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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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

 

 

 

Roasted Beet Salad for the 4th!

Happy birthday America! – my adopted home, and land of liberty…we love celebrating the 4th of July every year with special friends, fireworks and festivities and great food – as always – and this year I wanted to share with you one of my favorite summer salad recipes, my Roasted Beet Salad with Crème Fraiche, Sunflower Seeds and Parsley

Enjoy the fun and spectacle of the 4th in style…

What you’ll need…

1 ½ Lbs Beets (6 medium size beets)

1/2 red onion (thinly sliced)

½ cup Crème Fraiche

2 Tbsp Lemon juice (and zest)

3 Tbsp parsley (chopped)

3 Tbsp sunflower Seeds (toasted)

Drizzle of good olive oil

Freshly ground pepper and sea  salt.

How to make it

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Brush beets with olive oil and wrap in tin foil and set on a baking sheet to roast for 40 minutes .
  2. While the beets are roasting combine the Crème Fraiche, Lemon juice and zest together.
  3. Allow the beets to cool, slice and toss in the Crème Fraiche dressing. Stir in the chopped red onion, 2 Tsp of the parsley and toasted sunflower seeds and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
  4. To serve drizzle with olive oil and the remaining parsley.
  5. Enjoy!

Rise Up Atlanta! – Hot Wings, Irish Style…

superbowl-wings-2017

The last time the Atlanta Falcons were in the Superbowl, our eldest son was a babe in arms, and today he’s getting ready for college…so, it’s been a looong time y’all!

So, we are celebrating, whatever happens, but rooting for an Atlanta win with some really good food in the shape of hot wings marinated and glazed with my secret Irish beer and garlic hot sauce (well, secret, but recipe is below….just for you!)

So, Rise Up Atlanta, and enjoy!

Hot Wings (Rise Up Atlanta Wings)

(for the marinade)

  • 3 Lbs of chicken drumsticks and wings
  • 1 bottle of Harp Irish Beer (12 oz)
  • 3 cloves of Garlic
  • 1 Tbsp freshly grated stem ginger
  • 1/3 cup hot sriracha chile sauce
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • (for the glaze)
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup spring onions (thinly sliced)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh chili (finely chopped for garnish)

How to make them

  1. Marinade the wings in the beer, garlic, ginger, sriracha, lemon juice, olive oil and soy sauce for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.
  3. Remove the chicken from the marinade (and reserve).
  4. For a crispier skin sear the chicken meat side down for a few minutes first in a skillet to help render the fat and then transfer with tongs to a large roasting pan for about 12 minutes.
  5. While the wings are in the oven transfer the marinade to a small saucepan and reduce it by at least 50 per cent. Whisk in the honey and half of the spring onions.
  6. Remove the wings from the roasting pan and transfer to a warm platter. Toss the wings in the glaze and sprinkle over the reserved spring onions and fresh chili.

Judie, the Irish Foodie

An Irish Spring Blessing Tea at Salud!

In the past, an Irish blessing was spoken without being considered religious, but as a way of life – no one thought to question them. Here, in the American South, southern belles proclaim  “Bless her heart” just as in Ireland we would often say “God Bless you” or “God rest your soul” and as such, many of these spoken habits from the past have survived, though their use is diminishing. The Irish wit of telling jokes, making toasts and speaking blessings holds true to the richness of family and friends, so, I thought to harken back to a more gilded age this past weekend and I hosted an Irish afternoon tea party at the Wholefoods Salud! Cooking School  where we not only enjoyed delightful treats but used and highlighted spoken Irish Blessings with each tea pairing!  It was a joy, and put a spring in our step this Spring! Yes, it was a blessing!

Here is our menu…

Peach Sparkle (Sparkling Wine with a hint of Peach)

Menu

Savories: Irish smoked Salmon Moose on Potato Boxty with Dill, Open Ham and Guinness Red Onion Soda Bread Sandwiches, Irish Spring Onion Soup shots, Second Breakfast Sage and Onion Sausage Bites

Served with Irish Black Tea

Scones and Breads: Irish Blueberry and White Chocolate Scones with Lemon Curd and Clotted Cream and buttered Earl Grey Tea Bread

Served with Earl Grey Tea

Sweets: Shamrock and Peach Macaroons, Irish Butter Fudge with a Chocolate Swirl

Served with Honey Vanilla Nectar Honeybush Rooibos

…and let me  conclude this post with an Irish Blessing or two, just for you…

“May you life as long as you want and never want as long as you live”
“May springtime never be far from you”

Joy in the Journey!

Judith the Irish foodie

 

 

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

A Celtic Christmas- a touch of Irish joy!

 

John Doyle and Jamie Laval

John Doyle and Jamie Laval

Last night we so enjoyed attending the annual Atlanta Celtic Christmas concert that showcases Music and Dance and the Soul of the Season. Guest performers included John Doyle and Jamie Laval playing the fiddle and guitar and they continue to rock my world each year with their talent. In the midst of so much trouble in our world it’s just wonderful to celebrate all the joy and wonder through Celtic Culture. The Celtic Atlanta arts community really pulled together to produce a most memorable and enjoyable performance…A true touch of Irish Joy!

We have a special guest staying with us from Galway who is the founder of the Irish Taste Club, an on-line order business providing Ireland’s best food products to the US.  JP shared our booth last night at the event and we enjoyed some good Irish fun and chat at the Atlanta Rialto Center for the Arts at Georgia State University. We also spoke to several guests excited about coming on one of our four tours to Ireland and Scotland next summer, so roll on Christmas. Joy to the World!

Merry Christmas to all and special thanks to John Maschinot who producer of the Celtic Christmas show!

Share the joy this season!

Judith the Irish foodie

Attack of the gluten free Halloween Pumpkin Pie!

Indulge for Halloween

Pumpkin Pie Pudding for Halloween

Did you know that Halloween actually originated in Ireland? Yup, who else would be crazy enough to create such mayhem I hear you ask! Truthfully though, I’m not one big on scary stuff, but I can’t wait until the doorbell rings and all those kids in fancy dress costumes come tumbling up onto my porch with eyes wide open, grasping for that candy…it’s really a great atmosphere in our neighborhood.

I am also planning to invite a few friends over to my house for a special Halloween party, and one of my favorite fall desserts that will be on the menu is my super special Halloween Pumpkin Pie Pudding. This fabulous recipe was shared by me dear friend Sharin (who is actually gluten free). This will bring a smile to every ghost and ghoul, and I have to say that I am such a fan of the texture of creamy pudding and love that it can be lightened up by using rice milk and Greek yogurt…

So here is the recipe (treating)

Halloween Pumpkin Pie Pudding

(serves 4-6)

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 6 Tbsp tapioca flour/starch
  • 2 cups whole milk (or substitute with rice milk if dairy free)
  • 4 eggs (beaten)
  • 1 cup cooked canned pumpkin
  • ¼ tsp real salt
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated (juice)
  • 1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup full fat Greek plain yogurt
  • (pumpkin cream)
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • ¼ cup pumpkin
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar

(How to make it) 

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine brown sugar and tapioca flour/starch.
  2. Combine milk and eggs, stirring well with a whisk.
  3. Combine pumpkin, salt, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, gloves and vanilla in a bowl and whisk well. Slowly add pumpkin mixture to milk mixture, whisking constantly.
  4. Place pan over low heat and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring constantly. Do not boil. Allow pudding to cool.
  5. Fold in the Greek Yogurt.
  6. To make the pumpkin cream whip, pumpkin and powdered sugar together.
  7. Spoon or pipe the pudding in to a small martini glass or small Mason jar and layer with the pumpkin cream. Delicious with a ginger snap cookie for dipping.

Happy Trick or Treating

Judith the Irish Foodie

Apple and Fennel Ginger Slaw recipe

Celebrating Fall Apples

Cooking with Georgia Apples

In continued tribute to this October’s Fall season of all things ‘apples’ how about ‘fennel and apple slaw’ as a lovely raw element with your favorite entrée? At a recent event held in Reynolds Plantation I featured a four course dinner that included apples in every course.  The dinner was entitled “Apples and Oatcakes” to celebrate both my Irish and Southern ties.  So, our main course pictured above was an apple chicken dish with a sauce including local Georgia apple cider and Calvados apple Brandy on a bed of apple potato mash and topped with the yummy refreshing slaw.  Is your mouth-watering?  I hope so because now is the time to enjoy cooking with apples and I wanted to share my slaw recipe with you saying it was such a big hit at my dinner event…

So, here is the recipe for my new favorite slaw!

Apple and Fennel Ginger Slaw

2 small fennel bulbs (plus chopped fronds)

  • 2 apples (Pink lady or Granny Smith)
  • 2 celery stalks (thinly sliced)
  • (Vinaigrette)
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsps. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. ginger root (freshly grated)
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • 3 Tbsps. olive oil
  • Fine kosher salt and finely milled black pepper

How to make it

  1. To prepare the fennel remove central root and outer fronds. Use a mandolin slicer to slice the fennel and celery as thinly as possible.
  2. Thinly Julienne the apples and toss in lemon juice.
  3. To make the vinaigrette combine the ginger, apple cider vinegar and honey. Whisk in the olive oil and taste to adjust seasoning.
  4. To assemble combine the apple, fennel fronds, fennel and celery and toss in the vinaigrette.
  5. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Hope you are enjoying this wonderful Fall season!

Judie the Irish Foodie

Kale and Pecan Pesto (and Dubliner Cheese)

Nutrient Rich Pesto

Healthy and Delicious Pesto with Irish Cheese and Georgia Pecans

Schools are back in full swing and it’s time for inventive sandwiches and fillings to pack in to our kids lunch boxes, right? In our house, we love kale pesto, tossed in chopped grilled chicken as a filler for whole grain croissants  It’s just another sneaky way to add nutrition in to the families diet with absolutely no complaints. Lacinato Kale (also known as Black, Dinosaur or Tuscan Kale) is slightly sweeter than curly kale and it has a more delicate flavor.  We prefer it as a substitute to basil because its more nutritious and it adds a more earthiness and substance to the pesto. The Dubliner Irish cheese, with it’s distinctive nutty parmesan taste, adds a depth of flavor and the pesto is brightened up with lemon. Supporting local, I use pecans in my pesto, but switching to pine nuts or walnuts works great too.

Those of you living in Atlanta please ark you calendars for Saturday September 26th for a taste of Ireland at Salud cooking schools at the Whole Foods Market at Avalon.  We will be featuring this delicious pesto as part of my fall tea party menu.

http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/service/salud-cooking-school-4

Anyway, just try it for your family and I promise you will love it.  So, here is the recipe!

  • 1 medium bunch of Organic Lacinato kale (stems removed)
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • Freshly ground black pepper and salt
  • 1 garlic clove (crushed)
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • ¼ cup finely grated Dubliner Irish cheese (finely grated)
  • ¼ cup pecans (toasted and finely chopped)
  • ½ cup olive oil (plus 1 Tbsp to sauté Kale)

 

How to make it

  1. In a large skillet sauté kale in 1 Tbsp of olive oil for 30 seconds and sprinkle over 2 Tbsp of water to wilt for 1 minute. Remove Kale from heat and set aside to keep its vibrant green color. (you can also boil the Kale for 1 minute in a large pot of boiling water to blanch to achieve the same results).
  2. In a food processor blend the kale, salt and pepper, garlic, Dubliner, lemon zest and juice.  Add the toasted pecans and pulse for a couple of seconds (I like them to have a little texture). Finally, add the olive oil in a slow steady stream with the processor is still in motion.
  3. Use right away or store in an air tight container in the refrigerator.

 

Judith the Irish foodie