Saturday is Saint Patrick's Day, so who better than Ireland's best-known food ambassador to bring a little luck in the kitchen by sharing recipes for the big day?
Darina Allen, known as "Ireland's Julia Child," did just that, on The Early Show Friday.
Full Coverage: St. Patrick's Day
The award-winning cookbook author and culinary teacher's latest book, "A Year at Ballymaloe Cookery School," has over 120 recipes featuring the best of the local produce in County Cork, where her school is located.
The flavorful, simple recipes Allen served up were from the spring section of the book and highlight produce coming into season. Allen writes that, "The approach of Spring promises new vegetables and fruits. Fresh green watercress and tender nettles and sorrel appear, and the slightly wary students learn to make delicious, iron-rich soups."
The foods of Ireland have often been described as "bland," primarily due to the prolific use of potatoes and cabbage. But Allen has been doing her best to educate people around the world that Irish cooking goes beyond those two staples and is delicious, varied, and easy.
Wild Garlic Soup
4 tablespoons butter
2 cups peeled and diced potatoes
1 cup diced onions
2 cups chopped wild garlic (bulbs and leaves)
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
5 cups Homemade Chicken Stock
About 1/2 cup cream or half-and-half
Garnish: Wild garlic flowers
Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. When it foams, add the potatoes, onions, and wild garlic, and toss in the butter until well coated. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover and sweat on low heat for ten minutes. Add the stock and cook until the vegetables are soft.
Puree the soup in a blender or food processor, then taste and adjust the seasoning. Add a little cream to taste. Serve hot, sprinkled with a few wild garlic flowers.
Sea Bass with Asparagus and Fennel
6 pieces of sea bass fillet, 6 ounces each, scaled but not skinned
Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
12 fresh asparagus spears
Extra virgin olive oil
1 Florence fennel bulb, trimmed and cut into diagonal slices
Colonna Granverde (lemon-flavored olive oil)
Garnish: Fennel leaves
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit; prepare a charcoal fire or heat a ridged cast-iron grill pan.
Trim the asparagus and peel the root end thinly with a swivel-top peeler. Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil, toss gently to coat, and season with sea salt. Roast in the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes.
Score the fillets quite deeply on the skin-side to prevent them from curling. Season with salt and pepper. Heat a thin film of olive oil in a nonstick skillet to just below smoking point. Place the fillets, skin-side down, in the skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes, until a nice crust forms. Turn the fillets over and complete cooking in the preheated oven-about 5-8 minutes, depending on their thickness.
Drizzle the fennel with extra virgin olive oil and turn gently to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Grill for 1-2 minutes on each side.
Arrange each piece of fish, skin-side up, on a hot plate. Drizzle a little Colonna Granverde over the fish. Surround with roasted asparagus, cut into smaller pieces at an angle, and slices of char-grilled fennel. Garnish with a few feathery fennel leaves and eat immediately.
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