Friday is one of the best days to shop for fresh fish in Ireland because of the availability of the freshest fishermen’s catch, whether that be at the local farmer’s markets or grocery stores. Many families in the christian tradition in Ireland and all over the world observe fasting from meat on a Friday, as part of a penance, to mark the death of Christ; and this is how the tradition got started. I think it’s eating fish on a Friday has evolved to a cultural tradition and one of my favorite meals of the week growing up.
Nothing beats a nice piece of salmon and cooking fish is something we enjoy weekly as a family, although we do not observe it as a Friday rule. The best fish is fresh and never frozen and wild caught. To check the freshness of the salmon it should be firm, brightly colored and smell like the salty sea rather than ‘fishy’. Another tip If you are purchasing a fresh whole fish the eyes should be clear and not cloudy. It sounds very funny but true when we say..”it’s all about the eyes”… even when shopping for fresh fish….!
I hope you enjoy this simple recipe that is so easy to make, healthy and it’s also gluten free (by substituting the butter for olive oil it can be made ‘dairy free’). The recipe will serve 4 guests!
4 (4 oz) salmon fillets
Kosher Salt and pepper to season
½ cup Walnuts
½ cup oats
1 tsp lemon zest
2 Tbsp dill
1 Tbsp parsley
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp melted salted butter (or good quality olive oil)
(for the salad)
1 cup of mixed greens
Small handful of fresh herbs (parsley, dill, chives)
1 small petite pepper (1 Tbsp of finely chopped red pepper)
(dressing for the Mixed Green Salad)
2 tsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp olive oil
Kosher salt and pepper
How to make it
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
In a food processor combine the walnuts, oats, lemon zest and pulse. Add the dill and parsley and pulse again to combine.
Season the salmon with a little kosher salt and freshly milled black pepper. Brush the Salmon fillets with the Dijon mustard and sprinkle to coat with the oat and nut mixture.
Place salmon on a baking tray and drizzle with a drizzle of quality Olive Oil.
Bake until salmon is flaky and opaque in color and this will take 12-15 minutes.
To serve remove the skin from the salmon that will easily pull away when cooked. Place the salmon in the center of each plate.
Whisk the lemon juice, honey, salt and pepper together and toss in the combined greens, herbs, peppers and place on top of each piece of salmon.
We started our American immigrant adventure in New England over 20 years ago now, and living close to Boston we had the opportunity to experience the wonder of freshly caught Maine lobsters, simply poached and served with butter. Such a delicacy!
As a child, my experience was that lobster was only something you ate for very, very special occasions, and up until then I had only tasted a few times living in Ireland. I am thrilled to say that these cold water Lobsters from Maine are now shipped throughout the world, frozen, for us all to enjoy – and we should! Many of us are limiting the amount of trips we can take to the grocery store these days, so frozen produce that we can store away is a huge plus. It’s still a special splurge, but frozen lobster tails are reasonably priced and readily available.
To pair with the lobster, cauliflower is one of my favorite vegetables and it’s a lovely addition to this dish, especially when it’s caramelized with butter and pureed with cream. Lets not count the extra calories here though, shall we? The vegetable sauce is very bright but delicate enough not to overpower the delicious flavors of the lobster. Our family enjoyed this lobster for dinner last night and it is my joy to share this with our followers and my friends.
Hope you enjoy this recipe cooking from home:
Poached Lobster Tail with Cauliflower and Butter Sauce
(for the lobster)
4 Fresh Water Rock lobsters (defrosted at room temperature)
1 Tbsp of salt
(for the sauce)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup of onion
1 ¼ cups of carrots
¾ cups of celery
¼ cup of whiskey
¾ cup of water
2 Tbsp tomato puree
2 Tbsp of Tarragon (chopped)
2 Tbsp of butter
2 Tbsp cream
4 cloves of garlic
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
(for the caramelized cauliflower)
1 cauliflower (plus water to cover and cook)
½ cup of butter
(for the puree)
½ cup of cream
Kosher salt and pepper
How to make it
Prepare a large pot of boiling water for the lobster and an ice bath. Plunge the lobster tails in for 30 seconds until the tail turns pink and then place them in to the ice bath. Let the lobster cool for a few minutes and then using scissors cut down the center of the lobster and remove the meat. Place the meat in the refrigerator.
To make the sauce place the olive oil in a pan and add the onion, carrots and celery cooking until they are soft. Add the whiskey and reduce. Add the water and tomato puree and cook until the liquid has reduced by half. Remove from the heat, liquidize and then strain sauce.
To prepare the cauliflower slice it into thick slices and keep the smaller pieces for the puree. Blanch the larger pieces in a small pot of boiling water and then plunge into an ice bath.
For the cauliflower puree chop up the pieces and place in a small pot with a little water to cover and salt and cook until most of the water has evaporated and then stir in the cream and cook for a few more minutes. Remove from the heat and the puree in liquidizer or Vitamix.
Remove the lobster tails from the refrigerator and bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Poach the lobster for 4 minutes. Allow to rest for a few minutes.
To serve the dish reheat the vegetable butter sauce and stir in the tarragon cooking for 1 minute. Lightly brown the cauliflower steaks in butter and then arrange it around the outside of each plat. Place the cauliflower puree in the center with the poached lobster on top and then pour the butter sauce over and serve right away
Orange Marmalade and Whiskey are a happy Marriage of flavors
Bread pudding was always a staple in our home, growing up on our family farm in Ireland. The colder Irish climate makes us crave warm comforting desserts to fill the heart and tummy in dark winter nights. My mother used to make a lighter version for our family when making a weeknight dessert, substituting milk for heavy cream, adding raisins and using a lighter white bread. My mother really didn’t serve us ‘whiskey sauce’ as kids, but she would have had a jug of light cream or whole milk and we would have poured that over our bread pudding. It was all wholesome, simple food that brings back so many memories of life in Ireland and my family.
Dessert is not something I enjoy on week nights with my family; but when I create a dessert it’s always a celebration of some kind, or at least a weekend treat. We are only getting close to those Burns night suppers, so I have created a more a decadent version worthy of a celebration meal. I am skipping the January calorie conscious count and made this pudding with sliced brioche bread, that makes the pudding more custardy and super rich. Orange Marmalade always pairs well with Irish Whiskey (or Scotch Whisky) and adds a citrus tang to an old Irish favorite dessert.. I hope you enjoy and make time to celebrate this January because life short -and sometimes we got to eat dessert first!
Here is the recipe that makes a large pan to serve 8 to 10 people…
1 loaf (3/4 lbs of brioche or other white bread)
4 Tbsp of unsalted butter
24 large eggs (beaten)
4 cups of heavy whipping cream
2 cups of whole milk
2 cups of sugar
½ cup of orange marmalade
(Irish Whiskey Sauce)
8 oz of butter
¾ cup of fine granulated sugar
2 egg yolks
¼ cup Irish Whiskey (or Scotch Whisky)
How to make it
Grease a 13×9 pan with 1 Tbsp of the room temperature butter. Cut the sliced loafs in triangles and arrange in a single layer in pan.
Whisk together the eggs, sugar, milk and cream and pour half the custard over the bread. Repeat with one layer of sliced bread triangles and pour over the remaining custard mixture pressing down with your hands to absorb the liquid. Cover and set aside to soak for at 1 ½ to 2 hours before baking (or leave overnight in the fridge).
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
Dot the remaining 3 Tbsp of butter over the top of the soaked bread pudding.
Bake the pudding for one hour until the pudding has risen and the custard has set. Heat the orange marmalade and brush over the top of the pudding using a pastry brush.
For a caramelized top switch, the broiler to high and allow the pudding to brown a little on the top for 2 minutes.
To make the custard sauce heat the milk and cream in a small saucepan until simmering and remove from the heat.
To make the whiskey sauce melt the butter in a small saucepan and stir in the sugar until it has melted. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly and whisk the egg. Slowly add the melted butter and sugar into the egg yolk to gently temper until it is fully incorporated. Transfer the liquid back to the small saucepan and cook on medium low stirring all the time until the sauce comes to a low simmer. Strain into a jug and then add the whiskey.
To serve the pudding cut and slice while still warm and pour over a whiskey sauce.
Some restaurant score an eight out of ten for food and service excellence. some even score an impressive ten out of ten….but in my experience, the wonderful ‘Twelve Hotel’, one of my favorite Irish hospitality hotspots, scores a twelve for the incredible local Irish produce from Connemara and Galway Bay that is magically converted to an unforgettable gastro experience each time I bring guests to visit.
Connemara Lamb by Chef Martin O’Donnell
What sets Irish food apart when in Ireland is the sheer quality of the produce, and Chef Martin O’Donnell really knows how to bring the best out of the best. Whether it’s scallops or lobster, or seaweed, or Irish beef or as in the is case, Connemara lamb. The lamb was slightly smoked by a local producer and crafted into the meal experience we enjoyed tonight with fermented truffle and a fine jus. My tour guests were blown away, and they all now totally get why Ireland is such a foodie island!
Thank you Martin and Fergus, and all at the wonderful Twelve in Galway. Can’t wait to come back wit more Shamrock and Peach guests!
As a girl, growing up on the farm in County Armagh, we always had a copy of the Irish Farmer’s Journal in our home. My father loved to read all the latest on sheep and cattle whilst my mother loved to read the magazine and all the interesting articles and recipes. It is essential reading to this day, and is for most of the Irish rural families dotted across the green landscape of Ireland, it is a staple of weekend life. A cup of tea, and the copy of Irish Country living…
So, it was really an honor for me to be featured last weekend in Irish Country Living, the magazine portion of the newspaper. I was just so pleased with the article and felt it was a true interpretation of my story and just excellent journalism. (Thank you so much Ciara Leacy for truly ‘getting it’)
For my faithful blog followers who have followed me over the years I hope you enjoy reading my story about the birth of both Shamrock and Peach Foods, and Shamrock and Peach Tours. Here it is..
It’s National Bread week in Ireland between 10th and 16th of September 2018. We love our bread in Ireland and I am excited to share one of my favorite breads and the secret recipe…aren’t you lucky?
In America, soda is a fizzy drink such as a coke or sprite, but in Ireland soda is a bread, and a beloved bread at that. My mother always bakes some specially for my husband when he returns to Ireland and visits the farm.
Irish brown soda bread also known as Wheaten bread is a staple in the Irish bakery. It is full of fiber, yeast free and so simple to prepare. Just like any quick bread it’s best to eat at the day it is baked but try toasting it for breakfast the second day and it will be scrumptious. It seems every week I get emails from people asking me about the wholewheat flour in the United States and that it’s not gilding the same results from the bread they have enjoyed while visiting Ireland, so, to remedy, I have tweaked this recipe using flours from the United States adding extra oats and wheat germ for fiber and I am getting rave reviews from this recipe (also featured in my cookbook the Shamrock and Peach)…..give it a try!
Happy National bread week and enjoy your soda!
Ingredients (makes 3 loaves in a 1-lb. tin):
1 lb. (3 cups) coarse whole wheat flour
5 oz. (1¼ cup) flour
5 oz. (1¼ cup) oats
1 tsp. salt
3 tsp. baking soda
2 oz. (½ cup) wheat germ
3 oz. sugar (3/8 cup)
3 oz. butter or margarine
1 egg (beaten)
1½ pints (3 cups) buttermilk
1 Tbsp. honey
How to make it:
Preheat oven to 425° F. Grease and flour 3 small 8x4x2” loaf pans.
Measure all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Rub in the butter you’re your fingertips and create a well in the center of the mix.
Beat the eggs in a small bowl and mix with the buttermilk and honey. Add to the dry ingredients and mix well with a large spoon.
Transfer the resulting dough to a floured surface and knead gently with floured hands.
Divide the dough into loaves and place each loaf into prepared tins. Using a knife, cut a line down center of each loaf.
Bake for 40 minutes until a deep golden brown color or until base of loaf sounds hollow when lightly tapped.
Failte (Irish world for wlecome) from Co. Kerry to Co. Antrim the Emerald Isle awaits you!
My Irish grandmother served desserts and sweets from a ‘sweet trolley’ and passed on that most old world of traditions to my mother in Ireland. I can still hear my grandmother describe the desserts on her trolley, and then have to repeat it several times because we all wanted an excuse just to to hear it all over again! The ‘Oohs ad Aahs’ added an entertaining highlight to our family gatherings; as my grandmother was a world champion sweet maker…oh yes indeed! Our heads would be spinning trying to decide what to choose and wondering if we could try just a little of everything? The sweet trolley was trending way back from the late 50’s when my grandparents ran their own bed and breakfast, but it’s a tradition my mother still maintains when hosting to this day.
This summer I had the honor of bringing groups of fellow foodies from the US to Ireland to dine at Ballymaloe House to the rolling green hills of East Cork, and, you can only imagine my delight when at the end to our dining feast they produced ‘the sweetest sweet trolley’. The room went suddenly silent as our charming hostess began to describe the puddings. I remember we had Honey Mousse with Lavender Jelly, Carrageen Moss Pudding, Raspberry and Mint jelly, Chocolate ice-cream served in an ice bowl, a fruit filled baked Pavlova with cream. Then, as if that wasn’t enough, we had a secondtrolley of local Irish cheeses with homemade Ballymaloe Brown Cheese biscuits that were light, crispy and a perfect pairing with the quince jelly. Finally, came the petit fours including Ballymaloe Fudge, garden blackcurrent jellies.
I am so happy the sweet trolley never went away from Ballymaloe House and my vote is for the comeback of the vintage sweet trolley. Bring it on…darling!
Irish soda bread is a quick bread traditionally made on a cast iron griddle over an open fire, using what appear to be quite odd ingredients. When I was invited to participate in the Fire Fork Feast event in Nashville recently, organized by Over the Fire Cooking, I was excited to connect with my old school heritage style of cooking. There is no yeast in soda bread, with the leavening agent instead being a combination of bicarbonate soda and buttermilk so it’s ideal for camp fire style cooking. The result is a uniquely delicious and light bread that worked really well with the Guinness Oysters we served. I really loved cooking with Lodge Cast Iron ware and the Dutch oven makes this style of cooking easy and fun too (especially when you share the experience of cooking with friends and family…. and a big welcoming fire)! Here’s the recipe for you to try!
Below is a link to Lodge Cast Iron cookware – I just love cooking with this fabulous cookware.
Preheat the Dutch oven in the fire (charcoal briquettes should be white) and place briquettes on top of the lid Cut a circular piece of parchment paper to line the dutch oven and grease it lightly.
Meanwhile measure all the dry ingredients together and sift to incorporate as much air as possible.
Make a well in the center of the flour and add enough buttermilk and melted butter to get an easily handled soft dough.
Knead very lightly and form into a circle then make a cross in the center using a knife and place on the parchment paper.
Using the Lodge Cast Iron lid lifter remove the lid and set the bread inside the dutch oven pot. Using the Cast Iron Lid lifter replace the lid and add heated briquettes on top before setting in the open fire.
Bake for about 40 to 45 minutes until the bread is baked.
Remove the bread from the Dutch Oven and slice and serve warm with butter.To test, gently tap bottom of bannock (bread is ready when it sounds hollow).
I had no idea how many foodies out there love to eat Oysters! So, here’s the recipe for those of you who have written in to request that I share my recipe and others who attended the Fire Fork Feast event in Nashville over the weekend.
Reducing the Guinness for me was the key to amazing flavor and of course in the words of Derek Wolf, founder of Over the Fire Cooking, “fire is an ingredient” with the smokey flavor enhancing this sensational dish. I recommend equal parts butter to oyster… and if in doubt…where possible… always reach for Irish grass fed Kerrygold but (it’s da bomb)!
Grilled Oysters on the Half Shell with Guinness Herb Butter
2 dozen large fresh oysters on the half shell
½ cup of Parmesan cheese (finely grated)
(for the Guinness butter)
8 oz (1 cup) of salted Irish Kerrygold butter
1 cup of Guinness stout (reduced to 4 Tbsp)
1 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 Tbsp shallots (finely chopped)
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp thyme (finely)
2 Tbsp parsley (finely chopped)
1 tsp of kosher salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
How to make them
Prepare oysters using an oyster knife and shucking severing the muscle that is attaching the oyster to the shell. Leave the oyster in the shell that is more cupped shaped.
In a small sauce pan simmer the Guinness, sugar and thyme until it has reduced by 75% (leaving 4 Tbsp of liquid) and cool.
To make the Guinness butter sauté the shallot in 1 tbsp of vegetable oil for a few minutes to soften and then add the garlic at the end and cook for 1 minute.
Whip the room temperature butter by hand or with electric whisk and add the cooled reduced Guinness, parsley, shallots and garlic, salt and pepper.
Preheat the fire or grill to 400-475 degrees F.
Arrange the oysters in a single layer on a grill and spoon 2 tsp of the butter mixture into each oyster shell and then top with finely grated Dubliner Irish Cheese. Grill uncovered for 6-7 minutes until the butter is sizzling and the oyster is puffed up.
Guinness Oysters (photo credit over the fire cooking)
This past weekend I attended the Fire Fork Feast event in Nashville, Tennessee and so enjoyed the experience. The event was organized my my dear friend and founder of ‘Over the fire cooking’ with an outstanding following of 453,000 on his Instagram! Way to go Derek!! It was so much fun cooking over the fire with so many amazing chefs on the picturesque Wedge Oak Farm in Nashville, Tennessee. OK, so the weather was kinda chilly but it was warm by the fire…and the food was incredible. What a great idea!
I especially enjoyed cooking with Lodge Cast Iron cookware and in my next blog I am going to share my recipe for cooking soda bread over an open fire using a dutch oven.
My main dish for this really inventive festival was Guinness oysters (a butter made with Guinness reduction, herbs and garlic topped with Parmesan cheese)… Pretty yum…!!