Yip, I’ll admit it.  I was once a bona fide corned beef-n-cabbage, green beer sipping girl. Each St. Patrick’s Day, without fail, me and a posse of friends would head out to at least one Irish pub each year on the 17th of March, and happily belly up to a hot paper plate of corned beef and watery cabbage with a side order of green tainted lager…or two {hic}.

It was a ritual, never gave much thought as to why we would do such a thing, we just did….and ohhh, was it fun. Fast forward to life in Ireland where the closest thing to corned beef is that chunk of spiced beef found in the supermarkets at Christmas time or another option resembling something very close to SPAM. My first truly Irish St. Patrick’s Day celebration at the farm probably confirmed my father in law’s suspicions that I was mad when I asked if he had ever eaten corned beef on St. Paddy’s Day. And, while I have come to grips with no longer enjoying corned beef served out of a Nesco on the Day, I have yet to work through the 5 stages of grieving my beloved corned beef and swiss on rye for lunch.

Nowadays, Paddy’s parties are a bit more civilized for myself and our family. We tend to go to the local afternoon parade and then come home and have our “tea” (tea = supper on the farm); a picnic of whatever cold cuts, cheeses, spreads, vegetables I’ve picked up from the farmer’s market along with a quick baked loaf of brown soda bread and a little dessert. I’ve written a piece for the Dean & Deluca Gourmet Food Blog about that first St. Patrick’s Day experience and also what delicious Irish eats we’ll have this year, have a look and see.

This weekend we also celebrate another holiday in Ireland: Mother’s Day! Yes, Mother’s Day is in March, not May on the craggy green isle. Therefore, I am entitled to two special days, in theory. Not so much on paper or in real life, but the option is there if ever a certain farmer would like to be generous {cough cough}.

One of the best parts about Spring in Ireland has to be fresh rhubarb. Rhubarb compote, rhubarb ice cream, rhubarb clafoutis, rhubarb cake, rhubarb muffins, rhubarb crumble and a personal favourite, my very special rhubarb pudding. This recipe for rhubarb pudding came about by happenstance a few years back when I realized I didn’t have oatmeal for my spring rhubarb-berry crumble to bring to the farm for Easter dinner. I had made the oaty version for Mother’s Day the first year I was here and everyone really loved it, especially Grandma whose compliments were ever so heartwarming. I was asked to bring it again for Easter that year, but that morning I suddenly realized we didn’t have the oats to make the crumbly part so I sub’d flour and came out with a cakey, cobbly, crispy on top, cray cray good rhubarb…umm, pudding.  I brought it to dinner and we ate it for dessert with dollops of vanilla yogurt and everyone said it was even better than the crumble. {yippee!}

I submitted my recipe which I named “Farmhouse Spring Pudding” to Sweet Paul magazine’s “Happy Dish” competition last month and he chose it for his Spring 2012 issue, which is online now! I am still pinching myself. I love, love, love reading Sweet Paul; his motto is “ chasing the sweet things in life” and the magazine always lives up to that….beautifully designed and filled with easy + elegant recipes, fun + stylish crafts, entertaining ideas, shopping tips and more.  Pour yourself a cup of tea and give it a good browse when you have some time. Here is a link to the recipe (mag photo and styling by Sweet Paul) and another link to the NY Times Diner’s Journal who also enjoyed reading about my “rhubarb cake”! Give it a go when your rhubarb roosts and let me know how you like it =)

Have a Happy St. Patrick’s & Mother’s Day!

Slan Abhaile,

Imen xx

Photos and styling by Imen McDonnell 2012

Share

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

· · · ◊ ◊ ◊ · · ·

Irish Bacon & Cabbage

17 Mar 2011

It’s St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland and we have an array of brilliant celebrations to choose from even in rural Ireland. Since today is a national holiday, our little boy is home from school and we will be going to the nearby pretty village of Adare where there are loads of family festivities planned for the afternoon.

Across America today, people will be feasting on corned beef and cabbage washed down with a pint or two of green-tinged lager, which has long been a tradition. Little did I know, this is not the case in Ireland.

I remember asking my father-in-law on my first Paddy’s Day “will we be having corned beef and cabbage for dinner today?”…the answer was a resounding “No, not at all!” I was told that corned beef is not preferable in Ireland as it is thought of as a lower grade cut/style of beef that might have been eaten long ago, but certainly not today.

In fact, I’m told there really isn’t a specific dish that is eaten on the day, rather just something special like a roast dinner or possibly bacon and cabbage with parsley sauce. The most important part of this holiday here on the farm would have been picking a shamrock to pin on your shirt, going to mass and then to a parade or other local festivities to celebrate.

My mother-in-law makes an absolutely delicious bacon and cabbage dinner. She likes to prepare it in the customary way: boiling the meat, cabbage and potatoes and serving it us with a little butter and salt. Nothing fancy, but if you boil the bacon at just the right temperature for just the right amount of time, it is tender and superb.

Irish bacon is totally different from what we consider bacon in America.  Irish “bacon” is basically a chunky cut of cured pork loin, quite different to the strips of streaky, crispy breakfast pork that we refer to as bacon in the USA.

I’ve decided to take it a step further and boil the bacon, then glaze it with our farm honey and roast it in a very hot oven for 25 minutes. The cabbage was steamed and then char-grilled on the bbq.

A velvety parsley sauce is lovely served on the side as well

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Slan Abhaile,

Imen

Photos and styling by Imen McDonnell. Assisted by Sonia Mulford Chaverri

 

Share

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

· · · ◊ ◊ ◊ · · ·