart on baking sheets. Bake for 7 minutes, or until edges brown slightly.

Holiday Surprise Fruitcake

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, well sifted
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cup raisins
1/2 pound candied citron, chopped
1/4 pound almonds, blanched and sliced thin
3/4 cup maraschino cherries green and red blend, rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
lemon zest
1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Directions:
Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Rinse and dry raisins; cut into small pieces. Slice cherries into small pieces; combine all fruit and nuts in a bowl. Add 1/2 cup flour and coat all fruit. Set aside. Grease two cake pans; line with brown paper and grease again. Mix butter, vanilla and almond extract with lemon zest. Slowing add sugar; blend until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, blending well. Sift remaining dry ingredients together and add to the butter blend. Add fruit mixture. Blend until well combined; add lemon juice. Divide batter between the two pans. Bake for 90 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Serve with fresh whipped cream.

Cuban Frijoles Colorados (Red Beans) and Pollo Empanizado (Breaded Chicken)

I thought I would begin putting together a recipe book for my little sister of my Cuban recipes, each time I make a meal I’d snap a few pictures, and then compile them into a book for her. While doing so, I thought that the readers of Mom Fuse might enjoy this recipe too, and so here it is. Please keep in mind that I don’t really measure anything, I’m one of those people who do everything by eye, so there are no measurements.

I don’t cook like this on a regular basis, to be perfectly honest, I don’t particularly like cooking all that much, however when the mood strikes I kick arse in the kitchen, and today I was longing for some comfort food. Buen Provecho!
Cuban Red Beans (Frijoles Colorados)
Ingredients:
1 pkg dry red kidney beans
1 can tomato sauce
Pork [ the bone from one ham, two inch cube salt pork, 5 strips bacon all work well for this recipe]
1 medium onion
5 cloves garlic
¼ green pepper
Oregano
Cumin
Adobo seasoning
1 package sazon completo
Olive oil

There are two ways to handle the beans the first is an overnight soak the second is to skip the soaking overnight and to cook this recipe using a pressure cooker. I’ve made them both ways and either way the come out great. For this recipe I soaked the beans overnight.

Instructions:
Wash the beans then soak completely covered overnight (24 hours).
Peel and chop the onion in half
Peel and smash the cloves of garlic
Chop the green pepper (I didn’t use it this time around)
Place into a food processor and puree (for this recipe I cooked the in halves and the garlic whole pureeing them after cooking – either way works fine – however if you do it before hand it saves you the time of having to dig for them once the beans were cooked)

When ready to begin cooking in a large pot place the pork, olive oil (2 tablespoons) onion, garlic, and sauté until the onions are clear and soft.
Add the tomato sauce and continue to cook for another minute or two (this is called a sofrito – when I began preparing this recipe I didn’t realize that I had no tomato sauce on hand – which never happens, so after freaking for a minute I noticed a can of Campbell’s Tomato Soup I substituted that for the tomato sauce and it worked beautifully!)
Next add the beans in the same water that they soaked in overnight.
Add water if necessary to make the beans completely covered in about one inch of the liquid mixture.
Cook until the beans are tender 1-2 hours

If you’re using a pressure cooker make sure to check on the beans about every half hour and add more water.
Pollo Empanizado (Baked Breaded Chicken)

Ingredients

Boneless skinless chicken breasts
Vegetable oil
Cuban Crackers (Saltine crackers works great too)
Adobo seasoning
Cumin
Parsley
Mojo Criollo
2 eggs
Splash of milk (optional)
Lime

Instructions
For this recipe boneless skinless chicken breast works best but I had chicken breast tenderloins on hand so that’s what I used. Please note that traditionally the skin is left on the chicken.
Wash the chicken breasts
Marinate for about an hour in the mojo criollo (I used the store bought kind however if you would like to make some at home I have the recipe, just send me a message)
By hand or using a mortar and pestle crush the crackers into both fine and large chunks, Sprinkle adobo, cumin and parsley into the mixture, Poor into a large bowl or plate.
In a separate bowl whisk eggs and splash of milk.
Take the chicken out of the marinade and place on to plastic wrap then beat with a mallet until the meat is thin.
In a frying pan poor about ½ inch of the oil into the pan and heat.
One at a time place the chicken into the egg mixture, shake excess egg off, then place into the bread crumb mixture. Place the chicken into the hot oil and cook, flipping occasionally until golden brown and the chicken is cooked through.
Sprinkle with lime and enjoy

Guest post written by Nicole Olea from the Pretty Pink Chandelier