Sheltering in place during the global COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t mean your senses are confined to your home kitchen. Send your taste buds on a holiday with flavors from far-flung destinations.
Ireland is one of my favorite destinations. The people are friendly, there’s always a bit of magic in the air, and I love rambling in its green pastures hunting for Neolithic stone circles and dolmens and medieval carvings called sheela-na-gigs.
Since I can’t go to Ireland in the foreseeable future, I’m going to try my hand at cooking these two delicious recipes: a salmon and colcannon dish from the five-star Lough Erne Resort in Northern Ireland, and a sweet dessert from The Woolen Mills Eating House, which overlooks Dublin’s Liffey River.
Fresh Local Salmon from a Lake in Northern Ireland
This dish takes center stage for a spring/early summer supper. Noel McMeel, executive head chef at the Lough Erne Resort in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, combines fresh Atlantic salmon with a traditional Irish potato-and-kale dish called colcannon.
Located on the outskirts of Ireland’s only island town of Enniskillen, Lough Erne is a peaceful rural resort that features a spa, golf course, fine dining, and plenty of nature. Nearby are castles, ancient ruins, historic estates, and miles of scenery to explore.
Fresh Salmon with Traditional Colcannon and Basil Cream Sauce
Makes 4 portions
1 lb. potatoes (washed)
5 tablespoons butter
5¼ ounces curly kale (finely chopped)
1 egg (beaten)
3 tablespoons plain flour
1 pinch salt and fresh ground black pepper
3 tablespoons water
9½ cups water
1 slice lemon
1 tablespoon salt
2 lbs. salmon fillet (skin on)
Basil Cream Sauce ingredients:
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons flour
2½ cups milk
¾ cup fresh basil leaves
To make the Colcannon:
- Cook the potatoes until soft (about 25 minutes) in boiling, salted water. Peel them while they’re still warm. Mash the potatoes and add 1½ tablespoons butter.
- Measure 3 tablespoons of water in a saucepan and warm on medium heat. Add the chopped kale and 3½ tablespoons of butter; cook until tender. (We use very little water to retain the kale’s vitamins
- Fold the cabbage into the potatoes. Bind the mixture together with a beaten egg and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
To prepare the Salmon:
- Put the water, lemon, and salt in a large pan. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add the salmon and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and leave the fish to finish cooking gently in the cooking liquid.
To make the Basil Cream Sauce:
- Melt 1¾ tablespoons butter in a heavy pan and sprinkle with flour. Stir continuously with a wooden spoon to mix. Cook for 5 minutes.
- Gradually pour in the milk, stirring all the time, to make a smooth sauce.
- Add 1¼ cups of the fish-cooking liquid, and simmer for 12 minutes.
- Drain the salmon and cut into four portions. Place on four warmed plates.
- Stir the basil leaves and the rest of the butter into the sauce.
- Place colcannon in the center of the plate with the salmon on top.
- Pour the sauce over half the fish. (Chef’s tip: The dishes will look more attractive if the fish is only partly covered.)
Dessert from Dublin’s Fair City
Whip up this dessert from The Woolen Mills Eating House, located on the 1816 elliptical-arch Ha’penny Bridge over the River Liffey in the heart of Dublin. With Georgian windows overlooking the river and an incredible roof terrace, the venue offers food with a view onto the ultimate Dublin cityscape. Chef Ian Connolly has created a sweet treat—or “pudding” as dessert is called in Britain and Ireland.
Bread-and-Butter Pudding with Irish Whiskey Sauce
Makes 6 generous portions
1 cup cream
1¾ cup whole milk
2/3 cup caster sugar (or powdered sugar)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 medium eggs, whisked
9 tablespoons butter, melted
3½ oz. sultanas, raisins, or other dried fruit
One loaf of white bread (sliced, with crusts removed)
Irish whiskey sauce ingredients:
½ cup golden syrup (or corn syrup)
¼ cup caster sugar (or powdered sugar)
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter
½ cup cream
2 shots of Irish whiskey
To make the pudding:
- Preheat the oven to 320°F.
- Line a deep, medium-size baking tray with parchment paper.
- Slice the bread into square shapes.
- Heat the cream and milk in a heavy-based pan over low heat, then add the sugar, vanilla, eggs, and melted butter to the pan. Using a wooden spoon, mix well together and simmer until the sauce thickens.
- Dip each piece of bread into the cream mix until soaked through.
- Layer the bread onto the baking tray, with a sprinkle of sultanas, raisins, or dried fruit between each layer.
- When the bread is all used, pour the remaining cream mixture over the tray. Cover the baking tray with parchment paper and place in the oven. Bake for 1 hour, then remove the paper, and cook for another 15 minutes until the top is golden.
To make whiskey sauce:
- In a small pan, heat the syrup, sugars, and butter until melted. When the sauce starts to bubble, turn down the heat to low and whisk the cream into the hot mixture.
- Raise the heat again until the mixture begins to bubble, then remove the saucepan from heat.
- Add whiskey and stir.
To serve: Cut the bread pudding into squares, place each in a shallow bowl, and pour whiskey sauce over the top. Enjoy!
As they say in Ireland, “Ithe go maith” (“Eat well” in Gaelic)
Want to discover more of Ireland’s flavors? Visit Ireland.com
—Laurel Kallenbach, freelance editor and writer