How to Make Irish Brown Bread

How to Make Irish Brown Bread

I don’t believe I’ve ever shared a recipe before. But, when we learned how to make Irish brown bread during a class at the Dingle Cookery School, I have to say, I needed to share the recipe. I hope Chef Mark doesn’t mind. The reason why I chose to share the Irish brown bread recipe is, in part, because I’ve always been afraid to try baking my own bread. That said, I love warm and fresh bread. After falling in love with the Irish soda bread at the Beech Hill Hotel in Derry, I found myself determined to learn how to make it. I felt that it was important, as someone of Irish heritage, to learn how to make Irish brown bread. Well, my determination failed me while staying with family. Days wore on, and I had yet to attempt to bake anything other than a box of Betty Crocker brownies (they were tasty though). When Chef Mark placed the Dingle Cookery School recipe book in front of me, and I first saw the Traditional Brown Bread Recipe, I started grinning from ear to ear. Once I learned how easy it was to make, I knew I had to share this bit of traditional Irish food. Irish Brown Bread Ingredients -300g brown flour -200g plain white flour -80g oatflakes -tablespoon of bread soda (baking soda or bicarbonate) -300-360 ml of buttermilk -pinch of salt Making Irish Brown Bread I absolutely love recipes that start with “mix all dry ingredients together.” Done. Simple. Next step. Add the buttermilk until it reaches a stiff porridge consistency. Place the Irish brown bread dough...
Traditional Irish Cooking at the Dingle Cookery School

Traditional Irish Cooking at the Dingle Cookery School

We braved the rainy afternoon weather as we pulled up into the driveway of the Dingle Cookery School. Once inside, it was toasty warm. Chef Mark, who runs the school, greeted us just as warmly. He immediately served some hot tea and fresh oatmeal bars as he launched into his discussion of traditional Irish cooking. And this is what I was most interested in during our visit to the Dingle Cookery School. After all, the word cookery, to me, symbolizes fancy cooking. But, traditional Irish cooking, in my experience, is, well, just that, traditional. It’s Aunt Theresa’s cooking. It’s roast beef and potatoes. Fish and chips. It’s really anything that involves a meat and at least one potato. In fact, the Irish family was also intrigued to learn what we would be cooking during our traditional Irish cooking class. I was expected to report back. Dingle Cookery School – Tradition and Basics As someone of Irish heritage, there are times where I feel like I know so little about Irish history. This was true before we toured Northern Ireland. It was also true as Chef Mark condensed thousands of years of Irish history, and more interesting Irish food history, into about thirty minutes. It was all the more impressive because he was demo cooking at the same time. He walked through the Druids, the Vikings, the British, the Spanish, and what was most interesting me – the focus on very local ingredients, and a renaissance of artisan food producers. After our history lesson, though, we got to work, on the basics. It’s important to Chef Mark to not only...
Irish Food Tourism and Ireland’s Food Trails

Irish Food Tourism and Ireland’s Food Trails

As I’ve mentioned about a dozen times, we are not newbies to Ireland. We’ve been traveling to Limerick, and around the west, for about 15 years. During our first trip to Ireland, our aunt and uncle drove us around to see the main sites. Since that time, our trips involve hanging in Limerick, or on the coast in Kilkee, often with a Guinness in hand. Our trips focus on meals with family. Thus, unlike most of our travels, which focus heavily on food travel, we’ve yet to delve into the concept of Irish food tourism. In fact, I did not really know that Irish food tourism even existed. Many people come to Ireland on heritage tours, to learn where their family comes from. Or, they come to drive through the verdant countryside, looking for fuzzy sheep along the way. They probably dream of the Cliffs of Moher, and the rest of the stunningly beautiful Wild Atlantic Way coast line. But, coming to Ireland for food? That’s another story. Grow Local, Buy Local All across Europe, about a decade ago, the trend was focused on shopping for convenience. As younger generations began to avoid the beautiful historic food markets in favor of big box shops and chain stores, it seemed almost as though the original charm of Europe was destined for obsolescence. It was more likely you would find a young mom shopping at Lidl than you would at a traditional market. The pendulum, though, is swinging back to grow local, buy local in much of Europe. Farmer’s markets are picking up, traditional city markets like Santa Catarina in Barcelona...
The Global Village Restaurant – Farm-to-Table in Dingle

The Global Village Restaurant – Farm-to-Table in Dingle

Our last Irish farm-to-table experience in Ireland was not spectacular. We were both feeling a little ill, which didn’t help. But, it seemed that the chef was trying too hard, to put too many ingredients and flavors onto one plate. It was like he had something to prove. I was hoping that we wouldn’t have the same experience at the Global Village Restaurant in Dingle. It was a little warm when we arrived, the sun suddenly surprising us that day, allowing the restaurant to heat up. We were a little tired from the drive out from Limerick, and had already stopped for two pints of Irish craft beer at the Dingle Brewing Company. I was starting to get flashbacks to the aforementioned Irish restaurant experience and became skeptical. After all, most of our meals in Ireland have been meat and potatoes, or potatoes and meat. Throw in an occasional order of fish and chips or a battered sausage, and that’s what Irish cuisine is. The Global Village Restaurant – One Incredibly Creative Menu I scanned the very ambitious menu, and wondered, could they execute these dishes? The thing is, I have never placed the Irish culinary world at the forefront of the international dining scene. I feel that Ireland tends to be a little slow to adapt to many trends, even ones that are firmly established in Continental Europe. It is why Ireland has so much charm – because it’s still possible to find thatched roof houses, and the smell of burning peat, when driving past farms of spray painted sheep, and hearty cows. But, at the Global Village...
Irish Craft Beer – The Dingle Brewing Company

Irish Craft Beer – The Dingle Brewing Company

I am a huge fan of Guinness. Although it took me some time to get used to it, prior to my first trip to Ireland, I am now, kind of, addicted. A term I use lightly. But, each successive trip we take to Ireland ends with me stating I’ve drunk way too much Guinness. I know it is mass produced and mass marketed, but I don’t care. After all, I’ve never been a fan of craft beer, let alone Irish craft beer. In fact, I really didn’t know that Irish craft beer was even a thing before this trip to Ireland. Irish Craft Beer Along The Wild Atlantic Way In fact, there is a brochure that tells people about the craft breweries that exist all along the Wild Atlantic Way.  The Wild Atlantic Way is a lengthy drive that exists along the west coast of Ireland, from the north to the south. It’s marked by blue square signs, and zig zags, pointing travelers in the direction, either north or south, as it winds its way along seaside towns and tall cliffs facing the Atlantic Ocean. Some parts stick out so far west that one person joked “next stop west is Brooklyn.” I’ve heard of the Wild Atlantic Way, but had no idea that you could taste a dozen Irish craft beers along the way.  It’s possible to drive, or hop (pun intended) from brewery to brewery, learning how beer is made. It’s possible to meet the people who make the Irish craft beer, and who take pride in creating quality local products. People who want to spread the word...
The Home of Irish Coffee

The Home of Irish Coffee

I bartended at Bennigan’s during college, you know, the Irish pub-themed chain restaurant. I knew at the time that the menu, with loaded potato skins and mega nachos, was not traditionally Irish, even before taking my first trip to Ireland over 15 years ago. But, I occasionally made an Irish Coffee, loaded with Reddi-Whip whipped cream, bright green creme d’menthe, and a sickly sweet maraschino cherry. At the time, I never assumed that the home of Irish coffee would be anywhere other than the US. I could not imagine that the home of Irish coffee could actually be in…gasp…Ireland. In my many, many trips to Ireland over the last 15 years, I’ve never had an Irish coffee in Ireland. I’ve had many a Guinness. Perhaps too many. I’ve had many a glass of whiskey…Powers, Paddy’s, Jameson. I’ve even had a hot whiskey, first introduced to me by our late cousin Eddie Crean, when I was feeling a sinus infection come on during a particularly wet Irish summer. But, I’ve never had an Irish coffee. In fact, I sort of give up drinking coffee as soon as I step foot onto the island.  I am inundated with loads of tea drinking opportunities, always with a bit of milk. Never with sugar. In all of our trips to Limerick city, I never knew that just down the road, still within County Limerick, was the town of Foynes, home of Irish coffee. The Foynes Flying Boat Museum I only found out about the Irish coffee when it was suggested that we stop on our way to Dingle at the Foynes Flying Boat...
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