Did you ever eat Colcannon, made from lovely pickled cream?
With the greens and scallions mingled like a picture in a dream.
Did you ever make a hole on top to hold the melting flake
Yes you did, so you did, so did he and so did I.
And the more I think about it sure the nearer I’m to cry.
Oh, wasn’t it the happy days when troubles we had not,
And our mothers made Colcannon in the little skillet pot.
One of Ireland’s more famous foods is the humble potato which, when abundant was the source of song, and when scarce, the source of suffering.
A potato blight touched off starvation and ignited the complicated events that devastated west and south Ireland between 1845 and 1849, the years of the great Potato Famine. In those years, more than one million people died and another million emigrated, many to Canada and the U.S.
The famine and the potato live together in folk memory of the Irish, along with this simple, and familiar dish: Colcannon, meaning white-headed cabbage.
Even non-Irish will know the dish well as mashed potatoes. The traditional Irish mash was an inexpensive daily main dish. It adds a little cabbage or kale, perhaps with scallion, leeks or chives. Bacon or ham pieces can also be added.
Leftovers are fried up in the morning for breakfast with pork slices.
Here is one recipe from Taste of Home.
1 medium head cabbage (about 2 pounds), shredded
4 pounds medium potatoes (about 8), peeled and quartered
2 cups whole milk
1 cup chopped green onions
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup butter, melted
Minced fresh parsley
Crumbled cooked bacon
Place cabbage and 2 cups water in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, until cabbage is tender, about 10 minutes. Drain, reserving cooking liquid; keep cabbage warm in separate dish.
In same pan, combine potatoes and reserved cooking liquid. Add additional water to cover potatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cook, uncovered, until potatoes are tender, 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, place milk, green onions, salt and pepper in a small saucepan; bring just to a boil and remove from heat.
Drain potatoes; place in a large bowl and mash. Add milk mixture; beat just until blended. Stir in cabbage. To serve, drizzle with butter; top with parsley and bacon.
1 cup: 168 calories, 5g fat (3g saturated fat), 14mg cholesterol, 361mg sodium, 27g carbohydrate (6g sugars, 4g fiber), 4g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 2 starch, 1 fat.
Sweet corn custard pie: A surprising twist on a traditional food
Not much is known about the first Thanksgiving feast in 1621, when settlers and indigenous Americans from the Wampanoag tribe gathered to feast for three days after a successful harvest, according to Smithsonian Magazine. Historians believe that flint corn, as a staple crop, would have featured heavily during the celebration. Today, modern varieties of sweet corn show up on many Thanksgiving tables in casseroles, breads, stuffings, and pies.
Adapted from The Four and Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book by Emily Elsen and Melissa Elsen, sweet corn custard pie combines the sunny flavor of sweet corn with the silky texture of egg custard â€“ no stove-top tempering required. Try fresh kernels if you can find them, but if not, frozen sweet corn, thawed and drained, will also work. Use your favorite pie crust recipe for the pie shell or save time and pre-bake a store-bought frozen pie shell. For a gluten-free option, prepare the filling as written with a gluten-free pie shell.
Sweet corn custard pie
1 pre-baked pie shell
3 cups sweet corn kernels from 5 to 6 ears of corn (thaw and drain frozen if fresh is unavailable)
2 tablespoons neutral vegetable oil
1 cup heavy cream
1 Â¼ cups whole milk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Â½ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons stone-ground cornmeal
Â½ teaspoon kosher salt
Â½ cup light corn syrup
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Stir vegetable oil into fresh or thawed corn and spread onto the baking sheet in a single layer. Roast the corn until caramelized, about 12 to 15 minutes. Stir periodically and watch carefully to prevent burning. Combine hot caramelized corn with heavy cream and whole milk. Puree in a blender or with an immersion blender and allow the mixture to steep for at least 15 minutes. Meanwhile, reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
While the corn mixture steeps, combine the melted butter with the sugar, cornmeal, salt, and corn syrup. Stir in the eggs and yolk one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Add lime juice.
Strain corn mixture through a fine-mesh sieve over a large bowl. Using a flexible spatula, press the mixture against the sieve to remove as much liquid as possible. Stir and press until all liquid is removed. You will have around one cup of liquid and a few bits of corn. Add the strained liquid to the egg mixture and discard the leftover corn solids.
Pour the liquid into the pre-baked pie shell and set on the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Check the pie at 30 to 35 minutes and rotate if the edges have started to set. The pie is done when the edges are slightly puffed and the center is wobbly, but not liquid. Be careful not to overtake the pie will continue to cook and set after coming out of the oven.
Cool the pie completely on a wire rack. Cut in eight to 12 small slices.
Wines that pair well with turkey
If you plan to serve turkey with all the trimmings this Thanksgiving, you’ll want to offer your guests a wine that enhances the flavor profile of this traditional holiday meal. Here are a few prime options.
Wines characterized by strong floral or herbal notes pair well with meals that have bold and varied flavors. This makes them an ideal match for roasted turkey and savory sides. Consider a sauvignon blanc, viognier, or dry riesling.
The fruit and acidity of a dry rosé makes it a wine that pairs well with almost anything. The lightly spiced white zinfandel has long been a staple of the traditional Thanksgiving feast, but you also can’t go wrong with pinot noir or grenache rosés.
Light and a fizzy glass of bubbly strikes the perfect balance with a decadent turkey dinner. Prosecco, cava, and Champagne are festive, food-friendly options. However, the low alcohol level and fruity flavors of a moscato d’Asti make it a good choice for light drinkers.
For more recommendations, speak with the knowledgeable staff at a local wine shop.
Give thanks to the planet with a plant-based meal
For many families, a traditional meal is at the heart of their Thanksgiving celebrations. Some might argue that the holiday would be incomplete without a lavish turkey served alongside stuffing and gravy. So while a growing number of people are transitioning to a plant-based diet for ethical or environmental reasons, it can be particularly challenging adapting holiday meals to this lifestyle.
And yet, there are many benefits to making plant protein and vegetables the stars of your Thanksgiving dinner. In addition to causing less pollution than meat options, a plant-based holiday meal tends to be healthier, makes use of seasonal ingredients, and allows you to explore new flavors. Here are just a few delectable comfort food dishes to consider for this year’s spread:
• Hearty chickpea “meatloaf” with a maple glaze and thyme mashed potatoes
• Lentil, mushroom, and walnut balls topped with a sweet pear-cranberry sauce
• Sweet potato gnocchi with an apple cider sauce and sautéed rapini
• Butternut squash vegducken, stuffed with eggplant, zucchini, and an onion-lentil stuffing
• Tempeh shepherd’s pie or pot pie with corn, carrots, and peas
• Individual pumpkins stuffed with rice, black beans, corn, cashews, and mushrooms
An additional perk is that most of these dishes can be prepared in more flexible portion sizes than the traditional 15-pound turkey or whole ham. This allows you to waste less food and prepare a hearty meal regardless of how many people will be gathered around the table this season.
If you’re not ready to forgo the turkey, consider opting for an organic or pasture-raised bird from a local farm. This sustainable choice is better for the environment and supports the regional economy.
Planning for stress-free holidays
Holiday meals can be more stress-free and fun with a checklist and a plan.
Plan ahead to use a side table for food and set it up early. Get the table linens ready as early as possible — at least a week before.
For pick-up dinners, make sure early you have sufficient trays and seating.
One Week Before
Four Days Before
Clean out the refrigerator leaving plenty of room for your pre-made dishes and for leftovers. Detail the house in other ways, too. Make sure windows and sills are clean. Check the curtains. Clean baseboards.
Three Days Before
General cleaning. Buy flowers. Put up decorations. Clean silver, if you still have those formal family meals.
Two Days Before
Make the pies.
You can even set a table and place centerpieces, candles, and decorations. You can also schedule that for the day before.
One Day Before
Check the menu to make sure nothing is forgotten. Shop for any needed fresh ingredients.
Clean and prepare vegetables, cheese, nuts, mashed potatoes, and other ingredients and dishes that can be made early.
Cook main dish. Warm-up your day-before side dishes and pies.
Allow time to relax and dress before guests arrive.
These adorable chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese icing are the perfect treat to make for a Halloween party or play date.
Start to finish: 1 hour (40 minutes active)
Servings: 12 cupcakes
• 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
• 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 2 eggs, room temperature
• 1/2 cup white sugar
• 1/2 cup brown sugar
• 1/3 cup vegetable oil
• 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature
• 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
• 8 ounces cream cheese
• 4 cups icing sugar
• 1 teaspoon orange gel food coloring
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Place cupcake liners in each cup of a 12-cup muffin tin.
2. In a large bowl, mix the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Set aside. In a second bowl, mix the eggs, sugar, brown sugar, oil, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract.
3. Incorporate half of the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients and mix well. Add half of the buttermilk and mix well. Add the rest of the wet ingredients and buttermilk, and mix well.
4. Pour the mixture into each muffin tin cup to fill them halfway. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a cupcake comes out clean.
5. In the meantime, use a beater to mix the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add the rest of the salt and vanilla, and mix well. Use the beater at a low speed to slowly incorporate the icing sugar until the mixture is smooth. Add the food coloring and mix until the icing is a uniform orange.
6. Let the cupcakes cool completely, then use a piping bag to ice them. Decorate with candies or small Halloween-themed cookies.
To ensure the icing has a vibrant color, use a gel rather than a liquid food dye.
7 ways to enjoy potatoes
Whether they’re picked up at a local farmers market or harvested from your own vegetable patch, spuds can be cooked in a variety of ways. Here are seven potato dishes to try this fall, or anytime you have extra spuds on hand.
1. Creamy mashed potatoes with roasted garlic and cheese
2. Old-fashioned potato salad, ideal for a fall picnic
3. Baked or barbecued potatoes with sour cream and green onions
4. Homestyle potato chips seasoned to your liking
5. Hearty potato chowder with corn or seafood
6. Crispy fries or potato wedges with Cajun seasoning
7. Potato cake, candy, or crêpes for dessert
For even more variation in taste and texture, explore different types of potato such as Yukon gold, chieftain, and Adirondack blue. You can even experiment with sweet potatoes and yams.