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Food & Drink, People

McGillin’s Checks in as Philly’s Best Bar

Chris Mullins, Jr.

Chris Mullins, Jr.

The city’s oldest continuously operating bar is now officially the best, according to the location-based social networking site Foursquare. Not that this is the first time McGillin’s has been singled out for honors from local and national media—far from it—but it is the first time the GPS-based social networking site chose the 150-year-old-plus Drury Street tavern to top the “best bars” list, as determined by the site’s registered users.

The longtime Irish watering hole ranked 9.6 out of 10 points, based on “check-ins” by users.

Media praise never gets old, says owner Chris Mullins, Jr. On the contrary, he laughs, it just reaffirms his career choice. “Running a bar is an exhausting but thrilling profession to be in. You can’t do it unless you love it. It’s in my blood. I’m thrilled by it every day.”

Watch our interview with Chris, above.

Fado Irish Pub, 1500 Locust Street, scored a 9.0 for best beer. Fado also scored a 9.0 under “best pub.” O’Neal’s, 611 South Third, tapped in with an 8.9 score; The Bards, 2013 Walnut Street, pulled an 8.8.

Food & Drink

A Happy and Tasty New Year

/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/magnersham-229×300.jpg” alt=”Magner’s Glazed Ham” width=”229″ height=”300″ /> Magner’s Glazed Ham

You can probably tell that cookbook author Margaret Johnson is one of our favorite people. We’ve asked her for recipes many times, and she has come across with some tasty dishes every time. One of the reasons we go to her so often is that her recipes come right from the source: the cooks, chefs and bakers of Ireland.

To read Johnson’s cookbooks, you might think that this retired New England schoolteacher had been traveling to Ireland since she was knee-high to a butterfly, but in fact she didn’t make her first journey until she was 40. The trip, back in 1984, was a birthday present from her husband.

Johnson grew up in an Irish family, and her grandparents—her mother’s parents in particular, who came from Kerry—never forgot their roots. “That’s all they ever talked about, was the old country,” Johnson says, though she didn’t take it seriously as she might have.

She started to pay more attention later on in life, when she pursued a Ph.D. in English. “I took three or four doctrinal seminars in Irish literature. That was the turning point. I became obsessed.”

The trip to Ireland, on the other hand, was a revelation. “That was kind of like the jumping off point,” Johnson says. “After that, I kept looking for ways to reconnect. I thought about what I could do to keep this connection, and the answer was food.”

Nine cookbooks and more than 60 trips to Ireland later, Johnson has made that connection, and then some. Each book is part food, part travelogue, lavishly illustrated with photos, many of them her own. Her most recent cookbook (which we’ve mentioned before) is “Flavors of Ireland,” published by Ambassador International. Like all of her cookbooks, “Flavors of Ireland” draws on the relationships she has established and nurtured with Ireland’s top culinary artists.

When asked why so many cooks are so willing to share their recipes, Johnson explains: “I am a good correspondent. If I meet someone who has an inkling of an interest in contributing a recipe, I always keep in touch with that person.”

Of course, Johnson doesn’t develop those relationships with the sole intention of getting Ireland’s cooks to part with their recipes. Warm, lasting friendships have developed and blossomed over the years.

With frequent trips back to Ireland and the opportunity to spend each trip savoring the best food Ireland has to offer, you might say that Johnson’s one-time interest and now full-time passion seems like a dream job. She agrees.

“Without question, it really does. People ask, ‘Did you plan it this way?’ and I say, no, not really. I’ve always been a cook, always had an interest in food, and always had a passion for Ireland. I’ve just kept at it.”

Stay tuned for Johnson’s next cookbook, the “Christmas Flavors of Ireland,” coming out in mid-summer.

In the meantime, Johnson offers these two recipes sure to be big hits at your New Year’s dinner party. They’re from from Flavors of Ireland © 2012 Margaret M. Johnson.

MAGNER’S GLAZED HAM

Ingredients

One butt half (6 lb.), bone-in, fully cooked ham
12-15 whole cloves
2 cups Magner’s Irish Cider
4 tablespoons pineapple juice
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon of Lakeshire French Mustard or a similar brand

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Score the ham in a diamond pattern, and stud with the cloves
  2. In a small bowl, combine the cider and pineapple juice. Place the ham, cut side down, on a rack in a large roasting pan. Pour the cider mixture over the top. Loosely cover the ham with foil, and bake for 1-½ hours.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar and mustard. Mix 3-4 tablespoons of the cooking liquid with mustard mixture, and spoon it over the ham.
  4. Continue to cook, uncovered, basting frequently, for 30-40 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees F. when inserted into the thickest part of the ham. Remove the ham to a platter or cutting board. Cover with foil, and let stand for 10-15 minutes or longer.
  5. To serve, cut the ham into slices.

KNAPPOGUE CASTLE LEMON CHEESECAKE

Ingredients

Filling
1 3-oz. package of lemon-flavored gelatin
1 cup boiling water
1 8-oz package of cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
Zest of two lemons
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cup heavy (whipping) cream
1 8-oz container of plain yogurt
Fresh berries for serving (optional)

Crust

8 tablespoons salted Irish butter, melted
3 cups digestive biscuits or graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the butter, biscuit crumbs, and sugar. Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 10-inch springform pan. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes to firm the crust.
  2. In a small bowl, dissolve the gelatin in the water. Let cool until thick, but not set.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice with a mixer on high until smooth. Set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, whip the cream with an electric mixer on high until stiff peaks form. Pour in the gelatin mixture and continue to mix until well blended. Fold in the yogurt and then fold in the cream cheese mixture. Pour over the crust, cover and refrigerate overnight, or until set.
  5. To serve, release the side of the pan, and cut the cake into slices. Top with fresh berries, if desired.

For additional info about Margaret Johnson and her many cookbooks and recipes, please visit her website, http://www.irishcook.com

And check out our related links for many more recipes from Margaret Johnson.

Food & Drink

Happy Feast of the Dead!

p-content/uploads/2012/10/Barmbrack-300×225.jpg” alt=”Scarily good barmbrack” width=”300″ height=”225″ /> Scarily good barmbrack

With Halloween just around the corner, we thought it would be fun to bring an old story back to life. It’s a story from 2007 that was pretty popular because it featured a yummy, seasonally appropriate recipe. Dig in.

If you’re being Irish this Halloween, first, you need to call it Samhain, which, of course, is not pronounced at all as it looks. (We checked the message boards of the Daltai na Gaeilge and they say, “sa-whin. The a in sa should rhyme with the a in ‘a-ha!’ and there is a slight ‘wh’ as in ‘who’ and then win.”)

Most experts agree our Halloween has Celtic origins. In the old days, people believed that as summer gave way to fall (which it’s showing little signs of doing these days), the dead roamed the earth, so to keep them outside, the Irish would leave little offerings of food on their doorsteps. Today, those little offerings of food include bite-sized Snickers, which seem a bit trivial when you’re dealing with the dearly departed, but what do we know?

The ancient Celts may have been trying to keep the dead away from their Barmbrack cakes, which is a traditional Samhain food. Really a fruit bread, it’s usually studded with little items–a rag, a coin, and a ring–that presage your fortune for the next year. If you get the rag, you have probably invested unwisely in bank stocks and can look forward to a miserly year. If you get the coin, most of your money is tied up in safe investments or in an ING account where it is multiplying like bunnies. Getting a ring is a sign of impending romance, continued happiness, or, if it’s an emerald-cut diamond in a platinum setting, a current romance that is moving to the next level. We made some of that up.

In any case, it’s a yummy cake, and Margaret Johnson, author of “The Irish Pub” and “The Irish Spirit” cookbooks, who has shared recipes with us in the past, offers this delicious version that does not contain any of those crunchy ingredients.

Barmbrack

3 cups flour
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
3/4 ounce active dried yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 cups milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups golden raisins
1 1/2 cups currants
1 cup candied mixed peel

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, nutmeg, and salt. With a pastry cutter, blend in the butter until it resembles coarse crumbs. In a separate bowl, combine the yeast with 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Add the remaining sugar to the flour mixture and blend well.

In a saucepan over medium heat, heat the milk to just below boiling then add to the yeast and sugar. Stir in the all but a little of the eggs (reserve a tablespoon for use as a glaze) and add to the dry ingredients. Knead lightly to produce an elastic dough. With a wooden spoon, fold in the fruit. Transfer to a well-greased 8-inch round cake pan. Cover with a clean cloth and leave in a warm place to rise (it should double in size in about 1 hour.) Preheat oven to 400°F.

Brush the top of the brack with a beaten egg to glaze. Bake until golden, or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes.
Serves 8.

October 26, 2012 by
Food & Drink

Happy Columbus Day!

Mamma mia: Jean Catherine McNulty Meade

My mom Jean Catherine McNulty Meade, with her famous lasagna.

Judging by all the “mixed” marriages we run into, it’s a pretty safe bet that there are a lot Irish families out there with Italian relatives, and vice versa.

Several months ago, we celebrated “Gaelic and Garlic” heritage by posting several really scrumptious Italian recipes. Columbus Day is celebrated on Monday, so it seemed like a good idea to resurrect that story.

Food & Drink, People

Tullamore Crew: Bringing a Bit of Ireland to You, One Bite at a Time

When The Shanachie Irish Pub and Restaurant closed its doors for good at the end of March, it wasn’t just the patrons who were sad to see this local gathering place close. After spending more than 8 years together, the folks who prepared and served the food felt like more of a family than a workplace full of co-workers. After all, they’d spent holidays together, even survived last year’s flood in Ambler together. So, one evening in the waning weeks counting down to The Shanachie’s end of days, a brainstorming session by the restaurant’s staff brought them to a light-bulb moment.

If we cater it, they will come.

And the Tullamore Crew Catering Company was born.

“It was really heartbreaking for us when The Shanachie closed,” Crissy Farley, former Shanachie server/bartender/manager and one of the Tullamore Crew’s founders, explained.

“It was our home. When something would happen to one of us, we would automatically show up at The Shanachie. We spent every New Year’s together; some of us have known each other since before we started at The Shanachie.

“We knew that in a community where people are really enthusiastic about their Irish heritage, that if we marketed ourselves, we could find a way to bring what people had loved about The Shanachie directly to the public.”

And that is exactly what they have done. It was Farley, along with fellow Shanachie expat Cynthia Farley, and former Shanachie head chef, Chef Paul,who took the lead in founding the new venture.

Last weekend, Tullamore Crew offered the Irish community an opportunity to sample their menu at a food tasting at The Commodore Barry Club in Mt. Airy. The event sold out, and with good reason. In a word, that reason is “Yum!”

“Chef Paul is originally from Dublin. He is amazing. He came up with the curry chicken recipe; Indian food is very popular in Ireland. You’ll find traditional Irish items on our menu, like shepherd’s pie, beef stew and steak and Guinness pie, but also appetizers like mini bangers in a blanket (they’re real bangers, imported from Ireland) and bite-sized fish and chips.”

There’s also a section of the menu called “Drunken Entree Options” that offers a choice of meat and fish served in their signature Tullamore whiskey sauce. Named after several of the Crew’s children, you can opt for Maddy Ohara’s Baked Breast of Chicken, or Mackenzie Murphy’s Marinated Pork.

The tasting event at The Irish Center confirmed that Tullamore Crew has fulfilled their pledge to bring the best of The Shanachie, and more, to the community. The trays of mini crab cakes didn’t always make it past the line of people queued up for seconds on the curry chicken. When the desserts came around, no one wanted to choose between the chocolate cake, the apple cobbler or the rice pudding. So they tried a bit of everything. A few times. Every member of the Tullamore Crew team was on deck, including Sherri Timlin-Windhaus, daughter of former Shanachie owner and music legend Gerry Timlin. She’s one of the Crew’s managers. It’s truly a group effort and a labor of love.

“After we knew The Shanachie was closing, Paul became the chef at the Hinge Cafe in Port Richmond. It was around February that we came up with the idea, and things took off almost immediately. The owner of Hinge, T. DeLuca, helped make this happen; he partnered with us. He lets us use his space, and has taken us under their umbrella.

“Our first job was catering a jewelry party for a friend, Chef Paul made all the food. Out of that, we got booked to do a reception for a wedding. They loved it! And word started spreading through the grapevine,” Farley said.

“The menu is really versatile. We will tailor a menu to your budget. People have asked us why we don’t have prices on our website and brochures; it’s because we can work with what you can afford. We’re able to do everything from showers to tea parties, weddings, Irish brunches. Even whiskey tastings!  You can have a St. Patrick’s Day celebration any day of the year.”

And, Farley added, “We are part of a coalition in the city, an urban gardening foundation. We use all organic, locally grown produce and products.”

“We’re still coming up with new ideas. The other day we thought up the idea of a mashed potato bar. We’re gonna keep this thing going.”

To book Tullamore Crew for an event, and to peruse their menu, check out their website: Tullamore Crew Catering Company

And, follow them on Facebook: Tullamore Crew on Facebook

 

 

 

Food & Drink, People

Smells Like Victory

Deborah Streeter-DavittInside the Paoli Presbyterian Church kitchen, the air is heavy with the sweet scent of vanilla, orange and chocolate. Easy listening music blares from a boom box in one corner of the room, and in another corner, the industrial-sized twin Blodgett convection ovens emit a low roar.

Perched on cooling racks near an open screen door rest close to two dozen four-inch bundt cakes, a big 10-inch granddaddy bundt, and a coffee table-sized sheet cake. These tantalizing golden-brown confections are the result of a couple of hours’ labor by the exceptionally well organized Deborah Streeter-Davitt, the self-described “head caketress” behind MacDougall’s Irish Victory Cakes. She has help from her father, the Rev. Richard Streeter. (A former pastor of the church, he describes his role in the enterprise as “chief orange squeezer.”)

You might have seen, and tasted, Streeter-Davitt’s handiwork at a local Celtic festival. Her cakes are also available in more than a dozen small markets and farmers’ markets throughout the Delaware Valley. They’re also available online.

The success of MacDougall’s Irish Victory Cakes marks a kind of victory for Streeter-Davitt, who pursued a dream and became a baker following a layoff about three years ago from her longtime job in the financial services industry.

“Necessity breeds creativity,” laughs Streeter-Davitt, who seems not to break a sweat in the 80 degree-plus commercial kitchen, which she rents on Tuesdays and Thursdays from the church. (A local biscotti maker also leases the space.) Her green apron bears the imprint of floury hands. and she tucks her dark, wavy hair into a little heart-decorated painter’s cap, from which an uncooperative loose tendril escapes. Whisking flour and sugar into eggs, melting and stirring chocolate, scooping yellowy batter into heavyweight Nordic Ware pans, manhandling sheet cake pans into the oven, Streeter-Davitt seems the very picture of contentment.

The work consumes many more hours than she was used to devoting to her previous profession, but for Streeter-Davitt, it’s all worthwhile.

The layoff coincided with another imminent turning point in her life. “I was turning 50 in a few years, and I thought … hmmmmmmm. That was two and a half years ago. Up to that point, there was always something missing. Salary and travel all over the United States couldn’t fill that hole. I didn’t realize how fulfilling this would be. Now, I feel like I’m doing something I’m meant to be doing.”

Streeter-Davitt has been baking since the ‘80s. She says that’s when she came into possession of a recipe for a simple but rich, dense, buttery cake. The recipe belonged to her great-grandfather James MacDowell (of the MacDougall Clan) from Belfast. Before World War I, MacDowell had gained no small measure of fame for his delicious, lavishly decorated cakes. He baked for kings and queens. Just after the war, he left his fame behind and moved to the Syracuse, N.Y. area, where he toiled away in a tiny, neighborhood bakery. MacDowell decorated cakes for all the local wealthy households—all so his grandkids would have the opportunity for an education.

MacDowell’s story is the “victory” in the victory cake, says Streeter-Davitt. “It was his victory to bring the family here to the United States. He was a famous champion baker back home, but he gave it all up for his children and grandchildren.”

Streeter-Davitt, for her part, has taken some liberties with the basic butter cake recipe. She adapted the base recipe to create several distinctive, and distinctively named, flavors, from Dassie’s Traditional (with Wilbur chocolate and butterscotch chips) to Skeeter’s Grand Slam (chocolate, butterscotch, peanut butter and marshmallow) to Albie’s Loopy Leprechaun (chocolate, butterscotch and “two cheers of whiskey”). Many of the ingredients are local, and all cakes include at least a kiss of whiskey.

When the local appetite for Victory Cakes is at its greatest, it’s all hands on deck—mostly meaning “relatives, and friends of relatives.” It’s a huge amount of work, baking cakes in large quantities. For a batch, think in terms of two dozen eggs, a pound of butter, a pound of sour cream, five pounds of flour, and six cups of sugar. (And there are a few secret ingredients in the mix that make the cake deliciously different.)

St. Patrick’s Day, of course, is a major undertaking. “We probably made close to 800 minis (the four-inch individual cakes), 150 petites (the two-pound cake), and 20 mighties (the five-pounder),” Streeter-Davitt says.

Baking, she adds, is only half of the job. There’s frosting and decorating, wrapping and labeling, transporting, marketing and more. Yeoman’s labor, but all infinitely worthwhile to MacDougall’s energetic head caketress, both on a professional and a personal level.

“What’s fun about this job is that I get to work with my dad, and carry on his granddad’s legacy. You can’t put a price tag on that.”

More info:

610-608-6889
macdougallscakes@aol.com
www.macdougallscakes.com
PO Box 563 Malvern, PA 19355

Food & Drink

Gaelic and Garlic

Mamma mia: Jean Catherine McNulty Meade

Mamma mia: Jean Catherine McNulty Meade

When I was a kid growing up in Norwich, N.Y., and later Willow Grove, I can remember vividly the days when my mother made her tomato sauce. It seemed like an all-day project, the sound of sauce burbling away in the big aluminum stockpot, and the intoxicating Mediterranean ambrosia of olive oil and garlic filling the house.

No jarred Ragu for my mother; instead, the patient preparation of a thick, deep red, richly flavored topping for spaghetti or filling for lasagna, made all the more scrumptious by a generous dusting of Locatelli Romano cheese, grated fresh at the table, with thick, golden buttery slabs of garlic bread on the side.

Not at all bad for a woman born Jean Catherine McNulty.

How she came to cook Italian food so well is, in its way, a mystery. My grandmother died when my mother was very young, so she, her sister Mary Alice and brother Richie learned at an early age how to keep house, in a series of flats throughout Jersey City. Mary Alice in particular was the cook.

“Mary Al was good at whatever she made,” my mother recalls. “She was a great cook. She didn’t like to clean up afterwards … I was the cleaning person.”

How it came to be that Mary Alice was such a great Italian cook isn’t clear. The story I’d always heard—or thought I’d heard—was that Mary Alice learned to cook from her husband Tony Lionetti’s mother. Not true, says my mother … but the real story is lost in the mists of time. Whatever the story, Mary Alice’s in-laws were impressed.

“She was a better Italian cook than her in-laws,” my mother says. “They loved her cooking.”

The reason my mother became proficient in the ways of pasta is a lot clearer.

“When I got married, I couldn’t boil water,” she says. “The only thing I knew how to make was pancakes. I had my in-laws over for dinner, and we had pancakes. How dumb can you get?”

With Mary Alice’s help, my mother smartened up. “I was on the phone every day with Mary Alice, every time I had to cook something.”

The result, all these years later, is truly mouth-watering Italian food. (I hasten to add that, when I was growing up in Norwich, there were two Catholic churches: The snooty Irish church, St. Paul’s, up on the hill overlooking town, and the Italian church, St. Bartholomew’s, in the center of town, across from a deli. So some of my pseudo-Italian heritage comes from years of great food at festivals and spaghetti dinners, lovingly overseen by our black biretta-wearing pastor, Father Guido Festa.)

If you ask me: Why Italian food? Why Now? I can’t tell you. Maybe you should blame it on St. Patrick’s Day overload. And the truth is, if given a choice between ham and cabbage, and a simple garlicky dish of aglio y olio, I’ll go for the pasta every time.

So the first thing I thought of to share was my mother’s sauce and lasagna recipes. But then I reached out to our Facebook fans, looking for more recipes that were the offshoot, in some way, shape or form, of the marriage of tricolors.

Try them out and see if you don’t break out in a rousing chorus of “La Donna è Mobile.”

Jean McNulty Meade’s Sauce

Ingredients

4 diced or crushed garlic cloves
A little olive oil, enough to coat the bottom of a stock pot and a large frying pan (always Pompeian, in its distinctive grooved bottle, in our house)
2 6-ounce cans of tomato paste
2 tomato paste cans of water
28-ounce can of tomato puree or crushed tomatoes
15-ounce can of tomato sauce
1 teaspoon of parsley flakes
1 full teaspoon of crushed sweet Basil
½ teaspoon of sugar
½ to ¾ pound of sweet Italian sausage
¾ pound of groubd beef (93 percent fat-free)

Directions

Coat a stock pot with olive oil. Saute garlic cloves. Discard them when soft.

Add two cans of tomato paste and water. Stir.

Add tomato puree and sauce, sugar (it cuts the acidity a little), parsley and basil.

Coat a frying pan with olive oil.

Remove sausage from casing, and chop up in the pan. Add the ground beef and do the same. When cooked through, add to sauce.

Allow the sauce to simmer at least two hours. The longer, the better.

This is the same recipe my mother uses for both spaghetti and meatballs, and lasagna.

Jean’s Lasagna

Ingredients

1 16-ounce box of lasagna noodles
8 ounces of ricotta
Grated Locatelli (You’ll have to eyeball it. My mother swears by Sam’s on Moreland Road in Willow Grove)
3 cups shredded mozzarella
Sauce

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook noodles according to the package directions. When done, place them in a strainer and run a little cold water over them.

In an oiled 13×9 pan, ladle in a little sauce, then place a layer of noodles (usually 4 across) over the sauce.

Next, place a third of the ricotta, mozzarella (space it out) and a little sauce on top of the noodles.

Layer noodles, cheeses and sauce two more times. Place the final layer of noodles on top, and then cover with sauce and Locatelli.

Cover the dish with foil (it helps to spray with cooking spray). Bake 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 10-15 minutes.

You’ll have a hard time sinking a fork into it right away, but let it sit for 10 minutes or so before serving.

And there’s more …

Kathy DeAngelo’s Lentil Soup

Kathy is the harp-and-fiddle half of Irish traditional music duo McDermott’s Handy. When she was growing up, lentil soup was Friday night dinner, especially during Lent. “It’s a pretty cheap meal, too, and full of nutrition,” she says, “which was very practical for our large family.”

Ingredients

1 bag of lentils
1 pkg frozen cut spinach
1 medium sized onion
Tomatoes (either 1 can tomato paste, 1 can diced tomatoes, or 1 can of tomato juice, whatever’s handy)
Parsley, Oregano, Garlic
Salt to taste

Directions
(In Kathy’s own words.)

Soak the beans if you can, overnight or for a couple of hours. It’ll take the sugar out of them and they’ll cook faster too.

Drain the lentils. Then put them in a big pot and add new water, enough to cover the lentils about 1.5 inches. Start cooking over a rather high heat.

Put in the frozen spinach (take it out of the package first!). Chop up the onion and throw that in.

You need some kind of tomatoes–look in the pantry and find whatever canned tomatoes are handy and throw that in.

How much parsley & oregano? I pour in enough to layer each on the top of the lentils, more or less. If you don’t like oregano, don’t put any in.

Garlic? For that big pot, you can start with 2 tablespoons, reserving the right to add more later if that’s what you like. Stir it all up and after the spinach breaks up, leave it alone.

When it all starts to boil, turn down the heat and cook it on medium heat. If the water steams away and it’s too thick, add more water but don’t overdo it. This should be a rather thick soup.

Serve hot and sprinkle lots of parmesan/romano on the top and a crusty slice of Italian bread with butter.

Optional adds: You can add pasta to this if you don’t mind the added calories. Little tubetini macaroni work best. Cook them separately al dente and add them to the lentils. If you’re not a vegetarian, get some Italian sweet sausage, slice it up in bite size chunks and brown it separately in a pan. Throw that into the boiling lentils mixture. You can also use tuna in this lentil soup and it’s pretty good too.

Monica Woolston-Versaggi’s “Toralli” Lemon Cookies

Monica is one of our Facebook friends, and she presented us with this sweet recipe, from her husband’s grandmother.

Ingredients

6 eggs
1 cup sugar
¾ cup oil
2 teaspoons lemon extract
5 cups sifted flour
4 teaspoons baking powder

Directions
(In Monica’s own words.)

Beat eggs; add sugar beat ‘til creamy. Add oil and lemon extract.

Add flour and baking powder which have been sifted together.

Let dough rest for 10 minutes. (It will be sticky; if I have time, I do refrigerate it overnight.)

Shape into a crescent shape ( about 1 ½ tablespoons).

Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.

Icing

Ingredients

1 egg white
½ teaspoon lemon extract
1 ½ cups of confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon milk

Directions

Mix until a thick consistency. It should not be too thin. Spread on cool cookies.

Enjoy with a cup of tea!!

Maria Gallagher’s Eggplant Parmesan

Maria’s one of our Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians pals. Both of her parents are second generation Italian.

“My dad’s family is from a town in Sicily called Messina, and my mom’s family is from up north near the Seashore Coastline. I am full-blooded Italian, but was able to join the LAOH because I am the spouse of an Irish member and I have a daughter who is a member of the Ladies. That is how our by-laws read.”

The recipe, Maria says, is her own, with some help from her mom.

Ingredients

2 medium-size eggplants
2 eggs
Bread Crumbs
Flour
Gravy (Known as “sauce” in some Italian households, but definitely “gravy” in Maria’s. Her gravy is homemade; you can use the jarred stuff, if you want.)
4 cups mozzarella cheese
Grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
Extra virgin olive oil

Directions

Preheat your oven tp 350 degrees.

Peel eggplant and slice into quarter-inch pieces. Salt and then pat dry.

Coat the eggplant slices in flour; shake off the excess. Dip in egg, then in bread crumbs.

Heat olive oil in pan and cook eggplant slices until brown on both sides.

Cover the bottom of a casserole dish with gravy. Add a layer of eggplant, mozzarella cheese and Parmesan or Romano cheese. Repeat with another layer until all eggplant is covered.

Bake for about 35-40 minutes.

Food & Drink

O’Yum

Margaret Johnson, aka “The Irish cook,” debuted her seventh Irish cookbook a few weeks ago. This food and travel writer—and retired teacher—from Weshampton Beach, NY, has introduced thousands of people to the taste of Ireland, particularly new Irish cuisine with its emphasis on fresh local ingredients and a gourmet twist on traditional food.

Margaret’s latest is called, appropriately, “Flavors of Ireland: Celebrating Grand Places & Glorious Food” (Ambassador International, 2012). A hybrid travel/cookbook, it takes you across Ireland via recipes from some of Ireland’s top chefs and skilled home cooks.

Here, she shares three recipes that offer a welcome change from the usual Ulster fry and ham and cabbage usually served on St. Patrick’s Day.

You can buy “Flavors of Ireland: Celebrating Grand Places & Glorious Food” on amazon.com.  Sign up on Margaret’s Facebook page for a chance to win a free copy.

Scrambled Eggs with Smoked Salmon and Boxty

This special occasion breakfast or brunch dish if often served with champagne, Buck’s Fizz (half champagne, half orange juice) or Black Velvet (half champagne, half Guinness).

2 large baking potatoes, peeled
2 large eggs, beaten
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp freshly ground pepper
pinch of ground nutmeg
2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
2-4 Tbs salted Irish butter for frying
scrambled eggs for serving
12 slices smoked salmon for topping
crème fraiche for serving
lemon wedges for serving
chopped fresh chives for garnish

1. Cut 1 potato into 1 ½ inch pieces and cook in boiling salted water for 12-15 minutes or until tender. Drain and mash.

2. Line a large bowl with a piece of muslin, cheesecloth, or a clean linen towel. Using the large holes of a box grater, grate the other potato into a bowl. Squeeze the cloth to extract as much of the starchy liquid as possible, and then discard the liquid.

3. Combine the mashed potatoes and grated potatoes and stir in the eggs, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the flower, mix well, and pat into small cakes.

4. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 2 Tbs. of the butter. Working in batches, cook the potato cakes for 3-4 minutes on each side or until lightly browned and crisp. Transfer the cakes to a baking sheet and keep warm in a 250 degree oven.

5. To serve, divide the scrambled eggs onto plates. Put 2 potato cakes on each and top with a slice of smoked salmon and a spoonful of crème fraiche. Garnish with lemon and sprinkle with chives.

Mussels with Guinness

This recipe is adapted from a recipe served at The Brewery Bar at The Guinness Storehouse, Dublin’s number one visitor attraction.

4 Tbs salted Irish butter
2 large onions, chopped
1 (1 ½ ounce) bottle Guinness draught
6 lbs musells, scrubbed and debearded
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
2 cups cream
2 Tbs chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 Tbs chopped fresh dill

1. In a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onions and cook for 2-3 minutes or until soft but not browned. Add the Guinness, mussels, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil and then cover and cook, stirring once or twice, for 6-8 minutes or until the mussels begin to open.

2. Add the cream, 1 Tbs of the parsley, and the dill. Return gently to boil and cook 2-3 minutes longer or until all the mussels open (discard any that don’t open).

3. To serve, ladle the mussels into shallow bowls and sprinkle with the remaining parsley.

Magners Glazed Ham

This recipe uses Magners, the US brand of Bulmers, cider produced in Clonmel, Co. Tipperary, since 1935. The cider uses over 17 varieties of apples, is fermented using a unique yeast from the oak vats of the original Dowd’s Lane Cider Mill, and is left to mature for up to 2 years.

One butt half (6 lb) bone-in, fully cooked ham
12-15 whole cloves
2 cups Magners Irish cider
4 Tbs pineapple juice
2 Tbs packed dark brown sugar
1 Tbs Lakeshore French Mustard or similar brand

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Score the ham in a diamond pattern and stud with the cloves.

2. In a small bowl, combine the cider and pineapple juice. Place the ham, cutside down, on a rack in a large roasting pan. Pour the cider mixture over the top. Loosely cover the ham with aluminum foil and bake for 1 ½ hours.

3. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar and mustard. Mix 3-4 Tbs of the cooking liquid with the mustard mixture and spoon it over the ham.

4. Continue to cook, uncovered, basting frequently for 30-40 minutes or until an instant read thermometer registers 160 degrees F when inserted into the thickest part of the ham. Remove the ham to a platter or cutting board. Cover with foil and let stand for 10-15 minutes or longer.

Find even more Irish recipes at these locations on irishphiladelphia.com:

Wonderful recipes from McGillin’s Olde Ale House, the oldest continuously operating pub in Philadelphia.

Feasts for your St. Patrick’s Day crowd.

Breakfast ideas from an Irish chef.

Spirited meals in more ways than one.