Season’s Fruits of Hospitality

Festive bites

Sweet Mincemeat Pies

Ireland, the land of a thousand welcomes (Cead Mile Failte) is rooted in hospitality.  For more than a thousand years Ireland was governed by the Brehon Laws which esteemed the values of hospitality to a stranger. It was the hosts responsibility to provide food, drink and a warm bed where possible to a stranger. – Isn’t that amazing?

When the Celts converted to Christianity, the traditions of welcoming strangers continued.

On Christmas Eve a candle was lit and placed on the window as a symbolic gesture to provide a light to guide Mary and Joseph on their way.  Visitors to an Irish home, particularly around Christmas time are treated with a warm welcome and festive cakes, pies and spiced wine. A place is often set at the kitchen table with fruit bread, milk and a light candle for a wandering stranger. So, this Christmas, be welcoming, be warm and follow in the steps of the ancients who loved hospitality!

Slainte, and Merry Christmas!

Judith, The Shamrock and Peach

Advertisements

Tis the Season for Festive Cocktails and Holiday Cheer

Whiskey Coctails

Cranberry Whiskey Fizz

Tis’ the season for festive cocktails and holiday cheer!  Oh yes!  – This year we got to bring groups to visit the Jameson’s Whiskey distillery in Middleton, Cork, and whilst there I absolutely fell in love the simple mix of Ginger Beer and Whiskey we were served at the distillery bar, and it made me think of just how fun cocktails can be!

My catering company, Shamrock and Peach Foods, will be serving a fun new Irish styled cocktail that I came up with this year, namely a Cranberry Whiskey Fizz ,at upcoming Christmas events, and I can’t wait to hear the reaction. The cranberry base can be made a few days in advance and stored in the refrigerator, so no last minute scrambling is necessary, and your party guests will love it. It’s very light, totally refreshing and embodies all the flavors of what I consider to be Festive, merry and bright, – and I wanted so much to share it with my faithful blog followers!

So, here’s the recipe and hope you enjoy!

Spiced Cranberry – Whiskey Fizz with Rosemary

  • 5 oz Jameson’s Irish whiskey
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp Spiced Cranberry Syrup
  • Club Soda (enough to fill up the glass)
  • (for the spiced cranberry syrup)
  • 1 cup of cranberries
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 rosemary stem
  • ½ inch of sliced Ginger root
  • (for the garnish)
  • Rosemary, Cranberries, lime curl

How to make it

  1. To make the Spiced Cranberry syrup place the sugar, water, cranberries, ginger root, rosemary and cinnamon stick in a saucepan and simmer together for 7-8 minutes. Cover and allow to sit overnight and strain before using.
  2. To serve fill a glass with ice and add the whiskey, lime juice, cranberry syrup and top with club soda.
  3. Stir together and then garnish with a sprig of rosemary and a few cranberries.

Judith, The Shamrock and Peach

The Celtic Roots of Fruitcake at Christmas

Christmas preparations

Tis the Season for baking fruitcake!

So, despite all the jokes, it ’tis the season for Fruitcake once again!  In Independence CA, an annual festival called ‘All things Fruitcake‘ chooses a Fruitcake King to eat a slice of the fruitcake from when the festival began in 2005 (yes, it might STILL be good?). Shortly after the holidays, a Fruitcake Toss is held in Manitou Springs, CO to compete for the title of Fruitcake King or Queen (not sure how those pieces of fruitcake taste?). Our grocery store baking isles are laden with candied cherries, orange peel and dried fruits and in the USA, the bad jokes about giving fruit cake begin to be told. Regardless of whether you love or hate fruitcake  it is a season of giving, abundance and bounty! – and yes. despite the bad press, fruitcake is traditional, and delicious…try it and see!

The Winter Solstice Celebration marks the shortest day of the year and the longest night of the year.  It’s the promise that nature will again bear fruit and care for all living things. Giving fruits in the bleak mid winter at a time of scarcity was a sacrifice and redistributed bounty within a community.

Many of us (especially those of us with Celtic and Irish roots) are also baking plum puddings and fillings for mince pies.  Here is my recipe for homemade mincemeat (the delicious filling for my annual pies).

Sweet Mincemeat (recipe makes 4 Lbs)

  • 8 oz currants
  • 8oz raisins
  • 8 oz sultanas
  • 8 oz dried apricots (chopped)
  • 8 oz (glazed cherries)
  • 4 oz fruit and peel mix
  • 2 oz chopped almonds
  • 8 oz soft brown sugar
  • 2 oz butter (melted)
  • 2 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 oranges (juice and zest)
  • ¼ pint brandy
  • ¼ pint of sherry

How to make it:

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl.  Stir together and cover over with plastic wrap.  Leave overnight.

The following day mix all the ingredients to combine.  Spoon in to sterilized jars.

Mincemeat will keep for up to 2 months

Enjoy the Season!

Judith, The Shamrock and Peach