It was St Patrick’s Day this week, and I hope you all had a good one. I love this day, it is a simple celebration of everything that it means to be Irish, and a chance to stop, take stock and spend time with Irish friends and quell any feelings of homesickness. I still feel as I did when as a child when I would be putting on my green and white jumper which a baby sitter had knitted for me, and when visiting my granny’s house to be pinned with soggy shamrock, which would make me feel bright and excited.
Chef John Relihan with Irish pork and beef smoking low and slow over turf, at the Bord Bia St Patrick’s Day food market in Trafalgar Square
St Patrick’s Day is a national holiday in Ireland, but in London the celebrations are the Sunday before. They are quite large with a parade that finishes at a stage in Trafalgar Square where selected Irish bands play throughout the day, and where there is an Irish food market. There are thousands of people watching, from everywhere. I always find it really positive and fun and pop down when I am in town for it.
St Patrick’s Day Celebrations in London, 2016
The internet positively erupts with Irish recipes this time every year. I love seeing the world embrace and celebrate our culture. We are a small island but with a large global footprint following centuries of emigration and chatter. We love to talk. There are many posts of Irish stew and beef & guinness stew, and these are two I should share my versions of at some time (it seems strange that I haven’t!). Today I want to share a recipe for my take on an Irish breakfast bread, a twist on the humble soda farl.
You know soda bread, I am sure. A simple flour and buttermilk bread using bicarbonate of soda as a raising agent. The acidity of the buttermilk activates the soda and fluffs the bread. Buttermilk isn’t always available here, in Ireland you can get it by the litre almost everywhere as it is a large part of our cooking culture. When I don’t have it, I substitute it with whole milk and lemon or whole milk and yogurt which gives enough acidity and creaminess and results in a still excellent bread.
A simple Irish breakfast bread, soda farls are simply soda bread that is flattened in a circle, and cut into wedges and fried instead of baked. I love to have these to dip into runny eggs. I like to fill these on occasion, and this morning I added some softened leek, Italian sausage and fresh sage. I make the dough first and then I add the fried sausage, leek and sage, weaving it in.
These are speedy and very tasty, and a little bit different too. If you are vegetarian, try coarsely mixing in some goat’s cheese with the leeks and sage, or another cheese of your choice. If you are dairy free, substitute any milk substitute, and include lemon to wake the soda up.
(The recipe follows below)
From the archives:
Another Irish bread recipe: the Blaa from Waterford. My story of tracing it through emigration from Waterford to Newfoundland and a recipe for you to make it at home. It is a wonderful fluffy roll – give them a go!
Links I loved this week:
Retsina braised shoulder of goat with whipped feta from Helen at Food Stories
Sausage & Sage Soda Farls
- 325g wholemeal flour plus a little extra for shaping
- 1 level tsp bicarbonate of soda
- a pinch of salt
- 25g butter
- 225ml buttermilk or 200ml milk and 25ml natural yogurt or fresh lemon juice
- 175g good sausage (2-3) chopped into small chunks
- 1 leek
- 1 tsbp chopped fresh sage leaves
- a little butter and light oil for frying
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