Monday, March 14, 2016

Review and Recipe: Favorite Flavors of Ireland

About the Book:

Favorite Flavors of Ireland invites readers, cooks, and armchair travelers alike on a nostalgic tour of one of Europe's most beloved destinations. From her first visit in 1984, Margaret Johnson has forged an indelible bond with Ireland and Irish food, and she shares this unique relationship with you in her eleventh cookbook. You'll find recipes that have become her favorites along with a few recent discoveries that are sure to please. The book brings home all the classics Shepherd's Pie, Bacon and Cabbage, Seafood Chowder, Bread and Butter Pudding and provides an insightful look into the seasonal ingredients that shape the country's cooking. With over 100 recipes and evocative photos that transport you to the Irish countryside, this colorful collection will awaken your senses to the delicious food of this warm and welcoming land and keep those Irish eyes smilin' all through the year.

My Comments:

Happy St. Patrick's Day.  Today was a parade day here in New Orleans and after all the rain this week, it turned out to be a beautiful day.  One New Orleans tradition is that St. Patrick's Day parades throw, in a addition to beads, the makings of Irish stew--potatoes, carrots, cabbage and whatever else the riders decide you need.  I didn't make it to the parade today but if I had, this cookbook had plenty of recipes for potatoes such as Blue Cheese Potato Cakes, Colcannon and Dauphinoise Potatoes.  If I had caught cabbages I could have used them in the Colcannon or made some Braised Cabbage.

While the book doesn't have a picture of every recipe, it does have a lot of pictures of food, along with gorgeous photos of Ireland.  The recipes are arranged by season.  Most, if not all, call for either Kerrygold butter or Kerrygold cheese.  Luckily my review copy came with coupons for two free Kerrygold products.  I did some quick web research and learned that Kerrygold butter has a higher butterfat level than regular American butter does, so I was reluctant to try a baked goods recipe from Favorite Flavors of Ireland with American butter; however I had been asked to try a recipe from the book and report on my results.  I decided on an experiment.  I made Blueberry-White Chocolate Muffins.  The recipe makes 1 dozen muffins but the bag of blueberries I bought and the white chips had enough left to make a second batch.  I used the butter I bought with the Kerrygold coupon for one batch and regular American store brand butter for the second.  FYI, my store charged $6.99 for 1/2 pound of Kerrygold butter. Here is the recipe I used (p59) (Because I hate to type, I'm omitting the metric measures)

2 C All Purpose Flour
1 tsp baking poweder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 C  granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1.5 cups buttermilk (I used full fat store brand)
4 Tbs Kerrygold butter
4 oz white chocolate (I used Nestle chips)
1 tsp lemon zest
1.5 cups blueberries
12 tsp prepared lemon curd (optional) I opted not to use it

  1. Preheat oven to 400.  Grease a standard muffin pan and dust with flour; tap out excess.  (I used papers instead).
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar.  Set aside.
  3. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine butter and white chocolate.  Microwave on medium high for 1 minute. Stir.  Microwave at additional 10-15 second intervals, stirring just until melted.  Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and buttermilk.  Stir in the the flour mixture and then stir in the melted chocolate, lemon zest and blueberries.
  5. Divide the batter into the prepared pan and place a tsp of lemon curd on the top of each one (if using).  Bake for 23-25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes.

Muffins made with Kerrygold

Muffins made with American butter
 My conclusion?  There was no discernible difference between the two sets of muffins.  They were the same size and pretty much the same shape.  They all tasted great.  Considering that I can get a pound of American butter for about $4.00 vs. $6.99 for 1/2 pound of Kerrygold, I won't be using Kerrygold for baking.  

Muffin with Kerrygold

Why do photos like this look so good when food bloggers post them?

 However, once I opened up those warm muffins and applied butter, the Kerrygold was the clear winner.  It tasted so much more buttery without getting that fake flavor like microwave popcorn.  I will be hording what is left of it to put on toast or even popcorn.

Muffin made with American butter
Muffin made with American butter
The muffins were great; the family loved them and they wanted to know when I'd be making more.  

I'd like to than the publisher for making a review copy available for review and for providing the Kerrygold coupons.  Grade:  A

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