Georgina Campbell's Book Review - Clodagh's Irish Kitchen

Clodagh’s Irish Kitchen by Clodagh McKenna, with photography by Tara Fisher. Kyle Books, hardback, 256pp. RRP €25Clodagh’s Irish Kitchen by Clodagh McKenna, with photography by Tara Fisher. Kyle Books, hardback, 256pp. RRP €25

Well timed to hit the book shops just before St Patrick’s Day, Clodagh’s Irish Kitchen offers a nicely balanced collection of 150 upbeat traditional recipes presented with pzazz.

Wholesome and delicious, Clodagh McKenna has put together a great range of dishes with special little points of difference for every conceivable occasion from everyday suppers to weekend bakes and entertaining, some of which will be familiar to customers of her ‘Clodagh’s Kitchen’ restaurants.

Nicely on trend, they are designed to showcase the range and quality of Irish ingredients, including some foraged foods - in dishes like Wild Nettle Gnocchi with a Cashel Blue Sauce, and Fresh Dillisk Pasta for example - and there are some themed menus with matching ‘Tablescapes’, including a pretty Seashore one that’s perfect for a seafood and foreshore foraging menu.

The sample recipes given below could make a lovely special occasion meal for St Patrick’s Day that’s not hidebound by tradition - and there’s a beautiful green-themed tablescape with a Herb Table Runner to create a stunning setting for a party.


Colcannon Soup with Parsley PestoColcannon Soup with Parsley Pesto

This soup reinterprets the Irish classic ‘colcannon’, a dish that is made of mashed potatoes and kale or cabbage. You could add some pulled pork or pancetta to this soup if you wish. Delicious served with my Cheese and Rosemary Savoury Scones.

Serves 6

50g butter
300g potatoes, peeled and diced
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
800ml hot chicken or vegetable stock
400g cabbage, sliced
200ml single cream
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the parsley pesto
110g fresh flat-leaf parsley
150ml extra virgin olive oil
25g pine kernels, toasted
1 garlic clove, crushed
50g freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over a medium heat. Add the potatoes, onion, garlic and nutmeg. Stir, cover, and reduce the heat to low. Leave to sweat for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2 Add the stock and bring the heat up to high. Let the onion and potatoes cook in the stock until they are completely soft, then add the cabbage – the cabbage will take only 5 minutes to cook.

3 While the cabbage is cooking, place all the ingredients for the parsley pesto in a food processor and blend until you have a smooth consistency. Set aside.

4 When the cabbage has wilted, stir in the cream, then pour the soup into a blender and whiz to a smooth consistency. Season with salt and pepper. Return to the pan to warm through if required.

5 To serve, pour the soup into warmed bowls and garnish with a generous drizzle of parsley pesto

Crispy Chicken with a Creamy Irish Whiskey and Wild Mushroom SauceCrispy Chicken with a Creamy Irish Whiskey and Wild Mushroom Sauce

We serve this dish in my restaurant in Dublin, Clodagh’s Kitchen, during the cold winter months, and it’s akin to a big, warm hug in your tummy! The sweet sharpness of the Irish whiskey cuts through the cream and earthy wild mushrooms. Serve with any variation of my Creamed Potatoes.

Serves 4
2 tablespoons olive oil
20g butter
2 garlic cloves, whole
4 supreme chicken fillets, skin on
Creamed Potatoes of your choice, to serve
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the sauce
50g butter
2 shallots, finely chopped
300g wild mushrooms
100ml Irish Whiskey
300ml single cream
1 tablespoon finely chopped tarragon

1 Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4.

2 Heat the oil and butter in an ovenproof frying or griddle pan over a medium heat. Add the garlic cloves and place the chicken fillets, skin-side down, in the frying pan. Season with salt and pepper.

3 Leave the chicken to crisp for 2 minutes, then turn over and repeat on the other side. Next, place the pan in the oven for 20 minutes. The whole garlic cloves will add a very slight flavour to the chicken.

4 While the chicken is cooking, make the sauce. Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat. Stir in the shallots and wild mushrooms, and cook for three minutes, stirring all the time. Then pour in the whiskey and turn up the heat. Leave to simmer until the whiskey has reduced by half.

5 Stir in the cream and tarragon. Season with salt and pepper, reduce the heat to low and cook for a further 5 minutes.

6 Once the chicken is cooked, remove from the oven. If you like, slice each fillet into 4 pieces, otherwise leave whole.

7 Divide the creamed potato between warmed plates, then arrange the sliced crispy chicken around the potato and spoon the whiskey and wild mushroom sauce on top.


Salted Caramel Whiskey Bread and Butter Pudding with Raisins Salted Caramel Whiskey Bread and Butter Pudding with Raisins

You could say that I grew up on bread and butter pudding. My mum or dad would prepare it at least once every two weeks. It is so simple to make and great for using up stale bread. I believe that it can also be a very elegant dish – in fact, I served this very recipe at my pop-up restaurant in NYC a few years back, and it was the most requested dessert on the menu. I wasn’t surprised! The salted caramel whiskey sauce is addictive and could also be poured over ice cream to make an Irish sundae. This pudding can be made up to a day in advance and warmed through in the oven before serving.

Serves 6

100g raisins
120ml Irish whiskey
5 large eggs
480ml double cream
225g granulated sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8–9 slices of firm white bread, crusts left on
400g unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
For the salted caramel whiskey sauce
110g unsalted butter, cubed
225g granulated sugar
1 dessertspoon sea salt
600ml double cream

1 In a medium mixing bowl, combine the raisins and whiskey, and leave to soak for 1 hour.

2 In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla to make a custard. Spread one side of each slice of bread with butter. Cut the slices in half diagonally and arrange half the bread in the bottom of the prepared baking dish, overlapping the slices. Drain the raisins and sprinkle half over the bread. Repeat with the remaining bread and raisins. Pour the custard over the bread and let it soak for 30 minutes.

3 Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6. Butter a 22cm square non-reactive baking dish.

4 Place the baking dish in a large baking pan. Add enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the dish. Bake for 50– 60 minutes, or until the pudding is set and the top is golden. Remove the baking dish from the water bath and leave to cool slightly on a wire rack.

5 To make the salted caramel whiskey sauce, melt the butter in a small saucepan over a medium heat. Whisk in the sugar, salt, cream and whiskey. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the sauce thickens. Serve the pudding warm with the salted caramel whiskey sauce spooned over the top.

Guinness CakeGuinness Cake

This cake can only be described as dark and majestic. The bitterness of the Guinness is balanced by the sugar and the vanilla icing adds a fluffy lightness to balance it perfectly. I make this at my restaurant, Clodagh’s Kitchen, using a locally brewed stout called O’Hara’s, which is similar to Guinness. If you don’t like stout, worry not – you will like this cake! The caramel and coffee flavours make this cake one of the best that I have ever made or eaten… Trust me!

Serves 10

260g unsalted butter
300ml Guinness
100g cocoa powder
2 free-range eggs
420g caster sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
180ml buttermilk
300g plain white flour
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
For the icing
100g unsalted butter, softened
300g icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
300g full-fat cream cheese

1 Preheat the oven to 170°C/gas mark 3. Line the base of a 30cm round springform cake tin with baking parchment.

2 To make the cake, heat the butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat until melted. Stir in the Guinness, then remove from the heat and stir in the cocoa powder.

3 In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, vanilla essence and buttermilk, and then slowly add the Guinness mixture, whisking all the time.

4 In a separate large bowl, sieve together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder. Using an electric whisk, slowly pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and keep whisking until it is all well combined.

5 Transfer the mixture to the prepared cake tin and bake for approximately 45 minutes. Test to make sure the cake is cooked by inserting a dry skewer into the middle of the cake – if it comes out clean, the cake is cooked. Set aside to cool a little, then remove from the tin and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

6 Meanwhile, make the icing by blending all the ingredients together using an electric hand whisk until light and fluffy.

7 Place the cake on a plate and generously spread the icing on top. The cake will keep for up to 1 week in an airtight container.

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