Energy for autumn days


TEA TIME Traditional Irish tea brack is delicious with butter.


Redmond Cabot

I am one of those annoying people who says, super early, ‘The nights are drawing in…’. My dad is one of the worst offenders. He’ll say it circa June 23. Followed by an evil, ‘Heh heh!’. But, sadly, the early darkness is noticeably happening now and I’m starting to think of heavier, autumny dishes. Savoury and sweet, venison, root veg, roasties, soups, comforting cakes. Harvest time.
French toast
On a gloomy morning, how about a few slices of French toast, Irish style. Two slices of sliced pan or sourdough, or whatever takes your fancy, dipped in one large (or two smaller) beaten eggs seasoned with salt and pepper. Fry in a pan in a mix of veg oil/butter for a couple of minutes on each side.
Serve with what you feel like – honey, ketchup, brown sauce. Try this eggy toast with a few slices of maple marinated bacon or a bit of smoked salmon. Add some herbs or leaves, if you like. Maybe a handful of roasted tomatoes.

Veg soup
Our children have their packed lunch at school but are always ravenous when they run out the school gates. I find a vegetable soup often does the job when they get home. Very simple; sweat a couple of onions in a large saucepan. Add in a peeled, chopped big-ish celery stick and soften slightly. Peel and chop three medium carrots, a small potato and a small swede/turnip (these are amazing for introducing an umami flavour) and coat and cook in the oil on a low heat for about four minutes. Season with sea salt as you go along.
Pour around 1.2 litres of veg stock into the pan and bring to the boil. Simmer for around 20 minutes or until all the veg are soft. Whizz with a hand held blender, taste and adjust for seasoning, stock, more crumbled sea salt and a few grinds of a pepper mill (if your children will agree to pepper, mine spit on it!). A good tip is that if you use a cupful of finely chopped parsley, added towards the end, it really enhances a vegetable soup.

The Brunette’s Tea Brack
I’m craving sweet autumnal things too, maybe with a bit of spice. Halloween is on the way, as my children keep reminding me. How about a tea brack, hot from the oven, with lashings of salty Irish butter? Every household does it differently; I’ll add mine to the collection!

What you need

  • 100g Sultanas
  • 100g Currants
  • 50g Glace Cherries chopped
  • 50g mixed peel
  • Tbspn or so of whiskey (optional)
  • 300g hot tea
  • 250g self-raising flour, sieved
  • 1 free-range egg, beaten
  • Half tspn ground nutmeg
  • Quarter tspn allspice
  • Tbspn (or two) honey

What you do
Preheat the oven to 170°C. Grease a 900g loaf tin with butter and line with baking parchment.  Place the hot tea, whiskey (optional) and dried fruit in a large bowl and soak overnight or for at least a couple of hours.
Place the flour, nutmeg, allspice in another bowl. When the fruit mix is ready, add in the dry ingredients, followed by the beaten egg. Gently combine all then pour into the prepared loaf tin.
Bake for an hour – maybe longer – until the top is firm to touch and a skewer comes out clean. Cool, remove from tin then brush the top with honey. Serve with copious amounts of butter!

Red Cabot is interested in food, nature and small things. He sells his food at Westport Country Markets in St Anne’s Boxing Club, James’s Street car park, Westport, every Thursday, from 8am to 1pm.