Cooking

Carrot And Parsnip Mash

Mashed carrots and parsnips were a frequent dinnertime side in our house when I was a little girl.  And let me confess, I hated the mixture. 

But no matter how much I begged my Mom to spare me this weekly “treat”, these root vegetables regularly appeared alongside my roast chicken and potatoes.

Bowl of carrot and parsnip mash - Thanksgiving side dish

“Just one bite!” I can still hear her instructions. Dutifully, I let a miniscule amount pass my lips, before grimacing in disgust. But believe it or not, her persistence paid off.  Today I love this earthy veggie combination.

Most recipes recommend a vegetable pureé when pairing carrots and parsnips, but in Ireland the texture is seldom silky smooth, with a slightly lumpy mash preferred. I’m really doing a bad job of making these veggies sound appetizing.  By now, you probably have visions of me being force fed “lumpy” mash.

But honestly, this combo is truly satisfying and is wonderful alongside roast turkey for Thanksgiving or Christmas, or to set off a Sunday roast beef.

So how about a tutorial on how to cook this popular side dish – Irish carrot and parsnip mash.

Ingredients for carrot and parsnip mash

Ingredients

 

  • 3 large carrots
  • 2 medium parsnips
  • 2 oz butter
  • 2 tablespoons cream
  • salt and white pepper to season

 

Irish parsnip and carrot mash doesn’t have any fancy onion or garlic flavors added. It’s simply the two veggies combined with butter, cream, salt and pepper.

I use white pepper for this recipe since that’s what my mom always used. I only discovered black pepper when I came to America. So, I stick to white pepper and, truth be told, I don’t like black speckles in the middle of this lightly orange colored mash.

Sliced carrots and parsnips

Carrots are harder than parsnips and take longer to cook.  To make sure your parsnips don’t go mushy while you wait for your carrots to tenderize you have a few options.

  1. First, you can just chop the carrots into smaller pieces than the parsnips, and boil the vegetables together in the same pot for the same amount of time.
  2. Or you can give the carrots a head start before adding the parsnips. If boiling the vegetables a 7 minute lead time is good, but if steaming, the carrots need at least 10 minutes extra cooking.
  3. Or you can do what my mom always did, and cook the parsnips and carrots in two separate saucepans, and only combine them when they are tender, drained and ready to mash.

 

Steaming carrots

I find option 1 difficult, since I can never accurately estimate the right size for each vegetable.

Since I don’t like cleaning too many saucepans, I usually go for option 2 and give my carrots a little head start on the parsnips.

I also like to steam the veggies, so I don’t risk burning my fingers when adding parsnips to simmering water.

Steam carrots and parsnips for mash

So steam the carrots for about 10 minutes, then add the parsnips and steam them both for about 20 more minutes until they are fork tender.

Mashing carrots and parsnips together

Drain the vegetables and return them to the bottom pan. Mash them together using a potato masher.

Adding butter and cream to carrot and parsnip mash.

Add the butter and cream and mash together a little more.

Seasoning carrot and parsnip mash

Season to taste with salt and white pepper.

Carrot and parsnip mash or purée

Transfer into a serving dish and garnish with a nice knob of butter.

Feel free to add a little green with some parsley if you like. You’ll have all the colors of the Irish flag, green, white and orange.  I never saw fancy parsley on my carrot and parsnip mash as a child, so I just stuck to a nice piece of melting butter to garnish this dish for its photo shoot.

Hope you all enjoy this ever so Irish vegetable side dish. Here’s the printable recipe:

Carrot And Parsnip Mash

Serves 4-6
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 35 minutes
Total time 45 minutes
Meal type Side Dish
Misc Serve Hot
Occasion Christmas, Thanksgiving

Ingredients

  • 3 Large carrots
  • 2 Medium parsnips
  • 2oz butter
  • 2 tablespoons cream
  • salt and white pepper to season

Directions

Step 1 Wash and peel the carrots and parsnips. Cut evenly in 1/2 inch slices.
Step 2 Place the carrots in a steamer, add water to the pan base. Bring to a boil, cover the pot, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
Step 3 Add the parsnips to the carrots in the steamer. Simmer for a further 15 to 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
Step 4 Drain the vegetables. Return them to the pot. Add the butter and cream and mash the vegetables together. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Step 5 Serve warm and garnish with butter and parsley if desired.

 

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

 

Irish American Mom

 

Cheesy Irish Potato Cakes for Halloween

Halloween is a fun time for feasting on spooky treats. But why not make something wholesome and filling for little trick or treaters before they set out on their Halloween quest.

Cheesy Irish potato cakes in ghostly novelty shapes are great for dinner on October 31st.

Halloween potato cakes

My Irish potato cake recipe is one of the most popular posts on my blog, so I thought why not share a little variation on this recipe, using sharp, Irish cheddar cheese to add a kid-friendly tangy flavor to these little morsels.

In fact, depending on your cookie cutter selection, you could adapt this recipe to suit any holiday celebration. Candy canes and stars for Christmas, hearts for Valentines Day, and shamrocks to commemorate St. Patrick’s Day – the sky’s the limit.

Anyway, time for my Halloween specialty recipe:

Ingredients for Cheesy Potato Cakes

The ingredients are very simple – that’s why potato cakes were popular in Ireland years ago. Even the poor could make and enjoy these cakes. Our ancestors had no onion powder, but let’s face it, our Irish taste buds just love the combination of cheese and onion (my favorite crisp or chip flavor).

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups mashed potatoes
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (1/4 cup for the dough and 1/4 cup for kneading and rolling)
  • 3/4 cup of grated white cheddar cheese (I like sharp Dubliner cheese from Ireland).
  • 2 oz butter (half melted for the dough and half for frying the potato cakes)
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 to 1 large beaten egg

Adding flour to mashed potatoes for potato cakes

Toss the flour and mashed potato together in a large mixing bowl.

Seasoning potato cake dough

Next season with onion powder and salt.

Adding grated cheddar cheese to potato cakes

Mix the ingredients together using a potato masher, then add the cheese and mix it through.

Melted butter for potato cakes

Add 1 ounce of melted butter.

Adding beaten egg to Irish potato cakes

Add half the beaten egg.  The amount of egg required to form a dough depends on how dry and floury you’re mashed potatoes are to begin with. I find Irish potatoes require more egg than American spuds.

Potato Cake Dough

Anyway, mix the wet ingredients through the dry to form a dough.

Potato cake dough on a floured surface for rolling

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and sprinkle the top with more flour. Knead the dough gently.

Rolling out potato cake dough

Then roll it to about 1 inch in thickness. I make these potato cakes a little thicker than my regular potato cakes, since the cheese makes them a little softer and more prone to breakages.

Cutting out potato cake shapes

Cut out shapes with novelty cookie cutters. Gather the dough scraps, re-knead and roll to cut out additional shapes.

Melting butter in a cast iron pan

Melt the butter over medium heat in a large skillet. I love to cook these in my cast iron pan.

Frying Halloween Potato Cakes

Fry the potato cakes in the pan for 3 minutes on each side over medium heat. They should turn a light golden brown.

Potato Cake in the shape of a witch's hat

Once browned on each side I like to place the cakes on a baking tray and finish cooking them in the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F, so it’ll be nice and hot once you’re ready to pop the potato cakes in.

I don’t do this for my regular potato cakes but I find the onion and cheese flavors meld beautifully after a little roasting.

Cheesy Irish Potato Cakes

We made all kinds of Halloween shapes from pumpkins to owls. My cookie cutter collection was our only limitation, and if I was a little more artistic I’m sure I could have cut out some more spooky shapes.

Bat and ghost shaped potato cakes

We made bats and ghosts. My cookie cutters for these shapes are very small, but they’re perfectly sized bites for small mouths.

Cat shaped potato cake

My little girl loved this Halloween cat.

Irish Potato Cake in the shape of a cat for Halloween

She loved this cat so much, a photo shoot with different plates and bowls ensued.

Cheesy Irish Potato Cake for Halloween - Witch's Hat

And Dad loved the bigger sized witch’s hat.  A few witch’s hats and a steak is a satisfying Halloween meal for any man.

My West Cork granny would have had great fun serving these at Halloween. Oh, if only there were fancy cookie cutters back in her day.

Cheesy Irish Potato Cakes for Halloween

Hope you enjoy this spooky Halloween side dish.

Here’s the printable recipe:

Cheesy Irish Potato Cakes For Halloween

Serves 4
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 20 minutes
Total time 40 minutes
Meal type Side Dish
Misc Serve Hot
Occasion Halloween
Region Irish
Cheesy Irish potato cakes in ghostly novelty shapes are great for dinner on October 31st.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups mashed potatoes
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour (1/4 cup for the dough and 1/4 cup for kneading and rolling)
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cups grated white cheddar cheese
  • 2oz butter (1 ounce melted for dough/1 ounce for frying cakes)
  • 1/2 to 1 beaten egg

Directions

Step 1 Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Toss the flour and mashed potato together in a large mixing bowl.
Step 2 Season with onion powder and salt.
Step 3 Mix the ingredients together using a potato masher, then add the cheese and mix it through.
Step 4 Add 1 ounce of melted butter. Add half the beaten egg. Mix the wet ingredients through the dry to form a dough. Add additional egg if needed to form a firm dough.
Step 5 Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and sprinkle the top with more flour. Knead the dough gently.
Step 6 Roll the dough to about 1 inch in thickness. Cut out shapes with novelty cookie cutters. Gather the dough scraps, reknead and roll to cut out additional shapes.
Step 7 Melt the butter over medium heat in a large skillet. Fry the potato cakes in the pan for 3 minutes on each side over medium heat.
Step 8 Place the browned potato cakes on a baking tray and bake for 10 minutes in the pre-heated oven.
Step 9 Serve warm with ketchup or sour cream.

 

Samhain blasta libh go léir

( pronounced Sow-in blahs-ta liv go lare)

A Tasty Halloween To Everyone,

Irish American Mom

Zucchini And Leek Soup

Zucchini and leeks combine to make a wonderfully green soup. Light and refreshing, this soup can be served hot or cold, but being ever so Irish, I like it hot.

Inspired by the more traditional Irish recipe for potato and leek soup, I love to make this soup when I have lots of zucchini on hand. Or perhaps I should give this soup its European name, courgette and leek soup.

Zucchini or courgette and leek soup

I remember when I first came to America, I had no idea what on earth a zucchini might be. I remember searching for courgettes in the grocery store only to spot them under the strangely named sign “zucchini”.

And then I checked a little closer and discovered that what I called an aubergine bore the strange title of “egg plant” in the good old USA.

My ongoing American evolution continued at the grocery store with never ending culinary lessons and naming tips.

At the end of every summer I often hear my green thumbed neighbors searching for zucchini recipes, when they are blessed with an abundant crop of these nutritious and easy-to-grow vegetables.  This soup is my answer to their recipe pleas.

And so without further ado, here is my recipe for zucchini and leek, or courgette and leek soup.

Remember, it’s green coloring makes it perfect for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

Ingredients for zucchini and leek soup

Ingredients

4 medium zucchini (washed and sliced)
1 large leek or 2 small leeks (washed and sliced)
2 oz butter
1 carrot (peeled and sliced)
1 potato (peeled and sliced)
6 cups chicken stock
salt and pepper to season
1/4 cup whipping cream
parsley (to garnish if desired)

 Washing Leeks

Directions:

Prepare the vegetables carefully. Leeks can contain dirt trapped between the inner layers of the vegetables, so it’s very important to wash them well. If you need some tips on how to wash and prepare leeks check out my recipe for potato and leek soup.

Sliced courgettes or zucchini, potato and carrot for soup
Wash the zucchini, then slice them skin and all. I find the outer skin adds flavor to this soup.  Peel and slice the carrot and potato.
Melting butter in a dutch oven for soup

Melt the butter over medium heat in a large Dutch oven or pan.

Add the sliced vegetables and stir to completely cover them in butter. This coating of butter is important for sweating the vegetables and helping them to not stick to the bottom of the pan.

Sliced zucchini, leeks, potato and carrot for soup

Cover the pot and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes to sweat the vegetables.

Shake the pot occasionally to prevent the vegetables from sticking. It’s important not to brown the vegetables, but merely to soften them in the steamy pot.

Adding stock to zucchini and leek soup
Add the chicken stock and season with salt and pepper to taste. You can use vegetable stock for this soup too if you prefer vegetarian recipes. I like the taste of chicken stock with the leeks, but the choice of stock is completely personal.

Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer the soup for 20 minutes.  Remember, gentle heat is very important for cooking soups.

Tender vegetables in stock before pureeing soup

When simmered enough, the vegetables will be fork tender. The trick to a nicely textured soup is to cook the zucchini and the leeks long enough to make them nice and soft before whizzing them with the blender.

Puréeing soup with an immersion blender
Turn off the heat and allow the soup to cool slightly before blending it until smooth. An immersion blender works great, or else blend it in batches in a liquidizer.

Adding whipping cream to soup purée

Add the cream and stir well to blend completely. Reheat over a gentle heat without boiling.

Pot of zucchini and leek soup

Serve this soup warm or cold, and garnish with parsley if desired.

Zucchini and leek soup with brown bread

Irish brown bread is a tasty accompaniment to this soup. Irish potato bread is another great partner for soup.

But whether you like your soup all on its lonesome, or with a nice slice of bread, I hope you enjoy this zucchini and leek soup as much as I do.

Here’s the printable recipe:

Zucchini And Leek Soup

Serves 8
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 30 minutes
Total time 50 minutes
Meal type Soup

Ingredients

  • 4 Medium zucchini (washed and sliced)
  • 1 Large leek (washed and sliced)
  • 2oz butter
  • 1 carrot (peeled and sliced)
  • 1 potato (peeled and sliced)
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • salt and pepper to season
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream

Optional

  • parsley (to garnish)

Directions

Step 1 Melt the butter over medium heat in a large Dutch oven or pan. Add the sliced vegetables and stir to completely cover in butter.
Step 2 Cover the pot and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes to sweat the vegetables. Shake the pot occasionally to prevent the vegetables from sticking. Do not brown the vegetables.
Step 3 Add the chicken stock and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Step 4 Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer the soup for 20 minutes. The vegetables will be fork tender.
Step 5 Turn off the heat and allow the soup to cool slightly before blending it until smooth.
Step 6 Add the cream and stir well to blend completely. Reheat over a gentle heat without boiling.
Step 7 Garnish with parsley, if desired, before serving.

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

 

Irish American Mom

Curried Parsnip Crisps

Curried parsnip crisps are a perfect garnish for soup, a healthier alternative to store bought crisps or chips, or a simple tasty snack. 

Baked in the oven, these crispy vegetable wafers can be seasoned and spiced up whatever way you choose.

Parsnip chips as a soup garnish

I love to add these flavorful parsnip shavings to the top of parsnip and apple soup -they’re a simple, elegant garnish. They’re also great to pass around as nibblers with soup.

Parsnip crisps is what I like to call these tasty morsels, but I suppose in America they might be called parsnip chips. However, these shavings are thin and crispy, not thick and chunky like an Irish chip, so the name parsnip crisps describes them perfectly.

And you won’t believe how easy they are to make.

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 parsnip
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable or olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of curry powder

 

Shaved parsnip for parsnip chips

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Peel the parsnip, and discard the skins, so you won’t get them mixed up with the parsnip shavings.

Using the vegetable peeler, scrape thin wafers down the length of the parsnip. Don’t worry if they split halfway down.

Keep turning and shaving the parsnip until you reach the woody core at the center. Throw this away, since it produces coarser, less tasty crisps. (If, like me, you go by the motto waste not want not, you can always toss the parsnip core into the pot when you’re making stock).

Oil and curry powder for parsnip chips

Next, pour the oil into a bowl and mix in the curry powder. I love the flavor of curry with parsnips. Season the oil with salt and pepper if desired. I find these crisps are just fine without any added sodium when spiced up with curry powder.

Chili and Mexican spices work well too. Feel free to experiment with your favorites.

Tossing shaved parsnip in oil and curry powder

 Next, toss the parsnip shavings in the seasoned oil to coat them fully.

Parsnip chips on baking tray

Parsnip crisps can be deep fried in oil, but I prefer to bake mine in a hot oven.

Lay the parsnip shavings in a single layer on a baking tray.

Pop them in the oven for about 5 minutes. Turn them at this point, and then pop them back in for another 5 to 10 minutes. 

These crisps are very thin, so they can burn easily. Since temperatures vary from oven to oven, watch them closely so they do not burn.

Parsnip chips on paper towel

Remove them from the oven and lay them on some paper towels to remove any excess oil.

Once they cool a little they’re ready to eat.

I just can’t help sneaking a few before they ever adorn a soup bowl.

These little snacks are simply delicious, and my kids love them.

Parsnip, apple and curry soup in a shamrock bowl

I hope you enjoy this recipe for a simple vegetable garnish to dress up soups.

Here’s the printable recipe:

Parsnip Crisps

Serves 4
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 15 minutes
Total time 25 minutes
Meal type Snack
Parsnip crisps are a healthier alternative to store bought crisps or chips, and are a simple tasty snack. They can even be used to garnish soups and salads.

Ingredients

  • 1 Medium parsnip
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder

Directions

Step 1 Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 2 Peel the parsnip and discard the skins. Using a vegetable peeler, scrape thin wafers down the length of the parsnip. Keep shaving the parsnip until you reach the woody core. Throw this away.
Step 3 Pour the oil into a bowl and mix in the curry powder. Toss the parsnip shavings in the seasoned oil to coat them fully.
Step 4 Spread the parsnip shavings in a single layer on a baking tray.
Step 5 Bake in the 400 degree F. oven for 5 minutes. Turn them at this point, and return them to the oven for another 5 to 10 minutes. Check the parsnip crisps frequently, since they can burn easily.
Step 6 Transfer the cooked crisps to a layer of paper towels to cool.
Step 7 Serve as a snack, or use to garnish soups and salads.

Happy snacking.

 

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

 

Irish American Mom

Parsnip and Apple Soup

Parsnips and apples, with a hint of curry, compliment each other perfectly in this creamy soup.

The pairing of parsnips with apples intensifies their sweetness, with an added underlying warmth from the curry powder, making this soup truly satisfying.

I love curry flavor, like many Irish people.  A teaspoon of mild curry powder, a hint of ginger and black pepper create a mildly spicy flavor level, but rest assured, this isn’t an overly hot soup, merely one that tantalizes the taste buds.

Parsnip and apple soup with curried parsnip chips

Heavy rain and blustery winds are always a reminder the season for hats, scarves and gloves is just around the corner. But as the colder days of winter beckon, there’s always comfort to be found in the kitchen.

The right soup is perfect comfort food. There is something reassuring about holding a mug of warm soup, blowing gently to cool it before it works its magic, warming the heart.

Parsnip and apple soup is smooth and creamy, and for me is certainly one of the best comforting soups in my recipe box.

Parsnips appear to be far less popular in America than they are in Ireland. They are a staple on most Irish dinner menus, and I remember eating them at least once a week when I was a kid in Ireland.

And so, I decided why not make a parsnip soup…. or for some crazy reason, my brain keeps saying parsnip snoup.

Anyway, here’s my recipe …..

Ingredients for parsnip and apple soup

Ingredients:

 

  • 2 oz butter
  • 3 large parsnips
  • 1 medium apple (Granny Smith or a cooking apple if you’re in Ireland)
  • 1 medium potato (or 2 small potatoes)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • salt and plenty pepper to season

 

Directions:

 

This is a very simple soup. Start by peeling and chopping the shallots into slices. Peel and dice the potatoes and parsnips into 1 inch pieces.

Sweating vegetables - parsnips, shallots and potato

The first step involves sweating the vegetables. If you need to learn more about the technique of sweating vegetables, check out my post on soup making tips.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the chopped shallots, parsnips and potato.

I use shallots rather than an onion, since their flavor is a little milder, but if you can’t get your hands on shallots, one onion will work just fine.

For this soup in particular I like to add the spices before sweating the vegetables. This helps deepen the spicy flavors in the finished soup.

So, stir in the curry powder and ginger and mix the vegetables so they are completely coated in the spices.

Cover the pan and sweat the vegetables over medium heat for 10 minutes. Shake the pan occasionally to prevent sticking, but avoid lifting the lid and allowing the trapped steam escape.

Adding broth to parsnip soup

Add the stock and simmer for 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

I like to add a good dash of pepper to this soup, but seasoning is a very personal step in any recipe. For my palate, pepper seems to compliment the flavor of the parsnips.

Adding chopped apple to parsnip soup

Next, add the chopped apple and simmer the soup for a further 10 minutes.

Parsnip soup prior to blending

Turn off the heat and allow the soup to cool slightly.

I love how the apple pieces just bob and bounce on the surface of the soup.

Adding cream to parsnip and apple soup

Purée the soup until the texture is completely smooth using an immersion blender or in batches using a liquidizer or blender.

Add the cream to the soup and mix through. Reheat gently, without boiling, before serving.

Parsnip, apple and curry soup in a shamrock bowl

And there, you have it – a simple soup made with a favorite Irish vegetable. I love to serve this soup with curried parsnip chips as a garnish – they’re simply delicious.

Here’s my printable recipe:

Parsnip and Apple Soup

Serves 6
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 50 minutes
Total time 1 hours, 10 minutes
Meal type Soup
Parsnips and apples, with a hint of curry, compliment each other perfectly in this creamy soup. The pairing of parsnips with apples intensifies their sweetness, with an added underlying warmth from the curry powder, making this soup truly satisfying.

Ingredients

  • 2oz butter
  • 2 shallots
  • 3 parsnips
  • 1 apple (Granny Smith or a cooking apple)
  • 1 potato (1 medium or 2 small)
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder (add extra for increased spiciness)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • salt and pepper to season

Directions

Step 1 Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the chopped shallots, parsnips and potato.
Step 2 Stir in the curry powder and ground ginger. Cover the pan and sweat the vegetables over medium heat for 10 minutes. Shake the pan occasionally to prevent sticking, but avoid lifting the lid and allowing the trapped steam escape.
Step 3 Add the stock and simmer for 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Step 4 Add the chopped apple and simmer for a further 10 minutes.
Step 5 Turn off the heat and allow the soup to cool slightly. Purée until smooth using an immersion blender or in batches using a liquidizer or blender.
Step 6 Add the cream to the soup and mix through. Reheat gently, without boiling, before serving.

Wishing you all happy soup making during these chilly days of fall and winter.

 

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

 

Irish American Mom

 

P.S. My Irish shamrock soup bowl was made by Colm De Ris, an Irish potter.