Irish or not, you can serve this quintet of recipes year-round.
The potato pancakes, in particular, are excellent with pork chops, while the cheese soup makes its own meal.
Try the corned beef and cabbage the easy way: Made in a slow cooker.
And the soda bread requires no yeast or rising time.
Green Beer Cheese Soup (Broccoli Cheddar) with Pesto Croutons
For the soup:
3 cups broccoli florets, chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 large sweet onion, finely diced
I large carrot, peeled and diced
2 ribs celery, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups wheat beer or pale ale
2 tablespoons cornstarch
7 ounces Dubliner cheese, grated (or sharp white Cheddar)
8 ounces gouda, grated
1 cup vegetable broth
1/3 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste
For the croutons:
1 French baguette, cut into cubes
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons pesto
In a large pot of lightly salted water, cook the broccoli until very soft, drain and set aside.
In a large saucepan over medium high heat, melt 4 tablespoons butter. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and cook until the carrots are very soft, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic, cook for about 30 seconds, remove from heat.
In a large food processor or blender, add 1 cup beer, cornstarch, both kids of cheese and as well as the carrot and celery mixture, process until very smooth, about 5 to 8 minutes. Return mixture to the pot along with the remaining beer.
In the same food processor (no need to clean between jobs) add the broccoli and the broth, process until very smooth. Add pureed broccoli, as well as the cream, to the soup.
Bring the soup to a low simmer, stirring occasionally until warmed and slightly thickened. Salt and pepper to taste.
In a skillet over medium high heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add the bread cubes and toss until browned. Remove from heat and immediately add in the pesto, toss to coat.
Serve the soup topped with croutons.
Traditional Irish Shepherd's Pie
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound ground beef or 1 pound lamb
1 large onion, finely diced
3 to 4 large carrots, finely diced
1 cup frozen peas
3 to 4 sprigs fresh thyme, finely chopped
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon butter
1 glass red wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste or 3 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 cup stock
1 large quantity mashed potatoes (estimating 6 cups, fresh or leftover)
1 egg, beaten
Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Saute carrots in the olive oil until starting to get tender.
Add in the onions and saute for a minute or two then add the meat.
Season with black pepper and thyme.
Cook until browned then drain fat.
Add the butter and peas.
Sprinkle with flour and stir through.
Add tomato paste, wine and Worcestershire sauce.
Let this reduce slightly then add the chicken stock. Allow to reduce down until you have a thick meaty gravy. Season to your taste.
Remove from heat. Grease an oven proof 9-by-13-inch dish with butter and add the sauce.
Spoon or pipe the mashed potatoes over top. Brush with egg and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese if using.
Bake for about 20 minutes or until the potato is nice and browned on top. Serves 4-6.
Irish Soda Bread
1 large egg
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup raisins
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease a baking sheet or large cake pan.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a dough blade attachment, combine the egg, buttermilk, and melted butter. Add the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and raisins to the bowl. Blend the ingredients until well incorporated.
3. Remove the dough from the bowl and form it into a 6-inch ball. Place it on the prepared baking sheet or in the cake pan. Using a paring knife, score the top of the dough about an inch deep in an ''X'' shape.
4. Bake the bread until golden brown and a thin skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean, approximately 45-55 minutes.
-- "In the Kitchen with David: Comfort Foods That Take You Home" by David Venable
Slow-Cooker Corned Beef & Cabbage With Horseradish Cream
For corned beef and cabbage:
4 pounds lean raw corned beef brisket
3 tablespoons pickling spice (often included with brisket)
1 medium rutabaga, halved and cut into wedges (optional)
1 pound large carrots, cut into 4-inch pieces
1-1/4 pounds large fingerling potatoes
1 leek, white and light-green parts only, cut into 3-inch pieces
1/2 head Savoy cabbage, cut into wedges
For horseradish cream:
1 cup sour cream
6 tablespoons prepared white horseradish
1 tablespoon finely chopped dill pickle
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives or green onion tops
1. Prep the corned beef and vegetables: Place the corned beef in a large slow cooker and scatter the pickling spices on top. Layer the rutabaga, carrots, potatoes and leek in the cooker (in this order for even cooking). Add enough hot water (4 to 5 cups) to cover the meat by at least 1 inch, put the lid on the slow cooker and cook on high, 7 to 8 hours.
2. Make the horseradish cream: Whisk all horseradish cream ingredients together in a small bowl to blend. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.
3. Make the cabbage: Remove the meat and vegetables from the slow cooker and keep warm. Put the cabbage in a microwave-safe dish with 2 cups cooking liquid from the slow cooker, cover and microwave until tender, 7 to 10 minutes.
4. Slice the corned beef and serve alongside the slow-cooked vegetables, cabbage and 1-1/2 cups horseradish cream. Serves 6.
-- Adapted from Food Network Magazine and Bon Appetit
"Boxty" are Irish potato pancakes (bacsta" or ar(*135*)n bocht t" means "poor house bread" in Gaelic).
Blue Cheese Potato Cakes
1-1/2 to 1-3/4 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 cup crumbled bleu cheese
1 egg yolk
1 cup all-purpose flour
Egg-milk mixture made with 2 eggs beaten with 1/2 cup milk
1 to 1 1/2 cups seasoned bread crumbs
1 to 1 1/2 cups canola oil
Sour cream or cr(*143*)me fra(*148*)che for topping
Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water for 12 to 15 minutes, or until tender. Drain and mash.
In a small skillet over low heat, melt the butter. Saute the chives and garlic for 1-2 minutes, or until soft. Stir into the mashed potatoes. Stir in the nutmeg, salt, pepper, dill, and parsley. Remove from the heat and cool completely.
Stir in the blue cheese and egg yolk. The cheese should remain in lumps scattered through the potatoes.
Shape the potato mixture into 12 cakes and refrigerate for 20 minutes to firm. Lightly dredge each cake in the flour, then coat with the egg-milk mixture, and dredge in the bread crumbs.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Working in batches, add the potato cakes and cook for 3-5 minutes on each side, or until browned. The cakes can be prepared ahead up to this point.
To serve, preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Place the cakes on a baking sheet and reheat them in the oven for about 5 minutes. Serve with a dollop of sour cream or cr(*143*)me fra(*148*)che. Makes 12 cakes.
-- Margaret Johnson, Irish food expert and cookbook author; recipe originally from "The New Irish Table"