The best thing I ever ate in Ireland (number #1)

Dessert perfection!

Banana Praline Parfait

I am ending this ‘best thing I ever ate in Ireland’ series from my Shamrock and Peach Irish tours with a sweet note – ‘Banana Praline Parfait’.  The dessert was served at the Beechill Country House Hotel in Derry-Londonderry by Head Chef Ryan Burke.  I loved this dessert so much that I recreated it for my family yesterday for Easter Sunday.  So thanks to Chef Ryan for sharing his recipe and I cannot wait to dine again in June with some more guests from the US.

One of my favorite things about dining at the Beechill Country House is the quality of the vegetables, fruits and herbs that are grown in the walled in garden on site.  The garden has been restored to recreate what life would have been like 200 years ago.  Inspiration from the modern menu comes from a historic cook book written by ‘a lady’ by the name of Mrs Skipton (a previous owner of the Beechill). Some of the recipes in the historic cook book are most amusing given the time they were written and a fun buy on Amazon, especially after staying at the Beechill Country House and seeing the restored walled gardens for yourself.  After all it’s the power of great stories that make the best food memories!

Finally,  I hope to see some of you in Ireland to try some of these delicious dishes created by some of our best Irish Chefs.

Judith the Irish foodie

Banana Parfait-17

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Easter Irish Reflections 2016

Have you planned your Easter Menu yet?  So, in addition to the Reese’s white chocolate bunnies, chocolate cream eggs and peeps on my shopping list,  I wanted to share a few of our Irish traditions.  Good Friday would not be complete without our Hot Cross Buns and Grass Fed Kerrygold Salted Butter.  On Sunday we will be enjoying Irish Whiskey Glazed Ham and for dessert Spring Birds Nests and Coconut cake  (my new Southern inspired favorite).  It’s also 100 years from the Easter Rising in Ireland and an election year in the US which makes Good Friday even more and reflective as we consider our world in light of the cross.

Wishing everyone a blessed Easter!

Judie the Irish Foodie

St Patrick's Church

St Patrick’s Church

Discovering the real St Patrick…

Shamrock and Patrick-1

St. Patrick’s statue in Armagh, and a shamrock on the Antrim coast…

What does St. Patrick’s day mean to you? Hearty beers and beef? How about shamrocks and green top hats? Or the river running through the city dyed bright green? Or just a fun night out with great friends? Well, the thing is that St. Patrick actually means a lot of things to different people, and I say…happy days!  After all, if Irish culture can be celebrated like this once a year with folks having fun and enjoying themselves, then why not? – but what about ‘ol Saint Paddy himself?

Most people don’t think about it, but St. Pat was quite a man. A trailblazer, a peacemaker, a kingmaker, a leader, a pastor, a father figure, a statesman, a writer and the stuff of legends, even in his own lifetime. He spent a lot of his time and founded his first church at Saul in County Down in the north of Ireland, and to this very spot I bring groups of guests each year on my tours to hear about Patrick’s inspiring story.  – We all squeeze into this wonderful place that was founded in the 5th century and marvel at the history and the legend. – How could one man achieve so much and now be celebrated the world over?

The Saul church - St. Patrick's first church founded in the 5th century

The Saul church – St. Patrick’s first church founded in the 5th century

County Down and Saint Patrick’s country is so inspiring that we actually always spend a day in this region whilst on the Shamrock and Peach Irish Tour – and why not? apart from the eye-opening and inspiring history around every corner, it’s also a very beautiful place with the Mourne Mountains sweeping down to the sea – a place that has to be seen to be believed.

So, take a moment this March 17th, and think of the man himself – then consider joining me on one of our tours this summer and I’ll introduce you to him personally! – We will walk in his footsteps, look out to sea and dream…let’s go!

click on this link to know more…

www.shamrockandpeach.com

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you all!
Judie the Irish Foodie XX

The most famous Irish dish for St. Patrick’s day?

Irish Spring Lamb for St. Pats

Irish Spring Lamb for St. Pats…delicious the wide world over!

Every year people wonder what to make for Saint Patrick’s Day. The corned beef, whilst good if prepared correctly, might seem the obvious choice to take home the coveted ‘most famous Irish dish‘ award, but world wide, the prize actually goes to one of our Irish favorites that does not feature beef, but showcases lamb. Spring lamb. (lamb you said?)

Yes, turns out that Irish stew made with spring lamb is very popular in Ireland, the UK, Europe wide and through the other parts of the Irish diaspora, such as in New Zealand and Australia, but not so much in America, which is a pity. However, let me encourage you to give this a try this week and I know you will be a convert!

Go on…be brave and try it, you won’t regret it, and yes, it IS the most popular Irish dish world wide. Here is my take on it, seasoned with rosemary sea salt to prefect the dish. Enjoy!

Irish Spring Lamb Stew ingredients: (serves 4)

  • 2 lbs. of gigot or shoulder lamb chops (bone-in)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 lbs. (about 6 medium potatoes) (peeled and diced in to 1” chunks)
  • 2  medium onions (finely chopped)
  • 4 medium carrots (peeled and cut in to 1 ½’ chunks)
  • 1 pint (2 cups) water

Condiments:

  •  Rosemary Salt (1 tbsp. sea salt to 1 tsp. finely chopped Rosemary)
  •  Parsley (finely chopped)
  •  Olive oil (to drizzle)

 

How to make it:

  1. Peel and dice the potatoes and carrots. Place in a bowl of cold, salted water.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Trim off any visible fat from the lamb chops.
  4. Combine the flour, salt and pepper in a bowl and coat the chops in flour mixture.
  5. Heat the oil in a large, ovenproof skillet and braise the chops in small batches. When done, transfer the meat to the base of an ovenproof dish.
  6. Sauté the onions in the same skillet as used to braise the lamb for 3-4 minutes to soften and lightly caramelize.
  7. Transfer the onion and half of the potatoes on top of the meat.
  8. Cover and bake for 1 ½ hours.
  9. Add the rest of the potatoes and carrots. Simmer with the dish covered for an additional 30 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
  10. To serve; remove the bones from the chops and stir the meat and vegetables together. Place in individual bowls and garnish with rosemary sea salt, chopped parsley and a drizzle of olive oil.

Looking forward to celebrating St. Patrick’s with you…

Judie the Irish Foodie

Best thing I ever ate in Ireland (part 2)

Congratulations to Chef Noel McMeel and the Lough Erne for continued Success!  This month Chef Noel dined as a guest at the White House and is featured in a double page spread in Bon appetit magazne.  Chef Noel McMeel says “What we eat has to delight the taste buds, and nourish body and soul”.  The bountiful feast is influenced by heritage, inspired by the season and focused on local.  So, my series two in the best thing I ever ate in Ireland goes to Noel McMeel.  “Fillet of Kettyle Irish Beef, Parsley and Potato Puree, Spinach, Celeriac Remoulade, Roast Beef Sauce”

Shamrock and Peach tours will be visiting the table of Noel McMeel and his masterful chef team at the Lough Erne this June.  Looking forward to enjoying the bounty with many of you and for those who have been on one of my tours enjoy the memory and pick up your own copy of “Bon appeetit” today!

Jump in to Ireland and Joy in the Journey!

Judith the Irish foodie