DUBLIN BAY PRAWNS
Freshly caught Dublin Bay prawns should be cooked in as simple a way as possible so that the delicate flavour is retained.
2 lb (1Kg) Dublin Bay prawns, 4 tablespoons (60g) butter, juice of 1 lemon, salt.
Steam the prawns over boiling water for 15-20 minutes then leave to cool. Shell them by removing the head and tail then pinching the belly part of the shell which will crack easily in two. Melt the butter in a frying pan and turn the prawns into the hot butter, sprinkle lightly with salt, add the lemon juice and turn all together in the pan. The butter will absorb the delicate flavour of the prawns and become a faint coral pink.
(named after the Duke Of Wellington born in Dublin)
2 lb (1Kg) fillet steak (tenderloin) in one piece, 3 heaped tablespoons butter, salt and pepper
FLAKEY PASTRY (rough)
1/2 lb (250g or 2 cups) flour, 6 level tablespoons lard, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 6 tablespoon iced water, 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, 1 egg for glazing, 6 level tablespoons butter.
Cut the fats in small pieces lightly into the flour and salt. Make a well in the centre and add a little of the water and lemon juice to mix with the flour. Do not cream the fats. Pour in enough of the liquid to make a fairly stiff dough then turn out onto a lightly floured board. Fold it into three, like an envelope with the open edge towards you. Roll it out and repeat this four times. Leave to rest in a cold place for at least 30 minutes but preferably longer. Season the fillet and rub with butter all over. Roll out the pastry so that it is large enough to wrap around the steak. Moisten the edges with water so that the fillet is sealed in. Bake in a hot oven (200C – 400F – gas 6) for 15 minutes, then glaze it with a mixture of 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water and bake for a further 10 minutes. If preferred, the steak can be cut into portions and rolled individually in the pastry.
Uncooked Lobster should be used for this dish. 1 fresh lobster, cut in two lengthways down the centre, 1/4 pint (150ml or 1/2 cup) cream, 3 heaped tablespoons butter, 4 tablespoons Irish whiskey, salt and pepper.
Remove the meat from the tail of the lobster and also from the claws and head but retain the shells. Cut into chunks. Heat the butter without letting it brown and turn the raw lobster in the butter. Season to taste. Gently warm the Irish whiskey, pour over and set alight. Mix the cream with the pan juices and let it just gently heat but do not let it boil. Put back into the half shells and serve hot. Lightly cooked lobster can be used instead of raw but the flavour is not so fine. Crab also makes an excellent dish served in the same way, and it can be cooked first.
SPICED BEEF (CHRISTMAS BEEF)
Spicing mixture for a 6 lb (2.75 Kg) joint:
3 bay leaves. 1 teaspoon allspice, 1 teaspoon cloves, 6 blades mace, 2 heaped tablespoons brown sugar, 2 heaped teaspoons saltpetre, 1 level teaspoon peppercorns, 1lb coarse salt, 1 clove garlic
For cooking the meat:
6 lb (2.75 Kg) lean boned joint of beef, 3 medium sliced onions, 3 sliced carrots, bunch of mixed herbs, 1/2 pint (300ml) Guinness, 1 teaspoon each ground cloves and ground allspice
Tub all the dry ingredients together then pound in the bay leaves and garlic. Stand the meat in a large earthenware or glass dish and rub the spicing mixture thoroughly all over it. This should be done every day for a week taking the spicing mixture from the bottom of the di9sh and turning the meat twice. Then wash the meat and tie it into a convenient shape for cooking. Sprinkle over about 1 teaspoon each of mixed allspice and ground cloves then put into a large saucepan on a bed of the chopped vegetables. Barely cover with warm water and put the lid on. Simmer gently for 5 hours. During the last hour add the Guinness. Spiced beef can be eaten hot or cold but usually served cold, in slices at Christmas. If intending to serve cold, the meat should be removed from the liquid and pressed between two dishes with a weight on top.
1 fish per person filleted in two halves, 1 heaped tablespoon butter, 1 tablespoon chopped parsley and time, salt and pepper
Put one fillet flat in the grill pan, skin side down and season. Spread over the chopped herbs and half the butter. With the skin side up, put the other fillet on top and spread the rest of the butter over. Grill on both sides under a moderate heat. The herb butter mixes well with the milky tasting fish.
Black sole vary from 8 – 12 inches (20cm to 30cm) in length and are a much meatier fish than the Lemon Sole. A big one is a large meal for one person as they are plump. For flavour, Black Sole is usually grilled on the bone and can be filleted afterwards if required. However, it is an easy fish to fillet prior to cooking.
Rub the fish with salt 30 minutes before cooking then add a little white pepper and cover well with butter. Grill on both sides and serve with a knob of butter which has been worked with chopped parsley and lemon juice – known as “Hotel Butter” in 19th Century Ireland
‘Cream Crackers’ were invented and marketed in 1885 by W & R Jacob & Co, Dublin
20 cream crackers, 20 marshmallow cubes, 20 small pats butter, 20 almonds
Put a marshmallow on top of each cream cracker. Put a small piece of butter on the marshmallow and press a blanched almond into the butter. Grill under a moderately hot grill until the marshmallow has melted over the cracker.
2 hard boiled egg, 1 tablespoon malt vinegar, 2 teaspoons each of dry mustard and sugar, 1/2 pint (300ml or 1 cup) sour cream or fresh cream with the juice of half a lemon dripped in and stirred.
Pound the eggs and the dry ingredients together until well blended. Then add the vinegar and sour cream gradually. Tear apart the lettuce and put into the salad bowl. When the dressing is smooth, pour over and serve at once. More sugar can be added to taste if desired. This dressing can also be used over cooked sliced beetroot, raw chicory or endive and shredded cabbage. The cream originally used was just slightly soured; it was brought from the dairy and left by a hot stove until thickened.
1 lb (500g or 3cups) sultanas, 1 lb (500g or 3 cups) raisins, 1 lb (500g or 2 1/3 cups) brown sugar, 3 cups (720 ml) milk less tea or 1/2 tea and 1/2 Irish whiskey.
Soak the fruit and sugar in the tea overnight. Next day, add alternately:
1 lb (500g or 4 cups) flour and 3 beaten eggs, Finally, 3 level teaspoons baking powder. If a spiced brack is liked, add the same (3 teaspoons) of mixed spices.
Turn into three greased loaf tins 8 inch (20cm) by 4 inch (11cm) and 3 inch (7.5cm) high and bake for 1 1/2 hours in a moderate oven (150C – 300F – gas 3). When cook, brush the top with melted honey to give it a fine glaze.
Barm is the old word for yeast. This ‘cake’ was eaten all year round, but particularly at Hallowe’en when it has a little ‘gold ring’ baked in it – and whosoever gets the gold ring, would be married within the year.
1 lb (500g or 4 cups) flour, 3 oz (85g or 3/4 cup) caster sugar, 1/2 pint (300ml or 1 cup) tepid milk, 3/4oz (25g) yeast, 1/2 lb (250g or 1 1/4 cups) sultanas, 4 oz (115g or 1 cup) currants, 2 heaped tablespoons butter, 2 oz (60g or 1/2 cup) mixed chopped candied peel, 1/2 level teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 level teaspoon nutmeg, 1/2 level teaspoon salt, 1 egg
All utensils should be warm before starting to make a brack. Sift the flour, spices and salt together then rub in the butter. Cream the yeast with 1 teaspoon of the sugar and 1 teaspoon of the tepid milk. This should froth up. The yeast is old and stale if it does not froth. Add the rest of the sugar to the flour mixture and blend well. Then pour the tepid milk and the beaten egg on the yeast mixture and combine with the flour mix. Beat well with a wooden spoon or turn into the warmed bowl of an electric mixer for 5 minutes. The batter should be stiff but elastic. Fold in the dried fruit and chopped peel, cover with a cloth and leave in a warm place until the dough is twice the size. Turn out and divide into two portions. Grease two 7 inch (18cm) cake tins and put one portion in each tin. If using and adding in a little gold ring this should be placed in one tin at this stage. Cover again and leave to rise for about 30 minutes. Bake in a moderate to hot oven (200C – 400F – gas 5-6) for about 1 hour. Test with a skewer before taking out of the oven. Glaze the top with 1 tablespoon sugar dissolved in 2 tablespoons boiling water and put back in the hot oven for about 3 minutes. Turn out to cool on a wire tray and when cool serve in slices with butter. Barm Brack keeps well but if it does get stale it is very good toasted and served with butter, or soaked with a little ale or beer to revive it.
2 cups (250g) self-raising flour, 1/4 cup (60ml) milk, 2 heaped tablespoons butter or other fat, caraway seeds (optional), 1 1/2 cups (400g) mashed potato, salt.
Mix butter into the flour and add a good pinch of salt. Then mix in the mashed potato and pour in the milk to make a soft (not slack) dough. Roll out on a floured board and cut into rounds about 3 in across. Sprinkle a few caraway seeds on top of each cake and bake in a hot oven (230C – 450F – gas 6-7) for 20-30 minutes. Eat them hot, split across the middle and spread with butter. This dough can also be used to line a savoury flan tin. Makes about nine cakes.
STUFFED PORK TENDERLOIN STEAKS
2 Pork steaks, 2 tablespoons butter, 1 cup water
The fillet of the pig is lean and one of the most traditional cuts of meat in Ireland. Pork steaks from the fillet can be roasted, grilled or casseroled. For stuffing – the steaks are slit along the length, down the centre but not cut through. The two flaps are then pulled gently so the gap widens out. Then with a sharp knife, it is scored down the length without cutting through the meat so that it presents a flattish rectangular shape when you have finished. They are now ready for stuffing – see the recipe below.
2 cups (200g) fresh white breadcrumbs, 2 tablespoons melted butter, 1 teaspoon each fresh chopped thyme and sage, 1 medium onion, finely grated peel and juice of 1/2 lemon, a pinch of mace, milk, 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, salt and pepper.
Sprinkle the breadcrumbs with just enough milk to moisten but not to make them sloppy; about 1/4 cup (50g) should be ample. Add all the other ingredients and mix well. Some cooks add an egg to the mix, other cooks say an egg tends to harden it.
There are two ways of stuffing pork steaks, both equally good. The first method is to lay the stuffing on one flattened steak, cover with the other and secure with skewers or butchers string. The other method is to roll up the steak with the stuffing so that you have short chunky rolls which are then secured with skewers or string. Whichever way is chosen, they are then rubbed with butter and lightly seasoned, then put into a roasting pan if they are being roasted, or in a casserole if being braised.
1 cup (240ml) of water is added to the roasting pan, it is covered with oven foil and roasted in a moderate to hog oven (180C – 350F – gas 4) for about 1 hour. They can be turned half-way and basted. The addition of an unpeeled but quartered orange to the liquid is not traditional but gives a sweetness to the pork. The gravy is reduced over a hot flame or thickened if desired. Pork steaks are good hot or cold.
For braising, the stuffed steaks are put into a casserole, with stock or water added and finely sliced root vegetables. Again, a little grated orange peel gives a fine flavour. The lid is put on and it is cooked in a slow to moderate oven (150C – 300F – gas 2) for about 1 1/2 hours.
“There is in every cook’s opinion, No savoury dish without an onion; But lest your kissing should be spoiled. The onion must be thoroughly boiled.” Jonathan Swift (1667-1745)
1 large onion per person, a little water.
Put the onions in a baking tin, unpeeled, with about 1 inch (2.5cm) of water, not more. Bake in a slow to moderate oven (120C – 250F – gas 2) for 1 1/2-2 hours or until they are soft when squeezed. To eat, the outer brown skin is pulled back and cut at the root and the onion is eaten with salt and pepper and a pat of butter. One of the most delicious ways of serving onions – and especially if eaten with ‘Pratie Oaten’.
2 cups (500g) warm mashed potatoes, 1 cup (200g) fine oatmeal, 1/2 cup (115g) melted butter, salt
Makes approximately 15. Work enough fine oatmeal into the potatoes to form a dough which is fairly soft. Add salt and enough melted butter or good bacon dripping to bind it. Scatter plenty of oatmeal on a board and roll out the dough. Cut into shapes and either cook on both sides on a hot greased griddle in the oven or fry in a little bacon fat on top of the stove. Serve hot. They are very good for breakfast with bacon, eggs and sausages or Baked Onions.
TROUT BAKED IN WINE
4 trout (1 per person) 1/2 bottle white wine, 4 oz (115g or 1/2 cup) butter, 1/2 lemon, 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, salt and white pepper
Mix the chopped parsley into half the butter and then divide into four pats. Put one pat into each cleaned fish then place them in an oven-proof dish and rub salt and white pepper into them. Pour the wine around, cover and cook in a moderate to hot oven (180C – 350F – gas 4) for 20 minutes. Add the rest of the butter cut into small pieces and the juice of the half lemon. Cover again and cook for a further 10 minutes. These baked trout are delicious served hot or cold when the juices form a soft jelly when chilled. When served hot, cauliflower florets are excellent with this dish. In 18th and 19th century Ireland, the florets were barely covered in a little milk and cooked with a knob of butter and salt and pepper. The liquid almost evaporates and gives the cauliflower very good flavour.
IRISH STEW (MUNSTER)
In Munster a good Irish stew was thick and creamy, and was originally made with mutton, not lamb, and just potatoes and onions – it was thought that if carrots, turnips or pearl barley were added the pure flavour was spoilt, likewise if there was too much liquid.
3 lb (1.4 Kg) best end of neck chops, trimmed of fat, bone and gristle, 2 lb (1Kg) potatoes, 1 lb (500g) onions, 1 tablespoon mixed chopped parsley and thyme, 3/4 pint (450ml) stock, salt and pepper.
After trimming, cut the meat in fairly large pieces. Peel and slice the potatoes and onions. Put a layer of potatoes in a pan, some of the herbs, then sliced meat and finally onion. Season each layer well and repeat once more finishing with a thick layer of potatoes. Pour the liquid stock over and cover with a sheet of foil before putting on the lid. Either bake in a slow oven (120C – 250F – gas 1) or simmer very gently on top of the stove, shaking the pan from time to time so that it does not stick, for about two hours. If it seems to be getting too dry add a very little more liquid. Another method is to place the trimmed neck chops around the inside edge of a saucepan and put the sliced onion and small potatoes with herbs and seasonings in the middle. Add the water, put on the lid and then cook very slowly for about two hours until the meat is quite tender. Placing the meat around the edge makes for ease in serving.
OCEAN SWELL JELLY
Chondus crispus is a seaweed called Irish Moss or Sea Moss (which makes ‘Carragreen’). It is dark purple or green in colour but when dried it has a bleached look. Because of its gelatinous quality it is used as a vegetable gelatine and makes excellent jellies, aspics, beverages and even breads and pastries. The rich vitamin content makes it an ideal food substance and prepared ‘carrageen’ can be bought from most health food shops.
1/2 cup (100g) tightly packed carrageen, 2 heaped tablespoons sugar, 1 pint (600ml) water, 1 egg white, 1/4 pint (150ml or 1/2 cup) cream, peel of 1 lemon or vanilla flavouring if preferred
Steep the carrageen in water to cover for 10 minutes and then drain. Simmer for 25-30 minutes in 1 pint (600ml) of water with the sugar and lemon peel. Strain and let the liquid cool slightly. While it is cooling, whip the egg white stiffly and combine with the cream, also whipped. Mix with the carrageen liquid and gently heat up to just under boiling point. Pour into a wetted mould and chill. Turn out mould to serve and decorate with fresh fruit slices.
Cockles are extensively fished in County Kerry and they are known locally as Carpetshell and Kirkeen and in Irish, Ruacan.
4 dozen (48) cockles, 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, 2 heaped tablespoons butter, 1/2 cup (100g) chopped celery (optional), 2 heaped tablespoons flour, single (light) cream to taste, 2 pints (1.2 Litres or 4 cups) cockle stock, 1 pint (600ml or 2 cups) milk, salt and pepper
Scrub the cockles well to get rid of sand and grit. Then put them into a large saucepan with preferably sea water or salt water to cover. When the water is brought to the boil and the shells have opened up, do not continue cooking. Remove shells from the liquid to cool and when cool enough to handle remove cockles out of their shells. Melt the butter in a saucepan, stir in the flour, then add the strained cockle juice and milk, stirring all the time until it is smoothly blended. Put in the chopped parsley, celery and seasoning and cook for 10 minutes. Finally add the cockles, heat and serve with a little cream on each portion.
BOILED COCKLES in County Down are cooked as above and when taken from their shells are heated up with butter, pepper, salt and the juice of a lemon.
COCKELTY PIE – cooked as for soup, a little grated onion added and covered with a pastry crust which is baked in the oven for 30 minutes and served hot.