Lunchbreak: Irish Traditional Cooking author Darina Allen makes colcannon

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Darina Allen

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Irish Traditional Cooking: Over 300 Recipes from Ireland's Heritage

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noon - 6:00 p.m.
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2–3 lbs potatoes (6–9 approx.) e.g. Yukon Gold
1 small spring or Savoy cabbage
1 cup plus 1 Tablespoon approximately boiling milk
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) approximately butter

Scrub the potatoes. Put them into a saucepan of cold water, add a good pinch of salt, and bring to a boil. When the potatoes are about half cooked (about 15 minutes for old potatoes), strain off two-thirds of the water. Replace the lid on the saucepan, put on a gentle heat, and let the potatoes steam until they are fully cooked. Remove the dark outer leaves from the cabbage. Wash the rest and cut into quarters, remove the core, and cut each quarter finely across the grain. Cook in a little boiling salted water until soft. Drain, season with salt, freshly ground pepper, and a little butter. When the potatoes are just cooked, put on the milk and bring to a boil. Pull the skin off the potatoes, mash quickly while they are still warm, and beat in enough boiling milk to make a fluffy puree. (If you have a large quantity, put the potatoes in the bowl of a food mixer and beat with the paddle.) Then stir in about the same volume of cooked cabbage and taste for seasoning. Serve immediately in a hot dish, with a lump of butter melting in the center.
Note: Colcannon may be prepared ahead and reheated later in a moderate oven at 350F, for about 20–25 minutes. Any leftover colcannon may be formed into potato cakes or farls and fried in bacon fat until crisp and brown on both sides—a cousin of bubble and squeak.

Apple Brack
Makes 2 loaves

3 medium cooking apples (about 1 lb)
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 level teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs, beaten
2 2⁄3 cups all-purpose flour or half and half all-purpose and whole wheat flour (which is even nicer)
2 teaspoons mixed spice
1 2⁄3 cups raisins
1 2⁄3 cups golden raisins
1/2 cup crystallized cherries
3/4–1 cup chopped walnuts
2 loaf pans, 2lb

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Grease and line the loaf pans. Peel, core, and slice the apples and stew them carefully with the sugar and a tiny drop of water, stirring frequently to make sure they are not sticking to the bottom of the saucepan. When cooked, add the butter and stir until melted. Set aside to get cold, then stir in the baking soda, eggs, and sifted flour and mixed spice. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Divide the mixture evenly between the 2 prepared pans and bake on the center shelf of the oven for 1 3/4–2 hours.

This brack recipe is from Phyl O’Kelly who was a much-loved cookery writer in the Irish Examiner newspaper for many years.

Cullohill Apple Pie
Serves 8–12

1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1/4 cup superfine sugar
2 eggs, free-range if possible
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, preferably unbleached

4–5 Granny Smith apples (about 1 1/2lbs)
scant 3/4 cup sugar
2–3 cloves egg wash
superfine sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 350F. First make the pie dough. Cream the butter and sugar together by hand or in a food mixer. Add the eggs and beat for several minutes. Reduce the speed and mix in the flour. This pie dough needs to be chilled for at least 1 hour otherwise it is difficult to handle. To make the tart, first roll out the pie dough to about 1⁄8-inch thick and use about two thirds of it to line your pan. Peel, quarter, and slice the apples into the tart. Sprinkle with sugar and add the cloves. Cover with a lid of the remaining pie dough, seal the edges, and decorate with pie dough leaves. Brush with egg wash and bake in the oven until the apples are tender, about 45–60 minutes. When cooked cut into squares, sprinkle lightly with superfine sugar, and serve with softly whipped cream and Muscovado sugar.

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