Monthly Archives: April 2012

Irish Potato Bread

Back in Ireland for a couple of weeks to attend my nieces confirmation and intend on taking the opportunity to indulge in some Irish foods, the humble potato ranks high on the list.  Potato bread was a great childhood favourite of mine and still is to this day.  As a child my father always made the potato bread in our house, he was a great man for the frying pan and potato bread was one of his specialities. Fond memories of us all sitting around the kitchen table, eagerly waiting for a hot triangle of potato bread to land on our warmed plate. Then brushing some melted butter over the slightly charred crust with a soft moist interior…  t’was pure Irish heaven on a plate.

Potato bread is sometimes called potato farls but in our house it was always Dad’s Potato Bread. There was no written recipe or exact weighing of ingredients followed when Dad made the potato dough and when incorporating flour into the mashed potatoes he would stop when the dough felt just right. You can use leftover mashed potatoes but Dad would boil a few potatoes specially for making potato bread, he felt that using cold leftover mash was never the same.

Does the type of potato matter? Floury potatoes are the best choice and using waxy potatoes (which we have plenty of in Bahrain) will not achieve good results for making potato bread. Floury potatoes contain less moisture and have a higher starch content, resulting in a dry fluffy mash. Waxy potatoes contain more moisture and less starch resulting in a more gloopy type of mash. Some of the larger supermarkets in Bahrain sell some floury potatoes  (Russets) but they are much more expensive to buy.

Irish Potato Bread

Ingredients:

  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into thirds (approx. 450g)
  • knob of butter, melted
  • salt to taste
  • plain flour, sieved (approx. 110g)

Useful Kitchen Jewellery:

  • vegetable peeler
  • steamer
  • food mill or potato masher
  • cast iron griddle or non-stick frying pan

How to make:

Steam the potatoes using some salted water for about 15 to 20 minutes until cooked through, the tip of a sharp knife should easily pass through the potato.

Pass the potatoes through a food mill placed over a mixing bowl, mix in the melted butter and salt. Check seasoning. If you do not have a food mill mash the potatoes using a potato masher.

Gradually work in the flour in small increments using a wooden spoon to start with but towards the end use your hands to mix in the flour, so you get the “feel” of the dough. The finished dough should be a little tacky but workable. Note that all the flour may not be needed, but you could also find that a little extra is needed!

Place the dough (usually I cut in half) on a lightly floured surface and with floured hands flatten the dough into a circle about 1cm thick. Cut the dough into triangles using a knife dusted with some flour.

Heat a un-greased iron griddle pan (sprinkled with a little flour to prevent sticking) or non stick frying pan on medium until hot and cook the potato bread until each side has formed a hint of a crust with a browned and lightly charred look. 

Serve the potato bread immediately on warmed plates and brush each slice with a little melted butter.

Serving suggestions: Enjoy potato bread on its own or topped with a fried or poached egg. Also great served with some grilled sausages, tomatoes and bacon.

lemon and fresh thyme posset shooter

Once again Jennifer (Delicieux) is hosting this months “Sweet Adventures Blog Hop” and the theme,“lemons.”  I was ready to submit an earlier post on the magical stages of a developing lemon... when I just realized no older posts would be accepted on the blog hop…darn!

A quick re-think and a scan over some ingredients already stocked in the kitchen… lemon posset came to mind.

Lemon posset is a dessert based on a very old British medieval drink called a posset. This drink was made by heating milk, then curdling with an acid such as wine or ale. The hot posset was also used for minor aliments such as the common cold and was often spiced with ginger and aniseed.

Even William Shakespeare’s Macbeth makes reference to this medieval drink when Lady Macbeth uses poisoned possets to knock out the guards outside Duncan’s palace

“The doors are open, and the surfeited grooms

Do mock their charge with snores. I have drugg’d their possets

That death and nature do contend about them,

Whether they live or die.”

Fast forward to the 20th century and posset is a smooth and  luxurious tangy-sweet lemony thickened cream that is chilled and best served in small quantities. A super easy do-ahead dessert for dinner parties. Like Lady Macbeth I hope to knock out (figuratively speaking) my guests bydrugg’d their (my guests) possets with this deliriously lemony dessert shooter with a hint of fresh garden thyme.

Lemon and Fresh Thyme Posset Shooters

Ingredients:

  • 250ml double cream or whipping cream (min fat 35%)
  • 75g granulated sugar
  • 5 sprigs of fresh thyme (optional)
  • zest half of a lemon
  • juice of one lemon
  • thyme leaves to garnish and/or some grated lemon zest

You will need 6 small shot type glasses, the recipe can easily be doubled if you require a larger quantity.

How to make:

Pour the cream into a heavy based saucepan. Add the sugar and fresh thyme. Over a medium heat dissolve the sugar in the cream while stirring continuously. Let the cream come to a gentle boil (do not let the cream boil over), reduce the heat and simmer the cream for three minutes.

Remove the saucepan from the heat, stir in the lemon juice (this will thicken the cream) and lemon zest. Let cool for about 5 minutes, remove the thyme sprigs and pour into 6 small shot glasses. Once cool cover and refrigerate for about 4 hours (will thicken further) or overnight.

Before serving (straight from the fridge) scatter over a few thyme leaves and/or grated lemon zest.

Note: Do not use cream that has a lower fat content than 35% or the cream will curdle when you add the lemon juice. Ideally double cream which has a much higher fat content should be used which will result in a creamier and thicker setting posset.

Using a microplane zester (my star zester) will give the best results for obtaining a very fine grating of lemon zest.

This post is part of the “Sweet Adventures Blog Hop,” click (here) and check out all the other lemon dessert entries!

spices from manama souk

During the cooler months of the year in Bahrain I always take the opportunity of visiting the Manama souk (market), this was one of the places that I frequented much more often many years ago… before all the air-conditioned shopping malls came into place!  As much as I favour air-conditioning, I believe the shopping malls can never capture the true essence of a market place that has been built around traditions and its people! The souk really is a unique shopping experience and definitely worth a visit!

With a lousy sense of direction I usually end up wandering up (probably in circles as well) and down the many narrow streets which are crammed with shops and stalls selling gold, materials, clothes, perfumes, household items, traditional sweets, nuts, flavoured waters… and a plethora of other essentials! Very enthusiastic store holders greet you at every turn, describing their products and services and each one promising a better price than the other!

Passing by an alley way I notice the usual daily gathering of men at a traditional cafe, many of which I am sure have been friends for years. All catching up on the daily happenings around the island and their own lives, while drinking chai (tea) and smoking tobacco leaves (gidow). Still as friendly as every and happily allowing a quick photo, offering me chai and water while passing through!

My favourite part of the souk… the spices!  Colourful mounds of different spices and herbs fill the surrounding air with a heady aromatic aroma that would make any foodie go weak at the knees!various ground spices

Pleased and relaxed with my morning visit, never coming away from the souk empty-handed (always little surprise finds) and with my supply of lentils and whole spices in hand… my next stop is the kitchen!

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