A Delicious Celebration

Poached Egg

By Margaret M. Johnson

If you love good food, you’ll want to visit Northern Ireland in 2016, recently announced as the “Year of Food and Drink.” Throughout the year, restaurants, hotels, producers, and markets will be showcasing the best of Northern Ireland produce and celebrating the people and passion that goes into rearing, making, cooking, and serving it.

Visitors will find food trails, farmers’ markets, beer tastings, bake-offs, and fabulous menus from restaurants throughout the six counties. Every month will be dedicated to a unique aspect of food and drink, so whether it’s breakfast in January, a craft beer in April, or a prime steak in August, you’re sure to find something delicious awaits. Every month, the Echo will have a recipe to celebrate the best that Ulster has to offer, in addition to the regular “Recipes” column that appears every second week in the paper.

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The tradition of a full, cooked morning meal stretches back to the thirteenth century, and no morning meal is more revered than the traditional Ulster Fry: two eggs, bacon, sausages, black pudding, a grilled tomato, mushrooms, and glorious griddle breads like soda farls and potato cakes. Traditional, perhaps, but chefs like Noel McMeel of Lough Erne Resort (Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh) put a personal spin on the classic in a dish he calls “Fermanagh’s 10 Mile Breakfast,” a reference to his sourcing all the ingredients within 10 miles of the resort. Instead of fried eggs and soda farls, McMeel serves his bacon and sausages with a poached egg topped with warm chive butter sauce and a Boxty potato cake.


Makes about 1 cup

3 1/2 tbsp. white wine vinegar

7 peppercorns

1 bay leaf

3 large egg yolks

8 tbsp. butter, melted

Salt and white pepper to taste

Lemon juice to taste

1 tbsp. chopped chives

  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the vinegar, peppercorns, and bay leaf. Cook for 4-5 minutes, or until the vinegar is reduced to about 1 tbsp. Strain the peppercorns and the bay leaf.

  2. In a food processor, combine the egg yolks and vinegar reduction. With the blender running, gradually add the melted butter to make a smooth sauce. (If the sauce is very thick, blend in a little lukewarm water). Season with the salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Stir in the chives.

  3. Spoon over poached eggs, or keep warm in a small heatproof bowl set over hot water until ready to serve.


Serves 4

1/2 cup grated raw potato

1/2 cup cooked mashed potato

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. butter, melted and cooled
1-2 tbsp. milk, if needed

Canola oil for frying

  1. Place the grated potato in a clean cloth and twist to remove excess moisture. In a medium bowl, mix the grated and mashed potatoes. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt; mix with the potatoes. Stir in the butter, adding a little milk, if necessary, to make a pliable dough. Knead lightly on a floured surface.

  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the oil. Divide the dough into 4 pieces, pat into rounds, and cook for 4-5 minutes on each side, or until brown and crisp. Margaret M. Johnson’s” Favorite Flavors of Ireland” is a “labor of love and tribute to her 30 years of travel there. It offers more than 100 best-loved recipes from her previous ten cookbooks and celebrates the special flavors of each Irish season: Spring/An t-Earrach, Summer/An Samhradh, Autum/An Fómhar, Winter/An Geimhreadh.” To order a signed copy, visit www.irishcook.com. Below is the rest of this week's "Recipes" column.

  3. [caption id="attachment_82129" align="alignnone" width="217"]

    Bunratty Castle,Co.Clare[/caption]


    Burrrrrrr …….. Bring

    on the Winter Warmers

    Soups, casseroles, one-pot wonders — these are the meals we’re looking for when the temperature dips to the numbers we’ve been having lately. These recipes are all so-o-o easy that you’ll want to try them more than once.


    Serves 4

    Bunratty Castle is the most authentic and complete medieval fortress in Ireland. One of three castles where medieval banquets take place, Bunratty’s banquet is hosted by the Earl of Thomond, who leads singers in an evening of Irish music and song. A four-course meal is served during the entertainment, including a dish similar to this sweet-tart chicken with a sauce made with Bunratty Meade, Ireland’s original honey-wine.

    2 tbsp. canola oil

    4 (6 oz.) boneless chicken breasts

    Salt and ground pepper to taste

    1 tsp. Dijon mustard

    1 tsp. honey

    2-3 tbsp. Bunratty Meade

    2 medium shallots, peeled and finely chopped

    1 cooking apple, peeled, cored, and diced

    1 tbsp. all-purpose flour

    1/2 cup low-salt chicken broth

    1/2 cup light cream or half and half

    1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

    1 tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley for garnish

    Mashed potatoes for serving

    1. In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, heat the oil. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and cook for 4–6 minutes on each side, or until lightly browned (internal temperature should reach 165°F). Transfer the chicken to a plate; cover.

    2. Return the skillet to medium and stir in the mustard, honey, and mead, stirring to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the shallots and apple and cook for 2–3 minutes.

    3. Whisk the flour into the pan, cook for 1 minute, and then gradually whisk in the stock. Bring to a boil and cook for 3–5 minutes, or until the sauce thickens. Stir in the cream or half and half and lemon juice. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 2 minutes longer, or until the apple is nearly tender.

    4. To serve, put a chicken breast on each of 4 plates and pour the sauce over each. Garnish with parsley and serve with plain or garlic mashed potatoes.


    Serves 8

    Onion soup is a surefire hit on anyone’s winter menu. Instead of using only yellow onions, this soup uses three — yellow, red, and shallots — and tops it with hearty, thick-cut croutons with melted blue cheese — Cashel Blue preferred! You can make the croutons ahead of time; store in an airtight container.


    2 tbsp. unsalted butter

    3 large yellow onions, peeled and sliced

    2 large red onions, peeled and sliced

    4 shallots, minced

    1 garlic clove, minced

    2 bay leaves

    1 tsp. dried basil

    1 tsp. dried thyme

    1 tbsp. dark brown sugar

    3 cups homemade beef stock or canned low-sodium beef broth

    1 cup Guinness

    Salt and ground pepper to taste


    1/2 lb. loaf sourdough bread, cut into 1-in. cubes

    2 tbsp. olive oil

    1 cup crumbled Cashel Blue cheese

    1 tbsp. minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

    1 tbsp. minced fresh chives

    1. To make the soup, in a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onions, shallots, and garlic and cook for 12-15 minutes, or until soft but not browned. Add the bay leaves, basil, thyme, brown sugar, stock or broth, and Guinness. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 25-30 minutes, or until onions are tender. Season with salt and pepper.

    2. To make the croutons, preheat oven to 425º F. Put bread cubes in a large bowl and toss with olive oil. Spread out on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, or until golden and crisp. Remove from oven.

    3. Preheat broiler. Arrange 8 flameproof crocks on a baking sheet. Ladle the soup into crocks and top with croutons; sprinkle with blue cheese. Place under broiler 4 in. from heat source and broil for 1-2 minutes, or until cheese melts and browns. Remove from oven and sprinkle with parsley and chives. Using oven mitts to protect your hands, place a crock in the center of a serving plate and serve immediately.

    Dubliner-Colcannon Torte

    Serves 8

    Mashed potatoes and buttery cabbage are the heart of colcannon, one of Ireland’s most traditional dishes. This recipe is a slight variation in that it uses sliced potatoes instead of mashed, shredded cabbage, Dubliner cheese, and bacon for a four-in-one combination of classic ingredients. It’s easy enough to assemble for a quick supper and goes well with a green salad.

    1/2 head Savoy cabbage, shredded

    6 tbsp. butter

    1/2 lb. bacon

    3 tbsp. butter

    2 large baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-in-thick slices

    2 cups grated Kerrygold Dubliner cheese

    Freshly ground pepper to taste

    2 tbsp. minced fresh chives

    1. Preheat the oven to 400º F. Butter a 9-in. deep-dish pie pan.

    2. In a pot of boiling water, blanch the cabbage for about 2 minutes. Drain and refresh in cold water. Pat dry and transfer to a large bowl.

    3. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon for 6-7 minutes, or until crisp. Crumble the bacon and toss with the cabbage. Drain bacon fat. Return the skillet to medium heat and melt the butter. Add potato slices and toss to coat. Sprinkle generously with pepper.

    4. Place one-third of the potatoes in the bottom of the prepared pan; sprinkle with half the cheese. Top with half the cabbage mixture, and then repeat with one-third more potatoes and remaining cheese and cabbage mix. Top with remaining potatoes.

    5. Cover with a sheet of buttered aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove foil, sprinkle with chives, and cook for 10-15 minutes longer, or until the potatoes are tender and lightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes before cutting into wedges. (To make ahead, let cool completely, cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day. Bring back to room temperature, and then reheat in 300º F oven for about 20 minutes.)

    Onion Soup.