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

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  

5 Tips for the Perfect Valentine’s Day In

Celebrating Valentine’s Day from the comfort of your own home allows for a certain level of intimacy that a busy restaurant will never be able to offer. You can even do dinner and a movie without fighting traffic. Instead, it’s just a few steps from the table to the living room couch.

Romantic table setting with candle and lavendar

Set the Mood

You know your partner best, so transform your home into the atmosphere where they feel most at-home. Celebrate by framing and displaying your favorite pictures of you and your partner. These stenciled Valentine Heart Frames would make the perfect home for your favorite photos. And if you’re crafty, try making some of your own decorations. If you still want the environment of a fancy restaurant, use a tablecloth, candles, a floral centerpiece and background music. You may even get some bonus points if you put your partner’s favorite songs on the playlist.

Woman and man clink wine glasses

Wine

No romantic evening is complete without a good bottle of wine. Red wine and chocolate are known as some of the best — and most romantic — aphrodisiacs. With so much chocolate available during this season, why not grab a bottle of red to accompany it? You can even buy a couple of different bottles to taste-test with your meal. Between dinner, dessert and a movie, there will be plenty of time to finish off the leftovers. At Market Table, you’ll find all the reds, whites and rosés your heart desires — plus, we can play matchmaker and find the perfect wine for your meal. 

Charcuterie tray with meats, olives, cheese and fruit

The Perfect Dinner

You may want to impress your partner with a home-cooked meal. If you’re short on time, try Market Table’s meal kits. The ingredients are already prepared for you, down to the chopping and measuring. All you have to do is put it all together and throw it into the oven. While you are waiting on the food to cook, a Market Table cheese plate will pair nicely with the wine that you bought for the evening. Or, if you’re in a rush, let us do all of the work! Market Table offers three full Valentine’s Day dinners: Garlic Shrimp Alfredo, Steak, and Creamy Tuscan Chicken. For desert, our cheesecake or flourless chocolate cake will make even the busiest heart flutter. 

Two wine glasses and dessert plates

Speaking of Dessert …

Honestly, Valentine’s Day is all about sweets. This year, trade in the tired heart-shaped box of chocolates for a decadent dessert. Anything chocolate is sure to be a winning choice, but you can also try one of Market Table’s prepared desserts to mix things up this year. And remember — if Market Table does the cooking, you won’t have to do many dishes!

Man and woman on the couch watching a movie

Save the Dishes for the Morning

Don’t let a few dirty dishes get in the way of your romantic evening. Instead, use that time to watch a good, corny romantic comedy. Pick a few classics that you and your partner will both enjoy and spend the night relaxing with a movie marathon. Valentine’s Day should be about celebrating your relationship and having fun, so let the chores wait another day.

 

Text by Katherine Polcari