Complete your St. Patrick’s Day feast with two recipes from Rachel Allen: Sticky Cumin and Apricot Roast Carrots and Parsnips and Irish Apple Cake.
Irish food has a rich history and tradition. Of course, our love for the potato is well known and very real, but with recipes such as colcannon, Irish stew, and our wonderful soda bread, there are so many distinctively Irish dishes that make our food ideal for home-cooked meals — wherever in the world you might live.
I grew up in Dublin and my mum was a very good cook. She would often have casseroles gently bubbling in the oven, filling the kitchen with their alluring aromas to make my sister and me ever more impatiently hungry. At 18, my interest in cooking became a passion. I traveled down to East Cork to study at the famous Ballymaloe Cookery School, at which I still teach to this day. On my first day at the school, I learned many of the principles we still teach students today: that the best food comes from the best ingredients. It opened my eyes to how much more important proper produce is than complicated or long-winded recipes.
Despite being around food all day, I never tire of cooking. Like everyone else, I find it useful to have a repertoire of homemade dishes that I know my children love eating, including Irish stew. The definitive recipe for Irish stew simply doesn’t exist because each household has its own family recipe. It is said, however, that people in the south of Ireland always add carrots, but people north of County Tipperary do not. When made well, it’s not hard to see why this is one of Ireland’s favorite dishes.
Irish Apple Cake
(Makes 6 servings)
- 8 ounces (225 g) plain flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 3 1/2 ounces (100 g) butter
- 3 1/2 ounces (100 g) sugar, plus 2 tbsp
- 1 egg, beaten
- Approximately 3 1/2 ounces (100 mL) milk
- 1 large cooking apple, about 11 ounces (300 g) in weight
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Softly whipped cream, to serve
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 10-inch pie dish. Mix flour with baking powder. Rub in butter with your fingertips until texture resembles breadcrumbs. Add sugar, beaten egg and enough milk to form soft dough. Pat out half of dough in greased pie dish (don’t worry — it is supposed to be very wet).
Peel, core, and chop apple 3/4-inch cubes. Arrange apples on dough and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar and cinnamon. Gently spoon out remaining dough on top of apples to cover them completely. Sprinkle with remaining sugar and cut a slit through middle of top dough. Bake for 40–50 minutes, until golden and crunchy on outside (apples should be soft on the inside). Serve with softly whipped cream.
Rachel’s Tip: If the butter is cold (just taken from the fridge), grate it into the flour and it will rub in within a couple of seconds.
Nutritional Information Per Serving
- Calories: 351
- Total Fat: 11 g
- Saturated Fat: 6 g
- Sodium: 140 mg
- Carbohydrate: 56 g
- Fiber: 2 g
- Protein: 6 g
- Diabetic Exchanges: 3 starch, 1/2 fruit, 2 fat
If you think this is good, you should try Rachel Allen’s Sticky Cumin and Apricot Roast Carrots and Parsnips.
Recipe from Rachel’s Irish Family Food, by Rachel Allen, published by HarperCollins (2013); Photography © 2013 by Lis Parsons.
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