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

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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

 

Peach Crisp with a Buttery Oat and Pecan Topping

Sweet Georgia Peaches

Buttery Oat and Pecan Crumble

Summer loving is happening right now because when the Peaches are in season they are juicy and delicious!

You know the kind of peach that explodes when you bite into it, and the juice literally drips down your chin?  Oh yes…it’s that time! Sometimes though,  this can be counter productive when you are making a summer peach crisp and there is just too much juice when you bake your crisp (or crumble as we call it in Ireland) so, my suggestion is to allow the fruit to macerate in sugar and then strain and reduce the resulting juice before pouring over the peaches and baking. That should do the trick…

Oh, and I do admit that this recipe does not skimp on the butter ( the magic ingredient!) but the recipe is essentially ‘gluten free’ if you purchase gluten free oats.  So, come on, this must count for something less to feel guilty about when reaching for the second bowl? Right??…. and don’t forget the vanilla ice cream (if anything is worth doing its worth doing right)!

Enjoy these summer days and the bountiful fruits in season!

Peach Crisp with Buttery Oat and Pecan Topping

(serves 4)

  • (for the filling)
  • 6 cups of fresh summer peaches (cut in to bit size pieces peeled and stone removed)
  • ¼ cup sugar plus 3 Tbsp
  • 2 Tbsp corn starch
  • ½ vanilla pod (split in half and seeds scraped out) or tsp of vanilla bean paste
  • Unsalted Kerrygold butter (for greasing pan)
  • (for the topping)
  • 1 ½ oz oats (use gluten free oats if liked)
  • ¾ cups of ground almonds
  • ¾ cups pecans (chopped)
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 6 oz cold Kerrygold unsalted butter (1 ½ sticks)
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Vanilla ice-cream (for serving)

How to make it

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and butter a 9 inch size baking dish.
  2. Combine the peaches with the sugar and allow macerate for 30 minutes. Place the peaches in a sieve over a small saucepan to drain the juice. Simmer the juices in a small saucepan to reduce slightly (the liquid should be less than half a cup).  Allow to cool slightly before whisking in the cornstarch and vanilla bean pods. Toss the peaches in the infused peachy sugar syrup.
  3. Add the fruit to the prepared dish and spread out evenly.
  4. To make the topping place the almond flour and oats in the food processor and whizz to break down the oats a little. Stir in the sugar and chopped nuts and then rub in the butter with your hands until all the ingredients are fully incorporated.
  5. Sprinkle the crumble mixture over the peach mixture.
  6. Bake for about 30-35 minutes or until the crumble topping is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling.
  7. Serve with ice cream.

Enjoy the summer flavors while they last!

Judie the Irish foodie

Wild Foods Walk in the grounds of Ashford Castle

Chef Jonathan Keane and his team forage daily on the 350 acre Estate at Ashford Castle and were willing to share their experiences with Shamrock and Peach tours this summer.  Eating Wild foods is growing in popularity in Ireland and so has the idea of working with what we have. Certainly, a value my parents taught me and I feel ingrained in the Irish psyche.  There’ nothing like the flavor of fresh wild greens, flowers and berries just hand picked that day.  Our guests got to taste this first hand when dining at Wilde’s restaurant.  One of the culinary highlights of our meal at Wilde’s restaurant was the wood sorrel sorbet.  The tangy acidic herb  (also know as sourgrass) has a tart green apple flavor and it was the perfect palate cleanser with our feast.

May you enjoy the bounty of fields, forests,  gardens and coast!

Joy in the Journey

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!

Celtic Culture on the isle of Mull

Sitting in a wee pub in Tobermory on the island of Mull, also know as the Western Isles of Scotland, I was transported back home to Ireland. With only 12 miles of water between Scotland and Ireland, the people of the narrow water are held together closely, not just by geography, but also by culture.  Our red headed bar tender was from Donegal in the North of Ireland and we were later entertained by a musician (also from Donegal) singing modern and  popular Irish songs to the early hours of the morning. The locals were only getting going around midnight when we left and we knew the craic (Gaelic word for a good time) was only getting going!

At the bar sat the fishermen, and we knew that the fish had to be good, – and it was. Our guests all said it was the best fish and chips they had ever tasted, with flaky meaty flesh and perfectly crispy batter as we enjoyed a farewell luncheon booked at Macgochans Pub , sitting, viewing the bay in Tobermory in idyllic surroundings.

The joys of Scotland – the other Gaelic land!

Take me back to Tobermory!

Judie the Irish foodie

Grass Fed Irish Butter Burgers (Friday feeling)

What could possibly make a flavor packed grass fed burger better?  Try adding some grass fed Irish butter? Kneading in some grated frozen grass fed Irish butter to your burger makes the juiciest flavor packed mouthful ever!

Get this...Cooking Light Magazine said that lean grass fed beef has a nutrition profile more similar to salmon than grain fed beef! – wow! Cooking light also mentions grass fed beef has half the saturated fat of dark meat chicken!  So, with all that said we could afford to add just a little grass fed butter?  I mean what could be wrong adding more good fat?   Please allow me to share the secret of one of the best burgers you will ever make (or taste)? A ‘wee bit ‘ of Irish goodness goes a very long way…

Grass Fed Butter Burger

(recipe makes 4 ¼ Lb patties)

  • (for the Pattie)
  • 1 lb lean grass fed ground sirloin
  • 3 Tbsp (grated frozen or very cold unsalted Kerrygold Irish butter)
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • (for the burger)
  • 4 slices of Kerrygold Dubliner cheese
  • 3 Tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 4 Brioche buns (toasted)
  • 4 slices of thickly sliced tomato (optional)
  • 4 slices of Bibb lettuce (optional)

 

How to make them

  1. Preheat the grill to medium high.
  2. Caramelize the onion in a little canola or grape seed oil for a few minutes to soften.  Set aside and cool.
  3. Break up  the sirloin and sprinkle with the salt and pepper, garlic powder and stir in the caramelized cooled onions..
  4. Use a box grater to grate the butter grate directly over the ground sirloin keeping everything very cold (try not to touch with hands to prevent the butter from melting).
  5. Gently knead the butter in to the burger and then divide in to 4 patties.
  6. Cook the patties for 3 minutes on one side and then turn top with cheese and then tun them over and grill for another 2-4 minutes.
  7. To serve toast the bun and top the patties with tomato ketchup, bib lettuce and freshly sliced tomato. Place filling inside of bun and enjoy!

Happy Grilling!  Summer is almost here!

Judie the Irish foodie

 

Congratulations to Rory McIlroy and Erica

Built in 1228

800 years of history

Shamrock and Peach would like to congratulate Northern Irish Golfer Rory McIlroy and Erica Stoll on their recent marriage and wedding at Ashford Castle, in Co. Mayo.  It’s just lovely to see a fellow countryman enjoy so much success and still maintain the Irish values of humility and generosity. I loved reading how the couple met in 2012 and did not date until 2015 and Rory appreciated the fact they were friends first before going out together.  The fairy tale wedding was this past weekend at the 800 year old Ashford Castle built by the Anglo-Norman de -Burgos.  The castle has had several owners since including the famous Guinness family.  The Castle is nestled in 350 acres of gardens and woodlands and the perfect setting for this grand affair.

Shamrock and Peach tours are gearing up to visiting the Castle staying at the Lodge at Ashford this June.  Here a few pictures from our stay last year!

Keep up the great work Rory and we will be raising a toast to you this June!

Joy in the Journey!

Judie the Irish foodie