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Photo Credit: Deliciousmagazine.co.uk

We feasted gloriously on Easter Sunday but, when the last dish was dried and the bits and bobs were put away, I realised we had enough leftover roast leg of spring lamb to make a second meal out of. Which got me to thinking…what to do…what to do?

Lamb Biryani sounded good…so too did Lamb Ragu…but it was good old-fashioned Lamb Shepherd’s Pie that eventually won me over.

Donal Skehan’s Hand Me Down Shepherd’s Pie recipe, posted over at Deliciousmagazine.co.uk, looked so simple and so delicious that I knew in an instant it was the best way to make “no waste” of our Easter Sunday feast.

If you take a quick look at the long list of ingredients, don’t be put off…it’s very likely you already have everything in your presses (cupboards) and fridge. In fact, I had frozen leftover mash potatoes in my freezer (!), so I was able to skip that step in the recipe below.

My family really enjoyed this dish. I’m going to take a guess that you and your family will too.

Enjoy!

Hand Me Down Lamb Shepherd’s Pie

Serves 6

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 carrots, chopped (I added one more)

2 celery sticks, finely chopped (I added one more)

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

75ml red wine

500g leftover slow-roast lamb, shredded (I diced mine)

100ml lamb or chicken stock

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

3 tablespoons tomato ketchup

1 tablespoon tomato purée (paste)

800g floury potatoes, cubed

3 tablespoons butter

2 large free-range egg yolks

25g grated parmesan, plus extra for sprinkling

Directions

1. Heat the oven to 200°C/fan180°C/gas 6.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan, then gently cook the onion, carrots, celery and garlic for 10-12 minutes until tender.

3. Add the thyme and red wine, then simmer for 2-3 minutes.

4. Add the leftover lamb, stock, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup and tomato purée, then season. Simmer gently for 15 minutes until the mixture has reduced. (I added the leftover peas from Easter Sunday dinner here)

5. Put the potatoes in a large pan of cold salted water, bring to the boil, then simmer for 12 minutes or until tender when pierced with a fork.

6. Drain, return the potatoes to the pan and mash until smooth. Beat in the butter and egg yolks, then stir through the grated parmesan.

7. Spread the lamb mixture in a 1.5 litre ovenproof dish and top with the mash. Sprinkle over a little extra parmesan and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until golden on top and bubbling.

Additional Notes, Related Articles & Credits:

* Though the photo shows it, the recipe does not call for peas. I added them anyway and they really brightened the dish up beautifully.

** How to freeze leftover mashed potatoes, from thekitchen.com.

*** Roast Leg of Lamb Recipe from inanirishhome.com.

**** Here’s my traditional Shepherd’s Pie Recipe.

 

 

 

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Easter is a big deal in Ireland…not like St. Patrick’s Day or Christmas…but special all the same. As you would expect, there are many religious customs associated with the holiday but, did you know, there are also a good few customs that are uniquely Irish? Waking at dawn to watch the sunrise on Easter morning, cake dances, clúdóg, mock herring funerals, and evening bonfires are amongst the truly old Irish Easter traditions.

In our Irish home, because we are a family that is both Irish and American, we borrow from the customs of our two home countries when celebrating Easter. This is how we make it work for us:

* Everyone will get a large chocolate egg, filled with smaller wrapped chocolates {as is done in Ireland}.

* The chocolate egg and a dozen hard-boiled, colourfully dyed, eggs will be hidden in the garden {assuming the weather cooperates} or in the house {if it doesn’t} by the Easter Bunny {as is done in America} and a family egg hunt will take place before we go the church.

* A basket, beribboned and filled with colourful tissue paper, will be left at the end of each person’s bed by the Easter Bunny {as is done in America}.

* All of us will get a new Easter outfit {as is done in both countries}.

* And, finally, after mass we will host or be a guest at a festive meal, where lamb or ham…or maybe both…will be the main course {as is done in both countries, for the most part..but most certainly in Ireland!}.

Lamb, in particular Irish Spring Lamb, is synonymous with Easter in Ireland. It is highly prized for its delicate flavour. I am convinced, based on the wee little guys we see frolicking in the fields near our home, that it is a diet of wild clover, grass and herbs that make it truly special. Unfortunately, Irish Spring Lamb expensive, But, if you’re only enjoying it every now and again, it’s well worth the splurge.

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The recipe I’m sharing with you today comes from the book Cooking at Home by Julia Child and Jacques Pepin. It is incredibly easy to prepare and the meat requires almost no attention once in the oven. In our Irish home we serve roast lamb with either a homemade mint sauce or a simple gravy made from the pan juices of the roast and roasted spuds and peas for side dishes. For dessert, a lovely light pavlova with fresh fruit and lots of cream, is perfect after such a big meal.

From everyone in our Irish home to you and yours, we wish you a very happy Easter!

Jacques’s Roast Leg of Lamb

Serves 8-10

Ingredients

1 whole untrimmed leg of lamb, weighing about 6 pounds with shank and pelvic bone (trimmed of pelvic bone and most fat, about 4 3/4 pounds).

4 garlic cloves, peeled

salt

2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves, stripped off the stem

freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 cups lamb stock, chicken stock, or white wine or a mixture of wine and stock

Directions

1.Prepare the lamb leg, removing the hipbone, trimming all fat, and scraping the shank bone.

2. For the herb seasoning, chop the garlic cloves coarsely. Pour a teaspoon of salt on top of the garlic and mash to a paste with the flat of the knife, then chop together with the rosemary leaves until they are finely minced

3. Thrust the tip of a sharp, thin-bladed knife into the thick top of the leg, about 1″ deep. Push about a 1/2 teaspoon of the seasoning paste into the slit with your finger. Make a dozen or more such incisions in the meaty parts of the leg, both top and underside, and fill with the seasoning. Rub any remaining paste over the boneless sirloin end of the leg. The leg may be roasted at this point or refrigerated for several hours or overnight, to allow the seasoning to permit the meat.

4. Prepheat the oven to 400ºF, arrange a rack in lower third of oven.

5. Just before roasting, sprinkle 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper over both sides of the leg. Set it on the roasting pan topside up.

6. Rost the leg for about 30 minutes, then turn the roast over, grasping it by the shank bone (with a thick towel or pot holder to protect your hands). Continue roasting for another 30 minutes or so (one to one-and-one-quarter hours total), depending on the size of the leg – until the internal temperature of the meat is about 125º to 130ºF when measured at the thickest part.

7. Remove the leg to a carving board or platter and rest – topside up – for about 20 minutes, allowing the meat to relax and reabsorb the natural juices.

8. Meanwhile, deglaze the roasting pan to make a simple sauce. Tilt the pan and pour off as much of the fat as possible. Place it over medium heat, pour in the stock and/or wine, and bring to a simmer, stirring and scraping up the browned glaze in the bottom of the pan. Strain the sauce into a bowl and add any juices released by the resting meat.

Additional Notes, Related Articles & Credits:

For more about Irish sheep and three recipes for cooking Irish lamb, see the New York Times Article: Erin Go Baa.

Is the Easter Bunny a Thing in Ireland? Check out the answer here at office mum.ie.

Random Irish Easter Traditions and the whole religious kit-and-caboodle may be read here at Claddaghdesign.com

More on Irish cake dances from Overland Monthly 1907 edition.

 

 

 

 

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“Lá Fhéile Pádraig sona daoibh!” …or Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you! What a wonderful day to be Irish…here or wherever you call home.

This day two years ago, Dublin Airport posted a message on Facebook about St. Patrick’s Day which was absolutely hilarious…so much so it was carried around the world. Last night, just to be sure everyone remembered it…they re-posted it as a video:

 

St. Patrick’s Day as we know it…is not really an Irish celebration at-all. But, to be sure, we’re not about to be outdone…hence Ireland has caught the St. Paddy’s Day bandwagon by its hoop-de-doo wheels and turned it into an event that brings more 370,000 people to our tiny island and a good few hundred million euro to our coffers.

There’s a lot about St. Patrick and St. Patrick’s Day the world-at-large does not know (some Irish citizens aren’t aware either!). Here are just a few of the facts:

* The 17th March celebration is actually the death date of St. Patrick. He is thought to have died on March 17, 461 and is said to be buried in Down Cathedral, Downpatrick.

* The good saint himself was, according to legend, born Maewyn Succat. It is said Maewyn changed his name to Patricius (or Patrick), which derives from the Latin term for “father figure,” after he became a priest.

* Blue, not green was originally the colour associated with St. Patrick. Some say it was the Irish Rebellion that officially tied Ireland to the colour green…other’s say it evolved over time and is linked to our “many shades of green” landscape.

* Originally drinking was not legally allowed in Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day, due to the fact that the day falls during Lent and Ireland is (was, and probably always will be) a very Catholic country. The law was repealed in 1961.

* In 1762, the first St. Patrick’s Day Parade, was held in New York City…not Dublin, Ireland.

* Ireland didn’t officially start celebrating St. Patrick’s Day as something other than a religious holiday until 1903, when Irish politician James O’Mara introduced a bill in Westminster that made it an official public holiday in Ireland.

The first ever St Patrick’s Day parade in Ireland was held in Waterford in 1903. The first official, state-sponsored St Patrick’s Day parade in Dublin took place in 1931.The first St. Patrick’s Festival was held in Dublin over one day, and night, on March 17th 1996. It has since grown to a 4-5 day celebration.

At that brings us to today’s St. Patrick’s celebration in Dublin. There’s so much going on this year…here are just a few of the highlights:

In the Footsteps of St. Patrick Walking Tour – Over two hours, take a very special walk in celebration of Ireland’s national patron saint. Led by  renowned Dublin historian and author” Pat Liddy, walkers will see the places most tourists and many Dubliners miss. Discover the fascinating truth behind the legend of St. Patrick and the Dublin of his time. The tour starts at the corner of Suffolk & Andrew streets, beside the Molly Malone statue, and finishes at St Patrick’s Cathedral.

Funfairs: City at Play – This is an event my family has always enjoyed! From waltzers to family attractions to the carousel, there is something for everyone at the Funfairs.

St. Patrick’s Festival Parade – There are St. Patrick’s Day parades far older than the one held in Dublin…but our event is swiftly becoming the best of them all! This year’s theme, “Imagine If“, is the final stage of three years of parades highlighting Ireland’s past, present and future. Inspired by the imagination of the young people of Ireland…the parade will be a young person’s vision of Ireland over the next 100 years.

Big Day Out – At Merrion Square from 12-6pm, this free event will be bursting with energy, colour and whimsy. Children can enter The Book of Learning inside a Georgian House where UNESCO City of Literature opens up a world of magic, craft, creative writing and pet rats!  Just around the corner, SFI Science Zone gives budding scientists a chance to experiment with the enchanting world of science through amazing workshops, explosive shows and enthralling exhibitions.  Kids of all ages will enjoy getting their hands dirty at the Keelings Love to Grow Children’s Garden, where the first Irish strawberry of 2016 will be revealed. This and so much more make The Big Day Out event a true family affair.

Additional Notes, Related Articles & Credits:

 

* For more information about Dublin’s St. Patrick’s Day, please click here.

** When did Ireland go from being blue to being green? Learn more here.

*** For more information about St. Patrick and his life, visit Catholic.org.

 

 

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There is a very old prayer attributed to Saint Patrick called “Patrick’s Hymn” or “The Lorica”. In Ireland we know it more commonly as “St. Patrick’s Breastplate” and “The Deer’s Cry”.

For centuries it was believed Saint Patrick wrote the hymn and sang it on the occasion when he and and a group of companions were on their way to the Hill of Tara to convert a great Irish king to Christianity. More recently, scholars suggest it was written by an anonymous author in the late 7th or early 8th century.

Whatever the case, it is a prayer/poem/hymn that reflects the spirit of the patron saint of Ireland. So, on this the feast day of Saint Patrick, I offer you his cherished prayer. God bless and Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

Saint Patrick’s Hymn

I arise to-day

Through a mighty strength

With the invocation of the Trinity,

Through belief in the Threeness

Thorough confession of the Oneness

In the society of the Creator.

 

I arise to-day

Through the strength of Christ with His baptism,

Through the strength of His crucifixion with His burial,

Through the strength of His resurrection with his ascension,

Through the strength of His descent for the Judgment of Doom.

 

I arise to-day

Through the strength of the rank of Cherubim,

In obedience of angels,

In the service of the archangels,

In hope of resurrection to meet with reward,

In prays of Patriarchs,

In preachings of Apostles,

In faiths of Confessors,

In innocence of holy Virgins,

In deeds of righteous men.

 

I arise to-day

Through the strength of heaven:

Light of sun,

Radiance of moon,

Splendour of fire,

Speed of lightening,

Swiftness of wind,

Depth of sea

Stability of earth,

Firmness of rock.

 

I arise to-day

Through God’s strength to pilot me:

God’s might to uphold me,

God’s wisdom to guide me,

God’s eye to look before me,

God’s ear to hear me,

God’s word to speak for me,

God’s hand to guard me,

God’s way to lie before me,

God’s shield to protect me,

God’s host to save me

From snares of devils,

From temptation of vices,

From everyone who wishes me ill

Afar and anear

Alone and in a multitude.

 

I summon to-day all these powers between me and those evils:

Against every cruel merciless power that may oppose my body and soul;

Against incantations of false prophets

Against black laws of Pagandom,

Against false laws of heretics,

Against craft of idolatry,

Against spells of women and smiths and wizards,

Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul.

 

Christ to shield me to-day

Against poison, against burning,

Against drowning, against wounding,

So that there may come to me abundance of reward.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,

Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,

Christ on my right hand, Christ on my left,

Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,

Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,

Christ in every mouth of everyone who speaks of me,

Christ in every eye that sees me,

Christ in every ear that hears me.

 

I arise to-day

Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity;

Through belief in the Threeness,

Through confession of the Oneness

Of the Creator of Creation.

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There’s so much going on in my Irish home this week that I haven’t got time to whip up another favourite recipe, photograph it, and write about it in time for St. Patrick’s Day ~ oh how I wish I did!

Thankfully, there are many wonderful Irish writers, bloggers, and foodies to turn to in a pinch and it is my pleasure to direct you to some of their websites so you can find something special to serve your family this Thursday (Saint Patrick’s Day of course!).

That said, if you’re new to In An Irish Home, be sure to check out the Recipes section for my favourite “go-to” Irish recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, pudding (dessert) and drinks. You won’t be disappointed.

Slán!

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Shepherd’s Pie with Champ Mash from Donal Skehan

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Irish Bacon and Cabbage from Imen McDonnell

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Naked Cake with Meringue Buttercream Icing from Forkful

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Parsnip & Apple Soup from Mairead at Irish American Mom

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Chocolate Carrageen from Myrtle Allen

Irish Coffee (7)

Irish Coffee from inanirishhome.com

 

 

 

 

 

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After staying up late last night to watch the Oscars (by the way…didn’t Saoirse Ronan look stunning in her emerald green Calvin Klein gown?), I’ve been really dragging and wanting to eat up every sweet (biscuits/candy) in the house!

Around lunchtime, I decided to make these No Bake Energy Bites and snack on them instead. Made of peanut butter, oats, chocolate, and a few other simple ingredients, they are very tasty.

My two daughters sometimes whip up a batch when they have friends over. They’re simple to make and it gives them something to do other than looking at their mobile phones (which in my book is always a good thing). Best of all, I like that my kitchen isn’t declared a disaster zone when they’re done and invariably walk away leaving me to do the tidying up. One bowl, a few measuring utensils, and a big spoon…that’s it…couldn’t be simpler.

So, the next time you feel yourself lagging or your kids need something quick and easy to make…give these energy packed treats a try.

No Bake Energy Bites

Makes about 3 Dozen

Ingredients

4oz/1 cup porridge flakes (oatmeal)

2oz/ 1/2 cup ground flax seed

5oz/ 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter

3oz/ 1/2 cup chocolate chips

3oz/ 1/3 cup honey

1 tablespoon chia seeds

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

1 Stir all ingredients together in a medium size mixing bowl until thoroughly blended.

2. Cover with cling film (plastic wrap) and let chill in the refrigerator for thirty minutes.

3. Once chilled, roll into balls of whatever size you like (mine are about 1” in diameter).

4. Store in an airtight container and keep in the refrigerator for up to one week or freeze and eat straight from the freezer.

 

 

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It’s been an exciting year for Ireland and its film industry and the proof is in the pudding…or maybe I should say “the Oscars” because, for the first time ever, Ireland has several Oscar entries in several categories. And this year it is very possible that an Irish co-produced film or an Irish actor/actress/director will take home an all important gold statue.

Here is the breakdown of the Irish at Oscars 2016:

Best Picture: Brooklyn and Room.

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Best Actor in a Leading Role: Michael Fassbender in Steve Jobs. Though Michael was born in Heidelberg, Germany, and his father is German, his mother is Irish. His family moved to Killarney when he was a toddler.

Best Actress in a Leading Role: Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn and Brie Larson in Room. Saoirse was born in New York to Irish parents. When she was three the family moved back to Ireland and Saoirse grew up in County Carlow. Brie Larson is a native of San Francisco, California. And while she’s not Irish, she is being recognized for her role in an Irish film that was directed by Irishman Lenny Abrahamson, who is from Dublin.

Best Director: Lenny Abrahamson for Room. Lenny was born in Dublin. He studied physics and philosophy at Trinity College, where he also directed short videos with the Trinity Video Society, which he co-founded with Ed Guiney. He graduated in 1991 with first class honours (gold medal). Previously he directed Adam & Paul, Garage, What Richard Did, Frank, and, for television, Prosperity.

Best Short Film (Live Action): Benjamin Cleary for Stutterer. Benjamin is an Irish writer/director from Dublin. He completed a Screenwriting MA at the London Film School. Stutterer is his first short film, which he wrote, directed, and edited.

Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay): Room, Screenplay by Nick Hornby and Brooklyn, Screenplay by Emma Donoghue. Emma was born in Dublin in 1969. She is an award-winning writer, living in Canada. Her first feature film is Room, which she adapted from her novel by the same name. Her novel was shortlisted for the Man Booker and Orange Prizes and has sold over two million copies. Her latest novel is Frog Music, a mystery inspired by a murder in San Francisco, 1876. She is adapting it into a feature film for Monumental Pictures.

How to Watch The Oscars from Ireland:

The 88th Academy Awards takes place tonight in the Dolby Theatre, Hollywood and it will be an all night affair for anyone watching it from Ireland. The famous red-carpet-walk kicks off at midnight Irish time and the ceremony itself starts at about 1.30am. The whole celebration will finish around 5am.

If you have Sky, you will have a few ways in which to watch the glitz and glamour. The E! channel will run its broadcast from 10.30pm-4.30am. Sky Living will start its live broadcast at 11.30pm. And, I believe, Sky will have a dedicated Oscars channel: Sky 331/Virgin Media 307. Alex Zane and Zoe Ball will host the previews until Chris Rock takes over at 1.30am.

Also, The Irish Times will have a live blog of the red carpet pre-event and the ceremony itself.

If you can’t be bothered to stay up all night (and who can blame you…personally I’m only interested in the Irish nominees!), it will be possible to catch up on highlights on Monday evening at 9pm on RTÉ2, when the event will be condensed into a (thank goodness) two-hour package.

Irish Oscar Win Odds:

What are our chances of the Irish bringing home the gold? Well, Laurence Mackin of The Irish Times predicts, “Don’t expect a haul. Brie Larson is 1/33 to pick up an Academy Award of Merit (the Oscar’s official name) for her stunning turn in Room. Variety recently threw its weight behind Benjamin Cleary’s chance in the best live action short category (Stutterer is at 3/1). The others though remain outside bets. Room and Lenny Abrahamson are at 66/1 and Brooklyn is at 200/1.”

I’m going to remain positive, however, and cheer the Irish on into the wee hour of the night. Here’s hoping Ireland wins big.

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