Lughnasadh, is the time of year when the gardens are in full bloom. From root vegetables to fresh herbs, so much of what you need is right there in your own back yard or at the local farmer's market. If you're one of our gluten-free readers, be sure to read about celebrating Lughnasadh when you're on a gluten-free diet. Let's take advantage of the gifts of the garden, and cook up a feast to celebrate the first harvest at Lughnasadh!
Barley and Mushroom Soup
Barley is one of the grains honored in harvest folklore throughout history, especially around the Lughnasadh. It's a filling sort of grain, and lends itself beautifully to a hearty soup, especially when you add wild mushrooms and other late summer goodies! You can either make this soup right before meal time, or get it started early in the day, and allow it to simmer for a few hours.
5 C. vegetable broth
1 C. barley, uncooked
1/2 lb. mushrooms (use morels or enoki for a woodsy flavor)
1/2 C. onion, diced
1/2 C. fresh carrots, chopped
1/2 C. celery, chopped
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
Bring the vegetable broth to a low rolling boil on the stove and then reduce heat. Add the mushrooms, onions, carrots and celery, and allow to simmer for ten minutes. Add the barley and garlic, cover and simmer for another hour.
Add salt and pepper, seasoning to taste. Top with fresh croutons and chives, if you've got them handy.
Serve as a side dish at your Lughnasadh celebration, accompanied by a nice soft chunk of buttered bread!
Butter Fried Chicken
At Lughnasadh, summer is beginning to draw to a close. In many rural communities, this was a time when flocks and herds were brought in from the fields and pastures. Much like the grains in the field, livestock were often harvested at this time. This simple recipe for chicken is one that can be prepared just about anywhere, and it only takes a few moments.
Using a meat mallet, lightly pound any thicker parts of the chicken breasts so they are of even thickness. In a shallow baking dish, mix the flour, salt and pepper. In another shallow baking dish, mix the bread crumbs, cheese, oregano, basil and cayenne. Place the eggs in a medium bowl and beat well.
Working with one piece of chicken at a time, dredge in the flour, then dip the chicken in the egg, letting any excess drip back into the bowl. Dredge in the bread crumbs, pressing to help the crumbs adhere. Transfer the chicken to a baking sheet.
In a large cast-iron skillet, melt the butter over moderate heat. Add 4 chicken pieces and cook until golden brown and cooked through, turning halfway, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the breasts to a serving platter and season with salt. Repeat with the remaining chicken.
Add the shallots and capers to the skillet and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Stir in the lemon slices. Spoon some of the sauce over the chicken and serve with the remaining sauce on the side.
Roasted Garlic Corn
Few crops embody the spirit of the harvest quite like corn. For centuries, the corn cob has been a staple part of every harvest season meal. However, instead of just plopping it in some boiling water and slapping a bit of butter on it, why not make your corn a bit more savory by roasting it over an open fire?
Unshucked corn cobs
A pot of water
Salt, pepper, and paprika
Soak the corn cobs in the pot of water—leave the husk on—and let them sit for an hour or two. This will make the corn cobs nice and moist.
Put the wet corn cobs, still in their husks, on a grill. If you're lucky enough to be using a campfire, drop them into the white coals on the edge of the fire ring. Turn the corn cobs once in a while, and let them cook for about half an hour. You'll know they're done when the husk is dry and slightly burnt.
Remove the corn cobs from the grill and let them sit for a few minutes to cool a little. Don't let them get cold. Peel the husk all the way back and use it for a handle, or use wooden skewer sticks. Brush the cob with butter, and sprinkle with garlic, salt, pepper and paprika.
In parts of the British Isle Lughnasadh was celebrated with the baking of a cake made from the first harvested grains. While today we don’t typically harvest our own wheat, oats, barley or corn – unless you’re hardy enough to be a farmer – we can still take advantage of this tradition and bake one of these seasonal goodies, which were called Lunastain cakes. It takes its name from the Scottish word from Lammastide, lunastain.
Keep in mind that although the word “cake” conjures up images of sweet baked goods, originally it was used to mean any baked item made from grains, so your Lunastain cake can be either sweet or savory, depending on your preference. In other words, it can be similar to a traditional sweet cake, or it can be more bread-like. The choice is up to you.
Typically, the Lunastain cake was made from oats, and was called a bannock. Much like the bannocks that were served around Beltane, it was baked and then fried or toasted, and sometimes topped with freshly churned cream butter. However, the recipes vary from one region to the next, because the ingredients and methods were based upon what was handy and available.
The recipe below skips the baking step altogether and just goes straight into a skillet for frying. This will give you four to six cakes, depending on how large you make them.
If you’re eating gluten-free, you can use a combination of gluten-free baking flour and oats, and a bit of flaxseed meal to give your cakes a nice oatey taste without worries about unpleasant side effects. Obviously, if you don’t have to concern yourself with gluten, you can still use this recipe, and enjoy it!
2 C. all purpose baking flour 1/2 C. oats 1/2 C. golden flaxseed meal 1 tsp. baking powder 1 tsp. baking soda 1 tsp. xanthan gum 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 C. butter, chilled and cubed 1 1/2 C. cold water (you may need a little bit more or less, so add it gradually and use your best judgment)oil for frying
Combine all of your dry ingredients together and mix well. Add in the butter – it helps if you have a pastry blender, but it’s not required. Finally, mix in the water, blending until you have a thick, stuff dough. Roll it into a ball, and allow your dough to sit in the fridge for half an hour or so. Although you don’t necessarily have to do this, and can probably skip it if you’re in a hurry, it does help to keep the dough from separating when you’re frying it.
Heat your oil in a fry pan – if you’ve got cast iron, use it, because the result can be amazing. Divide your dough into equal portions – I typically get around six from this recipe, but you can make them smaller or larger – and roll them out in flour to flatten them. Don’t make them too thin, or they’ll end up crispier rather than soft. Mine are usually around half an inch thick.
Once your oil is hot, add a cake into the skillet – it’s best to just do them one at a time and add additional oil as you go. Fry it until it’s golden brown on the bottom, and then flip it over to do the other side. You may notice it gets a little puffy in places – that’s okay! After your cakes are cooked on both sides, remove them from the oil and place them on a paper towel to cool.
Blackberries are often ripe and ready for picking around Lughnasadh. Go out and gather a bucketful and make a delicious blackberry cobbler for your summer celebrations!
1 C sugar 1/3 C stick butter, softened 2 C flour 2 tsp baking powder 1 C milk 1 tsp salt 4 C fresh blackberries 2 Tbs sugar 1/2 tsp cinnamon 2 C boiling water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cream together sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add in the flour, baking powder, milk and salt. Blend until creamy, and spread into a greased 12 x 8" baking pan.
Pour blackberries over batter, and sprinkle with remaining sugar and cinnamon. Pour boiling water over the top, and then bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, or with fresh cream.