Category Archives: Irish

Not a Pizza

I know, you can have an

English Muffin Pizza

Thomas_recipe_PizzaMuffinEM

Thomas’s English Muffins Pizza-ed

But what if you took a tortilla instead of an English Muffin???

tortillas - flour

Flour tortillas

And What IF you happened to have hummus instead of sauce?

hummus container.png

and then you added just a little cheese….and popped it into a hot oven…It WAS a cold night….and when you took it out you folded it in half to eat it…

Besides Supper  – what would you call it?

It’s Pizza-ish, but not pizza.

The best I could come up with is Quesa-rizza – the place in between the quesadilla and the pizza. Or not.The ‘R’ in the middle is a Massachusetts thing.

My son would combine a burrito inside a little pizza and called it a burr-izza.

♦◊♦

And then the 17th century calls….Spring Training  is not just for the Red Sox.

Time to get ready to get back to 1624….

NEHome

and one of my faves slides…

goatmilking

and then there’s the rest of the PowerPoint, but I don’t know how to link. The Pilgrim ate more meals then just “The First Thanksgiving” is the point of the PowerPoint.

 

 

AND…..

Vinca_minor_Nashville

Vinca – also know as creeping myrtle and periwinkle is creeping everywhere. Did I miss the crocuses and snowdrops?

St Patrick

saint patrick

Snakes be gone!

his day is approaching ….all the green around here isn’t just Spring springing.

Time to make the soda bread. Paula Marcoux has a great recipe at this edible South Shore and South Coast link:

One Loaf of Soda Bread – HOLD THE BLARNEY

 

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Filed under Irish, Pizza, Supper, winter

Candlemas Eve

Ceremony Upon Candlemas Eve

 

Down with the rosemary, and so
Down with the bays and misletoe;
Down with the holly, ivy, all
Wherewith ye dress’d the Christmas hall;
That so the superstitious find
No one least branch there left behind;
For look, how many leaves there be
Neglected there, maids, trust to me,
So many goblins you shall see.

– Poem by Robert Herrick

Herrick’s talk of Rosemary and Bays makes me think of Beef Stew…..

Rosemary_ca_1500

Rosemary – decorative and tasty!

Today is 39 days since Christmas, so get those Christmas decorations and gee-gaws put away  because tomorrow is the last day of Christmas.

In some places Carnival has already begun. Because before Lent begins, there’s still time to party! Mardi Gras is right around the corner.

Is it just me or are some of these masks a little…goblin like? Perhaps they didn’t get all their Christmas branches pulled down and put away!

Bergaigne_P_A_Carnival_Ball

Pierre Bergaigne Carnvial Ball – 17th century – some of these costumes would fit right in in Venice this week

It’s also the feast day of Saint Brigit of Kildare, one of the patron saints of Ireland. She’s often portrayed with an eternal flame.

Brigid bigbrigid large

The days are getting a little longer on each end….the darkness of deep Winter begins to lift.

 

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Filed under Irish, Italian, winter

bits and pieces

 apl-bite Finished reading The Book Lover’s Cookbook booklovers CBapl-biteI’ve long thought about cookbooks and recipe files to go with different books….part of the

you are what you eat – especially if you’re fiction

thinking.

apl-biteErle  Stanley Gardner and Perry Mason…steak, Scotch and baked potatoes

ESG DA cooks

This might be a good place to start, even if no actual goose is involved.

Earl Stanley Gardnerbooks

There are over 80 volumes in the series, so it could take a while, reading them, collecting the references, looking up appropriate period recipes, testing them…..

apl-biteTotally random bit : Erle Stanley Gardner was born in Malden Massachusetts in 1889.

And he really was a lawyer, in California.

Erle is an odd ball enough spelling of his name to keep him as a crossword puzzle clue for generations.

apl-biteLaura ‘Half-Pint’ Ingalls Wilder from the Little House on the Prairie is mentioned .She already has a cookbook of her own.LittleHouseCookbook apl-biteAlmond macaroons – the Italian ones, made of almonds, (not French one O macaron  or the coconut ones, which are good) ….are a very good thing.

Almond-Macaroon

Easy Almond Macaroons by Caterina Borg, Good Food Gourmet on January 13, 2013

Almond macaroons are also known as  ‘squishy cookies’ (at least in my family) Here’s a link to a recipe or find a good Italian baker. apl-bite

Family party which include my mother and her cousins discussing the best sfogliatella…..

Sfogliatelle_pic

Sfoglitella – flaky pastry from southern Italy

Evidently the best  these days is  in San Diego or Naples….again, a treat you buy and don’t make at home. There are a number of videos on YouTube, but once you start calling them ‘Lobster Tails’ you’re already too far from the source to be taken too seriously. And none of them are being done by home cooks or Nonnas.

apl-biteWhat do Italians talk about when they sit at the table with food?

Other food.

Food we have had, food we remember, food we would like to make or eat or improve. Who made it, who else was there, who ate with us. Before there were foodies, there were Italians.

apl-biteI’ve also been watching Bluebloods. Almost every episode has at least one scene of the whole family, all four generations, seated around a totally enormous table.

Everyone gathered. Everyone talking. But this is an Irish family, not an Italian one.

Bluebloods, the Regan clan gathered round the dinner table

Bluebloods, the Regan clan gathered round the dinner table

What do the Irish talk about around the table? Politics. Work.

Not so much food, except to pass the dish or clear off at the end of the meal.Also pretty true.

And last but not least, a piece of Birthday Cake, for the family June birthdays.

cake_slice

A piece of cake

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#FathersDay

Twitter_bird_logo_2012.svg

Guess what’s trending on Twitter today?

#FathersDay

That’s the Twitter world way of saying Father’s Day.

Who saw THAT coming?

One of the other trends is #dadswhocook.

I can not write that story. Mine was not a cooking Dad.

Mine was Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup straight from the can to the pan Dad.

Campbells ChicNoodle

That little golden seal mentions a Paris Exhibition – Campbell’s was gourmet? Soup IS good food – for thought.

The CONDENSED soup straight from the can to the pan without the water. Which he served to us without malice or understanding why we thought we were being poisoned.

And yet he knew from food.

He missed a calling as a critic.

Not critical, like,

“You call THESE mashed potatoes? Not lumps of library paste?”

But critical like Pete Wells of the New York Times critic of food

pete-wells-qsHe could analyze taste and texture and technique and make suggestions about how to change things around for next time, how to think with the end in mind, how to have opinions.

A trait that we his children all share. (Best Meal EVAH : October 19, 1986)

A trait that has been my bread and butter in more ways then one, and like blue eyes and curly hair, another way that this apple hasn’t fallen far from that tree.

Happy#FathersDay

apple tree with apples underneath

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Filed under Holiday, Influencers, Irish, Soup

Whey Back Wednesday

Little Miss Muffet

Sat on a tuffet

Eating her curds and whey

Along came a spider

And sat down beside her

And frightened Miss Muffet away.

Making curds and whey at work, so the nursery rhyme is in the air.

Pretty remarkable the number of children who don’t know it.

“Little Miss Muffet Sat on her tuffet, eating her….

“MUFFIN”

or if I helped them

‘…eating her curds and…’

“CHOCOLATE”

Little_Miss_Muffet_2_-_WW_Denslow_-_Project_Gutenberg_etext_18546So it seems that Miss Muffet is slipping out of the vernacular…..anyhow…

Curds and whey is pretty easy to make (are pretty easy to make? You can’t make one without the other….Is this a singular or a plural? Time to call the Grammar Police!) Grammar Police badge

To make curds and the resulting whey : take milk, add rennet (it’s an enzyme) and the milk becomes solid – that’s the curds – and liquid – that’s the whey…..Curds are the first step of making cheese. Many cheeses are pressed curds

Cabot-cottage-cheese-1lb

Cottage Cheese/ Curds and Milk – different names/same thing.

Cottage cheese is unpressed curds and milk..See – you’ve been snacking on curds like a tuffetless Miss Muffet all along!

Whey is also pretty common in the 21st century – as a powder. Dehydrate the liquid and Voila!

Whey_powder

Whey powder – an important component of a smoothies and power shakes and protein bars

Whey powder is also in Greek-style yoghurt.

Not in the Greek yoghurt, per se…..

Greek-style.

I went to buy some Greek yoghurt this week, to lunch with my granola. I reached for my familiar brand, and right next to it

SALE

I bought the brand on sale. I read the BIG print, not the fine print….shame on me.

Here’s what was in it:

Pasteurized milk, skim milk, whey protein concentrate, milk protein concentrate, live active yogurt cultures (Acidophilus, Bifidus, L. bulgaricus and S. thermophilus), Vitamins A,C,D,E.

And the taste? Chalky/gritty/ not nice.

Note to self – ALWAYS read the WHOLE label, even in a jiffy grocery run.

Then there’s true ricotta – that’s ‘re-cooked’ in Italian, made from re-heated whey and buttermilk,  which makes it the same thing as Gervase Markham’s  1617 “Whey Curds”.

Ricotta insaluta

Ricotta salata

07-506972

Happy Medieval cheese-makers – that basket cheese in the middle looks an awful lot like a modern ricotta basket…and that’s one handsome dog, too

Another version of the same scene

Another version of the same scene

Curds in Irish literature

The Vision of Mac Conglinne (14th century, Irish)

Stately, pleasantly it sat,
A compact house and strong.
Then I went in:
The door of it was dry meat,
The threshold was bare bread,
cheese-curds the sides.

Smooth pillars of old cheese,
And sappy bacon props
Alternate ranged;
Fine beams of mellow cream,
White rafters – real curds,
Kept up the house.

It’s not just the food, it’s the wheys

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Erin Go Bragh

st patrick

St. Patrick

erin

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National Potato Day!

Who knew?

Who decides these things?

Does it matter?

This works out for a Meatless Monday……

 Spuds and Squash.

Pumpkin and Potatoes.

The Smashing Pumpkins  - A rock band, not to be confused with a side dish

The Smashing Pumpkins – A rock band, not to be confused with a side dish

 

Mr potato head

Mr Potato Head LOVES that it’s National Potato Day…and is maybe a little afraid…He won’t be doing The Mashed Potato anytime soon.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND POTATOES WITH ROSEMARY

1 ½ pounds potatoes (about 4 cups)

1 ½ pounds butternut (or acorn or Hubbard or other firm winter squash – I’ll be using my leftover jack o lantern next week…)

6 garlic cloves (if they’re small, I’ve used more)

Salt and freshly ground pepper

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup water

1 2” piece fresh rosemary

 

  1. Peel and cut the potatoes into ½” wedges (they need to be a little smaller than the squash pieces). Put in the slow cooker.
  2. Peel and cut the squash into 1” cubes (squash cooks faster than potatoes). Put in the slow cooker.
  3. Add the garlic to the squash and potatoes. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Drizzle on the olive oil and mix well.
  5. Add the water and tuck in the rosemary sprig.
  6. Cover and cook on high about 3 hours. The potatoes and squash should be tender when pierced with a knife.
  7. Serve hot.

Makes 6 servings.

From Michele Scicolone. The Italian Slow Cooker. p. 187.

Italian slow cooker book

Top with parsley and you have the flag of Ireland…just saying.

Leftover can be reheated and topped with a little cheese, whatever little cheese you happen to have on hand. Or mixed with some beaten eggs and maybe a slice of bacon to make a world class frittata.

Better on a Thanksgiving table then the usual smushed and smashed – it really is 2 great tastes that taste great together! And with the slow cooker, how easy and no worries about how to fit it into the oven.

If you cook the squash alone, with the oil and the rosemary, which would be an almost ready sauce for pasta, especially if you use wine instead of the water….

Michele Scicolone (click on her name to get to her website) has written several slow cooker books, but I haven’t finished this one yet, in part because I keep cooking from it over and over, going back to an old favorite, and then finding a potential new favorite.

When words are not enough.....

When words are not enough…..

 

 

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Happy Birthday, Pappa!

June 18th was Father’s Day in 1933.

It was also the day my father was born, which made a certain amount of sense when I was little  –  why wouldn’t fathers be born on Father’s Day?  (My mother was christened that same day in Italy, which is the start of the connections between the two of them…..)

And he  LOVED Chinese food.

chinese-take-outLike blue eyes and curly hair (what was left of it) this was such a fundamental part of who he was and what he did,  that I never asked, nor do I remember anyone else ever once asking,

“Chinese food? What is about Chinese food, Bill? Why Chinese food? How does an Irish boy learn about Chinese food”

Good questions…wish I’d thought of them sooner. Not only was  Chinese food the treat of treats, it brought him into the kitchen after he retired.

He had a wok.

Serious Wok action. This was the attitude, if not the reality.

Serious Wok action. This was the attitude, if not the reality of the ancestral home cooktop.

For a very long time, perhaps as far back as the ’70’s, a paperback copy of  “The Pleasures of Chinese Cooking” by Madame Grace Zia Chu has been kicking around .Chinese Cooking larger

Several recipes have markers….but the basic of the basics is Fried Rice.

HAM FRIED RICE

2 Tablespoon soy sauce

½ teaspoon sugar

2 eggs

4 tablespoons peanut or corn oil, divided

¼ cup scallions cut into ¼ inch pieces

4 cups cold boiled rice

½ cup diced cooked ham

  1. Mix the soy sauce with the sugar. Set aside.
  2. Beat the eggs and scramble them slightly in 1 Tablespoon of the oil. Set aside.
  3. In a heavy frying pan or a wok heat 3 tablespoons of oil over high heat.
  4. Add scallions and stir a few times
  5. Add rice and stir quickly so that rice won’t stick to the pan and will be well coated with the oil
  6. Add the soy sauce/sugar mix, stir well.
  7. Add the ham and the slightly scrambled egg, mixing and breaking the eggs into little pieces in the rice.
  8. Serve hot.

NOTES: The rice needs to be THOROUGHLY cold or all you’ll get is a sticky mess. Madame Chu’s note and my experience. Brown rice may be used for a more hippie version, just be sure that the rice is cooked thoroughly.

Cooked chicken or beef may be substituted for the ham.

The original recipe does not call for a wok, but I think they’re a little more common now, so if you got one, go ahead and use it.

The original calls for ¼ teaspoon MSG, which I stopped using years, make that decades, ago. If that departure from the recipe makes it Irish/Chinese fusion, so be it. Call the Food Police. Guilty as charged.

Serves 4.

Grace Zia Chu. The Pleasures of Chinese Cooking. Pocket Books, March 1969. p.51.

Fried_rice

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Filed under Birthday, Books, Irish, Perception ways, The 1970's

Slow Beef

There is some debate about just how Irish corned beef and cabbage truly is, whether  or not bacon would properly be more traditional. My tradition is, if it’s St Patrick’s, your dinner debate is the choice between Lamb Stew or Corned Beef and Cabbage.

Another name for Corned Beef and Cabbage is Boiled Dinner, which makes it more New England, which is also fine by me.

OLD SOD BOILED DINNER, NEW ENGLAND STYLE

8 good sized fist sized spuds, peeled and quartered (are you saving the peel enough for broth? Use an extra)

4 turnips, peeled and cut to the same size as the potato pieces

These white turnips, not the big yellow rutabaga sort

These white turnips, not the big yellow rutabaga sort

2 large onions, peeled and quartered

1 small (2-3 pound) corned beef brisket

5 cups water (if you use a 12 ounce bottle of beer for 1 ½ cups of the water, it doesn’t make it worse, if you take my meaning. If you’d rather save the beer for your glass with the meal that works, too.)

1 small head of cabbage, cut into 6 or 8 wedges

  1. Combine the potatoes, turnip and onions in the bottom of a 4 quart or larger slow cooker.
  2. Add the brisket, fat side up.
  3. Pour water over everything.
  4. Cover.
  5. Cook on LOW 10-11 hours or until the meat is tender.
  6.  Remove cooked meat and vegetables, keep warm.
  7. Turn cooker to HIGH.
  8. Add cabbage wedges. Cover and cook on HIGH 20-30 minutes are until cabbage is done.
  9. Lift the cabbage out with a slotted spoon to join the rest of the dinner.
  10. Good with mustard and horseradish.
  11. Leftovers make great hash.

Adapted from Mable and Gar Hoffman. Mable Hoffman’s All-New Crockery Favorites. Bantam Books: 1993. p. 95.

mable Hoffman's

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Irish Mac and Cheese

Macaroni is not the least bit Irish. Calling it Mac only makes it sound like it is.

But if  you are Irish and Catholic,  St. Patrick’s Day comes smack dab in the middle of Lent and if it’s on a Friday night , no less, even if you are in the Archdioceses of Boston and even if St Patrick is the Patron saint of the Archdiocese  and even if there is dispensation for corned beef and cabbage……you might very well be having macaroni and cheese for supper.

st patrick

St Patrick, chasing  snakes and green macaroni and cheese out of Ireland

I don’t remember the details. We had plenty of St Patrick’s Days with Corned Beef and Cabbage but this one was most notably not one of those.  Was my Irish father working late? He loved his corned beef and cabbage, especially if corned beef would lead to corned beef hash….

Was it a year without dispensation? What year was it, anyhow?

What I remember was

  1. it was St. Patrick’s Day
  2. We were going to have macaroni and cheese and not corned beef.
  3. There wasn’t quite enough elbow macaroni, so some spaghetti was broken up into the mix.
  4. My mother decided to make the meal more festive by adding a little green food color to the cheese sauce.
green food color

Things are not necessarily more Irish if you color them green

How did it turn out?  It was not beautiful. Let me say that again ” ‘s NOT” Beautiful.

There are no photos. Saint Patrick’s gift to the world.

I have been highly skeeved by green food for Saint Patrick ever since. I’m not sure how this is supposed to honor the saint or Ireland.  Just say NO.

Someone else made green macaroni and cheese and took a picture of it and put it on the internet. Imagine a creamier, greener sauce...

Someone else made green macaroni and cheese and took a picture of it and put it on the internet. Imagine a creamier, greener sauce…

Green does not make the beer Irish

Green does not make the beer Irish

Green pancakes? No thank you

Rice Krispie Treats? Thank you, no.

Why??????

Why??????

Green eggs and ham

I just avoid green eggs and ham in March

I even avoid green beans at this time of year

I even avoid green beans at this time of year

Éirinn go Brách

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