Shamrocks & Shenanigans
Hello everyone...I can’t believe it’s March already and so far all is well. Everybody is still living the new norm and vaccines are on there way, but for me this month means one of my favourite holidays to observe and take part in is St. Patrick Day! A have an Irish friend who says “there are 2 types of people in the world...the Irish and those who wish they are Irish.” I had to add it in this months blog because it makes me giggle and he’s right. The music, the history, the beautiful country, and of course the food and beverages!
I’ve only been once to a tiny part of Ireland but I so want to go again and see it all! The only reason I went the first time was to visit my beautiful daughter Kassidy in her final year of university and to watch her perform in a Broadway musical. All that aside I could have drank and eat my way from Dublin to Sligo. What also made it so amazing was that I invited my dear friend Hiliary with me who is of Irish heritage and Paul said I needed a keeper, plus she has been there before. When I go again, I would take Hiliary in a heart beat and go west towards Dingle, Doolin, and Killarney, I would rent us a car and have her drive because I’m just not that coordinated, but travel by train is amazing as well.
But enough of that dream for right now, so let’s get our spirit on and celebrate with food that you can cook easily in your own kitchen. To start off my month of all Irish dinners I made a family favourite of corned beef, steamed cabbage and boiled potatoes. Its so easy to make and the price of cabbage right now is pretty good in the grocery store, you could cut costs of the meat by frying a pork chop too. Soda bread is number #1. I’m sure every family in Ireland has their own recipe for this staple, but the main ingredients remain the same of flour, buttermilk and of course, baking soda. Some like it sweet, others prefer seeds and oats, but it’s really good with Guinness and served with lots of butter! Alcohol and food seem to go hand to hand in Ireland or should I say pint to pint. If you were to ask an Irishman what a 7 course dinner was the answer would be 6 pints of Guinness and a potato. I realized pretty quick the beer or the cider doesn’t taste near as good here in Canada as it did in every single pub in Ireland or the cider, lord knows in Dublin, there’s a pub for every 100 people. I’ve never turned down a good and thick Guinness stew with beef, potatoes, carrots, and plenty of the beer! This staple for our house is in the slow cooker at least once a month when it’s cold outside.
Potatoes have a history in Ireland and almost every recipe comes with them, I love a good Colcannon or even a potato pancake called boxy served with smoked salmon and sour cream. Tonight’s dinner is an amazing leek and potato soup topped with lots of bacon and cheese; I will be posting the recipe at the end of the blog. As many of my readers know, Paul and I raise farm fresh chickens every year and it’s his job to boil down the bones to create an incredible broth in which he freezes. I always try to cook from scratch as much as possible and there is no better way than to use all that we grow on our farm. Don’t forget the garlic! I’m pretty sure we grow some of the best garlic in Ontario right here at Boars Rock Farm and I add it to just about everything. Incidentally Ireland also grows some pretty tasty breeds of garlic as well and it’s used just as much in every meal. So on the 17th of this month, wear green, kiss a leprechaun and find your pot of gold and remember if you can’t dazzle them them with brilliance, baffle them with blarney.” Erin go bragh, meaning, Ireland forever.
Boars Rock Farm Potato and Leek Soup
When ever I make soup I always make enough for an army, so if you choose please feel free to cut all ingredients half...but keep the same amount of garlic. In the winter and spring months hardly anyone will have fresh local garlic to use, so I always have a jar of Pure Music Garlic chip re-hydrated in water in the fridge. Not as good as fresh but 100% better than garlic in a grocery store, guaranteed.
First, remember to wash your leek first. When I say it’s dirty in all the green layers, it’s dirty. You definitely don’t want to bite on a hard granular bit. And use plenty of butter! Butter should be the #1 ingredient to any soup or stew. I like potatoes and russets are on of my favourite mashing type, but the creaminess of a Yukon gold for this soup is perfect. Add a couple branches of celery and you're good to go.
The chicken broth that Paul makes from our own farm raised chickens is so good. He saves all the bones and boils them up on top of the wood stove throughout the whole winter. Don’t ask for the recipe, I’m pretty sure he won’t give it out; ancient Irwin secret. Since I’m not allowed salt in my diet I use plenty of garlic and other herbs. For this certain recipe I used dill and thyme; don’t knock the dill, until you try it.
If you notice I have not mentioned a cream or milk. That’s because I don’t want it too heavy and a lot of my friends can’t have dairy. Also please feel free to make this all vegan, vegetarian, no meat friendly. I try not to destroy too many plants just to incorporate them into my diet. But seriously...a great veggie broth is tasty as well. I love to jazz up the soup a little when serving with crispy bacon pieces, a smoke cheddar cheese blend or green onions and chopped boiled eggs.
2-3 giant leeks, sliced thin
3 to 4 lbs of diced potatoes, should be about 6 large whole potatoes
4 diced celery stalks
8 cups of chicken broth
2 heaping tbsp of minced garlic
I tbsp dill
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp lemon juice
First slice leek up to the dark green leaves and sauté them in butter until a bit translucent and soft in your cooking pot. Also add the chopped celery and garlic.
Then add broth and diced potatoes and cook in till a fork goes through the potatoes easily. Add your dash of lemon juice, dill and thymes.
You can now use a blender to make your soup nice and creamy or leave half of it not blended.