All Posts By

Margaret M. Johnson

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

Continue Reading

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

Food & Drink

Soup’s On: Add Guinness!

Onion soup is a surefire hit on anyone’s winter menu. Instead of using only yellow onions, this soup uses three — yellow, red, and shallots—adds Guinness to flavor the broth, and tops it with hearty, thick-cut croutons with melted blue cheese—Cashel Blue preferred! You can make the croutons ahead of time and store in an airtight container.

GUINNESS ONION SOUP WITH BLUE CHEESE CROUTONS

SERVES 8 

Ingredients

Soup

  • 2 tablespoons. unsalted butter
  • 3 large yellow onions, peeled and sliced
  • 2 large red onions, peeled and sliced
  • 4 shallots, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 3 cups homemade beef stock or canned low-sodium beef broth
  • 1 cup Guinness
  • Salt and ground pepper to taste Continue Reading
Food & Drink

Soup Season is Definitely Here

CREAMY CARROT-CLOVE SOUP

SERVES 6 TO 8

This is one of my all-time favorite soups, and with the chilly temperatures we’ve been having lately, it’s definitely time for another batch. The recipe has been in my soup repertoire since 1999 when it appeared in my first cookbook, “Irish Heritage Cookbook.”  A few whole cloves add magic to it, and you can serve it “as is” or embellish it with Bacon Breadcrumbs (recipe follows), a later addition. For a thicker consistency add a chopped potato. Continue Reading

Food & Drink

‘Bring Us Some Figgy Pudding’

Often called “plum pudding”—despite the fact that it contains no plums whatsoever—steamed pudding was first recorded as “Christmas Pudding” in 1858 and later popularized in the carol “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”

The name is probably derived from the substitution of raisins for dried plums as an ingredient in pies during medieval times. In the 16thand 17thcenturies, dishes made with raisins retained the term “plum,” and in the Victorian era, Christmas plum puddings became a well-loved dessert.

Curiously, plum pudding was a latecomer to Ireland, but it caught on quickly and replaced its plainer boiled pudding cousins; to this day it’s one of the most traditional of all Christmas dishes. Not to be confused with fruitcake, it’s actually more like a dense spice cake, and this recipe uses butter rather than the traditional suet.

Serve it warm with Brandy Hard Sauce. You’ll find more holiday recipes in my cookbook Christmas Flavors of Ireland; signed copies available on www.irishcook.com Continue Reading

Food & Drink

Giving Thanks for Irish Cheese

If you’re still looking to add an Irish “touch” to your American Thanksgiving meal, look no further than this delicious starter featuring Cashel Blue, Ireland’s first (and most delicious) blue cheese. This recipe comes from award-winning chef Kevin Dundon, proprietor of Dunbrody House in County Wexford, and is part of a collection of Cashel Blue recipes from Kerrygold, who now imports the cheese.

You’ll find other recipes featuring this cheese in my cookbook Favorite Flavors of Ireland; signed copies available at www.irishcook.com

WILD MUSHROOM-BLUE CHEESE TOASTIES

SERVES 6 Continue Reading