Monthly Archives: July 2011

The Battle of the Stew

Cailly Morris

 

Irish Stew — the quintessential Irish meal that’s ingredients remain hotly contested today. While most Irish agree that the meat is always lamb (or mutton) and there must be onions and potatoes, they often disagree about what other ingredients make up a “traditional” Irish stew.

After spending a week in Ireland, I have had my fare share of stews and I can say for certain that no Irish stew is made alike —but all are hearty and delicious. But where does this disagreement come from?

 

Back in the day, Irish stew was the food of the common and poor folk and therefore the ingredients depended on what was available and cheap — a concept all of us college students can relate to. The stew also tastes better after being refrigerated and makes hearty leftovers that can be reheated during the week therefore making it the perfect filling meal for students on a budget.

 

Cheap, filling, easy and reheatable — I think I just found my winter staple. Try it out for yourself! You won’t be disappointed.

 

Ingredients:

 

2 large onions

4 large carrots

½ stewing steak or lamp

8 large potatoes

salt & pepper

 

How to Make:

 

Wash and cut onions and carrots into moderate size chunks and add to the pot. Wash and peel the potatoes and cut each one in half. Slice the meat into smaller pieces and if using stewing mince roll into meatballs. Get a large pot full of water and add the potatoes and meat. Bring to a boil then start adding the carrots and onions, keep on a low boil. Cooking time for the Irish stew should be approximately 60 minutes or when the meat is fully cooked and the potatoes are soft inside. Add salt and pepper according to taste. Once the stew is cooked, serve in bowls and provide fresh slices of break and butter.

 

This is the most common and basic recipe of Irish stew, but if you want to add more of a challenge trying adding some of these ingredients!

 

Mushrooms, Parsley, Herbs, Beef gravy granules, Oxtail powered soup preferable an Irish brand like Knorr, Table Sauce (Brown), Ketchup, Curry powder, and Guinness.

 

 

Check out some of these other traditional stew recipes below for a different take on this Irish classic.

 

Irish Stew

Guinness Irish Stew

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Summer F-words

By Lydia Statz

Frozen Fruit Cocktail

Frozen in muffin tins for a perfect single serving

Though the current heat wave brings to mind a very different F-word every time I open my door, for a long time my summers have revolved around three basic tenets: fruit, frozen treats, and family.

Admittedly, fruit wasn’t always a major part of my life. I was a picky kid and for the first twelve years of my life the only fruit in my diet came from grape jelly, popsicles and Curious George fruit snacks. Things immediately changed in high school when I started working at Poyer’s Farm Market. Suddenly my world was filled with succulent, mouth watering local fruits, or as local as you can get in Wisconsin.  Nowadays, I’m a fruit snob as a direct result.  Michigan blueberries and peaches can’t be beat, and you haven’t lived you’ve eaten a tiny homegrown strawberry, still warm from the sun.  You don’t have to turn up your nose at supermarket produce like me, (don’t even get me started), but I think we can all agree fresh, ripe fruit is probably the best part of the season.

Don’t let my fruit diatribe trick you into thinking I’m a health snob though. If there’s one thing my parents taught me, it’s that a summer day isn’t complete without a heaping bowl of bedtime ice cream. In my life there are three certainties – death, taxes, and a gallon of ice cream in my parent’s freezer year round.  And if you open the door and are proven wrong, it’s in the basement freezer.  This has been true for generations, and while it might not be traditionally “healthy,” I think the only thing worse for your constitution is to deny yourself of all frozen goodness when the mercury is hovering in the 90s.

The only other sure thing summer brings, besides hay fever, is family. I come from a large family. Large as in, don’t-even-try-to-beat-me-because-I-win-every-time large.  We don’t all gather in one place very often, but every summer of my short life has included at least one family reunion, either on my mom’s or dad’s side, often both. Sometimes on the same day. The setting can be variable – we’ve met at a yacht club, a city park, and an uncle’s farm complete with a jumping mule and hay rides, but no matter the attire you can be assured of lewd jokes, a lot of men who look exactly like my dad (on his side, obviously) and more food than could ever possibly be consumed.

This week I rolled all of these ideas into one and made a batch of Nonny’s Frozen Fruit Cocktail. Though I never had the chance to share it with my grandma, my mom has made it countless times since, and it’s always the perfect summer treat. Fresh fruit, juice and sugar mixed and frozen couldn’t be easier to make and the result is just what you need on a hot summer evening. Or morning, I don’t judge.

Nonny’s Frozen Fruit Cocktail

  •  3 c. water
  • 3 c. sugar
  • 3-4 bananas, sliced
  • ½ c. lemon juice
  • 1 – 20 oz. can crushed pineapple (do not drain)
  • 1 – 16 oz. can frozen orange juice concentrate
  • 1 lb. strawberries, fresh or frozen

Combine water and sugar and bring to a boil. Slice bananas and mix with lemon juice. Mix all ingredients together and pour into a 9X13 pan. Freeze at least six hours. Serves 20.

One last note from Nonny, handwritten in the margin: “Some people like to pour a little 7up or Squirt over it before serving, but I never cared for it.”


The Proper Fish and Chips

By Cailly Morris

After spending the summer in London I have had my fair share of Fish and Chips — and believe me, not all fish and chips are made the same. As a lover of Madison Friday fish frys, I decided to try a variety to see just how different they were.

This proved to be quite eventful as it turns out I did not know what a proper fish and chips entailed. The proper fish and chips consists of battered fish (traditionally cod but sometimes haddock or plaice) deep-fried and accompanied by deep-fried “chips” that are much thicker than typical American fries — so far so good, sounds pretty similar.

However, unlike a typical American fish fry, English fish and chips are made with one side of the fish’s skin still on. This was quite surprising when I took my first bite and noticed I was eating the skin of a fish. Now — for most people this would not be an issue, but for someone like me who already doesn’t like most fish, it was a little odd. The fish are also traditionally served with mushy pureed peas that are surprisingly pretty delicious with the fish. While I decided to just eat around the skin, it is worth a try if you are a lover of fish frys!

Fish and Chips originated in Britain in the late 1850s as cheap and affordable meal for the working class.  While no one is quite sure who was the first to try the delectable combo, both Scotland and London claim they are the true masterminds behind the dish.

A typical Fish and Chips meal is made using Arran Victory potatoes, or Marish Piper to add what the English call “the perfect balance of flavor”. The chips are then cooked twice and are cooled down in between each stage of frying to get rid of the excess moisture and prevent soggy, waxy chips.

For the batter, it is typical to use bubbly beer to add volume and crunch to the batter, but lager has become a more modern variation. It is suggested that the batter be chilled for at least an hour in the fridge before using.

And finally, the fish! To have a great texture you need to make sure you have a fresh fish with thick muscle mass.

Check out a traditional version of the recipe below to have your very own English experience.

Until next time, Cheers from London!

Recipe Ingredients:

For the Fish and Batter

  • 4 large fish fillets, 2-3 cm thick (either Cod, Plaice, Haddock or Turbut)
  • 1 ½ cups of flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 200 ml water
  • 500 ml beer or lager
  • 8 ½ cups – 12 cups of peanut oil
  • table salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Chips

  • 2 ½ pounds arran victory or marish piper potatoes
  • Table salt and sea salt

Recipe Method:

The day before serving the fish and chips go to the method for making the chips and do the first frying of the twice-cooked process the night before, so the chips can dry out in the fridge overnight after their first frying. This will lift the chips to a new level of taste and texture, crisping them up, when fried for the second time, just before serving. However, you can of course shorten this to twice-cooking the chips on the same day, with a shorter resting time in the fridge.

For The Fish

Into a medium sized bowl sieve in the plain flour and baking powder and mix. In a small jug stir in the honey and water, then add this to the flour to create a batter mix by whisking it together. Open the lager or beer and stir it  gently into the batter until just combined, try not to excite the beer too much – it doesn’t matter if the consistency is a little lumpy. Put this in the fridge to rest for 30 minutes.

In a large saucepan, deep fat fryer, or large casserole dish, put enough groundnut oil to cover the fish when it is added. Heat this to 220C (use a cook’s digital probe thermometer to test the temperature – they are quite cheap to buy and are very useful).

Rinse the turbot fillets (or other fish fillets) under running water and dry them with paper towels. Season with sea salt and ground black pepper, then dust with a little plain flour — this ensures the batter sticks to the fillets. Shake off any excess flour.

Take the batter out of the fridge, give it a vigorous whisk to get it foamy. Dip the fillet into the foamy batter, so that it is fully covered. When it is completely coated lower the fillet head first into the oil, holding it by the narrow tail end and dropping it slowly away from you to avoid splashes.

As the fish fries in the oil use a metal spoon and drizzle a little extra batter over it, this adds to the crusty exterior, making it even more crunchy. When it has turned a light-golden brown, which will take 1-2 minutes, turn the fillet over and drizzle more batter on that side too.

Let the fish cook for another minute or so, until it has coloured to a deeper golden brown, then remove it from the oil. Use the digital probe to check it is cooked: insert the probe into the thickest part of the fish — once it reads 45C the fillet should be set aside to drain and rest on a drying rack with paper towel on it. If it needs longer fry for another minute. The residual heat will cook the fish to a temperature of over 50C.

Repeat the above process with the remaining fillets.

For The Chips

The night before: Wash and peel the potatoes, then cut them into chips, about 1.5cm thick. As soon as the chips are cut put them into a bowl under cold running water for three minutes, to rinse off some of the starch, then drain.

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil, add the potato chips, which will bring the temperature down, bring back to the boil and then return to a gentle simmer until the surface of the chips have almost broken up. It is important to make sure the simmer is gentle, so that the potatoes don’t start to fall apart before they have cooked through. This will usually only take about ten-minutes or so.

Using a slotted spoon, carefully lift the potatoes out of the water and place on a cake rack (with some kitchen towel underneath) to drain and dry. Leave to cool, then put in the fridge until cold – twenty minutes or so.

When the chips are cold take them from the fridge and pour enough groundnut oil to cover the chips into a deep-fat fryer etc. and heat the oil to 130C. Add the chips to the hot fat and allow them to cook for a few minutes, until they are slightly coloured, do not over cook them at this stage.

Remove the chips and drain off the excess fat. Place them on a cake rack, with kitchen towel underneath, and allow to cool, then return to the fridge overnight.

On the day of the meal: After cooking the fish fillets in batter, turn the groundnut oil down to 190C. Take the once-cooked chips out of the fridge and add them to the hot oil and cook until golden brown. This will take 8-10 minutes.

Drain the chips, season well with a mixture of table and sea salt, then pile next to the fish fillets on a plate. Serve the fish and chips with separate dishes of mushy peas, pickled onions, tartar sauce, and condements of vinegar and extra salt for those who wish to add them.

For Home-made Mushy Peas

Ingredients: 475g frozen peas, 65g butter, 6 mint leaves, Salt and pepper, to taste.

Defrost the frozen peas in a jug filled with warm water — this should take a only few minutes. Strain, shaking off as much excess water as possible. Reserve some of the peas.

Place the remaining peas into a small saucepan, along with the butter and 50ml water. Cook over a medium heat until all the water has evaporated and the peas are cooked through. Place the cooked peas into a blender (or use a stick blender) and purée. While blending, adjust the taste by adding the mint leaves and the salt and pepper. Tip into a small dish to serve from and fold in the reserved peas.

Recipe courtesy of historicalfoods.com