Qualters family sets an Irish table using modern ingredients
Harold and Jeanne Qualters used to operate Qualters Restaurant, serving Irish cuisine on Madison Avenue in Albany. They closed the establishment, but they still do serve up quite a feast for friends on St. Patrick’s Day at their Latham home.
Harold Qualters honors his Irish heritage by serving as a trustee for the Irish Heritage Museum in Albany and teaching Irish cooking classes at the Celtic Heritage Center in Colonie. Here’s a peek at what the Qualters will be serving their guests this St. Patrick’s Day, using ingredients from Ireland.
Corned beef will be the main event, but Qualters points out that corned beef is not an Irish dish. “They weren’t eating corned beef in Ireland until after the famine,” he said. “Corned beef is an American-Irish dish.” He includes it, though, because guests expect it.
But before the corned beef comes to the table, Qualters has a smorgasbord of appetizers using ingredients imported from Ireland. One is Irish smoked salmon with capers, onion and diced hard boiled egg on toasted Guinness malted barley bread rounds. Another is black pudding with apples, carmelized sweet onions and Magner’s hard cider sauce.
Qualters said that the Irish began to eat black pudding, made from dried pig or beef blood mixed with barley, breadcrumbs, oatmeal, pork, onion black pepper and other herbs, during medieval times when they couldn’t afford to waste one bit of food. He will use Donnelly’s black pudding in his recipe, which he purchases at Counties of Ireland Irish gift store in Troy.
There will also be Irish bangers (sausage) wrapped in puff pastry, a modern Irish cuisine dish, served with mustard. Oysters on the half shell with Guinness stout and blocks of Wexford and Kerrygold aged cheddar cheese with crackers round out the hors d’oeuvres.
Along with the corned beef braised in Guinness and Magner’s hard cider, Qualters will serve mashed potatoes; roasted carrots, turnips and parsley glazed with brown sugar and Jameson’s Irish whiskey; and steamed cabbage.
For dessert, Jeanne will prepare a no-bake Bailey’s Irish Cream Cheesecake.
Clearly out of the famine phase for several generations, Ireland is producing delicious products.
“The economy of Ireland has been just wonderful, and many of the products we can purchase here in the states,” Qualters said. “It’s easy to use Irish products to cook an entirely new kind of Irish cuisine, and we’re taking advantage of it.”
Additional Irish recipes are available at the Irish Heritage Museum’s website at www.irish-us.org.
Black Pudding with Apple and Cider Sauce Recipe
Recipe from Harold Qualters
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced into 8 pieces each
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
3-4 tablespoons of Kerrygold butter
1 sweet onion
3⁄4 cup Magner’s hard apple cider
Fresh sage to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
1⁄2 cup heavy cream
12 oz. Donnelley’s blood pudding, sliced into 1⁄4 inch portions
1 tablespoon apple jelly/jam
Garnish with finely diced parsley
Toss the apples with lemon juice. Heat half of the butter in sauté pan. Add the onion and gently cook until the onions begin to caramelize.
Add the apple cider and simmer for a few minutes for the cider to thicken. Add the fresh, finely diced sage. Simmer for 5 to 7 minutes. Season with a bit of salt and pepper.
Warm the heavy cream and add slowly to the onion mixture. Reduce gently until slightly thickened. Set aside and keep warm. Heat the other half of butter in sauté pan until it sizzles.
Sauté the apples until soft and sprinkle with a bit of sugar to caramelize them at the edges.
Remove from skillet and keep warm.
Sauté the pudding portions to make them crispy; no more than 2 to 3 minutes. When cooked longer they have a tendency to fall apart. Set aside and keep warm.
Having dishes ready, layer onion mixture first, followed by apples and then pudding and any sauce left in pan. Serves 4.
Colcannon Mashed Potatoes
Recipe from Harold Qualters
1 cup chopped and braised fresh kale
4 tablespoons melted Kerrygold butter
6 scallions (1 bunch) finely diced
1 pound plus potatoes (russet potatoes are good starch), each potato should weigh approximately 8 to 10 ounces
2⁄3 cup warmed whole milk or light cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Cut the stems from the kale, chop or tear the kale into medium pieces. Braise the kale in lightly salted water until tender. Taste. Strain the kale; add a knob of butter and keep warm.
Sweat the finely diced scallions in butter. Keep warm.
Wash and peel the potatoes. Slice the potato in half and slice each half in 1⁄4-inch slices. Boil in lightly salted water, 15-20 minutes approximately. Do not overcook. Drain immediately. Beat until light and fluffy with no lumps. Add the melted butter and warmed whole milk gradually. Fold in the kale and scallions. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately. Serves 4.
Bailey’s Irish Cream Cheesecake Recipe
Recipe adapted from “The Complete Irish Pub Cookbook, The Best of Traditional and Contemporary Irish Cooking” (Parragon Books, 2012)
Chocolate Chip Cookie Crust:
11⁄2 cups crushed chocolate chip cookies
4 tablespoons Kerrygold butter
Butter a 9-inch round spring form cake pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Rub vegetable oil onto the sides of the cake pan. Press crust into bottom of pan and chill in fridge for 1 hour.
Filling for Cake:
2 cups heavy whipping cream
8 ounces semisweet dark chocolate broken into small pieces
8 ounces milk chocolate broken into pieces
1⁄4 cup sugar
11⁄2 cup cream cheese
3 tablespoons Bailey’s Irish Cream
Whip the cream into medium soft peaks (not quite stiff peaks). Set aside. Put both chocolates in bowl over simmering water and melt. Let cool.
Put sugar and cream cheese in a bowl and beat together until smooth. Fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture. Fold the chocolate mixture into the cream cheese whipped cream mixture. Stir in Bailey’s. Spoon mixture gently into the cake pan, smooth the surface and chill for at least 2 hours or until firm. Serve with red raspberries. Serves 8.