Pear, Gorgonzola, and Walnut Salad – just one of the delightful memories of eating in Ireland. Karen Schneider / For The Forecaster

I recently returned from a trip to Ireland and decided to share my good vacation vibes via a few U.K. dishes that were on menus throughout the Emerald Isle.

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

I know it’s June and an oven casserole topped with mashed potatoes, salad dotted with Gorgonzola and Sticky Toffee Pudding may not speak summer to you, but these are just right for one of those cool, misty, moisty days that tend to crop up before the warmer weather really gets rolling here in Maine.

Fish Pie is a versatile dish that can be dressed up with the addition of scallops, lobster and crab. This crunchy salad that I enjoyed at Powerscourt Centre in Dublin makes a beautiful first course for your fish pie dinner or is perfect for a lovely lunch all on its own.

I won’t let on how many puddings I consumed while traveling through 10 Irish counties, but it was many and they were all excellent!

Fish Pie

4-5 large potatoes, peeled and diced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 eggs
4 ounces fresh spinach
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
Olive oil
1 1/3 cups heavy cream
1 1/4 cups cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon English mustard
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, minced
1 pound haddock, hake or cod, cut into chunks

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place potatoes in a saucepan of salted water and bring to a boil. Cook for 2 minutes. Add eggs to the pot and cook for 8 more minutes. Place spinach in a colander and place on top of the pan to wilt for just a minute. Allow spinach to cool then squeeze out any excess moisture with paper towels.


Drain potatoes and mash with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper. Rinse eggs with cold water, then peel and slice.

In a separate pan over medium-low heat, sauté onion and carrot in olive oil for 5 minutes, then add cream and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add cheese, lemon juice, mustard and parsley.

Place spinach, fish and eggs in a buttered casserole dish. Pour cream sauce over all and stir gently.

Spread mashed potatoes on top and dot with butter. Bake for 30 minutes or until potatoes are browned. Yield: 6 servings

Pear, Gorgonzola, and Walnut Salad

8 cups mixed greens
1 large ripe pear, thinly sliced
4 ounces Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 baguette, thinly sliced, brushed with olive oil and toasted

Place lettuce on four individual salad plates. Top with sliced pear, Gorgonzola and walnuts. Arrange toasted baguette slices around salad. Drizzle with balsamic dressing. Yield: 4 servings


Sticky Toffee Pudding

2  1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 cup sugar
7 Medjool dates, pitted
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 pinch of salt
4 tablespoons butter (softened)
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Whipped cream

In a medium saucepan, combine 1 1/4 cups cream with butter, corn syrup and sugar. Bring to a boil. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until a deep amber caramel forms, about 40 minutes. Carefully whisk in remaining 1 1/4 cups cream. Strain sauce through a sieve into a bowl and set aside.

In a small saucepan, simmer dates in water over low heat until water is nearly absorbed and dates are soft, about 15 minutes. Transfer dates and liquid to a food processor and puree until smooth.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter six 1/2-cup ramekins. In a small bowl, whisk together dry ingredients.

In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter with brown sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla then beat in date puree. Beat in dry ingredients until just combined. Spoon batter into ramekins. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean; let cool slightly.

Unmold the cakes and invert them onto a wire rack. Slice each cake in half horizontally. Wipe out the ramekins and spoon 1 tablespoon toffee sauce into each. Return the bottom layers of the cakes to the ramekins, cut side up. Spoon another tablespoon of sauce into ramekins and top with remaining cake layers. Spoon another tablespoon of sauce over the cakes. Place ramekins on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes or until toffee is bubbling around the edges.

Let puddings cool for 5 minutes then run a knife around the edges and invert onto dessert plates. Warm remaining toffee sauce and spoon around puddings. Serve with whipped cream. Yield: 6 servings

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