Beyond Corned Beef and Cabbage

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  I couldn’t decide which great book to write about, so I will just do both.  These are wonderful!  Ireland is sometimes seen as a blank spot on the food map, with only potato and cabbage recipes, but it’s so much more!  Think of Ireland’s charm and elegance with luxurious castles, manor homes, and country hotels where Irish cuisine and hospitality flourish.  Imagine traveling on meandering lanes through some of the world’s most beautiful unspoiled countryside and finding so much more than corned beef and cabbage.  Chefs and restaurateurs use the natural bounty of the land, with superior fish, game, produce, and dairy products.  How about a tray of oysters washed down with some Guinness, brown bread with homemade preserves and a cup of tea,  a fillet of beef cooked to perfection along with new potatoes drizzled in sweet butter, rack of lamb with honey-thyme dressing, or an Irish mist souffle.  Irish life is intimately related to the land.  It’s clean coastal waters brim with fish, the woods are full of game, and the lush grazing lands are free from pesticides.  Because everything is fresh, the bounty of each season is truly enjoyed- spring herbs and vegetables, summer fruits, and wild salmon in season.  The food that comes from these unspoiled sources make possible the very best kind of cooking.
You will find examples of this wondrous cooking in these two cookbooks.  Gourmet Ireland 2 is from the public television series.  Husband and wife chefs, Paul and Jeanne Rankin bring their collaborative culinary knowledge to Paul’s native Ireland.  In the book, they share with us the bounty of Ireland organized by 30 menus for every occasion.  For some “Pub Grub” there are ham shanks with horseradish cream, mushrooms and peas, or roast chicken drumsticks with parsley and garlic; or a seafood buffet of a smoked salmon salad,  or a lobster, mussel, and white bean salad.  There is basic Irish comfort food like smoked bacon with cabbage and potatoes, along with chicken stuffed with lobster and basil, and salmon baked with fresh herbs and pommes d’amour.
The Irish Isle not only has recipes from castles, manor houses, and country house hotels, but even includes a CD in the back of the book with Irish music to set the mood for festive and romantic dining pleasure.  The recipes are divided into the various castles and manors, such as the duck with orange and cinnamon butter from Coopershill House; beef fillets and herb mousse on potato pancakes from Marlfield House; sauteed Killary prawns in garlic cream from Rosleague Manor; scallops in Irish whiskey and cream sauce from The Shelbourne; celery and Cashel blue cheese soup from Ashford Castle; and even beer ice cream from Longueville House, which I know my husband will want me to try in my new Cuisinart ice cream machine!
Bain Sult As An Bhia!!  (Bon Appetit!)
Happy Birthday to my Grandpa Lamb, who had Irish roots,  and would have been 118 years old today!  He was an elegant, sweet, highly intelligent, and handsome man who was very much loved.

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