Ploughman's lunch

Ploughman's lunch


Seeking an easy, filling lunch without sparking up the stove on a warm summer day—maybe a perfect option for a picnic? Look no further than the Ploughman’s. There’s a reason the classics stick around. Hearty, simple and delicious, the Ploughman’s lunch was just a formalization of a meal enjoyed by working folks and a marketing ploy by the Cheese Bureau to push their product in the UK during the 1950s. Essentially the Cheese Board took the tradition of scavenging around the home for whatever bits a farmer could throw together for sustenance, gave it a name and ensured cheese was in the definition (after the World War’s rationing of the delectable stuff). And it stuck.

There are arguments back and forth about what exactly is entailed in a traditional Ploughman’s, but the basics often include cheese, rustic crusty bread, pickles and an apple. At Irish Food Revolution, we figure it doesn’t matter all that much. After all, our focus is on the changing culinary landscape in Ireland. So we like to play loose with this meal, with no apologies to the few stubborn traditionalists. We figure, if you like it, throw it on the plate and if you don’t, leave it off.

For our sample, we’ve combined a lot of the traditional Ploughman’s offerings, but feel free to toss in whatever you have lying around. One of the reasons this meal works so well is that there’s sweet, salty and sour. Plus, items like pickles, fruit, greens and berries cleanse the palate after a bite of the fatty offerings. (It also helps to clear out the fridge.)

Some people will insist that you eat the meal with your hands, that the only cutlery needed is a knife for the cheese and condiments, but if you want a fork, have at it.

Included in our pictured sample:

  • Thick cut ham
  • Boiled eggs (cover uncooked eggs in cold water, bring to a boil, remove from heat and cover for 12 minutes, then soak in cold water to stop the cooking)
  • Buttered brown soda bread
  • Pickles
  • Pea shoots
  • Bleu cheese
  • Cheddar
  • Dijon mustard
  • Chutney (pictured is cranberry apple)
  • Gooseberries (also called Golden Berries)
  • Perhaps most importantly, a pint of ale or stout

Other possibilities? Try any combination of an apple, pickled onions, cold sausages, just about any type of greens, olives, prosciutto, turkey or chicken, pork pie, hard cider instead of beer, cole slaw, tomato, beet root, any type of berry, celery, carrots or cucumber. And if you’re a teetotaler, by all means substitute tea for the alcohol. It’s all about making a quick meal you’ll really appreciate.

Summer Strawberry Salad

Summer Strawberry Salad

When I think of summer, my mind immediately turns to thoughts of fresh vegetables and fruit, farmer’s markets in full swing and hazy humid weather where all you want is something light and refreshing to eat. And who wants to cook in the kitchen when that time could be so much better spent outside enjoying the sun? Enter our Summer Strawberry Salad: quick, easy, nutritious and delicious. Plus there’s something about these classic salad ingredients that play so well together.

Ingredients

  • Spring mix
  • Strawberries
  • Feta cheese
  • Cashews
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Balsamic vinegar

Okay, so there’s not really a recipe to follow here… throw the first four ingredients on a plate and top with the olive oil and vinegar. Did we mention that it was easy?


IngredientsSummer Strawberry Salad sans dressing

Stone Wall

The ingredients you'll need

With spring well underway, we thought it was appropriate to celebrate with a refreshing, easily-made cocktail. This is a slightly different version than the classic Stone Fence, a colonial-era drink noted for being a favorite of Ethan Allen. Word has it that he and “the Green Mountain Boys” filled up on a mix of rum and hard cider the night before attacking the British-controlled Fort Ticonderoga.

We’ve added some orange bitters and a nice helping of cinnamon sugar around the rim of the glass, which makes it a sweet and tart treat. We also changed the name to Stone Wall in recognition of a song that Conor’s Uncle Jack used to sing, “the Old Stone Wall.”

Ingredients

  • Good quality rum
  • Hard cider
  • Orange bitters
  • Cinnamon sugar

Directions

Rim a rocks glass with cinnamon sugar by wetting the rim with water and dipping the glass rim into the cinnamon sugar. Drop in a few cubes of ice.

The ratio of cider to rum is 3-1. For a single glass, for example, use 2 ounces of rum and 6 ounces of cider. Add one or two dashes of orange bitters, stir and enjoy.

A Stone Wall cocktail

Cinnamon Cream Martini

Cinnamon Cream Martini

Nothing beats Irish Cream Liqueur and milk. However, we were looking for something that cut down on the milk (since it does not always agree with Libby), and we also wanted a bit of a twist on this classic combination. So we came up with the idea of using almond milk and some cinnamon. Turned out absolutely delicious we are happy to report.

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces of Irish Creme Liqueur (Baileys works, of course. I love Kerrygold Irish Creme and Coole Swan, but they are not as easy to come by).
  • 2 ounces of Vanilla Almond Cinnamon Milk (see instructions below)
  • 2 tsps of sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tbs of cinnamon
  • Splash of Irish Whiskey

Directions

1. You need to make the cinnamon milk about an hour ahead. Pour 2 cups of unsweetened vanilla almond milk into a small saucepan on medium heat. Stir in the cinnamon and sugar. As you heat, stir often and make sure not to boil. When the cinnamon has mostly dissolved and it is steaming, strain into a container using a fine sieve. Put in the fridge for 30-45 minutes to cool. Store the unused milk in an airtight container for up to 10 days.


2. In a shaker with ice, combine the Irish creme, 2 ounces of the cinnamon milk mixture, and the splash of whiskey. Shake and strain into a martini glass. Another way of enjoying is to keep the cinnamon milk warm and add in the other ingredients for a hot drink. The cinnamon milk is also great as a non-alcoholic beverage.




"Mighty" Beef Stew


Mighty beef stew


We love beef stew and for the past year, have wanted to create our own version. So finally here is our stew! It turned out “mighty” good. Beara Irish Brewing Company is a local brewer, who uses imported Irish barley for their beers. Owners Michael and Louise Potorti have roots in the Beara Peninsula in County Cork (Louise is from there). So they are huge fans of the farm to table movement both here and in Ireland. Using local brews and local beef (from Tendercrop Farm) was the perfect combination for our vision as well here at Irish Food Revolution.

If you cannot find a strong local brew for yours, then Guinness works just as well, of course. However, Beara Irish Brew’s “Mighty” does have a stronger flavor than Guinness, which we loved in this stew. It added a zestier ale taste to the stew. If you live in the Seacoast New Hampshire area, then we highly recommend snagging Mighty. They are brewing a new batch as we speak!

Before heading to the recipe, a word about Dutch ovens, which are the best things on the planet. For years, we swooned over the Le Creuset versions, which were out of our price range. However, we found Lodge Cast Iron that makes great Dutch ovens for a very reasonable price.


Mighty stout from Beara Irish Brewing



Ingredients
Serves 6-8 (great for leftovers!)

  • 3 ½ pounds of grass fed beef, buy pre-cut or cut into 1 and1/2 inch pieces (grass fed is expensive, yes. But the more we read, the more convincing the argument. It is simply better for our bodies.)
  • 4 Tbs of vegetable oil
  • l large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbs tomato paste
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 2 ¾ cups of organic beef stock
  • ¼ cup of all purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ cups of Beara Irish Brew Mighty (or similar dark brew)
  • Fresh thyme (4-5 sprigs, leaves only)
  • 1 ½ pounds of Yukon Gold Potatoes, unpeeled, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 pound of peeled carrots, sliced into 1 inch long pieces

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees (adjust the oven rack to lower middle of oven)

2. In a large bowl, mix the beef with 2 Tbs of oil and flour until fully coated. Heat the remainder of the oil in a large Dutch oven (6 quarts).

3. Brown the beef in the Dutch oven for about 8 minutes. Add in chopped onions, garlic, thyme, and cook another 5-8 minutes or so. Add in tomato paste and cook another 2 minutes. Stir often during these steps.

4. Stir in beef stock and ¾ cup of ale, scraping off the bottom brown bits in the Dutch oven. Bring to a boil and then put in the oven for 80-90 minutes.

5. Take it out of the oven, add in carrots, and stir. Return to the oven. Cook for 15 more minutes.

6. Take it out of the oven, add in potatoes, remaining ale, and stir. Return to the oven. Cook for 45-50 more minutes.

7. Serve with bread and eat!



Enjoy with a slice of rye bread