Margaret M. Johnson's Blog (129)

A Chocolate Treat for Valentine's Day -- and Beyond

Valentine’s Day was first associated with romantic love in the circle of poet Geoffrey Chaucer, when the tradition of courtly love was very much in vogue. The day evolved into an occasion where lovers expressed their feelings for each other by giving flowers, sending cards, and offering confectionery, especially…

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Added by Margaret M. Johnson on February 13, 2017 at 10:00am — No Comments

Pre-Valentine's Midwinter Supper, Starring, Ahem, 'Honey' Wine

 I usually try to post a recipe that’s tied to a holiday or a seasonal ingredient but, frankly, since we’re between Super Bowl Sunday and Valentine’s Day, I’m just going to suggest a simple midwinter pork chop dish that I think you’ll enjoy. The pork is flavored with the ancient honey wine known as mead…

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Added by Margaret M. Johnson on February 6, 2017 at 9:30am — No Comments

Ploughman's Lunch Makes Super Meal For Super Bowl!

A ploughman’s lunch is a traditional salad made with sliced meats — most often chicken, turkey, ham, or roast beef — and cheddar cheese, coleslaw, or chutney. Popular in the United Kingdom as well as in Ireland, the salad is open to wide interpretation but always includes a good piece of cheese and sometimes even slices…

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Added by Margaret M. Johnson on January 30, 2017 at 1:30pm — No Comments

Sidle Up To Hot, Delicious Seafood Chowder

When the wind whips, as is often the case in January and February, a bowl of soup is a welcome offering at lunch or dinner. When it’s creamy, rich, seafood-laden chowder, it’s even better! This recipe, which originally appeared in my Irish Pub Cookbook and makes another appearance in Favorite Flavors of…

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Added by Margaret M. Johnson on January 23, 2017 at 2:00pm — 2 Comments

In Praise of the Pratie -- World-Class Bacon-Potato Cakes

I’ve come to the conclusion that potatoes are really the stuff of greatness and no more so than in a potato cake, to which any number of other ingredients can be added — bacon, cheese, herbs to name a few. A perfect side-dish, this recipe originated at Oliver St. John Gogarty’s Pub, 58-59 Fleet Street,…

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Added by Margaret M. Johnson on January 17, 2017 at 3:30pm — 4 Comments

Eggs For Supper!

When I’m really stuck for a quick supper, I turn to eggs! Not fried, poached, or scrambled, but to what the French (and the Irish) call a tart or a quiche. While many use the term interchangeably, the main difference, I’m told, is the amount of egg mixture that’s poured into the pastry base: a quiche uses more eggs, while a…

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Added by Margaret M. Johnson on January 9, 2017 at 7:00pm — 3 Comments

It's Casserole Season -- Here's One With Irish Cider!

If it’s January, then it’s time for warming casseroles that are both flavorful and easy to prepare. This dish gets a double dose of apple flavor from both tart Granny Smith apples and smooth Magners Irish Cider, produced in Ireland since 1935 from 17 varieties of apples. The sage adds a savory touch, a nice complement…

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Added by Margaret M. Johnson on January 2, 2017 at 8:30am — No Comments

Food For The Week Between

After all the Christmas cooking — and the Christmas eating — it’s not easy to think about a recipe for the week between two major holidays. But unless you’re planning to start your diet this week, you will still need a few more meals before New Year’s Day, and this one is not only quick and easy but it’s a good way to…

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Added by Margaret M. Johnson on December 26, 2016 at 9:00am — No Comments

Eggnog, Crimson Mimosas -- These Favorites Light Up Yuletide!

From traditional to trendy, mulled wine to mimosas, ‘tis the season for all things hot, cold, and boozy. Merry Christmas to all!

BOGO: It’s not too late to buy a signed copy of my Christmas Flavors of Ireland cookbook and receive a complimentary copy of Favorite Flavors of Ireland. Order at…

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Added by Margaret M. Johnson on December 19, 2016 at 11:00am — 1 Comment

Making Merry With Mincemeat

Mincemeat, a mixture of chopped dried fruits, spices, and spirits, is one of Ireland’s most popular Christmas foods. It was developed more than 500 years ago in England as a way of preserving meat without salting or smoking. Some early recipes for mincemeat used suet, veal or mutton, and gradually cooks added…

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Added by Margaret M. Johnson on December 12, 2016 at 11:00am — No Comments

More Delicious Scents Of The Season!

For one more gingerbread-inspired holiday treat, try this rich, spicy pear and ginger cake reminiscent of an upside-down cake your mother might have made. This recipe starts with a raisin-studded pear and caramel bottom that’s topped with gingerbread. After you flip it, serve it with whipped or clotted cream and a light…

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Added by Margaret M. Johnson on December 5, 2016 at 3:00pm — 1 Comment

Gingerbread Helps Make Scents of the Season

Gingerbread men, gingerbread houses, even the smell of ginger signals that the Christmas season is upon us. Made from sugars and spices brought back from the Middle East by soldiers returning from the Crusades, gingerbread first appeared in central Europe in the Middle Ages. Monks baked gingerbread for religious…

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Added by Margaret M. Johnson on November 29, 2016 at 8:00am — 4 Comments

Leftover Heaven!

A great way to use up leftovers from Thursday’s turkey is to make a potpie laden with potatoes, carrots, and peas. (Add mushrooms if you like.) This recipe is a popular post-Thanksgiving dish in the United States and a year-round favorite in homes and restaurants throughout Ireland. Try the Spiced Cranberry…

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Added by Margaret M. Johnson on November 21, 2016 at 11:30am — No Comments

Countdown to the Holidays: Crazy for Cranberries

If you’ve tried every possible recipe for cranberry desserts and are looking for something new, you’ll love this one! Similar to an Italian panforte, a classic fruitcake-like confection loaded with nuts, dried fruit, and spices (the name means “strong bread”), this is a pleasant departure. It’s delicious with coffee,…

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Added by Margaret M. Johnson on November 14, 2016 at 10:00am — No Comments

Countdown To The Holidays: More Smoked Salmon Ideas

For the festive season, serve hot- or cold-smoked salmon on mini potato pancakes or in crispy bread baskets. Top the pancakes with a dollop of sour cream or crème frâiche and a sprinkling of fresh chives; try tangy horseradish-mustard cream on the baskets. You’ll find these holiday recipes and more like them in my…

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Added by Margaret M. Johnson on November 7, 2016 at 6:30am — No Comments

Counting Down To The Holidays

Happy November! I’m purposely posting today so I can shock you into thoughts of the coming holidays: Thanksgiving in 24 days and Christmas, well, you know when that is! Shopping aside, it’s also time to start planning holiday foods, and what better ingredient than Irish smoked salmon for both. You might want to…

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Added by Margaret M. Johnson on November 1, 2016 at 7:30am — No Comments

Celebrate Samhain

The ancient Celtic harvest feast called Samhain (pronounced SAH-win) is celebrated October 31-November 1, marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter, the “darker half” of the year. It was suggested in the late 19th century that it was the “Celtic New Year,” and over time, Samhain and All…

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Added by Margaret M. Johnson on October 25, 2016 at 4:00am — No Comments

Baking Season Elicits a Hearty Bravo!

There’s something about mid-October that I love — the weather, the thought that Halloween (and Thanksgiving) is right around the corner, and baking breads like this “brack,” a fruity loaf from the Quay House, in Clifden, County Galway. Dating from about 1820, it’s the town’s oldest building, was originally a…

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Added by Margaret M. Johnson on October 17, 2016 at 10:00am — 1 Comment

Perfect Pears, Part II

Delicious on their own, pears are also a wonderful ingredient in recipes from sweet-tart salads to sweeter-than-sweet pies and tarts. They’re great partnered with blue cheese — Kerrygold’s Cashel Blue…

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Added by Margaret M. Johnson on October 10, 2016 at 6:30am — No Comments

Perfect Pears, Part I

There are over 3,000 known pear varieties grown around the world, each with a distinctive character, texture, and flavor. The most popular and recognizable pears are the yellow Bartlett, egg-shaped Anjou, graceful Bosc, pudgy Comice, and tiny Forelle. Crisp, crunchy, and sweet, U.S.-grown pears are harvested from the…

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Added by Margaret M. Johnson on October 3, 2016 at 2:30pm — 1 Comment

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