Irish cuisine has evolved through the ages and with St Patrick’s celebrations around the corner, this week I am sharing a few recipes from my Irish fellow blogger and friend, Conor Bofin.

Conor is a multi-award winning food blogger; his blog ‘One Man’s Meat’ has won Best Food Blog in Ireland twice, as well as Best Overall Blog in Ireland. He is an enthusiastic cook who writes and photographs his own work.

We now have a truly rich and vibrant food culture here on the Emerald Isle

The chef is based in Dublin and runs Firstcom, a brand development, web and marketing company and, when he is not behind his desk or in his kitchen, he can be often found cycling in the Wicklow Mountains.

Conor says that the principal reason behind the lack of traditional culinary diversity in Ireland is tied to history. He adds: “We were, for a long time, a peasant nation, eating potatoes to survive. We barely subsisted on small holdings, while absentee landlords extracted what wealth the country had. However, today we do have some incredible, natural assets and, in more recent times, we have been able to use our innate creativity to bring out the very best of our available food resources. We now have a truly rich and vibrant food culture here on the Emerald Isle.”

Irish Seafood Chowder and Scones

For the chowder you will need:
1 kilo of salmon
Half a kilo of cod
Half a kilo of smoked haddock
8 to 10 prawns
2 big onions
6 carrots
4 stalks of celery
2 bay leaves
4 or 5 large potatoes
1 litre real vegetable stock
1 litre prawn stock
Salt and pepper to flavour
Creme fraiche and a few sprigs of thyme for garnish

Put the vegetable stock and prawn stock in a big pot. Chop the vegetables up nice and small. Add them to the pot holding back the onions, two carrots, one celery stalk and two potatoes. Heat it up and reduce it by about a third. This will intensify the flavours and cook the vegetables. Taste it and season as appropriate.

Next, sweat the onions. Chop the fish. Add the onions to the other vegetables in the stock. Take the vegetables off the cooker and add them to your blender. Blend it until smooth and put it back in the saucepan.

Add the uncooked vegetables into the saucepan and heat gently for 30 minutes.

For the scones you will need:
450g plain flour
450g wholemeal flour
100g wheat bran
50g butter
500ml buttermilk
A generous teaspoon of baking powder
1 tbs honey

Sift the flours and dry ingredients into a big bowl. Add the salt. Pour in the buttermilk. Add the honey and butter. Transfer everything to the food mixer and blend well. Remove from the mixer and roll out. Cut out the scones by using a sharp cutter; bake for 30 to 40 minutes at 200°C.

Serve with the chowder while still warm.

Whiskey Marmalade Steamed Pudding

You will need:
3 large eggs
150 g butter
150 g light brown sugar
175 g self-raising flour
2 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons marmalade
1 tablespoon whiskey
Extra butter for greasing the bowl

Soften the butter and beat it with the sugar until the mixture is well-combined. Add the eggs. Beat. Add the flour. Beat. Add the milk to get a smooth consistency. Grease the bowl with butter.

Spoon a big dollop of whisky marmalade into a 1.2ltr bowl.

Add the pudding mixture and make a lid out of greaseproof paper and tinfoil. Tie with string. Place the pudding in a water bath. Place the water bath in a 200ºC oven for 50 minutes. Take the pudding out and let it cool a little. Turn the pudding out onto a serving plate. Conor serves this with cream.

Oat Crusted Monkfish Medallions

Conor serves these on a bed of minted peas; fresh broad beans when in season would also work. For two people you will need:
Half a kilo of monkfish
Flour for dusting
An egg for dipping
Porridge oats for coating
400g fresh peas
A few mint leaves
Salt and pepper to season
Oil and a little butter

First, trim the fish. Then, slice into nicely-sized medallions. Make a production line of seasoned flour, egg (beaten) and oats. This will make life simple, like the dish. Dip the medallions, one at a time in the flour. Next. dip them in the egg and then the oats.

Assemble on a plate before frying in a mixture of vegetable oil and butter over a very gentle medium heat. Cook just until the oats turn golden.

Steam the peas for a few minutes. Chop the mint leaves and add to the peas.

Roughly mash the peas, adding a knob of butter and salt and pepper to taste. Drain the fish on kitchen paper and serve on a bed of minted peas.

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