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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A Sweet Ending to an Irish Christmas Joy!

Chocolate swirl fudge-7

This year we had a sweet ending at Christmas when Shamrock and Peach catered the end of year Christmas party for the Gettys in Nashville Tennessee, home of country music. The party was a celebration of “Joy, An Irish Christmas Tour’ presented in 20 cities in the US by Keith and Kristen Getty and everyone at Getty music. The tour was attended by a whopping 60,000 people across North America and in several prestigious concert halls including Carnegie Hall (New York) and the fabulous Fox Theatre here in Atlanta.

We were invited to the concert at the Fox Theater in Atlanta the evening before we drove to Tennessee, and were literally blown away by the standard of the musicianship. Wow!…the singing, the dancing, the playing – not to mention some on stage who played while dancing!! – no mean feat! The music itself gave tribute to the roots of Bluegrass music with guest Ricky Skaggs tearing up the stage with Bluegrass examples of how the Irish have impacted the culture of the Southlands and it’s so inspiring that I get to celebrate those same roots through the language of really great food.

Keith Getty even gave a shout out to ‘The Shamrock and Peach’ book when referring to marriage of Ireland to the Southlands and it was such an honor and it literally took my breath away to be considered!

Hope you enjoy a few pictures from our event and a super yummy idea to swirl melted chocolate through the Irish butter fudge (recipe in my cook book).  A sweet ending to my menu and year!

Wishing you a touch of Irish Joy!

Judith the Irish foodie

Give the gift of Chocolate

Christmas Gifts from the Kitchen

The Gift of Chocolate

‘Tis the season to munch chocoloate, fa la la la, la la, la, la!

Oh yes, and chocolate truffles are simplest of candies to make for Christmas gifts and are made from just three purest ingredients of cream, butter and chocolate. They make a luxurious ending to a meal or cocktail party with small bites of creamy chocky goodness. Truffles can be flavored with your own favorite alcoholic beverage or flavoring including vanilla and I like to add toasted coconut to my truffles as I just love the textural crunch and a dash of Christmas rum.  Oh, taste and see that they are good!

Here is the recipe, for my many elves to follow:

Chocolate Truffles (with Coconut and Rum)

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 3 Tbsp Rum
  • 12 oz 60% bittersweet chocolate
  • 8 oz (1 stick) room temperature unsalted Kerrygold Irish butter
  • Pinch of Fleur De Sel (or other fine sea salt)
  • 1 ½ cups unsweetened coconut
  • Unsweetened cocoa
  • Confectioners’ sugar

How to make them:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Place the coconut on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and toast until it’s golden brown.

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Place the coconut on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and toast until it’s golden brown.
  2. Place the cream in a sauce pan and bring to a low boil reducing to 50%.
  3. Sir in the chocolate until it has melted. Whisk in the rum and then the softened butter until smooth and glossy.
  4. Fold In the toasted coconut.
  5. Transfer chocolate mixture to a shallow pan and refrigerate until firm.
  6. Combine cocoa and confectioners’ sugar in a shallow dish. Using a melon ball scoop form balls and roll with hands in the coco and confectioners’ sugar.
  7. Best stored and served from the refrigerator.

With Christmas Cheer!

Judith the Irish Foodie Elf!

 

Christmas party desserts (New Orleans style)

Simple desserts are always a hit for any hostess especially around the holidays when we are so busy.  Bananas Foster is a last minute dessert but engaging and interactive for Christmas entertaining.  The flames create a great atmosphere (just remind everyone to stand well back).

The dessert was created in New Orleans in 1951 when restaurant owner Owen Brennan asked his chef to invent a new recipe for a magazine.  Most credit the cuisine from New Orleans as French Cajun, but the earliest Irish settlers were arriving with the Spanish and French, and have undoubtedly created their influence on the city.   The name Brennan in Gaelic means ‘Brave’ and we thank this Irish man for being credited to have inspired the creation of the worlds most sensational desserts!

Owen Brennan’s Bananas Foster

(Serves 4)

  • 2 oz unsalted Kerrygold Irish butter
  • 1 cup of dark brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup dark rum
  • 1/4 cup banana liqueur
  • Pinch of Fleur De Sel (or other fine sea salt)
  • 4 medium size bananas (sliced)
  • 4 generous scoops of vanilla cream

How to make it

  1. In a large skillet combine the butter, sugar, cinnamon and Fleur De Sel, cinnamon and gently heat on a low temperature until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Whisk in the banana liqueur and then add bananas to pan and cook for 2 minutes or until they begin to caramelize.
  3. Stir in the rum and cook for 1 minute. Stand back and then tilt the pan to ignite the alcohol.
  4. To serve place a generous scoop of vanilla ice-cream inside a small Mason jar or other serving dish and then top with the caramelized banana mixture and resulting sauce.
  5. Serve right away!

Enjoy celebrating and sharing food with those your love this season!

Judith the Irish foodie

 

Christmas Jewels Salad – a new twist for the season!

Christmas jewel salad-4

 

So, the season of cheer is here!….and this year, instead of the same old same old, I’m going to try out a few newfangled things and see how they work!…and I’m going to get this festive ball rolling with a brand new salad I’ve invented just for the purpose…

This salad looks great on the plate, tastes amazing, and has enough red & green going on that it works really well for Christmas. Serve perhaps during a Christmas tea, or as a festive starter – either way, this one will be sure to please!!

Christmas Jewels Salad of Goat Cheese, Heirloom Red Spinach and Roasted Pumpkin Seeds (serves 4-6)

(for the salad)

8 cups Heirloom Red Spinach

  • 4-6 Tbsp Pomegranate seeds
  • 2 oz goats cheese (cut in to ½’ rounds)

(For the roasted pumpkin seeds)

  • 1 ½ cups raw pumpkin seeds
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp sugar

(for the vinaigrette)

  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground pepper

How to make it

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Toss pumpkin seeds in olive oil and place in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Sprinkle over kosher salt and sugar.   Bake for 18-20 minutes and stir at least twice during baking process.  (check after the first 10 minutes and again in 15 minutes time).  Allow to cool.

  1. Combine vinaigrette ingredients in a mason jar with a sealed lid and shake to combine.
  2. In a large bowl combine arugula, pomegranate seeds and 2/3 rd’s of the pumpkin seeds and toss gently with about half of the vinaigrette.
  3. To serve place slice of goats cheese in the center of serving plate. Place greens on top of the goat’s cheese.  Sprinkle with a few extra pumpkin seeds and a little more vinaigrette on the side.

Enjoy!…and lots more Christmas recipes to follow – love this season!

Judie, the Irish foodie

Irish Whiskey Chocolate Pecan Pie Recipe

 

 

Tomorrow is the first day of the Christmas season, and so, the feasting begins!  We have just celebrated Thanksgiving in the US and now join the rest of the world to share in the season of Christmas Joy and Wonder. I have had a few requests to share my Irish Whiskey Chocolate Pecan recipe and, as it really is rather scrumptious…I thought I would share!

Irish whiskey Chocolate Pecan Pie

This pie is so rich and decadent and an amazing ending to any meal.  The recipe is traditional for Thanksgiving dinners in the American South but its absolutely delicious any time of the year…hope you enjoy!

  •  1 prepared pastry pie crust
  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips (melted)
  • 6 Tbsp Irish butter (I use Kerrygold unsalted for all my baking)
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 Tbsp all purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. fine sea salt
  • 4 large eggs (beaten)
  • 3 Tbsp Irish whiskey (I use Irish man’s whiskey)
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups unsalted pecan halves

How to make it

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Melt the butter and chocolate chips over a double boiler
  3. Whisk together the eggs, sugars, honey, flour, sea salt, whiskey and vanilla to combine. Stir in the melted chocolate and butter.
  4. Folks in pecans and then pour mixture in to prepared pie crust.
  5. Bake pie for one hour or until the filling has set.
  6. Transfer pie to a cooling rack.
  7. Best served with vanilla ice cream.

Enjoy these 25 days of Christmas because all the fun is about to begin!

Judith the Irish foodie