Tuesday, March 17, 2015

On the Homefront: Irish Farmhouse Breakfast Table

Dalmatian Dally O'Malley with his treasure and little bird friends!

Many years ago I bought a tiny cookbook called A Little Irish Cookbook (1986), which was part of a series of little books featuring different national cuisines:

From Amazon

In the very first section of this book the author describes fond memories of an old-fashioned farmhouse breakfast suitable for country folk who spent their days laboring in the fields.  The generous meal included citrus fruit, porridge, rashers of bacon, sausage, white and black puddings, fried eggs, tomatoes, and mushrooms, soda bread and/or potato farls, honey, preserves, fresh butter, and a pot of tea.  Not many of us engage in strenuous manual labor on a daily basis, but for those special occasions when vigorous activity and/or a special celebration are on the agenda, the morning repast described in this small cookbook would be ideal.  I think that St. Patrick's Day would be the perfect time to indulge, although since it is on a Tuesday this year the meal may end up being dinner instead of breakfast!  I've set a green and white table for the holiday feast:

Dark green velvet placemat; square white dinner plate (from HomeGoods last year); dark green porridge bowl and tea mug (from Target ages ago); small white appetizer plate as saucer (from Target a few years ago); stainless steel flatware; off-white fringed cotton napkin; pale green juice goblet; green glass votive holder with flocked shamrock design (from Hobby Lobby several years ago); small glass sheep (from Pier 1 last year).

The large green bowl in the center of the table will hold
the Irish Soda Bread Muffins.

Small pitchers will be filled with light cream for the porridge,
and the tiny bowls on the small square plates will hold individual
servings of preserves and butter for each place setting.

A closer look at the shamrock votive holders and glass sheep
at each place setting -- my husband is the lucky(?) recipient of the
only black sheep in the bunch.

My version of a full Irish breakfast is not entirely authentic.  Even if I wanted to serve white and black puddings (which I don't!), I have no idea where to find them.  I do happen to have a tin of McCann's Steel Cut Irish Oatmeal so I will be able to make authentic Irish porridge, but I would have substituted regular oatmeal if necessary.  Because of my red meat allergy, our bacon and sausages will be turkey or chicken rather than pork (sad, I know, but what can you do?).  Incidentally, a "rasher" of bacon can mean either a slice or a serving (which is typically several slices), so choose your preferred definition!

Rather than frying the tomatoes and mushrooms, I opted to roast them so that I would not have to cook so many items in the frying pan, but also because the flavor of this simple roasted vegetable combination is utterly delicious.  I usually bake a loaf of Irish Soda Bread for St. Patrick's Day, but for something a little different I decided to try a muffin version instead this year.  These muffins are savory, not sweet, and the texture is chewy rather than crumbly, so they are more like dinner rolls than muffins.  Be sure to serve them with generous lashings of butter, preferably Irish!  And there is a box of Twinings Irish Breakfast Tea bags on the table, even though tea bags are frowned upon by serious tea drinkers.  Since I will be the only one drinking tea, I did not want to make a whole pot just for me, so the tea pot will hold hot water and I will just use a tea bag in my mug.

Irish Farmhouse Breakfast Menu:

Hot Tea (or coffee if you must)
Orange Juice
Oatmeal Porridge/Light Cream and Sugar
Rashers of Bacon/Sausages
Fried Eggs
Roasted Tomatoes and Mushrooms*
Irish Soda Bread Muffins**
Fruit Preserves and Irish Butter

*Roasted Tomatoes and Mushrooms

8 oz. sliced cremini (brown) mushrooms
1 pint grape tomatoes
2 T. oil (I used extra light olive oil)
salt and pepper to taste (I used 1/4 tsp. salt and no pepper, which I dislike)

Place the mushrooms and tomatoes in a baking pan.  Toss to coat with the oil and seasonings.  Roast at 450 degrees for 10 minutes.  Toss the vegetables with a spatula and roast for another 10 minutes.  Serve warm.  Serves 4.

**Irish Soda Bread Muffins

1 1/2 C. flour
1 C. whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/4 C. buttermilk
1 egg
1 C. dried currants or raisins (optional)
1/2-1 tsp. caraway seeds (optional)

Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.  Stir in the egg and buttermilk just until the dry ingredients are moistened.  The batter should be wet and sticky.  If it is dry, add more buttermilk to moisten (I used an additional 2 T. of buttermilk).  Fold in the currants/raisins and caraway seeds, if using.  Spoon the batter into a greased muffin tin.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes until the muffins have risen and the tops are golden brown.  Makes 12 muffins.

The chocolates on the table are Hershey's dark chocolate Mint Truffle Kisses (actually a seasonal flavor for Christmas that I saved just for St. Patrick's Day!).

Jolly Dally O'Malley is here,
Bringing lots of St. Paddy's Day cheer.
Proudly guarding his bowl,
He will make sure you know
That the bounty inside is quite dear!

Faith and begorrah, could that be a hidden cache of gold
 underneath all of the chocolate?

Happy St. Patrick's Day to all!

"May you live as long as you want, and never want as long as you live!"

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