Offerings from the Irish Sea … |

Offerings from the Irish Sea …

Eileen JoyceDig into shellfish, Emerald Isle style: Steamed Mussels in White Wine Sauce.
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St. Patrick’s Day is a national day of celebration in Ireland. A religious holiday, it’s like Sunday. Everyone goes to church in the morning wearing shamrocks in their lapels to symbolize the trinity. Everything, including the schools and pubs, close and there is a parade, a religious processional that is the highlight of the day. Festivities include step dancers and brass bands.

Ironically, they seldom eat beef in Ireland. Usually cattle are a source of milk and cheese, rather than meat. As the country is surrounded by water, there is a great variety of seafood, including salmon, muscles, lobster and scallops. Brown trout are a wild freshwater fish native to Ireland’s freshwater streams and lakes.

Baked Trout with Herb Stuffing and Cream Sauce

6 tablespoons butter

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons minced parsley

1 tablespoon minced chives

3 tablespoons minced dill

2 ounces fine white breadcrumbs

Grated rind of 1 lemon

2 teaspoons lemon juice

Pinch nutmeg

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup light cream

4 rainbow or brown trout, cleaned

2/3 cup white wine

Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in large skillet and saute onion until soft. Remove from heat. Combine herbs and add half of the mixture to the pan along with the breadcrumbs, lemon rind and juice, and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper. Mix well and moisten with a little cream. Divide mixture into four equal portions and stuff each fish.

Butter a large baking dish. Lay each trout head to tail in the dish, dot with remaining butter, and pour wine over all. Bake in 475 degree oven for 20 minutes or until fish is slightly firm to touch. Pour cooking juices into a saucepan and boil to reduce by half. Add remaining cream and herb mixture, return to simmer. Arrange fish on individual plates and pour a little sauce over each fish.

Steamed Mussels in White Wine Sauce

4 pounds live mussels

1/4 cup butter

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 small leek, white and green parts, finely sliced

11/4 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup flour

2 tablespoons minced parsley

1-2 tablespoons heavy cream

Salt and pepper to taste

Wash mussels under cold running water and scrape, removing the “beard” and any barnacles. Discard any with open or damaged shells.

Melt half the butter in a large saucepan and saute the onion, garlic and leek until soft. Add mussels, white wine, and2/3 cup water, cover and bring to a boil. Cook two to five minutes until mussels open, shaking the pan several times to ensure that all cook evenly and quickly. Using a slotted spoon remove mussels from pan and divide evenly among four large soup plates. Discard any that haven’t opened during cooking. Keep warm.

Mix remaining butter with flour to form a roux and gradually add to juices in pan, stirring to thicken. Add cream and bring to simmer. Season to taste, stir in parsley, and pour over mussels.

Dublin Lawyer

1 pound lobster meat

1/4 cup butter

1 small onion, minced

4 tablespoons Irish whiskey

1/3 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

Watercress and lemon wedges for garnish

Heat butter in large skillet, saute onion until soft. Add lobster meat and saute until just cooked. Warm whiskey, pour over, and carefully ignite. When flames have died down, add remaining ingredients and mix well; remove to serving plates and keep warm. Boil liquid to reduce and thicken, pour over lobster, garnish with watercress and lemon wedges, and serve.

Root vegetables are another mainstay. Parsnips, carrots, and of course potatoes are boiled or baked, often with cream in various combinations with onions or leeks.

Roasted Root Vegetables

1 pound carrots, peeled

1 pound parsnips, peeled

1 pound turnips, peeled

1 tablespoon oil

2 tablespoons honey

Cut vegetables into1/2 inch cubes. Heat oil in a large frying pan and quickly fry veggies until just colored. Transfer to roasting pan, drizzle honey over all, and toss to coat evenly. Roast in 400 degree oven about one hour, until tender and well glazed. Toss frequently during cooking to prevent honey from burning. Serve with roast poultry or game. Serves six.

Parsnips and Hazelnuts

6 medium-sized parsnips, parboiled

3 tablespoons butter

1/3 cup chopped hazelnuts


2 tablespoons cream sherry

Slice parsnips crosswise,1/4 inch thick. Melt butter in skillet and simmer parsnips, lifting and turning, until they are lightly brown, about 10 minutes. Add hazelnuts and cook over low heat five minutes longer. Salt lightly, sprinkle with sherry, and serve. Serves four.

Boxty Pancakes (Stamp)

1 pound potatoes, washed and peeled

2 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

Salt and pepper to taste

2/3 cup milk

Oil for frying

Grate potatoes coarsely into a bowl; add flour mixed with baking powder. Season with salt and pepper, and add milk. Heat griddle with oil. Drop tablespoons of mixture onto hot griddle. Cook about five minutes on each side until golden brown. Serve hot with butter and sugar or fried bacon.

Glazed Carrots

4 carrots sliced crosswise1/4 inch thick

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons honey

1/2 teaspoon garlic granules

2 teaspoons dried basil flakes

Melt butter in large frying pan. Add carrots and saute gently for a few minutes. Add honey and seasonings. Stir to mix evenly, reduce heat, cover and simmer about 15 to 20 minutes.

If you are going to fix beef for St. Patrick’s, try this favorite of Annie O’Dea Hestbeck. A native of County Claire, Ireland, Hestbeck is the host of Celtic Cadence heard Wednesdays from 8 to 10 p.m. on KVMR-FM (89.5). She is also the producer of the Crannog Pub, an evening of Irish entertainment served up along with corned beef and cabbage. This year’s event is at Miners Foundry Cultural Center on Saturday. For more information, call 265-9073.

Braised Steaks in Guinness

(Annie O’Dea Hestbeck)

4 round steaks

4 ounces button mushrooms

1 onion

12-ounce bottle Guinness

Sprig of thyme

Few strips of orange peel (optional)

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Heat a little oil in large frying pan and brown steaks quickly on both sides. Remove from pan and set aside. Trim mushrooms, halve or quarter them if necessary, and peel and chop onion finely. Add a little more oil to the pan if needed and toss mushrooms and onions in it for a few minutes until they begin to color, then spread the mixture over the base of a medium-sized baking dish. Lay steaks over mushroom and onion mixture. Barely cover with Guinness, add orange peel and thyme and season well. Cover the dish with a lid or foil and braise in preheated oven for 1 to 11/2 hours or until the meat is tender. Baked potatoes, which can be cooked in the oven at the same time, are ideal for soaking up the delicious juices.

Porter Cake

(Anne Hestbeck)

Porter, a weaker form of Guinness, is a traditional ingredient. If using a stout such as Guinness, you might want to dilute it.

4 cups flour

Pinch salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon allspice

1 cup butter

1 cup dark brown sugar

1 cup raisins

1 cup currents

1 cup sultanas

1/2 cup citrus peel

4 eggs

1/2 pint stout

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour round cake pan. Cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs. Add dry ingredients, then the fruits and finally the stout. Turn into prepared cake pan. Cook one hour. Turn down heat to 300 degrees. Cook another 11/2 hours or until top is springy. Cool in pan then remove. Lace with more stout and wrap in greaseproof paper. Store in airtight tin at least one week.

Bette Worth writes a column for The Union on Wednesdays. You can write her in care of The Union, 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, 95945; or she can be reached at

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