You won’t find me drinking green beer on St. Patrick’s Day, or passing along any of the bizarre green-dyed recipes that food companies offered me for celebrating all things Irish on Tuesday. (Green velvet cake was the worst offender this year).
I won’t quibble over corned beef and cabbage dominating menus, for at least it has a historical connection to rural pre-refrigerator Ireland. But if you are serious about cooking Irish for the day, take some time to explore the cuisine, rich with seafood and vegetables beyond the potato. I’d recommend any cookbook by Darina Allen as a primer, or a grand, free source of traditional recipes is at kerrygold.com, where I found this wonderful bread-and-butter pudding, comfort food to warm the soul.
Though my maternal family’s roots go back generations in this country, no one has forgotten that it was famine that spurred them to emigrate from Ireland, or that my great-great-grandfather was jailed for “stealing” seaweed from a beach to boil as stew for his children when the potato crop failed.
So when we tuck into our colcannon and smear Irish butter on our soda bread, we do it with a moment of thought for those who are hungry. Perhaps instead of parades and bar crawling on St. Patrick’s Day, we who are of Irish descent could celebrate by pledging some green to the war against hunger.
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Q. I have a question that’s probably strange, but is there anything you can do with radishes besides eat them raw? Just curious because they grow so fast.
A. I remember the first time I dumped a packet of radish seeds in my garden — and what near instant gratification it was to see those green shoots roar to life. (If you’re not a gardener, some radishes go from seed to harvest in about 3 weeks). And while they are known mostly for shaving into a salad, you can indeed cook them. My grandmother used to sauté them whole in butter with chopped sweet onions until the butter was nutty brown and the onions were caramelized and perfect against the peppery snap of those radishes.
I’ve also roasted radishes with just a toss of olive oil and kosher salt. The radishes get much sweeter when roasted and taste a lot like a turnip, and the prep is minimal since you don’t have to peel or dice. I also like to drop sliced radishes into a pho just long enough for them to warm through. I’ve had long white radishes at a Korean restaurant, julienned and sautéed in sesame oil with a splash of soy and ginger — seems worth trying.
This recipe is one I clipped from The New York Times in the early 1970s when I had an overabundance of radishes in my first garden. It is a wonderfully indulgent — and pretty — side dish, and as I recall was Eastern European in origin. The red of the radishes fades to a rosy pink when they are cooked.
By the way, when the radish leaves are young and not too dry from the sun they are wonderful added to salads and soups and stir fries. They pack a little nip.
Q. Can you get the recipe for the shrimp linguine at Casa D’Angelo in Fort Lauderdale? It’s the best.
A. Italian-born chef Angelo Elia kindly supplied the recipe, which is wonderfully simple, so even home cooks can prepare it. What is crucial with such a recipe, Elia says, is that you use the best local and imported ingredients — large Florida wild-caught shrimp, farm-fresh arugula and tomatoes, and a good imported pasta.
Send questions and responses to LindaCiceroCooks@aol.com or Food, The Miami Herald, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Doral, FL 33172.
Casa D’Angelo’s Linguine Positano
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
4 ounces of fresh cherry tomatoes
1 cup dry white wine
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and de-veined
12 ounces (raw weight) linguine pasta
3 cups (packed) fresh arugula, torn in half
Heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and sautée until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the cherry tomatoes and white wine and bring to a simmer. Simmer until the wine reduces by half, about 4 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook just until they are pink, about 2 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the linguine in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the pasta and add it with the arugula to the skillet. Toss to combine. Season the pasta, to taste, with salt and pepper. Transfer the pasta to a large bowl and serve. Makes 6 servings.
Source: Adapted by Linda Cicero for Cook’s Corner from a recipe by chef Angelo Elia.
Radishes with Sour Cream and Chives
2 cups radishes, scrubbed
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoon chopped chives
Cook radishes, covered, in a small amount of salted water until just tender, about 5 minutes.
In a separate pan, melt the butter and whisk in the flour. Add 1/3 cup of the radish cooking water and the sour cream. Cook, stirring, until thick. Add the radishes, lemon juice and salt and pepper and cook just long enough for the radishes to heat through. Sprinkle with the chives. Makes 4 servings.
Per serving: 122 calories (77 percent from fat), 10.6 g fat (6.4 g saturated, 2.7 g monounsaturated), 27 mg cholesterol, 1.4 g protein, 5.9 g carbohydrates, 1.1 g fiber, 80 mg sodium.
Source: Adapted from a circa 1972 recipe in The New York Times.
Traditional Irish Bread and Butter Pudding
4 tablespoons Irish butter softened, plus extra for greasing
10 slices good-quality white bread, crusts removed
7 ounces (about 1 cup) pitted dates, chopped
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup milk
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon light brown sugar for sprinkling
Softly whipped cream and/or butterscotch sauce for serving
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bread, leaving 4 slices whole and cutting the remaining 6 slices in half to make triangles. Grease the sides and bottom of an 8-inch square baking dish. Place the 4 whole slices of bread, buttered side up, on the base of the ovenproof dish, then sprinkle the chopped dates over the top. Arrange the triangles of bread on top, buttered side up, to cover the dates.
Heat the cream and milk in a saucepan almost to the boil. While it heats up, whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla in a heatproof bowl, then pour the very hot milk and cream on top, whisking as you pour. Pour this custard over the bread, and allow to soak for 20 minutes.
Sprinkle brown sugar over bread. Place the baking dish in a large roasting pan and carefully pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the baking dish. Bake in the oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour or until the top is golden and the center just set. Serve with softly whipped cream and/or butterscotch sauce. Makes 12 servings.
Note: Recipe can be made a day ahead and then re-heated in a 350-degree over for 8 to 10 minutes or until hot in the center.
Source: Rachel Allen for Kerrygold.