Monday 17 March 2014

Happy Saint Patrick's Day !

The very top of the morning to you all! May Saint Patrick smile upon you, and send his blessings to your door.

My mother says that if it's nice on 17th March, it's because the good saint has interceded with the Big Boss to make sure that his feast day is dry and fine; he's turned the sunny side up, and that's a sign that the rest of the spring will be fine. Well, this morning, I'm happy to report that the weather is pretty glorious here in London.

It's a really big day back home. They have a bank holiday with all sorts of music, parties and parades. But over here in England it's just another day, and I always feel out of step as a result. It's like when you know you really ought to be doing something else, and you can't help but feel uncomfortable because you're not getting on with it. Well, deep down in my DNA, I know that I really should be having a huge, all-day party today, but instead I'm doing the school run and going about my business as normal. Pah! That sucks!

As a B-plan I'm going to have a little supper party tonight for my nearest and dearest. We can't get too exuberant as tomorrow's a school day, but I'm sure we'll make the best of it.

I've bought a side of Irish smoked salmon as a starter. Then we'll have boiled ham with colcannon, and finish off with some old fashioned rice pudding, flavoured with vanilla and a bay leaf or two. It's not very flashy, but it's honest Irish food.

In case you'd like to make something Irish in honour of our patron saint, or just for the fun of it, I'll give you the low-down on how to make Colcannon, the dish that, without a doubt, has kept generations of our ancestors alive. It's the ultimate comfort food, about which songs have been sung and poems have been written over the years:

Did you ever eat colannon
When t'was made with yellow cream
And the kale and praties blended
Like a picture in a dream?
Did you ever scoop a hole on top
To hold the melting lake
of the clover-flavoured butter
Which your mother used to make?

Yes, yes, yes and yes again! Well, ok, my mum didn't actually make the butter, but I can certainly tick all the other boxes.

Recipe for an Irish favourite

Anyway if you'd like to make this potato nectar here's what you need and here's how to do it:

Ingredients for 4 people

3/4 lb/ 350 g kale or Swiss chard (you could use Savoy cabbage, but I prefer the flavour of kale)
1 1/2 lb/ 775g potatoes
50 ml double cream or crème fraîche
(I prefer the flavour of crème fraîche, but it's not very authentically Irish!)
50 ml milk
1 large spring onion chopped finely
1 oz/ 25g butter
200 g bacon lardons


1. Wash and peel the potatoes. Place in boiling water and cook until soft enough to mash.
2. Wash and chop the kale. Steam it for a couple or three of minutes. I usually do this over the saucepan with the potatoes in. When cooked drain off excess moisture on some kitchen paper and set to one side.
3. Fry the bacon lardons, drain of excess fat on some kitchen paper and set to one side.
4. Very, very finely chop the spring onion.
5. Roughly mash the potato, add the chopped spring onion, cream and milk and mash some more until they reach a puree texture. Season to your taste.
6. Add the steamed kale and mix so that it's evenly distributed throughout the potato.
7. Serve with the bacon lardons sprinkled on top.


Bonny x

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