Victoria's Vegetarian Victuals

Prepare to gain weight. Potatoes and breads ... I'm in Heaven.

Actually, I'm in the next best place, Tir Nan Og, at Brookfield New York, where we will probably be breaking ground this year for our little restaurant and a couple of guest cottages.

Tir Nan Og is the name given by the ancient Irish to a mystical, magical land where nobody ever grows old or dies. Nothing was ever said about weight gain!

I am part Irish; my mother is all Irish. We adopted each other 18 years ago this month, when I was nine. So, I had the benefit of growing up hearing about the Hibernian part of my heritage, and it has been wonderful. The family stories are a delight.

My mother has a cousin named Dorothy, who went to Ireland some years ago, to visit. She stayed with family and friends, and to her surprise, she, who had always thought of herself as Irish, found herself being called "the American."

"Pull that chair close in by the hearth, now. The American is cold."

Some of the older people from the country were resisting the government installation of indoor bathrooms, Dorothy told us later. ("They've been doing that in the fields for years," one old lady said, "And now they want to do it in my house?")

But, Dorothy said that the bread and the tea were so wonderful that you could live on them. So, here are some Irish carbohydrates for you to enjoy, and have a wonderful St. Patrick's Day.

PS. Remember, you can use egg substitutes and margarine in place of eggs and butter. And I used solid vegetable shortening in the following recipes.

Irish Potato Pancakes

  • 1 cup mashed potato
  • 2 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 tbsp. light corn syrup
  • 1 tbsp. nutmeg

Mix all ingredients. Beat well. Bake on a greased griddle until brown on both sides. Do not expect these to be like American pancakes, but they have an excellent flavor.

  • Yields: 8-10 pancakes
  • Preparation Time: Not long -- unless you're hungry!

Irish Soda Bread #2

  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 4 cups white flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk or sweet milk

Rub the butter into the flour. Add the salt and soda, mix all well together by running the dry ingredients through your fingers. Add the buttermilk (or sweet milk) and stir into a soft dough with a wooden spoon. With your floured hands, knead the dough lightly into a ball and turn out onto a lightly floured baking sheet. Flatten the dough into a circle 1 1/2 inches thick with the palm of your hand. Make a cross in the center with a floured knife. Bake at 425 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes.

  • Yields: 1 round loaf
  • Preparation Time: 45 minutes

Irish Soda Bread #3

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tbsp. oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp. caraway seed
  • 1 1/2 cup buttermilk

Combine all of the ingredients and knead until well mixed.

Grease a round cake pan, press bread evenly into pan to fill pan. Dough is a little sticky. With a wet knife, cut a large X across the whole top of the bread. Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes.

  • Yields: 1 round loaf
  • Preparation Time: About an hour, if you don't waste any time

Irish Soda Bread #4

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour or whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. cold butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups raisins
  • 1 2/3 cups buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp. melted butter

In large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Cut in cold butter with pastry blender or two knives until fine. Stir in raisins. In bowl beat eggs, stir in buttermilk and soda. Make well in dry ingredients and add liquids all at once, mixing lightly with fork until blended. Turn dough on to floured surface and knead lightly for 10 seconds. Shape dough into ball and place on buttered baking sheet. Flatten ball into 8 or 9-inch loaf.

Grease sharp knife with butter and cut 1/4-inch deep cross from edge to edge to mark into quarters.

Brush top with melted butter; bake in preheated 375F oven 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from baking sheet and cool to lukewarm.

  • Yields: 1 round loaf
  • Preparation Time: about 1 hour

Irish Whole Wheat Soda Bread #5

  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, yogurt or milk with lemon juice

Combine the dry ingredients and mix thouroughly to distribute the soda and baking powder, then add enough buttermilk to make a soft dough but firm enough to hold its shape. Knead on a lightly floured board for 2 or 3 minutes, until quite smooth and velvety. Form into a round loaf and place in a well buttered 8 inch cake pan or on a well buttered cookie sheet. Cut a cross on the top of the loaf with a very sharp floured knife. Bake in a preheated 375F oven for 35-40 minutes, or until the loaf is nicely browned and sounds hollow when rapped with the knuckles. (The cross will have spread open which is characteristic of soda bread.)

  • Yields: 1 round loaf
  • Preparation Time: Less than an hour

Irish Soda Bread #6

  • 4 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 pint milk -- or buttermilk
  • Raisins or currants (optional)

Mix dry ingredients together. Add milk or buttermilk to form a loose dough. Add raisins or currants, if desired. Place dough on floured board and knead until smooth. Form into a round about 2 inches high and make a large X with a knife in top of dough. Bake on greased baking sheet at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.

  • Yields: 1 round loaf
  • Preparation Time: about 1 hour

Potato and Apple Pudding

  • 2 tbsp. Butter
  • 8 oz. self-raising flour
  • 6 oz. freshly mashed potatoes
  • 4 tbsp. milk
  • 5 medium cooking apples
  • Brown or white sugar
  • 2 whole cloves
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 3 tbsp. cider

Mix the butter into the hot mashed potatoes, add a good pinch of salt, and the flour, and mix well, then add enough milk to make a soft, slack dough. Roll out and line a 1-qt bowl with some of it, reserving enough for the lid.

Fill with the apples, peeled and cored and finely sliced, and sweeten to taste with sugar. Add 2 whole cloves, the lemon juice and the cider (or water), taking care not to make it too wet. Dampen the pastry edges, lay the lid on and press down. Cover with foil and secure well. Steam, or cook set in boiling water up to the rim, for 2 - 2 1/2 hours. Serve cut in wedges with cream or home-made custard.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: about 3 hours

Irish Potato Cakes

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 6 oz. white flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3 cups mashed potatoes -- fresh, with milk

Cut butter into flour until it forms large granules. Add salt and baking powder, mix well. Mix in potatoes. Knead for a few minutes. Roll out onto lightly floured board with floured rolling pin. Cut into 2 rounds. Cook on a dry griddle or skillet until brown on both sides.

  • Yields: 2 cakes
  • Preparation Time: less than an hour

Irish Shortbread

  • 8 oz. butter
  • 4 oz. caster sugar
  • 8 oz. flour
  • 2 oz. cornflour

Cream butter and sugar. Add flour and corn flour. Cut into squares or into rounds and bake in a slow oven until done.

  • Yields: 1 serving -- you'd better make a lot of these!
  • Preparation Time: not long -- watch the baking as it can burn quickly

Wicklow Pancakes

  • 4 large eggs -- or 6 small ones
  • 2 1/2 c. milk
  • 4 oz. fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp. parsley, chopped
  • 1 pinch chopped thyme
  • 2 tbsp. chopped chives or scallions
  • 1 pinch salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp. butter

Beat the eggs lightly, then add the milk, breadcrumbs, herbs and seasonings, and mix well. Heat 1 tablespoon of the butter in a pan until foaming, then pour in the mixture and cook over a low flame until it is brown underneath and just set on top. Put under the grill to finish. Serve cut into wedges with a knob of butter on each portion.

  • Yields: 4 servings -- if 2 aren't too hungry!
  • Preparation Time: about 30 minutes

Irish Tea Bread

  • 12 tbsp. strong tea
  • 1 lb. mixed dried fruit
  • 6 oz. soft brown sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 oz. butter (melted)
  • 9 oz. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. bicarbonate of soda (don't worry about this -- it will be fine)

The mixed fruit can include raisins, currants, and any other kind of dried fruit you like; chop any larger pieces down to about raisin size. Place the tea, mixed fruit and sugar in a bowl; cover and leave overnight. Stir in the egg and melted butter. Sieve the flour and the bicarb together and fold them in. Line the bottom of a large loaf pan with baking parchment, and brush the whole inside of the pan with melted butter. Pour the mixture in and smooth the top. Bake in a preheated oven (360 F) on the middle shelf for 1 1/2 hours. After removing from the oven, leave in the pan for 2-3 minutes; then turn out of pan and cool on a wire rack.

  • Yields: 4 servings at the most
  • Preparation Time: about 2 hours

Boxty (Potato Griddle Cakes)

Boxty (Potato Griddle Cakes)
  • 1/2 lb. raw potato
  • 1/2 lb. mashed potato
  • 1/2 lb. flour
  • milk (enough to make a batter)
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Grate raw potatoes and mix with the cooked mashed potatoes. Add salt, pepper and flour. Beat egg and add to mixture with just enough milk to make a batter that will drop from a spoon. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto a hot griddle or frying pan. Cook over a moderate heat for 3-4 minutes on each side. Serve with a tart apple sauce: or sausage links, fried eggs, fried bread pudding, fried soda bread ... and beans, too, if you like beans.

  • Yields: 8 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Irish Herb Scones

  • 1/2 lb. potatoes
  • 4 tbsp. flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 4 tbsp. oil
  • 2 tbsp. chopped parsley
  • 1/2 tsp. dried dill
  • 1/4 tsp. savory
  • 1/4 tsp. marjoram
  • 1/4 tsp. powdered sage
  • Oil for frying

Boil or bake the potatoes, then pass through a foodmill. Mix the flour, salt, oil & herbs with the potatoes. On a floured board, roll this dough to a thickness of about 1/4 inch. Cut into triangles 3 or 4 inches wide. Fry in very hot oil on both sides until light golden.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: about 20 minutes, if you've done it before

Irish Buttermilk Bannock

  • 4 cups all purpose/bread flour
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Stir flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda and raisins together. Separately, fork-blend eggs and buttermilk, then add to dry ingredients. Stir until sticky batter is formed. Scrape batter onto well floured surface and knead lightly. Shape batter into ball, then place in round non-stick casserole that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Mark a cross in the center, using a sharp knife. Bake uncovered in preheated 350 degree oven for about 1 1/4 hours.

Wait 10-15 minutes before attempting to remove bread from casserole, then cool on wire rack. If desired, cut loaf into quarters and then slice thinly.

  • Yields: 6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes

Fadge (Potato Bread)

Fadge (Potato Bread)
  • 2 lb. unpeeled "old" potatoes
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. chopped parsley
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. chopped chives
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. chopped lemon thyme
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Creamy milk
  • Seasoned flour
  • Margarine or butter for frying

Boil the potatoes in their jackets, pull off the skins and mash straight away. Add the egg, butter, flour and herbs (if using) and mix well. Season with plenty of salt and pepper, adding a few drops of creamy milk if the mixture is too stiff. Shape into a 1" round and then cut into eight pieces. Dip in seasoned flour. Fry on a griddle over an open fire or fry in bacon fat or melted butter on a gentle heat. Cook the fadge until crusty and golden on one side, then flip over and cook on the other side (about 4-5minutes on each side). Serve on its own on hot plates with a blob of butter melting on top. MMMMM.

  • Yields: depends on how hungry you are!
  • Preparation Time: about 1 hour

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