St Patrick's Day always seems to usher Autumn into Sydney. After March 17 there are cooler early mornings and refreshing evening breezes. With St Patrick's Day having been celebrated last weekend, I thought it only fitting to post a couple of Irish family recipes, which are light and warming for an autumn evening.
|Half Penny Bridge, Dublin|
On our last visit to Ireland the frost of winter was starting to thaw as the weather turned to spring. There were clear blue skies but we had just arrived in Dublin from late summer and early Autumn in Australia. The temperatures in Dublin were still cold enough to have us wearing wooly hats and running for the warmth of a huge bowl of soup.
There seemed to be a certain fondness in Ireland for serving soup with a hearty toasted sandwich or many of the beautiful artisan potato breads. We tried wonderfully rich seafood chowders brimming with the sweet unique flavour of cold water fish and shellfish and plenty of good Irish cream. There were also health giving, bright green watercress soups and carrot soups with cumin. One of my favourites though, was a very simple, beautifully white cream of cauliflower soup, served with a side of Irish potato bread that was absolutely swathed in soft white Irish butter. The cows in Ireland must be very happy indeed to produce such amazing dairy goodness, second only perhaps to the happy cows of Normandy.
|The very happy Belted Galloway cows of Northern Ireland|
While not traditionally Irish, I couldn't help but add a healthy drizzle of white truffle oil, when recreating the flavours we had experienced in Ireland at home. The earthiness of the truffle put these combined autumn flavours up in big, bright flashing lights. If you wanted to vamp up the flavours a little more, you could also add a few fine shavings of aged Parmesan.
Cream of Cauliflower Soup with white truffle oil
2 large whole cauliflowers, seperated into florets
1 tbsp good quality olive oil or butter (or both)
1 leek, sliced thinly
1 brown onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 litre vegetable or chicken stock
300 ml thickened cream or milk
1/4 cup chives, chopped
White truffle oil
1. Heat olive oil, butter (or both - it stops the butter from burning) in a large saucepan on medium heat, add leek, onion and garlic. Gentley fry until soft and aromatic - not browned.
2. Add the cauliflower to the pan and mix through with the leek, onion and garlic mixture.
3. Add the stock to the pan and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and cook for around 10 minutes or until cauliflower is soft.
4. Remove from heat and puree until smooth with a hand or stick blender.
5. Add the cream or milk and chives (reserving a few chives for garnish), stir through and return to low heat to simmer for 5 minutes.
6. Season and serve with Irish potato bread, drizzle with truffle oil and chives (maybe also the shaved aged parmesan.)
The recipe for the accompanying potato breads is similar to that for boxty bread, which hails from Northern Ireland. The difference between Boxty and other potato breads is that it is made with a mixture of cooked mashed and grated raw potatoes. In this recipe all of the potato is cooked.
Irish potato breads2 cups self raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup butter, diced
Pinch of salt
175g fresh, hot mashed potato
1 tbsp chopped fresh chives
1 cup butter milk
1. Preheat oven to 220C and grease a baking tray with butter.
2. Sift flour and baking powder into a bowl. Rub in the butter. Add the pinch of salt. Add mashed potato and chives. Mix well. Gradually add enough butter milk to make a soft dough ( you probably won't need the whole cup).
3. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, knead and then quickly roll out.
4. Cut into squares, place on baking tray and bake for around 20 mins or until golden. Serve hot, straight from the oven with butter.