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

Ginger Pear & Parsnip Soup

pear-and-parsnip-soup-12The cooler Winter months are the perfect time for cooking root vegetables, especially when it comes to bowls of comforting soups, broths and stews. – such an Irish thing, and living in a warm climate such as Georgia, I always enjoy the opportunity for wonderful soups.

This week I had the opportunity to cook at the Piedmont Cancer Center in Atlanta with a menu featuring Winter Root Vegetables, which gave me the perfect opportunity to pull out some recipes from the homeland. – Growing up as a child in Ireland, my favorite vegetables were always mashed carrots with parsnips, and along with roasted parsnips, -essential parts of a traditional Irish Sunday roast dinner. So, when creating nutritious recipes for my Root Vegetable class I was naturally drawn to include parsnips in the menu.

When preparing this delicious soup, the inclusion of fresh ginger and curry, alongside the root vegetables, gives this soup a modern Asian flair while the fresh pears add a natural sweetness. Julienne matchstick pears on top, then gives the dish a refreshing fresh and surprising crunch.  

I do hope you enjoy this healthy recipe which is so good for the body and great the soul!  Finish the soup with a little cream, or olive oil -your choice! It’s all good…

Parsnip and Ginger Pear Soup (with fresh pear garnish and olive oil)
 

  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil or Kerrygold butter
  • 1 medium (1 cup) Vidalia onions (chopped)
  • 1 celery stick (3/4 cup diced)
  • 4 parsnips (4 cups peeled and diced)
  • 2 medium (1 ½ cups) pears (peeled and chopped)
  • 2 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 6 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 cups pear juice
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • (to garnish)
  • ½ pear (cut in to matchsticks)
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • Drizzle of good olive oil (or creame fraiche)

How to make it
 

  1. In a large soup pot, melt the butter or coconut oil and sauté the onions, celery, parsnips, pears and grated fresh ginger over a medium to low heat, then over and cook until they are fragrant and beginning to color for another 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add the stock, pear juice, curry powder and salt and pepper and simmer for 25 minutes until all the ingredients are tender and the liquid has slightly reduced. Taste to adjust seasoning.
  3. Using a hand blender puree the soup until smooth or use a food processor.
  4. To serve place 1 tsp of chopped pear in each warm bowl followed by the soup and then drizzle with a little olive oil.

Judith the Irish foodie

Welcome first day of Spring! (St. Bridget Feast Day in Ireland)

The first day of Spring (Feb 1st) has been important in Ireland from the Neolithic period.  In Ireland the lighting of fires and candles invited the power of the sun in the period between the cold Winter months and Spring!  Can you believe it folks….? We’re almost there and I am ready for the warmth of the sun and the buds of Spring to appear.

The relics of St. Bridget and Columcille are said to be enclosed in Downpatrick in the same grave as our National St. Patrick.  I loved this photography shared on the Friends of Saint Patrick’s website today of a group of students from John Brown University in Missouri placing a St. Bridget’s cross on the grave.  The hanging of the St. Bridget cross on the front door is symbolically asking Gods protection on livestock and homes in many homes in rural Ireland.

Those of  you who have been on Shamrock and Peach tours are familiar with Dr. Tim Campbell and this quote he often shares around the grave side.

“In Downpatrick, three saints one grave do fill, Patrick, Bridget and Columcille”

Welcome Spring and and let the feasting of St. Bridget begin!

Judith the Irish foodie

 

You’ll love Yule log! – A Celtic Christmas tradition

yule-log-2016-4

It’s Christmas again, and with each passing year we enjoy a tradition in our home that I carried form Ireland, namely, the traditional Yule log. Yes, our family loves this, and trust me when you try the combination of chocolate and fresh cream you will too..

…but what is a ‘Yule log’ I hear you ask?

The history of the Yule log cake stretches all the way back to Europe’s Iron Age, before the medieval era. Back then, Celtic peoples would gather to welcome the winter solstice at December’s end. People would feast to celebrate the days finally becoming longer, signaling the end of the winter season, and to cleanse the air of the previous year’s events and to usher in the spring, families would burn logs decorated with holly, pine cones or ivy. Wine and salt were also often used to anoint the logs. Once burned, the log’s ashes were valuable treasures said to have medicinal benefits and to guard against evil.

With the advent of Christianity, the Yule log tradition continued, albeit on a smaller scale. Families may have burned a log on Christmas Eve, but smaller hearths became the norm so huge logs were impractical. Those small hearths, however, were perfect for baking cakes. We don’t know who exactly made the first Yule log cake, but judging from the individual ingredients it could have been as early as the 1600s. Marzipan and meringue decorations, two of the most popular choices for Yule logs, appeared on many a medieval table. Sponge cake, which often constitutes the base of the log, is one of the oldest cakes still made today…however, I make mine with delicious chocolate and fresh cream, so – the tradition continues, but the way we like it!!

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So, from our home to yours, may I wish you a very merry Christmas – filled with the joy of Advent, and the hope of tomorrow, just as those Celtic peoples did so long ago as they gazed into the yule log…

Judie the Irish Foodie,

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Newgrange winter solstice-a 5000 year old puzzle

new-grange2012-29

In Ireland, December brings many things – frost that coats the ground, cold foggy mornings, hot whiskeys, and all things Advent and Christmas, of course – but an even older tradition happens each December 21st…

5000 years ago, an ancient people in Ireland built a temple dedicated to the sun – or so we think. That temple today stands at Newgrange in County Meath, Ireland, and is a most incredible place. Especially tomorrow, December 21st, which happens to be the Winter Solstice. The shortest day of the year, and the point at which the earth is farthest from the sun.

Amazingly, these ancient people knew all this, and they built a temple with a light projector to celebrate!

5000 year old solar alignment

Above the entrance to Newgrange there is a opening called a roof-box. On mornings around the winter solstice a beam of light penetrates the roof-box and travels up the 19 meter passage and into the chamber. As the sun rises higher, the beam widens so that the whole chamber is dramatically illuminated. -The opening to this light passage is pictured below.

newgrange-stone-1

Access to the chamber on the Solstice mornings is decided by a lottery that takes place at the end of September each year. So, a handful of lucky people get to witness this beam of light as it travels perfectly down this 5000 year old passage and illuminates the triple spiral in the chamber at the center of the temple…must be a sight to see!!

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But how did they know to do this? How did stone age people align this temple so perfectly to catch sunbeams at 9 in the morning on December 21st.Truth is we really don’t know….but sometimes, mystery can be a good thing! right?

Join me in Ireland, and we can check out Newgrange together- you will be absolutely puzzled and amazed by this incredible place…

www.shamrockandpeach.com

Merry christmas everyone!

Judith xx

Christmas Scones are Gingerbread Heaven

Ginger Scone Recipe

Gingerbread Scones for Christmas Brunch

Certain smells and flavors conjure up the essence of Christmas!  Just like the aromas of the spices baking in the oven of my favorite Gingerbread Scones.  Gingerbread is an Old World recipe that has somehow become synonymous with the Christmas Season around the world including both Ireland and America.  These Gingerbread Scones are perfect for holiday brunch are always a hit especially when served with Lemon Curd and Fresh Whipped Cream.  Enjoy the season and the spices of Christmas..  It’s the time!

Gingerbread Scones with Clotted Lemon Cream

Gingerbread scone ingredients (makes ½ dozen):

  • 1 lb. (4 cups) self-rising flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 oz. (¼ cup) dark brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground powdered ginger
  • ½ tsp. nutmeg
  • ¾ tsp. cinnamon
  • 6 oz. (¾ cup) butter (cold and cut into small pieces)
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • 4 fl. oz. (½ cup) buttermilk
  • 2 fl. oz. (¼ cup) molasses
  • egg wash (1 egg beaten with a little water or milk)

 

How to make them:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425° F.
  2. Sift the flour with the baking powder then combine the remaining dry ingredients together in a food processor or a large mixing bowl.
  3. Cut the cold butter into the mixed dry ingredients then rub the mixture together with your fingertips or add them slowly to a food processor to form a breadcrumb-like texture.
  4. Beat the buttermilk, egg, and molasses together in a small bowl and combine with the dry ingredients, mixing well.
  5. Turn the resulting dough out onto a lightly floured surface.
  6. Knead the dough a few times and then roll it out with a lightly floured rolling pin until it’s about ¾” thick.
  7. Cut the scones out of the flattened dough using a 1” biscuit cutter.
  8. Brush dough scones with egg wash and place onto a lightly greased baking sheet.
  9. Bake 12–15 minutes until well risen and golden brown on top, turning the baking tray halfway through baking time to ensure even baking.
  10. Best served warm. Serve sliced in half and slathered with clotted cream.

Happy Holiday Baking!

Judith the Irish Foodie

 

Celtic Thunder Legacy Tour Winners

Celtic Thunder at the Fox

Legacy Tour

Congratulations to our winners Carla Poff and Amy Balogh!  Ryan’s favorite Irish Bread for breakfast is in fact “potato bread’!  We enjoyed an incredible concert last night at the fabulous Fox Theater attending the Celtic Thunder Legacy Tour.  The music was a combination of traditional Irish songs and some modern contemporary pieces, all with a humorous twist. We were all captivated by their stories and music and the theme of ‘home’ and the transatlantic links between Ireland and the US; the songs that make us cry, songs of immigration and of loved lost with the triumph of the new world and hope for tomorrow. The finale brought the house down when all five cast members appeared on kilts and danced to a foot stomping tribute to Ireland.

If you get a chance to catch Celtic Thunder on tour, let me encourage you to do so.

http://www.celticthunder.com/

So, thanks to the Fox Theater and Celtic Thunder for partnering with Shamrock and Peach.  I even got to straighten my curly hair for the occasion and got to take off my chef whites for a girls night out!  We really enjoyed Celtic Legacy Tour 2016 and look forward to your return to Atlanta in the future!

fox-four-selfie fox-one fox-three-optimist

Here’s to all things Irish!

Judith the Irish foodie!

An apple a day made easy

Fall has finally arrived in Georgia and the time for cooler days and apple picking has begun! (yeah!)  It’s easy to enjoy an apple a day when all the local apples, grown in your actual state and not in some far flung country, are readily available as they are this time of year…

We made our annual fall to the apple barn in North Georgia over the weekend and came home with all our favorites Arkansas Black, Ginger Gold, Musu and Jona gold. Growing up in the apple county of Armagh we baked with Bramley’s and to me, there is nothing like a home made apple pie made with the first seasons apples!  So here it is, our first apple pie of the fall and happy apple baking once more!

Irish Blessings..

Judith 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

How Brexit is good news

euro-pound-dollar

During the climax of the summer travel season, Britain has chosen to leave the European Union through a popular vote known as Brexit. While markets are scrambled abroad, many immediate effects of Brexit are taking effect, namely the exchange rate between the American dollar and the British pound. With the pound being recorded at its lowest point in 30 years, the dollar is triumphing, providing American travelers noticeable discount on prices paid throughout Britain.

In simple terms, Americans visiting Northern Ireland and Scotland can truly gain a lot more bang for their buck, literally. The most noticeable ‘bang’ we are seeing is one that holds most Americans back from their dream vacations, air fare. Flight tickets from the US to Northern Ireland and Scotland are currently around the price range of $400-500 for a round-trip. This is understandably unheard of, due to the fact that just two or three years ago summer flights to Northern Ireland and Scotland were floating around the $1,800 range. So go on, the age-old burden of the expense of air travel has been relieved for you to live your dream, check off another item on the bucket list, and seek adventure, nothings holding you back now!

Please check out our website for more details on tours to Northern Ireland and Scotland

www.shamrockandpeach.com

Enjoy your summer!

-Judie the Irish foodie