Our first night Moira fixed the most marvelous steak and kidney pie accompanied by boiled leeks, potatoes, and carrots. When I asked her for the recipe for the pie, she quickly rattled off loose directions that I'll repeat here as best I can, but I gather that improvisation is the key.
The mill and pond of Lower Slaughter, England.
Moira's Steak & Kidney Pie
2 to 3 lbs of beef (sirloin, chuck, etc.) cut in 1/2 to 1-inch cubes
1 lb of lamb, pig or veal kidneys cut bite sized
2 chopped onions
oil for browning
2 cups water or beef stock
1/2 lb. mushrooms (optional)
salt, pepper to taste
Fry up the onions (don't brown) then add the meat that has been tossed in flour (add mushrooms). Add the stock or water and simmer slowly until the meat is tender. (An hour or two, depending on the cut of meat.) Pour the mixture into a deep casserole or pie dish. This can be done the day before. Cover the pie with short crust' pastry made with half lard and half butter (use all butter if you can't find lard). But any pastry that is not "puff' can be used. Slash or prick the crust to release steam, and flute the edges. (Note: a metal or glass funnel placed in the middle of the dish helps support the crust and vent the steam. Put the pie in a pre-heated 450 degree oven. Bake for 15 minutes, reduce heat to 350 and bake for 1/2 hour longer.
It was a dark and stormy night on a "Bank Holiday" weekend in Ireland when our search for accommodations brought us to the Doyle's isolated home near Laragh Village on Sally Gap Road south of Dublin. We spotted a small sign that said "Glenview B&B," and prepared to hear another "sorry, full up" as we neared the door. Instead, this young family welcomed us with warm conversation, scones and tea.
As with most cooks I asked for recipes, Judy seemed baffled that anyone would actually need a recipe to make traditional Irish dishes. She obliged my request, however, and told me how to make some of her favoritesjust as she had learned them from her mother.
We took a break to picnic and enjoy the wildness of Conner's Pass, the highest pass in Ireland.
12 oz. (about 3 cups) self rising flour
1 pinch salt
1 heaped tsp. baking powder
3 oz. (about 6 tablespoons) margarine ( or perhaps, butter)
1 oz. sugar (about 4 tablespoons)
1/4 pint milk, more or less (about 1/2 cup)
1 beaten egg
Optional: raisins, sultanas or cheese (omit the sugar with cheese)
Grease and flour a baking sheet. Preheat the oven (210 degrees C or 425 degrees F).
Mix dry ingredients (except sugar). Cut in margarine with fingers until you get a bread crumb effect. Add the sugar, beaten egg, milk and any optional ingredients. Mix until the mixture "all comes together." Put it on a floured board and "play around with it for a while." Pat it out to 1 inch thick and cut into shapes with a 2 inch square or round cutter. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.
Traditional Irish Stew
The stew should be very thick. It is expanded with vegetables, depending on how many people you are serving. Serve it with Irish Soda Bread.
1 lb. neck of lamb or diced lamb
(beef may be substituted, but lamb is traditional)
1 large onion, chopped
carrots cut in chunks, about one per person
potatoes, peeled and left whole, two or three per person
salt and pepper to taste
Boil lamb and onion slowly, the longer and slower the better (about 1 1/2 hours or so). Add carrots and potatoes, salt and pepper and bring back to a boil. Simmer until the vegetables are cooked (about 1/2 hour). If the stew is runny, add corn flour (corn starch) to thicken.
Judy said that her mother usually made the stew the old way: cooked with bones which were served with the stew. "Part of the fun of eating it," said Judy, "is sucking the meat of the bones."
Irish Soda Bread
Grease and flour the inside of a lidded cast iron pan (like a Dutch Oven). Preheat the oven and pan to 200 degrees C or 375 to 400 degrees F.
1 lb. (4 cups) flour
1 heaping tsp. soda
1 heaping tsp. salt
12-14 oz. (1 1/2 C to 1 3/4 C) buttermilk
Sift the dry ingredients. Make a well in the middle and pour in the buttermilk. Stir until it makes a ball. After mixing, turn out on a floured board and knead lightly. Bake for 50 minutes (more or less). It should be "firm with a nice crust" and sound hollow when thumped on the bottom. Wrap the bread in a cloth until cool.
Scots love their meat, sweets and whiskey, and it is no wonder that they have the highest rate of heart attacks in the Europe. No one offered a recipe for the famous "haggis" (a concoction made from minced cooked liver, steel cut oats, suet, onion, salt and white pepper, and sometimes other spices, all boiled in either a sheep's stomach or a cloth bag), and we didn't seek one out. We did sample it a few places, and found that it could be pretty good when properly spiced and served with "tatties and neeps" (mashed turnipsa milder cousin of the turnip we are used to in the United States and mashed potatoes).
Our ethnic food of choice for Scotland (right after Scotch whiskey) was "Butter Tablets" a creamy, caramely confection almost like a fondant. Scones and Scottish shortbread followed close behind. But here is a recipe for a simple Scottish dessert using the ubiquitous Scottish oats.
1/3 C oatmeal
1 C whipping cream
3 Tablespoons powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons rum (dark)
Toast the oatmeal in a 400 degree oven until golden brown (about 15 minutes, shake or stir occasionally). Set aside. Whip the cream and add the sugar; it should be in stiff peaks when done. Lightly stir in the rum, fold in the oatmeal and pile into individual bowls. This is about enough for four.
One of the handsome, "Bonnie" young guards of Edinbugh Castle in Scotland gives Cassidy a guarded hug.
United States: The Final Recipe
Our final Worldhop recipe comes from one of the best cooks I have ever known, my brother-in-law, Laurant (Larry) who lives in San Francisco. He hunts deer, then brings home the meat and cooks it into all sorts of delectable dishes, including jerky. He dives for abalone and then makes the most melt-in-your-mouth concoction you have ever had pass your lips. But no meal is ever complete without good French bread (and butter and garlic). Here is Larry's own personal recipe. It is fitting that it reflects the melting pot of American cuisine.
Larry's French Bread
4 C flour (Larry recommends "Better for Bread")
1 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
Mix in a large bowl
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 Cup warm water
2 Tbsp yeast
Mix together and allow to work for ten minutes
Add to flour mixture together with:
1 1/2 cup warm water
Mix with a large spoon until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl--you will probably have to add more flour incrementally. Dump onto a floured board and knead for 15-25 minutes (add flour as necessary so it doesn't stick). Put back in lightly greased (Pam) bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a wet towel and let stand and rise in a warm place about 1 - 1 1/2 hours.
Return to floured board. Knead again for 15 - 20 minutes. Divide into loaves. Place on a lightly greased ("Pam"ed) baking sheet. Allow to rise in a warm dry oven.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 15 minutes at 400, then turn oven down to 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes more. Voila! The whole process takes about four hours.