14 May 2014

My Irish Table

One of the things I miss most about D.C. is Virginia.  Particularly that little corner in Alexandria on King Street where Eamonn's sits.  I love fish and chips and short of flying to Ireland, Eamonn's is the place to go.  The owner, Cathal Armstrong, is famous for his Restaurant Eve, a fine dining mecca.  How fine, you ask?  Chef Armstrong was a Best Mid-Atlantic Chef nominee by the James Beard Foundation in 2011, 2012, 2013.  He was one of Food & Wine magazine’s “10 Best New Chefs 2006” and honored in Food & Wine magazine’s “50 Hall of Fame Best New Chefs” and Best Chef Award Winner by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington D.C. 

It is often quite acceptable to joke about Irish food, but such sentiments will be a thing of the past by adding My Irish Table to you cookbook collection.  The book does offer up a selection of rather chef-y dishes from Restaurant Eve, but it is much more fun when offering up recipes for rugby matches, Irish breakfasts and vegetables from his father's garden.  Yes, he is a big time French trained-chef, but he's an Irish boy at heart. 

It is those heartfelt recipes that fill this book.  With all of Armstrong's training and history, he is most influenced by the garden his father made behind the house he grew up in.  He argues that the garden, not the kitchen, was the heart of his house.  The vegetables that came from Da's garden were the beginning of his love of food.  This is simple and straightforward dish.  The hardest part is washing the leeks.  Leeks like to hold the soil in their layers, so clean them well before proceeding.
Creamed Leeks

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
4 leeks, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise, cut diagonally into 1/2 inch slices and washed well (about 4 cups)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup heavy cream
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Melt butter in a flameproof casserole over medium-high heat. Stir in leeks and salt, and let the leeks sweat uncovered, stirring occasionally, until tender but still bright green, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the cream and nutmeg. Lower heat to medium and cook the leeks for 5 mores minutes, until sauce is thickened and leeks are completely soft but still bright. Serve immediately.

Next time you think of meat and potatoes, think meat and leeks instead. 

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