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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."
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.
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 www.foodloversbritain.com
Bread from www.bakery-net.com
The New Irish Table
Margaret Johnsons 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.
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March 4, 2011