July 2016

Toasties and egg

Grilled cheese with arugula, egg and balsamic glaze

We’ve taken toasties (grilled cheese) and bumped it up a notch with arugula, then topped it with a sunny-side-up egg and balsamic glaze, and served it with a side of fried tomatoes rather than the traditional tomato soup. It makes a meal that’s equally delicious for breakfast or lunch. Our recipe is made with thick-cut slices of our own soda bread, but feel free to substitute. Either way you’ll want a fork and knife to tackle this flavor powerhouse.

Ingredients (for one sandwich)

  • 2 slices of bread (I used our own homemade brown soda bread)
  • 1-2 ounces sharp cheddar cheese grated or sliced (or whatever your preference is, but use real cheese, not cheese product. Your taste buds will thank you.)
  • Handful of arugula
  • Butter
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ tomato sliced
  • Balsamic glaze (optional. Glaze is a sweet balsamic vinegar reduction and usually sits near the balsamic vinegar at a grocery store.)

Preheat oven to 300° Fahrenheit and a skillet over medium low heat. Butter two slices of bread and place one on the skillet butter side down. Top with cheese and arugula and cover the skillet to keep in the heat. Cook about two minutes and add tomato to the skillet, sprinkling the tomatoes with salt and pepper and recovering the pan. Continue cooking until the underside of the sandwich is golden brown and cheese is melted, about 2 more minutes. Place the second slice of bread on top — butter on the outside — and flip the sandwich using a spatula and your hand. Compress sandwich a bit with the spatula. Flip the tomatoes. Cover the pan and cook the sandwich and tomatoes until underside of sandwich is golden brown, 2-3 minutes. Place sandwich and tomatoes on oven safe plate in oven to keep warm.

Melt ½ tablespoon of butter into pan and crack egg into butter. If using a nonstick pan, you can reduce the amount of butter. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until whites are set, but the yolk is still runny, about 2 minutes.

Remove plate from oven and top the sandwich with the egg and more arugula if desired. Drizzle balsamic glaze over the top of everything. Serve with a fork and knife.

The sandwich ready to assemble
Ready to assemble.

Frying the sandwich bottom and tomatoes
Frying the sandwich and tomatoes.

The egg frying in the pan.
Nearly there…

The finished sandwich
Grilled cheese, arugula and egg with a side of fried tomatoes.

The sandwich with balsamic glaze
Looking for that extra punch? Drizzle some balsamic glaze over the sandwich and tomatoes.

Soda bread

Fresh from the oven

You’d be hard pressed to find an Irish kitchen without a recipe or two for brown soda bread, the old hearty standby that puts any store bought loaf to shame. It’s basic, but practically required Irish home-cooking. Our recipe produces a soft, nutty loaf equally at home with a bowl of soup, as part of a sandwich or just by itself with a spot of butter and/or jam. One of the great aspects of brown bread is that you can enjoy it sweet or salty depending on how you pair it. Toasted soda bread with butter and honey (one of James Joyce’s favorites) is a classic for a reason. I like to make a loaf a week to keep on hand.

Ingredients (one loaf)

  • 2½ cups whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • ½ cup steel cut oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 325° Fahrenheit. Coat a 9x5 loaf pan with cooking spray, line with parchment paper and coat the paper with spray.

Combine dry ingredients; combine wet ingredients; then add wet mixture to dry and mix until combined, taking care not to over mix. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan and flatten with a wet spoon. If desired, sprinkle more oats on top. Bake for 65 minutes or until crust is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove loaf from pan and parchment paper and cool on a rack.

Wrapped in tinfoil or plastic, bread should last several days up to about a week at room temperature and will last longer if refrigerated or frozen.

Looking to create a delicious sandwich with this bread? Try our Toastie and egg.

Gathering the ingredients
Gathering the ingredients.

Wet and dry ready to mix
Wet and dry ready to mix.

Ready to bake
In the pan, ready to bake. So simple, but so perfect.

Soda bread disappearing
A blank slate.

Butter and unfiltered honey topped soda bread. Cue James Joyce.

Cheesy Champies

Cheesy Champies with bacon

Champ is one of the staples in Irish food — mashed potato, scallions, butter and milk. It’s such a favorite of mine that I began to wonder how I could introduce it as an appetizer. What I came up with was Cheesy Champies: potatoes, cheese, eggs, scallions and bacon — bite sized. (The cheese replaced the milk and butter, and why add bacon… well, why not?)

As a caveat, I baked these using muffin liners and that was a mistake. The Champies stuck like glue to the liners, so oil the muffin pan instead.

These are every bit as delicious as you might imagine with a full cheesy potato-y bacon-y flavor. I used American bacon, but ham or Irish bacon would work well too. Alternatively, you can omit the meat for a vegetarian version.

Ingredients (makes 24 mini muffins)

  • 1 large russet potato
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup freshly grated Kerrygold Dubliner cheese - separated (pre-grated cheese cannot compare)
  • ¼ cup fresh scallions (green onions), sliced into rings
  • 2-3 strips American bacon, cooked and broken or cut into small bits, optional (microwaving bacon works well; line a microwave safe plate with paper towels, place bacon on and cover with more paper towels, cook for one minute on high, then go in 30 second increments checking for desired doneness each time; drain on fresh paper towels)
  • Salt and pepper

Heat the oven to 400° Fahrenheit.

Mashed potatoes: Wash the potato and slice into smaller bits. I leave the skin on for a more rustic Champie, so cut pieces small enough to break up the jacket. Place in a pot of boiling water and boil for 15-20 minutes or until tender. Drain and return to stove to steam away excess moisture (this is key to good mashed potatoes). Mash the potatoes.

Lightly grease a mini muffin tin (24 muffins). Combine the potatoes, eggs, ¾ cup of grated cheese, scallions and bacon. Add a dash of salt and pepper.

Using a teaspoon, fill the muffin tins with the mixture, leaving space at the top, then sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup of cheese on top of the muffins. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for a few minutes, then use a spoon or knife to remove them from the pan.

If desired, sprinkle with additional scallion and serve with sour cream, ketchup, Sriracha sauce, Ballymaloe “Red Pepper and Jalapeño Sauce” or ranch dressing, or just use your imagination.

These can be made a day or two in advance and reheated at
400° Fahrenheit for about 15 minutes.

This is two potatoes. I like to make more than enough.

Champies premix
Ready to mix.

Champies raw
Ready to spoon into the muffin pan.

Champies ready to bake
Ready to bake.

Fresh out of the oven.