It just so happens that yesterday was my 26th birthday. Judge all you want to, but I’m one of those people that still gets excited about my birthday, probably in part because my family has a knack for picking out the absolute best birthday presents ever. My parents sent me a new lens for my camera (50 mm f/1.8 yippee!) and my aunt, who always picks out the perfect cookbook for me, sent this:

I know Irish food isn’t the most vegetarian-friendly, but there are some great recipes in here, and the photography is beautiful. I also love the little stories profiling various people and places. Since Ireland is one of my favorite places on Earth, I’m really excited about adding this to my growing collection of cookbooks.

Colcannon combines two of my favorite vegetables, kale and potatoes, and it’s nice and simple comfort food. I have to argue that the pat of butter on top is a crucial component, because it melts into the potatoes and gives them an alluring, velvety texture.

(adapted from The Country Cooking of Ireland by Colman Andrews)

serves 8

5 or 6 russet potatoes
2 tbsp butter, plus additional pats for serving
3 cups chopped kale (leaves only)
1 1/3 cups whole milk
4 green onions, chopped
salt and pepper

Put the potatoes in a large pan and cover about halfway with water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about 40 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Pour out the water but keep the potatoes in the pan and let stand, covered, for about 5 minutes.

Melt the butter in a wide skillet and add the kale. Cook until wilted, about 5 minutes.

Bring the milk and green onions to a simmer in a saucepan and add a few pinches of salt and pepper. Stir in the kale, turn off the heat, and keep covered.

Peel the potatoes and put them in a large bowl. Add the milk and kale, and mash until nearly smooth, seasoning with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Divide among bowls and top each serving with a pat of butter.

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