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The Country Cooking of Ireland

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Written by Peggy Fallon   
Tuesday, 20 April 2010

The Country Cooking of Ireland by Colman Andrews (Chronicle Books, 2009) is a 2010 James Beard book awards finalist in the International category. For a list of all the finalists check out the Project Foodie James Beard Finalists' Guide.

ImageHow can you resist a cookbook that devotes an entire chapter to potatoes? Okay, maybe I've let my ethnicity influence my objectivity here, but I think this book is remarkable. And for reasons even more convincing than the mouth-watering spuds.

I have a shelf in my office devoted to Irish cookbooks. As you might expect some are better than others; but up until now all of them were written by Irish chefs or cooks and later adapted for the American market. There's nothing wrong with this, of course; especially since most of the authors have substantial street cred. But it's also one of the things that makes Colman Andrews' book unique.

Andrews has been a respected member of the food scene for many years, most memorably as the co-founder and editor in chief of Saveur magazine. His American roots and global perspective allow us to view Ireland's food with fresh eyes and an open mind; focusing on authentic regional classics as well as contemporary dishes that showcase seasonal farm-to-table ingredients.

In the past decade a lot of attention has been showered on Irish chefs - primarily the "big city" guys in Dublin and Cork, many of whom apprenticed in other parts of Europe. Like any other cuisine, however, once you get past the glitz and glam of fine dining it's always the home-style cooking that captures our hearts.

The beautifully written text is peppered with profiles of local chefs and food artisans, along with bits of history, folklore, and poetry.  All of this is enhanced with over 100 lush photos by the award-winning Christopher Hirsheimer. At first glance this hefty volume could be mistaken for a "coffee table book", but the 225 recipes within are much too intriguing to stray far from the kitchen. With dishes like Colcannon Cream Soup; Dublin Bay Prawns with Garlic and Herbs; Broiled Salmon with Butter and Honey; Seared Filet Mignon with Jameson Sauce and Mushrooms; Candied Turnips with Crozier Blue cheese; Dad's Amazing Baked Apples; and every kind of brown and soda bread known to man, it's simply a matter of time before everyone wants to "eat Irish."

The message is clear: Irish cooking is no longer an acceptable punch line for jokes. Andrews deftly guides us on a gastronomic journey that is second only to accompanying him on a road trip through the Emerald Isle. And that's no small potatoes.

Rhubarb-Ginger Crumble

From The Country Cooking of Ireland by Colman Andrews (Chronicle Books, 2009).

Crumble is served the year round at Country Choice in Nenagh, County Tipperary, with the fruit changing according to the season and the spice or flavoring changing according to the fruit: This is a springtime version; in the summer it might be made with plums poached with cinnamon. Crumble is particularly good served with clotted cream.

  • 2 lb/1 kg rhubarb stalks, cut into 1-in/2.5-cm pieces
  • 2 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • 2 1/2/500 g cups sugar
  • 2 cups/200 g flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 14 Tbsps cold butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat the oven to 350ºF/175ºC (Gas Mark 4).

Combine the rhubarb and ginger in a medium bowl and mix well. Transfer to a large glass or ceramic baking dish. Sprinkle 2 cups/400 g of the sugar over the rhubarb and set aside.

Whisk the flour, salt, and the remaining 1/2 cup/100 g of the sugar together in a medium mixing bowl. Using a pastry cutter or 2 table knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal flecked with pea-size pieces of butter. Scatter the mixture evenly over the rhubarb.

Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown and the rhubarb is soft. Set aside to cool slightly, and serve warm. Or allow to cool to room temperature before serving.

Serves 6 to 8

Win a copy of The Country Cooking of Ireland

The registered Project Foodie user that leaves the most memorable or creative comment below will win a copy of The Country Cooking of Ireland.  Keep the comments clean and relevant - tell us what attracts you to The Country Cooking of Ireland and/or what you feel makes this book award-worthy and we'll select one to be the winner of The Country Cooking of Ireland.

Please note that you must be registered to enter this giveaway and upon winning provide a US postal address for us to ship The Country Cooking of Ireland to.  We'll announce the winner on May 2nd.

If you have not yet registered with Project Foodie, please take a moment to do so right now--it's absolutely free; and we promise never to share your email address with spammers or other unsavory types.

Disclosure: Review copies of books discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or publishers.

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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 14 June 2011 )
iced_coffee (Registered) 2010-04-20 16:35:36

I absolutely love lush trees and green landscapes, so it's no surprise that my favorite vacation I have ever taken was to Ireland. For some reason I wasn't expecting the food to be great, but it really was! I can still taste this lamb stew I had. And our trip to the Guinness Storehouse was pretty awesome too. I would love to be able to make the country's cuisine in my own home. It would be like being on my favorite vacation all over again.
Be Careful!
Cindy Bradley (Unregistered) 2010-04-20 16:59:39

The recipes in this cookbook were obviously not tested carefully, if at all. Many of the quantities called for are seriously off, so use your experience as a cook to evaluate. If something seems hinky, listen to your instincts.
The Luck of....
jettrash23 (Registered) 2010-04-20 18:26:26

Oh, to the seafood soup and brown bread! Rainy days and long and lovely car rides. I love Ireland and would thoroughly enjoy this book.
china (Unregistered) 2010-04-21 00:24:05

In fact, China's cuisine is also very distinctive.Chinese food is generally very nutritious.I am a Chinese who engaged in web design http://www.besteast.com/web_design.htmand i like chinese food and also western-style dessert.
creationz2009 (Registered) 2010-04-21 12:04:59

very nice crumble...delicious looking..love to have the cookbook...congrats to all the participants...you have a lovely space here..first time here
southerncooker (Registered) 2010-04-23 18:25:33

I love potatoes and would love to check out that whole chapter on potatoes. I have some Irish ancestors and what better way to dig into my heritage than cooking from an Irish cookbook. I dream of someday taking a trip to Ireland but this book could keep me cooking until that day comes.
Corinna (Unregistered) 2010-04-29 17:34:42

This crumble was just the thing for dessert tonight. Thank you! I've bookmarked the site for future inspiration.

This book would be especially interesting for me to cook from for a couple reasons:
a) My boyfriend's family came from
rural Ireland four generations ago, and it would be fun for us to explore that culinary heritage together; and
b) Living in the cool climate of central NY, I imagine the availability of produce is similar. This book may provide some great inspiration.

Thanks again!
Corinna
http://corinnawith2ns.blogspot.com/
And the winner is...
pam (Publisher) 2010-05-01 15:33:42

iced_coffee! Here's to recreating your Ireland vacations and exploring even more of their wonderful cuisine!
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