Ireland is the country that provided us with many of the good things in life, from St Patrick’s Day to Irish trad music, Riverdance and Irish dancing, the idea of leprechauns (and the strange superstition that they must be hiding pots of gold)… and the origins of Halloween. Here, that eerie time of year is called Samhain, and the night between October 31st and November 1st is the time of year when the curtain between worlds falls, and moving from one side to the other is briefly possible.
There are a few Halloween goodies and traditions we’d like to share with you, for you to replicate at home if you’re missing the Emerald Hills of Ireland.
“Purdy pudding” or potato pudding is just about the most Irish dessert you can think of – after all, its main ingredients are potatoes, and apples!
Purdy pudding is a traditional recipe from the North of Ireland and is made at Halloween time. It used to take days to make before the advent of the slow cooker, which has revolutionised both cooking and baking traditional, labour-intensive dishes. And if you don’t have a large enough slow cooker, you can borrow another one from a neighbour and use two pots.
Traditionally it’s eaten hot with a knob of butter. Or you can skip the butter and eat it cold.
Another tradition dish to make in autumn at Halloween is Barmbrack. Bramback, often simply called ‘brack ‘ or ‘breac,’ is a type of sweet bread or cake. Irish Halloween tradition requires the addition of several items. The cake is baked, and then sliced and served.
After the brack is baked, it is sliced and handed out at random with the objects baked into the dessert. Each item has a meaning dictating future events depending on the item that you receive in your slice.
Step 1: Soak the dried fruit in the hot tea for 2 hours, then drain and gently squeeze out excess tea.
Step 2: Preheat oven to 175 degrees C (350 degrees F). Grease a 9 inch Bundt pan. Stir together the flour cinnamon, nutmeg, and baking soda; set aside.*
Step 3: Beat the egg, sugar, marmalade, orange zest, and tea-soaked fruit until well combined. Gently fold in the flour until just combined, then pour into the prepared Bundt pan.
Step 4: Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour or until the top of the cake springs back when lightly pressed. Allow to cool in the pan for 2 hours before removing. Continue to cool to room temperature on a wire rack. Press the objects of choice into the cake through the bottom before serving.
*There is another variant in which you can bake the cake in a slow cooker on high for 2 hours.
Find the original recipe here.
Okay so this isn’t a traditional recipe. But it’s seasonal and also very delicious. During the month of October, the shops abound with round, orange pumpkins, Most will be carved. But have you ever thought of eating one?
Peel your selected combination of pumpkins, butternut squash and/or sweet potatoes, and chop them into wedges. Remove the seeds and set aside.* Preheat the oven at 200 C (400 F). Space wedges evenly, and top with sugar and cinnamon. Roast wedges for about 25 mins.
Cook spring onion and garlic spices on a pan for 5 minutes, and add in the rest of the spices, diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. Add in the lentils with about 700ml of water, and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, until the lentils become tender.
Top the pumpkin slices with the lentils and goat’s cheese of your choice for an easy and delicious seasonal specialty!
*As a side dish, wash the pumpkin seeds, scatter on a baking tray, top with olive oil and salt, and roast for 25 minutes or until toasted. This makes for an irresistibly tasty seasonal treat!
Find the original recipe here.