Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Guest Post from Crop Share Member Tara Johnston

Hello to all you fellow Nalls Crop Share foodies from the Johnston kitchen! If you’ve
seen a ginger couple roaming about and appropriately squealing with delight over Penny
the Pig, that would be the Mister & I. My ginger locks provide a foray into our guest
post, as my Irish ancestry and the time I spent studying in Ireland instilled in me a love
for Irish cuisine. Most of us tend to think of Irish cuisine as all heavy stews, fried foods
and, of course, potatoes. But the Irish were “locavores” long before it became trendy,
and they create beautiful and incredibly delectable dishes that would remind you of and
rival Provençal cuisine. While it’s not the most figure-friendly or fanciful dish, one
of my favourite traditional Irish dishes is colcannon. It’s essentially creamy, dreamy
mashed potatoes with cabbage and leeks and enough butter to drown a leprechaun. So
when I saw the giant head of cabbage in this week’s crop share, I knew exactly what
was on this week’s menu! Plus, colcannon is traditionally served on Halloween, not
for any spooky significance, but simply because the ingredients are fresh and readily
available this time of year. However, you can choose to leave a small portion out for the
faeries and ghosts to keep in their favour for another year, or even hide small charms in
the colcannon to bid good fortune on those who find them. Then again, I think you’d
be bidding choking upon someone, so maybe just worry about the faeries and ghosts.
There’s also some lore about single gals putting colcannon in a sock, tying it to their
doorknob, and the next man who walks through the door will be their husband. It’s only
crazy if it doesn’t work, right?

Also, due to food allergies, we’re a dairy & egg free household, so you’ll note that the
recipe below has been adapted for a dairy-free version (thus it’s also vegan!), but you can
use any milk or butter of your choosing. Colcannon pairs wonderfully with any entrée
you’d usually pair with standard mashed potatoes. We used ours to accompany a panko
& herb-crusted pork tenderloin, roasted with apples from the crop share.

(Adapted from The New Irish Table by Margaret M. Johnson)
Serves 4 to 6

1 lb cabbage, cored, quartered & chopped (used half of the giant crop share cabbage)

2 lbs boiling potatoes, peeled & cut into 2-inch pieces

1 large leek, including white & green parts, washed & sliced (be sure to trim both ends
and wash very thoroughly as leeks tend to hide lots of dirt in them)

1 cup rice milk (or your preferred milk or unsweetened milk substitute)

½ tsp ground nutmeg

8 Tbsp (1 stick) Earth Balance margarine (or your butter of choice, especially Kerrygold
Butter to be quite Irish), plus 2 more Tbsp cut into small pieces to dot top of colcannon
before serving.

Kosher salt & ground pepper to taste

In separate saucepans, cook the cabbage and potatoes in boiling water for about 12 to 15
minutes, or until potatoes are fork tender. Drain the cabbage and set aside, then drain
the potatoes, return to saucepan and mash. If you’re game for the workout of using a
hand masher, it works great with this recipe as having some chunks of potato give the
colcannon more texture and a more rustic feel. Once potatoes are mashed, fold in your

While your cabbage & potatoes are boiling, in a large sauté pan combine your leeks
and milk. Bring to a simmer and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the leeks are tender.
Sometimes I also like to throw in some diced, fresh chives at this point (There are no hard
and fast colcannon rules, each family has their own preferred ingredients, -- even thick-cut Irish bacon/rashers -- so have fun with it and make it your own!).

Add the leeks & milk, plus 8 Tbsp of margarine/butter to the cabbage & potatoes, mixing well until combined. Add salt & pepper to taste. Transfer to a serving bowl and dot the
top of the colcannon with 2 more Tbsp of margarine/butter.

Don’t forget to set out a portion on Halloween for the faeries and ghosts! And whatever
you and they don’t eat in one night, colcannon re-heats wonderfully…just maybe not the
bit you put in the sock.

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