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Posts tagged ‘strata’

Una O’Dwyer’s Black Pudding & Thyme Sausage Strata

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Before we found out I was pregnant with our third child, I was in the best shape of my life.

When we got back to the farm after our 2016 Pan-Atlantic/Cross-Canada Adventure, I took up running. Actually, I took up running while I was home in Nova Scotia. The longer evenings and milder temperatures in June gave me a bit of energy. I started tracking my progress (and my caloric intake) on my smartphone. I started the Couch to 5k app and slowly, ever slowly, went from barely being able to run for a minute at a time to running for 25 minutes straight, without stopping.

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I was eating stuff like this pre-pregnancy/pre-strata.

Some runners may scoff at a mere 25 minute run (a jog, really) but for me – as someone who absolutely hated running; who swore she would never, ever be a runner – it was the biggest deal. I never thought I’d be able to do it, but I did.

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Then I got pregnant again. And the extreme exhaustion started creeping in, usually around mid-afternoon. And I started letting my three year old watch endless episodes of Paw Patrol so I could nap on the couch while Ciara napped in her room. And I started craving Big Macs every day at 2pm.

Yes, the calorie-counting went out the window, as did my tri-weekly run – even though my doctor told me I’d be fine to continue. It was just a bit too much.

But I miss it. 25 weeks into this pregnancy, I’m excited to meet our new baby and get back into some kind of exercise regime.

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But the calorie-counting? I don’t miss that. Especially when I can eat things like this decadent black pudding sausage-laden strata, made with Irish cheese (I used Derg Cheddar – they make their cheese using only raw, summer milk here in Tipperary), without feeling guilty.

Una O’Dwyer (aka The Butcher’s Daughter) makes really great sausages. She has a shop in Cashel, Tipperary – about a 40 minute drive from the farm – and sells a wide range of her sausages nationwide. I made this strata with her black pudding & thyme sausages. The earthy flavour of the black pudding went really well with the creamy farmhouse cheddar.

Oh, and thanks to all that pre-pregnancy running, my BMI went down an entire 3 points and I lost more than 15 pounds. We’ll see what the scales say post-pregnancy, but in the meantime I’m going to have a second helping of strata – with a generous dollop of herby sour cream.

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Una O’Dwyer’s Black Pudding & Thyme Sausage Strata

Ingredients:

1 loaf crusty bread, cut into thin slices

1 package Cashel Fine Foods Black Pudding & Thyme Sausages, casings removed

500g button or chestnut mushrooms, sliced

1 large onion, diced

500g cherry tomatoes, cut in half

250g/1 cup aged cheddar cheese (I used raw Derg Cheddar), grated

1 Tbsp rapeseed/olive oil

1 Tbsp butter (for greasing)

10 large eggs

200ml/3/4 cup cream

2 tsp Dijon mustard

2 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

To Serve:

Chopped, fresh herbs (parsley, thyme or chives)

250g/1 cup sour cream

Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 400∘F (200°C, no fan). Grease a large casserole dish with 1 Tbsp of butter.
  • Heat a large skillet to medium-high on the stovetop. Add the olive oil, then add the diced onion.
  • Cook the onion for five minutes, or until translucent. Add the mushrooms and sausages and continue to fry until tender and caramelized (about 8-10 minutes). You’ve removed the casings from the sausages, so at this stage you can break up the sausages with a wooden spoon.
  • Take half the sliced bread and layer it evenly on the bottom of the buttered casserole dish. Add the sausage/mushroom/onion mixture over the top, then sprinkle that with half the cheddar cheese.
  • Sprinkle the halved cherry tomatoes over the cheese, then layer the other half of the bread over top.
  • In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, Dijon, salt and pepper. Carefully pour the egg mixture over the casserole, ensuring each area is well-coated. Sprinkle the remaining cheddar over the top.
  • Allow to sit for at least 30 minutes, or up to 24 hours, before baking for 45-55 minutes. If you stick a sharp knife in the strata and some egg oozes out, you’ll know it’s not ready. Cook for another 10-15 minutes.
  • Serve hot with a dollop of sour cream and fresh herbs. This casserole serves 8-12 regular people, or 3-4 pregnant ladies.
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The Ubiquitous Irish Fry

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When I first came to Ireland a few years ago, it was straight from Korea where I had been living for nearly three years. I craved Western food, real beer, and being able to understand what people around me were saying.

I was slightly nervous, since I would be meeting Patrick’s family for the first time, but for the most part I was relieved to be leaving Asia and couldn’t wait to indulge in some home comforts. A real shower! In the apartments where ESL teachers live in Korea, the entire bathroom is a shower with a nozzle on the wall and a drain in the floor. A great way to keep your bathroom clean and dust-free, but it would never compare to a Western-style shower or, even better, a bath.

Being in Korea, there were obvious food items you didn’t often get to indulge in, and even when you could, the quality would not compare to that of home. Butter, for example. Cheese. Bread. Food in Korea was phenomenal and I’m always craving a good Kimchi Jiggae, but when it came to bread and dairy it just never hit the spot.

That’s why, as we descended into Dublin that cold September evening, I was looking forward to my first Irish fry.

Patrick had talked it up, of course. Actually, it was all he could talk about. He couldn’t wait to have a proper fry up. Sure enough, we stayed with Pat’s auntie that evening and the next morning enjoyed our first of many Irish fry up’s together. It was worth the 11 hour flight and the jetlag. We felt whole again.

In Ireland, a “proper fry up” always includes rashers. Rashers aren’t like the bacon we have in Canada, they’re more thickly sliced and slightly less fatty. You can still get Canadian style bacon, or streaky bacon, here, but rashers are very much loved by every Irish person I’ve ever met; you don’t see a lot of streaky bacon at breakfast.

Puddings are another component to the Irish fry. At home in Cape Breton we eat these at breakfast, too, but they’re called marag. You get the puddings in white or black – black is made with blood, and white is made without. Both are delicious, especially if they’ve been home-made. I would say the puddings are my favourite part of an Irish fry.

Sausages feature as well. They’re smaller and paler than breakfast sausages in Canada and mostly made with pork.

That’s a lot of meat on one plate, but don’t worry – usually, you’ll find fried mushrooms and broiled tomatoes as well. A sunny-side up egg or two and a few slices of Irish brown bread, and you’ve got yourself a breakfast feast that will keep you going til supper. In Northern Ireland, you can expect some potato farls thrown onto the plate for good measure.

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We don’t indulge in a morning fry up very often, but as our friend was down over the weekend I bought some rashers, puddings and sausages and we had them for our Saturday morning breakfast. As always, I cooked enough for about ten people (coming from restaurant kitchens I cook everything in bulk; I can’t help it). I kept the leftovers and, for our Sunday breakfast, made a lovely strata with chunks of homemade sourdough, sauteed onion, cheddar cheese and the extra rashers, sausages, puddings and mushrooms.

It tasted lovely, and was even better served with a dollop of Ballymaloe Relish. Here’s the recipe:

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Irish Fry Strata

Ingredients:

1/2 loaf sourdough or any type of bread, cut into 1 inch cubes

Leftover rashers, black/white puddings, sausages and mushrooms, roughly chopped

1/2 cup grated Irish cheddar

8 large eggs

1/4 cup whole milk

1 Tbsp grainy mustard

1 tsp chili flakes

2 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1 Tbsp Olive Oil

1 small onion, diced

Directions:

  • Butter a large glass baking or casserole dish. Add the cubed bread to the dish.
  • In a large pan, heat the olive oil and soften the diced onion. Add the chopped rashers, sausages, puddings and mushrooms. Heat through.
  • In a bowl, add the eggs, milk, salt, pepper, mustard and chili. Whisk until combined and frothy.
  • Add the sauteed onions, mushrooms and meats to the casserole dish, spreading evenly over the bread.
  • Pour the egg mixture over the bread and meats. Top with grated cheddar cheese.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit overnight in the fridge. You want to bread to soak into the egg mixture completely.
  • The next morning, preheat your oven to 375 degrees (190 degrees Celsius, no fan). Bake the strata for about one hour, until the top is bubbly and golden and the casserole is cooked through.

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