Saturday, December 14, 2013

Cookbook Review: Irish Pantry by Noel McMeel and Lynn Marie Hulsman

Disclosure / Disclaimer: I received this book, free of charge, from Running Press, for review purposes on this blog. No other compensation, monetary or in kind, has been received or implied for this post. Nor was I told how to post about it

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Got some Irish in the family? Someone who loves Ireland?

Need a great cookbook for the foodie on your Christmas list? I've got the book for you!

Irish Pantry cover


Traditional Breads, Preserves, and Goodies to Feed the Ones You Love

For those times when you need a snack—or a dessert after a good meal, or a homemade food gift, or a way to preserve the season—you need only to stock an Irish pantry to be prepared for any occasion. From jams and jellies to cakes, breads, condiments, and cured meats, this traditional look at feel-good foods bursting with nostalgia will satisfy your longing for something special.

Chef and restaurateur Noel McMeel has spent a lifetime first learning in the kitchen, then working there himself. His recipes are generations old: passed from his grandmother to his mother, and to Noel and the next generation. They celebrate a culture of thrift and good eating, the original “eating local” and “whole foods” movements. Noel offers ways to pack the heat of summer into jars with recipes like Blackberry and Lime Jam and Orange Confit, and his Traditional Irish Christmas Cake might become a regular at your holiday table. There’s also Rhubarb Ketchup, Homemade Elderflower Liqueur, Spiced Oat Crackers, and a whole chapter of rubs and seasonings. Whether you’re Irish or just a food enthusiast, the Irish pantry may well become a way of life.

"A cabin with plenty of food is better than a hungry castle"
Old Irish proverb


Irish traditions and Southern traditions have many commonalities- the author says that part of the family tradition was laying out delicious treats to eat, and when the guests left, sending them off with packages of sweets, jams or chutneys, from the pantry. All the Southerners just nodded their heads at how familiar that phrase was! Many of the gorgeous pictures in the book will also resound with Southerners- pictures of the clock on the piano, the ornate door knocker, the garden vegetables! They are all lovely and will leaving you wanting to head to the Emerald Isle! 

The recipes will also seem familiar, which they should be, as the South has a wonderful Celtic- Scotch-Irish heritage. Recipes like Marmalade made with Whiskey, Rosemary and Bramley Jelly, Rosehip Syrup, Butter Pound Cake, Carrot cake, Potato Pancakes, Watermelon Pickles, Pork Cracklins, Potted Ham, Shortbread, Cheddar Crackers, Cranberry Fig Chutney Mincemeat, Shrove Tuesday Pancakes or even the traditional Irish (Fruit) Cake! 

Many traditional breads, like Soda and Treacle are included. But they haven't forgotten modern sensibilities and have a wonderful recipe for Gluten-free bread  made with potato, rice and soy flour.The quick mixes are wonderful and super to have on hand for drop by guests, like Cinnamon-Sugar Quick Bread Mix or Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Loaf Mix. The Guinness and Bacon Bread, Chocolate and Walnut Scones or Bailey's Fudge Squares  recipes may have you running to the kitchen to bake! 

As you can tell- I LOVE all the recipes in this book and am pretty surprised by how many are similar to/the same as our family recipes. You might be surprised to! This book is gorgeous and the family history and Irish traditions present make it almost a great coffee table book- but trust me, it won;t be leaving your kitchen!

Here's one of my favorite recipes, that is great for the holiday season:

Parmesan-Garlic Crackers

These crackers are on the hearty and thick side, and are great for substituting for bruschetta slices. They can hold heavier toppings, making them great for holiday appetizers! 

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cp grated Parmessan cheese
1 1/4 cps all-flour purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chopped Irish Thyme leaves
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper


1. Place the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with paddle attachment, and beat until just creamy.
2. Add the cheese, flour, garlic and powder, thyme and pepper, and mix until just combined.
3. Dump the dough onto a floured board and roll into a 13 inch long log. Wrap the log in plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 30 minutes to firm up.
4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
5. Cut your chilled log crosswise info 1/4- 1/2 inch slices.
6. Place slices on parchment paper lined baking sheet, and bake for 22 minutes, or until golden brown.
7. Crackers will spread a little, but not much. When done, transfer them to a cooling rack, to cool completely.
8. Serve crackers at room temperature, or sore in an airtight container, in a cool, dry place, for up to a month.


About the Author:
Noel McMeel grew up cooking with his family in Ireland, and developed a passion for food early on. He worked under Alice Waters at Chez Panisse after his graduated from culinary school and is now the executive head chef at the renowned Lough Erne Resort in Northern Ireland.

Lynn Marie Hulsman is the co-author of the cookbook MAKE YOUR OWN SODA, the author of the forthcoming THE BOURBON DESSERT COOKBOOK, and the author of a forthcoming romantic comedy novel. She lives and writes in New York City.

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  1. Wow the recipes in this cookbook sound interesting. I really want to try the Parmesan Garlic Cracker recipe. They sound delicious and not that hard to make. These would go so well with a hot bowl of tomato soup.

  2. Sounds just the perfect stocking filler for all lovers of Irish food with a twist.

  3. It looks like a good cookbook. Thanks for sharing it!


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