There is a noticeable flood of green food across the blogosphere these past few days, in the lead up to St Patrick’s Day. Maybe it is the “forty-shades-of green” countryside or the vivid emerald hue of the famous shamrock emblem that gives the impression that green is Ireland’s national colour. Many people will be surprised to learn that since Norman times, Ireland’s national colour is in fact blue. It is the exact shade of blue that glows above the St Patrick’s Day parade as it passes the GPO on Dublin’s O’Connell Street.
|Green, white and gold (and pretty tasty too)|
If you have ever been to that parade, you will know that no matter how fine and unseasonably sunny the day is, a March wind whips down that famous boulevard - Ireland’s Champs-Élysées - turning every inch of exposed flesh blue with cold. Due to the number of unsuspecting short-skirted marching bands and majorettes from warmer climes, and a trend towards Mardi Gras-style pageantry and costume, there is a lot of exposed flesh, resulting in a blue glow that can be seen from outer space every March 17th. Brrrrrrr!
I’ve been trying to think of a dish for St Patrick’s day that would nod to the occasion without being too cabbage-y, or too bacon-y, too corned beef-y, too green - or too blue for that matter.
I have my photography teacher to thank for mentioning sweet potato roulade some weeks ago. It nods to the potato heritage of the Irish and to the green, white and gold of the Irish tricolour. Reflecting a modern Ireland, it acknowledges in a very small way, the contribution of other cultures - sweet potato, nutmeg and sesame seed are obviously not locals but a céad míle fáilte* to them all the same.
For 6 - 8 servings you will need...
For the soufflé base
10g melted butter
15g sesame seeds
1 sweet potato, weighing approximately 400g
75g plain flour
300mls fresh milk
125g mature cheddar, grated
½ teaspoon fine table salt
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 Line the base of a 26cm x 36cm Swiss roll tin with baking parchment and brush with the melted butter. Dotting the underside of the paper with a little melted butter helps it stick to the tin. Sprinkle the surface of the buttered paper evenly with sesame seeds.
2 Prepare the sweet potato by peeling it and slicing into rounds about 1cm thick. Place in a saucepan and cover with boiling water. Simmer with a lid on for about 20 minutes or until easily pierced with the tip of a knife. Drain and mash.
3 While the sweet potato is cooling, melt 75g of butter in a large saucepan over a low heat. Stir in the flour, mixing with a wooden spoon until it comes together in a thick paste. Continue cooking gently for another minute or so. Swap the spoon for a whisk and add the milk to the saucepan, a little at a time, whisking well between additions. It will be alarmingly lumpy at first but will soon whisk to a smooth mixture.
4 When all the milk has been added, whisk in 300g of the sweet potato mash (any leftovers can be reheated and eaten as a side or added to a vegetable soup. When the sweet potato has been combined, add in the grated cheese and stir until melted and combined. Add salt and nutmeg. Taste and adjust seasoning if required.
5 Carefully separate the eggs, placing the yolks in one bowl and the whites in a large mixing bowl or stand mixer. Lightly beat the egg yolks with a fork and add three large tablespoonfuls of the hot sweet potato mixture, mixing well between each tablespoonful. Then add the egg yolks to saucepan of sweet potato and whisk well to combine.(If you try to add the egg yolks to the hot mixture without first warming them as described, you’ll end up with scrambled eggs.)
6 Whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Fold the egg white mixture into the sweet potato mixture about a quarter at a time. Transfer the mixture into the prepared baking tin and bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes or risen and evenly golden. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely in the tin. The beautifully risen soufflé will sink a little. Don't worry, that's supposed to happen.
|Fold in the egg whites for a light-as-a-cloud base|
7 When cooled, remove from the tin and place on a large sheet of clingfilm or baking parchment, with the liner paper still attached to the underside. The next step is to fill and roll the roulade.
|I'm sinking... (but that's ok, I'm supposed to!)|
For the filling
250g cream cheese (such as Philadelphia)
1 small clove of garlic, crushed
1 stick celery, peeled and finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley or coriander (cilantro)
4 – 6 spring onions (scallions), finely chopped, including green part
50g baby spinach leaves, shredded
8 Mix the cream cheese with the crushed garlic, herbs and spring onions and spread evenly over the surface of the soufflé. Scatter the spinach leaves over the top. Gently release the liner paper from a long edge of the soufflé. Gripping the released edge of the paper together with the clingfilm or parchment paper, lift gently to start rolling. Roll the soufflé tightly and wrap snugly in clingfilm. Refrigerate for 15 minutes or until required. Serve in slices with a green salad.
Wishing you a Happy St Patrick’s Day and here’s an Irish blessing to carry with you:
“May you have warm words on a cold evening, a full moon on a dark night, and the road downhill all the way to your door”
* a hundred-thousand welcomes
* a hundred-thousand welcomes