Patricia Noonan shares recipes that set the scene for Irish cuisine for St. Patrick’s Day…

Ireland conjures up classic recipes, like soda bread, Irish stew made with lamb and plenty of desserts, not to mention a selection of wonderful beverages, from beer and cider to classic whiskies. And what else to go with the bounty of Eire, than an Irish themed table, replete with shamrocks and crisp Irish linen. Once the table is set, look to the recipes to complete your taste of Ireland. I grew up with both my mum and dad making  classics like soda bread and Irish stew but the sensational stout cake is courtesy of a local Leslieville resto. 

Irish Soda Bread, Noonan family recipe

4 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 eggs, well beaten
1-2 cups buttermilk, as needed.
3 tbsp melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift the dry ingredients together. Make a well in the mixture. Add the egg, buttermilk and butter, gradually taking in the dry ingredients. Use just enough buttermilk to make a light dough. Shape into a round loaf, score the top and place on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes. 

Innis & Gunn have brought back their creamy, smooth Irish Whiskey Cask ($3.30 for a 500ml can | LCBO# 13618), and provided a recipe to go with their barrel finished stout.

Innis & Gunn Irish Stew

500g lamb shoulder, cut into large cubes

1 can of Innis & Gunn Irish Whiskey Cask  Beer

1 onion, sliced

1 leek, roughly sliced

1 large clove garlic, sliced

Handful of baby onions
2 carrots, cut into rough cubes

4 potatoes, cut into cubes

300 ml of lamb stock

2 bay leaves

3 tbsps. Flour

In a casserole pan, fry the lamb in vegetable oil in 2 or 3 batches to give a really good dark colour all over. Remove all of the lamb from the pan, add the sliced onions and bay leaves. Gently sweat for 10 minutes to soften and sweeten them, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic, leek and carrots and sweat for another 3-4 minutes. Add the flour, and stir through. Add the beer and reduce by half. Return the lamb to the pan and add the stock. Bring the pan to a boil, and skim off the foam and scum that comes to the surface.

Cover tightly with tinfoil and a lid, and place in an oven at 150’C/300’F for 1 hour. Remove and add the diced potato and baby onions. Return the pan to the oven for an hour. The lamb should be soft and tender, but still hold together. If not, return to the oven, checking every 20 minutes. Check the seasoning. Allow the stew to rest for 15 minutes once out of the oven, and serve with steamed greens.

The good people at the Leslie Jones restaurant on Queen East gave me their Chocolate Sout Cake recipe.

Chocolate Stout Cake

1 1/4 cups stout (with Guinness or any other stout, do not include foam when measuring)
1/3 cup dark molasses
1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, very finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350F and position the rack in the middle of the oven. Butter a 10 or 12 cup bundt pan, then lightly coat with sifted cocoa. Tap out excess.

In a small saucepan over high heat, bring the stout and molasses to a simmer. Remove the pan from heat and let stand.

Sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Cream butter in a large bowl on medium speed with a stand mixer (paddle) or a hand mixer until smooth, about 1 minute. Add brown sugar and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Stop to scrape the bowl as needed. Beat in eggs one at a time, stopping to scrape the bowl after each.

With the mixer on low speed, alternate adding flour mixture and stout beginning and ending with flour, about 20 seconds. Stir in chopped chocolate. Spoon batter into pan and spread evenly. Bake for 45-50 minutes. Set the pan on the cooling rack to cool for 20 minutes, then invert onto rack and remove pan. 

Optional Chocolate Glaze
3/4 cup heavy cream
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

Bring cream to a boil in a small saucepan on high heat. Remove pan from heat and add chocolate. Let the chocolate melt, then whisk until smooth. Let cool 5 minutes before drizzling over the cake.