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I sat down with my coffee the other day and began to research Irish food for St Patrick’s Day. The internet is full of ideas and it seems these days its harder and harder to come up with new ones. I stopped to think for a minute and wondered why I was always trying to reinvent the wheel? Truth is I don’t have to and I shouldn’t. St. Patrick’s Day traditions are way older than I am. They have worked so far and since I am such a traditionalist when it comes to food, I’m going to keep the original set of wheels on this buggy and move on.

I decided to skip the internet and started searching through my 1500 cookbook collection when – BING the light goes on. I do not have one single Irish cookbook in my entire library. Why?? BING another light goes off. Because traditional New England fare is so very close to Irish cooking, which is what I have been making every week of my cooking career. So, I guess I never needed one. I have those recipes in my head and in my Grandma Laura and Auntie Annie’s recipe files that I inherited.

I’m going to roll with what I already know and I hope you like it.

 

 

 

 

Chef Robin’s New England St. Patrick’s Day Menu

New England Lamb Stew

Beer Bread

Apple Crumb Cake

 

New England Lamb Stew

stew

 

I learned this recipe from my Auntie Annie. I adored her – she would have been 119 years old on March 3rd this year. I added a twist of fresh ginger and rosemary over the years. She would say “what for?” I say just to add a little kick and to break out of my traditional box.

 

 

Ingredients:

  • flour for dredging your lamb chunks, seasoned with Salt and Pepper
  • 3-4 pounds of Lamb, I like to cut up my own leg and shoulder, but you can use already cubed if you like.
  • 5 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp veg oil
  • 1 cup red wine (use a good one for good flavor) drink the rest!
  • 5 cups good beef stock
  • 2 large white onions peeled and large dice ( I saute the onions for about 5 minutes to soften them, set aside until needed later on )
  • 4 stalks of celery, strings removed
  • 3 potatoes, larger dice ( use a harder boiling potato like a Yukon Gold)
  • 5 large carrots peeled and in chunks ( large cuts )
  • 1- 2 inch long piece of fresh ginger ( your going to remove it so leave it whole)
  • 5 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 small branch of rosemary
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme

 

Method:

1. Melt butter over medium heat in heavy bottom large pot or Dutch Oven, add the oil.
2. After dredging the meat in the seasoned flour, shake off the excess and begin to brown it in batches. Do not crowd the pan or your meat will not brown it will only steam. You do not want that.
3. Remove the browned meat to a plate as it is done.
4. Add the wine to the pan and let it cook off for a few minutes and then add the beef stock.
5. Return the lamb to the pot and add all the fresh herbs and ginger tied up in a piece of cheese cloth for easy removal later on. Cook the meat at a gentle simmer for about 1 hour.
6. Add to the pot the onion, celery, carrot and potato. Cook for another 45 minutes. Add beef stock to cover. Its okay the stock to cook down after veggies are added.

 

To serve: remove the herbs in the cheese cloth and ladle stew in to beautiful bowls and serve up with some Beer Bread.

Beer Bread1280px-Beer_Bread_1

 

There are millions of Beer Bread recipes out there. Its is a staple food in and around Boston and Cape Cod where I am from. Its is a fairly dense bread and I find using self rising flour really helps lighten it up a tad. This is the easiest bread on the planet to make.

 

Ingredients:

  • I suggest not doubling recipe, make 1 loaf at a time
  • 3 cups self rising flour ( use an unbleached one if you can find it )
  • 3 tbsp melted butter, unsalted
  • 1 12 oz bottle of your favorite beer. Try a flavored beer like apple or pumpkin beer. That could be fun as well.

 

Method:

1. Heat oven to 375 ° and grease or spray a 9 x 5 loaf pan.
2. Add all the ingredients into a bowl and stir until almost smooth. The batter will be lumpy, it’s okay, you didn’t do anything wrong.
3. Pour the batter into your bread pan and bake for for about 45 minutes or longer until a tooth pick or skewer comes out clean. This is a dense bread so it could take a few minutes longer than you think.
4. When ready pull it out and set in on the counter for about 6-10 minutes to cool some. Turn it out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Very important to let it cool all the way or it will crumble and not slice.

 

To serve: Slather with unsalted butter and enjoy

Apple Cake

 

800px-Apple_cakeIn Ireland they make a cake called apple crumb cake. I found many a recipe on the internet for that cake. I recalled my Grandmother Laura had one in her recipe file. She called it New Years Apple Cake. I have no idea why – New Years is close enough to St. Patrick’s day and it is what I was looking for, so here it is. Besides, anytime I can share my Grandmother Laura’s recipes with you – I do. Even though she passed away before I was born, my Grandma Laura was a cook, too, go figure. Dad told me I was just like her. I hope I come close to taking that place of honor.

Now remember my Grandmother didn’t have a mixer, she used her hands and forks to cut in butter. I’ll try and make this simple for you with my interpretation of her recipe.

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups of flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt , she would have used table salt I’m sure
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup cold butter, unsalted because there is salt in the recipe
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 egg, large
  • 6 large tart apple, she says. Granny Smith or a good pie apple.

 

Spiced Topping

  • 1/4 cup soft butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon, I would use at least a 1/2 tsp

Method:

1. Sift the flour, salt and baking powder together.
2. Cut in the butter with 2 forks or a pastry cutter or with your mixer on low. She says the mixture with be like course corn meal.

3. Add the milk to the beaten egg and add to flour mixture. The dough will be quite stiff.

4. Pat it evenly over the bottom of a 15 1/2 X 10 1/2 X 1 inch pan or one close to this size.

5. Pare, quarter and slice the apples.

6. Lay the slices over lapping in rows and press into the dough.

7. Bake in a 425 degree oven for 25 minutes. I might lower temp a tad to 400, ovens were different then.

 

Spiced Topping

1. Cream the butter with the sugar and spices.

2, Remove the cake after 25 minutes and spread the topping and put back it back in the oven at a reduced heat of 350 and bake another 25 minutes more.

3. She says the cake does not rise very much.

 

To serve: Warm