on August 17, 2004
I love cookbooks, creating a cookbook collection, and cooking. I've never been satisfied by the Irish ones I have though, which has been a lament as I am an Irish lass. The recipes in other books tend to come in fits and starts, and some need modifying...until this gem.
I can throw my other Irish cookbooks away; all I need is this full-bodied book. I made Irish Whiskey Balls and Colcannon Pie for my office for St Paddy's Day. Raves all around from a discerning audience (some are Bon Appetite diehards). Everyone wanted the pie recipe who tasted it.
So far, not a recipe tragedy in any one I've tried. McGuire's Irish Pub Cookbook already feels like an old friend and trusted companion, partly because of its good storyline as well. I expect many good years with it by my side. Maybe a trip to Florida is on the horizon as it would be fun to check out the hearth of this pub.
`McGuire's Irish Pub Cookbook' by cookbook author for hire, Jessie Tirsch is a book-length add for the bar and restaurant in Pensacola, Florida by the same name. While this may immediately discredit the book in some people's minds, I found this to be an excellent presentation if Irish-American bar food, with the Irish influence being dominant.
Two words of warning to people whom may be encouraged to visit McGuire's Irish Pub. The first is that like Boston's `The Bull and Finch', the model for the bar portrayed in the TV series, `Cheers', `McGuire's' promises to be very busy, turning over a chair about once every half hour, in their public rooms. When I visited `The Bull and Finch', I barely had time to have a pint of beer and score a beer class including the `Cheers' logo plus a tee-shirt. The second is that many recipes in this book are not actually served at the pub today. But, neither of these considerations detracts in any way from the quality of the book.
My basis for evaluating this book is my recently reviewed `The Scottish-Irish Pub and Hearth Cookbook' by Kay Shaw Nelson. The first thing that comes home to me is the similarity of available shellfish in Scotland and Ireland compared to the shellfish available in the Gulf of Mexico. Both `terroirs;' have ample supplies of fresh shrimp (prawns), oysters, mussels, and clams. Thus, subtropical Pensacola can do a great imitation of dishes from the oceanic fauna of the North Sea and the North Atlantic. The second thing where I find a great parallel between American pubs and Scotch - Irish pubs is the fact that the hamburger in its many permutations is a staple bar food for both regions. I was so surprised to find so many good hamburger recipes in Ms. Nelson's book that I was tempted to believe the hamburger was an Irish invention.
This book begins with a very long illustrated Foreword by the bar's owners, McGuire and Molly Martin which chronicles the history of the bar, supplemented with many excellent pictures of some of the bar's more interesting interior decorations, featuring the mythical Uncle Nathan and some of the 12 huge moose heads.
The book begins, I am very pleased to say, with a chapter on breads and brunch. This is appropriate not only because it begins with brunch, but it also has all the recipes for the breads and rolls used for hamburgers and the like in later chapters. Most recipes are recognizably Irish, although at least three are clearly from that very un-Irish country, Italy, with the very similar flag.
The remaining chapters are:
Finger Foods: Appetizers and Party Picks
Between the Bread: Creative Sandwiches
The Kettle: Soups and Stews
Creature Comforts: Fish, Fowl, and Meat
Under Cover: Savory Pies and Tarts
Noodles And: Pasta and Crepes
And With It All: Side Dishes
The Eating of the Green: Salads
Celebrations: Passionate Potables
Sweet Sign-Offs: Heavenly Desserts
St. Pat Tricks: Tips, Techniques, Stocks, Etc.
I just had to check if the salads chapter included a recipe with watercress, the original shamrock. Oddly, I found that close to half of the salads recipes were based on pasta and seafood, but with lots of representatives of the spinach, cabbage, and carrot clans.
The last chapter on general techniques is useful, but pretty familiar to experienced amateur cooks. The desserts chapter is generally true to Irish puddings, tarts and use of fruits. I was just a bit surprised at the many desserts including chocolate, as this is not a big ingredient in native Irish recipes.
Every chapter seems to be a bit over half of true Irish recipes, with the remainder being imports from French and Italian cuisines, especially Italian. Several of the new inventions are interesting, but my favorite is the `Baby Reuben Egg Rolls with Honey-Beer Mustard'. Like basil and tomatoes, the pairing of corned beef and cabbage (or sauerkraut) is so great that the pairing seems to work in just about any preparation, especially with its constant companions, beer and mustard.
If you don't want the ad and the blarney in the headnotes, and want something a bit more authentic, get `The Scottish-Irish Pub and Hearth Cookbook', but if all you want are good Irish-American bar food recipes, you will not be disappointed with this offering.
on January 2, 2005
I admit that I was really excited to find this book. We ate at McGuire's in Pensacola a couple of times, and I desperately wanted their Shepard's Pie recipe. It's not in the book! It's one of the most popular dishes at the restaurant. Furthermore, the recipe for that incredible brown bread that they serve at the table is not in the book either!
I was planning a special birthday party for my very-Irish mother, and really wanted to make both of these for her. It was pretty disappointing. However, the dessert choices were amazing.
If you are buying this to be able to have recipes from your favorite dishes from the restaurant, you may be disappointed!
on April 18, 2004
I bought this book as a companion to the "Complete Encylopaedia of Beer", thinking it would have pub sandwiches and onion rings. We just love this book! We have made the Basil Shrimp and the Smoked Salmon Bisque. They were very good, not complicated to make. Now we just have to pick which one to try next! There are several Irish dishes, but they are more appetizing than the standard corned beef and cabbage. Each recipe is accompanied by a little history or story, which makes for more interesting and fun cooking.
on December 11, 2014
If I could give this less than one star, I would. We have eaten at McGuire's and these are not the recipes they use in the restaurant in Destin, FL. We had numerous dishes on our visits there last summer. We bought the cookbook to try to replicate the Crocked Onion soup. Despite following the recipe to a tee, it was nasty. Way too much Lager called for. We have tried three other recipes in this book and though we followed every recipe as prescribed, it was nothing like the restaurant food. Don't waste your money.
on April 20, 2015
this book makes for some interesting reading.
It's good reading especially about the history and how the restaurant expanded and added rooms to reflect Irish history and is just flat out impressive. However, these are the only pictures in the cookbook. There are no photos of the finished recipes or photos of just recipes or of Irish food ingredients.
Now comes the bad. The recipes are "deficient" and have errors a buyer / home cook might not spot until preparing the actual dish.
First, there is a dish for grits with Munster cheese. The recipe calls out for 2 "teaspoons" of grated Munster cheese for 1-3/4 cup of grits cooked in about 6 cups of water. I just may as well omit the cheese from the recipe - two teaspoons is nothing! Munster is a mild cheese and 2 teaspoons won't add much flavor. It's more aggravation & kitchen clean-up just to grate the 2 tsps and / or inconvenience to buy such a small amount of cheese for this recipe. Should I be using more cheese? If so, how much? Italian polenta (same as grits) uses upwards of 1/2 cup finely grated parmesan for a similar amount of grits.
Another recipe calls for bringing sugar and water to the boil. OK, water boils at 212°F. The instructions then say to continue boiling until a candy thermometer registers 200°F before adding the next ingredient. Huh? Didn't I reach this temperature (200°F) before the syrup began to boil at 212°F Was I supposed to add that next ingredient "before" the sugar syrup boiled? If not, then what is the correct temperature to add the orange marmalade and whiskey? Certainly above 200°F and 212° F.
Another recipe for Irish flag bread calls for 1-3/4 cup flour. To that add: 2/3 cup hot water + 8 oz tomato sauce + 1 egg. OK, that about equals 1-3/4 (1.75) cup liquid. After mixing, I will have a batter - and there is no way in hell for me to "transfer the dough to a work surface to knead and roll into an oblong shape about 8 inches by 12 inches."
I've noticed some other errors which are probably due to the publisher not proofing their own work. For example, one recipe says the recipe "sServes 6." Other text "%iL%RUlyssess%?" What's the purposes of the "%" signs around a name. Certainly not the mathematical function. Purely bad proofing by the publisher, and maybe author.
The recipe titles sound very delicious - but at least for these which require baking, be prepared to adjust the quantities to make the recipes work. The liquids to flour ratio for the bread recipes are purely wrong. The quantities might be OK for a batter bread that's poured into a (loaf) pan, but certainly far too wet and sticky to be kneaded on a table and rolled out into some specific shape.
Good reading - maybe a coffee table cookbook (without photos of the final dishes) - but some recipes seem to be certain disasters.