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Irish Stew and Soda Bread

So I’m doing the research to cook some Irish cuisine and it was quite an interesting experience. Although the consensus of everything I could find online said Irish Stew and Soda Bread were official national dishes but the recipes for Irish Stew differs vastly across the net and the disputes over the real Soda Bread recipe are quite dramatic.

For the purists, Irish stew should only have have Neck Mutton, potatoes onions and water. Anything else ruins it apparently.

I went for slightly more exotic version. I added parsley, carrots and lamb bone stock. The lamb bone stock was cooked for 12 hours so it was brown and rich. The potatoes placed on the top rather than in the stew, crisp up on top and the stock bubbles up into them during cooking, giving them the most amazing flavour.

For the Soda Bread I adhered to the advice of the Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread recommendations (yes it’s a thing apparently) and just used flour, salt, baking soda and buttermilk. Apparently …”anything else added makes it a “Tea Cake!”….

However the result was fantastic. One of the best meals so far, which is a little disappointing to be to be honest as it was missing the usual wide range of spices I love to cook with, but it was still rich and full of flavour.

Next Up: Israel

Kitchen World Tour Day 75: Iraq

Tonight I served Kubba Hallab with Amba, Labneh and Fattoush

There are lots of types of Kubba in the middle east. Kubba Hallab is mashed rice dumplings filled with minced lamb or beef. It is then deep fried. This was served with Amba, an Iraqi mango pickle.

If you haven’t made labneh before you should. A really simple cheese. Add salt to yogurt and let drain through a cheese cloth. You need 12 hours for soft Labneh, 48 hours for hard Labneh. I prefer this cheese to be served hard and shaped into balls as an accompaniment to the meal.

Lastly Fattoush Salad, salad with pita bread chips, and the secret ingredient if you can find it is pomegranate molasses. It is sweet and sour, and adds something special to the dressing.

Next Up: Ireland

Kitchen World Tour Day 74: Iran

Cooking Iranian was a delight. Kuku Sabzi is a herbed frittata containing an enormous amount of green herbs. It was very flavoursome.

Tah Dig is a Persian rice dish full of saffron and baked until it has a solid crust. It also has a layer of a sour fruit in it called barberries. Never used them before but I liked them a lot.

Finally Torshi ‘Ye Bademjoon is an eggplant pickle. Kas loves eggplant so this was right up her alley. Vegetarian and Persian is a cuisine which I need to experiment with some more. Quite different to anything I have tried before.

2 Litres unhomogenised milk
3 Tbsp lemon juice
(Cheesecloth for straining)

Very important, homogenisation breaks up the fat molecules and they don’t curdle so you need to buy unhomogenised milk specifically. I have found that a 2L bottle of milk will give you about 500g of paneer.

Put the milk on to boil. While heating prepare a cheese cloth over a colander (placed over the sink) to drain the whey.

When the milk is just boiling add about 3 tablespoons of lemon juice. Add them a table spoon at a time and stop when it starts curdling. If it doesn’t curdle add more. The PH of the lemon and milk differs so this will be different amounts each time. The trick is to add acid till the curdling starts and then add no more.

Once it starts curdling turn off the heat and let it sit for about 3 minutes before tipping into the cheese cloth.

Wring and twist the cloth to extract as much moisture as you can and then put it under a weight. You can see from the picture I just used a saucepan with a few litres of water in it.

After a few hours remove the weight and put the cheese mixture in the fridge. Make sure you refrigerate it for a few hours before use as it helps it bind.

It is a very simple process and I have found that the hardest part is finding a source of unhomogenised milk.

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