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Posts tagged ‘Tradition’

Bacon & Cabbage with Parsley Cream Sauce

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Ah, Paddy’s Day.

Those Facebook memories that keep popping up remind me that St. Patrick’s Day isn’t just a fun family holiday. Things just seem to happen for me around this time of year – good things.

Luck of the Irish? Perhaps. Or maybe we’re all just in better moods because the sun tends to come out in March. The trees start to bud, my garden starts to grow, the end of calving season (and; therefore, around-the-clock cow monitoring) is in sight and the air feels significantly warmer.

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Patrick with some Irish fans in Yogyakarta – our most booze-free Paddy’s Day

This time eight years ago, Patrick and I were embarking on a three-month-long backpacking trip around Southeast Asia. Facebook tells me we were in Java, Indonesia. We just climbed Gunung Bromo, a small active volcano, and were en route to Yogyakarta – a city we absolutely loved.

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Paddy’s Day Parade in Seoul, South Korea, 2008 (strange, no?)

This time four years ago, we were getting ready to leave Toronto for good. I was very excited and a little bit worried. After all, I was nearly six months pregnant and we were both leaving good jobs behind, with no work prospects in Ireland. I loved my work in Toronto but didn’t love living in the city. I couldn’t deal with the prospect of raising my kids so far away from family. Moving to Ireland, as you may have guessed, has worked out brilliantly. We are happy and thriving (and working!).

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Beautiful Porto. Take me back!

This time three years ago we were in Portugal on our first-ever family holiday with Maeve. She was seven months old and we had a wonderful time in Lisbon, Porto and Aveiro. The weather was warm and sunny (but not too hot) and we visited with friends I hadn’t seen in years.

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Maeve and her cousins, eating green pancakes.

And this year? One of my best friends is coming to stay with her 10-month-old baby boy. When they go home, Patrick and I are going to Galway for a few nights to eat, drink and relax sans children. So yeah, March brings good things, and St. Patrick’s Day is just one of them.

I remember Paddy’s Days of the past. In university, in Korea, in (yes!) Yogyakarta and, of course, here in Ireland, I’ve had some crazy times. These days our Paddy’s Day tends to be quieter and more kid-focused. Coffee at a friend’s house, taking the kids to the parade, making green pancakes for breakfast – all of these things are quickly replacing the pub breakfasts and day-long drinking sessions of the past.

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Bacon and cabbage is becoming tradition, too. While North Americans gorge themselves on corned beef, the Irish will generally sit down to a family meal of just about anything (Chinese takeaway? I wouldn’t say no). At our house, I usually make a big feed of bacon and cabbage for us and any other family members milling around the farm.

The parsley sauce is entirely optional, but I like it. A lot of people eat their bacon and cabbage with a schmear of English mustard or the ubiquitous brown sauce, but I think it’s more of a complete meal with the parsley sauce (also, it will impress your friends if you want to make this for a Paddy’s Day dinner party). It tastes fancy but is so easy to make.

The dish is called Bacon & Cabbage, but it wouldn’t be the same kind of bacon you have with your scrambled eggs. Here, a loin of ham is called a joint of bacon. You can get them smoked or unsmoked. Just ask your butcher, or, when in doubt, get some uncooked ham. It’s basically the same thing. Bacon and cabbage is usually served with mashed potatoes, but I love boiling new potatoes with the skin-on this time of year.

Whatever you end up doing for Paddy’s Day, I hope it’s great and full of delicious food, drink and loved ones. Sláinte mhath!

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Bacon & Cabbage with Parsley Cream Sauce

Ingredients:

Bacon & Cabbage:

1-2 kg ham/bacon joint (cured and uncooked, ask your local butcher!)

1-2 large head savoy or green cabbage

4L chicken stock

1-2 bay leaves

2-3 sprigs fresh thyme

Parsley Sauce:

½ cup butter

1 clove garlic, minced

¾ glass dry white wine

1 cup heavy cream

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped

Salt and Pepper, to taste

Directions:

  • In a large pot, bring the ham, stock, bay leaves and thyme to a simmer. Simmer the ham/bacon for about 1 hour – or until the ham is cooked through.
  • While the ham is cooking, prep your cabbage: using a large knife, cut out the core and slice the head of cabbage into large wedges. Leave the wedges whole and set aside while the ham cooks.
  • When the ham is cooked, remove the ham, bay leaves and thyme from the pot. Add the cabbage to the remaining broth and cook until tender, about 10 minutes.
  • Make the parsley sauce: in a hot saucepan, add the butter and garlic. Cook for 30 seconds – don’t let the garlic brown. Add the wine and reduce by half, then add the cream. Let the cream boil and thicken for a few minutes – you want the sauce to coat the back of a spoon.
  • When the cream is thickened, add the chopped parsley and season with Dijon, salt and pepper.
  • Slice the ham and add it back into the broth with the cabbage wedges, just to heat through.
  • Depending on the size of your bacon (I usually buy a 1kg joint), this will feed 4-6 people. Serve hot with boiled or mashed potatoes.
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Newfie-style Turkey Pie

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Happy New Year!

The holidays were a bit of a whirlwind for me. My 1.5 year old learned about, and quickly mastered the art of, opening presents. I fed eight family members and one Taiwanese co-worker on Christmas Day. I worked right up until Christmas Eve because, in the food industry, Christmas is always the busiest, most wonderful time of the year (also, I just love making cranberry sauce – can you blame me?!). Oh, and I didn’t wrap anything until the very last minute (egg nog in hand, House of Cards playing on Netflix).

I used to feel indifferent about Christmas in Ireland. I wasn’t into most Irish traditions because they felt foreign to me. This year, it felt different. Maybe it’s because I have a kid and these Irish traditions will be hers, or maybe I’m just feeling more at home in Ireland. It could also be the fact that I haven’t been home to Nova Scotia for Christmas in nearly five years. It doesn’t matter. The point is, I was looking forward to it this year, and it was a wonderful holiday.

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Christmas Eve was all about having drinks, playing games and being with family. Christmas Day was all. about. the. turkey.

And it was a really good turkey.

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I could go on about the fact that it was brined to perfection, or stuffed with herbs and lemons & basted in butter, but that would only be half the story.

In reality, a mere week before Christmas I was freaking out worried about where I’d get my turkey. It was crunch time and after a very long online search for the perfect, free-range bronze turkey I was still unsure about what to do. It’s hard buying something online when you have no idea what it will look like when it arrives at your door.

I was just about to click “send” and hope for the best, when Imen McDonnell of the acclaimed Irish blog Farmette sent out a random tweet. She was wondering if anyone wanted one of her turkeys for Christmas, as she just had them butchered and had two left to sell. This solved my problem.

Having read about these turkeys on her blog, I knew she loved them, that they had a good life and that they were definitely the size she said they were. I asked her to save one for me, sent Patrick to collect the bird from her a few days later and that was it.

The verdict on Christmas Day? It was the best turkey any of us had ever had.

Imen, I think the love and effort you put into raising your little fellas made the ultimate difference. Thanks for letting me take one of your precious flock.

Anywho.

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I still have leftover turkey in my freezer from our Christmas feast, and more of this pie is in its future. While Patrick, Maeve and I were in St. John’s this past summer, someone (aka the wonderful Stephen Lee from Mallard Cottage) told us we should go to Fabulous Foods for our lunch. It’s kind of a takeaway/deli on Merrymeeting Road (well off the trodden path) and is a favourite local haunt – mostly because of their addictive turkey pie and generous servings of fries, dressing & gravy (real Newfoundland food).

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Months after being there I still daydream about this pie – the flaky crust, moist (but not soupy) filling, the fact that you can eat it with or without utensils. We were with my best bud from university & her partner. We took our pies to a local park and ate while Maeve crawled around. It was a great day to begin with, but the pie made it better (how many times have I ended a sentence with that?).

This recipe is just me having go at re-creating the pie. It’s a pretty decent effort, but I haven’t had any Newfies around to taste-test so can’t be sure. The pies at Fabulous Foods are smaller as they’re meant to be an entire portion, while this one feeds 8-10 people.

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Newfie-style Turkey Pie

Ingredients:

1 recipe shortcrust pie dough (use butter!)

2 cups cooked, shredded turkey

2 cups cold stuffing (yup, the stuffing from Christmas dinner!), roughly chopped

2 cups gravy (again, I used leftover gravy from Christmas dinner)

Handful or fresh sage, finely chopped OR 2 tsp dried savory 

1 cup frozen peas

1 Tbsp butter

Sea salt & pepper, to taste

1 egg, lightly beaten

Directions:

  • Make your pie dough, divide in half & chill for 30 minutes.
  • While the dough chills, melt the butter in a big pan. Add the shredded turkey, stuffing, sage or savory & gravy. Cook slowly until everything comes together to a simmer. Take off the heat. Season to taste.
  • Add the frozen peas to the mix and toss. Set aside.
  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees (200 degrees Celsius, no fan).
  • Roll out one half of the pie dough. Use it to line the bottom of a large pie pan.
  • Add the turkey filling to the pie pan (don’t worry if it looks like it’s too much).
  • Roll out the other half of the pie dough and place over the top of the pie pan. Lightly press the edges of the pie dough together, trim the excess dough (leaving about 1/2 inch of overhang), fold the edges inwards and flute or press down with a fork. Cut a few slits in the top of the pie so steam will be able to escape.
  • Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the top of the pie with the beaten egg.
  • Bake at 400 degrees for about 40-45 minutes. Serve with mashed potato (and, if your chives are growing in January like mine are, add some to the mash).

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Hope you all had a wonderful holiday season!

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