Sunday, February 28, 2010

When Simple is Also Good - Irish Brown Bread

I have to say, the food on my Ireland trip was incredible. It ranged from some surprising pub food at this establishment to some gourmet food at a four star hotel up North. Seated up by the bar, I expected the usual bland tavern fare. What a surprise. Venison Stew in Red Wine Gravy under Puff Pastry. It was incredible, though the smell of the Lamb Stew next to me was pretty tempting. I sent my compliments back to the chef, and wished I could have snagged the recipe.
Seafood was plentiful. In Portrush, some Tiger Prawns with Garlic Roast Vegetables. No picture as it was gone too quick.

In Dublin, on in the Temple Bar District, there was this great little discovery for a couple of dinners.
Salmon over Pan Roasted Veggies. (Have you noticed there appears to be a Guinness in each picture?)
And the best Fish and Chips I had during the whole trip, as fresh as you can find it.
We won't mention the breakfast buffet at the hotel in Donegal. But Irish cooking back in my ancestors day was a lot more simple. Potatoes were boiled, not mashed with roasted garlic. Soda bread? It was not the Americanized version with white flour and lots of sugar and currants. (though that is tasty). It was course flour, baking soda, salt and buttermilk (if you were well off) or sour milk (if times were tough). Plain simple food, for hard working people tilling the earth. Folks back then weren't intent on gourmet. In the Ireland of my ancestors time, they were considered successful if they just stayed alive.

So for tonight, in honor of those strong people who tilled that land, and to bring back some memories of a trip of a lifetime, some simple Irish Brown Bread.
Click on the photos to enlarge. Have napkin handy.


  1. I like to bake different kinds of bread. OK you've got me, I'm going to try it today! I already have some great stone ground wheat flour.

  2. After Guinness, Brown Bread must be the Irish greatest invention.

  3. Erin Go Bragh !!

    Or, in this case, Aran Go Bragh! might be more appropriate :)

    Gaelic humor. I'm here all week. Try the Shepherds Pie...

    Looks wonderful. And the food and tavern pics from your trip are incentive enough for me and the Mrs to make our own pilgrimage soon. My feet are itching to walk some roads I've never been down before.

  4. I am grateful that you have a fine touch with both a camera and a keyboard, so that I get a look at the world that I wouldn't get otherwise.


  5. Love the Pix... and the food looks great! Ireland is one of those Mysterious rich places I plan to visit before I die!

  6. I love Sheperds Pie Paladin.

    Now I have to go to Ireland just to eat? Can't I just come to your house for Venison Stew.

    See Ya

  7. The architecture in your photos is breathtaking - I would be just as satisfied to sit outside those regal stone buildings as I would to be inside eating. The bread is a favorite of mine (well, all bread is a favorite of mine!) and looks quite inviting...yum!

  8. I saw this the other day and your post/recipe triggered the memory.

    Everyone should try your recommended store-bought mix once if for no other reason than Bob's deserves the support.

    Publix carries the brand here in Florida. Like Bob's, the store chain is 100% employee owned so buying a box here means supporting two worthwhile companies.

  9. The country is beautiful, that restraunt looked like a great place to go and the food, well the food made me hungry just looking at it.

  10. Roscoe - I can't speak highly enough of Bob's Red Mill products. Their soda bread mix was as good as the homemade. The varied other products are worth checking out and I use many of them in my cooking.

    Website is

  11. I recently found your blog. Quite, quite enjoyable.

    It occurs to me that being that you're Irish American and a cooking enthusiast, you might have a taste for corned beef hash. And if so, that you might have been to the Runciple Spoon in Bloomington. And if so that you might have tasted theirs.

    And if so, whether you've ever tried to duplicate the recipe! I've tried and failed. (They don't publish it on their web page. I've looked.)

    A long shot, I know, but I wonder if you've tried it.

  12. That Puff Pastry topped stew looks absolutely fabulous.

    No good explanation for why there is Guinness in every photo, presumably because Murphy's Irish Stout was unavailable? (I kid), though a Smithwick's Irish Red would go great with that Fish & chips.

    As for the Brown Bread, I'll have to try to make it some time.

  13. Mrs. Roscoe has Bob's products around, but, like yourself, enjoys the challenge of making things from scratch.

    We're really spoiled having Publix down here. We don't have Trader Joes, but parent company ALDI just set up shop in the state last year.

  14. The breakfast brought back memories. Black and white pudding (no need to tell the Sasanachs what goes in to the Drisheen), rasher or three, all the other good stuff.

    Grandma O'Connor used to wake us up with tea and hard boiled eggs, and some fresh made cottage cheese. Just to hold us over until we got to breakfast.

    The scones fresh from the oven with massive gobs of rich dark yellow aged butter running over the edge. Dar a' Chroist!

    Please, please promise me you'll spend at least a week in Galway next time. The prawns are better than Howth, the Galway Bay lobsters and oysters the best in the world, and every little converted manor house/B&B has lamb and salmon dishes to kill for.

    Get a bicycle and work up through Connemara National Park, and down the coast through Roundstone to the Claddagh.

    Or the cross country horseback rides will leave you feeling like the Queen of the World when you're up on the Twelve Bens with the entire Atlantic singing to you.

    Or break your heart when the trail leads down into the hidden forests in the valleys, through all the broken, abandoned famine villages.

    They still let the Connemara ponies run wild in the hills from age one to age three, fighting for their lives on narrow hill paths agaist storms and attacks from gluttons, the local giant wolverines.

    The Connemaras are as sure footed and smart as a mule, as brave as a bear, and the most gentle beings on the planet with humans. If you can ride a forward seat, they will amaze you over rough ground and on the steepest downhills.

    Next time, you have to promise.

    Ed Foster.

  15. It's not just the picture of the bread. It's the dripping butter.

    Thanks for the recipe!


  16. Well, I can see you haven't lost your touch nor your taste! The bread looks terrific, and I'll be trying that very soon. As for a Guiness in every picture, it's only right (although I notice it's missing from the breakfast oversight, I'm sure!). A trip like this is definitely on my list-o-places to go, and your pictures and stories make me impatient to go!

    Cheers from MD's Eastern Shore!

  17. OK Brigid, I Tested the recipe for the bread, and have posted photos and a review! I also have an important question for you.

  18. I like Simple. In my experience it's usually the best.

  19. I was recently in Dublin, too. I passed the Quay's Bar Restaurant but never went in. My first meal was in Temple Bar at Oliver St. John's (My son's name is Oliver John so I thought it appropriate to go in). I feasted on the Shephard's Pie which was PHENOMENAL and included the best salad I ate in all of Europe (I only went to England and Ireland). Thanks for taking me back there!

  20. I have to add that the best Fish and chips I have ever eaten was not in IReland...from a "chipper", but in England...from a "chippey" called The Devonshire Chippey. I had some in Dublin at Leo Burdock's and it was HUGE! I couldn't eat it all much to my chagrin, as it was about $16.50. I think it was 9 euro 50. Haddock it was. was a tad underdone; too much batter still undercooked. Good, but not as good as in England. Here's a pic (Irish fish/chips) to show the size and tastiness.


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