Ambassador International recently released Margaret M. Johnson’s 11th cookbook, Favorite Flavors of Ireland. It has a lot to offer for this month’s Irish-themed celebrations as well as for dinners and parties throughout the year.
Johnson lives in Westhampton Beach and makes regular visits to her ancestral homeland to gather the best traditional recipes and chefs’ takes on traditional dishes that use the finest ingredients. Many of the colorful photos in the book were taken by the author.
Favorite Flavors contains some new recipes like Tomato Bread Puddings alongside some of Johnson’s favorite dishes from her past books. This is great because many of her favorites such as Spotted Dog, Colcannon and Carrot Soup are mine too—so I can just grab this book from my shelf and leave the rest of my “Johnson Library” in place. Reading this tome I was reminded to stock up on Kerrygold Irish butter and cheeses, sultans (golden raisins), leeks, buttermilk, Irish whiskey, molasses and self-rising flour. Spoiler alert: Corned Beef and Cabbage is NOT the most Irish of meals.
Johnson includes many insider tips and facts, such as that American bacon has 65% more fat than Irish bacon. She suggests the best varieties of apples, pears and potatoes for different dishes. You’ll also find worthy suggestions and recipes from Bord Bia (Irish Food Board) and Johnson’s method of organizing an Irish cheese board.
In line with Long Island cuisine, the Irish embrace seafood dishes, including Cod in a Parcel with Herb Butter, Crab and Champ Bake with Tomato-Watercress Dressing, Grilled Oysters with Black Bacon and Watercress and Steamed Mussels in Guinness and Cream.
This cookbook is organized into the four seasons—An tEarrach (spring), An Samhradh (summer), An Fómhar (autumn), An Geimhreadh (winter)—to make the best use of timely ingredients. Also featured are explanations of Ireland’s seasonal observances and fairs.
Soon it will be time to make Johnson’s Roasted Asparagus and Rhubarb Muffins and to ring in Bealtine (pronounced BELL-tane) on April 30–May 1, a Druid celebration of the growing season and plenty. This cookbook is the perfect guide to celebrating plenty—so raise a “wee dram” to toast it!