A Taste of Ireland

Around thirteen years ago, my friend and I took a mom-cation to Ireland. We spent 14 days driving from one end of the country to the other, soaking up everything Irish. I still have vivid memories of bright green rolling hills, muddy bogs, grazing sheep, chubby Irish babies, happy fun-filled pubs, rock walls lining narrow country roads, singing Saw Doctors tunes while driving the N-17, the friendliest people on earth, the freshest cream imaginable, and heavenly Irish dishes that have become my all-time favorites.
I have been known to throw an awesome St. Patrick’s Day party complete with traditional food, music and fun. Here are some of my Irish food favorites. My potato leek soup is begged for year round and I am sure it will be a favorite for your family.

PotleekPotato Leek Soup

3-4 leeks, whites only – washed and sliced
4 pounds of white boiling potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 small onion, chopped
1-2 stalks of celery, sliced
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
6 cups of chicken broth
4-5 tablespoons of butter
1 ½ – 2 cups of milk
1 cup of half & half
2 tablespoons of fresh parsley
Salt & pepper to taste
Melt the butter in a large pot. Add all the veggies except the potatoes, cover and cook for 5-7 minutes. Then add potatoes and continue to cook for an additional 3-5 minutes, stir often. Add chicken broth, 1 cup of milk, parsley, salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat to low. Cover and cook until veggies and potatoes are tender (30-35 minutes) Let soup stand to cool for 15-20 minutes. Puree soup with a hand blender until smooth. Reheat mixture and add remaining milk and half & half.
Serve with Irish soda bread, brown bread or crusty bread. Hearty and Scrumptious.

sodabreadTraditional Irish Soda Bread

5 cups of all purpose flour
1 cup of sugar
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter, cut into cubes, room temperature
2 1/2 cups of raisins
3 tablespoons of caraway seeds (can omit if desired)
2 1/2 cups of buttermilk
1 large egg
Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously butter a heavy ovenproof 10- to 12-inch-diameter skillet with 2- to 2-1/2-inch-high sides. Whisk first 5 ingredients in large bowl to blend. Add butter; using fingertips, rub in until coarse crumbs form. Stir in raisins and caraway seeds. Whisk buttermilk and egg in medium bowl to blend. Add this to the dough; using a wooden spoon, stir just until well incorporated (dough will be very sticky).
Transfer dough to prepared skillet; smooth top, mounding slightly in center. Using small sharp knife dipped into flour, cut a 1-inch-deep X in the top center of the dough. Bake until bread is cooked through and a tester is inserted into center and comes out clean, which is about 1 hour 15 minutes. Cool bread in skillet 10 minutes. Turn out onto rack and cool completely. (This can be made 1 day ahead of use. Just wrap it tightly in foil and store at room temperature.) ENJOY!!

colcannonIrish Colcannon

2 pounds of potatoes, peeled and quartered
8 oz of kale, chopped (cabbage can also be used; I actually prefer cabbage.)
1/2 cup of scallions, roughly chopped
1/4 cup of scallions, finely chopped
1 stick of butter
Salt & pepper to taste
Simmer the potatoes in lightly salted water until cooked – you know it’s done, because when you pierce the potatoes with a sharp knife, the potatoes should be soft in the middle. Blanch the kale or cabbage in boiling water for one minute. Drain and reserve. Chop half of the scallions roughly and the other half finely. Add the roughly chopped scallions to the drained kale (cabbage) and pulse in a blender for 10 seconds. Drain the potatoes and add the butter. When the butter has melted, mash the potatoes until smooth and creamy. Add the kale mixture and mix completely. Finally, add the finely chopped scallions and season to taste.

mccainsIrish Oatmeal

I had the BEST oatmeal ever when I was in Ireland. I couldn’t get enough. While staying in County Clare, I just had to ask the Chef his secret for his delicious oatmeal. He shared his secret and I have been making it that way ever since. The secret to make the most delicious and creamy Irish oatmeal that will warm your heart and soul is to soak McCann’s Irish Oatmeal in milk overnight and cook the mixture in the morning, adding more milk as needed. When completely cooked, sprinkle with raw brown sugar. That’s it!! Simple deliciousness!

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Kelly Smith

Kelly Smith

Kelly Smith was born and raised in the Hudson Valley in NY and has called Union County NC her home since 2006. She is a mom of four kids (23,19,16 & 7). For the past 2+ years, she has been the caretaker of her mom who has Alzheimer's disease. Married for over 20 years, Kelly now finds her way navigating life as a single mom. Kelly is one of the original Modern Parent writers and looks forward to sharing her journey through life.