Acclaimed Galway-based chef Jp McMahon wrote The Irish Cookbook, which includes more than 500 home-cooked recipes, to showcase the island’s range and bounty of dishes inspired by the sea, the pastures and the forests.
“We have neglected our wild food, our seaweed, our games … which we have been eating for over 10,000 years,” says McMahon, who is culinary director of several award-winning Galway restaurants including Cava Bodega, Tartare Café + Wine Bar, and Aniar, which has received a Michelin star every year since 2013. “We have also downplayed the rich tradition of immigration to this country. … Each wave of people – from the Celts, Vikings, Normans, Anglo-Saxons, French and English, to name a few – have given [Irish cuisine] new meaning.”
In writing the book, he set out to investigate the origins and influences on Irish food. The humble potato, of course, gets a nod but only a cursory one since “it came to the island relatively late in the country’s history and has only been at the forefront for the last couple hundred years after the famine.”
McMahon looks back as well as forward and he features the traditional (Bacon and Cabbage, as well as Dingle Pies), and introduces new takes on classic dishes (Crab Claws with Seaweed and Samphire.) He also reaches back into his own upbringing and shares the simple recipe for his Great-Aunt Kay’s Fruit Crumble.
“Served warm with cream it was delicious. The combination of sweet fruit, chewy crumble and freshly whipped cream will be forever marked in my memory as a moment of joy.”
My Great-Aunt Kay’s Fruit Crumble
- 1 lb 2 oz prepared fruit (about 4 cups) such as apple, rhubarb, plums or blackberries
- ½ cup caster (superfine) sugar
- 5 oz self-raising flour (1¼ cups all-purpose flour mixed with 1¾ teaspoons baking powder)
- 5½ tablespoons butter
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Coat the fruit with half the sugar and place in an ovenproof dish.
To make the crumble (crumb topping), rub the flour and butter together with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Fold in the rest of the sugar.
Cover the fruit with the crumble and bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes until golden brown.
My Great-Aunt Kay’s Fruit Crumble adapted from The Irish Cookbook by Jp McMahon (Phaidon, $59.95, 2020).
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