Some of the best Irish dishes are the simplest ones, such as Apple and Barley Pudding. With good quality ingredients, not fancy but simply prepared, Irish cooks respect basic flavors and the way the ingredients interact with other foods.
Apple and Barley Pudding

Apple and Barley Pudding
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Irish
Serves: 4
  • 4 Tablespoons pearl barley
  • 1 1/2 pounds eating apples*
  • 2 ounces sugar
  • 3/4 Tablespoon double cream
  • 1 liter water
  1. * Peeled, cored and sliced.
  2. Put the barley in the water and bring to the boil. Add the sliced apples and continue cooking gently until the barley and apples are soft.
  3. Press through a sieve, or put through the blender, and put back in the saucepan. Add the sugar and lemon juice and bring to the boil again.
  4. Remove from the heat, allow to cool, and then chill.
  5. Serve cool with the cream stirred in.
Apple and Barley Pudding harks back to a time when cooks were intent on making the best of what they had on hand, and didn't have recourse to glossy supermarkets full of ingredients that were in season somewhere else but not at home. Most farmers in Ireland would have been within easy reach of someone growing barley, if they weren't growing it themselves. Besides being good for brewing with, the grain made its way into endless soups and stews, not just for the sake of its own nutritional value, but because of its thickening abilities. Apples, too, grow all over the island of Ireland quite happily. But their season doesn't last forever. The farmers and householders of the days before modern storage technologies were available got very clever about ways to keep a season's apples well into the next spring, even the next summertime. A given year's harvest -- what wasn't eaten fresh or preserved by being made into alcoholic / "hard" cider -- was mostly put down in straw in the coolest place a farmer could find. The apples would wrinkle, and their internal texture would go a little mealy over time, but their flavor would be well preserved.

This recipe for apple barley pudding was clearly developed to deal with those out-of-season apples and a little of the spare barley that would always be hiding somewhere in the kitchen. Cooking the apples down to a puree both removes the problem with their texture and infuses the barley with the apples' pectin, another effective gelling and thickening agent. Then the final result is sweetened a little, sharpened further with lemon juice, and chilled. The finished product is surprisingly light and delicate, with a tart kick: the cream mellows it all down and adds amazing richness.

Food Exchanges: 1/2 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 0 Fat; 1 Other Carbohydrates
Nutrition Information
Calories: 99 Fat: trace Carbohydrates: 24 g Sodium: 9 mg Protein: 1 g Cholesterol: 0 mg

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