Irish recipes

Mashed Potato Pancakes

It has been said that on St. Patrick's Day everyone is Irish.

That's okay by me! I've been to Ireland. It's gorgeous. The people are friendly, the sites are interesting, the weather is glorious, the food is awesome. What's not to like?

The potato dishes are especially good.

Like mashed potato pancakes. You absolutely cannot go wrong making these. A terrific side dish with fish or at a vegetarian dinner. But, ya know, I've had these for dinner just by themselves, topped with sunnyside eggs (and served with some grilled tomatoes) and that's a perfect meal as far as I am concerned.

 

Mashed Potato Latkes

  • 2 pounds boiling potatoes (such as Yukon Golds)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives, optional
  • 1 large egg
  • Panko crumbs
  • vegetable oil for frying

Wash the potatoes and cut them into chunks. Bring them to a boil in a large pan in lightly salted water. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Drain and, when cool enough to handle, peel the potatoes. Mash the potatoes in a bowl using a potato masher or ricer. Add the butter and the milk and stir them in. Stir in the chives, if used, and the egg. Make flat cakes, about 1/4-inch thick out of the potato mixture. Press each side of the cake into Panko crumbs. Heat about 1/4" vegetable oil in a cast iron or other heavy heat retaining skillet over moderately high heat. Fry for 2-3 minutes per side or until the pancakes are golden brown and crispy. Drain on paper towels.

Makes about 12

Creamy Irish Potato Soup

You know that old ad that says you don't have to be Jewish to eat Levy's rye bread? I feel the same way about Irish food. I'm not Irish, but love Irish food. Especially Irish Soda Bread and Irish Oat Scones

Ed and I visited Ireland several years ago and despite warnings to the contrary we found the food there was scrumptious. We had salmon almost every night, and I remember fondly one dish of broiled salmon with a horseradish crust. So simple, fresh and fabulous for dinner. 

And of course, we had lots of those famous Irish potatoes. Mashed with kale or cabbage. And just plain boiled.

Oh, I do love those earthy, mineral-y potatoes.

Every year on St. Patrick's Day I make one or more of these recipes, and sometimes Irish potato soup. Classic Irish potato soup usually starts with bacon, but for a vegetarian version of that smoky, bacony flavor, roast some shiitake mushrooms (see below) and add them as a final garnish. But the soup is also wonderful if you skip that step and garnish with some fresh, chopped chives.

Creamy Irish Potato Soup

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 leeks, washed and sliced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 pounds all-purpose potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 6 cups vegetable stock
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup cream
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives, optional
  • 6-8 shiitake mushrooms, optional
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil, optional

Heat the vegetable oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the leeks and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes. Add the potatoes, stir for a minute. Pour in the vegetable stock. Add salt and pepper and the nutmeg. Bring to a simmer, lower the heat and cook, partially covered, for 45 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Puree the ingredients in a blender or food processor or with an immersion blender. Return the soup to the pan. Add the cream and heat through. If desired, serve with a garnish of chopped chives or chopped, roasted shiitake mushrooms.

To make the roasted mushrooms: while the soup is cooking, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Rinse and dry the mushrooms and coat them with the 2 teaspoons vegetable oil. Place on a baking sheet and roast for about 25 minutes or until well browned. Chop and sprinkle over the soup.

Makes 6 servings

How Many Ways Can You Make Mashed Potatoes

I'm thinking mashed potatoes at the moment. Probably because Thanksgiving is coming. But really I don't need a holiday to think about this dish. I could eat mashed potatoes any time. Any day.

My mother used to make them using what she called "all-purpose" potatoes (or "Eastern" or "Maine"). She'd cook the spuds and use an old fashioned potato masher to get them smooth, then mix in the most fabulous goodies: butter, cream cheese or sour cream (sometimes both), milk and plenty of salt and pepper.

Life is good when you can eat like that.

Years later I read that many professional cooks prefer russet potatoes for mashing. I tried it, but frankly, my Mom's version is much better. So I stuck with all-purpose until Yukon Golds came along. Those make good mashed potatoes too, with the right texture and lots of flavor.

Still, there are other considerations when making mashed potatoes, besides the actual potatoes.

For example, maybe you don't want to include dairy ingredients. No problem. I've made awesome dairy-free mashed potatoes

Maybe you like a crust? Here's a recipe for you.

Other ingredients? Sure. You can mix in roasted garlic or spice the spuds up with horseradish, and lots more of course.

One of our family favorites was when my Mom mixed cooked spinach into the mashed potatoes. She called that "creamed spinach" and that's what I thought creamed spinach actually was until I got to college and discovered there weren't supposed to be potatoes in it. 

In Ireland, justifiably famous for its potato recipes, there's a dish called Colcannon (variation, Kailkenny), which is basically mashed potatoes mixed with cooked cabbage or kale. I'd say it's similar to my Mom's "creamed spinach." And it's just as good. It's also more colorful and pleasing to the eye than plain old mashed potatoes.

Colcannon, Kailkenny -- a terrific dish, especially as a side dish for your Thanksgiving turkey, vegetarian Thanksgiving or on some other day to accompany roasted salmon.

Colcannon/Kailkenny

  • 1 medium bunch kale
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1-1/2 cups vegetable stock
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 6 all-purpose or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 5 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1/2 cup milk, approximately (dairy, soy or rice milk)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • freshly ground nutmeg

Wash the kale thoroughly, discarding any thick stems. Dry the leaves with paper towels or in a salad spinner. Chop the leaves coarsely. Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook briefly. Add the kale and stir to coat the leaves with the oil in the pan. Pour in the stock, cover the pan and cook, lifting the cover to stir the ingredients occasionally, for 5-6 minutes or until the kale has wilted. Remove the cover and cook for another minute or until the liquid in the pan has evaporated.

Cook the potatoes in a saucepan in lightly salted water for 15-20 minutes or until they are fork tender. Drain the potatoes and mash them with a potato masher, fork or electric mixer or hand beater set on low speed. Add the butter or margarine in chunks and continue to mash until the mixture is free of lumps. Add the milk, salt, pepper and a few grindings of fresh nutmeg. Stir to distribute ingredients. Add more milk if you prefer a softer texture. Add the kale and stir it in.

Makes 6-8 servings

 

 

 

Irish Oat Scones

    

 

 

I don't make scones very often because I have a difficult time limiting myself to one. I usually eat two. Or three. And then feel guilty and tell myself I will work out more. But of course, I don't do that either.

On the other hand --- tomorrow is Saint Patrick's Day and even though I am not Irish, I figure, why not take an opportunity to celebrate? I love Irish food, especially the scones.

So, here's my recipe. Whatever your heritage, try these on Saint Patrick's Day or whenever.

 

Irish Oat Scones

  • 1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup quick oats
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh lemon peel
  • 3 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks
  • 3 tablespoons shortening, cut into chunks
  • 3/4 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. Combine the flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, salt and lemon peel in a food processor (or large bowl). Process briefly (or mix) to combine ingredients. Add the butter and shortening and process on pulse (or mix with your fingers or pastry blender) until the mixture looks crumbly. Add the milk and process (or mix) until a soft dough forms. Place the dough on a floured board, knead briefly and press into a disk about 3/4" thick. Cut out circles with a 3-inch cookie cutter. Place the circles on the prepared cookie sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes or until puffed and lightly browned.

Makes 8