This is one of the most delicious of all soups when made with good Irish potatoes and the bonus of fresh herbs which would have been found in a monastery garden years ago. According to Dr Synott of the National Botanic Gardens in Dublin, culinary and medicinal herbs are likely to have been brought from the continent by returning Irish monks during the early Christian period.
Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. When it foams, add the onions and potatoes and toss them in the butter until well coated. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover and sweat on a gentle heat for 10 minutes. Add the fresh herbs (reserving a little for garnish) and the stock, and cook until the vegetables are soft. Purée the soup in a blender or food processor. Taste and adjust seasoning. Thin with creamy milk to the required consistency. Serve sprinkled with the remaining chopped herbs.
Note: If you don’t have any fresh herbs just leave them out; the soup will still be very good. Fresh parsley is always widely available and would be delicious chopped and sprinkled over the top.
Download Potato and Fresh Herb Soup as a PDF
Porter cake, made with the black stout of Ireland, is now an established Irish cake, rich and moist with ‘plenty of cutting’. Either Guinness, Murphy, Beamish or some of the fine stouts from the growing number of new artisan breweries can be used, depending on where your loyalties lie.
Download the full recipe for Porter Cake as a PDF
Pigs’ Tails with Swede Turnips.
Pigs’ tails are irreverently known in Cork as ‘slash farts’ or ‘pigs’ mud-guards’, they are still available in Cork’s English Market. Mrs Cullinane cooked these pigs’ tails for me in her home in Ballymacoda and very tasty they were too.
6 pigs’ tails
1 swede turnip, peeled and cut
into 2.5cm (1in) cubes
a generous knob of butter
salt and freshly ground pepper
Cover the pigs’ tails with cold water, bring to the boil, then discard the water. Cover with fresh water and bring to the boil again.
Add the swede turnip to the pot, cover and continue to cook until the pigs’ tails are soft and tender and the swedes fully cooked.
Remove the tails and keep aside. Mash the swedes with a generous lump of butter. Season. Put in a hot bowl and serve the pigs’ tails on top.
Download the PDF of Pigs’ Tails with Swede Turnips
Papie’s Roast Duck with Sage and Onion Stuffing.
My maternal grandfather, whom we called Papie Tynan, was very fond of his food. He reared ducks, geese, chickens and guinea fowl for the table. The ducks and geese had a happy life, puddling about in the pond and pecking at the windfall apples in the orchard, and they tasted exquisite. Every scrap of the ducks and geese was used, including the blood which was made into a soft pudding and eaten on bread. The feathers were kept for pillows, and the down for quilts.
Put the neck, gizzard, heart and feet into a saucepan with the carrot and onion. Add the bouquet garni and celery stalk. Cover with cold water and add peppercorns, but no salt.
Bring slowly to the boil, skim and simmer for 2 to 3 hours. This will make a delicious broth which will be the basis of the gravy. Meanwhile, singe the duck and make the stuffing: melt the butter on a gentle heat, add the onion and sweat for 5 to 10 minutes until soft but not coloured. Remove from the heat and add the breadcrumbs and sage. Season to taste. Unless you are cooking the duck immediately, allow to get cold.
When the stuffing is quite cold, season the cavity of the duck and stuff. Roast in a moderate oven, 180ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4, for about 1½ hours. When the duck is cooked, remove to a serving dish and allow to rest while you make the gravy.
Skim the fat from the broth (keep the duck fat for roast or fried potatoes). Strain and add to the juices in the roasting pan, bring to the boil, taste and season if necessary. Strain the gravy into a sauceboat and accompany the duck with Apple Sauce .
Papie’s Roast Duck with Sage and Onion Stuffing
Nonie Dennehy and granddaughter Eimear shared this recipe to celebrate Grandmother’s Day
8 ozs (225 g) butter
8 ozs (225 g) caster sugar
4 eggs, preferably free range
11 oz (300 g) self-raising flour
2 good – size cooking apples
Cream the butter and sugar until light, fluffy and pale in colour. Add each egg, beating well after each addition. Fold in sifted flour, mixing well. Place mixture in a well greased 9 inch (23 cm) round tin.
Peel cooking apples, slice thinly into ¼ inch (5 mm) slices and arrange slightly buried on top of the mixture. Sprinkle with caster sugar (a little dusting through the sieve). Place in a preheated fan oven 170ºC (325ºF/gas mark 3) for 25-30 minutes. Bake until golden brown and springy to touch.
© Nonie Dennehy
In Season: Year round Colcannon is one of Irelands best loved traditional potato dishes. Fluffy mashed potato flecked with cooked cabbage or kale. This soup uses identical ingredients to make a delicious soup
Mary Conniffe from Robertstown, Co. Kildare sent me a recipe from her mother’s Collins school series Domestic Economy. This stew, which Mary’s mother cooked for them when they were young, uses leg or shin of beef, which was a very popular cut and really delicious. It melted off the bone when properly cooked. The recipe was even costed – what wonderful training for young women!
This recipe was described to me by Mrs. McGillycuddy from Glencar in Co. Kerry,
who still makes it occasionally. A richer treacle bread, closer to gingerbread, was and still is widely made in Ulster.
Apple cakes like this one are the traditional sweet in Ireland. The recipe varies from house to house and the individual technique has been passed from mother to daughter for generations. It would originally have been baked in a bastible or pot beside an open fire and later in the oven or stove on tin or enamel plates – much better than oven proof glass because the heat travels through and cooks the pastry base more readily.
When this dish comes out of the aga, everyone licks their lips. It has always been a favourite family supper in our house, a whole meal in one dish. Originally Mummy reared the chickens herself and she always served it in a big black roasting tin.