All Posts By

Margaret M. Johnson

Food & Drink

Can’t Get Enough of All Those Pumpkins!

While pumpkins are not native to Ireland, they’re in great demand during the autumn, especially around Halloween (also known as Samhain, one of the four ancient Celtic festivals).

In the U.S. we use pumpkins in many sweet and savory dishes, but most cooks find it more efficient to purchase canned pumpkin rather than to cut and scrape the flesh from a fresh one.

If you love pumpkin bread and pumpkin pie, you’ll adore this rich pudding made with challah bread! Top it with freshly whipped cream enhanced with mascarpone cheese. You’ll find recipes like this in my cookbook Favorite Flavors of Ireland (now BOGO/buy one get one free); order signed copies at www.irishcook.com.

PUMPKIN BREAD PUDDING WITH MASCARPONE WHIPPED CREAM
Serves 6 to 8
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Food & Drink

Touring West Cork

Driving around Ireland definitely makes you hungry—and sometimes forgetful—so after a day of touring around West Cork I arrived at The Fish Kitchen, a small-ish restaurant in Bantry situated, appropriately, above a fish market, without a reservation.

Call it the luck of the Irish, but proprietor Diarmaid Murphy managed to squeeze me and my friend in because of a cancellation.

Great luck, indeed, to grab a table in a place where they focus on three elements of serving fish: freshness, simplicity, and quality. Murphy says, “We do our best not to interfere with the fish, serving it simply skin side-up with a variety of simple butters or sauces on top or on the side … geographically we’re in an ideal location to keep the distance between the sea and the plate as short as possible,” an ethos not lost on the diners.

Here’s one of the standouts on the menu. Continue Reading

Food & Drink

Hot Off the Grill

Move over hot dogs, hamburgers, and steaks; make room for a whiskey-enhanced grilled lamb and delicious grilled tomatoes to go with it. With tomatoes coming into season in a big way, I think you’ll enjoy these new recipes to add to your grilling agenda for August and beyond. You’ll find these and similar recipes in my Favorite Flavors of Ireland cookbook…now BOGO, buy one get one free! To order signed copies, visit www.irishcook.com Continue Reading

Food & Drink

These Scones are the Berry Best

Strawberry season has just arrived where I live in the northeast.

The season is over almost as quickly as it arrives, so I grab as many as possible and eat, bake, or freeze them as fast as I can.

As the Fourth of July approaches, they’re especially colorful in red, white and blue scones, treats you can actually eat from morning to night—lathered with a little butter or clotted cream for breakfast or brunch or with a dollop of whipped cream for dessert.

You’ll find similar scone recipes in Favorite Flavors of Ireland; order signed copies at www.irishcook.com Continue Reading

Food & Drink

Potatoes: The Stuff of Greatness

I’m writing this post from Dublin, where I’m finishing up another great visit to Ireland. You know what that means? I’ve had potatoes [nearly] for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in as many shapes and textures as one can imagine: fried potatoes for breakfast, chips to go with fish at lunch, and boiled or creamed potatoes to go with just about anything at dinner.

I’ve come to the conclusion that they really are the stuff of greatness and no more so than in a potato cake, to which any number of other ingredients can be added. These potato cake recipes have appeared in a number of my cookbooks, including Favorite Flavors of Ireland. To order a signed copy, visit www.irishcook.com Continue Reading

Food & Drink

If You Like Marmalade, You’ll Love these Muffins

MARMALADE MUFFINS

MAKES 1 DOZEN

Marmalade made with Seville oranges is often preferred in Ireland because these oranges are higher in pectin and give a slightly bitter taste. In this recipe, thick-cut marmalade adds both flavor and texture.

To keep the muffins light and fluffy, fold the wet and dry ingredients together as briefly as possible until just combined; not to worry if the mixture is a bit lumpy.

You’ll find recipes like this in my cookbook Favorite Flavors of Ireland. To order signed copies, visit www.irishcook.com

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup coarse whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 5 tablespoons plain or vanilla yogurt
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • Grated zest of 1 orange
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup thick-cut orange marmalade
  • Softened butter, for spreading

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Food & Drink

Time to Make the Soda Bread

If it’s March, then it’s time to start thinking of soda bread, one of Ireland’s most iconic foods.

It’s safe to say that every Irish cook has a recipe for it that’s been personalized by families either by name, ingredients, or method of baking. A few decades ago, I judged an Irish cooking contest and nearly one quarter of all the recipes submitted were for soda bread—Aunt Eileen’s, Grandma O’Hara’s, Auntie Maura’s, Cousin Terry’s—and not one was the same!

Two or three recipes were for the sweet white version that calls for raisins and caraway seeds and even these varied: one recipe suggested soaking the raisins in water or whiskey to plump up the fruit. Another one or two insisted kneading was essential. One added sour cream; another buttermilk.

I enjoyed them all, but this one—a brown bread flavored with Guinness—has become my favorite. It might become yours, too! If you can, use an Irish brand of coarse whole meal flour; if not, mix Irish oatmeal and oat or wheat bran. You’ll fine recipes like this in my cookbook Favorite Flavors of Ireland; signed copies available at www.irishcook.com. Continue Reading

Food & Drink

Hometown Favorite: Chocolate-Irish Cream Cheesecake with Walnut Crust

SERVES 14 TO 16

It’s that time of year again when thoughts turn to love—love and Champagne, hearts, flowers and, of course, chocolate.

Try this yummy Irish cream-laced chocolate cheesecake (made with Philadelphia cream cheese) for a delicious Valentine’s Day treat.

You’ll find other recipes like this in my Favorite Flavors of Ireland cookbook. To order, visit www.irishcook.com Continue Reading