There must be something about Ireland or Irish that fascinates me quite a bit. In my previous post, here, I wrote briefly about watching one of the most spectacular shows I have ever watched live in years. It was none other than Riverdance – The International Irish Dancing Phenomenon, that made a breakthrough during an interval appearance at The 1994 Eurovision Song Contest in Dublin. Without a doubt, the success of Riverdance was by far the most commercially successful Eurovision ever.
And by the way, Ireland has the highest number of wins at the Eurovision Song Contest. A magnificent 7!
When Riverdance became 20 years old this year, they made their Anniversary Tour round the globe, which included performing at Brussels Expo. I was really glad that we could get 4 tickets for the show, albeit sitting on a high and distant balcony from the stage *grin*
In hindsight, I wished I had brought a pair of binoculars that evening. These blurry pictures remained forever in my archived picture folder.
I was completely blown away by the mesmeric sound of the unison rapid tapping of leg and foot movements. At some point of time, I felt like rushing down the balcony and climbing up the stage and joined the dance troupe. I bet I would be squashed like a fly in split second. LOL!
When Irish Eyes Are Smiling
Funny how this tune kept playing and re-playing in my head. I used to hear my late Dad singing this lighthearted song in his bass voice while plucking and strumming the guitar. My Mum would sing along in her angelic voice. Beautiful!
By the way, there’s not a hint of Irish blood in my family. Far from it!
Although the alma mater of my Dad, my grandfather and my great-grandfather was founded by the Mill Hill Missionaries of London, it was later that my brothers and I went to the same alma mater (St Joseph’s) that came under the principalship of the Lasallian Brothers from Ireland.
St Joseph’s School in Kuching is an all-boys school, with admission of girls only in the 6th Form. It is one of the most sought-after premier schools of Sarawak, acing in both academic and co-curricular activities. I believe it is the only school in Kuching that still carries the school motto in Latin “Ora et Labora” (Pray and Work).
Pray and work we did under the capable wings of the smiling eyes of the Irish La Salle Brothers. It has been a privilege to be a Josephian, and of course prior to that, a Teresian. You can read the full write-up of my alma mater of 11 years and 3 days, HERE
Feeling somewhat “Irish”, I decided to make this hybrid of bread, flatbread and scone- type bun, called “Boxty”. The word boxty is derived from the Gaelic word aran bocht ti, which means “poor house bread” by making use of the most famous Irish staple – the potato!
The main ingredients in a Boxty included boiled mashed potatoes, raw grated potatoes, flour, baking powder/soda, (butter)milk and salt. There are 3 different ways of preparing boxty, ie pan boxty (pancake/ flatbread-type), baked boxty (loaf or bun) and boiled boxty (dumplings). Recently, I made boxty in the oven, hence, baked boxty (bun-type).
A boxty dish is rather plain and bland; hence, I spiked mine with fresh herbs and aromatic salt. Lovely!
It’s a really easy recipe to follow. I could swear the chance of failure is almost ZERO. No proofing necessary. No stand or hand mixer necessary. Just mix all the ingredients and knead the dough briefly. That’s IT! It’s easy peasy and delightfully wholesome, tasty and moreish.
The recipe is adapted from the Dutch-translated cookbook called “100 recepten Brood” or in English, Bread – compilation of 100 recipes from Parragon Publishing (LoveFood), with my modification in blue. The name of the recipe is “Iers aardappelbrood” (Irish Potato Bread).
(Makes 4 medium-sized buns)
- 7 floury potatoes (about 800g) – I used the Boni Selection Kook-aardappelen “bloemig”(meaning floury, NOT waxy. I used 8 potatoes.
- 2 Tbsp salted butter (I used Solo, Bakken en Braden slightly salted butter, about 50g)
- 150 ml milk
- 2 tsp salt (I used 1 tsp of coarse sea salt, pounded finely with pestle and mortar and 1 tsp of Sel fin de Camargue aux Herbes)
- ½ tsp pepper ( I used black pepper, about 20 turns of the pepper mill)
- 1 ½ tsp dill or caraway seeds (I used one bunch of fresh chopped dill)
- 400 g plain flour, plus extra for rolling out and dusting
- 5 tsp baking powder (about 20g)
- Pre-heat the oven to 190 deg C. Peel 4 of the potatoes and cut into similar sizes. Instead of boiling the potatoes, I steamed the potatoes in the microwavable steaming basket for 9 minutes on 600W. Add the butter and mash the potatoes to a smooth puree.
- Peel the remaining potatoes and grate coarsely. Put the grated potatoes into a clean piece of muslin and squeeze out as much liquid or moisture as possible. Transfer the grated potatoes into a large bowl, adding the milk, fresh chopped dill, salt, freshly milled black pepper and the mashed potatoes. Mix to combine all the ingredients.
- Sift the flour and baking powder over the potato mixture. Mix to a smooth dough. If necessary, add a little more flour. For me, 400 g was perfect.
- Now, knead the dough lightly into a flattish round and divide the dough into “farls”, another Gaelic word meaning four quarters. Shape each quarter into a ball, and flatten to a thick-ish round and score or mark the top of the bun with a knife into 4 quarters, or a cross.
- Place the buns on a baking tray lined with baking or parchment paper. Bake for 40 minutes, or until well risen and golden brown. Let cool on a wire rack.
I must warn you that these baked boxties were quite dense and literally speaking, heavier (weight-wise) than a normal bun or bread. Boxty is quite versatile and can be served any way you want. I had my baked boxty served with a plate of homemade Salad Niçoise. YUMMY!
Boxty is listed as one of the notable Irish cuisines that it has inspired folk rhymes. The one below is dedicated to all the single ladies out there *wink*
Boxty on the griddle,
Boxty in the pan,
If you can’t bake boxty
Sure you’ll never get a man.
In my humble opinion, this great and simple dish is not only for single ladies, but also for young bachelors and an excellent dish for students and families on a frugal budget.
Because potato is the main ingredient in this dish, I will definitely link this post to Little Thumbs Up (July 2014 Event: POTATO), organised by Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids and Doreen or Mui Mui as she’s fondly called of My Little Favourite DIY. The July LTU is hosted by Jasline of Foodie Baker.
Boxty in the oven or the Irish Potato Bread is adapted from a little cookbook about bread making from all over the world. I would like to share a little bit of Irish with Joyce from Kitchen Flavours and everyone else who feels like having a boxty for breakfast, lunch, dinner or supper or just about any time of the day at Cook-Your-Books #14
These baked boxties are great with just about anything. I had mine with a plate of homemade Salad Niçoise. Perfect! You may want your boxty alongside a bowl of soup, as a snack or to pack in a picnic. The sky’s the limit! For this, I’m linking this post to Four Seasons Food hosted by Delicieux and Eat Your Veg. The July theme is Four Seasons Food goes Al Fresco, so hop along and check out the post HERE
I’ve not been linking to Beth Fish Reads’Weekend Cooking for quite a while. The last time I wanted to link a post to Beth’s blog, Mister Linky’s Magical Widgets was closed. Anyway, I have not been posting like a bullet train, but more so, a locomotive. Slowly but surely J. Do check out Beth Fish Read’s blog here
Since I have used fresh herbs in this boxty recipe, I’m also linking this post to Lavender and Lovage’s Cooking with Herbs July Challenge