Traditional Irish Champ (Mashed Potatoes with Scallions and Cheese)

I've had a bit of trouble getting motivated the past few months, so I decided it was time to take a brief break from writing and spend more time in the kitchen. That's always been my solution when words don't come to me easily. I spent the summer testing out new canning recipes, then took a brief vacation to Ireland where I was able to travel the country by train and try some new-to-me dishes.

There is nothing like a vacation to provide a bit of inspiration, but two days in to our trip I realized something: Despite the fact that I live in what I refer to as the frozen North, the temperature difference between Ireland and Southern Wisconsin is pretty substantial, even in the summertime. The days were cold and rainy, much like our typical fall weather back home, so I spent my vacation gorging myself on soup, fresh baked bread, and other dishes that are wonderful at warming you from the inside out.

Once I returned home the temperatures had gone through the roof, so I tucked all of my ideas away, thinking to pull them out once our weather back home cooled off. The trouble with that is our weather has been incredibly mild this year, it was 60°F only a week ago. This hasn't really put me in the mood for comfort food yet, but things are slowly changing. We finally had our first substantial snow of the year, so I knew the time had finally arrived to dust off the new recipes I'd been working on, starting with this delicious Irish Champ. 

Traditional Irish Champ | Not Starving Yet

Traditional Irish Champ

makes 6 - 8 servings


Ingredients

3lbs russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ cup whole milk
6 scallions, thinly sliced
¼ cup Kerrygold Irish butter, salted
1 - 2 ounces sweet cheddar cheese, shredded (see notes)
white pepper, to taste

Directions

  • Place cubed potatoes in a saucepan, add sea salt, and cover with 1 - 2 inches of cold water. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium. Allow the potatoes to simmer in an uncovered pan for 20 - 30 minutes or until they are fork tender. Larger potatoes will need to be boiled longer, so I prefer to check mine around the 20 minute mark and continue cooking as necessary.
  • In a small saucepan add whole milk and sliced scallions, then cook until the milk is warm. Do not boil.
  • Combine cooked potatoes, butter, warmed milk, and scallions in a large bowl, then mash until they've reached your desired consistency (I prefer to leave mine a little chunky.) Add the shredded cheddar and white pepper. Mix well, then serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until later. Enjoy!

Notes

You can use any type of cheddar you'd like in this recipe, although I'm partial to Kerrygold's Skellig. It adds just a hint of sweetness and gives the potatoes a rich, melt-in-your-mouth flavor. 

If you need to feed a large group of people this is a great dish add to your menu. It can be made a day or two in advance and reheated in the oven when you're ready to serve it. After you've made the potatoes place them in an oven safe baking dish and cover with plastic wrap. To reheat: Remove the plastic wrap, place the dish in a cold oven, turn the heat up to 350°F, and bake for 30 - 45 minutes or until the potatoes are no longer cold in the center.

 

Tuesday Tea - Blind Taste Test, 12 Matcha Teas Compared #Sponsored

This week, along with several other bloggers, I'm undertaking one of the largest projects I've attempted yet during Tuesday Tea— a blind taste test of 12 different culinary grade matcha samples. The teas selected for this blind taste test are among the best selling brands of matcha found on Amazon. The samples were provided by Robert from Red Leaf Tea (who included two of his teas as samples to be judged.) To keep things fair, the selection of participating bloggers and handling of data was taken care of by Amanda from My Thoughts are Like Butterflies.

Matcha Blind Taste Test - Not Starving Yet

Judging Criteria


I was asked to rate the samples based on three criteria: color, flavor, and sweetness. These three scores were added up, then divided by 3 to give an overall score. Once I had my scores finalized I was asked to fill out a form and submit my data, only then would I be sent the information on which brands I was rating.
 

Process


3 ounces of water at 175°F, 1 teaspoon of matcha, served in a stoneware matcha bowl and whisked with a small kitchen whisk (I don't have a traditional matcha whisk.)

All samples were consumed immediately without any additions such as sugar or milk. 

I opted not to take notes on how well the samples frothed when whisked because a kitchen whisk doesn't work nearly as well as a traditional matcha whisk. 
 

Summary


There was a surprising division in quality of the twelve samples. I found that they could easily be grouped into low, medium, and high quality. The lowest rated teas were incredibly bitter and had a grainy texture that was very off-putting. There was very little difference in scores for this group and I found them all difficult to consume.

Sample 7 – Kazu – Organic Matcha 2/10

Sample 8 – Matcha DNA – Organic Matcha 2/10

Sample 10 – uVernal – Organic Matcha 2.67/10

The teas in the middle of the pack had a mixture of sweet and bitter flavors. The texture was somewhat grainy, which kept most them from scoring higher. I feel like these would be better options for baking, where the stronger flavor would be an asset and the difference in texture would not be as noticeable.

The highest rated teas all stood out for their sweetness and pleasant texture, but the other differences were more subtle. Again there was very little difference in scoring. The difference between first and second place was less than a point. After crunching the numbers I found that I actually had two first place and two second place winners. I feel like this could be narrowed down slightly more if we had a fourth scoring criteria— perhaps based on texture or the ability to maintain a good froth. 

Sample 9 – Kiss Me Organics 8/10

Sample 11 – Red Leaf Tea Starter Matcha 8/10

Sample 6 – Terra Verve Organic Matcha 9.17/10

Sample 12 – Red Leaf Tea Deluxe Matcha 9.17/10

When faced with the top four samples, I would be happy with either of the first place winners. Sample 6 from Terra Verve had the flavor that most closely resembled what I expect matcha to taste like. Sample 12 from Red Leaf Tea had a strong floral flavor that I've never seen in a matcha before, but enjoyed immensely.
 

Which Matcha Would I Choose?


It all depends on how I would be consuming the matcha.

For every day drinking I'd be slightly more prone to purchase the deluxe matcha from Red Leaf Tea, but only because it was significantly less expensive than the matcha from Terra Verve ($1.56 per ounce vs $8.52 per ounce.) It's a very affordably priced matcha. 

If I were serving the matcha to guests, I'd spend the extra money on the Terra Verve. It has a more neutral flavor that I think would be pleasing to a wider number of people. 

For culinary purposes I would choose one of the second place winners, the Starter Matcha from Red Leaf Tea. The slightly nutty flavor would work well in most culinary applications. It also happens to be the least expensive of the 12 samples tested (which means I don't have to feel guilty about wasting expensive matcha when my kitchen experiments don't work out the first few times.)

For more information on ratings, price point, and origin please continue reading the individual results.
 

Individual Results

Matcha Organics – 100% Organic Matcha

Origin: China
Price: $6.24 per ounce

Color: 4
Flavor: 4
Sweetness: 4

Notes: Mildly bitter, with a tart flavor and grainy texture.

Tradition – Green Tea Powder

Sample 2 – Tradition – Green Tea Powder 5.33/10

Origin: Taiwan
Price: $1.22 per ounce

Color: 6
Flavor: 5
Sweetness: 5

Notes: Mildly bitter, slightly sweet, with a grainy texture. 

Doctor King – Organic Matcha, Culinary Grade

Origin: Japan
Price: $6.00 per ounce

Color: 7
Flavor: 5
Sweetness: 6

Notes: Sweet and bitter with a grainy texture.

One Organic – Organic Matcha, Culinary Grade

Sample 4 – One Organic – Organic Matcha 4.67/10

Origin: China
Price: $2.27 per ounce

Color: 5
Flavor: 4
Sweetness: 5

Notes: Mildly bitter, with an odd flavor.

Enzo – Organic Matcha, Culinary Grade

Origin: China
Price: $5.50 per ounce

Color: 5
Flavor: 3
Sweetness: 3

Notes: Very bitter, didn't enjoy the texture. Would not drink again.

TerraVerve – Organic Matcha, Culinary Grade

Sample 6 – Terra Verve Organic Matcha 9.17/10

Origin: Japan
Price: $8.52 per ounce

Color: 9
Flavor: 9.5
Sweetness: 9

Notes: Sweet, mild grassy flavor. One of my favorites.

Kazu – Organic Matcha, Culinary Grade

Sample 7 – Kazu – Organic Matcha 2/10

Origin: Unknown
Price: $1.93 per ounce

Color: 2
Flavor: 2
Sweetness: 2

Notes: Very bitter, with an aftertaste of mint. Would not drink again, although I'm curious how it would fair in a smoothie or latte. The mint flavor was interesting.

Matcha DNA – Organic Matcha, Culinary Grade

Origin: China
Price: $2.47 per ounce

Color: 2
Flavor: 2
Sweetness: 2

Notes: Very bitter, would not drink again

Kiss Me Organics – Organic Matcha, Culinary Grade

Sample 9 – Kiss Me Organics 8/10

Origin: China
Price: $6.25 per ounce

Color: 9
Flavor: 7
Sweetness: 8

Notes: Sweet with a vegetal flavor similar to green beans

uVernal – Organic Matcha, Culinary Grade

Sample 10 – uVernal – Organic Matcha 2.67/10

Origin: China
Price: $6.25 per ounce

Color: 3
Flavor: 2
Sweetness: 3

Notes: Very bitter, would not drink again

Red Leaf Tea – 100% Organic Starter Matcha, Culinary Grade

Sample 11 – Red Leaf Tea Starter Matcha 8/10

Origin: China
Price: $0.94 per ounce

Color: 6
Flavor: 9
Sweetness: 9

Notes: Sweet and nutty with a slightly grainy texture

Red Leaf Tea – 100% Organic Deluxe Matcha, Culinary Grade

Sample 12 – Red Leaf Tea Deluxe Matcha 9.17/10

Origin: China
Price: $1.56 per ounce

Color: 9
Flavor: 9
Sweetness: 9.5

Notes: Sweet and heavily floral, no bitterness or grainy texture. One of my favorites.

Graphs

Rating vs Price
Average Rating
Matcha Scores

 

Disclosure


In an effort to be open with my readers I want to let you know that Red Leaf Tea has sponsored this post. I was provided with 12 samples, a sugar stick, and an ink pen. Upon completion I will be compensated for this review. As always, all opinions are my own. 

This post contains my Amazon affiliate links.  I try to keep advertising unobtrusive and to a minimum in order to provide you with the best experience possible. Purchases made through these links ensure I can continue providing you with quality content.

Pommes de Terre à la Lyonnaises (Potatoes Lyonnaise)

Pommes de Terre à la Lyonnaises or Potatoes Lyonnaise, hail from the city of Lyon, France in the Rhône-Alpes region. This provençal dish is made up of lightly browned potato slices that are pan-fried in butter until slightly crispy. They're very similar to a dish you'll find in America called home fries, but leave it to the French to take a simple potato dish and elevated it to a whole new level by adding lightly caramelized onions and finishing it off with a sprinkle of parsley. Because of its simplicity this dish pairs well with a wide variety of meats. It's particularly tasty with a nice juicy steak or hamburger, but don't be afraid to cook up a batch for breakfast. Who wouldn't enjoy carmamelized onions in the morning? Nobody, that's who!

PotatoesLyonnaise.jpg

Pommes de Terre à la Lyonnaises (Potatoes Lyonnaise)
makes 2-3 servings 

Ingredients

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, or other fat
1lb Yukon Gold potatoes
1 medium-sized yellow onion
sea salt
black pepper
parsley 

Directions

  • Trim the tops and bottoms off the onions, then slice into uniform pieces and set aside. 
  • In a cast iron skillet over medium-low heat, melt butter. Once butter has melted add onions and stir to coat, then leave the onions alone. 

The key to this recipe is patience, over stirring the onions will cause them to take longer to caramelize.

  • Check onions every 10 minutes, giving them a good stir to keep them from sticking to the pan. If any of the onions look like they are getting really dark, move them to the outer edge of the pan away from the burner, this will slow down the cooking process since the pan isn't as hot along the outer edge. You can also lower the heat as necessary to keep the onions from burning.
  • While your onions are caramelizing wash and slice potatoes into ¼ inch thick rounds, add to water with a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Cook for 10-15 minutes until potatoes are just tender, drain water, and add potatoes to the skillet with the caramelized onions.
  • Cook potatoes over medium-low heat for 6 minutes, until they are evenly browned and slightly crispy. Flip and cook for an additional 6 minutes before removing from heat. You may want to work in batches if your skillet is not large enough. If you decide to work in batches remove the onions after the first batch and set them aside so they do not over cook.
  • Before serving finish the potatoes off with a pinch of salt, black pepper, and parsley. Enjoy!

Notes

I've seen Potatoes Lyonnaise made with a variety of fats. I've chosen to use butter for this recipe because it is an ingredient everyone has access to, but if you'd like to lighten up this dish a little more you can use olive oil as a substitution. If you want something truly decadent, try a bit of duck fat, they give the potatoes a wonderful flavor.

Cooking time for the potatoes will vary widely depending on how large your potatoes are. I've used Size B Yukon Gold potatoes because they are small and will cook faster.