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Pancake Tuesday 2014

Happy Pancake Tuesday! Shrove Tuesday, also known as Pancake Tuesday, is today and if you’re on some “healthy diet” regime…you’ll have to give yourself a special dispensation so you can partake in this festive tradition that we love so much in Ireland.

If you’re not familiar with the tradition of Pancake Tuesday, it falls the day before Ash Wednesday and marks the beginning of the Lenten season for Christians. {Don’t forget to get your Ashes tomorrow!} You can learn all about the tradition of Pancake Tuesday and find my tried-and-tested go-to recipe for traditional Irish pancakes here.

This year, in our Irish home, I am shaking things up. I’m not sure how my kids will feel about this, but I am making Korean-style pancakes in honour of the Winter Olympics in South Korea. I’d love to show you a Korean pancake I made earlier…but since we haven’t had dinner yet…I’ve got nothing of my own to show you just now*. But, what follows are some Korean pancake recipes that I’ve saved over the past few weeks to make tonight. I hope one of these appeals to you and yours!

~ XoK

Hotteok, Hoddeok or Hodduk, 호떡

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These gorgeous Korean pancakes are stuffed with delicious brown sugar, cinnamon and nuts…which just sounds so fabulous right now! According to Sue over at My Korean Kitchen, they are one of the “most popular Korean street snacks and are popular in winter”. What I particularly like about this recipe is the ingredient list is pretty much the same as we use for our traditional Irish crepe-style pancakes.

Pa Jun

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Ok, so he’s not Korean and he lives in Paris, but recipes from David Lebovitz are always good…so for me this recipe for scallion, red pepper, egg on top, Korean-style pancakes made the cut. Again, I love that David’s recipe because it uses simple ingredients…and I can imagine throwing in a few prawns or other ingredient to make them even more interesting.

Scallion & Shrimp 

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Does’t this pancake look good? Nami, a Japanese home cook, based in San Francisco, offers this delicious recipe on her blog Just One Cookbook. You might say, “but she’s Japanese…not Korean!”…and you’re right. But, you know, my sweet grandmother was Chinese and she had a bunch of friends from so many Asian countries and she and her girlfriends would share and cook up each other’s recipes with such regularity that I am going to believe Nami lives the same way…it works for me!

Flourless Korean Pancakes…aka Potato Korean Pancakes

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I won’t be making these tonight…but I thought for any of you who are not eating flour…but are eating potatoes…this recipe might work. From the very adorable Seonkyoung Longest, this blog posted recipe for Potato Pancakes also offers an easy to follow video.

Additional Notes, Related Articles & Credit:

* Busy mom note here: I meant to publish this post earlier in the day for my fellow Irish readers!

** For more delicious Pancake Tuesday recipe ideas please visit my previous post here.

 

 

 

 

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If your New Year’s resolution is to “get healthy” or “lose weight” in 2018…read no further. Seriously, if you do, you’re either going to hate me or love me for posting this Salted Caramel Popcorn recipe.

In our Irish home we call it…”crack-popcorn”. I kid you not: it…is…that…good. Full credit for this Master Recipe goes to Shelly Jaronsky over at CookiesandCups.com. She first posted it on 4 September 2013 and then it went into her 2016 cookbook, The Cookies & Cups Cookbook. I, thankfully, stumbled across the recipe on Pinterest a few years ago, was intrigued, and then got hooked. Thank you and damn you, Shelly! ♥

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Yesterday, I whipped up a double batch for neighbours and friends whom I didn’t visit before Christmas day. The jars came from TK Maxx {it’s the same as TJ Maxx} and were a steal at only €5 each.

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Unlike other salted caramel popcorn recipes out there, this one is a doddle to make. As per Shelly’s directions, you pop some popcorn, boil up a quick batch of caramel using only three ingredients, mix it all together, and pop it into the oven for 30 minutes. Bada bing, bada boom and you’re done. You’re gonna love it!

~ XoK

Salted Caramel Popcorn

Makes 16 cups

Ingredients

4.5oz/126g/½ cup unpopped popcorn

8oz/228g/1 cup butter

7.5oz/212g/1 cup brown sugar

3oz/1/3 cup golden syrup or corn syrup

1/2-2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt, divided*

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 150ºC/300°F.

2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Set aside.

3. Pop popcorn kernels using air popper into a large bowl.

4. In a small saucepan melt butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and 1 teaspoon salt* together over medium heat. Bring to boil. Boil for 4 minutes without stirring.

5. Pour caramel mixture over popcorn and stir to coat evenly.

6. Pour popcorn into lined pan, sprinkle remaining salt on top (1/2 tsp – 1 tsp depending on your personal taste preference*) and place in oven. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

7. Allow popcorn to cool on a parchment lined counter.

Additional Notes, Related Articles & Credit:

* Because I use salted butter, I opt out of adding salt to this recipe.

** To get rid of those pesky unpopped kernels, before making the caramel, pour the popcorn into a large bowl and toss it thoroughly with your hands a few times…this way the unpopped kernels will fall to the bottom of the bowl. Then, remove the popped popcorn to another bowl and, voila, the unpeopled kernels are visible for easy removal.

*** If kept in a well sealed container, this popcorn will last for weeks.

**** I adore Master Recipes…you know…the ones that are rare and wonderful, that you wouldn’t dream of changing a single thing about them, and you make them over and over again. Here are a few of my favourite Irish master recipes: Chocolate Whiskey Cake, Irish Mashed Potatoes, and The Art of Making & Serving Tea.

 

 

 

 

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Slice of ham and cheese frittata on a white plate

We love leftovers the first night after Christmas. By the second night, however, we are ready for something different. But, what about all that wonderful leftover turkey and ham that’s sitting in the fridge…right?

“Waste not want not” is a philosophy my mother-in-law Mary Rose taught me well, which is why the second night after Christmas, I usually make a ham and cheese frittata. {For your leftover turkey…why not try this Turkey Shepherd’s Pie?}

This recipe is incredibly quick to make and is, of course, delicious. It’s perfect for a morning meal, Saint Stephen’s Day perhaps, and also makes an ideal brunch main course. At a different time of year, say a beautiful summer’s day, this could easily be packed into a picnic basket too. Enjoy!

Ham & Cheese Frittata

Serves 6

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ onion, sliced

8 eggs

2oz/¼ cup milk

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

12oz/168g/2 cups ham, diced

3oz/88g/1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions

1.) Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F.

2.) Heat olive oil in a 10” oven proof skillet over moderately high heat. With a pastry brush, spread the olive oil to the sides of the skillet.

3.)Add the onion and sauté until translucent.

4.) While the onions are sautéing, whisk the eggs, milk, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Set aside.

5.) Once the onions are translucent, remove from the heat and spread the diced ham evenly over them.

6.) Pour the egg mixture into the skillet.

7.) Sprinkle the cheese over the top.

8.) Place the skillet into the oven and cook for 30 minutes or until the eggs are fully cooked and the cheese is bubbling. Serve immediately.

Additional Notes, Related Articles & Credits:

* Want to know the difference between a frittata and an omelet? Check out this article from the good folks over at thekitchn.com.

** Here are a few Irish frittata recipes from the world of WordPress bloggers: Irish Breakfast Frittata from The Way I Make It Is; Feta Cheese and Red Onion Frittata from the Irish cookery school known as Cook’s Academy; Bacon Spinach and Potato Frittata from Irish writer Shiela Kiely at Gimme the Recipe; and, finally, a Courgette and Thyme Frittata from Irish food writer Catherine Fulvio.

*** Not into frittatas? Can I tempt you with this amazing Tomato & Almond Tart a la Ottolenghi?

 

 

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Traditional Irish Plum Pudding on a white plate

 

I know it’s late…but it’s not too late…to make your plum pudding for Christmas. This traditional Irish dessert is rich in spices and gloriously packed with delicious fruit.

A few weeks back I made homemade Mixed Candied Peel for this very recipe and it is incredibly more-ish…if you have the time and the inclination, I highly suggest you make you’re own too as it really is magic.

Of course, as one would expect, there are some superstitions {or call them traditions, if you will} that go hand in hand with making Irish plum pudding. They include:

* You make your Christmas plum pudding the Sunday before the first Sunday of Advent, also known in the north of Ireland and the U.K. as Stir-up Sunday.

* It must be made with 13 ingredients to represent Christ and His disciples.

* Every member of the family should take a turn stirring the pudding with a wooden spoon from east to west in honor of the three kings.

* If you make a wish as you stir your pudding, it will come true by Christmas morning.

* When serving, present the pudding with a sprig of holly on top as a reminder of Christ’s crown of thorns…or…add the holly for good luck…you decide the meaning.

* And set your pudding alight with a wee bit of brandy, to represent Christ’s passion.

Personally, I make plum pudding at Christmas for one reason…it’s my husband’s favourite dessert for the holiday and I want to make him happy. Though this might sound old fashioned and sappy, I don’t mind. Christmas is a time for giving and this is one of my gifts to my husband.

If you’ve never made plum pudding, fear not! This recipe is easy to make. The hardest part is being home for six hours while it steams. The recipe I use has been handed down from my mother-in-law, to my sister-in-law, to me…and now to you. It originally came from one of those little Stork Margarine leaflets written by Paula Daly back in the late 1970s. One last tip, however, if you’re making a pudding to give as a gift, a pot of brandy butter makes it all the nicer. Enjoy!

Irish Plum Pudding

Makes 2 Puddings

Ingredients
8oz/225g Stork margarine {or whatever margarine you can buy}, melted
8oz/225g dark brown sugar
7oz/200g plain flour {or self raising}, sieved
12oz/350g currants
8oz/225g raisins
6oz/175g sultanas
2oz/50g mixed cut peel
1oz/25g chopped almonds
1oz/25g glace cherries
6oz/175g fresh breadcrumbs
grated rind of 1 lemon
grated rind and juice of 1 orange
1 rounded teaspoon nutmeg
1 rounded teaspoon mixed spice {or pumpkin spice}
2 large eggs
3-4 tablespoons beer/milk
2 tablespoons of whiskey or rum

Directions
1. Mix all of the other ingredients together in a large bowl {don’t forget to melt the margarine first}.

2. Cover with a round of greaseproof paper that has been greased with margarine and leave overnight. {The greased side goes against the mixture in the bowl.}

3. The next day, grease a 2.5-3 litre pudding bowl with margarine.

4. Stir the pudding mixture again, very well, and pour into the prepared pudding bowl. Fill to about 1-inch of the top of the bowl. Smooth out the top.

5. Cover with greaseproof paper, which has been pleated in the centre and greased with margarine, and tie it down tightly under the rim with cotton twine.

6. Cover a second time, with a piece of aluminium, and tie it tightly under the rim with cotton twine. Make a twine handle so you can remove the bowl easily after the pudding has been steamed.

7. Place the bowl in a saucepan* and add enough water such that it comes halfway up the side of the bowl. Cover the saucepan with a lid and steam for 6 hours. Be sure to check every hour and top up with boiled water, if necessary.

8. After 6 hours, turn the heat off. Remove the pudding from the saucepan and allow to cool.

9. Re-cover with fresh greaseproof paper, be sure to put another pleat through the middle of the paper, and tie with more cotton twine as before. Store in a cool, dry, place until Christmas Day.

10. On Christmas Day, steam the pudding again for another 2 hours.

11. After two hours, turn the plum pudding out onto a warm plate, pour over some Irish whiskey or brandy and, very carefully, ignite with a match. Serve with brandy butter or cream.

Additional Notes, Related Articles & Credits:

* The way I steam a plum pudding is I use a saucepan that has a steam basket insert. I place the insert into the saucepan, put the covered bowl into the steam basket, and cover with a tight fitting lid. Then, when I have to check the water in the saucepan, I only have to lift the steam basket up to take a look.

** If you’re looking for an Irish music playlist for Christmas, checkout this one over at Spotify.

*** The meaning of holly and ivy at Christmas in an Irish home is explained well in this article from The Irish News.

 

 

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Homemade cranberry sauce in a white bowl with a vintage spoon surrounded by Christmas decor

I still remember, with some embarrassment, the first time I made homemade cranberry sauce. I was not yet engaged but having Christmas dinner, all the same, with my now husband’s parents and extended family. After Christmas morning mass, everyone descended on the home of my future in-laws, Dan and Mary Rose, for breakfast, present opening, and, much later in the day, supper. While the men watched the news and sport on T.V., the women retired to the kitchen to make the Christmas dinner {with much laughter and chat}.

Being a guest and wanting to make a good impression, I asked if there was anything I could do to help. Mary Rose replied, “you can make the cranberry sauce”.  In my innocence, I thought that’ll be an easy job. ThenI asked for a can opener. “Why would you need a can opener?”, she asked. “You know”, I said, “to make the cranberry sauce.”

For a moment the room went silent and I could feel my cheeks turn a funny shade of pink. Growing up, the only cranberry sauce I had ever eaten came from a tin can. It slid out nicely, if you opened the can at both ends. To serve, you sliced it neatly on the plate.

My future mother-in-law cocked her head and looked at me for a moment. Then, without missing a beat, she took a bag of Ocean Spray cranberries off the counter, a bag I had not seen, and handed them to me. In the nicest of ways she said, “we make them this way in Ireland”.

And with that, my future mother-in-law and my future sisters-in-law handed me a pot, a big spoon, the sugar, a weigh scale, and everything else I needed to turn American cranberries into an Irish side dish. Nary a word was said about my misstep. Those warm women took me into their hearts and homes that day. I am forever thankful for their love and gentle guidance through the years and for teaching me to make {from scratch!} this very delicious cranberry sauce. Enjoy!

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Makes about 2 cups

Ingredients

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

340g/12oz fresh cranberries

Directions

1. In a medium saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved.

2. Add the cranberries and bring everything back to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally. You can use the back of a spoon to pop the cranberries if you prefer your cranberry sauce smooth.

3. Remove from the heat and pour the sauce into a bowl, cover and allow to cool completely before putting into the refrigerator.

Additional Notes, Related Articles & Credits:

* For additional flavour, add a cinnamon stick or slices of fresh ginger to the water and simmer with the cranberries. Remove before serving.

** If you like your cranberry sauce boozy, stir in 1 tablespoon of rum, brandy, or whiskey to the cranberry sauce right after taking it off the hob {stove}.

*** For a citrusy zing, Add the peel of an orange to the water and simmer with the cranberries. Remove the peel before serving.

**** The American cranberry sauce I remember from my childhood from the good folks over at kitchn.com.

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Two jars of overnight oats topped with yogurt and blueberriesOvernight porridge {oatmeal} is a familiar thing in our Irish home. To make, I bring a pot of steel cut oats, covered in water, to the boil and then turn off the heat and leave overnight. In the morning, I add a little extra water to the oats, give them a quick stir and reheat. This recipe couldn’t be simpler to make.

But, as my children have gotten older, it has become harder to get them to eat breakfast before they head off to school. So, our beloved hot porridge oats have gone by the wayside and in their place I’ve started making a different kind of overnight porridge: the no-cook kind.

And, you know what? My kids love it. They can grab and go straight from the fridge at home, saving them pocket money, and they can eat their brekkie when they are hungry…not when I want them to eat. The morning argument of “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” is gone and I am thrilled.

A close up of a spoon of overnight oats with two jars filled with overnight oats in the background

This recipe is a win-win for everyone. Once you try it, I know you’re going to like it for your kids too. In fact, make an extra one for yourself…it’s just that good!

 

Overnight Oatmeal

Makes One

Ingredients

40g rolled oats, not steel cut or instant

75ml milk/almond milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon flax seed and/or chia seeds

a pinch of salt

2-3 tablespoons yogurt

fruit to top

Directions

1. Combine the oats, milk, vanilla, honey, salt and flax and/or chia seeds in a glass container and mix well.

2. Top with yogurt and fruit and put the lid on the container.

3. Refrigerate overnight.

Additional Notes, Related Articles & Credit:

* Overnight oats don’t need to be eaten the next morning: they’re good for about three days after you make them. Just know, however, that the porridge will get soggier the longer you leave it. And, if you are going to leave it a few days, don’t add the yogurt or fruit when you make this recipe…add just before you eat it.

** The beauty of this recipe is it can be changed up pretty much however you like. For example, you can add pumpkin seeds or any other kind of seed you like. You can add other stuff like chopped nuts, shredded coconut, cocoa nibs, or dried fruit. How about a pinch of cinnamon or cardamom or stir in some cocoa powder or matcha powder? You could change up the sweetener and add maple syrup, agave, date sugar, brown sugar, or even white sugar, A small squeeze of lemon juice would add a tang to your oats too. The options are endless.

*** For an easy-to-make, and delicious, recipe for traditional Irish steel cut porridge, please click here.

 

 

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A bowl of homemade sweet potato casserole, topped with granola and maple syrup

With more than twenty years worth of cooking under my apron, I’m always trying something new in the kitchen…but not when it comes to this sweet potato casserole. This incredibly “more-ish” recipe has been handed down three generations, from mother to daughter, and is perfect just the way it is.

What’s more? This recipe is easy to make, much simpler than Irish mashed potatoes, for example, and it freezes well. This really is the ultimate side dish for your holiday meal. Enjoy!

 

Sweet Potato Casserole

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 lbs sweet potatoes

60g/4 tablespoons butter

2oz/1/2 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

Directions

1. Scrub the sweet potatoes well.

2. Place them in a large saucepan and add cold water until the potatoes are covered by 1-inch. Bring to the boil over high heat. Reduce to simmer and cook for 30 minutes or until a knife tip or skewer goes into the sweet potatoes easily.

2. Drain the sweet potatoes into a colander and peel immediately with a pairing knife while they are still hot {use a clean tea towel to protect your fingers, if necessary}.

3. While you are peeling the potatoes, put the butter into a saucepan and melt.

4. Place the peeled potatoes into a large bowl and mash. Next, add the brown sugar, cream, cinnamon and butter. Stir well. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.

Additional Notes, Related Articles & Credit:

* To freeze, let the sweet potato cool completely, transfer to a freezer bag, remove any excess air, and store until needed.

** If you want to add a little crunch and saltiness to this dish, top it with my homemade granola {sans raisins}. And maybe add a little maple syrup too!

*** Curious to know the difference between a sweet potato and a yam? Here’s the answer from epicurious.com.

 

 

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