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BellaOnline's Irish Culture Editor

Irish Recipes for Christmas

Christmas is a most wonderful time of the year in Ireland. The season is long, and often very little work is done (except by the chef), but the dark comes early and the fire is a comfort on winter evenings, so there's a little extra time for the baking.


1 lb (450g) plain flour

2 tsp sugar

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cream of tartar

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 pt (300ml) buttermilk

1. Sift dry ingredients into a bowl. Make a well in the centre and mix in half the buttermilk. Using a knife, draw in flour from sides of bowl, adding more buttermilk as batter thickens. The mixing should be done with as little working as possible, until the mixture leaves the sides of bowl cleanly.
2. Turn out on to a floured surface and knead lightly, turning the corners into centre and turning the round as you do so. When smooth underneath, turn it upside down.
3. Lightly roll out to a round 1/2 inch (1cm) thick. Cut into four quarters (farls).
4. Heat a griddle over low heat - see Cook's note. Place farls on griddle and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, until they have risen and there is a white skin on top.
5. Increase heat and continue cooking until the farls are brown on the bottom. Turn them over and cook on the other side - it takes about 15 minutes from the time the farls are put on the griddle.
Makes 4.

The griddle should be just hot enough to prevent the farls sticking: if a sprinkling of flour browns when it is thrown on the griddle, it is too hot. If you can't get buttermilk, add 1 tsp baking powder to 1/2 pt (300ml) fresh milk and use in normal way.


Dried fruit in cider is used for this delicious slightly crunchy tea loaf also flavoured with orange rind.


350g/12ozs mixed dried fruit

300ml/1/2 pint sweet cider

275g/10oz self raising flour, sifted

50g/2oz nuts, chopped

175g/6oz soft brown sugar

grated rind of 1 orange

2 large eggs, beaten

Put the fruit into a bowl with cider and leave to soak for at least 3 hours or overnight. Turn into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
Grease a 900g/2lb (9x5x3 inch) loaf tin and line the bottom and sides with greased greaseproof (waxed) paper. Mix the flour, nuts, sugar aand orange rind together in a bowl. Add the cider mixture and eggs and mix thoroughly. Turn into the prepared tin and bake in a moderate oven (160c/325f, gas mark 3) for 1.1/2 to 1.3/4 hours or until the loaf is well risen, golden brown and firm to touch. Turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool. Serve in slices with or without butter.

Farmhouse Bread

8 ozs Plain flour

4ozs Caster sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda(or use SR flour)

6 ozs Sultanas

4 ozs Margarine

2 Lightly beaten eggs

Sweet milk to mix

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cream of tarter

Mix flour, baking soda, cream of tarter and salt. Rub in the margarine, add sugar.
Mix in the eggs and enough milk to make a not too soft consistency.
Put in a well greased tin with bottom lined with greased paper. Bake in a slowly moderate oven for about one hour

Irish Shamrocks
These should be given away.

250g plain flour
250g butter
250g sifted caster sugar
25g ground almonds

1. Sift flour into bowl. 2. Rub in butter. 3. Then add sugar, mixed with almonds. 4. Roll out thinly. 5. Cut into shamrock shapes. 6. Cook at 190 degrees Celcius until golden brown - about 10 minutes. 7. Coat with peppermint icing (to make biscuits look green).

3oz icing sugar
3 tablespoons cold water
1 or 2 drops peppermint essence
1. Place icing in bowl. 2. Add water and essence and mix thoroughly.

Irish Soda Scones

3 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup of buttermilk
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder

1. Stir togetheer dry ingredients and mix lightly with hands. 2. Make a hollow in the centre and add enough buttermilk to make a soft dough. 3. Turn onto floured board and knead quickly and lightly until the dough is free from cracks. 4. Roll out until 1/2cm thick and cut into rounds. 5. Place on greased oven sheet and bake at 200 degrees celcius for 15 minutes.

Irish Christmas Plum Pudding


12oz currants
4oz sultanas
4oz raisins
4oz mixed candied peel
8oz peeled and cored apples
1 lemon & 1 orange (grated rind and juice)
12oz shredded suet
2oz chopped almonds
2oz chopped walnuts
12oz plain flour
1 level teaspoon salt
2 level teaspoon mixed spice
8oz soft brown sugar
8oz castor sugar
4oz glace cherries
12oz fresh breadcrumbs
4 eggs
2 tablespoons brandy
7oz stout (Guinness)

Grease 3 pudding bowls of varying sizes. Place circular greased pieces of tin foil around the bottom of the bowls. Put the chopped nuts, peel, cherries, apples, lemon and orange rind into a large bowl. Add the flour, spice, salt, breadcrumbs, suet and sugars to it and mix well. Now add the lemon, orange juice, brandy and eggs and again mix well. It is an Irish tradition to ask each of the members of your family to stir the mixture for luck!

Now cover the mixture with a towel and leave overnight. This is very important. Next day, mix again and place the mixture into the prepared bowls. Don't fill the bowls right up to the top. This leaves room for the pudding to expand when it is cooking. Cover with double layer of greased greaseproof paper and a layer of tin foil. Put each of the bowls in a large saucepan. Fill the saucepan half way up with boiling water and maintain this level by adding more boiling water during the cooking. A small saucer placed in the bottom of the saucepan prevents the pudding bowl from moving around.

Cooking times
Allow 9 hours boiling time for a 2 pint pudding Allow 7 hours for a 1 and a half pint pudding. Allow 5 hours for a 1 pint pudding.
On the day you want to eat the pudding heat it up in a microwave, douse it in brandy and set it alight. When the fire has gone out serve with cream, custard or brandy butter.
Brandy Butter

4 tablespoons softened, unsalted butter
Half cup of castor sugar
3 tablespoons brandy
Half teaspoon vanilla extract

Put all the ingredients into a bowl. Beat with an electric beater until the mixture is smooth and well integrated. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours until the mixture is firm. Now serve alongside plum pudding!

Yield: 12 Servings

1 c Raisins
1 c Golden raisins
1 c Dried sour cherries; dried
Cranberries or raisins
1 c Dried apricots; chopped
1 c Dried pitted prunes; chopped
1/4 c Candied orange peel; finely
1/2 c Plus 3 T Irish whiskey
1 1/2 c (3 sticks) unsalted butter
Room temperature
2 1/2 c Sugar
8 Extra-large eggs
1 tb Grated lemon peel
1 tb Fresh lemon juice
2 ts Vanilla extract
1/2 ts Salt
1/2 ts Ground nutmeg
3 c Cake flour
2 c Slivered almonds
3 7-ounce pkgs marzipan
Powdered sugar

Combine first 6 ingredients in bowl. Add 1/2 cup whiskey. Let stand
overnight, stirring occasionally.

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 325~F. Butter
10-inch-diameter tube pan. Line bottom with parchment or waxed paper.
Butter parchment and dust with flour. Using electric mixer, beat butter in
large bowl until light. Add 2-1/2 cups sugar and continue beating until
fluffy. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Add lemon peel and juice, vanilla, salt
and nutmeg. Mix in flour. Fold in almonds and dried fruit mixture. Spread
evenly in pan.

Bake cake until toothpick comes out clean, about 1 hour 50 minutes. Brush 1
tablespoon whiskey over cake. Cool 5 minutes. Turnout cake onto rack. Brush
with remaining 2 tablespoons whiskey. Cool completely.

Press marzipan into disk. Heavily sprinkle work surface with powdered
sugar. Roll out marzipan to 14-inch round. Turn cake right side up; place
on platter. Drape marzipan over cake, pressing to mild around cake. Cut
cross in center and press center points into opening. (Can be made 1 day
ahead. Cover tight; store at room temperature.)

Potato Soup

The soup should be made with a white stock, that is, water in which a chicken, ham or bacon has been boiled. Alternatively, stock can be made from a ham bone or chicken carcass boiled with a few root vegetables and herbs as available, and an onion. The stock should be drained, allowed to cool and the fat removed from the surface.

6 medium potatoes
2 medium onions
3pt/ 1/2 l/ 6 cups stock or milk and water mixed
1tbsp butter
salt and pepper
(serves six)

Peel and dice the potatoes and chop the onions. Melt the butter and gently cook the onions and potatoes in a covered saucepan until soft but not coloured. Add the liquid, adjust the seasoning to taste.


Pastie Supper Ingredients

1lb. Ground Beef
1 cup Bread Crumbs
1 Teaspoonful Salt
1/2 Teaspoonful Pepper
2 Teaspoonful Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 Cup Cold Water
1 teaspoon Accent spice
1 teaspoon Coriander
half teaspoon Nutmeg
3 Medium Size Potatoes (Boiled,mashed and cooled).

Mix all of the above ingredients and add
1 Dash Parsley Flakes
1 Medium Size Onion [Diced and sautéed]

I/2 Cup Flour
1/2 Teaspoonful Salt
1/2 Cup of Milk
1 Egg
Mix the above to a thick paste. Form the pastie mix into approx 3 inch diameter patties. Dip into batter and cover all over.
Deep fry in 190 deg.C/375F Oil.


Irish Stew

2 1/2 lb boned mutton
4 large potatoes
2 large onions
3 or 4 medium carrots
sprig of parsley
2 cups water
salt and pepper
(serves four)

Cut the meat into good size chunks. Peel the vegetables and slice thickly. Chop the parsley. Choose a pot with a well-fitting lid and put in the ingredients in layers, starting and finishing with potatoes. Pour in the water and season to taste. Cover and put on a very low heat for about 2 1/2 hours until the meat is tender and the potatoes have thickened the liquid. The dish may also be made with lamb, in which case it requires only 1 1/2 hours cooking time.
Beef in Guinness

2 1/2 lb/ 1 kg shin of beef
2 large onions
6 medium carrots
2 tbsp seasoned flour
a little fat or beef dripping
1/2 cup dry cider
1/2 pt/ 250 ml/ 1 cup Guinness with water
sprig of parsley
(serves four)

Cut the beef into chunks and peel and slice the onions and carrots. Toss the beef in the flour and brown quickly in hot fat. Remove the beef and fry the onions gently until transparent. Return the beef and add the carrots and the liquid. Bring just to the boil, reduce the heat to a very gentle simmer, cover closely and cook for 1 1/2 - 2 hours. Check that the dish does not dry out, adding more liquid if necessary. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve with plainly boiled potatoes.

Mulled Wine

This recipe yields 8 glasses. To make more: add more wine and double the ingredients.

1 bottle red wine
Half cup sugar
Half cup water
15 whole cloves
4 sticks cinnamon
2 medium lemons
1 large orange

Grate the orange and lemons. Put the sugar, spices, and water into a saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the wine. Slice the fruit and add it to the wine. Cover and place on a low heat for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Never let the wine come to the boil. This destroys the flavour as well as burning off the alcohol! Strain and discard the spices and peel. Serve warm in wine glasses.

Roast Goose with Prune and Apple Stuffing

1 goose including giblets
1 lemon
350g/12 oz prunes soaked overnight in water
450g/1 lb cooking apples
salt and pepper

Remove the giblets from the goose and put them into a saucepan with 1.5 litre/2 and three quarter pints of water. Bring it to the boil and then simmer until the liquid has reduced by half. Strain and keep the giblet stock set aside.

Set the oven at 230'c /450'f/gas mark 8. Weigh the goose and calculate the cooking time at 20 minutes per 450g/1 lb weight of the goose. Remove the excess fat usually found around the vent of the goose. Rinse the inside of the bird and then rub the skin with lemon, salt and pepper.

Drain the prunes, remove the stones and chop the flesh (not too fine). Put the prune flesh into a bowl. Peel, core and chop the apples. Add them to the prunes and season the mixture with salt and pepper. Use the mixture to stuff the body of the bird.

Put the goose on a rack in a roasting tin. Place in the oven and
immediately lower the temperature to 180'c/350'f/gas 4 and cook for the time you calculated. Drain away the fat from the roasting tin (retaining the juices) occasionally during cooking.

When the goose is cooked, transfer it to a heated serving platter and keep hot.

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