Honor March 17 with a homey Irish supper made with intention and love. Karen Schneider / For The Forecaster

With St. Patrick’s Day coming up, I’m remembering the homey suppers I enjoyed in the Land of Green a few years back and wanted to recreate one of those for you. Irish food is satisfying fare that some would consider quite plain. However, this supper not only reminds me of my heritage, but also of how delicious a meal can be when we focus on the basics.

Karen Schneider cooks and writes in the village of Cundy’s Harbor. You can reach her at [email protected] Karen Schneider / For The Forecaster

Pork chops with applesauce might not be something that comes to mind for a St. Patrick’s Day dinner, but trust me on this. A simple pork chop served with pan juices and a side of applesauce (with potatoes, of course) is a typical meal served across the pond.

Homemade applesauce has been a kitchen staple my entire life and I thought everyone knew how to make it until a friend asked me recently for “my recipe.”

Delicious warm or chilled, applesauce is one of my favorite comfort foods throughout the entire year. I prefer using Cortland apples, with McIntosh or Granny Smiths as my second choice. Just use your personal favorites then adjust the cooking time for the consistency you like best and add the amount of sugar and cinnamon that you see fit.

The buttery pound cake can be served for dessert or you could follow the example of the Irish and put the kettle on around 2 p.m. or so for “tea and a slice.”

Those of you who have been to Ireland know that the lovely tradition of stopping by the local tearoom for a “cuppa and a slice of the day” can really shore a person up and keep you going until it’s time to go to the local pub for a pint.

Meditatively embrace this cake-making method for a luscious result. Having the butter and eggs at room temperature for just an hour is important, as it affects the cake’s texture. Serve with whipped cream and fresh berries if you like, but truly, this cake needs no further adornment.

Seared Pork Chops

4 (1 ½-2 inch thick) bone-in pork chops
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons each olive oil and butter

Allow the chops to be at room temperature for about 20 minutes prior to cooking to ensure they will cook evenly.

Place oil and butter in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Season chops and place in the skillet when butter begins to foam. Sear for 5 minutes then flip the chops and continue cooking on the second side for 10 minutes. Flip them again and cook 5 minutes more. With thinner chops, reduce the cooking time (for 1-inch chops, sear 5 minutes on each side). Remove the chops to a plate to rest for 5 minutes. Yield: 4 servings

Chunky Applesauce

8 large Cortland apples, peeled and quartered
Sugar and cinnamon to taste

Place apple slices in a large saucepan with a tight-fitting lid and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes or until apples are softened and can be broken up with a spoon. Remove from heat and stir in sugar and cinnamon. (When using Cortlands, I use about 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon.) Yield: 6-8 servings

The Pound Cake

2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature for one hour
1 1/4 cup sugar
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottom of an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2-inch glass loaf pan, then line the bottom with parchment paper. Butter the parchment paper as well as the sides of the pan.

With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together for 3-4 minutes on medium speed in a large bowl. Add eggs one at a time, using the mixer on medium-low and allowing each egg to become incorporated in the batter before adding the next. Add honey, vanilla and lemon zest with the last egg.

Sift together dry ingredients. With the mixer on low speed, add slowly to the batter until just combined. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes on a rack then remove from the pan and cool completely. Dust with confectioners’ sugar. Yield: 6-8 servings

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