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Spud Sunday: An Edible Irish Epic

Ooh, can it be that I am in round 3 of Project Food Blog? A massive thank you to all who cast their votes my way in round 2 – I’m excited to say the least! My mission in this round? To host and present, for your delectation, a luxury dinner party. You can vote for entries in this round between October 4th and 7th (get yourself over here to do so), but first, some news headlines…
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Daily Spud In Dinner Party Near Miss
 
Guest Wields Spatula, Rescues Cutlery
Host Treated For Shock

The great cutlery rescue

Anxious moments: dinner party guest tries to free the cutlery drawer

It shall hereafter be known as the great cutlery rescue of 2010.

Picture the scene:

Your guests have arrived. Dinner isn’t near ready so you distract them with prosecco (dinner party tip #1: keep the guests’ glasses filled at all times). When, after much frazzlement, you are about to serve the first course, you find that the overstuffed cutlery drawer has become stuck. The guests are called upon to try their hand at releasing the drawer (dinner party tip #2: involve your guests in the, er, prep). The drawer is freed to much applause and relief all ’round.

Now, as to why the cutlery was still in the cutlery drawer instead of gracing some sumptuous table setting, the reason is simple – there was none. No table I mean. My new compact-and-bijou abode lacks both a dining room and dining table, while the kitchen is only licensed to hold one person at a time. Dinner guests would have to sit on the couch with their plates in their laps.

Dinner in lap

Dinner is served... in your lap

“Doesn’t sound exactly luxurious,” says you.

Fair point, the setting was not luxurious. The menu, on the other hand, was quite another matter. I was determined to introduce my guests to “new tastes and exotic flavours” without having to abandon my country for another cuisine. This would be a defiantly Irish dinner.

“Hang on,” says you, “why not go for, oh, some fabulously flavoured Indian food. Isn’t Irish food just that little bit, well, bland and boring?”

That, my friend, is where you are wrong.

Irish Autumn Menu

Smoked salmon drizzled with Connemara whiskey

Smoked salmon drizzled with Connemara whiskey

The opener for my Irish menu was an easy choice: I simply borrowed Pádraic Óg Gallagher’s combination of smoked salmon and Connemara peated whiskey.

As a dish, it is Ireland defined in a single bite. It also (yay!) has the advantage of being a doddle to prepare (have salmon? have whiskey? you’re done; which leads me neatly to dinner party tip #3: easy-to-prepare dishes are your friends).

Tri-coloured Irish vegetable terrine with Llewellyn's real Irish cider

Tri-coloured Irish vegetable terrine with Llewellyn's real Irish cider

For the starter proper, I will admit to having ignored dinner party tip #4: make dishes that you have made at least once before. Instead I winged it, big time.

My tri-coloured terrine – a homage to Irish vegetables and Irish colours – was previously unexplored territory. Nervous minutes passed, wondering if the damn thing would set properly. More applause from the guests when it finally emerged in its Irish flag glory and was declared a resounding success (dinner party tip #5: nothing like a bit of drama to keep the guests entertained). The nip of Irish cider provided a fruity contrast to the terrine, though at that stage I needed it more for medicinal purposes.

Baked mushroom boxty mash cabbage

From the top:
pickled redcurrants
mushroom baked with garlic, butter and cream
loaf boxty with Desmond cheese
mash with cream and dillisk
savoy cabbage stir-fried with crushed juniper berries
with
Clonakilla shiraz

The main event saw potato served in two different ways, because it simply isn’t an Irish dinner otherwise. The gloriously now-crisp, now-chewy fried-in-butter boxty included some full-flavoured Desmond cheese, while the creamy mash was shot through with dillisk, an Irish seaweed with a savoury, almost spicy flavour.

The cabbage wasn’t just cabbage either, having the less-than-usual addition of fragrant juniper berries.

And there was more butter and cream, this time heaped generously on garlic baked Irish mushrooms, with a welcome burst of tartness from my very own pickled redcurrants.

And while Ireland may not be known for its wine, we do a good line in winemakers, as the Clonakilla shiraz will testify. I, on the other hand, do a good line in dinner guests (dinner party tip #6: this may seem obvious, but invite people you like), who happily ate and drank and asked for seconds (dinner party tip #7: always make more food than you think you will need).

Apple tartlets

Bramley apple tartlets with goat's cheese, honey and rosemary, served with Bunratty mead

In the end, there was only one real way to finish proceedings and that was with a nod to the quintessential Irish dessert – the apple tart. My apple tartlets, however, were quite unlike the Irish mammy version, having apple mixed with soft, fresh and delightfully floral Bluebell Falls goat’s cheese, along with honey and rosemary, a combination I had made before, and which, better still, lends itself to being made in advance (dinner party tip #8: well, naturally, if you can make ahead, do).

And I doubt many Irish mammies would be found serving their apple tarts with a glass of mead, though if traditional honey wine was good enough for the ancient high kings of Ireland, then it was surely luxury enough for my guests.

Dinner party scenes

Yes, folks, this dinner party really happened...

  Print It

Tri-coloured Irish Vegetable Terrine

Marrowfat peas, parsnips and carrots – all familiar occupants of the Irish dinner plate. Here they are baked into a terrine with the wonderfully nutty St. Gall cheese from Cork and, yes, a lot of eggs.

Tricoloured terrine

You’ll need:
  • 300g carrots, peeled and very finely sliced
  • 300g parsnips, peeled and chopped into small chunks
  • 1 pkt (125g) no-soak marrowfat peas
  • 1 tblsp finely chopped mint
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tblsp finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1 tblsp orange juice
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 150g St. Gall cheese, grated (or substitute emmental)
  • 6 eggs, separated
You’ll also need:
  • A 2 pint loaf tin and parchment paper to line it.
The Steps:
  • Using 2 separate saucepans (or a steamer with 2 separate baskets if you have it) boil or steam the carrots and parsnips until tender (around 10 minutes for the parsnips, longer for the carrots). Drain each and, in separate bowls, mash well.
  • Meanwhile, in another small saucepan, add the marrowfat peas to about 0.5l boiling water. Bring back to the boil then simmer gently for 15-20 minutes until tender. Drain any excess liquid (you should end up with about 300g cooked weight) and mash well.
  • Preheat your oven to 190C and line your baking tin with parchment paper.
  • Add the mint to the peas, the dijon mustard to the parsnips and the parsley and orange juice to the carrots. Mix each well and season to taste with salt and black pepper.
  • Divide the cheese evenly amongst the peas, parsnips and carrots. Add 2 egg yolks to each bowl and mix well.
  • Whisk the 6 egg whites to soft peaks, then divide amongst the 3 bowls and fold in gently to each mixture.
  • Fill your loaf tin, starting with the peas, then the parsnips and finally the carrots. Bake the terrine until it is firm to the touch and a skewer comes out fairly cleanly. This took about 1 hour and 15 minutes for me. You’ll need to cover the top of the terrine with foil after about 30 minutes to prevent the top from burning.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before turning out of the tin. Slice and serve at will. It’s good warm, at room temperature or chilled.
The Variations:
  • I’m sure that you could make an equally good (and even greener) version of this by substituting fresh or frozen garden peas for the marrowfats.
The Results:
  • Serves 8-10 as a starter.

45 Comments

  1. Jenni

    That does it. I’m coming over.

  2. the wicked noodle

    I would happily eat with my plate in my lap if that was the menu! Looks absolutely delish. Congrats on making it to round #3!

  3. Lisa

    Eating on a couch off a plate on one’s lap makes a meal taste just that much better. I want that terrine.

  4. Tim

    Spud does a good line in modesty as well — the Terrine was delightful to see but even more to taste. The tartlets, mushrooms, even the lowly cabbage was just so damn good. Oh and the mash. Of course the boxty too. All of it.

    Damn, now I’m hungry.

  5. Daily Spud

    Jenni: I’ll get the dinner on, so :D

    wicked noodle: Thank you! I don’t think any of the guests had a problem with the whole plate-in-lap thing either :)

    Lisa: there’s still some of the terrine leftover – shall I send it on? :)

    Tim: …and it’s been damn good to eat on day 2 and day 3 as well!

  6. jenn (bread + butter)

    I love how relaxed your dinner party is. With I was there. :)

  7. 5 Star Foodie

    Your amazing menu featuring all these excellent Irish ingredients and flavors transported me back to Dublin! A wonderful meal for sure!

  8. sippitysup

    Whenever I come here, you make me wish I was doing or eating whatever you are doing or eating! GREG

  9. Rufus

    “That’s cabbage!” said my inner 5yo Rufus in despair. “We don’t like cabbage”.
    I nodded. Sorry inner Rufus, I don’t have a say in what we eat tonight. Look, you liked the terrine didn’t you?
    “The what now?”
    The green, white and orange starter.
    “Oh yes, I liked that a lot. She made it look like the flag”.
    And you liked the cider? Inner Rufus grins which I take to be a yes.
    Well, this is the price you have to pay. Inner Rufus didn’t look convinced.
    Ok, let’s try this another way. You like the Spud don’t you? You wouldn’t want to upset her or make her cry would you?
    Inner Rufus looks horrified and mouths the word “No!”
    Ok, if you eat the cabbage it’ll make her happy.
    “Do I have to?”
    Yes, yes you do.
    Inner Rufus holds his nose shut and puts the forkful of cabbage into his mouth and chews.
    “WHAT THAT …”
    I look at Inner Rufus sternly
    “… em … ‘fig’ is going on! This tastes great! And … and … something crunched … a nutty crunch … cabbage doesn’t crunch like that … why’d the cabbage crunch??”
    I’m a little surprised too I have to say and don’t know the answer. Luckily another guest asked the question revealing the secret of the juniper berries.
    Inner Rufus doesn’t know what to make of this. Cabbage isn’t supposed to be good but this is. I take pity on my confused inner 5yo self and suggest that he tries something safe like the mash, which he does and loves it. Perfect.
    “Can I ask Spud a question?”
    Sure, knock yourself out
    “Spud? This mash is great, but whats the funny looking colours in it?”
    Inner Rufus’s jaw drops when “seaweed” is mentioned.

  10. Daily Spud

    jenn: I might have been a bit frazzled what with the preparations but it was certainly a relaxed, unstuffy kind of affair

    5 Star Foodie: thank you – have to say I was rather pleased with it myself :)

    sippitysup: …and I wish you could have been there – I’ll make dinner for you someday, I promise

    Rufus: Good job you didn’t let slip your dislike of cabbage, though (yes) I think I would have made you eat it anyway :D As for the seaweed, definitely a case of eat first, ask questions later!

  11. Yvette

    Now this Spud Luxurious Dinner Party guest has the terrine recipe!! Result!! We should probably have stood and saluted the terrine aswell but it was swiftly placed on forks and demolished. The smoked salmon was a revelation-melt-in-the-mouth with the subtle hint of whiskey, Tim sums up the main course and that apple tartlet..mmmmmm. Such a combinaton of ingredients!! What an inspiration!!And what a hostess!! Oh, and well done to the cutlery rescuer..

  12. The Diva on a Diet

    Bravo, Spud! What a wonderful, unusual, and magnificent entry! Next time, I want an invitation … and can you email me a slice of that fantastic terrine?! ;)

    You’ve certainly got my vote, rock on with your Spudness – all the way to the finish!!

  13. Lori

    Oh my, you truly pulled out all the stops on this one. Fabulous! I’d gladly eat this meal on my lap, or any place else!

  14. gastroanthropologist

    I wish I was there – everything looks so good. I’m usually a tiny bit squeemish with terrines, but that one looks and sounds so good! Voting for you now!

  15. Chef E

    As I read my friend, I thought “Gee, I am glad Spud’sy puts no pressure on me to V.O.T.E.”, and its all about how getting ones plate closer to your face (guarantee no foods is lost off of plate, at least I have found)…but, then I read on to find out I came back to America and missed this!

    A fine menu indeed…for a winning race!

  16. riceandwheat

    Who needs a table when there’s such amazing food?! I don’t know anything about Irish food but now I’m excited to learn more. Good luck in PFB!

  17. Joan Nova

    Very nice entry. You’ve got one of my votes. Good luck.

  18. Sharon

    Well done you! A really imaginative menu.

  19. Whit@AmuseBouche

    what an awesome, creative job! congrats!

    http://whitneysamusebouche.blogspot.com/

    Whit

  20. Daily Spud

    Yvette: …and what a guest :) delighted to have you there!

    Diva: you got it!

    Lori: Thanks! I was hoping the effort showed :)

    gastroanthropologist: would love to have had you there – I think you’d have liked the terrine :)

    Chef E: would love to serve you this menu sometime E, you know that!

    riceandwheat: why thank you, that’s what I was aiming for :)

    Joan Nova: cheers for that, much appreciated

    Sharon: thanks, I was proud of it :)

    Whit: thank you so much!

  21. Amelia from Z Tasty Life

    nice relaxed atmosphere, spud! Voted.

    (See my entry here: http://www.foodbuzz.com/project_food_blog/challenges/3/view/1094)

  22. Reeni

    I would not mind eating off my lap one bit! Everything looks crazy delicious! Best of luck – I’m off to give you a tweet!

  23. The Duo Dishes

    You never fail to amaze. That dessert is just the thing! Just the thing! You are welcome to serve it in either one of our laps anytime. Voting!

  24. Daily Spud

    Amelia: thank you!

    Reeni: aw sweet, best of luck to us both :)

    Duo Dishes: you are so right, that dessert would be right up your street – you get yourselves to Ireland and I’ll make it for ya!

  25. VegSpinz

    Nothing wrong with eating on the couch- do it all the time :) What makes it luxurious is that fantastic food- that terrine looks fantastic! Voted!

  26. Jessica

    Everything looks fabulous! Hope we both make it to the next round! :-) You have my vote!

  27. Fiona at Life on Nanchang Lu

    Daily Spud,
    This was a magnificent feast. Well done! I’ve had a glass or two of that Clonakilla shiraz, it was mighty good.
    And pardon my Irish ignorance, but what exactly are marrowfat peas? They sound like a good step up from regular peas if they are, in fact, cooked n marrowfat. I hope so!
    Voted for you, and looking forward to seeing what you cook next in Round 4!
    Cheers,
    Fiona

  28. Butter

    What a masterpiece! {applause} {cheers} You are too funny – love your tips and sense of humor. That menu and food looks delicious! Vote vote vote!
    – Butter
    (from Running On Butter)

  29. Amy K.

    you had me at whiskey…

    your menu has certainly piqued my interest. great post!

  30. OysterCulture

    I’d gladly do the dishes for a taste of that incredible looking terrine, and of course your version of apple tart looks absolutely delicious. Mead has got to be the perfect accompaniment.

  31. Daily Spud

    VegSpinz: Thanks! I have to say that I’m also pretty fond of the couch :)

    Jessica: I hope we do too!

    Fiona: Ah, I should have explained marrowfats. Alas, they’re not (as the name might otherwise suggest) cooked in marrow fat (but they are, nevertheless, damn tasty!) – to be honest, I’m not sure of the origin of the name. They are simply dried mature peas and are used to make mushy peas, which I daresay would go very well with an Aussie 4-and-20 pie :)

    Butter: *bows*

    Amy: Delighted to have piqued your interest – I have done my job in that case :)

    OysterCulture: …and you know I’d gladly have you over anytime!

  32. Ruby

    Whiskey and juniper berries and seaweed – oh my! You kicked ass! Or arse. ;-)

  33. Tangled Noodle

    Oh, where to begin? What a beautiful, luxurious and delicious representation of Ireland! I am in awe of what you’ve accomplished in your one-cook-at-a-time kitchen. All that’s left to say? Brilliant!

    I am rooting for a certain tuber to go all the way in Project Food Blog! Just voted!

  34. Ed

    Great pictures and you have my vote.

  35. Sarah the Bear

    This looks like such an interesting and diverse Irish feast! And I am totally stealing the apple tart with goat cheese idea. Yum!

  36. Ben

    OK, now it’s the potato’s turn to be breathtaking. Particularly enchanted by the middle course. And, salmon with whiskey? How can it be that I never have tried that? Wonderful post, Aoife.

  37. Daily Spud

    Ruby: arse is probably the more appropriate term, lol!

    Tangled Noodle: thanks TN – the small kitchen aspect did mean a few more balletic movements than usual as the guests decided to pile in, but I got there in the end :)

    Ed: Thank you! Much appreciated.

    Sarah: please do steal the idea – it’s a good one!

    Ben: I was only introduced to the salmon + whiskey idea recently, so you can be forgiven for never having tried it! And thanks for the support, it means a lot.

  38. eataduckimust

    i want some of that terrine!!

  39. Jeanne

    Salmon with whiskey? Yes please! And I’d like to sample the other courses as well. I’m blown away by your menu, hoping that I can try each one of these Irish delicacies sometime soon. Your party sounds luxurious and cozy at the same time, there’s nothing wrong with eating on the couch!

  40. Daily Spud

    eataduckimust: come on over!

    Jeanne: why thank you, you can come and have dinner couch-style anytime :)

  41. Imen McDonnell

    Aoife, AHEM, where was my invitation? This looks so amazing!!!! Creative and delicious..love the idea of mead with apple tart and the terrine-FABULOUS! Oh, and the juniper berries with cabbage..sounds like a nice combination of flavours. xx

  42. jen cheung

    Congrats Congrats going onto challenge #4!!! Must be exciting for you! Good luck and all the best. Happy Thanksgiving to you! You’ll be getting the next vote from me :) Your awesome!

    Have a happy thanksgiving!
    jen @ http://www.passion4food.ca

  43. Aoife Mc

    Oh Aoife, this all looks so fantastic. You’ve done yourself AND Irish produce proud! Amazing.

  44. Dara Gallagher

    Sorry to have missed you at Biggest Boxty Dumpling last week.
    Wow – what an impressive menu, and I can vouch for the Starter which went down really well at the Oxford Symposium.
    I think I feel the urge to vote again.

  45. Daily Spud

    Imen: Oh noes, did your invite get lost on the way? Next time, lady, next time!

    jen: thank you so much for that, it’s much appreciated

    Aoife: thanks – I was worried for a while that it was a bit ambitious but so pleased that it worked out really well!

    Dara: Sorry to have missed you last week too – I’m sure we’ll meet at some boxty thing or another at some stage. And thanks for the kind words on the menu, I was rather proud of it myself – kindof makes up for not having been at the Oxford Symposium!

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