Food in Focus: Irish Cuisine

Food in Focus: Irish Cuisine

With St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner, it’s a great time to try some Irish cuisine. Most Irish foods rely heavily on potatoes and hearty meats, so there are sure to be some comfort foods that everyone in your family will love.


Shepherd's pie with beef, carrots and mashed potatoes served on a white plateShepherd’s Pie

A traditional shepherd’s pie is made with minced lamb or mutton, vegetables and mashed potato. However, when the dish originated, the meat was often whatever leftovers were available to scrounge together. Shepherd’s Pie was created to be economical and was known as a poor man’s dish. It has now become a staple in Irish cuisine and its popularity has spread across the globe. Try Gordon Ramsay’s recipe for a traditional shepherd’s pie.


Barmbrack or BrackBarmbrack, traditional Irish bread with dried fruit on a cutting board

This traditional bread is also known as speckled bread because it’s filled with raisins. Barmbrack is sweet and is commonly served with coffee. There’s a fun tradition that goes along with Barmbrack if it’s served on Halloween. The bread has a hidden pea, stick, cloth, coin and ring. Each item has a meaning assigned to it. For instance, if you get the slice of Barmbrack with a ring in it, then it means that you’ll be married within the year.


Colcannon, an Irish mashed potato dish with leeks, cabbage, ham and butter


Colcannon is a mashed potato dish with kale or cabbage mixed into it, and it’s often then served with boiled ham. There’s even a traditional Irish song dedicated to Colcannon because it’s a common comfort food in Ireland. Colcannon is also a part of Irish Halloween traditions, where it’s common to hide a ring, thimble or coin in the dish. Whoever finds the prizes gets to keep them.


CoddleIrish coddle, a sausage, bacon, onion and potato hot pot

The Great Famine hit Ireland in 1845, which caused for a lot of Irish recipes to use all parts of the animals in their meals. There are several recipes that call for pig’s blood, pig’s feet or kidneys. While it was common during the famine to use all parts of the pig, most Coddle recipes today just include sausage, bacon and potato. Coddle can include barley and Guinness, but this also isn’t as common anymore.


Triangle of Dubliner Irish cheddar cheese on a cork plate with grapes and lettuce

Dubliner Cheese

In 1990, an Irish man, John Lucey, set out to create a new cheese. When Lucey originally created the cheese, he named it “Aralgen.” It’s described as having the sharpness of a mature cheddar with the sweetness of parmigiano. In 1994, Dubliner earned its new name as commercial production began. It’s common to include Dubliner on a cheese board or use it to make grilled cheese sandwiches.


While not everyone is brave enough to try a traditional Irish dish like Skirts and Kidneys, there are several tamer options for those of us looking to eat conventional meat options. No one can deny that a meal of mashed potatoes, sausage and beer sounds delicious, so try making your own version of an Irish classic to celebrate St. Patrick’s day with a good hearty meal.


Text by Katherine Polcari  

How to Cook a Steak

How to Cook a Steak

For a beginning chef, cooking a steak is a difficult challenge to get over. Questions like Should I season my steak or How long is too long to grill a steak often pop up before preparation. From prep to table, cooking a steak can be as simple and delicious as you want it to be!

Cuts of steak on a cutting boardTo Prepare
Before tossing a steak on the grill or stove, there are a couple of important steps. First, take note of the thickness of the piece of meat. That will determine how long it will take to cook — and how to cook it well. Also, be sure to season the meat lightly. If you want the flavor of the steak itself to stand out, a little salt and pepper would be your best bet. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, an herb rub will spice up your life. If you’re cooking on stovetop, oil isn’t needed. Oiling a steak inhibits the browning necessary for that scrumptious outer layer.

Time to Toss Your Steak on the Grill Or Stove
Above all, steak needs to be cooked hot and fast. If on a stove top, the steak should be turned about once every minute. This creates that brown, caramelized crust. And the crust is what makes that flavorful, prime steak you’re looking for. During this turning process, add herbs like thyme and rosemary. These herbs enhance the flavor of the steak as well. Check out this list of culinary herbs that taste great with red meat — and are easy to grow in your garden or even your kitchen.

When Is Done Done Right?

Now that the steak is sizzling, how do you know when to take it off the heat? Well, that depends on how you want your steak to be cooked. Since it’s easy to overcook a steak, determining its doneness is important. Doneness relates to temperature. A probe thermometer is your best bet for determining the internal temperature of the steak.

Now, you’ve all heard terms related to doneness: rare, medium rare, and so forth. But what exactly do these terms mean? And how do you know when a steak has reached the desired doneness? Here’s a quick and easy thumbnail guide:

Rare – Cooked from 120-125 Fahrenheit. This is a steak that is brown on the edges and bright red inside. If you’re nervous about food safety, you might want to move up to the next level.

Medium Rare – Cooked from 130-140 Fahrenheit. This steak has a thick brown coat on the outside. Also, it should redden towards the center and house a band of pink. This is the chef’s recommended level of doneness. That’s because it is cooked thoroughly but not overcooked. In other words, it’s cooked just enough to preserve the steak’s flavor.

Medium – Cooked from 140-150 Fahrenheit. This steak is firmly brown on the outer layer with a small band of pink on the inside. It is firm to the touch as well. This steak is cooked through enough to please most eaters.

Well Done – Cooked from 160 Fahrenheit and up. This is a popular steak request. However, many chefs think that cooking a steak to this temperature leads to a loss of flavor. Still, many people prefer their steaks well done.

Let your steak rest then cut across the grainTo Rest Or Not to Rest?
This is a big debate among steak fans. Some prefer to let the steak rest before slicing into it. Some prefer to cut it into strips straight out of the pan. Either way, cutting the steak across the grain is paramount. This makes the steak easier to chew.


Market Table serves savory flank steak tacos


Is your mouth watering now? If you’re ready to try your hand at making the perfect steak, head to Market Table for our premium cuts of meat. Our Seared Flank Steak meal kits do the prep work for you. If you’re looking for something a little lighter, our Steak and Blue Cheese Salad will do the trick.


Text by Jonathon Page

5 Elements of a Fabulous Cheese Board

5 Elements of a Fabulous Cheese Board

“Cheese,” wrote Clifton Fadiman, “is milk’s leap toward immortality.” A cheese board celebrates this wondrous transformation — and is always the center of any celebration. Here’s how to make a cheese board that will make your guests cheer.

Different Cheese on a BoardCheese
Be sure to include a variety of tastes, textures, and aromas. Martha Stewart’s excellent advice for choosing cheeses: Just eyeball it. If cheeses look different, they taste different. At Market Table, we pair rich Irish Tipperary Cheddar, creamy Stone Hollow Goat Cheese and sharp, crumbly Blue Cheese. Also, let the cheese sit a bit before serving. It’s best at room temperature.


Smooth cheese with spread


A cheese plate is made great by a variety of tastes. Give your guests something salty to play off sweeter cheeses. At Market Table, we use cornichons. These pickles are made from gherkin cucumbers picked before they’re ripe, creating their very tart taste. Their crunch contrasts beautifully with soft cheeses. You can also pair cheese with salty counterpoints from the same region. Chef Michael Chiarello recommends matching Serrano Ham with mild-to-sharp Spanish Manchego.

What’s any meal without something a little sweet? We love the subtle addition of dried fruit and delicate Marcona almonds. Ina Garten suggests pairing green grapes, dried figs and apricots with strong cheeses like Roquefort and Sharp Cheddar. Seasonal fresh fruits offer an endless variety of pairings. For instance, stone fruits and apples make the perfect accompaniment to Brie. Mozzarella finds its match in peaches and nectarines. Ricotta and mango get along beautifully, especially with a pinch of salt and chili powder. If you’re feeling adventurous, try grilled Fresh and dried fruit with cheesepineapple and Blue Cheese.


Crackers and bread slices not only serve as the perfect vehicle for soft and spreadable cheeses. They’ll also provide the perfect compliment to their texture. Plus, different kinds of crackers create different taste combinations. For example, the sweetness of oat crackers pairs beautifully with creamy Goat Cheese. With crispy, thin water crackers, all attention goes to the cheese. Rachael Ray prefers crusty baguette slices and crunchy smoked almonds. Our personal favorite? Crostini, toasted or even grilled.

Honeycomb on a cheese plate

For Ree Drummond, TV’s Pioneer Woman, honey makes the perfect pairing for tart, acidic cheeses. If you’re lucky enough to know a beekeeper or live by a farmers market, try using a honeycomb. The honey has a bright, pure floral flavor. And, as a bonus, the comb creates an intriguing texture (we promise, it doesn’t taste like wax). If honey isn’t your thing, try chutney, equal parts sweet, tart, and savory. We’re especially fond of Alecia’s Peach Chutney, perfect for Pecorino Romano, and Tomato Chutney, especially flavorful with Fontina and Stilton. For a spicy twist, try sweet pepper jelly over Brie and Camembert.


Of course, in the stress of event-planning, you might not have time to put together the perfect cheese board. Market Table is here for you. Our catering menu features large and small cheese plates, heaped high with fine cheeses and sweet and salty accompaniments sure to please even the pickiest party guest.


Food in Focus: What Are Grits?

Food in Focus: What Are Grits?

An age-old staple, grits aren’t just simple food stuffs. They’ve become a symbol of the Southern United State’s history, traditions and hospitality. But if you are from anywhere else in the world, being served this strange entrée can cause confusion. Knowing how grits are made — and which dishes seem made for grits — will help you enjoy this down-home delight!

The History of Grits
Many think that grits come from the Southern gentry. Actually, grits are a Native American creation. Native Americans ground corn kernels using millstones. Then, they’d sift the finer parts. Any cornmeal too coarse to pass through the screen would be called grits.

How To Make Grits
Basically, grits come from the part inside of corn kernels called hominy. This hominy is then ground down and left to dry until it is a cornmeal-like consistency. Then, add six parts water and one part salt. Next, boil for twenty to forty-five minutes. And voila! You have grits. Salt, pepper and cheese are popular additions to this simple recipe. These days, you can also buy grits in instant packs. Or, you can even buy cans of quick-cook grits. For the best tasting grits, though, it’s best to stick with the traditional approach.

What To Serve With Grits
Grits are a Southern breakfast staple. Often, they’re served with sausages, eggs and country ham. Grits have also been used as a side dish during dinner. For example, shrimp and grits, a very popular South Carolina Lowcountry dish, creates a delicious combination of creamy and chewy.

Why Do Southerners Love Grits?
It’s true: grits, by themselves, are bland. But grits offer endless possibilities that rely on how far a cook wants to take them. Through creative use of spice and choice of entrée, grits’ taste and texture can serve to supplement a delicious dish morning, noon, or night. Market Table’s Pimento Cheese Grits make a scrumptious dinner side and a hearty breakfast dish. You can also use our pre-made grits to save some serious time when making Lowcountry classics like shrimp and grits — or, for the vegetarians, Grits with Seasonal Roasted Mushrooms.


Text by Jonathon Page