Salmoncakeswithavocado scaled

Ireland On My Mind

Kinsale, Co. Cork.

Recipes | By Margaret M. Johnson

With travel to Ireland (hopefully) resuming in the coming weeks, the thought of another visit has my brain on overload. My planned July 2020 itinerary is ready-to-resume; my passport and vaccinations are all-in-order; and my mouth is watering with thoughts of some of the delicious meals I enjoyed on my last trip in May 2019 — some like these.

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BANTRY BAY MUSSELS STEAMED IN CIDER

SERVES 4

After a day of touring around West Cork, my friend and I arrived at The Fish Kitchen, a small-ish restaurant situated, appropriately, above a fish market in the charming town of Bantry. We grabbed a table there where Proprietor Diarmaid Murphy focuses on three elements of serving fish: freshness, simplicity, and quality. Murphy told me, “We do our best not to interfere with the fish, serving it simply skin side-up with a variety of simple butters or sauces on top or on the side; geographically we’re in an ideal location to keep the distance between the sea and the plate as short as possible,” an ethos not lost on the diners. Here’s one of the standouts on the menu.

4 pounds mussels

1 bottle Cronin’s cider, or your favorite brand of craft

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1 garlic clove, chopped

2 to 3 tablespoons chopped scallions

2 to 3 tablespoons chopped flatleaf parsley

2 to 3 tablespoons chopped dill

1/2 lemon, plus lemon wedges for serving

Garlic bread, for serving


  1. Rinse and scrub mussels under cold running water. Using your fingers or a paring knife, remove beards (strings that hang from the mussels' shells), and discard.

  2. Put mussels into a large, high sided saucepan. Turn heat to medium, add cider and garlic; turn heat to high. Cover; cook for about 6 minutes, or until shells open (discard any unopened shells).

  3. Uncover, stir in scallions, parsley, and dill; squeeze lemon juice on top.

  4. To serve, spoon mussels and juice into shallow bowls; top with lemon wedges.


WEST CORK SEAFOOD CIDER LASAGNE

SERVES 4

Elke O’Mahony of Bia Sásta (www.biabasta.ie), a food event planning organization in Cork, offered this interesting recipe in a 2019 issue of “Irish Foodie,” a complimentary publication distributed throughout the region. The recipe showcases local seafood and layers it, quite cleverly, with lasagne in a cider cream sauce. Try this for your next weekend get-together.

For the fish

1 1/2 pounds mixed white fish, such as haddock, sole, or cod

1/4 pound shrimp

Juice of 1 lemon

For the sauce

2 leeks, washed and finely sliced

4 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup flour

1 to 1 1/4 cups cider

1 to 1 1/4 cups cream

1 teaspoon milk

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 1/2 cups grated cheese, such as mozzarella or Swiss

1 pound lasagne sheets (fresh if possible)

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Prepare fish. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a lasagna pan.

  2. In a large bowl combine fish and shrimp; drizzle lemon juice over fish.

  3. Make sauce. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add leeks and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until soft but not browned. Stir in flour; cook for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in 1 cup cider and 1 cup cream until smooth (add additional 1/4 cup of each, if needed). Stir in mustard and grated cheese; cook for 1 to 2 minutes longer, or until cheese melts. Remove pan from heat; stir in fish and shrimp (pan must be off the heat to prevent curdling).

  4. Spoon some sauce onto bottom of prepared pan; arrange lasagne sheets on top to cover. Continue to assemble, alternating with sauce and lasagna. Finish with sauce; sprinkle cheese on top.

  5. Bake for 30 minutes, or until top is browned and sauce is bubbling. Remove from oven; let cool for about 5 minutes before cutting into squares.


SALMON BURGERS

SERVES 8

This recipe is inspired by the many salmon cake/croquettes I enjoyed on my last trip. Serve the “burger” with one of these tangy sauces which you should make in advance and chill.

2 1/2 pounds fresh salmon, skinned and de-boned

1 cup plain bread crumbs

3 tablespoons minced fresh chives

2 tablespoons minced fresh flatleaf parsley

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons prepared horseradish

2 large eggs, beaten

Salt

Ground black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

Hamburger buns, for serving

Sauce, for serving

Lettuce and tomato, for serving (optional)


  1. On a cutting board, cut salmon into small pieces. Transfer to a large bowl. Add bread crumbs, chives, parsley, mustard horseradish, eggs, salt and pepper; stir to blend. Cover; refrigerate for 30 minutes.

  2. Preheat a charcoal or gas grille to medium-high.

  3. Remove salmon mixture from refrigerator. Shape into 8 burgers; brush with olive oil.


Grill burgers for 4 to 5 minutes on each side, or until browned and cooked through.

  1. To serve, lightly toast buns. Spread burger with the sauce of your choice and top with lettuce and tomato, if desired.


AVOCADO SALSA

3 medium plum tomatoes, seeded and diced

1/2 cup chopped red onion

2 medium avocados, diced

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro


  1. In a medium bowl, combine tomatoes, onion and avocados.

  2. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lime juice, salt and pepper until blended; pour over avocado mixture. Sprinkle with cilantro, then gently toss to mix; cover and refrigerate.


LEMON-DILL SAUCE

1 1/2 cups plain yogurt

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

1 teaspoon lemon zest

Ground black pepper


  1. In a small bowl, whisk together yogurt, mustard, dill, lemon zest and pepper; cover and refrigerate.


CUCUMBER-DILL DRESSING

1 seedless cucumber

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

Ground black pepper

1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh dill

1 1/2 teaspoon horseradish

1 cup plain yogurt


  1. Peel, half, and thinly slice cucumber into a colander; let drain for 10 to 15 minutes.

  2. Transfer to small bowl; stir in vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, dill, horseradish and yogurt; cover and refrigerate.


 

Margaret Johnson’s “Recipes” page expands this year to “Ireland Hopping: Adventures in Food, Drink, and Travel.” For further details on her work, or to order a signed cookbook of her new cookbook “Teatime in Ireland,” visit www.irishcook.com