Irish Barmbrack for Halloween

Irish Sweet Bread

Halloween Baking

Halloween was always one of my favorite times of the year growing up in Ireland, and it should come as no surprise that my best memories are related to home baking and fun traditions shared around the dinner table. My mother would always hide hidden charms in our favorite Halloween baked goods as a tradition, and amongst those treats she always included a wee home made BarmBrack loaf and an apple tart.

Barmbrack is a traditional warm and spicy fruit loaf that is absolutely delicious hot from the oven with loads of creamy Irish butter – and of course, apple tart is an apple pie here in America! So now you know!

So, here is it to share  – my family recipe that’s enjoyed in Ireland this time of year.

This name “brack” comes from the Irish word “breac” meaning speckled (the speckles are the fruits and candied peel baked in the bread).  I used to be so excited to wrap tiny items in silver foil for my mother to hide in the sweet bread.  All of the items we would bury in our baking had a hidden meaning, for example a ring (for love), money (for good fortune), a button (bachelor), a thimble (spinster), rag (poverty). I always wanted to get the ring for love and was devastated if I had the slice with a rag or thimble!  It was all in good fun and made great memories shared together around the kitchen table. Hope you enjoy this recipe and maybe even event  your own ‘lucky charms’

  • 4 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1tsp ginger
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp of salt
  • ½ cup soft brown sugar
  • 4 ½ tsp of dry active yeast (2 packets)
  • 4 oz unsalted butter
  • 1 ¼ cups of warm milk
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • 1 cup of golden sultanas (golden raisins)
  • 1 cup of dried currants
  • ¼ cup of candied orange or lemon peel (finely chopped)
  • (for the glaze)
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp warm water

How to make it

  1. Butter a 9’ round cake pan and set aside.
  2. Measure and combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl including the flour, spices, salt brown sugar, dry active yeast and the dried fruits and candied peel.
  3. Combine all the wet ingredients in electric bread mixer including the warm milk, melted butter and egg. Slowly add the dry ingredients 1 cup at a time and mix to combine.
  4. Transfer the sticky dough into the prepared pan and pat the dough in place. Cover with a clean dish towel and set aside in a warm place for about an hour for the dough to rise.
  5. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and then bake for about 30 minutes (to test the bread insert a skewer in the center and should come away clean).
  6. Dissolve the sugar in boiling water to make the glaze and brush over the bread. Return the bread to the oven for a further few minutes until the loaf is glistening.
  7. Transfer to a rack to cool and serve with Irish creamery butter.

Judith the Irish foodie

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Last of the Summer Lime

Zesty and Creamy Pie

Last of the Summer Lime

I must admit I’ve always been a sucker for a good Key Lime Pie!  Our son surprised us and came home from college yesterday, and it was so good to see him. As ever, he brought a few of his college friends with him, and so, I decided to bake a Key Lime Pie for us to share the joy – and why not?!

Key Limes are harvested in Florida from June to September and I wanted to make one last pie as a kitchen farewell to the summer season. Key Limes are higher in acidity and have a stronger Aroma than Persian Limes. They are also smaller, harder work to grow, harvest and juice, but worth it, right? Just like the name suggests, Key Limes were grown commercially in Southern Florida and the Florida Keys until the 1926 hurricane wiped out the citrus groves. Then the growers replaced the groves with more Persian Limes trees as they were easier to grow but Key Limes are said to be making more of a come back as consumer demand grows for a zestier punch. I used British style Digestive cookies (found in the international section of American supermarkets) and they are so much more superior to Graham Crackers!  Give them a go…. you wont be disappointed!

Enjoy the end of the season harvest as we begin the new!

Key Lime Pie

(for the base)

20 British Style Digestive biscuits (or 2 cups of crushed graham crackers)

4 oz Kerrygold Irish  butter (1 stick)

3 Tbsp sugar

(for the custard filling)

3 egg  yolks

1 Tbsp of lime zest

1 (14 oz) can of sweetened condensed milk

1 pound of key limes (2/3 cups juice)

(Whipped cream)

6 oz heavy whipping cream (3/4 cup)

1 Tbsp fine granulated sugar

How to make it

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Melt the butter and stir in to the crushed graham crackers and sugar.
  3. Transfer the cookie crumb mixture in to the base of a 9 inch pie plate using your fingers to pat down to make a crust, shaping it up the edges of the dish.
  4. Bake the crust for 10 minutes and allow cooling.
  5. To make the filling whisk the egg yolks and lime zest together in an electric mixer until it begins to thicken slightly. Whisk in the sweetened condensed milk beating for 3-4 minutes and then whisk in the lime juice until everything is smooth and fully incorporated.
  6. Pour mixture in to pie crust and bake for 15 minutes.
  7. Remove the pie from the oven and cool and then store in the refrigerator until ready to eat.
  8. To serve whip the heavy whipping cream and sugar and spoon or pipe on the pie.

Judith the Irish Foodie

Green Orchards and Irish Oatcakes

Apple season in the American south is in full swing, for those leaf peepers driving to the mountains looking to pick apples and visit rustic barns full of fall produce and gourds, the time has arrived! For me, the weather is just perfect this time of year, with the warmth of the summer still lingering, but the crisp cool nights and mornings a welcome change. The appearance of apples on farmstands and in country stores also reminds us of the change of seasons as we move towards Harvest – always a great time for foodies. Ripe produce and produce in abundance!

This October, I am really excited about teaching a fall inspired menu at my upcoming class entitled ‘Green Orchards an Irish oatcakes’ at Salud Wholefoods in Alpharetta   The menu is inspired by my homeland in County Armagh (also know as the Orchard County of Ireland) where Bramley’s are King of the crop, whilst the menu will also celebrate local North Georgia apples with delicious apple fusion recipes. So, as we were inspired, we drove up to North Georgia last weekend to enjoy the fall culture in full swing and fill our pantry with local apples and produce. -It’s been a tradition in our family since we moved to Georgia to make time to drive to the mountains in autumn to the source of the freshest produce we can find…and here we are! So, enjoy the ripe bounty and please check out my upcoming seasonal menu:  Here are the details:

Friday, October 06, 2017

6:30 PM – 8:30 PM

GREEN ORCHARDS AND IRISH OATCAKES!

DEMONSTRATION $45

With Chef Judith McLoughlin

MENU:

Apple Chutney with Kerrygold Dubliner Irish Cheese on Oatcakes

Celeriac and Apple Soup with Apple Wood smoked Bacon and Creme Fraiche

Apple Chicken with Sage, Spinach, Potato and Fennel

Georgia Apple Crumble with Irish Whiskey custard

Register: www.wfm.com/saludalpharetta

Whole Foods Market| 2800 Old Milton Parkway | Alpharetta, GA 30009 |

770.442.3354 x2 office

www.wfm.com/salud

 Love to see you if you live in the Atlanta area!

Judie the Irish foodie

Goodbye Summer, hello Fall!

Today is the first official day of Fall (also known as the equinox). Its the astronomical start of fall in the Northern hemisphere, and Spring in the Southern Hemisphere. The earth is in alignment with the sun directly above the Earth’s equator which means equal day and night…it’s still hot here in Hotlanta, but the promise of cool, fresh fall is in the air (hopefilly!!)

It’s also time for fall festivals and home baking with our favorite recipes, using pumpkins, squashes and apples – which makes this a favorite time of year for me. So, to celebrate I thought to share one of my favorite recipes (shared by a friend when I first came to the American South).  Hope you enjoy! Happy Fall baking….  Let the season begin….

Pumpkin Bread (makes 2 loaves)

  • 3 1/2  cups all purpose Flour (sifted)
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp fresh nutmeg (or ½ tsp ground)
  • 1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger or 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1tsp salt
  • 4 large eggs (room temperature and beaten)
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 cups canned pumpkin (or cooked fresh pumpkin)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (8 fluid oz) vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup water

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 2 large size loaf pans.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, freshly grated nutmeg and ginger (unless you are using fresh ginger).
  3. In a large cake mixer or bowl beat the eggs and sugar. Add the pumpkin, oil, beating well to combine.  Slowly add in the remaining dry ingredients.
  4. Pour batter in to prepared pans. Bake for 1 hour in the center rack in the oven or until skewer inserted in the center of bread comes out clean.
  5. Cool slightly before removing bread from tin and finish cooling on a wire wrack.

Judith the Irish foodie

 

 

 

A touch of green! – Salsa Verde Flank Steak

Fresh and Easy Recipe

Grilling Out

We have really been enjoying Salsa Verde with our Grilled Steak this summer, and thought it was time to share this magical touch of green!  This Mexican style Salsa Verde uses green Tomatilios (not to be confused with green tomatoes). These fruits are wonderful, however, the skins can be a little tough so they need to be blanched or roasted before adding to the salsa Verde…little tip!

The recipe can be made chunky style (chopping all the ingredients by hand) or smooth by using the food processor or Vitamix to blend. Either way, it’s really fresh and delicious, and a good way to enjoy the last few weeks’ of grilling season.  Adding just a touch of Kerrygold Garlic and Herb butter to the resting flank steaks adds to the love (making this an Irish Mexican style recipe).  As always Enjoy!

Flank Steak with Salsa Verde (Mexican Style influence)

(recipe serves 4 people)

(for the steak)

  • 1 ½ to 2 Lbs Flank Steak (room temperature)
  • Salt and pepper and olive oil
  • 1oz kerrygold garlic and herb butter
  • (for the salsa verde)
  • 1 Lb (about 5) tomatillos (husked and washed)
  • 2-3 Serrano peppers or jalepeno peppers
  • ½ small onion (chopped)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

How to make it

  1. Preheat the grill to 400 degrees F. Season the room temperature flank steak with salt and pepper and drizzle with a little olive oil.  Cook the steaks for about 4-5 minutes on each side for medium cooked and juicy and a few minutes longer for well done (depending on the thickness of the meat).
  2. While the meat is cooking make the salsa. Place the tomatillos in a small saucepan with just enough water to cover them and gently simmer for 5 minutes just to soften.  Remove from the heat and place in an ice bath.
  3. In a food processor add the tomatoes, onion, peppers, garlic, cumin, lime and salt and pepper and pulse until smooth.
  4. Remove the steak from the grill and place on a platter to rest for 6-7 minutes. Spread the Kerrygold butter on the steak while it is resting.Slice the steak against the grain at an angle and then spoon over the Salsa Verde.

Judie the Irish foodie

Peachy Irish Whiskey Frozen Yogurt

Peachy Frozen Yogurt

Sweet endings!

Who’s up for a ‘super easy to make’ dessert that’s under 200 calories and tastes awesome? Me you say? How about a shot of Irish Whiskey (80 calories) and some Peachy Irish Whiskey Frozen Yogurt (90 calories)?  Tangy, tasty and totally great…

For those of you who are sensitive to dairy products you can switch out the Greek yogurt for coconut milk yogurt, and the pairing will still work a treat.  We like to pair this with an Irish whiskey that has a rich and floral fragrance to the nose, and sweet fruity notes of nectarines or citrus with a smooth mellow finish.

Other interesting flavor notes in whiskey that pair well with this peachy little dessert are vanilla & toasted wood,  and spicy notes perhaps from flame charred barrels.  Just like fine wines it’s all about personal taste and what you like!

Enjoy!

Peachy Whiskey Coconut Frozen Yogurt

(serves 4)

  • 2 1/2 cups peaches (frozen)
  • 1 cup Greek Yogurt or Dairy Free Coconut Yogurt
  • 3 Tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 3 Tbsp Irish Whiskey
  • (Serve with a dram of Irish Whiskey)

How to make it

  1. If using an ice-cream maker be sure to have the bowl frozen for 24 hours beforehand (an ice-cream maker is preferable but the recipe will work without having one).
  2. Combine the peaches, maple syrup and vanilla extract in a food processor or vita mix until smooth and then add the yogurt.
  3. If using an ice cream maker transfer in to bowl.  It takes around 15 minutes in my ice-cream maker and it’s best to eat straight away or transfer to a container and freeze for a few hours.  If you don’t have an ice-cream maker you can just freeze after combining in the food processor and enjoy the next day.
  4. To serve spoon the frozen yogurt in to a small bowl and enjoy with a wee dram of Irish Whiskey on the side.

Judie the Irish Foodie

Ireland’s 2017 Hotel Restaurant of the Year Awards

I am so proud of the deserved success of Chef Noel McMeel and his talented chef team at the Lough Erne Hotel. The Catalina restaurant was awarded Best Hotel Restaurant of the year at Ireland’s Food and Wine awards.  Miriam Atkins, editor of Food and Wine Magazine said “Ireland is celebrating a Food Revolution” – and how true that is!

This summer I was able to bring my wonderful American tour guests to dine at the Catalina restaurant and stay at the prestigious Lough Erne Hotel, which is always a particular treat. The welcome and treatment we receive is second to none and one guests even said that we are treated like royalty!  We are so looking forward to returning to dine in 2018 and on behalf of Shamrock and Peach tours offer our heartfelt congratulations!

Judith the Irish foodie

Fit for the Fighting Irish

The Notorious Irish mixed martial artist, Conor McGregor says “I never lose. Either I win or I learn“.  Last night in Vegas, the reigning UFC Lightweight Champion, and former UFC Featherweight champion lost the Ultimate Fighting Championship to Floyd Mayweather – no shame though as Mayweather is the best of the best – and he carried with him the pride of millions of Irish!. His competitor just proved too strong and this was one fight where McGregor had to learn after proving himself fierce, very fierce.

So what does this fighting champ eat to perform and look this good? How about good quality protein?  His nutritionist shared that it’s his recommendation to eat lean proteins before a fight instead of carbs. So in honor of team McGregor, we are sharing our Irish Whiskey Barbecue Sauce perfect for brushing on lean proteins after grilling…and before fighting, of course!!!.

Irish whiskey barbecue sauce ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. butter (or coconut oil)
  • ¼ large onion (chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • 8 fl. oz. (1 cup ) Irish whiskey
  • 8 fl. oz. (1 cup) ketchup
  • 6 fl. oz. (¾ cup) apple cider vinegar
  • 2 fl. oz. (¼ cup) brewed coffee
  • 6 Tbsp. cup brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. coco powder
  • ¾ tsp. cumin
  1. To make the barbeque sauce, melt the butter in a small saucepan and cook the onion for a few minutes until they are soft but not browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Then combine all the remaining ingredients and simmer gently for 20–25 minutes or until the sauce has been slightly reduced.  Cool slightly before processing with an electric blender until smooth.

Judie the Irish foodie

Georgia grown Pecan Bounty Squares

Only hours away from the eclipse in Georgia we wanted to highlight a local Georgia business (Oliver Farms) pictured standing in their homegrown sunflower field. Oliver Farms make award winning cold pressed, unrefined, non GMO oils from seeds and  nuts native to the South – and they are fabulous, really fabulous!  The also offer gluten free seeds and nuts!

www.oliverfarm.com

When entertaining recently for a friend who is both gluten and diary free it was the perfect time to bake with the Pumpkin and Pecan flours in my pantry.  I loved baking with the flour!  I just loved the bright green color of the pumpkin flour and the sweet and rich flavor of the pecan flour.  The bars are a good protein packed breakfast cookie with enough good fats and energy to keep your running towards the sun.

Here is the recipe:

Blackberry and Pecan Bounty Squares (gluten free recipe)

(Recipe makes 1 ½ dozen squares)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups gluten free oats (pulse for a few seconds in food processor)
  • 1 cup unrefined coconut oil (melted)
  • ¾ cups cup pecan flour (ground pecans)
  • ¼ cup pumpkin flour (ground pumpkin seeds)
  • ¼ cup rice flour
  • 2 Tbsp flax seed flour
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp real vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 1 (10 oz) jar blackberry blackberry preserves (or fruit spread)
  • ¾ cup unsweetened coconut
  • ½ cup pecans (chopped)

 

How to make it

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line a 9×13’ baking dish with parchment paper to make it easy to slice.
  3. Combine the pecan flour, oats, pumpkin flour and rice flour, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Stir in the coconut oil and the vanilla and mix together until fully incorporated.
  4. Press the mixture onto bottom of dish. Spread the fruit spread on top.  Sprinkle top with coconut and pecans.
  5. Bake for 18-20 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the coconut is toasted and let the squares cool for a couple of  hours before slicing.

Joy in the Journey

Excited to announce our 2018 Irish Tours!

For many of us, summer is drawing to a close. Schools are back in session, traffic has resumed it’s daily grind and the memories of our 2017 vacations are behind us – however, we are now giving you something to look forward to! – yes, our plans for next years Irish vacations are complete and we are excited to showcase them to you and our website is ready to accept bookings for our 2018 tours! Who-hoo!

…and we have a brand new tour to announce into the bargain! Yes, after three years of painstaking research we are glad to reveal our ‘ Southern Elegance Ireland Tour’ for 2018. Many of you have been asking whether the Shamrock & Peach will tour Cork and Kerry – well, now we will, but with lot’s of other goodies and luxury touches added for good measure…

Our now famous Legendary Ireland tour will include some of our favorite luxury resorts including the Lodge at Ashford Castle, the Lough Erne Resort and the Slieve Donard Resort. While our accommodations in our Southern Irish tour include Mount Juliet Estate, Hayfield Manor, the beautiful Malton Hotel in Killarney and the one and only Ballymaloe House in Co. Cork. We are seeking to find the best and most unique accommodations in Ireland and are working with our favorite chefs to make our guests feel like each day exceeds beyond all expectations.

Going to Ireland is on the bucket list for many people and that’s why we make each day extraordinary when you tour with us. Please check our our website and email me!

Judith@shamrockandpeach.com

Here is the link to our website for our new Southern Elegance tour:

http://www.shamrockandpeach.com/tour_2__southern_elegance_irish_tour

…and for our Legands tour:

http://www.shamrockandpeach.com/tour_1__legendary_ireland_tour

Joy in the Journey!…and see you in Ireland!…let’s dream!

Judie the Irish foodie