| by Angelica Mastronardo
Sit back, put your feet up and relax: Laoise Casey talks the comfort of Irish home cooking and shares her deliciously easy recipes for Guinness Soda Bread and Miso-glazed sweetheart cabbage with parma ham.
For this month’s update on Box Appetit I am delighted to share with you some of my favourite recipes that remind me of the food I grew up eating. Nowadays I spend my time cooking in a restaurant and the rest of it writing about food and developing recipes. However, there will always be a place in my heart for the dishes that remind me of home.
We are often bombarded with different headlines telling us what we should and should not eat. But I like to think that food itself should be seen as a source of joy and not something that is forbidden. When I think about what I grew up eating in Dublin, Ireland, it reminds me of a time when life was a little simpler. When I cook these now I am seeking to recreate this feeling.
My dad had a couple of dishes that he used to make for me. One was lemon sole from our local fishmonger, right by Dublin bay, he would fry it on a high heat in a pan and finish it with a squeeze of lemon juice and butter. On the side we would have lashings of boiled potatoes. He also used to make a mash potato - with onion, scallions and butter – just like his mum before had made for him. Thinking back it was probably quite a lumpy mash. I would much rather have this now than the finest pomme purée.
We used to cook together and sit at the kitchen table – I had the important job of peeling the potatoes - and chat about nothing important and everything important all at the same time. Now in London I cook these dishes for myself and am transported back to my Dublin kitchen and remember the taste of the crispy lemon sole with those floury potatoes.
Growing up my Dad would always soak oats overnight to make porridge for our breakfast. Being a bit of a fussy brat for a while I'd insist on having ready brek instead ☺ or those variety packs of mini cereals (apart from that one weird flavour no one wanted to eat). Thankfully I've got over that now and love porridge. This one has flaked almonds, a generous drizzle of honey and is made with beautiful creamy Ivy House millk @ivyhousefarmdairy 🐄 with a little sprinkle of sea salt. #myhappyfoods #porridge #foodmemories
We all have different experiences of growing up and various foods that will remind us of happy times. I urge you to take some time this week and cook just one thing that does this for you. Perhaps it is a roast chicken – to this day when I go back home my mum always has a roast chicken, with golden potatoes, stuffing and gravy on the go, she knows the way to my heart. Perhaps it is a cake. Or maybe even something basic like beans on toast. Whatever it is, cook it and remember why you love it.
I’m sharing two of recipes with you below that remind me of my childhood. The first is Guinness soda bread. Soda bread is one of my favourite breads to make, possibly because it is quite a forgiving bread and quick and easy to make. I love to cut a thick slice of it, fresh from the oven, with butter on top.
Then the second is my version of the ultimate Irish staple – bacon and cabbage. When we would visit my granny during summer she would cook us buttery cabbage with a side of bacon. I’ve created an updated lighter version of this dish which uses sweetheart cabbage, cooked with a miso glaze and topped with crispy Parma ham. I hope you enjoy making these dishes as much as I do.
220g wholemeal flour
100g oats, plus a little extra to sprinkle on top of the loaf
50g soft dark brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. bicarbonate of soda
40g melted butter, plus extra to grease the tin
330ml Guinness (1 bottle)
Preheat oven to 200C. You can make this easily by hand or if you prefer in an electric mixer. Place the flour, oats, sugar, salt and bicarb in a bowl and mix together. Then stir in the melted butter, buttermilk, honey and Guinness. Combine all the ingredients together until you have a sticky dough. Grease a medium sized loaf tin (27x11x10cm) with butter. Pour the dough into the tin and sprinkle with some extra oats. Put the tin on a baking tray. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes at 200C.
After 20 minutes remove the loaf from the tin and continue cooking on a wire rack on a baking tray for a further 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool on the wire rack. Truth be told I often can’t wait and will slice it when it is just out the oven, and pop a little cube of butter on top which quickly melts into the bread. Then I sit back and just enjoy it. This bread also keeps well and is lovely toasted a few days after baking – try it with jam. Alternatively it is a great sandwich loaf – with smoked salmon, crème fraiche and fennel, or baked ham, mustard, gherkins and cheddar – sometimes you just cannot beat a classic.
3 slices Parma ham
1 small sweetheart or spring cabbage
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. miso paste
Cube of butter
Sea salt, cracked black pepper to season
Preheat oven to 150C. Place the Parma ham on greaseproof paper on a baking tray and cook in the oven for 8 minutes or until crispy. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Slice the sweetheart cabbage into quarters lengthways. You do not need to fully remove the core. This is what will hold the cabbage together when cooking it), but as it can be a little tough even when cooked I like to slice off the thickest part while still keeping the cabbage portion intact.
Make the miso glaze by whisking 1 tbsp. olive oil with the miso paste. Rub this dressing on the cut side of the cabbage (the inside of the cabbage). Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a griddle pan on a high heat. When the pan is very hot add the cabbage and cook on each side until golden brown. You can season the cabbage with a little sea salt and cracked black pepper – remember the miso and Parma ham will add salt also. If you like you can pop a cube of butter into the pan for added flavour and also an even nicer colour for the final minute of cooking time.
After cooking for 2 – 3 minutes on each side the cabbage will have a lovely colour but may not be cooked through. I enjoy it when it is still crunchy. If you like it more tender, cover the pan and turn the heat down to low and cook for another 5 minutes to gently steam it. Serve with the Parma ham crisps crushed on top and tuck in. While I love having this in my Box Appetit, it can also work well as a side dish at home. When I want some extra comfort I cook this with roast chicken and crispy Jersey Royal potatoes.
A little bit of news that I am so happy to share... Had so much fun today doing my first shoot with @wilddish for my kitchen essential series. So flipping excited about this. It's a series all about basic cooking techniques like how to make a mayonnaise, how to sweat onions, how to make a tomato sauce, how to make yoghurt..how to....eeek so many more. Basically all my favourite things to do in the kitchen and the techniques that made me want to cook in the first place. Can't wait to show you the videos. This felt like such a surreal crazy fun day. Thank you @wilddish Becky, Tom, Tina and Cheyne 👏👌 First time wearing my turquoise apron by @enrichandendure - Lorcan and Sarah it was perfect X
We're very excited for Laoise as she's also been extremely busy collaborating with Leith's School of Food and Wine, Stylist Magazine and brand-new YouTube channel Wild Dish. Incredible achievements. What would you like Laoise to cook next? Let us know...