Irish Stew: Something for the St. Patrick’s Day Weekend

It didn’t take us long to decide on this week’s recipe. There’s only one event marked on our calendar for the coming week – in bright green Sharpie. St. Patrick’s Day is a joyous celebration of all things great from the Emerald Isle – and if anywhere knows how to get into the swings of things, it’s New York City!

FYI. A Salt & Battery are running a St. Paddy’s competition. All you have to do is let them know your favorite song by an Irish artist or band to be in with a chance of winning a portion of fish & chips and a Guinness!

Rachel Allen

A bonny Irish lass if ever there were one, Rachel Allen well deserves a place as a Tea & Sympathy food hero. Having learnt her craft at the prestigious Ballymalloe cookery school in County Cork, Rachel is a familiar face on British and Irish television, known for whipping up home-cooked favorites with style and skill. All helped along by her gorgeous accent!

For this St. Paddy’s edition of ‘Something For the Weekend’, it seemed only right that we chose her recipe for Irish Stew, courtesy of the BBC.

Irish Stew


1½kg/3lb 5oz stewing beef, cut into cubes
175g/6oz streaky bacon
3 tbsp olive oil
12 baby onions, peeled
18 button mushrooms, left whole
carrots, cut into quarters or 12 baby carrots, scrubbed and left whole
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp chopped thyme
2 tbsp chopped parsley
10 cloves of garlic, crushed and grated
425ml/15fl oz red wine
425ml/15fl oz chicken or beef stock

For the roux
50g/2oz butter
50g/1¾oz flour

champ, to serve

Preparation method

  • Brown the beef and bacon in the olive oil in a hot casserole or heavy saucepan.
  • Remove the meat and toss in the onions, mushrooms and carrots, one ingredient at a time, seasoning each time.
  • Place these back in the casserole, along with the herbs and garlic.
  • Cover with red wine and stock and simmer for one hour or until the meat and vegetables are cooked.
  • To make the roux, in a separate pan melt the butter, add the flour and cook for two minutes.
  • When the stew is cooked, remove the meat and vegetables.
  • Bring the remaining liquid to the boil and add one tbsp of roux.
  • Whisk the mixture until the roux is broken up and the juices have thickened, allowing to boil.
  • Replace the meat and vegetables, and taste for seasoning.
  • Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve with champ.

A Big Night for Brits at The Golden Globes… ‘Tis the Season to Stay In and Watch TV!

What a fantastic night at the Golden Globes for British actors. Tea & Sympathy heartthrob Idris Elba took home the award for best actor in a miniseries or movie for his leading role in BBC’s crime series Luther, while Kate Winslet won the female equivalent for her role ine HBO’s Mildred Pierce. And the prize for best miniseries or movie went very servingly to ITV’s Downton Abbey. And let’s not forget Ricky Gervais – although we often wish we could…

After being named the best takeaway accompaniment to Downton Abbey by Gothamist, and what with this freezing weather, we’re going to be staying in, ordering in and tuning in to some of the great British TV that’s on at the moment. We’ll keep you updated, and would love to hear your feedback on what you’ve been watching. Talking of which, anyone see Sherlock last night on PBS?

Monday Morning Humor & An Ode to Sherlock

We’d heard whispers that the BBC’s ‘Sherlock‘ was fantastic but 2011 was such a busy year, we didn’t find time to watch it. However, in a few spare moments this weekend, we sat down with a cuppa and tuned into the first episodes of the new season. And blimey, it’s bleedin’ brilliant! Twists, turns, awesome acting, sharp-as-a-knife screenplay, sex, intrigue, double-crossing… and Benedict Cumberbatch!

We can see why Mr. Cumberbatch has become something of a heartthrob on both sides of the Atlantic, as renowned for his chiselled cheekbones as his flawless acting. The question is now being asked, is he the best Sherlock ever?

In all the excitement of discovering this televisual gem, we forgot to come up with a stonking start to Monday’s Bad British Joke feature for 2012. Never fear though, because something our sleuthing instinct and we recalled that back in 2002, a British Professor set about finding “the world’s funniest joke”. And here’s what came in second place:

Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson were going camping. They pitched their tent under the stars and went to sleep. Sometime in the middle of the night Holmes woke Watson up and said: “Watson, look up at the stars, and tell me what you see.” Watson replied: “I see millions and millions of stars.” Holmes said: “And what do you deduce from that?” Watson replied: “Well, if there are millions of stars, and if even a few of those have planets, it’s quite likely there are some planets like Earth out there. And if there are a few planets like Earth out there, there might also be life.” And Holmes said: “Watson, you idiot, it means that somebody stole our tent.”

So what do we think; funny? And more importantly, Benedict Cumberbatch, please come for tea!

Tea wars!

Bleeding Nora! It’s all kicking off on the tea front. Who could have thought such a delicious beverage would cause so much grief. Well, the Boston Tea Party perhaps, but let’s not get into that… Here’s two articles from back in Blighty, that show this powerful brew isn’t to be messed with.

Broken china!

First up, war has been waged over the trademark for a whole bloody county! And not just any old county but Yorkshire, the biggest one we’ve got! As an interesting aside, English folklore has it that there are the exact same number of acres in Yorkshire as there are letters in the Bible. Whether this is true or not is beyond us; if you’ve ever counted, please get in touch. Yorkshire Tea, made by Taylors of Harrogate have gone after young upstarts Jeeves & Jericho, for claiming they can make a tea that does Yorkshire justice. We’d hate to get involved, but you can test this out yourself: we sell Yorkshire Red and the premium band Yorkshire Gold in-store, and we can ship.

As if that weren’t enough, tea brand Twinings have been hounded into reverting to their classic Earl Grey blend by “furious tea drinkers” who were unhappy when they tweaked with their favorite cuppa. We’re more than confident that our own blend – at $11.50 a 1/4lb is up to scratch, so any disaffected Twinings fans out there – get in touch and sample our brew!

Hopefully order will soon be restored in the usually quiet world of tea. In the meantime, put the kettle on would ya.