Thursday, March 17, 2016
Margaret M. Johnson's FAVORITE FLAVORS OF IRELAND
Margaret M. Johnson gathered over 100 traditional Irish recipes, some previously published in her other cookbooks, and arranged them by season in this new delightful cookbook, FAVORITE FLAVORS OF IRELAND. The color photos of the food will make you hungry, while the equally appealing scenic photos will have you dreaming of a trip to the Emerald Isle. Of course, I expected a recipe for soda bread and one for Irish stew and they are there, but I also found a surprising variety of other recipes. Coffee hour with friends and breakfasts promise to be more exciting this spring as I try several of Johnson's suggestions. I certainly plan to try the rhubarb muffin recipe as soon as my spring rhubarb pops up, and I already picked up pears for spicy pear muffins. And when summer arrives, I must remember to try the blackberry-almond crumble cake. Just saying the name makes my mouth water. The blackberries in the store have been looking good, so I may not wait until summer. Last night I made the quick bread called spotted dog, a round loaf made with 2 cups of buttermilk, a bit of melted butter, and oodles of raisins. I did omit the caraway seeds (because I am not a fan), but still the flavor was great, especially warm. Next time I think I will give this Irish recipe a bit of a Wisconsin spin by using half raisins and half craisins. We are the top cranberry producers, you know.
Recipe measurements are given in both cups and metric, so those of us in the US do not have to do any math adjustments. Naturally, Ireland's famous Kerrygold butter is suggested in all the recipes requiring butter, and I know it can be found here in the US in larger supermarkets. I had to substitute regular butter, and I still had a fine flavored quick bread. Don't think this cookbook is all about breads; there is the traditional colcannon (mashed potatoes with cabbage) as well as an intriguing recipe for blue cheese potato cakes, as well as a heavenly recipe for dauphinoise (creamy, thinly sliced potatoes with cheese). Plus there are wonderful recipes for both beef and lamb. I plan to try the beef and guiness soon. What surprised me the most were the lovely salad and soup recipes included. Doesn't "Carrot Soup with Bacon Bread Crumbs" sound like a superb lunch? And I have walnut oil on my grocery list so I can try the walnut vinaigrette on a bed of spring greens tossed with sliced new potatoes, topped with walnuts and thinly shaved cheese. MMM good and hearty. And my eyes did a double take when I saw a recipe for grilled rib eye, served with grilled tomatoes and herb dressing (a buttermilk dressing with fresh herbs and dijon mustard). With the suggested baked potato, this would be a feast.
I've spent an evening drooling over the recipes and have decided what ones to try soon. Now I plan to read the whole book slower and savor the cultural information, including the short articles about the many seasonal food festivals in Ireland. This book would be a wonderful addition to a library's international cooking section. It would also be a great gift to anyone of Irish heritage (especially those of us who claim to be Irish, but haven't traveled there). And it would be a treasured gift to all those cookbook collectors like myself. Pinterest and Facebook recipes cannot compare to these!
I received a copy of this title from Ambassador Books for my honest review. If you are interested in learning more about Margaret M. Johnson and FAVORITE FLAVORS OF IRELAND, check out this link to the book. You can also find Margaret Johnson at www.irishcook.com and www.facebook.com/IrishCookbook.