Sweet Mince Pies and Snow Storms

We are relishing these rare days of snow in Georgia with 12″ of fluffy white fun falling in Atlanta this weekend!  Our friends and family in Ireland tell us that it’s snowing there also, and we are all dreaming of a white Christmas! -maybe this is the year?

Being Irish, there are certain flavors, smells and traditions associated with Christmas  and one of those has to be warm sweet mince pies.  Whats not to like about melt in your mouth pastry filled with dried fruits, apples and spices (cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg)? I can follow up with a recipe for homemade sweet mincemeat but for now, please allow me to share a recipe for some of the most delicious pies I have ever tasted (from my dear Irish friend Marian Lynch).  Your home will smell wonderful as they are baking in the oven – comforting and delicious

Oh, and you should know, despite the name, there is actually no meat as such in the recipe (but eaten as a traditional part of Christmas from the 16th century, and back then, the ‘meat’ may have just meant the filling part). Today it’s a sweet treat not to be missed this season!

Here’s the recipe

Irish Traditional Mince Pies

  • 18 oz all purpose flour
  • 2 oz powdered sugar
  • ½ cup ground almonds
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 12 oz unsalted Kerrygold butter)
  • 1 large egg yolk (beaten)
  • 3-4 Tbsp ice water
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • (mince meat) homemade or bought

How to make them:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Combine the flour, salt and powdered sugar in a large bowl. Add in the ground almonds.  Rub in the butter and margarine until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  3. Blend the egg yolk, lemon juice and the water together and gradually add to the dry ingredients, until just enough to hold together.
  4. Turn the pastry on to a lightly floured board and knead lightly. Cover the pastry and put aside in the fridge to relax for at least an hour or overnight.
  5. Roll out the pastry very thin and using a pastry cutter cut in to 2 inch rounds. Spoon 1 tsp of mincemeat on to half the rounds. Brush edges all around with cold water.  Place another on top and press edges together.  Prick with a fork.
  6. Bake for about 9 minutes until the pastry is golden brown. Allow to cool in the pan for a few minutes and then place mince pies on a cooling rack.
  7. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Enjoy, and Merry Christmas!

Judith the Irish foodie

 

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Southern Greens Thanksgiving Salad

Collards Greens Salad

Thanksgiving Salad

Collard Greens are are a staple thing if you have grown up in the American South, but they get a little bit of a bad wrap…but I want to change your mind! Growing up in Ireland I naturally gravitate to Kale and Cabbage for my Winter Greens, and find some similarities to Southern traditions, so, hey let’s combine the best of both worlds!

The leaves of Collards are hearty and spicy with tough stems, and they make delicious salads. They can stand up to lots of strong flavors such as garlic and do not wilt like other greens when dressed with vinaigrette, which is a huge plus when it’s time to plate the salad.  In fact, if anything, collards do best when they have been resting in a vinaigrette and have given time to break down the leaves and absorb the flavors.

This is the best time of year to enjoy Collards when they have tender and younger leaves because they do tend to be tough when the leaves are mature.  Our family are big fans of marinating our collards and this salad will be gracing our Thanksgiving table this Thursday…can’t wait!

Wishing all my friends and followers a very happy Thanksgiving!

Collards and Power Greens with Roasted Sweet Potato and Seed Brittle

2 medium Sweet potatoes (peeled and diced)

2 Tbsp Olive oil

4 cups Collard Greens (hard stalks removed/thinly sliced in ribbons)

4 cups Power Greens (Baby Spinach, Baby Kale)

½ cup dried cranberries

(for the seed brittle)

2 Tbsp Pumpkin seeds

2 Tbsp Sunflower seeds

1 Tbsp sesame seeds

1 tsp Irish Kerrygold butter (melted)

1 1/2 Tbsp raw honey

Pinch of kosher salt

(Garlic Vinaigrette)

3 Tbsp cider vinegar

1 clove of garlic (crushed)

1 Tbsp course Dijon Mustard

2 tsp honey

½ cup of Olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly milled black pepper

How to make it

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Toss the sweet potatoes in olive oil and bake for 15 minutes until they begin to brown on the edges.  Remove from the oven and cool.
  2. To make the vinaigrette whisk the apple cider vinegar, garlic, mustard and honey and then slowly incorporate the olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.
  3. To make the harvest seed crunch preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Whisk the melted butter and honey together.  On a parchment lined baking sheet toss the seeds with the butter and raw honey.  Toast the seeds for 10-12 minutes and then stir and bake for a further few minutes until they are golden brown and aromatic. Remove from the oven and allow seeds to cool completely.
  4. To shred the Collards greens remove the hard stalk in the center and then roll in a cigar shape and slice in to ribbons.
  5. Toss the shredded greens in about ½ cup of the vinaigrette and allow marinating and softening the greens for about 10 minutes. Fold in the power greens, cherries, additional vinaigrette and season with a little more kosher salt and pepper to taste.
  6. To serve the salad break up the seed brittle and sprinkle over the top of the greens.

Judie the Irish Foodie

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

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

Irish Boxty Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Summer Bites

Irish Style Summer Bites

Griddle Boxty BLT Bites with apple wood smoked bacon, Lettuce and Tomato

Summer tomatoes are now ripe on the vine for the picking, so now is the time to enjoy them. Inspired by attending the ‘Attack of the Killer Tomato’ Festival in Atlanta last weekend, I am harvesting my own garden tomatoes and making all kinds of cool eats with them, including this one – Irish Griddle Boxty BLT bites.

There’s an old Irish saying that goes like this “Boxty in the griddle, Boxty in the pan, if you cannot make Boxty, you’ll never get a man“.  The recipe has come in very handy for me over the years and I hope you enjoy this recipe idea from the Shamrock and Peach cook book.  It’s a fun summer appetizer using a base of classic Irish Potato Bread or ‘Boxty’.  So, enjoy summer tomatoes while they last and are at their very best!  Here’s the idea…..

Boxty BLT bites ingredients (allow 3–4 per guest):

  • 24 potato bread rounds
  • 12 roasted red tomato halves (cut in half)
  • 1 bunch Arugula leaves (stems removed)
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • kosher salt and ground black pepper (to season)
  • 8 slices thick cut smoked bacon (cooked and cut into 3 pieces)
  • 2 fl. oz. (¼ cup) mayonnaise

Roasted red tomatoes ingredients:

  • 6 Roma tomatoes (cut lengthwise)
  • ½ tsp. sea salt
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • chopped fresh herbs (parsley, thyme)
  • 1 Tbsp. good quality olive oil
  • ½ tsp. sugar (to sprinkle)

How to make them:

  1. Preheat oven to 250° F.
  2. Toss tomatoes in olive oil and season well with sea salt, pepper, sugar, and herbs. Place tomatoes face-side up on a baking pan and slowly roast for 1½–2 hours. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  3. Follow the instructions for classic potato cheese bread.
  4. Roll out to ¼” depth with a floured rolling pin and cut with a 1” biscuit cutter.
  5. Fry bacon in a large heavy-based skillet until crispy and set aside on a warmed plate.
  6. Sprinkle a little flour on griddle and cook Boxty bread bites in small batches on medium heat for 3–4 minutes on each side until the crust is golden brown.
  7. To assemble bites, begin by slicing bacon into thirds and dressing Arugula with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place a small dollop of mayonnaise on top of the Boxty bread, followed by the Arugula leaves, smoked bacon, and the sliced roasted tomatoes.

Enjoy the fruits of summer!

Judith the Irish foodie

Irish Styled Trout with Oat Crumble, Beetroot and Spinach

 News flash! Oat Crumble’s not just for fruit desserts…let me encourage you to try this delicious savory crumble on pan seared fish for an added textural crunch of Irish goodness…

Oats are in our Irish DNA because we have been eating them for centuries (before potatoes) as our essential daily diet – oatcakes, oatmeal, you name it! So, Irish people know oats, which are very much the rage again due to the health benefits, and they taste great! –  I then infused some reduced fig balsamic from Oli and Ve in to the beetroot for a delicious puree, added a little spinach and raw radish to finish the dish, and hey-ho, there you go…

Here’s the easy crumble recipe!

  • (Savory Oat Crumble)
  • ½ cup Walnuts (chopped)
  • ½ cup oats
  • 4 Tbsp salted Kerrygold butter
  • 1tsp lemon zest
  • 2 Tbsp dill
  • 1 Tbsp parsley

How to make it:

  1. In a food processor combine the walnuts and oats and pulse to combine.
  2. Melt the butter in a medium skillet and stir in the oats and walnuts and toast until they are a golden color.  Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon zest, dill and parsley.

…oh, and as spring advances let me remind you that we only have a few spaces left on our Irish tours this summer, so if you would like to see the emerald isle and experience the incredible food and culture there for yourself, please check out my tour dates before the opportunity slips away:

www.shamrockandpeach.com

Enjoy the journey!
Judith the Irish foodie

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

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