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How to make a St Bridget's Cross

Last night we were sitting in the kitchen making some St Bridgets' Crosses, a wee tradition that my good lady has ensured we continue every 31st January. This is traditionally the last day of Winter and the night before St Bridget's Day (1st February - the first day of Spring).

This is an ancient custom in Ireland and the crosses were hung above the entrances to houses and barns to invoke the help of St Bridget in warding off disease. Rushes were traditionally used to make the St Bridget's Cross. These were collected from wet fields and cut about 18 inches or 450mm long.


Rushes can sometimes be hard to find for townies or people who live in the city but most garden centres can get them for you.

So, Here is how to make a St. Bridget's Cross - Step by step...

Take two rushes and cross them over each other

Bend one straw around the other. For the rest of the making of the cross always apply pressure in the centre to hold everything in place.

Turn the cross 1x turn to the left and fold another rush around the one you just added. Keep pressure in the centre. This is what you do with every other rush you add - it gets easier as you go along!

Turn the cross 1x turn to the left and fold another rush around the one you just added.
Keep pressure in the centre. You can see the centre-square starting to form.

Turn the cross 1x turn to the left and fold another rush around the one you just added.
Keep pressure in the centre. You should be getting the hang of it by now!

Turn the cross by 1 turn to the left and fold another rush around the one you just added. As the cross develops keep pressure on the point where the last added rush folds over - in this picture, this is where the right hand thumb is applying the pressure.

It gets a little bit awkward to hold the cross together as it gets bigger but don't panic! Keep turning (by 1 turn) and adding a rush until you have 5 rushes on each arm of  the cross.

When you get to this stage it is time to tie off the ends. Use wool, string or rubber bands to tie the cross. Tie securely the LAST end that you added.
Then tighten up the cross by gently pushing the rushes to the centre. Get someone else to hold the cross for you to make the job easier.


Tie off each end securely but be careful not to be to tight or you might cut or bruise the rushes. Nearly there!

Trim off the ends of the cross with a pair of sharp scissors leaving about 1 inch or 25mm over the edge.


There you Go!

Now Teach your Kids how to do this and tell them to teach their kids.
It only takes one generation to lose a tradition and that, I believe, applies to everything in life!

Thanks to my lovely wife Nuala for the use of her lovely hands here in the pictures.

For more on St Bridget, her history & myths, see this excellent account:  http://www.allsaintsbrookline.org/celtic_saints/brigid.html


zack

The Purty Kitchen Dun Laoghaire Re-opens Under New Ownership

The Purty Kitchen in Dun Laoghaire has reopened under new ownership by hospitality veterans Mark Heather and James Burgess. 



A vibrant restaurant, bar and live event space housed in Dun Laoghaire’s oldest surviving premises, The Purty Kitchen offers restaurant quality food and drinks in the comfort and conviviality of a pub steeped in 300 years of history. 

The Purty Kitchen, first established in 1728, began life as a thatched roof makeshift edifice constructed of clay, straw and wood, and housed coach travellers overnight providing food, warmth and potent ales and wines. There was a large livery yard to the rear where horses were fed, rested and exchanged. Common to other coaching inns, the innkeepers would have kept many farm animals: pigs, hens, ducks, geese and cattle, which were then slaughtered for consumption at the inn. 

For the first 40 years of its existence, this house was known at different times as the Old Dunleary Inn and The Mariner’s Inn. 


James Burgess and Mark Heather, The Purty Kitchen

Reopened by Mark and James on 1st September 2021, the premises has undergone a full refurbishment. Mark Heather had overseen the renovation of the interior of the property in February 2020 on a consultancy basis, only for it to close due to Covid 3 weeks after it opened. 


The Purty Kitchen has undergone a full refurbishment

In summer 2021, under management contract with their company Hospitality Projects Ireland, Mark and James put plans in place to relaunch The Purty Kitchen as a destination venue that bridges the gap between the Gastro Pub and the Bib Gourmand Restaurant experience. Their vision is to provide excellent food, drink and service but with a warmth and conviviality that can only be achieved in an Irish pub.


Graham Higgins, Head Chef at The Purty Kitchen 

           

Since the 1st of September when Mark and James took over the premises under a long lease, they have been hands-on in realising their vision. With Head Chef Graham Higgins (formerly of Rock Lobster  and Ouzo’s in Dublin) in the kitchen, The Purty Kitchen offers restaurant quality food with a focus on high quality ingredients from local suppliers. Food that is comforting, homely and delicious with great service to match. 

The venue is also becoming well-known for its cocktails, serving house specialities like the Guinness & Raspberry Flip made with Irish whiskey, Guinness, white chocolate and raspberry, along with classics like an Espresso Martini or an Old Fashioned.


Kilmore Quay Seafood Chowder, The Purty Kitchen 

While business has been steady since re-opening, the duo has a number of plans in progress, including a weatherproof outdoor dining space with a louvred roof structure and heating that will accommodate 50 people which will open later this year. 

The Purty Loft will also reopen as a multifaceted event space catering for private functions, live music events, experiential events including food, wine and whiskey tastings and more. James and Mark share one ultimate aim: For The Purty Kitchen to strive towards being one of only a handful of pubs to obtain and retain a Bib Gourmand from the Michelin Guide.


The Purty Kitchen, 4 Old Dunleary Road, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin. 

Opening Hours: 

Food Served: Wednesday to Friday, 5pm–9:30pm; Saturday, 12pm–9:30pm; Sunday, 12pm–8pm.

Bar open: Wednesday to Friday, 5pm–11:30pm; Saturday, 12pm–11:30pm; Sunday, 12pm–11pm.


Keep up to date with the latest news by following The Purty Kitchen on Facebook and Instagram at @thepurtykitchen and on their website at www.purtykitchen.com








Make your own Home-made Haggis for Burns' Night!

In 1801, some five years after the famous Scottish poet Robert (Robbie) Burns' death, nine of his friends sat down to dinner, to celebrate his extraordinary life and to gave thanks for his friendship. Little did they know that this remembrance would resonate down through the centuries and span all across the world. Over the years, the informal theme from that evening has developed into the ritual known internationally known as Burns Night.

Presenting and Toasting the Haggis have become part of the ritual of a Burns Night event!

Here in County Donegal, with the historic association of many Donegal people with Scotland and Scottish traditions, we have long been enjoying the lightly spiced and peppery flavours of this famous dish. Haggis is traditionally eaten on Burns Night which falls on the 25th January which is the birthday of the Scottish poet. Many venues in all nine counties of Ulster, celebrate Burns Night on the weekend closest to the 25th.


Robert Burns - Celebrating the poets birthday has made the Haggis world famous!

The Haggis, which tastes a little like our Irish black and white puddings mixed together, is a very old traditional dish that combines meats, spices and oatmeal.  A traditional Scottish recipe for haggis would involve the boiled and minced liver, lungs and heart of a sheep mixed with chopped onions, toasted oatmeal, salt, pepper, and spices.

The mixture would then be stuffed into the cleaned sheep’s stomach, sewn up and then boiled gently for several hours! The dish is usually served with neeps (mashed buttered turnip) and tatties (mashed potatoes), a whiskey sauce, a few readings of some poetry, along with copious amounts of whiskey to toast the Haggis!


A Traditional Haggis with Neeps (Turnips) and Tatties (Potatoes) & a Wee Dram of Whiskey!

Creating a Burns Night event at your home or restaurant is a splendid reason to go out to eat and drink with friends in January! Although the traditional date is the 25th January, most restaurants and hotels celebrate a Burns Night event on the Friday or Saturday closest to that date.

That's me assisting with "Presenting the Haggis" a Burn's Supper event
hosted by members of the local Ulster-Scots community. 

Here is my version of an old Haggis Recipe, where instead of a sheep’s stomach you cook the Haggis in a casserole dish.

My Ingredients:
500g minced lamb
500g minced beef
125g suet (beef or vegetable)
500g beef liver
100g of porridge oats
300ml of  meat stock (strain this from your boiled beef and lamb - see method)
250g finely chopped onions
½ tsp grated nutmeg
¼ tsp ground mace
½ tsp of cayenne pepper
¼ tsp ground coriander
butter for greasing
a few twists of sea salt
a few twists of ground black pepper


My Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 160°C.
2. Cover the roughly-cut liver with cold water, bring to a boil and cook for five minutes. Strain and dump away this liquid and then chop the cooked liver with the onion, in a blender or on a board.
3. Cover the lamb & beef mince with water and bring to the boil in a large pot. Cook out for approximately 30 minutes. Keep 300ml stock from this cooked meat and pour away the rest.
4. Give the porridge oats a rough chop and toast them on a hot pan, shaking occasionally to make sure they don't burn.
5. Now mix all the ingredients together with the meat stock and transfer this mix to a well buttered casserole dish. Cover and seal with a layer of tin-foil.
6. Cook in the oven at 160°C for about 2 hours.
7. Meanwhile cook and mash some Turnips with real butter, white pepper and a drizzle of honey. Cook and mash some potatoes with real butter and white pepper.


Invite your friends around and make your own home-made Haggis for a Burns' Night Supper!

For the Whiskey sauce:
500ml cream
1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 shot of whiskey
sea salt
ground white pepper
3 tbls chopped scallions

To make the whiskey sauce, heat the cream in a pan over a medium heat. Add the wholegrain mustard, Dijon mustard, scallions and whiskey and stir with a small whisk. Increase the heat until the mixture is simmering and cook for 1-2 minutes until it reduces and thickens up a little. Remove the pan from the heat and season with salt and ground white pepper.

To serve:
Spoon out the Haggis, accompanied with mashed turnips and potatoes and drizzle with the whiskey sauce. I like to stack the Haggis, using a serving ring (see pic above) for presentation and then drizzle the sauce around it!

Donegal Burns Suppers
One of the longest established and most famous Burns' Night events held in the republic of Ireland has been the Annual Burns' Supper & Ceilidh hosted by Deirdre McGlone and Family, previously owners of Harvey's Point Hotel, in County Donegal. Why not make your own Haggis this year and have a Burns Supper of your own with the family!

Zack

The Wild Atlantic Way is the world's Longest Coastal Route