Recipes for the Imbolc Sabbat

Couple having food while sitting on rock at field during winter
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Imbolc is a great time of fire and feasting. It's the celebration of the goddess Brighid, guardian of the hearth and homefires, as well as the season of the Lupercalia, and of the spring lambing season. For this sabbat, celebrate with foods that honor the hearth and home —breads, grains, and vegetables stored from fall, such as onions and potatoes—as well as dairy items. Whip up some kitchen magic for your Sabbat meal with these tasty recipes, using seasonal themes to celebrate.

Leandra Witchwood of The Magick Kitchen points out that "Food is such an important element in just about anything we do. The preparation of feast-like meals and family dinners is a ritual in itself. So when we discuss rituals in which we celebrate, we should also recognize the importance of food. Think back to all the pleasant memories you have had with family and friends, I bet there was some sort of food or beverage involved."

Try one of these eight awesome recipes for your Imbolc celebrations!

01
of 08

Irish Cream Truffles

Irish cream truffles are a tasty addition to your Imbolc feast -- if you can keep them around that long!. Image by Brian Hagiwara Studio Inc./StockFood Creative/Getty Images

Everyone loves chocolate, and having a nice rich truffle after dinner is a great way to wrap up your Sabbat meal. This recipe is fairly easy, and although the original uses egg yolks, we've modified it a bit to use egg substitute. Make these in advance and chill them, and break them out once your Imbolc feast is over.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 C. Bailey's Irish Cream
  • 12-oz bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 C. heavy cream
  • 2/3 C. egg substitute (or four egg yolks)
  • 2 Tbs butter (use real butter, not margarine)
  • Cocoa powder

Directions

In a heavy saucepan over low heat, combine the Bailey's and chocolate chips. Maintain over very low heat so your chocolate doesn't scorch, and stir until the chips have melted. Add heavy cream and egg substitute. Blend until smooth. Stir in butter, whisking until thick.

Remove from heat, and chill overnight until firm. Once the mixture has firmed up, use a spoon to scoop it out and roll into 1" balls.

Roll each ball in the cocoa powder until coated. Depending on the size of the balls -- and how much of the dough you eat during prep—you can get a few dozen truffles out of this.

** Note: if you like, instead of rolling in cocoa, use powdered sugar, colored sprinkles, flavored coffee powder or chopped nuts.

** To make a great gift, roll up a cone of heavy parchment paper, drop some truffles inside, and tie with a ribbon.

02
of 08

Baked Custard

bacon fried with onions in frying pan
IgorGolovnov / Getty Images

The word "Imbolc" comes in part from the phrase "ewe's milk," so dairy products become a big part of February celebrations. For our ancestors, this time of year was hard - the winter stores were running low and there were no fresh crops. The livestock was typically preparing for birth, and the lambing season would begin soon. At that time, the ewes came into milk, and once milk arrived, you knew your family would have a source of food again. Sheep's milk is highly nutritious, and sheep were considered a dairy animal long before cattle. If you have eggs, then you've got the makings of custard, a perfect dairy dessert.

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 3 C. milk
  • 1/2 C. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • A pinch of salt

Directions

Preheat your oven to 350. Combine all the ingredients into the bowl of a food processor, and blend for about 15 seconds, or until well mixed. Pour custard mix into ramekins or custard cups. Place the ramekins into a baking dish, and fill the dish with hot water up to a depth of about ¾". Bake the custards for one hour.

**Note: If you don't have a food processor, you can use a hand mixer, it just takes a little bit longer to get everything mixed up.

03
of 08

Make Your Own Butter

Dish of Home-made Butter
Envision / Getty Images

Imbolc is a Sabbat that often focuses on dairy -- after all, the very word Imbolc is derived from Oimelc, or "ewe's milk." This is a great time of year to make foods that come from a dairy source, and few are more representative of dairy than butter. Homemade butter is great because it's got a fuller flavor - mostly because you make with pure cream instead of diluting it with oils and water like commercially produced butter. Although back in the old days, people used to spend hours at a churn, you can put together your own batch of fresh butter with just a little bit of effort.

Ingredients

  • Heavy whipping cream
  • A pinch of salt
  • Glass jar with a lid that seals tightly

Directions

Allow the whipping cream to sit at room temperature overnight to let it ripen. Don't leave it out more than 24 hours, or it will spoil. Pour the whipping cream into the jar, around two thirds of the way full. Tighten the lid so it's sealed - I like to use a Mason jar for this, but you can use any kind you like. Shake the jar for about twenty to thirty minutes. If you have more than one kid, let them take turns so no one gets bored.

Check the jar periodically—if the contents are getting too thick for you to shake easily, open the jar and use a fork to stir things up a little. Eventually, the cream will start to form yellow clumps. These clumps are your butter, which means you're done. If you're not going to eat all your butter immediately, keep it in the jar, refrigerated. It will last about a week before it begins to spoil.

You can add flavor (and help prevent early spoilage) by adding a bit of salt to your butter. If you like, add herbs or honey. Experiment a little, to see what sorts of flavors you enjoy best. Also, if you allow your butter to chill after mixing it, you can shape it into blocks for easy cutting and spreading.

A Bit of Butter History

Did you know that mankind has been making butter, in some way, shape or form, for around 4,000 years? According to WebExhibits' Butter Through the Ages, "We have record of its use as early as 2,000 years before Christ. The Bible is interspersed with references to butter, the product of milk from the cow.

Not only has it been regarded from time immemorial as a food fit for the gods, but its use appears to have been divinely recommended and its users promised certain immunities against evil... The word butter comes from bou-tyron, which seems to mean "cowcheese" in Greek. Some scholars think, however, that the word was borrowed from the language of the northern and butterophagous Scythians, who herded cattle; Greeks lived mostly from sheep and goats whose milk, which they consumed mainly as cheese, was relatively low in butter (or butyric) fat."

Using a Stand Mixer

If you have a stand mixer, you can actually make this in your mixer. Pour the cream into your mixer's bowl and add the salt. Cover the whole thing with a towel - trust me, this is important, because it gets really splashy. Put your mixer on the lowest setting and let it run for about five minutes. The cream will separate so that you end up with not just butter, but buttermilk as well, which you can use in recipes.

You can use as much or as little cream as you want, but just kind of as a guideline, if you're using the jar method above, a cup of cream will give you around half a cup of butter and a half cup of buttermilk. If you're using a stand mixer, a whole quart of cream will yield a pound of butter and about two cups of buttermilk.

04
of 08

Bacon and Leeks

bacon fried with onions in frying pan
IgorGolovnov / Getty Images

Bacon is one of those foods that's so good people like to wrap other foods in it. However, if you're a purist and appreciate your bacon simple, this is a great recipe to whip up at Imbolc. The fiery taste of onions an garlic is offset by the smokiness of the bacon. Enjoy this heaped onto some nice warm Braided Bread.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound of bacon
  • 3 fresh leeks, chopped
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Directions

Fry the bacon and drain off excess fat. Remove from pan, and then chop into small pieces. Return to pan, and add garlic, leeks and onions. Season with salt and pepper to taste. When onions are opaque, remove from heat and serve scooped onto warm, soft bread.

**Note: If you're a vegetarian, try this with strips of sliced zucchini or hash-brown style potatoes in place of the bacon. It's still delicious!

05
of 08

Beer Battered Fish and Chips

Image by Lauri Patterson/E+/Getty Images

The Celtic peoples often relied on fish as part of their diet -- after all, fish were plentiful, and could be caught any time of year. Beer too was popular, because it didn't spoil, and helped add flavor to some otherwise bland meals. Use beer, your favorite white fish, and some good plump potatoes for this recipe, and dig in at Imbolc.

Ingredients 

  • 2 lbs your favorite white fish: tilapia, haddock, flounder
  • 4 large russett potatoes
  • Kosher salt
  • Rosemary
  • 2 C flour
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
  • A dash of cayenne pepper
  • 1 bottle of dark beer, cold
  • Oil for frying
  • Cornstarch for dredging

Directions

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Heat the oil in a large pot until it reaches about 375.

Wedge the potatoes, leaving the skin on, and drop then in a large bowl with cold water.

In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, salt, Old Bay seasoning, and cayenne pepper. Finally, pour in the beer and whisk until the batter is smooth. To help batter adhere to the fish, try chilling the batter in the fridge for about half an hour.

Drain the potatoes, and submerge them in the oil. Work in small batches so the oil doesn't cool off too much, and cook them until they're crisp and golden brown. Remove from oil, drain on a rack, and season with rosemary and kosher salt. Place them in the oven to stay warm while you cook the fish.

Reduce the heat of the oil to about 350. Lightly dredge your fish fillets in cornstarch, and then dip in the batter. Place in the hot oil, and allow to cook until the batter sets. Turn fish over, and cook until they're a golden brown color. Remove from oil, drain on rack, and serve with potato fries.

For maximum flavor, sprinkle with malt vinegar and salt, accompanied by a pint of Guinness, or your favorite beverage.

06
of 08

Braided Bread

Challah
Debbi Smirnoff / Getty Images

Braided bread is found in many forms, in many cultures. This recipe is a simple one, and is perfect for serving at your Imbolc feast. The braid symbolizes Brighid in her aspect as the bride, representative of her fertility and position as a hearth goddess. Serve this tasty braided bread with warm butter for dipping.

Ingredients 

  • 1 batch of your favorite homemade dough, or a loaf of frozen bread dough, thawed (this is in the frozen foods section at the grocery store), or a 
  • 1 egg
  • Water
  • Sesame seeds

Directions

If you're using frozen dough, allow it to defrost at room temperature. If you're using your own homemade recipe, start working with it after you've kneaded it out into a ball.

Before it begins to rise, cut your dough into thirds with a large pizza cutter or a knife. Roll each piece out until it's about 18" long, and about an inch thick. You'll end up with three of these long strips.

Take the strips, and braid them together, trying not to stretch them out too much.

When you've reached the end of the braid, tuck the ends underneath themselves. If you want to make a really big braided loaf, use two batches of dough, which will yield six strips - then simply continue the braiding until it's the size you want.

Place the braid either on a baking stone, or on a pan that has been sprinkled with cornmeal.

Beat the egg in a small bowl, and add 2 Tbsp. water. Lightly brush the egg and water mixture over the braid, and then sprinkle with sesame seeds. Let it rise in a warm place for about an hour, or until doubled in size.

Bake at 375 for 30 minutes, or until a light golden brown color. Remove from baking sheet, and allow to cool for 15 minutes or more before serving.

** Note: if you want to really jazz this up, use different types of bread, such as white and wheat. The end result is visually very appealing, with the different colors braided together.

07
of 08

Candied Carrots

Grilled Honey Glazed Baby Carrots Close Up
1MoreCreative / Getty Images

​Carrots are one of those root vegetables that our ancestors would have stored away for the cold winter months. Come February, they'd still be edible, even when everything else was gone. Raw or cooked, carrots are awesome. They correspond to the element of fire with their warm, sunny color (although obviously they're associated with earth, too, being root vegetables), so why not cook some up to add to your Imbolc feast? The trick with this recipe is to not let your carrots get too soft—just heat them long enough that they're hot, but still have some of the crunch in them.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb, raw carrots, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1/4 C. brown sugar
  • Salt & Pepper
  • A dash of ground ginger
  • 1 Tbsp chives, chopped

Directions

Melt the butter over low heat. Once it's melted, add the carrots, sauteeing until they begin to get a bit light in color. Add the brown sugar, and mix until dissolved. Allow the carrots to simmer over low heat for just a few minutes.

Add the salt, pepper and ginger to taste. The ginger adds a nice little bit of zing to an otherwise sweet recipe. Top with the chopped chives. Serve as a side dish with your favorite main course, or as part of an Imbolc potluck.

08
of 08

Curried Lamb with Barley

Image by Julie Clancy/Moment/Getty Images

At Imbolc, the lamb is a true symbol of the season. In the British Isles, there were years when the spring lambing presented the first meat people had eaten in months. Barley was a staple crop in many areas of Scotland and Ireland, and could be used to stretch even the thinnest of winter meals to feed an entire family. Although curry was not native to the UK, it lends itself well to the theme of this Sabbat because of its fiery nature. The golden raisins add a bit of sunny sweetness. This simple dish is delicious, and reminds us that spring is truly on its way.

Ingredients 

  • 2 Tbs. butter or oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 lbs. lean lamb, sliced into thin strips (you can also use lamb still on the bone as in the photo, but plan to adjust your cooking time to a little longer)
  • 1 C. beef or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 C. barley
  • 2 Tbs. curry powder
  • 1/2 C. golden raisins

Directions

In a large skillet, heat the butter or oil. Sautee the onion until soft, and then add the strips of lamb. Brown the lamb, but not so long that it gets tough—you want to keep it nice and tender. Slowly pour in the broth.

Add the barley, and cover the pan. Allow to simmer about 20 minutes, or until barley has cooked. Uncover, and add curry and raisins. Simmer for a few more minutes, and remove from heat.

Serve as part of your Imbolc dinner.

If you don't eat meat, never fear! This is actually excellent with some chopped zucchini or your other favorite squash in place of the lamb.