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

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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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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

The Irish Christmas Goose

 

Christmas has always been a time of extravagant feasting to mark the end of a year, and the traditions in Ireland of cooking a Christmas Goose go back to “quarter days” of the year when accounts were settled. Delicious feasts marked the end of the harvest and traditions included putting the last sheaf of wheat on the table as a centerpiece, with the highlight of the meal always being the celebratory Christmas Goose!

In my new adopted homeland, my table-scape included hand picked Georgia cotton from the last of the harvest, magnolia leaves from my friends garden, red poinsettia flowers and pine from my own Roswell yard. It’s been a year of the greatest highs and lows for me, so cooking a Christmas gift seemed worthy of marking the end of our families personal harvest. We hung ornaments of Christmas Joy that were gifts from the party I catered for Keith and Kristen Getty and I baked and decorated our traditional annual Chocolate Yule log,  with our red bird looking on…of course

Wishing you a joy filled St. Stephens Day!

Judith the Irish foodie