Irish Celeb Chef Hits the Folklife Festival

This weekend Norah Brown demos soda bread, potted salmon, and other Irish treats.

Irish chef Norah Brown cooks up a storm this weekend at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival.

This Sunday afternoon, Smithsonian crews will box up the basket-weaving exhibits and the Pu’er teahouse, which means there are only a few days left of enriching–and free–Folklife Festival cooking demos. There will be lectures on tomato-growing in the Garden Kitchen, and delicate Yunnan noodles will boil on the Mekong River stage, but we're zeroing in on Northern Ireland. In particular, Norah Brown, a lassie chef from a quaint guesthouse in county Tyrone. All through the weekend she'll give lessons on making potted, baked, and roasted salmon, plus wheaten and treacle soda breads.  

Her "Cooking with Norah" demo series may sound like it's related to the city's well-known Restaurant Nora, but this Norah hails from across the pond (though she is equally concerned with locally-grown produce). She and husband Ralph are the proprietors of the Grange Lodge, a luxury country house and cooking school. Even the Queen mum noticed her culinary skills, awarding Brown an MBE or “member” status within the British Empire. Here’s where can catch Brown at the Folklife Festival this weekend. (Also making appearances are Irish culinary personalities Hugh Browne, Reverend Jim Mattison, and Liz Moore). Check here for a complete schedule of events.

The 2007 Smithsonian Folklife Festival is held on the National Mall between 7th and 14th streets. It runs through July 8th. All cooking events are free, and food is available for purchase.

Friday, July 6 

Noon: Treacle soda bread (A spin on the traditional recipe with molasses as the primary ingredient); Herb-roasted salmon and prawn salad with smoked salmon cream (Wild Atlantic salmon and crustaceans swim all along the Emerald Isle’s periphery. Seafood is a huge industry for both the North and South of Ireland).
3 PM
: Wheaten bread (The rustic, bran-heavy whole wheat soda bread is known as “brown bread” throughout the rest of Ireland). Baby new potato, nectarine, and rocket salad (Only the potatoes are especially Irish here. “Rocket” is another term for arugula).

Saturday, July 7th

2 PM: Champ (A traditional mashed potato side dish made with scallions, butter, and whole milk). Baked salmon with herb crust and crème fraîche and chive sauce.
4 PM
: Soda farls (Quick and easy cooking method of griddling up soda bread dough, then slicing it into “farls” or “fourths”). Potted salmon (see below).
Sunday, July 8th

: Potted salmon (The “potted” style actually dates back to 18th century England. It later traveled across the Irish Sea); White chocolate cheesecake with strawberry coulis (a puréed strawberry sauce).