Lamb & Lentil Salad

18 Jul 2016


Nothing says summer more than lunch al fresco under the canopy of one of our massive ash trees on the farm with plenty of salads, warm soda bread out of the oven, and my fresh butter on the table.

Bord Bia (the Irish Food Board) recently asked me to be a part of their “Lamb. Tasty, Easy, Funcampaign and I couldn’t refuse as lamb is a firm favourite on the farm. Lamb is possibly more special to me as it was not as readily available in the USA when I was growing up, and definitely falls under the special meals category. Here, we eat lamb quite frequently as there are so many cuts to choose from, and all of them are delicious. I particularly enjoy my visiting my friend Suzanna Crampton’s Zwartbles farm and if we are lucky she sends us off with a parcel of meat from her herd.

IMG_5343 IMG_5351 IMG_5356

Greek Salad with Lentils & Lamb
This super simple Greek-style lamb salad, is packed with flavor and nutrients and is perfect for an easy + light summer supper; you can double or triple the recipe if you are entertaining friends. The recipe calls for fillet of lamb (ask the butcher) or lamb steaks. I hadn’t used either of those cuts before and I must say, the fillet was incredibly tasty and tender. Let me know if you give it a go! You can find more fantastic Irish lamb recipes here.

Prep time: 20 minutes (+30 minutes resting time)
Cooking times 4-10 minutes
600g lamb fillet or lamb steaks
224g tin of cooked green lentils (or you can prepare your own)
Juice of one lemon
Salt and pepper
5 tbsp olive oil
250g cherry tomatoes
200g feta style cheese
½ cucumber, deseeded
½ red onion
6 springs flat leaf parsley
6 sprigs mint
12 pitted black olives
Place the lentils in the fine sieve and rinse with plenty of cold water, then leave to drain.
Mix the lemon juice with a little salt and peper in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 tbsp olive oil, then whisk.
Cut the cherry tomatoes in half. Chop the cheese and cucumber into small pieces. Finely slice the red onion and chop the herbs. Place everything into the mixing bowl with the lentils and olives. Mix, cover and leave to rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Take the lamb out of the fridge and allow to come to room temperature. This will take approximately 30 minutes. Pre-heat the barbeque or frying pan on high heat. Brush the lamb fillets/steaks with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and place on the bbq or in the pan. Cook for 2 minutes on each side, then reduce the heat and continue to cook depending on your preference and the thickness of the cut. Remove from bbq or pan and leave to rest for 2 minutes.
Cut into strips and serve with lentil salad and bread.
Scullery notes: Be sure to not oversalt the vinaigrette as the feta and olives are already quite salty.

Keep an eye on my media/events page, I will be travelling to Chicago, Wisconsin & Mpls this summer and have a few fun book events planned!

Slan Abhaile,

Imen xx

Photos and styling by Imen McDonnell 2016.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

· · · ◊ ◊ ◊ · · ·


I know, I know, it’s January and according to every well-meaning food magazine I am supposed to be in full throttle detox-n-dry damnation mode. But, despite my best intentions to become a “new me,” I seem to keep turning up in the kitchen on tippy toes peering into a piping hot oven to supervise blistering dishes of creamy cinnamon and cardamom-scented baked rice pudding. I simply can’t look away from that bubbling picture of gooey goodness; I’m like a school marm with beady eyes on a busy playground, like a magpie on a blackthorn branch ready to swoop down on it’s delicious prey. About every second day, I inevitably find myself hunkered down at my writing desk savouring spoonfuls of irresistibly milky rice pudding by the bellyful.

Someone call Slimming World, I might need an intervention.

In the meantime, I shall choose to view this habit as a sort of restorative treatment, a body wrap of warming and protective wholesome comfort food in preparation for my big year ahead. It’s all about the FOMO on rice pudding. (because you never know when this dairy delight will be extinct) and the YOLO relating to rice pudding (it is actually sort of dangerous.)

The BIG year that I am banging on about would be the year that my first book (aka second baby) is due to hit stores around the world (GULP!) this spring. March 8th to be exact. And, honestly, despite all the minutes, hours, days and years that have gone into bringing this lovechild to life, it still feels like some sort of apparition to me. I suppose until I am actually holding the bouncing hardcover book baby in my hands, I can continue to live my rice pudding dreams. Right?

The Farmette Cookbook, Recipes and Stories from My Life on an Irish Farm is now available for pre-order here, herehere and via all good book outlets. I will be cordially giving away 5 copies upon publication date, so do leave a comment below describing your favourite comfort food (or drink), and your name will be included in the lucky draw.

Farmette_mech_1p-page-001 (1)

Some of my very favourite food heroes got an early sneak peek of the book, and I am gobsmackingly flattered and humbled to share what they had to say (with a heartfelt thanks again to all!)…

“A joyful celebration of life on an Irish farm.  A super, chic book written with the appreciative eye of an outsider who reminds us of the sheer pleasure of living on a dairy farm. Rearing a few table fowl, planting a vegetable garden and an orchard, rediscovering the satisfaction of using home-grown Irish produce to make truly delicious and creative food for family and friends.”—Darina Allen

The Farmette Cookbook is a lovely combination of personal tale and transportive recipe, and it makes me want to come to Ireland tomorrow. In a world full of culinary flimflammery, Imen McDonnell is the real thing: wonderful storyteller and creator of delicious recipes with a traditional edge, all mouthwateringly evocative of this magical place she now calls home.”—Elissa Altman, author of Poor Man’s Feast

“Imen has beautifully captured the rich heritage of Irish farmhouse cooking and cast a 21st century spell on it!”  —Catherine Fulvio, author and award-winning proprietor of Ballyknocken House & Cookery School

“There is magic in Imen McDonnell’s new book, and in her story. Her dedication to uncovering Ireland’s rich food culture and cultivating her own shines through. You’ll want to dive right in, start cooking, and build your own fairy tale.”—Sarah Copeland, author of Feast & Food Director of Real Simple Magazine.

“Imen takes traditional Irish cooking to the next level with her American curiosity and ingenuity. She weaves big city cravings, like potstickers, tacos, banh mi, harissa, pizza, and more, with traditional comfort food made from scratch. Imen’s brave leap of faith and love is a boon for the rest of us: we now have this charming book full of stories and recipes I can’t wait to make.”—Susan Spungen, food stylist, cookbook author & founding food editor of Martha Stewart Living

“It was Imen’s endearing and touching personal writing on all things Irish that first drew me to her beautiful blog.  Her personal journey into the history of traditional Irish recipes is celebrated throughout this carefully considered cookbook.  Filled with stories of old and inspirations from Ireland’s exciting new cooking scene, Imen is putting Irish Farmhouse Cooking firmly back on the map.”—Donal Skehan, Irish food personality and author of Kitchen Hero 

“If you have not yet visited Ireland and tasted its authentic foods, you’ll want to after reading Imen’s new cookbook. Living on an Irish farm has never looked this attractive. What a charming and delicious book!”—Béatrice Peltre, author of La Tartine Gourmande

“A beautiful story of an American city girl falling in love with a dashing Irish farmer and the food that she began to create once settled in rural Ireland. With recipes for everything from Nettle, Sweet Pea and Turf-Smoked Ham Soup to Irish Stout and Treacle Bread, this evocative cookbook will have you wanting to don your wellies and your best apron to grow, cook, and preserve Imen-style.”—Rachel Allen, Irish food personality, bestselling cookbook author, and teacher at the Ballymaloe Cookery School.

Here’s a handful of recipes & images that I love….

Boxty ComfortingFishPie haybale mayeveteacake sweetfarmercheesedanish

Farmhouse Rice Pudding
One of my mother-in-law’s favorite desserts was a simple creamy, dreamy rice pudding with a spoonful of orchard jam. It took me a few tries to create my own working recipe, and eventually I realized that a simple, old-fashioned baked version yields the perfect consistency to please everyone on the farm. Still super creamy, but with a golden, carmelized skin on top that everyone fights over, this recipe is easy to knock up and serve any day of the week.

Serves 6

1 3/4 cups (414 ml) Evaporated Milk
2 cups (475 ml) whole milk (raw, if you can get it)
4 oz (110 g) pudding or aborio rice
1/3 cup (40 g) golden granulated or superfine sugar
1 whole nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cardamom
2 tablespoons (25 g) butter
1 jar of your favorite jam (optional)

Preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C). Lightly butter a 9-inch (23-cm) round or similar sized ovenproof baking dish.
Mix together the evaporated milk and whole milk in a bowl. Stir in the cinnamon and cardamom. Put the rice and sugar in the baking dish, pour in the liquid, and stir well. Grate the whole nutmeg over the surface, then dot the butter on top in little pieces.
Bake on the center shelf of the oven for 30 minutes, then slide the shelf out and stir the mixture well. Bake for another 30 minutes, then stir again. Bake for another hour without stirring.
At the end of the cooking time, the rice grains will be swollen, with pools of creamy liquid all around them, and a carmelized coating on top. Allow to cool slightly then. Slather the top with jam, if you like, and serve.
Scullery Notes: If you cover the pudding completely with a layer of jam, it will be freshest if eaten within two days; otherwise, it will last for week in the fridge.

Which foods bring you comfort?

Slan Abhaile,

Photos and Styling by Imen McDonnell and Sonia Mulford Chaverri.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

· · · ◊ ◊ ◊ · · ·

Baked Irish Porridge

03 Jan 2012

Happy New Year! You might have noticed a few wee changes here….what better time for new beginnings than the first week of the year, right?

In the spirit of fresh new starts, I’ve decided to make a small change to the title of this blog and from this day forward she will now be emblazoned: “farmette” {at I Married An Irish Farmer}. The farmer and I gave it some thought and came to the conclusion that it was time for a change…and in his words “We all know you married an Irish farmer now….isn’t that old news?” He’s right.

So, here’s the new news…

1. I have basically (umm, finally) settled into my role as ‘chief farmette’ here at the farm.


2. The little weekly column that I write is entitled “Tales of A Modern Farmette” and @ModernFarmette is also my handle on the ‘ould Twitterbox, so now everything will be all nice and tidy.  We likey nice-y and tidy.


3. The word “farmette” makes me smile. Nuff said.

For now, the web address will stay the same so you don’t have to remember a new one, eventually it will move to a new address and I will make sure that process is seamless.

I have also added two new pages on the right hand side:  “Settling In” and “Traditional Skills”. Both quick links to past blog posts with “Settling In” being a sort of pre-food round up of funny posts about adapting to my new life in the countryside, and “Traditional Skills”, a place for all those time-honoured skills that I have learned over the past 2 years, such as butter and cheese making, apple pressing, jam, bread, and honeybee posts. I will be adding new material to both pages as time goes on.

Roight. Enough with the housekeeping, swiftly moving on…

I had planned on starting off the year with theeee most wickedly decadent cake + pudding post, inspired by one too many viewings of Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette over the holiday break, but decided to go with a healthier start…for a week or so anyway.

Baked porridge oats for brekky is one of the little farmer’s firm favourites. He loves it with brown sugar + massive amounts of cinnamon and Grandad’s honey. This morning we used Highbank Orchard Syrup, a boiled down apple syrup in place of the honey. Let’s just say it went over better than a new Phineas and Ferb episode. I discovered this gorgeous new product at Savour Kilkenny in October, and we will definitely keep a stock of it in the larder from here on out as it is perfect in porridge on a cold winter’s morning.

My {Quick and Easy} Baked Irish Porridge Oats


1 cup of Irish porridge oats (We love Kilbeggan Organic* best, now also available in the USA at Dean & Deluca in store and online)

2 cups of water or milk + 2-3 tablespoons milk

1 tsp boiled apple syrup or 2 tsp of honey

1-3 tsp cinnamon

2 tbsp brown sugar


Bring the porridge oats and water or milk to a boil in a saucepan. Turn down heat and let simmer for 3-4 minutes stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Mix in a few tablespoons of milk, a teaspoon of Highbank Orchard Syrup (or any boiled apple syrup) and cinnamon to taste. Pour into an ovenproof ceramic baking dish, sprinkle top with 2 tbsp of brown sugar and place into 425f/210c oven* for 20 minutes or until brown sugar has bubbled and hardened on top slightly. Serve immediately.

*alternatively, if you have an oven with an overhead grill place under at 200c for 10-15 minutes

*Since posting, I rec’d an email that Kilbeggan Oats are now available in Stateside at Dean & DeLuca!

You can also use the coarser steel cut oats; just soak them in water overnight beforehand so they get nice and soft when cooked/baked in the morning.

Cheers to a wonderful 2012! If you have a spare moment, would love to hear your thoughts on “farmette” and other changes to the blog…you can leave a reply below.

Slan Abhaile,

Imen x

Photo and styling by Imen McDonnell 2012

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

· · · ◊ ◊ ◊ · · ·

Colcannon & Champ

31 May 2011

“Did you ever eat Colcannon, made from lovely pickled cream?

With the greens and scallions mingled like a picture in a dream.

Did you ever make a hole on top to hold the melting flake

Of the creamy, flavoured butter that your mother used to make?


Yes you did, so you did, so did he and so did I.

And the more I think about it sure the nearer I’m to cry.

Oh, wasn’t it the happy days when troubles we had not,

And our mothers made Colcannon in the little skillet pot.”

(traditional Irish folk song)

The #IrishButcher cookbook shoot has finally wrapped, our crew are nestled back in their homes across the pond and my kitchen is doing deep pranayama breathing exercises I would bet.

Since I have been preparing only 100% meat dishes for nearly a month, I have now instinctively gone herbivore, so I decided to finally write that much-requested and long overdue blog post on two classic Irish potato preparations: Colcannon and Champ.

While potatoes are a must in our farming family, these lovely mash-ups are not the norm, but from time to time I will mix it up and serve Colcannon or my own special blend of mashed potatoes with a Sunday roast. Since we planted kale in the garden this spring, I am hoping to work it in a little more.

Colcannon and Champ are both traditional Irish mashed potato dishes; Colcannon was traditionally made from mashed potatoes and kale (or cabbage), butter, salt, and pepper. It is often eaten with boiled ham or Irish bacon. You can also add scallions, leeks or chives to Colcannon which = delicious too.

According to friend and fellow Irish food writer, Aoife (pronounced Ee-fa) of the very popular Daily Spud blog, Champ is native to Northern Ireland. Champ looks similar to Colcannon and is made by blending scallions or green onions with creamy mashed potatoes. Champ is great on its own, served steaming hot with extra butter, which will melt through it. But I’ve also heard {on more than one occasion} that Champ is the perfect side dish for good quality sausages.

When I sent a poll out on Twitter yesterday to see which dish people preferred, Colcannon swept it…but there were some definite affaires de cœur for both styles.

First, I pulled some hearty kale from the garden (one of the few vegetables that are still growing strong despite the harsh weather over the past few weeks!) and washed it up along with several spring onions.

Then I peeled the potatoes. I use roosters  (similar to red russets in the USA) for their floury texture and golden hue.

After the potatoes are boiled, strain them and put back into the empty, steaming hot pan and bang around for a bit. Then, using a masher like this mash em’ up. Melt a little butter and whole milk together and gradually mix in until you’ve achieved your version of “just right” consistency . After that, add in your coarsely chopped kale, cabbage (blanch kale or cabbage for 1-2 minutes), scallions, green onions or….one of my favorites: horseradish, fresh basil and lemon zest. Top off with a little salt and pepper and you’re sorted!

Slan Abhaile,


Photos and styling by Imen McDonnell

Top photo, left to right: Horseradish, Basil + Lemon Zest blend. Champ. Colcannon.

Bottom photo, top to bottom: Colcannon. Champ. Horseradish, Basil + Lemon Zest blend.




Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

· · · ◊ ◊ ◊ · · ·
Saveur Sites We Love
Recent Posts