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Kitchen Index Irish Kitchen Library

Recipes for the Lenten Season
Contributed by Hartson Dowd

Herring or smelts have always been a mainstay on the Irish table, especially during Lent. But, to enjoy them to the fullest, they have to be as fresh as possible and preferably eaten on the day they are caught - or bought.

Fried Herring (Smelts)

4 whole fresh herring (mackerel is a good substitute)
lemon juice
salt and pepper
1 egg, beaten (Or egg substitute, if you are observing the traditional Lenten abstinence from dairy, eggs and meat products)
oat flakes
2-tablespoons sunflower oil
1-tablespoon butter or margarine. (Or butter substitute)


1. The easiest way is to purchase fresh-dressed herring from the market. However, it's not that difficult to prepare fresh-caught fish yourself. First, remove the scales with the back of a knife, cut off the head and then gut.
2. Rinse off, pat dry, then fold the fish out flat and remove as many of the bones as you can without too much damage to the flesh.
3. Sprinkle the insides with lemon juice and season.
4. Dip the fish into the beaten egg, then into the oat flakes, and fry in the oil with the butter or margarine. Fish is cooked when it flakes easily with a fork.
5. Serve with tomato and mushroom sauce.
Tomato and Mushroom Sauce

1 large onion
1 clove garlic
1 14-oz can chopped tomatoes
4 ounces of mushrooms, sliced
1. Peel and chop the onion and garlic.
2. Fry in a little oil until soft.
3. Add the tomatoes and mushrooms and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until the mushrooms are cooked.

Serves four.

Editorial Note: Mashed potatoes and what Bridget's brother calls "mushy peas" will round out this Lenten supper. Of course, fresh-baked soda bread is a given, but during Lent, traditionalists won't eat dairy products, so no "lashings of butter." However, might we suggest dipping the bread in the tomato-mushroom sauce. Sounds really delicious to us!

Image: Aran Island Fisherwomen photographic print from Barewalls. See a great collection of other black and white old Irish photos here: Old Irish Photographs.

Any purchase made helps to support our site (and Bridget's fondness for tea towels). Thank you.

The Traditional Irish Breakfast
Wouldn't it be lovely to serve her a traditional Irish breakfast? Here, you will find everything you need from putting together the main course to topping it all off with a perfectly made pot of tea.

1 lb Irish bacon
1 lb Irish pork sausages
2 to 4 tomatoes
1/2 lb white pudding
1/2 lb black pudding
1 dozen eggs
1 lb mushrooms - optional
Serve with soda bread and/or toast.
An Ulster Fry would also include fried potato bread or "fadge." Recipe follows.

Depending on how many guests you’re having, enlist the aid of someone to set the table, fix the toast, and brew the coffee and tea. Meanwhile, follow the cooking instructions that come with the imported Irish bacon, sausages, white pudding and black pudding. When the meats are cooked, put them on an oven-proof serving platter and place in a slow oven to keep warm. Sauté the mushrooms and tomatoes and place them on the meat platter. Eggs are the last to be cooked and we usually make it easy on ourselves by fixing them sunny side up for everyone.

This recipe is adapted from Darina Allen's The Festive Food of Ireland.

2 lbs potatoes
1 egg beaten
1/2 stick butter
2 to 3 tablespoons flour
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped parsley, chives, lemon thyme, mixed (optional)
Whole milk or half and half
Salt & fresh ground pepper
Seasoned flour
Bacon fat or butter for frying

Boil potatoes in their jackets until tender. Pull off skins and mash immediately. Add egg, butter, flour and herbs (if using) and mix well. Season with salt and pepper, adding a few drops of milk if mixture seems too stiff. Shape into a 1 inch thick round shape and then cut into eight pieces. Dip into seasoned flour. Bake on a griddle over an open fire or fry in in bacon fat over gentle heat. Cook the fadge until crusty and golden brown on one side, then flip over and cook on the other side. (About 4 to 5 minutes on each side). Serve as an accompaniment to an Irish breakfast or on its own on hot plates with a blob of butter melting on top. Serves 8.

Tea - for the talkin’

I can still hear my mother saying, now Bridget, be a good girl won’t ye, and make a nice cup of tay for your poor old mother. I think she might have been around 45 years old at the time! At quite an early age, I was taught, as were the majority of Irish daughters not so long ago, how to make a perfect "cupan tae."

Cold water
Bulk Irish tea
Whole milk or half and half

Fill a kettle with cold water fresh from the faucet. Bring to a boil and be ready to use right away. While you are bringing the water to a boil, have ready a teaspoon to measure out the tea, a strainer, teapot (earthenware is best), and a tea cozy or towel. Warm the teapot by pouring in some hot water from the faucet and then pouring it out. Bring the teapot to the stove and as soon as the water boils, fill the teapot. Put one heaping teaspoon of tea per cup into the teapot, plus one more ‘for the pot’. Put lid on immediately and then cover the teapot with a cozy or towel. Keep in a warm place and let the tea steep for a five full minutes. In the meantime, prepare the cups. My mother always insisted that the milk go in before the tea. But she would never allow anyone to put in her sugar. That was ‘stirring up trouble!’ Pour plenty of milk or cream into the cup, place the strainer so it’s resting on the cup, and pour in the tea.

After tea, be sure to save the tea leaves - especially if you’re a rose grower. They’re a great plant food for flowers that like acids and my mother’s gorgeous garden was sure proof of that.

Freckle Bread
Contributed by Hartson Dowd (of course)

This wonderful potato bread gets just the right touch of sweetness from the raisins - its "freckles." It makes great toast and spectacular bread pudding.
1-1/2 cups water
3/4 cup peeled, cubed potatoes
2 to 3 cups bread flour, divided
1 package dry yeast
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, room temperature
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
1/2 cup raisins
Vegetable oil spray

1. Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the potatoes and cook until tender, about 20 minutes. Measure off 3/4 cup of the boiling water.  If there isn't enough potato water, add warm tap water to make 3/4 cup.
2. Mash the potatoes in a bowl. Add 3/4 cup of the flour, the yeast, sugar, and salt. Stir in the potato water with a wooden spoon, and continue stirring until the mixture forms a smooth batter.
3. Cover with a dish towel and set in a warm place until the dough doubles in volume, 1 to 1-1/2 hours.
4. Whisk the egg until frothy. Stir the egg, butter, and raisins into the batter. Start adding flour one-half cup at a time, mixing well after each addition, until you have a soft dough.
5. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
6. Turn out the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough in half with the sides of your hand, and allow it to rest for 5 minutes.
Roll the dough into 2 cylinders, each about 9-inches long.
7. Grease a 9-inch by 5-inch loaf pan with the vegetable oil spray, and place the dough cylinders side by side in the pan. Cover with a towel and set in a warm place to rise again until double in size, about 45 minutes.
Remove the towel and bake the bread until light brown (it should sound hollow when tapped), about 20 minutes.
Makes 1 loaf

Orange 'Irish Whiskey' Marmalade
Just a few easy additions brings every-day orange marmalade into the realm of the special.
1/4-cup plus 2 tablespoons water
1/4-cup granulated sugar
1 cup good-quality orange marmalade
2 tablespoons Irish whiskey

1. Combine the water and sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and cook until a candy thermometer reads 200 degrees. Stir in the marmalade and cook until the thermometer reads 240 degrees.
2. Stir in the Irish whiskey and cook, stirring, until thoroughly incorporated, about 1 minute.
3. Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to come to room temperature. Spoon the marmalade into a clean jar, cover, and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. Makes about 1 cup.

Serve on toasted Freckle Bread or Irish Soda Bread.

Marmalade from
Bread from

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Wed, Feb 26, 2014

"...the freshest of food and
the oldest of drink"
- Irish Proverb

Darina Allen has reissued "A Simply Delicious Christmas". It's a chatty cookbook, annotated with brief childhood tales of making the pudding and suggestions for how best to enjoy the food. But it's also filled with smart tips, such as a guide to the recipes indicating how long before the holidays each dish can be prepared, and suggestions for edible gifts, from truffles to jams. The range of recipes is impressive, with alternate versions of several recipes provided to accommodate fussier eaters. All the traditional favorites are here, along with many new ideas for fabulous holiday entertaining.
Review by Deirdre McFadden.
Click here for Delicious Christmas

Celtic Folklore and Cooking
by Joanne Asala

Feast days, festivals, and informal gatherings all have something in common--food. But choosing the right food for the occasion can be difficult. Celtic Folklore Cooking takes the guesswork out of planning a feast, with plenty of sumptuous ideas for an entire meal, from soup to dessert and even drinks. Joanne Asala gathers generations-old recipes from Wales, Cornwall, Scotland, Ireland, and England, associates them with appropriate festivals and times of the year, then sprinkles a dash of folklore between them. Perhaps you would like to learn the 400-year-old "Song of Harvest Home" while making Marigold Buns? Celtic Folklore Cooking is like having centuries of Celtic tradition in your kitchen, and it will help you find just the right flavor for your festivities. Review by Brian Patterson
Click here for Folklore & Cooking.

The New Irish Table
by Margaret Johnson

Margaret Johnson’s love of Ireland permeates page after glorious page of mouthwatering Irish dishes, from Smoked Salmon Chowder to Raspberry Buttermilk Tarts. Lavish color photographs of the food, the landscapes, and the people are woven through the text, making The New Irish Table the next best thing to sitting down to dinner in Ireland itself.
Click here for New Irish Table.

With simple ingredients and easy to follow instructions, these recipes will help the home chef create a rich, plentiful feast! Among the 200 recipes are classics like Irish Stew, as well as Mince Pie, which Oliver Cromwell unsuccessfully attempted to ban because of its then-religious Irish shape. Each of the eleven chapters that puts the food into its context - whether its prepared for a celebration, to welcome guests - or even to seduce! Info' from back cover.
Click here for Feasting Galore.


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