I have so many Irish stories that I could sit here all day, telling them. That is one of my most enduring, favorite parts of the Irish people I met while I was in Ireland — the stories. They’re a nation full of storytellers, warm and open, hilarious and boisterous. I felt at home there.
Later, maybe tomorrow, I can fill this space with stories of driving across Ireland in a rented green car, of a St. Patrick’s Day parade in a tiny coastal village involving senior citizens dressed as Barbies, and playing on a softball team with Irish players, all of them smoking and not giving a rat’s arse about the game, just waiting for it all to be over so we could go back to the Broadway Dive, drink Guinness, and sing along to U2 as we sat on the barstools.
And then, there’s always James Joyce.
“And yes I said yes I will yes.”
But for now, I’m just going to share this recipe I concocted yesterday, based off a dozen recipes for Irish soda bread I’ve been studying the last few days. I’m making an Irish feast for friends tonight. I won’t be serving corned beef and cabbage. That’s just for Americans, the same ones who wear shamrock stickers on their cheeks and enormous green top hats. Instead, there will be whiskey cheddar cheese, a fresh herb salad, a lamb and beef stew, champ, and a strawberry pie. (That last one probably isn’t Irish, but it’s finally spring, and I want to celebrate.) We’ll be eating hunks of this bread with our cheese, laughing and telling stories.
Tomorrow, there will be more. Finnegan, begin again.
GLUTEN-FREE IRISH SODA BREAD
adapted from a Whole Foods recipe
I may not have eaten corned beef and cabbage in Ireland, but I certainly had my share of soda bread. Dense and flaky at the same time, slightly sweet and the perfect bread for crumbly cheddar cheese, this gluten-free soda bread tastes a little like a big scone, and a lot like home.
one cup sweet rice flour
three-quarter cup teff flour
one-quarter cup tapioca flour
one tablespoon sugar
one teaspoon xanthan gum
one teaspoon baking soda
one teaspoon baking powder
one cup golden raisins, soaked in hot water for fifteen minutes
one cup buttermilk
six tablespoons butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a small souffle dish for a round loaf or nine-by-five-by-three-inch loaf pan (the standard size) for a square loaf.
Put all the dry ingredients into a large bowl and stir them together until you have a consistent mixture.
In a second, smaller bowl, mix all the wet ingredients together. Make a small well in the dry ingredients, then slowly pour the wet ingredients into the well, then stir until just combined. The dough will be quite sticky, but it should not be too dry.
Form the dough into the shape you desire, then place it in the baking pan. Bake for thirty minutes or so, or until a butter knife inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean.