Saturday, April 6, 2013

Real Irish Food by David Bowers



Real Irish Food: 150 Classic Recipes from the Old Country
by David Bowers
Skyhorse Publishing, 2012
source: library copy

"In the same way Italian food is about more than spaghetti and meatballs, real Irish food is a far more complex and exciting thing than the corned-beef-and-cabbage caricature we tend to think of in North America."



Real Irish Food by David Bowers is not a new title for the Weekend Cooking crowd. After reading other blogger reviews (I should have made a note so I could link back), I requested the title from my library. The first thing I noticed was the stunning photography - not just food, but gorgeous landscapes, towns, and markets, too.

The book begins with a brief introduction to Irish cuisine and its history, then continues with a pantry section. Special attention is paid to stocking an Irish kitchen in America and Bowers, quite helpfully, provides sources for obtaining many of the basics.

Chapters are divided by dish and include Breakfast Foods, Starters and Snacks, Stews and Chowders, Meat and Game, Vegetables and Side Dishes, Cakes and Tea Things, and many more.

Quite honestly, I would never consider trying many of the recipes (4 cups of fresh pig's blood is the first ingredient in Black Pudding), but who can resist Potato Cakes? I just happened to have leftover mashed potatoes on hand, so I made some for breakfast. They disappeared instantly!


I bookmarked several other recipes to try later:

  • beef and barley stew
  • mustard roasted chicken
  • cauliflower cheese (Barbara Pym Reading Week is coming!)
  • old-fashioned spicy gingerbread
  • shortbread

Bowers also includes plenty of background information with the recipes. I can't tell you how many times I've read about potted meats in novels without understanding precisely what it meant. Alongside the Potted Shrimp recipe, I found a straight-forward explanation.
"Potting" fish or meats was an old way of storing them. Leftover meats such as chicken or ham or seafood such as fish or shrimp were pounded together with nearly an equal quantity of butter...to make a rough paste, then seasoned with salt and mace, nutmeg, or another warm spice. The paste was then poured into a small container and covered with clarified butter, sealing out air so it could be stored in a cool pantry." 
Bottom line:
While not a cookbook from which I would regularly cook, Real Irish Food  by David Bowers was very interesting to read. I learned a lot about traditional Irish cuisine and the gorgeous photography made it a feast for my eyes.


Weekend Cooking, hosted at Beth Fish Reads, is open to anyone who has a food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up over the weekend

45 comments:

  1. I'd get this book just for the photographs.

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    1. Diane - The photos make me want to plan a trip to Ireland!

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  2. Ooh, what was the secret to get the potato cakes like that?

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    1. Carole - The recipe called for 2 cups mashed potatoes, 3/4 c flour, 1 tsp salt, and 1/4 c butter... so good!

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  3. I keep forgetting how delicious Irish food can be. I recently made a beef and guinness stew which was very tasty. That spicy gingerbread sounds like it would be good too. But, yeah, pigs blood? No thanks.

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    1. Trish - I let out a pretty loud groan when I read about the pig's blood - yuck!!

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  4. Thanks so much for dropping by and visiting my blog!!

    I am Irish born and often make potato cakes, we just love them with bacon and eggs!

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    1. Jackie/Jake - I rarely make mashed potatoes (even though I really love them), so this was a case of perfect timing. Next time I'll make extra just so we have some left for potato cakes!

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  5. This looks like a great book. I have quite a few Irish cookbooks, love the country and cuisine. I will definitely check this out.

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    1. Pierce - This is the first time I've looked through an Irish cookbook, but it won't be the last.

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  6. Irish food sounds interesting, but I don't cook it often. I have to say, I couldn't make or eat blood pudding!

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    1. Janel - If presented with a blood pudding, I'd run in the opposite direction!

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  7. Love blood..or as it is usually called..black pudding! Delicious!
    I have always thought of potted meats sort of like those little cans of deviled ham..great on a cracker!

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    1. Caite - Really? I'd like to try it sometime without knowing what it is beforehand...

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  8. The potato cakes look wonderful, but the blood for the pudding...gross!! I love cookbooks that really show off the area where the food originated!

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    1. Staci - I actually shrieked when I read '4 cups fresh pig's blood'! That's one ingredient I won't find at Wegmans.

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  9. I have a recipe for cauliflower macaroni and cheese picked out for B.P.R.W. but I don't think that's quite authentic. I guess I could leave out the macaroni! :)

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    1. Audrey - There may be quite a few Cauliflower Cheeses on Weekend Cooking during BPW ;-)

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  10. One reason I love to see multiple reviews of cookbooks is that everyone picks up on a different aspect or mentions a different recipe. I've been curious about this, just as you were and I think I'm going to have to pick up a copy for myself just based on the photos and recipe introductions.

    I so wish I had the time to join in BPRW, but I won't get home from BEA until the 1st and my niece's high school graduation is just a few days later. Waaaaay too much happening.

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    1. BethF - I'm still hoping things work out for BEA, but so far the scheduling Gods don't seem to be cooperating :-(

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  11. I highlighted this book a few weeks ago! I really enjoyed it too. I've made several of the recipes now and really enjoyed them too. The celery soup was delicious and the whisky chicken is simply pan licking good!

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    1. Peggy - I thought it was you!! You marked the mustard roasted chicken, too, right? Or did you try that recipe?

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    2. I did not try that one. I was going to copy it but didn't. It was fun to read about the differences between theirs and our potatoes and flours. I did enjoy it but decided not to buy it just wrote down the ones I wanted from the Library's copy:)

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    3. Peggy - I copied that one down for myself... just emailed it to you :-)

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  12. We were in Northern Ireland two years ago and weren't overly impressed with the food but those potato cakes look delicious!

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    1. Kathy - Those potato cakes are real comfort food!

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  13. I have a friend who would just love this book!

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  14. I plan to head to Ireland this year on vacation, so I definitely need to check this out (perhaps from my library, as you did). I love doing 'research' that involves food! Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Cecelia - Lucky you!! My sister is going next month, and I'm ready to start planning a trip anytime!

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  15. We have this at the library too. It's nice to be able to check it out before buying. I'm interested in the spicy gingerbread too. I thought I didn't like gingerbread until I tried some made with fresh ginger instead of powdered. What a difference! And crystallized ginger is even better.

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    1. Laurie C - It's amazing what a difference fresh ingredients make! I hope to try the gingerbread before I return the book.

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  16. Yes! Cauliflower cheese! I will definitely be trying that the first week of June. I admit I immediately thought of corned beef and cabbage when I saw the title of your post, but I know Irish food must be more varied than that - mustard roasted chicken sounds especially good.

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    1. Anbolyn - We're going to have a Cauliflower Cheese Festival in June, lol! I was surprised at the variety of foods in the cookbook. Like you, corned beef and cabbage was my first thought.

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  17. I love potato pancakes but never think to make them--really good childhood memories of this dish--my mother never let anything go to waste. The beef barley soup does sound good, and I'm a hardcore shortbread fan. Thanks for the info on potted meats--I never what they were either.

    Sounds like a good addition of the cookbook collection for when the mood strikes.

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    1. JaneGS - Can you believe that was the first time I ever made potato pancakes? I love mashed potatoes, but rarely make them these days, so the pancakes were a special treat.

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  18. Recipes and gorgeous photography ... sold!! Yum to potato cakes and shortbread and I noticed Peggy's comment about the Whiskey Chicken being pan licking good lol. I'd definitely skip the black pudding ... gag!

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    1. Teddyree - I still can't believe I read a cookbook that includes fresh pig's blood in a recipe. I sure won't find that at my local grocery store, lol!

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  19. I'll skip the blood pudding (although my sister made it in cooking school and I ate it -- not bad), but the other recipes you list sound delicious!

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    1. Gillion - Just reading the recipe for the blood pudding nearly made me gag, lol! I hope to try the mustard chicken this week.

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  20. I was not a fan of the food in Ireland but Scott loved it. It all tasted too salty to me and by the end of the trip I was craving salad greens (which I NEVER crave). But I could get on board with those potato cakes and I bet homemade fare might be a bit better than the pub food we were eating...

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    1. Trish - You've just given me an idea! My sister and BIL are heading to Ireland next month... wonder if I could get her to do a guest post???

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  21. yum, mashed potato cakes. Not that long ago, I made some with left over sweet potatos. I was winging the recipe, but they turned out well.

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    1. Heather - I'm sure they would be even more delicious made with sweet potatoes!

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  22. Hmmm, the only thing that sounds tempting is the shortbread!

    My daughter just got home (today!) from a week-long trip to Ireland. The son of a good friend of mine got married there this weekend. I'm kicking myself for not going. Dublin looks like a fun city, although it rained and was just as miserably cold as it is here!

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    1. Les - My sister and her husband are going to Ireland next month. They borrowed the library book, so they will be forewarned about the cuisine. I hope it warms up by then though!

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