Discovering My Heritage Through Cooking: Part 2

Ireland

 
 The national flag of Ireland.

The national flag of Ireland.

 

I do not know much about my Irish roots other than the fact that they come from my mother’s side of the family. Lucky for my blog series, St. Patrick’s Day fell this month, which gave me the perfect opportunity to explore my Irish heritage!

We never really celebrated our Irish side or represented it in reoccurring meals in our house, though. I remember as a kid, I was Irish exactly one day a year- that day being St. Patrick’s Day. Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. It’s a fun holiday to celebrate, so why not join in on the fun and pretend to be Irish for a day?

Growing up, this was the only time of year that we would have Irish Soda Bread and Corned Beef and Cabbage.  Thinking back, I can also remember my mom making a fresh loaf of homemade Irish Soda Bread with an orange butter one year that was insanely good. I remember thinking, why are we not putting orange butter on everything? If all of us loved this bread so much, why do we only make it or buy it once a year?

Things began to change a bit when I was getting my master’s degree. I was in graduate school for a license in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, which meant everyone in the program loved to celebrate cultures at all times, not just on holidays. This resulted in the group having a multicultural celebration at the end of every semester. Each person in our class would bring a food item from their culture to share with the group. I know I could have easily bought some frozen pierogies and called it a day, but I wanted to experiment a little bit and impress my friends.

I ended up finding this really interesting recipe for a spin on Irish Soda Bread that I decided I had to make: Irish Soda Bread Cookies. That’s right, it’s everyone’s favorite holiday bread served up in a cookie. As I made the dough for the first time, I remember licking my fingers and smiling. The cookie dough was sweet, but not over the top. The caraway seeds added a nice savory element that immediately makes you think of bread. I knew this recipe was going to be a hit at that moment.

We all brought our treats into class and set them up around the room. I couldn’t wait for my friends to try my cookies. We all sat eating and joking about the funniest moments of the semester together. Before long, I had several requests for my Irish Soda Bread Cookie recipe. Nobody had ever seen it in cookie form before.

The best part about this recipe? It makes it really easy to share with a group of people. You don’t need to cut slices, there is no mess left behind, you don’t need to butter it, and they won’t go bad if they sit on the counter for a few days. The original recipe can be found here, or you can view my slightly altered version below:

 
 Irish Soda Bread Cookies

Irish Soda Bread Cookies

 

Irish Soda Bread Cookies (36 servings)

Ingredients

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup butter (one stick), softened
1/2 cup Craisins or dried cranberries
1/4 cup milk of choice (I use cashew)
1 egg, beaten
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp caraway seeds*

*A lot of people don’t like caraway seeds, so I usually choose to omit them. I feel like they really bring out a great flavor in this recipe and should be included, but it really depends on the group you are making them for.

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2) Mix all of the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.
3) Mix the softened butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles course meal.
4) Add the Craisins.
5) Mix the beaten egg and the milk into the dough using a fork. If it looks too dry, you can add a little more milk at this point.
6) Shape the dough into a ball with your hands and make sure it’s fully mixed.
7) On a lightly greased cookie sheet, drop spoonfuls of the dough, keeping them at least an inch apart. They don’t expand much, but better safe than sorry!
8) Bake for 12-14 minutes. Let them slightly cool before taking them off the baking sheet.

This is a recipe that isn’t just for an Irish holiday but can be for any occasion. The cookies are always a hit, no matter where you bring them. I’ve brought them to multicultural food swaps, potlucks, to share for St. Patrick’s Day, and just because. It takes very little time to throw them together and it calls for ingredients most people have in their house already. This recipe allows you to share your Irish pride all year long, not just once a year.

Now, I also tried making my own Corned Beef and Cabbage this year for the first time, and this may have been the worst meal I’ve ever made. It had absolutely no flavor and was extremely tough. I followed a recipe for my slow cooker and the only thing I changed was that I doubled the spices (which made it surprising to me that it had no flavor). Highly disappointed, it went straight in the garbage and I ordered a pizza on the most Irish day of the year.

I’m determined to make up for this, and would love your help. Feel free to share your recipes for Corned Beef and Cabbage in the comment section below for me to test out!



© Copyright Whatismyhealth, April 2nd, 2017