The last time I went to Ireland was for a friend’s wedding, I was struck by how green everything was and how friendly the people were. My favourite story about HM The Queen comes from a connection with Ireland. The Queen worked as a mechanic with an Irish woman during the second world war, they became friends and many years later when The Queen was on holiday on board ship sailing with her family in Irish waters, she would stop off to see her friend. Loyalty, laughter and longstanding friendship, all wonderful qualities to be found in Ireland.
Irish Stew and Soda Bread
Irish stew ingredients
500g mutton (lamb)
2 small onions, cut into quarters
2 celery sticks, chopped
4 large carrot, sliced
2 leeks, sliced
Stock cube, dissolve in 450 ml boiling water
1 teaspoon of herbs
25g pearl barley
3 potatoes, cut into quarters
Salt and pepper
To make the Irish stew combine everything in a small cooker, low setting for 4 hours. Or bake in the oven at 160C for 2 hours. This isn’t the instructions from the recipe by Sue Ashworth, she says first cook the onions until they are softened, brown the meat etc before you combine everything but the easy option is to throw it all together in a casserole dish and bake slowly.
Soda Bread, BBC magazine 2003
Soda bread ingredients
250g plain white flour
250g plain wholemeal flour
100g porridge oats
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon salt
25g butter cut into pieces
500ml buttermilk (I could only buy 1 tub of buttermilk – 300ml, so I added 200ml of 50% less fat crème fraiche)
- Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6/fan 180C and dust a baking sheet with flour. Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl, then rub in the butter. Pour in the buttermilk and mix it in quickly with a table knife, then bring the dough together very lightly with your fingertips (handle it very, very gently). Now shape it into a flat, round loaf measuring 20cm/8in in diameter.
- Put the loaf on the baking sheet and score a deep cross in the top. Bake for 60 minutes minutes until the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. The BBC Good food recipe says to bake for 30-35 mins but I found it uncooked in the centre of the loaf, so I cut it into 8 sections and baked again at 180C fan for a further 10 mins + 20 mins. If it isn’t ready after this time, turn it upside down on the baking sheet and bake for a few minutes more.
- Transfer to a wire rack, cover with a clean tea towel (this keeps the crust nice and soft) and leave to cool. Eat very fresh.
Serve with the world-famous Guinness beer and some Irish chocolate or Irish coffee for after dinner! I created an 18-hole mini golf course in my garden (see other blog) from yogurt pots, homemade golf clubs, homemade flags for each hole, so after dinner we ‘imaginary travelled’ to Ireland for a round of golf.