Old-fashioned Irish salad
This simple, old fashioned salad can be quite delicious when it’s made with a crisp lettuce, good home-grown tomatoes and cucumbers, free-range eggs and home preserved beetroot
Preparation Time 10 mins
Cooking Time 10 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Fresh watercress or butterhead
2 hard-boiled eggs, preferably free-range, quartered
2-4 tomatoes, quartered
16 slices of cucumber
4 slices pickled beetroot
4 tiny scallions or spring onions
2-4 sliced radishes
Hard-boil the eggs for the salad. Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil, gently slide in the eggs, boil for 10 minutes (12 if they are very fresh), strain off the hot water and cover with cold water. Peel when cold. Wash and dry the lettuce and scallions.
To assemble the salads: Arrange a few lettuce leaves on each of 4 plates. Scatter a few quartered tomatoes and 2 hard-boiled egg quarters, a few slices of cucumber and 1 radish or 2 slices of beetroot on each plate. Garnish with spring onion and watercress, scatter the remaining egg white (from the dressing) over the salad and chopped parsley.
Put a tiny bowl of salad cream in the centre of each plate and serve immediately while the salad is crisp and before the beetroot starts to run.
Brown soda bread
This comforting Irish classic is a perfect afternoon treat paired with salted butter and berry jam or enjoyed with a bowl of piping hot soup
Preparation Time 15 mins
Cooking Time 30 mins
Total Time 45 mins
340g wholemeal flour
110g plain white flour
A barely rounded teaspoon of bread soda
1 tsp salt
415ml (470ml, minus the egg) buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 230ºC.
Mix the flours in a large bowl and rub in the butter. Add the salt and sieved bread soda. Lift the flour up with your fingers to distribute the salt and bread soda.
Add the beaten egg (if using) to the buttermilk. Make a well in the centre and pour in all the liquid. With your fingers stiff and outstretched, stir in a circular movement from the centre to the outside of the bowl in ever-increasing concentric circles. When you reach the outside of the bowl seconds later the dough should be made.
Sprinkle a little wholemeal flour on to the worktop. Turn the dough out onto the flour. Sprinkle a little flour on your hands. Gently tidy the dough around the edges and flip onto the flour. Tuck the edges underneath with the inner edge of your hands, gently pat the dough with your fingers into a loaf about 4cm thick.
Cut a deep cross into the bread (this is called ‘Blessing the bread’ and then prick it in the centre of the four sections to 'let the fairies out of the bread').
Transfer to a floured baking tray.
Bake in the preheated oven for 5 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 200ºC for the remaining 25-30 minutes. Turn the bread upside down after approximately 30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.