Autumn Sides; Michelin Stars


Ireland Hopping / By Margaret M. Johnson

With Thanksgiving approaching, the thought of what “sides” to serve with turkey looms large. I like to think that side dishes are a year-round affair, though, especially delicious in autumn when hearty vegetables like turnip, potatoes, and squash come into season. Try one or more of these now or add them to your Thanksgiving table. You’ll find these recipes in Chapter No. 3, AUTUMN: An Fómhar in my cookbook “Favorite Flavors of Ireland.” To order a signed copy, visit

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Traditionally eaten to celebrate Halloween, Colcannon is made with potatoes and curly kale or cabbage, and onions or leeks. Cooks used to make Colcannon and wrap clean coins in baking paper before inserting them into the mixture for children to find and keep.

1 small cabbage, cored, quartered, and shredded

2 large baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces

3 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces

1 small leek (white and green parts), washed and sliced

1/2 cup milk


Ground pepper

  1. In separate medium saucepans, cook cabbage and potatoes in salted boiling water for about 20 minutes, or until tender. Drain cabbage and chop; drain potatoes and mash. Combine in a large bowl with butter.

  2. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine leeks and milk. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until leeks are tender. Stir into potato mixture and season with salt and pepper.



My mother made a version of this carrot and turnip mixture as a way to introduce us to the unique flavor of turnips.

2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into pieces

2 pounds turnips or rutabagas, peeled and cut into pieces

1/2 cup sour cream

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature


Ground pepper

Chopped fresh chives, for garnish

  1. In separate medium saucepans, cook carrots and turnips in salted boiling water for 30 to 40 minutes, or until tender; drain and mash.

  2. Transfer to a food processor. Add sour cream, ginger, and butter and process for 15 to 20 seconds, or until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper and sprinkle with chives.




If the thought of a side dish of cabbage reminds you of the days when most vegetables in Ireland were boiled to a soggy pulp, take heart with this slightly wilted, nearly caramelized version that includes tangy horseradish, garlic, and shallots. It’s a perfect sidekick to pork.

2 tablespoons Kerrygold Irish butter

4 shallots, finely diced

1 head Savoy cabbage, shredded

1 teaspoon prepared horseradish

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

1 tablespoon sugar

21/2 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon lemon juice


Ground black pepper

  1. In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add shallots, cabbage, horseradish, garlic, and ginger; stir constantly for 5 to 8 minutes, or until cabbage starts to wilt.

  2. Add sugar and stir cabbage to lightly caramelize it. Add vinegar and lemon juice and stir to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Season with salt and pepper.



The flavor of truly “wild” mushrooms is unbeatable in an autumn dish. A delicious alternative is the wide variety of cultivated gourmet mushrooms available — from smoky shiitake and robust portabella to earthy porcini and buttery crimini — to use in casseroles, dressings, and other dishes, such as this savory bread pudding. One of my recent discoveries, it’s delicious as a side dish with pork, beef, or game! To clean fresh mushrooms, wipe with a paper towel.

4 tablespoons butter

1 small onion, chopped

1 celery stalk, chopped

2 cups chopped, mixed wild mushrooms


Ground pepper

8 slices firm white bread with crusts, cut into cubes

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

1 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary

3 large eggs, beaten

1 cup half-and-half

  1. Preheat oven to 300° F. Butter four (8-ounce) ramekins.

  2. In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Sauté onion, celery, and mushrooms for 3 to 5 minutes, or until soft but not browned. Season with salt and pepper.

  3. Combine bread and vegetable mixture in a large bowl; toss to blend. Sprinkle in thyme and rosemary; toss gently.

  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and half-and-half. Pour over bread mixture and stir to moisten; let stand for 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer mixture to prepared dishes.

  5. Put ramekins into a large baking pan. Add enough hot water to pan to come halfway up sides of dishes. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until puddings are firm and tops are browned. Remove from oven and let stand for about 10 minutes.

  6. To serve, run a knife around sides of dishes and invert puddings onto plates; return to upright and serve immediately.



At a live ceremony held October 1 in London, the “MICHELIN Guide Great Britain and Ireland” announced the winners for 2019. Ireland received three new stars and 13 stars were retained, bringing the total for the island to an all-time high of 16.

"Chefs and their restaurants are ambassadors of their cities or country; you chefs here in the audience are a wonderful example of this," says Pascal Couasnon, Michelin Food and Travel managing director, of the some 180 chefs in attendance. "It helps establish this global reputation and safeguard this authenticity."

"The inspectors have also seen exciting things happening in the Republic of Ireland this year, and much of it in County Cork," says director of the guide, Rebecca Burr. The three new stars were awarded to RESTAURANT CHESTNUT in Ballydehob; MEWS in Baltimore; and ICHIGO ICHIO in Cork City. “There’s a lot of ability in Ireland right now,” continues Burr. "As everyone knows, the produce is stunning and it’s great to see chefs injecting such passion and personality into their food."

The three new restaurants join these already-starred establishments: Eipic and OX in Belfast; Ania, Galway; Campagne, Kilkenny; Chapter One, Greenhouse, and Heron & Grey, Dublin, House, Waterford; Lady Helen at Mount Juliet, Kilkenny; Loam, Galway; and Wild Honey Inn, Clare.

Margaret Johnson’s “Recipes” page now includes “Ireland Hopping: Adventures in Food, Drink, and Travel.” For further details on her work, including how to order her cookbooks, visit