Monday, March 14, 2011

Special Edition St. Patty’s Day Post Offers Food Worth Stewing Over

When you shake out the dinner napkin, letting it fall on your lap in anticpation of a supberb meal, chances are there’s a certain region to thank—if it’s a hearty Irish seafood stew, you’ll feel like the Emerald Isle has just offered you one of the finest dining experiences of your life—no exaggeration. As Ireland is the 20th largest island in the world, it’s no surprise it reigns supreme for seafood stews and pies. I had a chance to see for myself, when I visted “The Island” in 2008, expecting to be wined and dined on cornbeef and cabbage; what a pleasant surprise to uncover smoked wild Atlantic salmon, plump native oysters and Dublin prawns.

What I Know About Irish Delicacies
I spent the bulk of my vacation in Waterville after an attempt to kiss the Blarney Stone went awry. If you ever make it to Waterville—and love it like I did—you’ll have something in common with Charlie Chaplin, who put vacationing there on the map. I wonder if Charlie enjoyed the Market price section of his Irish menu?? Beyond its seafood, Ireland is also renowned for the quality of its beef and lamb, soda bread and farmhouse cheeses—it’s field research like the kind I so enjoyed conducting in Waterville that prompted this post, as well as an Irish crackers and cheese plate recipe set to appear in my future cookbook, Diary of an Extreme Party Planner. Keep reading me for scrumptious spoilers and publishing details!

But We Won’t Talk About That Now…’Cause Soup’s On & There’s Fresh Bread For Dipping!
As a huge proponent of using the freshest ingredients available in my cooking, it’s my Irish Seafood Stew that takes the cake. The rich flavor of the stew broth seasons the seafood as it cooks—and better yet, it’s the perfect solution as a crowd pleaser because you can prepare the broth the day before, and reheat it as guests arrive.

Since this stew is best enjoyed with bread, might I suggest making my Irish soda bread to go along with? Both are a staple in most coastal pubs and restaurants and will allow you to feel your Irish roots thousands of miles away as we all settle down to enjoy a nice late March supper. If and when you want to materialize this deeply satisfying feast, be sure to load your grocery cart with plenty of root vegetables, oysters, shrimp, mussels, cod and salmon. This recipe leaves plenty of room to be creative and substitute with lobster or clams. Last but not least, don’t be afraid to invite all your friends—seafood stew took off in Ireland centuries ago, when so many of the characteristically large families residing there appreciated how filling it was—and how far you could stretch it.

Golden Crouton Recipe Also Makes Stew Flavors Pop
If you’d like to serve your seafood stew with something besides Irish soda bread, prepare garlic croutons by slicing a loaf of French or Italian bread into 1 inch pieces. Place the cubed bread into a bowl. Sprinkle with garlic powder, dried oregano or basil, and a small amount of olive oil. Toss to coat the cubes. Place the bread on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan Cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 5 to 10 minutes or until the croutons are golden brown.

Afterward, when you’re angling for a dessert that celebrates St. Patty’s Day in high and colorful style, check in with the Nana blog on Crème de Menthe Cheesecake. Even if you decide to order Chinese take-out during this long month of Irish heritage, may your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow, and may trouble avoid you wherever you go…happy March 17th, everyone!


L Hargiss said...

Irish seafood stew sounds great! But what's with the lettuce?

Jorj Morgan said...

Glad you're looking forward to the stew! Actually, escarole lettuce cooks up very nicely and is great in soups -- adds a nice bit of spring color : )

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