A Weary Traveler, a Pint of Guinness and a Pot of Stew

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings*

Hotel Doolin
“Doolin Ale”

We arrived at the little inn in the tiny village of Doolin*, near the Cliffs of Moher, in the thick darkness of late evening, weary and hungry from traveling all day in the cold, rainy winds of an Irish November. With few options for replenishment, we stumbled back into the darkness, down the narrow road and entered into McGann’s, the local pub whose cozy warmth and Irish hospitality would keep us returning for the following two nights.

With the luck of the Irish on our side, we arrived just before the kitchen closed, sitting down at a table side fire and enjoying a magical, memorable evening of nourishing food (the best Guinness Beef Stew we’ve had), thirst-quenching pints of “Doolin Ale” and soulful live Irish music that one can only expect in a town that has been deemed the traditional music capital of Ireland.

In the spirit of All Things Irish, we share three recipes below to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.


*Rumor has it that Doolin inspired J.R.R. Tolkien in the creation of The Lord Of The Rings trilogy.

McGann's Pub Doolin Ireland

Beef and Guinness Stew (taken from the Simon Pearce cookbook, A Way of Living)

2 & 1/2 pounds of beef, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
3 tbsp. olive oil

Season the beef with salt and pepper. In a large stewpot, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and brown the beef in batches, adding 1 tablespoon olive oil to each batch, over medium high heat. Using slotted spoon, remove the beef from the pot and set aside.

3 carrots, peeled and sliced (blanch and set aside)

1 large onion
2-3 cloves garlic
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp. flour
1 bottle Guinness Stout
2-3 cups beef stock

Add onions and a small amount of olive oil to the stewpot and cook over medium heat until translucent. Once the onions are caramelized, add garlic, thyme, and bay leaf and cook for 5 minutes. Add flour and mix well. Add the browned beef back to the pot and add the Guinness. Bring to a boil and add beef stock. Bring the mixture back to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 1 &1/2 hours, or until the beef is tender. Add the carrots and adjust the seasonings before serving.

Guinness Beef Stew Recipe

Oven Roasted Potatoes (taken from the Simon Pearce cookbook, A Way of Living)

2 pounds small red potatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp. paprika

Cut potatoes in quarters.  In a bowl, toss potatoes with olive oil, salt, pepper, and paprika. Spread potatoes on a baking sheet in one layer (do not overcrowd). Roast for at least 1 hour in 400 degree F oven or until brown and crisp. Flip twice during cooking to brown every.

Cheddar Chive Scones (taken from the Standard Baking Company’s book Pastries)

Ingredients for the scones:
2 cups flour
1/3 cup Stone-Ground Cornmeal
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. coarsely ground pepper
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, chilled
1 Egg
3/4 cup half-and-half
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives
1 & 1/2 cups (about 6 ounces) grated sharp cheddar cheese

Ingredients for the topping:
1/4 cup Stone-Ground Cornmeal
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

Make the topping by combining the cornmeal, cheese, and pepper and mixing until the texture resembles a course meal. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt, and pepper. Break up any remaining lumps with your fingertips. Add the cubed butter and work it into the flour mixture using your fingertips until a few pea-size chunks of butter remain.

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and half-and-half. Pour into the flour mixture land, using your hands or a rubber spatula, fold everything together until the dry ingredients are evenly moistened. Add the chives and cheese and mix until just combined.

With an ice cream scoop, scoop a golf ball-size portion and dip it into the topping mixture to coat. Place on a greased baking sheet with the topping facing up. Repeat with the rest of the dough spacing about 2 inches apart.

Bake in 400 degree F oven for 20-25 minutes, rotating the baking sheet after 12 minutes for even baking. They will be golden brown and feel firm in the center when done. Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly before serving.

McGann's Pub Doolin Ireland

Chocolate Irish Cream Tart
Enjoy with a cup of delicious Irish coffee with baileys!

Ingredients for the chocolate filling:
1 cup plus 1/4 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate
1/8 cup whiskey
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 tsp. instant espresso powder
Pinch of Salt
3 eggs, separated
1/3 cup sugar

Ingredients for the ganache:
3 tablespoons Irish Cream liquor
3/4 cup chopped white chocolate
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
Bittersweet chocolate shavings, for garnish

Instructions for the chocolate filling:
Set aside the 1/4 cup of chocolate. Place the remaining chocolate in a medium bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Stir until the chocolate is completely melt. Remove the bowl from the heat.

Whisk in the whiskey. The mixture will be stiff initially, but will become smooth as you continue whisking. Whisk in the vanilla, espresso powder, salt, and yokes. Set aside.

In another bowl beat the egg whites on medium speed until they are frothy and opaque.

Gradually add the sugar, beating until the whites are stiff enough to hold a peak when you lift the whisk out of the mixture.

Gently fold 1/4 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture with a rubber spatula. Fold in half of the remaining whites, then the reserved 1/4 cup chopped chocolate, followed by the remaining whites.

Spoon the filling into the prepared tart shells, filling them 1/2 inch from the top. Place the filled tarts in the freezer for 2 hours, until firm.

Irish coffee with baileys
McGann’s Baileys Irish Cream Coffee

Instructions for the ganache:
In a small saucepan, heat the Irish cream to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the white chocolate. When the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth, transfer to a small bowl and set aside to cool.

When the mixture is completely cool, whisk in the butter. Refrigerate for about 5 minutes, remove from the refrigerator, and which again. Repeat in this manner, whisking until the ganache is light and creamy. Set it aside at room temperature.

For the Tart
Use Pepperidge Farms ready made frozen tarts or use a favorite recipe.

Baking and finishing the tarts:
Bake the tarts in a 350 degree F oven on a baking sheet for about 15-18 minutes. Be sure to rotate the baking sheet after 8 minutes, the filling will have puffed up and started to crack. Let tarts cool and then spoon about a tablespoon of the ganache on each tart and sprinkle with chocolate shavings.

Cooking, Baking & Riverdancing to Traditional Irish Tunes

In celebration of St. Patrick’s Day 2015, ATG is exploring “All Things Irish.” Below is a small sampling of some great Irish music to play (and dance to!) while cooking Shepherd’s Pie for dinner or baking Irish scones and cookies for teatime.  

A few of our favorite Irish songs: Patriots Game, Galway Bay, Irish Rover, Red is the Rose, Fields of Athenry, Shipping up to Boston (Dropkick Murphy’s), Carrickfergus, Mountain Dew, Finnegan’s Wake, Voyage (by Johnny Dunhan) and Toora-Loora-Looral (Irish Lullaby). You can also listen to other traditional Irish music.

best irish music

Shepherd’s Pie

1 pound ground beef
1 medium onion
1 large carrot, minced
1 &1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed
1/4 cup tomato paste
Several dashes of Worcestershire sauce
Butter and olive oil for sautéing
4 Russet potatoes for making mashed potatoes
1 – 2 cups grated good quality (Cabot or the Irish “Kerrygold”) cheddar cheese.

Sauté ground beef and onion in 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Add carrots, salt, pepper, worcestershire sauce and tomato paste and about 1/4 – 1/2 cup water, let simmer on low.

Meanwhile prepare mashed potatoes, set aside with lid on pot to keep warm.* Cook frozen corn in separate pot with a little salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon of butter.

To assemble the pie place the beef mixture on bottom of deep casserole dish, next the buttered and seasoned corn and finally finishing with the mashed potatoes on top.  Sprinkle with the cheddar cheese and bake in 375 degree oven for 20 – 25 minutes.

*Can stir 1 cup of cheddar cheese in mashed potatoes and then sprinkle 1 cup cheese on top before baking.

Shepherd's Pie Recipe

No Bake Chocolate Cookies

1 stick butter
1 & 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup peanut butter 1 tsp. vanilla
6 Tablespoons Hershey’s Cocoa (can use Hershey’s “Special Dark”)
3 Cups Oatmeal (McCann’s Irish Oatmeal is very good)

Mix the oatmeal and the cocoa in large bowl and set aside. Mix the butter, sugar, and milk in a saucepan and bring to a rolling boil and boil 1 minute. Take off heat immediately and stir in peanut butter and vanilla and then combine thoroughly with the oatmeal/cocoa mixture. Drop onto wax paper and let cool and set.

No bake cookie recipe

Grandma McIlhenny’s Old-Fashioned Raisin Filled Cookies (time consuming but delicious!)

For the dough:
1/2 cup sugar
1 stick butter, room temp.
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla 2 & 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon soda
Cream butter and sugar, add eggs and vanilla and combine with remaining dry ingredients.  Cover and chill 1 hour.

For the filling:
2 cups raisins finely chopped
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

Cook in saucepan on medium to low heat until sauce thickens.  Cool thoroughly.

Roll out dough on lightly floured wax paper very, very thin (1/8″). Use 3 & 1/2 inch round cookie cutter or rim of glass to cut out cookies and place on baking sheet. Place roughly 1 generous teaspoon of raisin mixture in middle of dough and fold over into the shape of a crescent moon. Press edges together. Brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar and bake in 400 degree oven for 8 – 10 min. Do not over bake to keep the outside of the cookies somewhat soft.

Tea time recipesCharlestown Raspberry Chocolate-Chip Scones

Kerrygold Pure Irish butter3 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 sticks butter, room temp.
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3 large eggs, room temp.
1/3 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt
1/2 – 1 cup chocolate chips
6 ounce container of fresh raspberries

Mix flour and baking powder in small bowl. Beat butter on high speed until creamy. Add sugar and beat 3-5 minutes until pale and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Add flour mixture; mix only until blended. Add buttermilk and mix only until blended. Sprinkle chips and raspberries over batter and fold in.

Scoop 1/3 cupfuls onto ungreased baking sheet. Loosely cover dough with plastic what and refrigerate about 45 minutes. Heat oven to 350 degrees when ready to bake, remove scones from fridge and bake 15 min. Turn baking sheet around and bake another 10 min. or so or until the scones are just beginning to brown on top. Do not over bake.

Glaze with confectioners sugar mixed with good quality orange juice. You can make the glaze as thick or as thin as desired by adding more or less juice.

Check out some more Irish recipes and ATG’s other Irish-themed posts about The Fighting IrishThe Luck of the IrishIrish American culture, Irish musicIrish movies and Irish American novels.

Vermont Cheddar Soup With Irish Scones

In celebration of St. Patrick’s Day 2015, ATG is exploring “All Things Irish” for the next couple weeks. Below are a couple recipes for a delicious Irish meal with some beautiful Irish music to cook to!

Cook and bake the following dishes to the tune of the Clancy Brother’s “Patriot’s Game“, a beautiful Irish song! (lyrics below) 

“I Need Vegetables” Salad (to be served with Vermont Cheddar Soup, below)

Take any vegetables your hungry heart desires, slice and dice, and arrange appetizingly on a pretty platter – red peppers, radishes, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, chick peas, carrots, celery, avocado, etc.  Sprinkle with a little lemon or lime juice, drizzle with EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil), a tiny bit of kosher salt, generous pepper and fresh basil. Enjoy!

Vegetable Salad recipe

Vermont Cheddar Soup (inspired by Simon Pearce’s* cheddar soup recipe)

½-1 cup of grated carrots
½ cup minced celery (optional)
½ – ¾ stick butter
1 medium onion, finely diced
1/4 cup flour
4 cups hot chicken stock
3 cups grated extra-sharp Vermont Cheddar Cheese
1 cup milk
¼ cup half-and-half or whipping cream
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Bay leaf
1 tsp. fresh thyme (Note: ATG did not have any fresh thyme and so did not use any spice and the soup was still delicious!)

Vermont Cheddar Soup Recipe

In a soup pot, melt butter over low to medium heat, add minced onion and sauté until onions are translucent. Lower heat and add flour a little at a time, stirring constantly and cooking until the “roux” begins to bubble. Add hot chicken stock one cup at a time, whisking until smooth. Add cheddar cheese one cup at a time until all cheese is melted. Add milk and cream, stir in carrots, celery, bay leaf (and thyme if desired) and salt and pepper to taste. Can garnish with fresh parsley, sprinkling of grated carrots or more grated cheese! Serve with “I Need Vegetables” Salad above and “Rory’s Irish Scones” below.

Rory’s Irish Scones (taken from the Simon Pearce* cookbook, A Way of Living)

4 cups King Arthur white flour
½ heaping teaspoon baking soda
1 tsp. salt
½ heaping tsp. sugar
2 cups buttermilk

Irish Scone Recipe

Sift all dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center of the dry mixture and add buttermilk. Mix together by hand until thoroughly combined (be careful not to overwork the dough, as this causes toughness). Turn out dough onto a well-floured surface and form into a large rectangle about 1 inch thick. Using a rolling pin and extra flour as needed, roll rectangle into a 3/4-inch thickness. Using a sharp knife, cut dough into nine strips about 1 inch wide, then cut each of the strips into six 1-inch squares. Lightly flour a large sheet pan and arrange the dough squares in nine rows of six, just barely touching. Bake in 400 degree F oven for 10 minutes, rotate the tray, and bake for 10 more minutes.

*To note: Simon Pearce is an Irish-American glassblowing and pottery entrepreneur who opened his first glassblowing workshop in Kilkenny, Ireland in 1971. His goal has been “to create products that are beautifully designed, produced with premium quality materials and time-honored techniques and intended for a lifetime of everyday use.” Please visit Simon Pearce’s website for more history and information.

Clancy Brothers – Patriot’s Game lyrics

Come all ye young rebels, and list while I sing, 

For the love of one’s country is a terrible thing. 

It banishes fear with the speed of a flame, 

And it makes us all part of the patriot game.

My name is O’Hanlon, and I’ve just turned sixteen. 

My home is in Monaghan, and where I was weaned 

I learned all my life cruel England’s to blame, 

So now I am part of the patriot game.

This Ireland of ours has too long been half free. 

Six counties lie under John Bull’s tyranny. 

But still De Valera is greatly to blame 

For shirking his part in the Patriot game.

They told me how Connolly was shot in his chair, 

His wounds from the fighting all bloody and bare. 

His fine body twisted, all battered and lame 

They soon made me part of the patriot game.

It’s nearly two years since I wandered away 

With the local battalion of the bold IRA, 

For I read of our heroes, and wanted the same 

To play out my part in the patriot game.

Check out ATG’s other Irish-themed posts about The Fighting IrishThe Luck of the IrishIrish American culture,  traditional Irish musicIrish movies and Irish American novels.