After my last post on needing the hearty cozy food of the English countryside, I was so lost in my virtual world that I thought a slide over on an ethereal rainbow or two to the lush green hills of Ireland wouldn't hurt my mind and soul one wee bit.
Ireland is a much loved destination in our family. My in-laws, too, have been captivated by their landscape and people for years now. They've crossed that beautiful land from north to south...east to west.
After Christmas my in-laws left here and journeyed on to Padre Island off the Gulf Coast for a month-long stay. As they back-tracked home, they stopped for an evening to tell us about their beach life.
They are thinking of becoming "snow birds". They are testing the waters (pun intended!) and mulling over whether or not they are going to pull up stakes and become beachcombers.
"Why not?" I say. Isn't that amazing to be in that position to be able to say..."Why not?" or "Let's do it!"
So as they were making their way back to Southern Missouri from Padre Island, dinner plans with an Irish theme was on order in Houston before continuing on their return.
Since Ireland was on the brain, and knowing their shared fondness for all things Irish, I decided to cook an entirely Irish inspired meal:
Smoked Salmon, Dill, and Horseradish Tartlets
Broccoli and Green Pea Soup with Sour Cream
Irish Soda Bread and Salad
Almond Pound Cake with an Orange Glaze and Sugared Grapes (coming soon)
We spent a quiet evening living vicariously through them as they talked, planned, and dreamed of a complete upheaval to what they know as their "norm" and what they might want as their "new norm".
I completely understand their itchy feet and longing hearts. We have all, over the years, traveled together to Italy and Wales...Michigan and Vermont...and they possess that wanderlust for new experiences and travels that I do.
Will they do it? Who knows! My mother-in-law is an artist. The change from the pastoral rolling hills of southern Missouri to the windswept beaches and golden sunsets of southern Texas would certainly be an artist's ideal change of canvas. My father-in-law is already dreaming of a long white ponytail and holding up a sandaled foot to admire a toe ring or two!
So while they are dreaming of all things to do with beach front property, we all revisited our additional love of all things Irish through our palates and memories.
Where would you pick up and move to if a dreamy destination was your only concern?
Would it be an urban landscape or a quiet pastoral rural option?
Such a delicious dreamy scenario to tussle over and ruminate with pleasure. For me, it would likely be a small french village about 2 hours from Paris. I would love the feeling of isolation punctuated by weekends of pounding the pavement in the city of love, romance, and beauty with a scarf wrapped up to my flushed cheeks.
Of course, a similar scenario could be said for Ireland. Thick seafood chowders and that gorgeous crusty brown bread eaten regularly while indulging in those lush and sheep studded rolling emerald green hills punctuated by visits to salty little port villages.
And, then contemplation must be allowed for the countryside of England. Cozy pub visits tucked in red leather arm chairs eating beef and stout pie in front of big sturdy stone fireplaces.
No wait, beautiful, serene Vermont deserves pondering over and over. Fat flakes of snow in winter falling on the long winding two lane country lanes that weave over rickety red covered wooden bridges motoring Ifrom one teensy little town to another.
Someone shake me awake! Or, toss me a scone! Or, pass me a croissant! Or, better yet, hand me a little swig of Irish Cream. Ooooooh, Irish Cream...
I'm in the middle of World History here ...and Marketing. I guess I'll have to wait a spell. I guess I'll have to continue stirring, and rolling, and baking up some more dishes in my time capsule (a.k.a. kitchen).
I have papers to mark up, quizzes to quizzle, and teen prodding...to ...well..prod!
Oh, yes...and blogging to...blog!
Life resumes! But, seriously, what is the first destination that comes to your mind? I would love to hear.
Smoked Salmon, Dill & Horseradish Tartlets
(recipe from "Irish Pub Cooking" from Parragon Books)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
5 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces, plus extra for greasing
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp creamed horseradish
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp campers, chopped
3 egg yolks
7 oz/200g smoked salmon trimmings
bun of fresh dill, chopped, plus extra for garnish
salt and pepper
Grease six 3 1/2 inch/9-cm tartlet pans. Sift the flour and salt into a food processor, add butter, and process until the mexture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add a little cold water, just enough to bring the dough together.
Turn out onto a floured counter and divide into 6 equal size pieces. Roll each piece to fit the tartlet pans. Carefully fit each piece of dough in its shell and press well to fit the pan. Roll the rolling pin over the pan to neaten the edges and trim the excess dough. Put a piece of parchment paper in each pan, fill with dried beans, and let chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400˚F/200˚C
Bake the tartlet shells blind in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, then carefully remove the paper and beans.
Meanwhile, put the sour cream, horseradish cream, lemon juice, and capers into a bowl with salt and pepper to taste and mix well. Add the egg yolks, smoked salmon, and chopped dill and carefully mix again. Divide this mixture among the tartlet shells and return to the oven for 10 minutes. Let cool in the pans for 5 minutes before serving, garnished with dill sprigs.
Irish Soda Bread
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup margarine, softened
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup buttermilk
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease a large baking sheet.
2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and margarine. Stir in 1 cup of buttermilk and egg. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead slightly. Form dough into a round and place on prepared baking sheet. In a small bowl, combine melted butter with 1/4 cup buttermilk; brush loaf with this mixture. Use a sharp knife to cut an 'X' into the top of the loaf.
3. Bake in preheated oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, about 30 to 50 minutes. You may continue to brush the loaf with the butter mixture while it bakes.