Showing posts with label County Cork Mysteries. Show all posts
Showing posts with label County Cork Mysteries. Show all posts

Friday, February 16, 2018

Dulse Chowder a la Sam Sifton

I am a big fan of writer Sam Sifton’s recipes, which appear regularly in the New York Times Sunday Magazine. I’ve even added a few of them to my favorites.

But this past weekend I found a happy surprise in the magazine section: I’d beaten him to the punch with my use of dulse! (That's seaweed, remember?) Oh, I’m sure he’s known about it and been cooking with it for years, but I shared the stuff with you first!

His recipe was for a seafood chowder, and if you think about it, combining seafood and seaweed makes perfect sense. But I had some reservations about using some of his choices. For one thing, he called for clams, and I have never had a clam dish that did not include some sand. My teeth don’t like sand.

He also used bacon. Now, I love bacon, but I think it might overwhelm the delicate flavors here, so I swapped in salt pork. And he added fish. I like fish, but not quite as much as he wanted. So I decided to cut back on the fish (I used fresh cod), and doubled the amount of scallops (also fresh and local), which are suitably delicate in flavor and texture.


Dulse Chowder

Ingredients:


2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup salt pork, diced
2 tablespoons dulse flakes (soak them first)
1 medium onion, sliced
2 carrots, peeled and halved, then sliced
2 parsnips, peeled and halved, then sliced
2 medium-size all-purpose potatoes, cubed
1 cup dry white wine
3 cups clam or fish broth
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
2 cups heavy cream
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 pound firm white fish fillets, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 pound sea scallops, sliced into rounds if very large
1/4 cup chopped parsley


Instructions:

In a large pot, put 1 tablespoon of the butter, and turn the heat to medium-low. Add the salt pork and cook, stirring occasionally, until the fat has rendered and the pork has started to brown, approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the pork bits from the fat, and set aside.




Add the dulse and the onion to the fat, and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft but not brown, about 10 minutes. 




Add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter, then stir in the carrots, parsnips, potatoes and wine, and continue cooking until the wine has evaporated and the vegetables have just started to soften, approximately 5 to 7 minutes. 




Add enough broth to just cover them. Add the thyme sprigs and the bay leaves.




Partly cover the pot, and simmer gently until the vegetables are tender, approximately 10 to 15 minutes.

When the vegetables are tender, add the cream, and stir in the reserved pork bits. Add black pepper to taste. Let come to a simmer. (Do not let chowder come to a full boil or it will curdle.) Remove the thyme and the bay leaves and discard.




When you’re ready to serve, slip the fish pieces and scallops into the liquid allow them all to cook into translucence in the heat, approximately 5-7 minutes. 




Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve, garnished with the chopped parsley.




The dulse gives the chowder a slightly sweet flavor which pairs well with the scallops (which should be barely cooked and very tender). The hardest part of making this dish (apart from finding dulse) is all that chopping, but it’s worth it.



Many a Twist (Crooked Lane Books), available now!

This is a dish that should be on the Crann Mor menu! It's earthy and exotic at the same time.


www.sheilaconnolly.com

Friday, February 9, 2018

Hazelnut Cheesecake

This time I awoke to thoughts of cheesecake at 3 a.m.

Of course we at MLK have offered you cheesecake recipes, in a variety of flavors, from the beginning. I’ve chipped in a few myself. But lately we’ve gone in other directions, and it’s been over a year since cheesecake reared its yummy head on these pages.

Many years ago, when my husband and I lived in the Berkeley area, we threw a small party (it was a small house!). I don’t recall why—there was no holiday involved. Maybe it was a housewarming. Maybe it was a birthday. I simply don’t remember. 

We invited most of the people we knew, and almost all were work colleagues of my husband’s. One of them, a tall guy, maybe thirtyish, brought cheesecake that he’d made himself. It was delicious, and he volunteered to share his recipe. In fact, he gave us four recipes—an embarrassment of riches! And I kept them. And more important, I knew where to find them now. 

I apologize to the cooking gods that I’ve forgotten the man’s name. It’s scrawled on one of the recipes, but I can’t seem to read it. But I want to thank him again for sharing.

One of the original recipes was for almond cheesecake, but since my daughter recently bought a package of hazelnut meal, and I had hazelnut extract on hand, I swapped the flavors. In addition, the original recipe called for a pan that I’m guessing would be 8 or 9 inches, and I cut the recipe in half (much as I love cheesecake, I don’t want to be eating it for days on end) and used a 6-inch pan, which turned out to be just the right size. 

The original recipe called for cooking the cheesecake in the pan set in a larger pan with water in it (to keep the cheesecake moist). This works well, but you have to make sure your inner pan does not leak! Either don’t use a springform pan, or use a whole lot of aluminum foil to seal it.

Hazelnut Cheesecake



Ingredients:

Crust:

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup crushed hazelnuts
1/4 cup melted butter

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter the bottom and sides of a springform pan.



Mix the brown sugar and nuts together, then add the butter and mix in.



Press into the bottom of the pan and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool slightly.

Filling:

1 lb cream cheese (2 8-oz packages) at room temperature
1 tsp hazelnut extract
5/8 cup sugar
2 eggs
4 oz hazelnut meal

Reduce the oven heat to 350 degrees. Place the oven rack in its lowest position.

Butter a round, deep pan (see note above)

With a hand or stand mixer, mix the cream cheese until it is smooth.

Add the sugar and hazelnut extract and mix.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until smooth (scrape down the sides of the bowl while mixing).

Add the ground hazelnuts.



Pour into the prepared pan with the crust. Place the pan with the cheesecake into a larger pan no deeper than the first pan.

Place the two pans together in the oven. Pour hot water into the bottom (larger) pan, but keep the level well below the rim of the first pan.



Bake for about 60 minutes. The cheesecake should be just beginning to draw away from the sides of the pan.



Let cool partially on a rack, then remove the outer ring of the springform pan and finish cooling.


Hmmm . . . With all the cattle in Ireland, especially in County Cork, you'd think there'd be plenty of Irish cheesecake recipes. Surprisingly, a quick online search turns up a lot of recipes, but the first ones don't originate in Ireland (and almost all include Bailey's Irish Cream in the mix). I will have to hunt through my Irish cookbooks (and maybe buy some Bailey's!).

Wonder if the Crann Mor Hotel in Many a Twist has cheesecake on their restaurant menu? Or maybe Rose should experiment a bit--although cheesecake isn't exactly pub food. Stay tuned!

About Many a Twist:

“For fans who have gotten absolutely hooked on these County Cork Mysteries, you’ll not be disappointed with this new tale… Connolly sticks to what she knows best: How to write a drop dead awesome book that keeps readers entertained from beginning to end!”
Suspense Magazine

Find it at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and plenty of bookstores!

Friday, February 2, 2018

Irish Chicken Soup

Last weekend I was afflicted by a brief but memorable stomach bug (details withheld to protect the innocent), and after two days of no food, I felt a craving for . . . chicken soup.

Yes, my mother used to give me chicken soup when I was sick—straight from the Campbell’s can, or maybe from the Lipton package of dry chicken noodle soup (just add boiling water! But I will confess a fondness for those cute little noodles).

Instead, I had this dawn vision of a limpid pool of translucent broth, with hints of lovely vegetables cut into perfect cubes swimming in it, along with flecks of neatly chopped parsley.

Snort. Try finding that in a cookbook from this millennium! Recipes now all seem to include curry or kale or coconut milk or any number of things I’ve never had in my pantry. I wanted simple, soothing and easy.

In desperation I turned to the internet for inspiration. I found three recipes from different sources (filtering my choices by those of Irish origin). The first sounded promising until I read that it suggested adding dry potato flakes. Bah humbug! (Besides, the picture accompanying the recipe made it look like opaque pink slime.)

Number Two was better and was published by my favorite Irish supermarket chain, SuperValu. But it included both butternut squash and sweet potatoes, neither of which appeal to me.

Now comes the Goldilocks moment: Number Three was just right! I came upon it on a website that was devoted to potato recipes [Potatoes: More Than a Bit on the Side], which was a good start. It included chicken, and I felt I needed the protein, The whole thing took less than half an hour to prepare, including prep. Perfect!

Irish Potato, Chicken and Vegetable Soup

Ingredients:


4 cups potatoes, peeled and diced in 1/2-inch cubes (note: since the potatoes do not cook long in this recipe, floury ones are better because they cook faster)
1 chicken breast or two thighs (another note: Irish chicken breasts are smaller than American ones, so in Ireland you’d probably want to use two)
2 Tblsp butter
1 tsp flour
2 tsp olive oil
1 medium yellow onion (or 2 leeks), thinly sliced
1-3/4 cups chicken stock
1 tsp fresh thyme
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 Tblsp parsley

and feeling frivolous, I added 1 tsp fresh dill, which I just happened to have in the fridge,

Instructions:

In a saute pan, cook the chicken pieces in the olive oil until golden.



In a medium or large saucepan over low heat, cook the leeks and garlic in the butter until soft but not brown (about 5-10 minutes)



Add the flour and stir to cook, then pour in the chicken stock, add the cubed potatoes and bring to a simmer. Add the chicken pieces (still intact) and cook for about 10 minutes (check to be sure the potatoes are cooked through). 





Remove the chicken pieces and shred with a fork (while keeping the soup simmering).



Put the chicken shreds back in the pan, add the thyme (and dill!), and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Partially cover and let simmer for another 5 minutes.



Serve in bowls sprinkled with the parsley, with fresh bread on the side.

Comfort food! Simple and healthy!

And yet another note: you may notice there is little salt in this recipe. That’s a good thing. You can add more if you like, but taste first. And finally, you could certainly add other vegetables, but watch your cooking times. Carrots would take longer than most of the other ingredients and would throw off your scheduling. Or pre-cook them and add them at the end.


Many a Twist (County Cork Mystery #6), in bookstores (real and virtual) now! 

“Connolly vividly evokes rural Ireland, and her characters seem like real human beings trying their best to navigate their lives.”
Publishers Weekly


Friday, January 26, 2018

A Different Kind of Tomato Sauce

I had to laugh when I opened the Boston Globe magazine last Sunday and read the recipe section (yes, I always do). Not because the recipe was funny, but because the author Adam Ried said up front that he had adapted the recipe from another author’s book.

Which we often do here on MLK. We do not copy any recipe line by line, and if we use a published one and tweak it (make changes due to personal preference, allergies, missing ingredients, etc.) we give credit to the original author. And often we explain to you why we made changes.

This recipe for this Sicilian Shepherd’s Pasta is one example. It attracted me because it included an interesting combination of ingredients. I changed parts of it because the original recipe included celery, and I always find that if I add celery to almost any dish, its flavor tends to dominate. 

So here is Sicilian Pasta (produced by three authors!)

Ingredients:

4 oz. pancetta (about 3/4 cup), cut 
   into small pieces

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 small carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 Tblsp finely chopped fresh sage
3 Tblsp olive oil
salt and pepper
1-1/2 Tblsp minced or pressed garlic (6-7 medium cloves)
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
3/4 cup dry red wine
1 large (28 oz.) can of crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 lb. stubby pasta, cooked (just shy of al dente, drained and hot (save 1 cup of the cooking water
2 cups whole-milk ricotta

Instructions:

In a food processor, pulse the pancetta until it is finely chopped and almost pasty. Add the onion, carrot, and 1 tblsp sage, and pulse until the mixture is finely chopped.



In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, set over medium heat, heat 1-1/2 Tblsp of the olive oil until it shimmers (that means it’s hot). Add the meat-and-vegetable mixture and 1/2 tsp salt and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, or until most of the liquid in the pan has evaporated.



Add the garlic and the red pepper and cook, stirring, for about a minute.

Add the wine, turn down the heat to medium high, bring to a simmer and cook 2-3 minutes longer.

Add the tomatoes, bring to a strong simmer, lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens—about 15 minutes. In the last five minutes, add the remaining sage and black paper to taste.



Add the parsley and mix in. Taste for seasoning. Reserve 3/4 cup of the sauce.




Add the cooked pasta to the pot and toss to combine with the sauce. Cook until the pasta is al dente (say, 5-10 minutes). Add some of the reserved cooking liquid if the sauce seems too thick.



In a medium bowl, beat the ricotta, the remaining 1-1/2 Tblsp of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and about 1-1/2 Tblsp of parsley.



Spread about 1/3 of the pasta mixture into a warm serving dish, in an even layer, and dot with 1/3 of the ricotta mixture. Repeat (twice!). Sprinkle the remaining parsley over the top and serve.

The tomato sauce tastes good, but it’s the smooth creamy ricotta that provides the perfect contrast and pulls the dish together.


(For once I've given a recipe that isn't Irish--but there will be more!)

Here's a sampling of the reviews for Many a Twist:


“Plenty of puzzles with a strong feeling for life in small-town Ireland.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Connolly vividly evokes rural Ireland, and her characters seem like real human beings trying their best to navigate their lives.”
Publishers Weekly

“For fans who have gotten absolutely hooked on these County Cork Mysteries, you’ll not be disappointed with this new tale… Connolly sticks to what she knows best: How to write a drop dead awesome book that keeps readers entertained from beginning to end!”
Suspense Magazine

“Grab a cup of tea, sit back, and enjoy this cozy mystery. Shelia Connolly is a good storyteller with the ability to create an authentic atmosphere, providing hours of entertainment.” 
Seattle Book Review


Friday, January 19, 2018

Apple Raisin Cake

I am addicted to The Great British Baking Show, which seems to be on most local PBS stations all the time. I am craving vanilla paste (whatever that is—my market doesn’t have any). I now know what “strong” flour is (higher gluten content). I am particularly enamored of the Slide and Hide ovens from the show—so much so that I’ve installed one in my Irish cottage (but haven’t had a chance to use it yet, sigh).

Don’t we all envy two people who get to eat as many different kinds of baked goods as they choose, and get paid for it? Former hosts Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood (a new cast debuted in England last year) certainly look like they’re enjoying their job (and why don't they each weigh 200 pounds?). And while I will probably never make more than ten percent of the baked goods seen on the show, I’m very happy to know how some of those cakes and biscuits and traybakes are made, so I know what to order when I find the right bakery.

I have Mary’s cookbook 100 Cakes and Bakes, and I’ve made a number of the recipes. This one is a modified version of one of them, adapted for American ingredients.

Apple Raisin Cake

Ingredients:

7-inch high sided round cake tin with removable base
(Okay, in the real world, how many of you have a 7” pan? I used an 8” one. It worked just fine.)




1 large cooking apple, peeled, cored and thickly sliced
(the last of the Bramley apples I brought from Ireland. They last really well!)

4 oz (1 stick) butter, softened
4 oz (by weight) light brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
6 oz (by weight) self-rising flour (note: if you don’t have any, which most of us don’t, you can make your own according to this recipe: sift together 1 cup all-purpose flour with 1-1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt. This turned out to be the right amount for this recipe)
1 tsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 oz (by weight) raisins (if they seem dry you can soak them in boiling water for a short time—be sure to drain them well before adding them to the cake)(oops, my husband ate all the raisins without telling me, so I substituted currants)

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease the baking tin and line the bottom with parchment paper.




Put the apple slices in a small pan, add a dash of water, and cook util just tender. Mash it up a little with a fork (do not make applesauce!). Set aside and let cool slightly.




In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until blended. 

In another bowl, mix together the warm apples and the baking soda. The mixture will fizz, but don’t worry about that. Add it to the butter/sugar mixture.




Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, nutmeg and cinnamon and add to the butter/sugar mixture. (If you’re wondering where the salt it, remember that it’s in the flour!) Add the raisins (or currants) and fold in with a rubber spatula.




Turn out the mixture into the cake tin and level it.




Bake for 50-60 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and has begun to shrink away from the sides of the pan. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, then remove from the pan, peel off the parchment paper, and finish cooling on a wire rack.







To serve, you may dust it with a bit of confectioner’s sugar.






Reviewers have been very kind! Here's what Publishers Weekly had to say:

In Connolly’s smart sixth County Cork mystery (after 2017’s Cruel Winter), John Byrne, one of the new American owners of a high-class hotel at Crann Mor, and his management team meet with American transplant Maura Donovan at Sullivan’s, the pub she owns in the Irish village of Leap, to discuss arranging for hotel guests to visit the pub. Hours later, John is found dead, having fractured his skull after apparently falling down a hill on the hotel grounds. During the subsequent police investigation, Helen Jenkins, the marketing manager of John’s company, asks to speak to Maura. When Helen confesses to Maura that she’s her long-lost mother, Maura can’t sort out her feelings about the woman who abandoned her more than 20 years earlier, but she also can’t ignore the bond. For her mother’s sake, Maura, who’s been involved in solving crimes before, decides to look into the suspicious circumstances of John’s death. Connolly vividly evokes rural Ireland, and her characters seem like real human beings trying their best to navigate their lives.

Find it at Amazon and Barnes and Noble

www.sheilaconnolly.com


Friday, January 12, 2018

Green Chile Crockpot Stew

I borrowed this recipe from Facebook friend and fellow author Jeri Westerson (whose latest book, Season of Blood, was just released!), who said she found it on Facebook. Its creator is unknown (apparently to both of us), but I changed half the ingredients anyway, so it’s mine now!

It’s a good recipe for a cold winter night, if you have the time to slow-cook it. Don’t worry about the precise measurements, especially if you’re using leftover meat and don’t have quite enough. And you can decide how spicy you want it to be, depending on which chiles you include, and how much of them.

Ingredients:

2 russet potatoes, peeled and 

   diced (about 4 cups)
salt and pepper to taste
vegetable oil for cooking
1 onion, diced
4-5 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1-1/2 to 2 pounds meat (beef, pork, chicken, turkey) previously cooked and shredded
2 4-oz. cans jalapeno peppers (mild or spicy)
4-1/2 cups broth (beef or chicken, depending on your meat)
1 Tblsp freshly ground cumin seeds
1 tsp Mexican oregano

Instructions:

Peel and dice the potatoes. Place in a bowl and cover them with water.




In a skillet, heat 2 Tblsp of oil over medium heat. Add the diced onions and the garlic. Season with salt and pepper and saute for 6-8 minutes.




Take one can of the peppers and puree them in a blender. Add 1 cup of broth, and blend on high until the mixture is smooth. 


Irrelevant note: this is really old school--the
blender was a wedding present! And the
crockpot was my mother's!

In your crock pot place the shredded meat, the pureed peppers, the onion-garlic mixture, and the spices. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes. 




Drain the diced potatoes and add them to the pot.




Add the remaining can of green chiles (if you want), and enough stock to barely cover the ingredients. Continue simmering for 60-90 minutes.




Dish up and dig in! If the stew looks more like soup to you, serve it with some crusty bread. The dish is guaranteed to keep you warm!



Available now!

Suspense Magazine says: "Connolly sticks to what she knows best: How to write a drop dead awesome book that keeps readers entertained from beginning to end!"

And there are a few surprises along the way...

Find it at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and bookstores everywhere!