Atwood’s Book Review: Cookbooks: Irish Traditional Cooking

La Fhéile Pádraig Shona Daoibh!!  Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!

I have confused ancestors on my Father’s side. Way back when, many left Scotland to live in Ireland. Some went back to Scotland, and some came to America. Because of all this traveling, when I attempted to research my genealogy on that side of the family, I would run into some sources saying they are Scottish and the rest insisting they are Irish. I see it as a win-win situation. I can claim the best of both worlds and heritages!

Irish Traditional Cooking by Darina Allen is a delight for all Americans from Irish Heritage and for everyone else who loves to eat in a hearty way! Most Americans when they think Irish food, they think only of corned beef and cabbage and boiled potatoes. This book is so much more!!


I had ordered this book for a friend’s birthday. She is very proud of her Irish roots and I thought this book from a quick review was perfect. When it arrived I peeked in it attempting not to open it all the way and ruin the brand new look. I instantly became fascinated and delighted! Not only were there many recipes, and it was beautifully illustrated, it was also chock-full of Irish history. You know me: I love history.



I did manage to get the recipe for Guinness Beef stew copied, and made. It was delicious…though I did add more vegetables than the traditional directions suggested.








I finally had to give up and order my own copy in order to see the full text. I am so glad I did.

Yes, there is the usual chapter on cooking potatoes and corned beef and cabbage, but there is also 30 pages of fish/shellfish recipes! For those who gave up meat for Lent, you are in luck! I am not a big fish fan, but the details on how to make Rainbow Trout in Spinach Butter Sauce caught my attention! How about cooking cockles? You know from the nursery rhyme -Mary Mary Quite Contrary – …With silver bells and cockle shells….?

Other chapters focus on Beef, Pork, Dairy, Lamb, Breads and Jam. Then there is the chapter on how to cook wild game birds, venison, rabbit, and duck. Another chapter is about cooking foraged food such as wild mushrooms, fruit, seaweed and moss.

Full disclosure, there is a chapter called “Offal” which means the entrails and internal organs of an animal used as food. Here you will find how to cook pigtails, ox tongue, blood pudding and such. Not really interested in any of that, I tended to skip past it. If that kind of food is to your liking,  you will find plenty of dishes to try.

If you are a vegetarian or vegan, don’t bother getting this book. Even the wonderful vegetable recipes, and there are many, are paired with bacon or stock. Seems bacon factors into many of the book’s dishes. If you are a fan of bacon, you struck the mother load of recipes!

What really sold me on this book: Each chapter highlights food history and information about the food culture of Ireland. After that you will find each recipe introduced with a first person account about what part of Ireland that dish comes from, or who passed on the recipe, or an obscure tidbit about the ingredients. Those are a lot of fun to read. It makes the whole book feel cozy and personal.

If you are not into history, don’t worry. You can easily skip past those parts and get to the how-to of the recipes. I can’t wait to try making Roast Beef with homemade Horseradish Sauce, Bacon and Cabbage, Pan Poxty or Fadge. Don’t tell my cardiologist! Though, I bet you will also be fascinated by the commentary, the photographs, and the history.








If you try any of the recipes from this book, be sure and share them on our Maplewood Press Facebook page!

The ceramic soup mug in the above stew photo is hand made by

Need some more Irish history? Take a peek at another article in the archives.







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