Jack ‘O Lantern

Halloween again, and I wonder if you all knew that the entire pumpkin carving thing comes from an Irish legend?


Yes, I know….we Irish claim everything, but this one is true – here’s he story:

People have been making jack-o’-lanterns at Halloween for centuries. The practice originated from an Irish myth about a man nicknamed “Stingy Jack.” According to the story, Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him. True to his name, Stingy Jack didn’t want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to buy their drinks. Once the Devil did so, Jack decided to keep the money and put it into his pocket next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form. Jack eventually freed the Devil, under the condition that he would not bother Jack for one year and that, should Jack die, he would not claim his soul. The next year, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing into a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree’s bark so that the Devil could not come down until the Devil promised Jack not to bother him for ten more years.

Soon after, Jack died. As the legend goes, God would not allow such an unsavory figure into heaven. The Devil, upset by the trick Jack had played on him and keeping his word not to claim his soul, would not allow Jack into hell. He sent Jack off into the dark night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and has been roaming the Earth with ever since. The Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as “Jack of the Lantern,” and then, simply “Jack O’Lantern.”


Happy Irish Halloween everyone

Gluten Free Irish Oat meal cookies for me too!

flakemeal cookies1a

Despite my reluctance to bake, cook and promote gluten-free recipes I am now jumping on the bandwagon.  I am discovering personal benefits from reducing my daily intake of gluten in addition to the increasing amount of clients and students who are gluten intolerant.

 One of my best friends Sharon is a master at gluten-free baking and she has so kindly been helping to convert some of my traditional Shamrock and Peach baked goods to gluten-free.  This morning I quickly boiled my electric kettle to make a big pot of Irish tea after a phone call that Sharon and cookies were on their way to my kitchen. I must confess a slight suspicion with how the cookies would taste compared to my treasured family recipe. But oh how I was wrong!  These cookies are light, crunchy and delicious.  A treat to those of us (like me) who are cutting down on their daily gluten intake and a true gift of love to those who are intolerant to gluten.

Classic Irish Oatmeal  Cookies

1 cup Kerrygold Irish butter, salted or Earth Balance (non-dairy butter)

¼ cup light brown sugar or sucanat (Wholesome Sweeteners)

¼ cup evaporated cane juice (Wholesome Sweeteners)

½ cup gluten-free oat flour (Bob’s Red Mill) or Gluten-free Steel Cut oats, *milled

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ cup unsweetened, organic dried coconut (Let’s Do organic)

2 ½ cup gluten-free rolled oats (Bob’s Red Mill)

1 tablespoon coconut flour (Bob’s Red Mill)

¼ teaspoon Redmond’s Real salt

1 teaspoon xanthan gum (Bob’s Red Mill)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

 How to make them:

In a large bowl mix, oat flour, baking soda, rolled oats, dried coconut, coconut flour, xanthan gum, cinnamon and salt together.

Turn on mixer. Cream together butter and sugars. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Mix until fully incorporated. Refrigerate for 1 hour to allow the dough to become firm.

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.

Lightly cover the surface with flour and roll out the dough to a thickness of about ½ inch using a floured rolling-pin or coat cooking spray on rolling-pin. Press mixture down with floured hands to form a circle, then use your rolling-pin to level the dough to about 1/3 inch thickness.

Tip: To prevent cookies from spreading. Dip cookies in oat flour and coat the outer edges as well.

 Bake 12 -15 minutes until the cookies are light golden color. Sprinkle the top of warm cookies with evaporated cane juice (organic sugar)

If you love this recipe and want more please like Sharons’ face book page where you can check out her upcoming cooking classes (and more)!

Sharon’s facebook is sharon’s gluten freekitchenandmore

You can also e-mail Sharon  with any questions about this recipe (and not me ha, ha) sharonsgfkitchenandmore@gmail.com

Big hugs and thanks to Sharon and hope to have more cross promotion in the future as we look for healthy alternatives to the way we eat!

Joy in the cookie! (I sure am loving them but remember to enjoy them with a good cuppa of Irish tea)

Judith the Irish foodie

LaGrange Georgia and Craigavon NI sister city links


What has an Irish girl living in Atlanta got in common with LaGrange situated in the South West of Georgia on the shores of West Point Lake?  My home city Craigavon in Northern Ireland is a twin city thanks to the sister cities international.

After 3 hours of grueling rush hour Atlanta traffic,  in a drive that should only take an estimated 1.45 minutes by my GPS, I arrived at LaGrange Georgia for a book signing event.  Strangely, it kind of feels like home now leaving the big city of Atlanta for a small town community feel where every one knows whose your daddy.

My first stop is the LaGrange Troop county tourism office to see Page who displays brochures about Lough Neagh and Craigavon and copies of the Shamrock and Peach cook book.  This week I had a personal invitation from the LaGrange Spectator’s book club and we feasted on white chocolate and raspberry scones (prepared by a local LaGrange bakery for our event), Kerrygold blarney and Dubliner cheese and grapes (prepared by Nancy who hosted the event) and Irish butter shortbread (my contribution) all featured in the Shamrock and Peach cook book.

True Southern elegance is displayed by the woman of LaGrange Georgia and for me it’s becoming my second home from Craigavon.  After all LaGrange is just outside of Alabama where Ike to tell folks when they ask where on earth my accents from!

Top of the morning Y’all

Judith the Irish foodie

Sea Salt Caramel Tiramisu with balsamic espresso

Sea salt caramel tiramisu with espresso balsamic

Sea salt caramel tiramisu with espresso balsamic

Last week I started my Shamrock and Peach fall cooking class series with Oli and Ve; the thriving Atlanta-based business selling gourmet oils and vinegar from all over the world.  We have had fun substituting my whiskey infused recipes with flavored vinegar’s and finishing oils replacing my love of Irish butter.  This time I replaced the classic Tia Maria coffee liquor with espresso balsamic combined with coffee and the bitter tang melded perfectly with the sweet sea salt caramel mascarpone cream.

I do admit to being a big fan of this Italian dessert classic. While I was prepping for my class I realized I am not the only Irish cook to be a fan including one of my favorite Irish Chefs.  Wade Murphy (a cutting edge Irish chef) and owner of 1826 Adare  tweeted an outstanding photo from his restaurant of espresso tiramisu last week.  I was instantly inspired but here is the version I created for my cooking class.  Thank you Wade!

Sea salt caramel Tiramisu


  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 oz (1/2 cup) extra fine sugar
  • 8 oz marscarpone cheese (room temperature)
  • 9 fluid oz heavy whipping cream
  • 9 fluid oz freshly brewed strong espresso coffee (left to cool)
  • ¼ pint of espresso vinegar (from Oli and Ve)
  • 1 small angel food cake (sliced and cut in to fingers)
  • Coco powder (for dusting)
  • (sea salt caramel ingredients)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 Tbsp butter
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ½ tsp coarse sea salt

How to make it

  1. To make the sea salt caramel sauce, slowly melt the sugar in to a small saucepan stirring all the time until it melts and caramelizes.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly before beating in all of the butter 1 Tbsp at a time.  Beat in the cream and stir to thicken.  Allow to cool.
  2. To make the cream separate the eggs.  Combine the yolks with the sugar and beat together.  Fold in the room temperature marscarpone cheese and cooled sea salt caramel.
  3. Using electric beater whip the heavy whipping cream and folks in to marscarpone cream.
  4. In a clean separate bowl whisk the egg white until soft peaks appear, then fold in to the marscarpone cream.  Spoon a third of the mixture in to a 13×9” dish.
  5. Combine coffee with Oli and Ve espresso vinegar.  Dip the sponge slices in to the coffee mixture and layer on top of cream.
  6. Cover the layer of soaped sponge fingers with another third layer of the marscarpone cream mixture, and add the rest of the coffee dipped sponge fingers on top.  Spoon the remaining cream to completely cover the sponge fingers.  Cover and allow chill for at least 2-3 hours or overnight.
  7. Serve with a dusting of cocoa powder on top.

Enjoy and go and create your own twist!

Judith the Irish foodie

Game of Thrones Castles and Culture tours



The fantasy HBO series Game of Thrones is filmed primarily in the glens of Antrim and Causeway Coast in Northern Ireland. When you visit Northern Ireland you will discover why it’s becoming one of the hottest movie settings with it’s hidden castles and fantasy landscapes everywhere.


My husband is in Northern Ireland this week spending time with family and photographing images for the Irish image.  We are both feeling excited about the launch of our new Shamrock and Peach tour this June called Castles and Culture where we stay in luxury castles and tour the North and North West of Ireland.   Our tour kicks off n the 1000 acres of ancient woodlands  Castle Leslie Estate.  The Leslie family arrived in Ireland in the 16th century and is still inhabited by Sir Jack Leslie who loves to share stories with guests.  Sir Winston Churchill’s christening robes are on display in one of the sitting rooms who is a family relative of the Leslie family.   Our tour then takes us to the Antrim Coast where we stop at Carrickfergus castle and Dunlunce Castle before retiring in Donegal’s Castle Eske.  The famous O’Donnell family who founded the nearby town of Donegal are traced to the Castle Eske from the 1400’s.  To crown our fantasy landscape adventures we head South West to the famous Cliffs of Moher in and the 5 star lodge at Doonbeg in Co. Clare.   Please e-mail me if you would like an itinerary for this new tour as my spaces are limited.  

Your own game of thrones is there for the taking with our Castes tours and we can promise that you will sleep like a king or queen.  Other tours may show you these castles but we are bringing you to stay and experience the history!

Dream of Ireland and go!

Judith the Irish foodie