Postcards from Ireland #14

by Kristin on April 3, 2015

BrookLodge chickens

Hotels with chickens are the best kind of hotels.

You can see more of my photos on Instagram as edibleireland.

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A craft beer Christmas

by Kristin on December 15, 2014

Wine gets a lot of press in the run-up to the big Christmas feast, but who says you have to stick with those foreign imports? With dozens of craft breweries now operating across the country – some, perhaps, just down the road from you – this is the year to buy Irish and keep your drink choices a little closer to home.

The turkey is cooked. The table is groaning. There are thick slices of ham falling from the knife, a big bowl of red cabbage braised with apples, steaming dishes of roasted veg, several different stuffings, homemade cranberry relish, a cauldron of gravy and probably two different kinds of spuds. With so many flavours to play with on your plate, what do you choose to drink?

Craft beer can handle it all in its stride. There are zesty, bitter hops to stimulate your appetite and cut through all that fat and richness. There are sweet, caramelised malts to complement the roasted meats. And the cleansing carbonation in beer gives a refreshing lift to your palate, leaving you ready to taste each bite like it’s the first.

With the recent increase in Irish microbreweries, there’s a bigger and better selection of Irish beer available than ever before. The wide range of styles means there’s now a match for all kinds of foods, from chilli to chocolate, curry to Christmas dinner.

Whether it’s a crisp blonde ale, a citrusy IPA, a chocolatey stout or a warming winter seasonal to sip by the fire, there’s a beer to match whatever you’re serving, so why not give Irish craft beer a place at the table this Christmas?

Pre-dinner snacksHilden Barney's Brew
If you want something to sip while the nibbles are being passed around, start off with a light pilsner, lager or even a wheat beer. Chill it well and confound expectations by serving it in champagne flutes as a light apéritif for a taste of what’s to come.

Try: Hilden Barney’s Brew, St Mel’s Helles Lager

Goose
A rare treat. Goose is very rich, so you want the hoppy bitterness of a zingy ale or IPA to cut through the fat and refresh your palate so you can savour each bite.

Try: Black’s of Kinsale Pale Ale, Galway Bay Brewery Of Foam and Fury, Galway Hooker Irish Pale Ale

Ham
A fruity red ale or even a peppery rye ale are both good complements to a traditional glazed ham. But the best match of all with any kind of pork is actually a medium sweet cider, which plays on the classic contrast of salty and sweet.

Try: Dan Kelly’s Cider, N17 Rye Ale, West Mayo Clew Bay Sunset Red Ale

Turkey
If you want to complement the roasted flavours of the turkey, serve a malty red ale or a dubbel. Otherwise, a versatile blonde ale or even a saison is a good all-round choice if you want a beer that will contrast with the meat and all the different side dishes without overpowering the food.

Try: Brú Mór Saison, Dungarvan Helvick Gold, White Gypsy Belgian Dubbel

Christmas pudding and chocolateTrouble Brewing Dark Arts Porter
After a respectful pause to read lame Christmas cracker jokes, get stuck into the clearing up and allow time for digestion, it’s time to move on to dessert. A dark, dense Christmas pudding or cake cries out to be paired with an equally dark stout or porter. And don’t miss a chance to try a beer with those Christmas chocolates. It’s a better match than you might think: the espresso undertones in many stouts are a natural partner for chocolate desserts.

Try: Kinnegar Yannaroddy Coconut Porter, Trouble Brewing Dark Arts Porter

For a cheeseboardDonegal Blonde Ale
The craft beer renaissance is paralleled by the revival of Irish farmhouse cheeses, and they are nicely showcased with some Sheridans brown bread crackers. Match a goat’s cheese with wheat beer; a semi-soft cheese like Brie with a blonde or pale ale; put a hard cheese like a mature Cheddar with a brown or amber ale; and you just can’t beat the combination of a punchy, salty blue cheese with an earthy stout.

Try: Donegal Blonde Ale, West Kerry Brewery Carraig Dubh Porter, White Hag Irish Wit Beer, Wicklow Wolf American Amber

For contemplative sippingEight Degrees Brewing - A Very Imperial Winter - Russian Imperial Stout - black
This is the time for a special, warming, high-alcohol treat that you can take your time over for the rest of the night, like an imperial stout. Or if you want to finish on a sweeter note, try a barleywine, with notes of plum and vanilla. Both should be served in a snifter.

Try: Eight Degrees Brewing Russian Imperial Stout, O’Hara’s Barrel Aged Series Barleywine, Porterhouse Celebration Stout

Where to buy it
Irish craft beer has never been easier to get your hands on. There are several independent off-licences that carry a good range of Irish and international craft beers and they deliver right to your door, making stocking up for the holidays effortless, no matter where you are in the country. Many will also put together a hamper as the perfect gift for the craft beer connoisseur.

 *This piece originally appeared in the Irish Examiner on 6 December 2014 and was co-authored with Caroline Hennessy

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FRESH and UNCORKED magazines

by Kristin on December 8, 2014

I got out of my books comfort zone recently to work as a sub editor on two magazines for SuperValu: Fresh, the food magazine, and Uncorked, its sister drinks magazine.

Both are top-class publications that you’d happily pay for, so the fact that they’re free is an absolute steal, with stunning photography from Harry Weir and recipes from chef Kevin Dundon. Personally, I’m looking forward to trying out the recipes for Brussels sprouts with caramelised chorizo, cranberries and bread, fig and sausagemeat stuffing, bacon-wrapped pork fillet with apricot stuffing, mincemeat palmiers and St Tola chocolate and vodka mousse.

FRESH magazine

Meanwhile, Uncorked features loads of excellent suggestions from Ireland’s top wine writers for celebratory sparkling wine, port, beer (written by yours truly) and wines for the holidays, including food matching tips. No matter what the occasion or budget, there are some great tips here.

Uncorked cover

Be sure to snap up a copy when you see it in store or you can also read them online. Fresh is available here and you can read Uncorked via this link.

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Irish Cookbooks 2014

by Kristin on November 27, 2014

When I say 2014 has been a good year for Irish cookbooks, I’ll admit I’m biased since this year my own book, Sláinte, is among their ranks. But what really strikes me about this year’s batch of books is the noticeable shift towards a ‘free’ type of eating — meat-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, sugar-free and even oven-free in the case of Sharon Hearne-Smith’s No-Bake Baking. The Extra Virgin Kitchen, which is currently in its fourth printing, has been a runaway success, and Food from the Fast Lane and The Happy Pear have both spent time in the bestseller charts too. Further afield, Diana Henry’s A Change of Appetite has received international acclaim and Nigella Lawson has said that her next book will also focus on this lighter style of eating.

The other thing that jumps out is the sheer number of Irish cookbooks published this year. At a time when book sales are still sluggish overall, cookbooks continue to thrive, and the Irish market is obviously no different, with more titles and more variety than ever before.

  • For the craft beer and cider connoisseur: Sláinte: The Complete Guide to Irish Craft Beer and Cider
  • For the health nut: Food for the Fast Lane, The Extra Virgin Kitchen, The Happy Pear
  • For the baker: Bake Like an Italian, Bake Knit Sew, Bread on the Table, No-Bake Baking
  • For traditional Irish food fans: A Simply Delicious Christmas, The Ballymaloe Cookbook, The Pleasures of the Table

 

Sláinte: The Complete Guide to Irish Craft Beer and Cider by Caroline Hennessy and Kristin JensenSláinte: The Complete Guide to Irish Craft Beer and Cider by Caroline Hennessy and Kristin Jensen

I couldn’t help but break alphabetical rank and lead with my own book, published in September. My co-author, Caroline Hennessy, and I set out to write the kind of book that we wanted to read when we started exploring craft beer and cider a few ayears ago, when information in an Irish context was hard to come by. Sláinte covers everything from how beer and cider are made to their history in Ireland, how to taste and savour them, how to match them with food and cheese and even how to cook with them. And while it’s not strictly a cookbook, there is a chapter of 20 recipes that all feature craft beer or cider, gathered from artisan food producers, restaurant owners and chefs, food writers and bloggers from around Ireland as well as some of our own original recipes. There’s something for everyone here. Bundled into a hamper with a selection of Irish craft beers and ciders, or maybe even some Sheridans brown bread crackers and some Irish farmhouse cheese too, this would be the ultimate gift for the beer or cider lover in your life this Christmas.

Five to try: Beef, chorizo and ale stew; beer, beer and blue cheese pot pies; cider-brined pork fillets with fennel, onions and apples; double chocolate porter brownies; stout marshmallows

A Simply Delicious Christmas by Darina AllenA Simply Delicious Christmas by Darina Allen    

There’s nothing like editing a Christmas cookbook to make you crave turkey and gingerbread in July. This is the book I’ve been the most excited about this year because I know these are the holiday recipes I’ll be turning to now for years to come. The original edition, published in 1989, is already a well-loved, dog-eared mainstay in many Irish homes. This new edition includes over 100 new recipes to reflect today’s tastes, such as a recipe for roast turkey crown with harissa, pomegranate and cucumber raita and Moroccan tomato jam. My favourite feature is the ‘good things to serve with’ suggestions at the end of many of the recipes to take them in different directions, not to mention an entire chapter dedicated to sauces and accompaniments and creative ways to use up leftovers. This might be a Christmas cookbook, but don’t put it back on the shelf in January — there are so many tempting dishes to make throughout all the colder winter months. Sorry, Nigella, but I think there’s a new favourite Christmas cookbook in town.

Five to try: Smoked Gubbeen and pearl barley, cucumber, pomegranate and toasted almond salad; pulled braised lamb shoulder with pomegranate molasses and pickled red onions; Brussels sprouts with toasted hazelnuts and candied bacon; white chocolate mousse with dark chocolate sauce and candied kumquats; Medjool dates with Crozier blue cheese

Bake Knit Sew: A Recipe and Craft Project Annual by Evin O’KeefeBake Knit Sew by Evin O'Keefe

Showing that self-publishing is still a viable option, American expat and blogger Evin O’Keefe raised Kickstarter funds to publish her first book, a charming collection of knitting and sewing patterns and family recipes. Inspired by her Irish-American grandma’s recipe box and craftiness, this book showcases a year of creativity in baking, knitting and sewing. So for example, the autumn section has a recipe for an orange and honey loaf cake that is complemented by a knitting pattern for a honeycomb tea cozy. Perfect for people who always like to have a crafty project on the go.

Five to try: White chocolate cheesecake; snickerdoodles; Aunt Nell’s blondies; orange and honey loaf cake; monster cookies

Bake Like an Italian: More Recipes for the Good Life by Catherine FulvioBake Like an Italian by Catherine Fulvio

Continuing on from her earlier books Catherine’s Italian Kitchen and Eat Like an Italian, Catherine Fulvio focuses on baking in her latest Italy-inspired book. Chapters are divided into breads, pasta bakes, pizza, little bites, dolci, something for coffee, something for Easter, something for Christmas and bambini bakers. The recipe intros are full of interesting background stories to the many traditional Italian recipes in the book, the result of Catherine’s travels to Italy to research the book and sweet talk her Italian friends and family into sharing their recipes. Plus ‘The Pantry’ chapter and the introduction to ‘The Bread Bin’ chapter are full of helpful tips to get you started making your own breads if you’ve never tried your hand at it before so that you’ll soon be knocking out your own homemade breads with ease.

Five to try: Foccacia with red wine and grapes; sweet raisin bread; Roman pizza; chocolate hazelnut torte; mocha and orange biscotti

The Ballymaloe Cookbook by Myrtle AllenThe Ballymaloe Cookbook by Myrtle Allen

Back in September, I was browsing the cookbooks in Dubray Books on Grafton Street when a Dutch tourist asked me for a recommendation for a good traditional Irish cookbook, saying he buys at least one cookbook from every country he travels to. Without even having to think about it, I took the new edition of The Ballymaloe Cookbook down from the shelf and pressed it into his hands, saying, ‘You simply have to get this one.’

Concepts and words like local, seasonal and artisinal are all the rage these days, but when Myrtle Allen opened her restaurant in her home at Ballymaloe House 50 years ago, it wasn’t revolutionary — it was just the way food was. As she says herself in the introduction, ‘I started the restaurant because I knew that the food that was available to me at Ballymaloe was terribly good as it was. I get enormous satisfaction in being able to give people the food that I think we ought to be eating.’ It’s also easy to forget what a true pioneer Myrtle Allen was when it came to recognising the outstanding quality of our own homegrown produce and serving it simply but well, years before Alice Waters famously served a single perfectly ripe peach for dessert at Chez Panisse.

I was honoured to be the editor for this handsome new edition of The Ballymaloe Cookbook, which was first published in 1977. And after reading every single recipe — twice! — I feel that I have learned the secret to Ballymaloe, and it is this: butter and cream, and lots of it, and a generous hand with the seasoning. These recipes are true classics that have stood the test of time and reflect the fact that when you’re working with top-class ingredients, you don’t need to do very much to them to make them shine. It has also been updated with some new recipes to reflect our changing tastes, but it still stays true to the Ballymaloe ethos that has since become famous around the world. No Irish kitchen should be without a copy.

Five to try: Chicken baked with butter and fresh herbs; pepper beef stew; leek, potato and cheese pie; carrageen moss pudding; Ballymaloe brown bread

Bread on the Table: Baking Traditions for Today by Valerie O’ConnorBread on the Table by Valerie O'Connor

Many of us tend to think of homemade bread as beyond our abilities, when in fact you can knock out a loaf in less time than it takes to pop down to the shops for a sliced pan. This book is the perfect introduction to bread-making for novices, but with plenty of modern and inventive recipes to tempt more experienced bakers too. The very first recipe gets you to jump in headfirst with a basic white yeast bread and the recipes go from there, including soda breads, brown bread, sourdough, breads made with wild ingredients, gluten-free goodies and sweet things. Once you realise how easy it is to make your own bread at home, and how much better it tastes, you’ll never look twice at a shop-bought loaf again.

Five to try: No-knead spelt bread; wholemeal and honey loaf; potato and rye semi-sourdough; wild garlic foccacia; chocoalte swirls

Dinner: The Irish Times Selection by Domini KempDinner by Domini Kemp

I had a tattered, stained printout of Domini Kemp’s winter salad recipe that I hung onto for years once it went behind the Irish Times paywall, but I was finally able to bin it now that it made the cut for inclusion in Domini’s collection of her most popular recipes from her Irish Times newspaper column. I’m sure I’m not the only one who had a collection of such well-loved and well-used printouts or recipes torn straight from the pages of the Saturday magazine and I’m sure there are many more people just like me who were delighted to see her best recipes from the past six years collected together into a book. And what a book it is, with a substantial heft to it, which is perfectly fitting for a collection like this. Domini Kemp is a woman after my own heart — or palate, as the case may be. I love the big, bold, punchy flavours she uses in her cooking, and I especially love the way she streamlines recipes to make them as quick and to the point as possible but without compromising on taste. This is the kind of cookbook that will rarely make it back onto the bookshelf because it’s bound to be in such constant use in your kitchen.

Five to try: Roast chicken bake; meatballs with lemon and wine; lamb hot pot with harissa yoghurt; baked beans with chorizo, egg and feta; pasta with salami, tomato cream and rocket

The Extra Virgin Kitchen: Recipes for Wheat-Free, Sugar-Free and Dairy-Free Eating by Susan Jane WhiteThe Extra Virgin Kitchen by Susan Jane White

Thirteen years ago, Susan Jane White was a model student at Oxford — literally. But a combination of a stereotypical model’s diet with an even worse stereotypical student diet — a cocktail of carbs, caffeine and cigarettes — eventually led to a similar cocktail of bodily complaints: thrush, earaches, headaches, psoriasis, dizziness and cold sores that not even 12 courses of antibiotics and several hospitalisations could clear up. So when the consultants couldn’t figure out what was wrong, Susan Jane took matters into her own hands and with the help of a nutritionist embarked on an elimination diet. In her own words, she said ‘it felt like someone was sucking the illness out of my body’. So it was goodbye to junk food and hello to goji berries after that, and she’s never looked back. Now in its fourth print run, I think it’s fair to say that this book has been the surprise hit of the year. Susan Jane’s writing is at once informative and playful, but most of all, it makes you want to get into the kitchen and run right out to buy a spiralizer. Crucially, the book also has a resources section at the back with lists of where you can source some of the more hard-to-find ingredients. I’ve become addicted to her smudge recipe and have had a batch on the go almost continuously since the book came out back in the spring and I’ve made her hot and smoky seeds and her Irish superfood salad countless times by now too, plus her chocolate avocado mousse is the best version I’ve ever tasted. This is food that’s so vibrant and delicious, it never even occurs to you that anything is missing.

Five to try: Smoked paprika and cumin quinoa; mackerel paté with anchovy aioli; salmon fishcakes with curried coconut yoghurt; 10-hour shoulder of lamb with crushed chickpeas and the best sauces you’re ever likely to taste; chilli chocolate missile

Food for the Fast Lane: Recipes to Power Your Body and Mind by Derval O’RourkeFood for the Fast Lane by Derval O'Rourke

Most of us usually need something major to happen to get us to change our ways, but how many of us can cite a disappointing Olympics performance as a wake-up call? Lining up to race in Athens in 2004, just four weeks after suffering a case of severe food poisoning and appendicitis, Derval O’Rourke writes, ‘I was 22 and one of the youngest members of the Irish Olympic team. It was one of the worst performances of my entire career and possibly had the biggest impact on my future running…The message was loud and clear: I wasn’t paying enough attention to my general health. I was depending solely on the work I was doing on the track and in the gym. And that was not enough.’ What followed was a dawning realisiation that everything is intertwined and that goodness in = greatness out, starting with a good diet and a new philosophy to sleep well, eat well and live well to be the best athlete she could be. But if you think that means an unappealing diet of energy shakes and protein bars, think again. Derval loves food, and it just so happens to be healthy. You don’t have to be an Olympic athlete in training to enjoy meals like chicken and mango salad, baked trout with lime and garlic butter or quick coconut and basil chicken, or treats like dark chocolate banana bread or lemon drizzle and poppy seed squares. Oh, and as for being the best athlete? Two years after hitting rock bottom in Athens, Derval went on to become world champion. Looks like the proof really is in the pudding.

Five to try: Baked avocado, eggs and basil; warm quinoa with lemon, pistachio and harissa; chicken and lentil casserole; sea bass with tomato and chorizo; creamy pistachio pasta

The Nation’s Favourite Food Fast! by Neven MaguireThe Nation's Favourite Food Fast

It’s 6pm on a Wednesday and you’ve just landed in the door from a long day at work, maybe after collecting the kids from the creche on the way. There is a list as long as your arm of things to do, but first there’s the small matter of what to make for dinner. That’s where this book comes in. Neven Maguire has created these recipes to be ready for the table in under an hour, with many only needing 30 minutes to cook. It follows the same format as last year’s popular The Nation’s Favourite Food book, with 20 short chapters of five recipes each. But just because they’re fast doesn’t mean they’re boring: think dishes like rib-eye steak with chimichurri, chicken and chickpea tagine with honey and ginger, sticky bacon chops with root vegetable rosti or even my favourite, the baked fish fillets with horseradish crust and lemon cream sauce. It’s no wonder this book won Best Irish Cookbook at this year’s Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards.

Five to try: Beef stroganoff with fluffy rice and dill pickle shavings; speedy coq au vin; roasted hake with cherry tomatoes, basil and mozzarella; pumpkin pizza with Cashel Blue and pickled red onion; cappuccino cream chocolate cake

No-Bake Baking: Easy Oven-Free Cakes and Treats by Sharon Hearne-SmithNo-Bake Baking by Sharon Hearne Smith

As a food stylist, Sharon has been a behind-the-scenes kind of gal in the food world, working with the likes of Jamie Oliver, Rachel Allen, Lorraine Pascale and Ina Garten, to name just a few, to get their food ready for its close-up on television and in their books. But Sharon has such talent and flair and so much personality of her own (she rocks a beehive hairdo and polka dots better than anyone) that it was only a matter of time before her own name was on the cover of a book. And what a fun, beautiful book it is. Sharon’s recipes turn baking on its head by taking the oven out of the equation — no more soggy bottoms! Just delicious treats like no-bake biscuits, cakes, slices and bars, cheesecakes, pies and tarts, and frozen desserts. No-Bake Baking is her first book but I’m confident it won’t be her last, and that this is just the start of a career as a food writer in her own right for Sharon.

Five to try: Blackberry swirl marshmallow gateau; cookie monster ice-box cake; candy stripe blueberry cheesecake; chocolate, date and peanut butter bars; white chocolate and pistachio tiramisu. Check out five recipes from the book here.

The Happy Pear: Recipes and Stories from the First Ten Years by David and Stephen FlynnThe Happy Pear: Recipes and Stories from the First Ten Years by David and Stephen Flynn

Twins David and Stephen Flynn are on a mission: they want to get you to eat more veg. It doesn’t hurt that they are walking, talking advertisements for their vegetarian way of eating, all sunrise walks on the beach and glowing good health. What began as a greengrocer’s shop 10 years ago is also now a renowned cafe, an online shop, a Happy Heart course and cooking demos, classroom health education courses, a sprout and wheatgrass farm and a partnership in a local cherry farm. The book can get a little text heavy at times with a lot of background information and reminiscing, which is sure to appeal to loyal fans but might be lost on readers who aren’t lucky locals of the cafe itself. But then, this is a cafe that is very much rooted in its community with an admirable business ethos and David and Stephen are doing what they love. The book is a vibrant reflection of that and it’s hard not to be inspired by their enthusiasm and energy, which comes through in their writing and in the recipes. With all the interest in a healthier, plant-based and raw foods way of eating recently, this book has wound up being bang on trend.

Five to try: Carrot, cashew and coriander soup; chermoula and herb couscous with edamame beans, cherry tomatoes and almonds; Spanish chickpea and potato bake; chocolate, orange and ginger cake; honey and seed flapjacks

The Pleasures of the Table: Rediscovering Theodora Fitzgibbon selected by Donal SkehanThe Pleasures of the Table by Theodora Fitzgibbon

Theodora Fitzgibbon is to Ireland what Elizabeth David was to England. She introduced her readers to exotic and far-flung flavours via her Irish Times column, which she wrote for 20 years, not to mention her 30 cookbooks. And also like Elizabeth David, she travelled widely, living in India, the US and in many countries on the Continent, which obviously had a huge influence on her approach to food. But in addition to being a prolific food writer, she also worked as an actress in London and Rome and wrote two autobiographies and a novel. Her black and white photo in the introduction of the book, with her bare shoulders, upswept hair, sharply pencilled eyebrows and holding a slim cigarette as if an admirer outside of the camera’s frame is just about to light it for her, oozes glamour. They don’t make them like her anymore. This new book, a collection of her best recipes selected and photographed by Donal Skehan, will appeal to her many fans as well as introduce her to a new generation of food lovers. It’s an intriguing mix of traditional Irish recipes like nettle soup, crubeens and boxty cakes but also more cosmopolitan recipes that must have been unheard of at the time she wrote them, dishes like rogan josh, chicken Lahori and peperonata. It’s a neat coincidence that this collection was brought out in the spring and then the current Irish Times columnist, Domini Kemp, published her selection in the autumn, a perfect contrast of old and new.

Five to try: Braised beef with prunes; ham cooked with Guinness and served with apple sauce; Dublin lawyer; Irish omelette; gur cake

 

And here are loads more Irish cookbooks published this year:

You might also like:

*I received review copies of all the books featured above. In addition, I was the editor for the following: A Simply Delicious Christmas, Bake Knit Sew, The Ballymaloe Cookbook, Bake Like an Italian, The Extra Virgin Kitchen and The Nation’s Favourite Food Fast.

If you’re working on a cookbook and need an experienced editor, email me at kristin (at) edible-ireland (dot) com.

 

 

 

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Books, Beer and Brownies

by Kristin on November 12, 2014

The next few weeks are all about books, beer and brownies! Caroline Hennessy and I will be signing copies of Sláinte, doing beer and food tastings and offering double chocolate porter brownies to anyone who cares to come see us or get their book signed. C’mon, who can resist a brownie? Plus it’s the perfect chance to pick up a signed copy of Sláinte for the beer or cider lover in your life this Christmas.

double chocolate porter brownies

Saturday, 15 November: Book signing at Hodges Figgis bookshop, Dawson Street, Dublin 2, 11am to 1pm

Saturday, 15 November: Book signing at Blackrock Cellar, Dublin, 5pm to 7pm

Sunday, 16 November: Dublin Book Festival craft beer and cider tasting at Smock Alley Theatre, Temple Bar, Dublin, with Bellingham Blue cheese and, you guessed it, porter brownies, 3pm to 3:45pm

Friday, 5 December: Craft beer event, Ardkeen Quality Food Store, Waterford, 5pm to 8pm

Saturday, 6 December: Book signing at Waterstones bookshop, Cork city, 1pm to 3pm

Saturday, 6 December: Book signing at Bradleys Off-Licence, Cork city, 5pm to 6pm

 

If you can’t make it out to see us, you can find Sláinte in good bookshops and independent off-licences across Ireland as well as online at Kennys.ie (for a great price and free shipping worldwide) and Amazon.

 

 

 

 

 

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Beef, Beer and Blue Cheese Pot Pies

by Kristin on November 6, 2014

To celebrate International Stout Day, I’m reposting my updated beef, beer and blue cheese pot pies recipe from my book, Sláinte: The Complete Guide to Irish Craft Beer and Cider. If you like the sound of these pot pies, check out Chapter 8 in the book for more recipes that incorporate craft beer and cider, like beef, chorizo and ale stew, cider-brined pork tenderloins or chocolate porter cake. There’s both eating and drinking in it!

beef, beer and blue cheese pot pies

Beef, Beer and Blue Cheese Pot Pies

Serves 4–6

There is nothing wrong with a classic beef and stout stew, but what if you upped the ante on the stout and added some blue cheese too? And what if you capped it with a flaky puff pastry lid and called it a pot pie instead? Now you’re talking.

1kg (2lb) stewing beef (such as shin or cheek), cut into bite-sized pieces
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons plain flour
rapeseed or olive oil
2 red onions, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves (or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme)
500ml (2 cups) stout
125g (3/4 cup) crumbled blue cheese
1 sheet of ready-rolled puff pastry
1 egg, beaten

Preheat the oven to 130°C.

Put the beef in a large bowl and sprinkle over 1 teaspoon of salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Add the flour and toss the beef in it until it all has a light dusting. Heat some rapeseed or olive oil in a large ovenproof casserole and brown the beef in batches over a medium-high heat, making sure not to crowd the pot or the meat won’t brown properly. Add more oil in between batches if needed. Remove the beef from the pot and set aside.

Add another splash of oil to the pot, then add the onions and carrots along with a pinch of salt so that the onions don’t brown. Cover the pot and cook for 10–15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft but not browned. Add the garlic, thyme and a generous seasoning of salt and pepper and cook for 1 or 2 minutes more.

Pour in the stout, scraping up any browned bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pot. Return the beef to the pot and bring up to a lively simmer, then cover and put in the oven for 3–4 hours (or simmer on the stovetop on a low heat with the lid on), stirring a few times. You will know it’s done when the beef easily falls apart when you prod it with a fork and the stout has reduced right down – it’s a pot pie filling, not a stew, so you want it to be nice and thick. Stir in the cheese, then taste it and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Raise the oven temperature to 190°C. Place one large ovenproof pie dish or individual dishes or ramekins onto a baking tray just in case any filling bubbles up and over the sides, then spoon the stew into the dish(es). Roll out the pastry a little on a lightly floured countertop, then cut to fit the top of the dish. Rub the edges of the dish with a little water or some of the beaten egg to help the pastry stick in place, then place the pastry lid on top. Brush the pastry with the beaten egg (not too much or the pastry won’t rise properly), then cook in the oven for 20–30 minutes, until the pastry has risen and is golden. Allow to stand for 10 minutes before digging in.

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I’ve loved books my whole life. When I was a kid I pestered my mother to take me to the library every week. I studied English in college and for the past 15 years I’ve worked in publishing as an editor. You could even say books are my life now. After reading and working with other people’s words for so many years, I’m still pinching myself that my own book – Sláinte: The Complete Guide to Irish Craft Beer and Cider – is out in the world now. And even though I work with books every day for a living and well know how the publishing process works, it still feels like magic.

Sláinte: The Complete Guide to Irish Craft Beer and Cider

And it’s so much fun! I’m usually one of the invisible people who works behind the scenes on books, so it’s been a big change to be the one doing newspaper interviews and photo shoots, chatting on radio shows and carrying around Sharpies in my handbag to sign copies.

signing books

But I didn’t do it alone. When my co-author, Caroline Hennessy, and I sat down to write our acknowledgements a few months ago, it really hit me – and humbled me – how many people had helped to make this book happen. And if I had to sum up the whole process of writing Sláinte in one word, that word for me would be generosity.

Going right back to the start of it all, as someone who moved to a new country and built a life from scratch, I’ve always been so grateful for the generosity of friendship people have shown me, be it my very first colleagues in the publishing world who have watched me go from a bumbling intern to a published author, to my neighbours who welcomed us into the small rural community where we live, to all the people I met in the virtual world when I started blogging who quickly turned into true friends in the real world.

And people were so generous about contributing to the book. As a self-employed freelancer who never has enough hours in the day, I know it’s the same for the craft brewers and cider-makers too. Yet everyone took time out of their busy schedules to talk to us and answer our questions and share their knowledge. And that has been my experience again and again in the food community in Ireland. People are so happy to share, whether it’s their story, such as all the producers who are profiled; or their expertise, like Seáneen Sullivan and Kevin Sheridan, who shared their favourite matches of  beer and cider with food and cheese; or everyone who shared their photographs and recipes with us. It is because of the generosity of all these people that Sláinte is the book it is. Julia Child said it best when she said, ‘People who love to eat are always the best people.’ I would just add ‘and drink’ to that too.

Sláinte is in good company!

This past year, I have often thought to myself: how did a girl from a small town in Illinois come to write a book all about Irish beer and cider? And for that I have to thank my husband, Matt. He wooed me to Ireland for what was supposed to be a one-year adventure, maybe two, max – and that was in 1999. He’s had a lot of people commiserate with him that it must have been tough work being married to someone who was writing a book all about beer and cider. But seriously, though, I suspect that behind every person who writes a book is someone else who is quietly anchoring the family to keep things ticking along, whether it’s making endless cups of tea and coffee, doing the grocery shopping and making sure the children don’t eat a steady diet of fish fingers and frozen peas, or reading all the bedtime stories for months on end.

But my biggest thank you is for Caroline, my co-author and a dear friend. We didn’t even know each other five years ago, but hardly a day has gone by in the past year where we haven’t talked to each other. We also co-founded the Irish Food Bloggers Association back in 2011, and at this point I think it’s fair to say that we make a pretty good team. There’s no one else I would rather have written this book with.

at the launch of Sláinte

But now it’s all about YOU, the reader. We set out to write the kind of book that we wanted to read when we started exploring craft beer and cider a few years ago, when information in an Irish context was hard to come by. We’ve covered everything from how beer and cider are made to their history in Ireland, how to taste and savour them, how to match them with food and cheese and even how to cook with them, so there is something for everyone in this book. I hope you enjoy reading it and working your way through it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Sláinte!

Want to buy a copy? You probably won’t find a better deal than kennys.ie, which is offering it at €15.07 plus free shipping anywhere in the world. Or look for it in all good bookshops as well as good off-licences around the country.

We also run the Craft Beer Ireland website — follow us on Twitter or Facebook to keep up with all the news on craft beer and cider in Ireland.

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Postcards from Ireland #13

by Kristin on May 16, 2014

Inishowen, County Donegal

You can see more of my photos on Instagram as edibleireland.

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Traditional Irish Recipes for Paddy’s Day

by Kristin on March 17, 2014

Here’s the thing. Contrary to popular belief, we are not all having corned beef and cabbage for dinner in Ireland today. If you want to make something traditional that people really do eat, on all days of the year, try one of these dishes instead. Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Duit!

Irish soda bread — don’t forget to put a cross on top to let the fairies out.

Beef and Irish stout stew — there’s both eating and drinking in it.

Dublin coddle - the capital’s namesake dish of bacon, sausages and spuds; what’s not to love?

Colcannon - Did you ever eat colcannon, made from lovely pickled cream? / With the greens and scallions mingled like a picture in a dream.

Apple and blackberry crumble — a good old-fashioned crumble is one of Ireland’s best-loved desserts.

* And remember too: it’s Paddy, not Patty!

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It All Started with the Dark Arts

by Kristin on February 4, 2014

It all started with the Dark Arts.

I was at the first Inishfood festival in 2011, freezing in a marquee on a cold March night in Donegal, when I was given a cup of Dark Arts as part of a beer-tasting event. Having never been much of a fan of Guinness, my first thought was Ugh, stout. But then I figured that I might as well try it; it had already been put in my hand, after all.

Instead of the metallic tang of Guinness, I tasted roasted coffee. I took another sip, and tasted chocolate. Cue Green Eggs and Ham–style revelation: Say! I do like stout! I’ve been making up for lost time ever since. Oh hello, Leann Folláin, Knockmealdown Porter and White Gypsy Imperial Stout, where have you been all my life?

Fast forward a few years and that light bulb moment has evolved into a full-blown love of craft beer, especially beer and food matching. Come Friday night, you’ll likely find me sitting at the kitchen table with my husband, sharing a beer and swapping notes on the taste and aroma – is that grapefruit? toffee? McVitie’s biscuit? – and debating how well it matches up with whatever we’re having for dinner that night, be it chicken fajitas and an IPA, homemade pizza and a lager or a stout and a brownie for dessert.

It also doesn’t hurt that my very good friend Caroline just so happens to be married to a brewer who makes some of the best beer in the country. I’m a cookbook editor and Caroline is a journalist, so when we’d get together we’d talk about beer, and books, and it wasn’t long before we started talking about doing a book of our own.

And now, from that first dubious sip three years ago, we’re writing a book about beer!

I’m thrilled to announce that Caroline Hennessy and I are co-authoring The Complete Guide to Irish Craft Beer and Cider, to be published by New Island in the autumn. My hope is that it will be the kind of book I wish I’d had when I first started exploring the world of craft beer, covering everything from the basics of how beer and cider are made to profiles of the people and stories behind the microbreweries that are fuelling Ireland’s craft beer revolution, all the way through to tips on matching beer and cider with food and Irish farmhouse cheese and recipes that incorporate craft brews.

In the meantime, we’ve launched a new website, Craft Beer Ireland, where we’ll be keeping our fingers on the pulse of all things craft beer and cider. You can also follow along there on Facebook and Twitter. I’m writing a beer of the month column for Georgina Campbell’s Ireland Guide ezine, so be sure to check in there too.

It’s an exciting time for craft beer and cider in Ireland, and I’m so excited to be a part of it. Sláinte!

(And if all this has got you curious about craft beer, get down to the Alltech International Craft Brews & Food Fair in Dublin this weekend or the Franciscan Well Cask & Winter Ale Festival in Cork from 14–16 February.)

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