Mothers day is over in Ireland but it’s almost time to celebrate in the US. I know what I would like my boys to make me for brunch so I am posting this easy recipe hoping they may get the hint. Oh and I hope they do not forget the Mimosa (champagne and orange juice please)?
a slice of brnch heaven
Bacon, Leek and Sweet Potato Quiche
Sunday brunch is that relaxed kick back time where the pressures of the week schedule are gone and families come together. Brunch is also easy and fun for kids to prepare at home for their mums and nothing says I love you more than a warm baked quiche. Another beauty about quiche is that you truly can make it your own with regard to the fillings. I, for one am always transported back to my Irish roots when I cook with leeks and the addition of sweet potato is my southern twist.
Sweet Potato, Leek, Bacon with Irish Cheddar Quiche
(Baked pie shell)
1 ¼ cups all purpose flour (sifted)
1/4 tsp. salt
7 Tbsp. unsalted Kerrygold butter (chilled)
2-4 Tbsp. ice cold water
6 slices of apple wood smoked bacon (cut into strips)
1 medium leek (use mainly white part)
4 large eggs (beaten)
1 cup whipping cream
1 medium sweet potato (cooked and mashed)
¼ tsp. fine sea salt
1/8 tsp. white pepper
1 ½ cups Kerrygold Dubliner cheese (finely grated)
How to make it:
To make pastry combine flour and salt in a medium size bowl or food processor. Use a pastry fork or processor to cut in the butter until it resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over the iced water 1 Tbsp. at a time and mix until the dough is moist enough to hold together to form a ball. Flatten in to a disc and wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
On a lightly floured surface roll out dough in to a circle about 11 inches in diameter for a 9”pie plate or fluted tart pan. Trim off any excess pastry and prick the bottom of the dough with a fork.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. To prevent over browning line pastry with a double layer of foil and bake for 10 minutes. Remove foil and bake pastry for a few more minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool n a wire rack and leave the oven on.
To make filling in a large skillet cook bacon until crispy. Remove bacon and fat, reserving 2 Tbsp. to sauté leeks for 3-4 minutes or until soft and fragrant and remove from heat.
In a food processor or mixing bowl combine eggs, cream, mashed sweet potato, salt and pepper.
To assemble the quiche layer the leeks and bacon, cheese and then pour over the egg mixture.
Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the egg sets and is firm to the touch.
Allow quiche to sit for at least 15minutes before serving.
Spring has sprung and summer is on it’s way. The return of summer for me means I am getting ready to head to Ireland leading three groups of US guests to my homeland. This year I am adding a new tour called Legendary Ireland where I explore not just the Irish history but the legends that surround it. So what is a Legend anyway? The Latin word for Legends is Legenda that means “things to be read”. So my interpretation is that legends are stories of people, events and places that have been written about in history but have not been proven as factual.
Ireland is the place of Legends where stories have been passed on from generation to generation and blended with history. One of our first stops on the tour is the GiantsCauseway on the furthest Northern point of Ireland. We know that a geographical explanation of why these unique hexagonal shaped rocks appeared is logical, but how more fun to learn the stories the Ulster Giant Finn McCool? Legend has it that this Ulster giant battled against the Scottish rival Benandonner and chased him home tarring up the causeway path on his retreat. Or how about the Megalithic monument that we know to be a burial chamber in Co. Clare; but are we not more stirred by the legend that it could be the opening to another dimension? Oh the places, the quiet spaces and legends of times past and the people who have gone before and left their stories only to come alive again to those who travel to Ireland.
So jump in to Ireland this summer if you still have not made plans and you too can explore not just history but a place of legends.
Judith the Irish foodie (Shamrock and Peach tours)
There are still hidden places in Ireland that could be best described as ‘enchanting‘, and one such place me has to be ‘Castle Leslie‘ -where time, like a capsule, seems to stand still and you feel that just maybe magic exists. There is no doubt that the presence of Sir Jack Leslie (the nephew of Sir Winston Churchill) adds the mystique of living history who tells stories about real battles, lords and ladies, Kings and Princes.
Last year our Shamrock and PeachTour guests got a private tour of the interiors of the Castle by 92 year old Sir Jack, capturing each room with stories of grandeur including pointing out the glass cased christening robes of Sir Winston Churchill, antiques and paintings all worthy of a museum. At night, turf fires are lit in each room downstairs and guests can sit and contemplate, rejuvenate and simply feel inspired by living history. In the words of a poem carefully left on guest pillows “Where beauty and friendship embrace one another and troubles are left far behind”
Elegant Interiors inside the castle Leslie, Co Monaghan
Antique furnishings inside Castle Leslie
Welcome to Glaslough
The food is also something to remember at Castle Leslie and guests are truly pampered by the restaurant service and the food is seasonal, local and exquisite presentation. My friend and head Chef Noel McMeel from the Lough Erne catered Paul McCartney’s wedding at Castle Leslie and when you go you can see why is renowned as the kind of place where memories are made. You can experience this Castle, Castle Eske in Donegal and the famous Ashord Castle this June with Shamrock and PeachTours this June on our Castles tours in addition to other Luxury resorts on our Legendary and Elegant Irish tour.
Growing up in Ireland, the home bakeries pride themselves in iced fingers or as we like to call them ‘wee iced buns’. Around 11 am in the morning with what we refer to in Ireland as ‘elevensies‘ it’s time for that strong cuppa tea and a stop to the local bakery for a freshly baked iced finger. There is nothing really like biting in to a fresh, soft bread dough and feel the squish of fresh whipped cream on your tongue. Oh yes, and there’s enough sweetness in the icing and jam to know you are somewhere between dessert and bread…not a bad place to be before lunch, eh?
I got together with Ashley McCord from Ankarasum (click here for the link to Ankarasum) to bake using my new Ankarasum machine and the results were fast, delicious and magically transported me home to Northern Ireland. This recipe was adapted from Paul Hollywood’s Great British Bake Off where he instructs kneading the dough by hand. So thankful for modern technology and here is how we did it effortlessly!
The dough has risen
Dividing into 24 pieces
forming the fingers
ready to shape
Piping the cream
icing the buns
Wee Iced Buns recipe
4 ½ fl. oz (about ¼ cup) warm water
5 fl. oz (about 2/3 cup) warm milk
1 ½ fl. oz (3 Tbsp) Kerry Gold unsalted butter, softened
2 tsp. salt
¼ cup fine granulated sugar
1 lb 2 oz (about 3 2/3 cups) all purpose white flour
2 Tbsp. yeast
7 oz. (about 1 ½ cups) powdered sugar
5 tsp. cold water
1 drop of pink food coloring
12 fl oz (1 ½ cups) heaving whipping cream
2 Tbsp fine granulates sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla
3 oz. strawberry jam
How to make them
Combine the warm water, warm milk, eggs, butter, salt and sugar. If using a bread mixer with a roller and scraper attachment turn the machine on the lowest speed and allow ingredients to mix together for amount 1 minute.
Add approximately half the flour and then yeast. Turn speed to a low/medium and add another cup of flour. Adjust the arm away from the side of the bowl so that the roller is applying gentle pressure to the dough as it passes between the roller and the side of the bowl. Lock the arm in place and add the remaining flour.
Adjust the speed to medium and knead for 4-6 minutes Remove roller and scraper and leave bowl in a warm place and allow rising for 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Divide the dough in to 24 pieces, then roll in to balls and shape in to fingers about 4-5 inches long. Then place the dough fingers on to a greased baking sheet, leaving them to double in size, set aside in a warm place for 40 minutes.
Bake for 6-9 minutes or until lightly browned. Once baked remove from the oven and set on a baking rack to cool.
To ice the buns sift the powdered sugar bowl and gradually stir in the cold water to form a thick paste and a small drop of pink food coloring.
Whip the cream until it forms stiff peaks and stir in the sugar and vanilla. Spoon in to a piping bag.
To assemble the fingers slice them horizontally, leaving one long edge intact. Using a knife spread a little jam inside each sliced bun and then pipe whipped cream in to each finger. Finally using a knife or flat spreader ice each bun.