Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Pure Irish Luck, Pure Irish Food

I was lucky enough to be invited to spend a week in Ireland with Paul's family. Paul's dad is teaching for a semester through the same study abroad program that I participated in when I was in college. When I was invited to join I was very excited to return to the country that became my home. I had missed the friendly people, and the earthy, historic, magical country; I am happy to report that not much has changed in the four years since I have been there.We were fortunate to arrive in Dublin on St. Paddie's day. Despite our jetlag we celebrated by watching the very unique and artistic parade. My favorite thing I saw during the parade was a giant rhinoceros rolling by in a wheel chair. Only the Irish would be able to come up with that and make it cool. All in all it was a wonderful week filled with adventurous, gorgeous hikes, historic bus tours, lovely people, hearty food, and of course some pints of beer. I am very thankful that I was able to visit Ireland with Paul's family. I was tempted to "accidently" lose my passport so that I could be stuck in Ireland.
A Gorgeous View from Our Hike in Bray

These Flowers Had a Lovely Coconut Scent

Wicklow Mountains

Glendalough Tower

To kick-start my first blog since my return, of course I had to make an Irish meal. In Dublin there are a variety of exotic, artistic ethnic foods to chose from that are delicious. But if we are talking about true Irish food it is fresh, earthy, satisfying, meaty, hearty, and warms you to the core. I am a fanatic for their creamy butter and cheeses, their fresh, grainy breads, and their beefy Irish stews. But I decided to make something unexpected. Fresh fish and seafood are very popular in the many fishing towns along the coasts of Ireland. I made Salmon, Asparagus, and New Potatoes with Light Hollandaise Sauce.

Salmon, Asparagus, and New Potatoes with Light Hollandaise Sauce
Adapted from a cookbook called Irish Food & Cooking

Serves 4

1 Bunch of asparagus, trimmed
4-5 medium new potatoes
4 salmon fillets or steaks
1 tbsp olive oil
fresh lemon juice, 1/2 lemon
2 tbsp butter
salt and pepper to taste

For the hollandaise sauce:
2 tbsp lemon juice
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup butter (1/4 lb.), softened
1/2 tsp. salt ( if using unsalted butter)

1. Process the new potatoes in the Marinade Express for 10 minutes, using the veggie prep MX seasoning.
This is a really nice trick to clean the potatoes and kill the bacteria so you can leave the skins on the potatoes, and not lose any of the nutrients and flavor.

Note: I have found that after processing potatoes in the Marinade Express I want to use any extras within a week or two, rather than expecting to store them longer, as they will soften. Although there are huge benefits to processing potatoes in the Marinade Express, keep that in mind to help you determine when you will process the potatoes in the Marinade Express and when you will be cooking them.

2. Process the salmon fillets in the Marinade Express for 10 minutes using the unflavored MX seasoning.

3. Cut the potatoes into wedges. Cook in a pan with butter until tender. Season with salt and pepper..

4. Prepare the asparagus: Boil water in a tall pan. Break off the woody part of the end of the asparagus stems. Stand the asparagus in the boiling water for 1 minute, or until tender. Remove the asparagus and quickly shock in an ice bath to prevent further cooking. Drain. Slowly reheat the asparagus just before serving.

5. Heat a griddle or grill for the salmon. I used our George Foreman; it turned out beautifully. Brush the salmon with olive oil, sprinkle with the lemon juice and season with salt and black pepper. Cook the fish for 3 to 5 minutes on each side. The salmon should be flaky and moist inside.

6. I used a blender to make the easy variation of hollandaise sauce. Put 3 egg yolks in a blender with 2 tbsp of lemon juice and salt and pepper. Blend for a few seconds. Heat 1/2 cup of butter in the microwave until very hot. Run the blender at high speed and add the butter gradually. Blend for 30 seconds or until thick.

Note: If the hollandaise sauce doesn't get thick, heat it over hot water.

7. Plate the salmon, asparagus, and potatoes. Drizzle the hollandaise sauce over the asparagus and potatoes. Serve immediately and enjoy.

This dish was fresh and satisfying. Be expecting more Irish recipes soon since my obsession with Ireland has been rekindled.

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