Posts Tagged ‘Traditional Irish Food’

Irish Scrambled Eggs

Irish scrambled eggs. Fluffy. Creamy. And, oh, so delicious…why did I fight so long to hang on to my American way of making ye? Why indeed. Like many things one clings to when they feel adrift in a sea not their own, I couldn’t wouldn’t give up my way of making scrambled eggs until recently.

This story starts with a young version of myself, standing at my mother’s side, learning to make scrambled eggs for breakfast. Break eggs into a bowl, add milk, put a dollop of butter in a hot frying pan…wait for the butter to foam…add the beaten eggs and milk mixture to the pan and cook quickly…whirling a spatula in a chopping motion…until the eggs form dry, separate, curds. Plate and eat immediately…simple to make.

Irish Eggs

Fast forward fifteen years…I’m now standing at my husband’s side, watching as he scrambles eggs for breakfast. Break eggs into a bowl, add salt and pepper to taste. Put two dollops of butter in a saucepan on low heat and add milk to the saucepan…wait for the butter to melt into the milk…add the beaten eggs and cook gently…stirring with a wooden spoon…until the eggs are set. Plate on a slice of warm buttered toast and serve immediately…also simple to make, but unacceptable to this Yankee girl.


Yes, it is sad but true to say, I was set in my American ways and unwilling to give up anything the things that reminded me of home for the longest time. I believed, as many immigrants do, that everything from home is always better.



What eventually changed my mind? Two very sweet little girls.


You see, when you’re raising children who are both Irish and something else {in our case, Irish and American} it is sometimes often times easier to let go of long-held traditions for different, and somewhat uncomfortable, new ones…out of love.


And, that Dear Readers, is what happened to me and my belief about how to make scrambled eggs. My American mother taught me to make scrambled eggs dry, served with a dollop of salsa (the Texas girl in me) or ketchup (the New Englander girl in her) and toast on the side. My Irish husband taught me otherwise. Our Irish American children cajoled me into changing my preference for how this breakfast dish is made such that, finally, I came round to making {and enjoying} scrambled eggs the Irish way…slowly, stirred in saucepan with a wooden spoon until barely set. I hope you enjoy them too!

Irish Scrambled Eggs

Serves One


2 eggs

salt and pepper to taste

1 oz butter

2 tablespoons milk


1. Crack two eggs into a bowl, add salt and pepper to taste, and mix with a fork.

2. Put butter, in a small saucepan, over low heat, and add milk.

3. When butter melts into milk, add eggs and stir constantly with a wooden spoon until eggs are set {they look about 75% cooked and slightly wet}.

4. Serve over warm buttered toast, with a sprinkling of chopped parsley, and eat immediately.




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I love to spend time in my kitchen but I’ve never want to be a slave to it. Which is why, over the years, I have sought out recipes that are delicious, easy to make, and {one more thing} nutritious.

Today’s recipe for Leek and Potato Soup hits all the marks. This recipe is so easy, a child could make it…in fact, mine have. It’s perfectly good as a starter when you’re throwing a dinner party, but it’s also equally fine as a main course for any night of the week when you need to serve up a light supper.


If you were to omit the leeks in this recipe, you would then have an Irish Master Recipe…meaning you have a fine potato soup that can then be turned into any number of other soups with the addition of one or two other ingredients. For example, Nettle Soup, Potato and Parsley Soup, Potato and Mint, Potato Soup Garnished with Fried Pancetta…the list is endless.

Though only a modest tuber, potatoes are still very popular in Ireland. I laugh when I think back to the early years of my marriage and how my lovely husband would always insist on making the boiled potatoes to go with our dinner. He didn’t trust me (the American) to boil potatoes properly…imagine!

I’ve come a long way…frying up, boiling up, roasting up, baking up, and mixing up many a potato since then. This recipe is one my favourites and always gets rave reviews from dinner guests. I hope you and yours enjoy it too!

Leek & Potato Soup

Serves 4-6


2oz butter

3 leeks, white parts only, chopped roughly *

2 onions, chopped roughly

2 potatoes, peeled and diced

2 bay leaves

1 liter chicken stock

salt and pepper to taste

75ml cream

Garnish Options

knob (slice) of blue cheese

chives, finely chopped


1. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. When it starts to foam, add the leeks, potatoes and onions, turning them in the butter until well coated. Cover with a lid (or a piece of grease proof/parchment paper), and sweat for about 10 minutes on low heat.

2. Add the stock, bring to the boil and simmer until the vegetables are tender. Do not overcook or the vegetables will lose their flavour.

3. Liquidise until smooth, taste, add salt and pepper as needed.

4. Add cream and stir well. Garnish with a knob of blue cheese (we like Cashel) or top dress with some chopped chives.

* The green tops of the leeks can be put into a compost heap or saved for another soup or homemade stock. I often put mine into the freezer and use when I’m making a chicken or vegetable stock.


Related Articles:

Ancient Irish Leek & oatmeal Soup at http://avillagepantry.wordpress.com/2011/03/04/ancient-irish-leek-oatmeal-soup-brotchan-roy/

Potato and Leek Soup…and Pink Irish Houses blog post at http://rileymadel.yummly.com/2011/11/potato-leep-soupand-pink-irish-houses.html

RTE Food blog Simple Leek and Potato Soup Recipe at http://www.rte.ie/lifestyle/food/recipes/2011/0929/1335-a-simple-leek-and-potato-soup/

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Screen Shot 2014-03-16 at 2.21.02 PMMy 20-something niece posted this photo on her Facebook page with the saying…

“If you’re lucky enough to be Irish, you’re lucky enough!”

I couldn’t agree with her more! Happy St. Patrick’s Day to everyone!

Related Articles & Articles of Interest:

Tourism Ireland Announces “Global Greening” Lineup for St. Patrick’s Day 2014 at: http://www.tourismireland.com/Home!/About-Us/Press-Releases/2014/Tourism-Ireland-Announces-‘Global-Greening’-Lineup.aspx

A traditional Irish Saint Patrick’s Day here: https://inanirishhome.com/2012/03/14/a-traditional-irish-st-patricks-day/

Irish Coffee and Saint Patrick’s Day here: https://inanirishhome.com/2013/03/27/irish-coffee-and-saint-patricks-day/

St. Patrick’s Day Party Ideas here: https://inanirishhome.com/2012/03/16/st-patricks-day-party-ideas/

What it Really Means to be Irish here: https://inanirishhome.com/2012/03/15/what-it-means-to-really-be-irish/

Shepherd’s Pie Recipe for St. Patrick’s Day here: https://inanirishhome.com/2014/03/16/shepherds-pie-for-st-patricks-day/

Guinness Caramel Sauce for St. Patrick’s Day here: https://inanirishhome.com/2014/03/16/guinness-caramel-sauce/

Guinness Gingerbread Recipe for St. Patrick’s Day here: https://inanirishhome.com/2014/01/04/alicia-keys-writing-some-guinness-gingerbread/

Traditional Irish Porridge Recipe for St. Patrick’s Day here: https://inanirishhome.com/2013/04/22/traditional-irish-porridge/

Irish Hot Whiskey Recipe here: https://inanirishhome.com/2014/01/11/ginger-hot-toddy-irish-hot-whiskey-2/

Brown Soda Bread Recipes here: https://inanirishhome.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=32&action=edit&message=1

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Happy Pancake Tuesday!

Ham, Cheese and Spinach Pancake

Ham, Cheese and Spinach Pancake

Strawberries with Fresh Whipped Cream Pancakes

Strawberries with Fresh Whipped Cream Pancakes

So…have you fired up your favourite nonstick pan or well-seasoned crêpe pan yet? If not, is it because you’re still on the fence about what kind of pancakes to make?

In our Irish home, we’re pretty “traditional” in our thinking: our favourite pancake fillings are ham and cheese {with spinach, for the adults} for our main course and either Nutella and bananas, fresh whipped cream and strawberries {seasoned with a squeeze of lemon and a wee bit of sugar}, or, the plain and simple, sprinkle of caster sugar and a squeeze of fresh lemon for dessert. Yummm….!

There are so many delicious ingredients that pair together nicely in a pancake. If you haven’t already decided what to put in your Pancake Tuesday pancakes, consider the following:

Savoury Fillings

* Pulled Pork (or Chicken) and Barbecue Sauce

* Citrus Shrimp with Butter and Parsley (recipe here)

* Creamy Chicken with Ham and Mushroom (recipe here)

* Apple, Brie and Prosciutto (recipe here)

* Smoked Salmon with Spinach and Cream Cheese (recipe here)

* Pesto, Cream Cheese, and Sundried Tomato (recipe here)

* Spinach, Artichoke and Brie (recipe here)

* Scrambled Egg with Tomato and Avocado (recipe here)

* Wasabi, Lox, Tomato and Chive (recipe here)

* Tomato Caprese (recipe here)


* Peanut butter and banana

* Butterscotch Sauce and Banana (recipe here)

* Lemon Curd with Blueberry Compote

* Poached Pear and Apple (recipe here)

* Cinnamon Roll (recipe here)

* Apple Cinnamon (recipe here)

* Boston Cream (recipe here)

* Biscoff and Raspberry (recipe here)

* Creme Bruleé (recipe here)

* Sautéed Bananas and Chocolate (recipe here)

Well…best get to buttering my pan… I have a hungry family waiting!

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I can hardly believe Valentine’s Day is behind us and we are barreling full-speed towards Lent, St. Patrick’s Day, and Easter.

DSC01314Lent, as you probably know, is just four days away and in our house there is a lot of talk about what each of us is giving up for the next forty days. My husband is going with the Irish “usual”: he is giving up drink. The kids and I have agreed on sugar. By that I mean to say we are giving up minerals (soft drinks), chocolate, ice cream, and all sweets. Furthermore, from Ash Wednesday (5th March) to Good Friday (18th April), I promise to not make any puddings (deserts), biscuits (cookies), cupcakes, cakes or other tasty treats that have sugar…white or brown…as an added ingredient. The exception for all of us, of course, is Saint Patrick’s Day, which is when we Irish get a chance to break the fast of Lent for one day.

There is another form of abstinence that our little family will participate in during Lent and that is giving up meat on Fridays.  According to Catholic Canon Law, a person between the ages of 14 and 59 should abstain from eating meat on Fridays {every Friday throughout the year} in honour of the Passion of Jesus on Good Friday. While most Catholics ignore this rule, many take it up during the season of Lent. In keeping with strict Catholic tradition, we will also not eat meat on Ash Wednesday. To keep us on track, I am putting together a collection of meat-free recipes and will post them as Lenten Challenges: Meat-Free Friday posts for you to enjoy.

Speaking of Ash Wednesday…it’s the 5th of March, which is this Wednesday. It’s the day you see Catholics everywhere walking around with the sign of the cross, made from ashes, on their foreheads. The ashes have had different meanings at different times throughout history. Today is symbolises our baptismal promise to reject sin and profess our faith.

Ash Wednesday is preceded by Shrove Tuesday, which is on the 4th of March this year. “Shrove” comes from the word “shrive”, which means to confess and receive absolution. Shrove Tuesday is, therefore, a day that many Catholics will go to confession at their local church to ask forgiveness for and be absolved of their sins. According to the Dublin Diocese’s education website, “This tradition is very old. Over 1,000 years ago a monk wrote in the Anglo-Saxon Ecclesiastical Institutes: In the week immediately before Lent everyone shall go to his confessor and confess his deeds and the confessor shall so shrive him. ~ Anglo-Saxon Ecclesiastical Institutes”. 

Shrove Tuesday is also known in Ireland as Pancake Tuesday. The significance of the “pancake” is tied up in the religious custom of abstaining from meat, butter, eggs, and dairy during Lent. So that no food would be wasted, Irish families would feast on Shrove Tuesday and use up all the foods that would not keep for forty days. Pancakes use up many of the items Catholics were not allowed to eat during Lent in past times, hence its association with Shrove Tuesday and the start of Lent. Last year, I posted a traditional Irish pancake recipe on this blog: you will find it here.

Trocaire 2014 Lenten Box

Trocaire 2014 Lenten Box

There are so many traditions surrounding Lent, as you can see from above, one of the more modern ones you may not know about if you live outside of Ireland is the Trócaire box. If you don’t know it, the Trócaire box is a small cardboard box used for collecting change. It is given to school age children across the country, who then take it home and fill it over Lent. The money raised goes directly to Trócaire, the official overseas development agency set up by the Catholic Church in Ireland that aids some of the world’s poorest people. The competition amongst school children to have the heaviest box is fierce. Up until recently, we always had to have two boxes in our house to keep the peace. This year’s campaign focuses on the global water crisis and explores water as a social justice issue.

Another modern custom, this one involving technology, is the Irish Jesuit’s online spiritual Retreat for Lent. It is part of the Irish Jesuit’s hugely popular website called Sacred Space. Sacred Space serves five million people annually, from all around the world, by guiding them through ten-minute segments of daily prayer via the computer. While it might seem odd to pray in front of a computer or mobile device, it makes prayer on “the go” or prayer for busy people {isn’t that all of us?} possible.  The theme of this year’s “Retreat for Lent” program is Called to be Saints. It draws inspiration from Saint Paul’s letter to the Romans. There is a pocket-size book, Sacred Space for Lent 2014, to compliment the website. If you are interested, it is available from Amazon and all good bookstores around the world.

DSC_0387And, finally, to round out today’s post on Lenten traditions, there’s one more custom we keep in our home during Lent and that is the baking and eating of Hot Cross Buns on Good Friday. Why they are associated with Good Friday, specifically, is really unknown but some say an Anglican monk placed the sign of the cross on the buns to honour Christ’s suffering on the cross on Good Friday. Nearly everyone is familiar with the old nursery rhyme, “One a penny, two a penny hot cross buns…if you have no daughter’s give them to your sons…One a penny, two a penny, hot cross buns”…but there is also a sweet rhyme for friendship that goes, “Half for you and half for me, between us two good luck shall be”.

I will post my favourite hot cross bun another day for you to try. In the meantime, good luck to you as you begin your season of Lent. God bless.

Related Articles:

Pope Francis’ Message for Lent 2014 at http://www.catholicbishops.ie/2014/02/04/pope-francis-message-lent-2014/

Reflecting on the Lent Season from Loyola Press at: http://www.loyolapress.com/reflecting-on-the-lent-season.htm

Baileys Irish Cream Pancakes with Whiskey Maple Syrup at http://www.college-cooking.com/2013/03/10/baileys-irish-cream-crepes-and-baileys-irish-cream-pancakes-with-whisky-maple-syrup/

Chocolate Stout Crepes with Irish Cream Whip at http://www.countrycleaver.com/2012/03/chocolate-stout-crepes-and-irish-cream-whip.html

Hot Apple and Apricot Crepe recipe from The Wineport  Restaurant in Glasson, Co. Westmeath at http://www.irishheart.ie/iopen24/apple-apricot-crepe-t-7_22_91_186.html

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DSC02920Dinner…what to do, what to do…hmmm.

Nearly ever week I find myself asking my little family, “What do you want for dinner”?

More often than not…my husband and two children say…”Salmon Pesto Pasta, please!!!”

Salmon Pesto Pasta is  almost more popular in our house than homemade pizza. No. Really. It is. And, what cracks me up, is it’s a recipe I threw together one evening after opening the fridge and discovering, with utter frustration, that I had about a 1/2 lb of cooked salmon leftover from our Wednesday Family Dinner night.

Wednesday Family Dinner night is a tradition we started in our home when our eldest daughter was about a year old. The concept was simple: every Wednesday night, without fail, my husband’s mother, brothers, sister, and extended family were invited over for a meal. The intention was simple too: bring everyone together once a week so our daughter would get to know her extremely large family and vice versa. 

In the beginning, it was all a bit awkward. Everyone wanted to bring something or wanted to lend a hand or felt they had to do act like a guest at a dinner party but, in time, we settled into a lovely routine that turned a “hump-night-meal” into something very special…family time.

Salmon Pesto PastaMy mother-in-law, who’s now nearly 90, adores salmon. For her, I try to make it at least two Wednesday nights a month. The first time I made Delia Smith’s Salmon Fillet with Pesto and Pecorino, I knew I was on to a winner. Not only did Mama eat her serving but she asked for seconds! And, what’s more, everyone else liked it too. From that night on, the dish became a favourite “go-to-recipe”.

But then there was that one Wednesday night when I over-bought and ended up with too much leftover salmon in the fridge. Unwilling to throw it out on Thursday night, I started playing with ingredients…a bit more pesto…a bit more pecorino…throw in some Cannellini beans and some oven roasted tomatoes…and voila…a new dish was born…Salmon Pesto Pasta. My little family loved it. The test, however, was Wednesday Family Dinner night…would everyone else like it?

Without exception, the answer was…”Yes!”

I still remember the first time I brought it to the table. It was a beautiful spring day…the salmon was served in a big white bowl, with a lush green salad and some crusty garlic bread on the side. “What’s this, Kim?”, my sister-in-law asked. Before I had a chance to answer, I heard someone say, “Wow! This is gorgeous!!” That’s all it took. Salmon Pesto Pasta was created from a “waste not want not” belief but it’s staying power is all in its taste.

I’ve since figured out how to make this dish from scratch, not using leftovers. I’m sure you’re going to love it. With Lent coming up it’s the perfect Friday night meat-free meal, but it’s also just right for any family dinner night. Make it and let me know how you get on or what changes you’d make. Cheers!

Salmon Pesto Pasta

Serves 6-8


1lb/16oz salmon

2 tablespoons lemon

salt and pepper to taste

3 tablespoons pesto, plus another ¼ cup/2oz pesto {that’s fluid oz.}

2 rounded tablespoons pecorino cheese, plus another 3 cups/3oz

½ lb/8oz Farfalle pasta (bow tie style)

1 cup/4oz frozen peas

2oz oven-roasted tomatoes

1 can/15oz/425g cannellini beans


1. Pre-heat oven to 230°C/450°F/gas mark 8. Line a baking tray with aluminium and top with a sheet of parchment paper.

2. Rinse the salmon, pat dry with kitchen roll (paper towel), and, if needed, remove any bones you can feel when you run your hand across the top of the salmon.

3. Put the salmon on the parchment paper and pour the lemon juice over it.

4. Salt and pepper, as desired.

5. Top the salmon with 3 tablespoons pesto and 2 tablespoons pecorino.

6. Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes or until the salmon is cooked all the way through.

7. While the salmon is baking, cook up the pasta as per the directions on the box.

8. Cook up the frozen peas. {Tip: I do this in the same pot as the pasta, towards the end of the pasta cooking time.}

9. When the pasta is al dente, drain, and put in a large mixing bowl.

10. When the peas are cooked through, drain, and add to the mixing bowl.

11. When the salmon is done, let it cool slightly, shred with two forks, add to the mixing bowl, discarding the skin.

12. Add the oven-roasted tomatoes, the cannellini beans, the remaining pesto, and the pecorino. Mix well, taste, add more pesto, pecorino, salt and pepper, if desired.

13. Top with a grating of pecorino and serve immediately.

Related Articles:

Delia Smith’s Salmon Fillet with Pesto and Pecorino at https://inanirishhome.com/2013/02/23/salmon-fillets-with-pesto-and-pecorino-topping/

Lenten Challenge: Friday Meat-Free Meal at https://inanirishhome.com/2013/03/01/lenten-challenge-friday-meat-free-meal/

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Ginger Hot ToddyOne of my brother-in-laws is visiting from California. God love him, he arrived with the flu and is truly miserable.

As I type, he’s sitting in the family room next to a roaring fire and the telly {so Irish} and is chasing away his chills with a cozy hot water bottle from Avoca  and a big mug of Ginger hot tea. I offered to make him a hot whiskey but he declined saying it’s still a wee bit early…perhaps at bedtime.

Ginger Hot Tea and Irish Hot Whiskey are both part of the “Toddy” family. A toddy is typically a mixed drink made of alcohol, water, sugar and spice. In Ireland, especially, it’s considered a traditional “cure” for colds and the flu.

Much like chicken soup, there’s speculation as to whether a toddy will actually “cure” what ails you, but does it really matter when you’re feeling awful? Not in my book. This hot, amber liquid will warm you to the bone and make you feel better.

Today’s posting is for Ginger Hot Toddy and Irish Hot Whiskey. Enjoy and be well!

Ginger Hot Toddy

Serves 4


3″ piece of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

1,000ml/4 cups water

2-3 tablespoons honey (preferably Manuka Honey)



1. Bring the water to the boil and pour into a teapot. Add the ginger.

2. Stir in the honey and let steep for 3-5 minutes.

3. Add a squeeze of lemon and stir again. Just before serving, taste and add more honey and/or lemon if desired.

4. To serve, strain the tea through a tea strainer into four cups. Serve immediately.

Notes: This tea keeps well in the fridge for up to three days and can be reheated in a pan on the hob (stove). (I keep the ginger and all the liquid in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid.)

Irish Hot Whiskey

Serves 4


16 whole cloves

2 thick slices of lemon, rind left on but pips removed, cut in half

4-8 teaspoons sugar (Demerara is nice, if you have it)

240ml/16 tablespoons Irish whiskey

1/2 half lemon

freshly boiled water


1. Push four cloves into the four lemon rinds and set aside. Fill kettle with water and bring to the boil.

2. In four heatproof glasses, add 1-2 teaspoons sugar, 4 tablespoons Irish whiskey, and the four lemon slices with cloves pushed into them.

3. To ensure the glasses don’t break, put one teaspoon into each glass and, when that’s done, pour the freshly boiled water into each glass to fill.

4. Stir the water, whiskey, and sugar mixture to dissolve the sugar completely.

5. Squeeze a little fresh lemon juice into each glass, taste, and add more sugar and/or whiskey if desired.

6. Serve immediately.

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Feral pigeon (Columba livia).

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Have you heard the one about the Irishman hunting and grilling pigeons in order to survive the recession?

No…this isn’t a joke. It is a true story that was covered by reporter Liz Alderman for The New York Times in December.

The article entitled “Hardships Linger for a Mending Ireland” was presumably written as a piece of hard-hitting journalism but, from the very start, it read more like a fluff-piece for a less reputable rag.

The first bit of shoddy journalism reared its ugly head when Ms. Alderman referred to Ireland’s capital city as “downtown Dublin”. {For the record, the correct terminology is “City Centre” or “Town”. It’s never, ever, known as “downtown”}. But that wasn’t what irked people. Even her grossly misstated data attributed to the Irish Central Bank wasn’t enough to cause public outrage.

No, what really got up the Irish nose was Ms. Alderman’s story about how one Irishman was surviving the economic crisis by shooting pigeons for food and grilling them outdoors to reduce his gas and grocery bills.

To make matters worse, the man at the centre of the story, 55-year-old John Donovan, wasn’t just any Irishman. He was and is an educated man. A man with degrees in law and business. A man who went from owning a five-bedroom home, and boats, and cars {note the “plural”} to living with his mum after his hardware supply business buckled. He is a man who sent out 1,583 resumes and only got for 4 interviews. A man who lives a short 10 minutes away from Bono (a point Ms. Alderman makes in her story).

But I don’t know…I read this story…and with a wee bit of time and distance to reflect on it…I am more than a little skeptical about the whole thing.

It’s not that I doubt John Donovan has struggled in the last few years or that before our economic meltdown he used to live a life that included more big-boy-toys and a big fancy home. I don’t even doubt that he holds advanced degrees. No, what I find hard to believe is that he’s been walking around one of Dublin’s suburbs with a gun shooting pigeons for his supper.

If you know Shankill, Mr. Donovan’s village, you know this story seems all the more outrageous. I’ve driven through it many times over the years and can’t, for one second, ever imagine anyone firing a gun at anything without it causing a stir. And by that, I mean “quite a stir”. The kind of stir that involves irate neighbors and the Guardi {police} racing in with their sirens blaring. This is, after all, Ireland…not America…we’re talking about.

Getting a gun is not easily done. Even if you can get one, you wouldn’t walk around leafy neighbourhoods firing at birds…not even if you are starving! And if, by some very rare-one-in-a-million-chance, you lost the plot altogether and did so, you can surely bet the incident wouldn’t be reported first in The New York Times. It would first be told in Ireland, by Irish people, many times over. It would be discussed on the radio, on television, and in our newspapers.

So, upon mature reflection, here’s what I think about the whole wretched story…”Good on you, John Donovan!”

Somehow the angels above smiled down on this man and a reporter at The New York Times appeared in his life at a time when he most needed help. He gave an interview that was read around the world and hopefully it has helped him get back on his feet, get a job, move out of his mammy’s home, or, at the very least, given him a good story to tell his friends at the pub on a Friday night. Whatever the case, I wish him the very best going forward.

To Ms. Alderman and The New York Times, I’d like to add…shame on you for writing and publishing such a badly researched, shoddy, article. You both should know better.

Now, with that off my chest, I’d like to end this post on an upbeat note. I phoned my local food emporium, Cavistons {of course}, and inquired about pigeon breast. Mark Caviston was only too happy to say that it is readily available at €3.99 each. Sure, at that price, why would you shoot your own?!

The recipe that follows is from Biddy White Lennon and Georgina Campbell’s new book, The Food & Cooking of Ireland: Classic Dishes from the Emerald Isle. I haven’t made the dish myself {personally, I’m not mad about gamey meats.} but I’m sure it’s wonderful. Enjoy!

Pigeons in Stout

Serves 6


175/6oz thick streaky (fatty) bacon

2 medium onions, finely chopped

2 or 3 garlic cloves, crushed

seasoned flour, for coating

50g/2oz/1/4 cup butter

15ml/1 tablespoon olive oil

6 pigeon breasts

30ml/2 tablespoons Irish whiskey (optional)

600ml/1 pint/2 1/2 cups chicken stock

300ml/1/2 pint/1 1/4 cups stout

175g/6oz button (white) mushrooms

beurre manié, if needed (see Cook’s Tip below)

15-30ml/1-2 tablespoons rowan jelly

sea salt and ground black pepper


1. Preheat oven to 150°C/300°F/Gas Mark 2. Trim the streaky bacon and cut it into strips. Cook gently in a large, flameproof casserole until the fat runs out, then add the two chopped onions and crushed garlic and continue cooking until they are soft. Remove from the casserole and set aside.

2. Coast the breast portions thickly with seasoned flour. Add the butter and oil to the pan, heat until the butter is foaming, then add the meat and brown well on all sides. Pour in the Irish Whiskey, if using. Carefully set it alight and shake the pan until the flames go out – this improves the flavor.

3. Stir in the stock, stout and the mushrooms, and bring slowly to the boil. Cover closely and cook in the preheated oven for 11/2 -2 hours, or until the pigeons are tender.

4. Remove from the oven and lift the pigeons on to a serving dish. Thicken the gravy, if necessary, by adding small pieces of beurre manié, stirring until the sauce thickens. Stir in the rowan jelly to taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve the pigeons with the gravy while hot.

Cooks Tip: To make the beurre manié mix together 15g/1/2oz/1 tablespoon of butter with 15ml/1 tablespoon flour. Add small pieces of the mixture to the boiling gravy or sauce and stick until thickened.

Related Articles

*Cavistons Food Emporium Facebook Page

* Speaking of Pigeons over at Irish Language Blog

*How the Irish Really Cook Pigeon over at Newsvine

* A Recipe for Pigeon with Pommes Mousseline and Pancetta Peas over at Georgina Campbell’s Ireland website

* A Recipe for Pigeon Breast with Elderberry Sauce by Biddy White Lennon over at Irish Food Writer’s Guild

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DSC_0663Oh my gosh! Oh my goodness! These biscuits (cookies) are to-die-for good!!

The first time I made them, they didn’t turn out so well. Silly me, I didn’t chop the crystallised ginger near enough and they were lumpy. The second time I made them, however, I did everything right and even my pickiest eater liked them.

They are a doddle to make. {Which is all the more important in this busy holiday season.} It probably took 10 minutes to mix up the ingredients.

The only hitch is you have to let them rest in the fridge for 1-2 hours before popping them into the oven. Actually, since I’m thinking/writing out loud, these are the ideal biscuits to make while you are wrapping presents…you mix the ingredients, refrigerate, wrap, bake, wrap, enjoy – what could be simpler? Right?!

While you’re busy baking and wrapping, turn up the volume on your computer/iPad and have a listen to this podcast on Irish Christmas food. Eoin (sounds like O-wen) Purcell of HistoryJournal.ie interviews Regina Sexton, food and culinary historian at University College Cork, about the origins of the foods we eat at Christmastime. If you’re not familiar with HistoryJournal.ie {which I was not}, it is an “exclusively online Irish history journal, covering a wide range of topics across Irish history and the wider Irish worldwide community”. 

And, for a bit of cheer to those living abroad, here’s a few of the best 2013 Christmas food advertisements playing on telly.

From Lidl –

From Cadbury –

From Baileys –

Lastly, for a bit of a laugh {you can’t take him too seriously}, here’s a clip of Colin Farrell’s interview with American television late-night-host Jimmy Kimmel about his traditional Irish Christmas.

Avoca Handweaver’s Crystallised Ginger Shortbread

Makes about 16 biscuits


1 cup/130g plain flour

1/2 cup/60g icing sugar

1/2 cup/60g cornflour

9 tablespoon/130g unsalted butter

130g crystallised ginger, finely chopped

30g caster sugar (for top of shortbread)


1. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment.

2. Place the flour, icing sugar, cornflour, and butter in a food processor and blitz until starting to come together, then add the crystalized ginger and continue to process until the mixture combines fully. {I also added a few drops of ice water at this point}

3. Remove and roll into a ball.

4. Roll out the dough to 0.5cm thick. Cut into rounds with a small scone or cookie cutter.

5. Place on a lined baking sheet and allow to rest in the fridge for 1-2 hours, then bake for about 40-45 minutes.

6. Remove, and while still warm, sprinkle with a little caster sugar. The shortbread will keep in an airtight container for up to 10 days.

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DSC_0220How Do You Like Them Apples

Ok, so…it’s a bit cheeky to start out a post with the heading, “How Do You Like My Apples?”, but I just couldn’t resist. For weeks I’ve been finding ways to use up all the apples we either grew or foraged locally and I’ve been anxiously waiting to share the results with you.

Since September we’ve been making fresh pressed apple juice, applesauce, Irish apple cake, rustic apple galette, and caramel apples in our kitchen. I even tried to make apple fruit rolls but that was just a step too far…even for me. They weren’t so nice.

I give full credit for all this apple busyness to my lovely mother-in-law, who lives the adage “waste not want not”. Years ago, when she saw me binning (throwing out) apples that had fallen off our trees and were becoming worm fodder, she ordered me to collect them up and then she brought me into my own kitchen for a bit of culinary instruction.

“First you cut out the bad bits and toss them in the bin,” she said.

To which I replied, “But what about the worms?” Truth be told, I really didn’t fancy the idea of accidentally cutting through one.

“Don’t mind them…they can go in the bin too!” she answered with a smile. And that was that. I never looked back.

Leaving the skins on apples when you press them makes their juice run a gorgeous shade of pink. The colour alone is enough to suffer through yucky bits of brown apple and the possibility of the occasional decimated worm. If you have any doubt, just look at the photo below.

DSC_0220And don’t mind the brown foam at the top. As Mama told me all those years ago, “It’s lovely!” Enjoy.

Homemade Apple Juice

Makes One Large Glass


3-5 apples, washed with skins left on


1. Cut apples into chunks, remove and discard seeds and core.

2. Put into juicing machine as per factory instructions.

3. Serve or freeze immediately.

Note: To make enough juice to fill a 2 litre carafe like this one, I used 6lbs/700g of small apples.


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