17 March 2015

Irish Pantry

On this Saint Patty's Day we offer up the Irish Pantry. Noel McMeel gets right to the point in his tasty book:

"To me, the Irish pantry is a treasure trove of wholesome, tasty delights with some keeping properties, where on any day of the week you're sure to find such snacks and treats as pastries we call cutting cakes, or some lovely potted meat to spread onto a crispy, homemade cracker to enjoy with a cup of tea."

No Irish stew. but homemade Irish Cream!  Indeed, there are lovely potted meats and crispy crackers with rye, blue cheese, garlic, and flax. There are scones, and cakes, and breads and even the barm brack which gave me such fits over at Lucindaville. There are infusions, pickles, candies, spices, and sauces, oh my.

It think that titling this book Irish Pantry might have done it a huge disservice.  Well, maybe not in Ireland, but here in the US.  This book fits right in with burgeoning collection of canning and preserving books that are flying off the cookbook shelves. Alas, it doesn't clearly scream out canning book, and to be sure it so much more.

Most canning books offer up preserves, but this book features a slew of items to actually eat with those preserves. This book is stuffed to the gills with great gift-giving ideas.  There is not a single recipe in here that a friend or neighbor wouldn't simple adore seeing cross their own threshold. A Madeira cake, a jar of pickled pearl onions, coffee syrup, or graham crackers, and the list goes on.

According to McMeel:

"At the risk of sounding proud, I'm going to tell you that this is my best recipe. No one could ever compete against it, and I challenge anyone in Scotland to do better. It was handed down to me by the kitchen artists and wizards before me. I love it straight as it is. . .buttery and rich. But you can gild the lily if you like, with any flavoring that strikes your fancy."

The Rock's Shortbread

3½ cups/ 450 grams cups all-purpose flour
1½ cups/230 grams cups cornmeal
1 pound (4 sticks) 450 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
1¼ cups/ 230 grams granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 F/175 C. Place all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir with a spoon until they have come together. Roll out and cut into rounds or fingers.
Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and chill for 20 minutes. Transfer to your hot oven, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until pale golden. Let cool on a cooling rack and serve at room temperature, or store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

If you keep a pantry this book will help you keep it well stocked. Canners and urban homesteaders, give this one a second look.

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