Dia dhaoibh! When I found out I’d be posting on March 17th, I knew I had to do something for St. Patrick’s Day. You see, I love the Irish! I love the annual celebration of Ireland that happens this time every year! I love the shamrocks, the parades, and the green decor everywhere! I DO NOT, however, love the ever present corned beef and cabbage or the green beer.
Since I have been assaulted by corned beef and cabbage one too many times in my life, I decided to explore our History of Food & Drink Collection in search of more palatable Irish fare. During my search, I found various recipes for Irish potato dishes, a few roasts, and even one recipe for the dreaded corned beef. While I was searching, I came across a little Irish cookbook. No, literally! the book’s title is A Little Irish Cookbook (TX717.5 .M877x 1986).
A Little Irish Cookbook includes 28 recipes representing everything from breakfast to dessert. The book was originally published by The Appletree Press Ltd. in Ireland in 1986. The copy held by Special Collections was published the same year by Chronicle Books in the United States but was printed in Ireland. The author, John Murphy, states in his introduction that the book is not intended to represent all of Irish cuisine. It is merely a collection of recipes that “…if a visitor to Ireland were to encounter only what is in this book … he would be satisfied that he had eaten well in the Irish style.” That makes me think it’s perfect for a St. Patrick’s Day repast.
In celebration of Ireland and St. Patrick’s Day, I’ve created a five course menu from Mr. Murphy’s book. The menu is below accompanied by the appetizing illustrations from the book.
But first … Since March is Women’s History Month, I want to spend a moment talking not about the author of the book but about its amazing illustrator, Karen Bailey. Karen Bailey is a working artist with a studio in Ottawa, Canada. Her first art exhibition was in 1981. Since then, she has had both solo and joint exhibitions across Canada and the United Kingdom. She has provided illustrations for a number of Appletree Press books, including “Irish Toasts”, “A Little Scottish Cookbook”, “A Little American Cookbook”, and “A Little Canadian Cookbook”. More examples of her work can be seen on her website: www.karenbailey.ca.
Now for our menu:
Géarú Goile (appetizer)
Introduced in the book as “… a traditional potato dish, celebrated in the rhyme: Boxty on the griddle, boxty in the pan, If you can’t make boxty, you’ll never get your man.”
This is a classic that everyone should expect when looking into an Irish cookbook. Murphy describes his recipe as “… hearty, nourishing, and traditional enough.”
Cúrsa Éisc (fish course)
Ireland is an island, so I had to include some seafood! Plus, I love seafood and this is my menu. 🙂 While I wasn’t able to find the origin of this dish’s amusing name, many sites on the Iternet claim it has to do with the wealthy status of lawyers in Dublin. Regardless, I firmly believe Murphy when he says “This dish is delicious and traditional…”
Príomhchúrsa (main course)
Spiced Beef with Champ
First, the Spiced Beef. With this dish, I’m slipping into Christmas fare a little but I couldn’t pass up this delicious image from Karen Bailey. The Spiced Beef “… can be made at home, but it does take time.” according to Murphy.
As for Champ, it “… is a simple, warming dish which is cheap, easy to produce and very filling. I’ve actually tried Champ and it was wonderful!
OK. I’m partial to gooseberries but there’s another great reason to highlight this dish in my menu. It’s apparently so good the publishers not only included it in the 28 recipes but they also printed the recipe a second time on the included bookmark!
I hope you enjoy whatever you decide to make for St. Patrick’s Day! And remember: Women’s History Month is only half over! If you haven’t already, be sure to check out our online exhibit for Women’s History Month 2016.