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…!!
As we are getting ready for St. Patrick’s Day parties, festivals and parades you may be looking for some festive recipe ideas? Here’s a recipe I adapted for a cooking class that’s really green, really fun, and really yummy! Just in case you haven’t discovered them….But Oreo Cookies now come in mint …. and as far as cookies go… the famous American Oreo is hard to beat? Now, try combining it with a creamy cheesecake and flavored with creme de menthe? What’s not to like? Wishing everyone a wonderful and very green St. Patrick’s Day week as we are on the countdown to Saturday!
Here is the recipe…
(Serves 6 in mason jars)
(for the base)
18 mint Oreo cookies (crushed)
2 Tbsp of unsalted butter (melted)
(for the mousse)
1 ½ tsp of gelatin (1 Tbsp of cold water/2 Tbsp of boiling water)
1 ½ cups of heavy whipping cream
2 (8oz) packets of cream cheese (room temperature)
2 Tbsp of crème de Menthe (or 1 tsp of mint extract and a few drops of green food coloring)
1 ½ cups of powdered sugar
½ cup of heavy whipping cream
2 Tbsp of powdered sugar
1 tsp of vanilla
2 Oreos (crumbled)
How to make it
n a food processor roughly chop 12 of the Oreo’s and stir in the melted butter. Divide the crumble between mason jars and press down with the back of a spoon.
To make the cheesecake mousse beat the cream cheese in an electric mixer until light and fluffy and add 1 ¼ cups of powdered sugar. Add the crème de menthe and beat until it has fully incorporated.
In a separate bowl whip the cream until stiff peaks appear with the remaining ¼ cup of powdered sugar.
Mix the gelatin in 1 Tbsp of cold water and let it sit for a few minutes and then stir until it has completely dissolved in 2 Tbsp of boiling water.
Gradually add the gelatin mixture to the cream cheese mixture, beating until well blended. Fold in the whipped cream and the remaining 6 Oreo cookies (crushed).
Spoon or pipe the resulting cream on top of the Oreo crumble base and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Just before serving whip the cream, powdered sugar and vanilla and pipe a swirl on top of the mint mousse. Garnish with the Oreo crumbles and a sprig of fresh mint.
Kale Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing and Crispy Shallots
I don’t know about y’all but all the winter and holiday eating has caught up with me and it’s time for me to Go Green and eat some healthy and ‘in season’ Kale. I mean, the recipe does call for Apple Wood Smoked Bacon and Crispy Fried Shallots, but it sure beats the heck out of Fries and Butter Burgers? It’s also the month of March where we celebrate our beautiful Emerald Isle and our patron Saint Patrick. So, here’s a healthy Salad with the goal of going green…
…and finally, in keeping with the theme, here’s a verse from one of my favorite artists and songs, written by Johnny Cash and Forty Shades of Green...
“I close my eyes and picture the emerald of the sea
From the fishing boats at Dingle to the shores of Dunardee
I miss the river Shannon and the folks at Skibbereen
The moorlands and the midlands with their forty shades of green”
Hers the recipe…
Kale Salad with a Warm Bacon Dressing and Crispy Fried Shallots
2 ½ oz (5 cups) Kale (hard stalks removed and hand torn)
(for the dressing)
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
5 slices uncured apple smoked bacon (finely chop)
8 Tbsp (1/2 cup) olive oil
3 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp sugar
freshly ground black pepper
(for the fried shallots)
2 shallots (finely sliced)
1 Tbsp flour
1 cup vegetable oil
Kosher salt and pepper
How to make it:
Heat oil in skillet and crisp bacon. Remove bacon from the pan and set on plate lined with a paper towel. Drain bacon fat from skillet leaving 1 Tbsp for a little flavor.
Add chopped garlic and cook for 1 minute to soften but not brown. Remove from heat and add vinegar, (being careful as pan may splutter some). Gently shake the saucepan to mix. Use as whisk to mix the mustard, sugar. Add ground black pepper. Finally whisk in the olive oil and gently heat on low.
To make the fried shallots toss in the flour. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan or fryer to 360 degrees F. Add the shallots in small batches so they do not stick together cooking for 10-12 minutes until they are really crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on paper towels to drain. Season the shallots with a little salt and pepper.
To serve toss the kale in the warm vinaigrette with the bacon.
Serve right away and top each salad plate with a small handful of friend shallots and enjoy!
Go Green for St. Patrick’s Day and the month of March is all about celebrating our national holiday by cooking classic Irish heritage dishes. It’s traditionally the busiest month of the year for me with sold out Irish cooking classes, intimate catering events and parties. Over the years I have been traveling to Florida with Kerrygold teaching cooking classes at the Publix Aprons cooking schools. This year I am going to be working in Atlanta teaching a St. Patrick’s dinner class at Wholefoods on March 16 and a luncheon at the Piedmont Cancer Center on March 17th.
If you are hosting a dinner party for St. Patrick’s day you may consider serving this soup as a welcome shooter or as an appetizer for your dinner party. It’s warm and comforting and a true taste of Ireland for our festive month of March…So, go green and enjoy!
So, here it is and “Health to you and yours: to mine and ours”….
Leek and Potato Soup with Chive Puree and Garlic and herb cheese croutons
4 oz salted butter
1 medium onion (diced)
2 large leeks sliced (use mainly the white part)
5 medium potatoes (4 cups potatoes peeled and diced)
2 ½ pints Chicken Stock
1 tsp kosher salt
1/8 freshly ground pepper
2 Tbsp of cream
(for the spring onion puree)
4 spring onions (chopped)
Fine sea salt
4 Tbsp salted Irish butter (melted)
(for the garlic and herb cheese croutons)
3 slices of day old baguettes (cut in to cubes)
4 Tbsp Kerrygold garlic and herb Irish butter
1 oz Dubliner Irish cheese (finely grated)
How to make it:
In a heavy based saucepan melt the butter over low heat. Add the leeks and onions allowing them to “sweat” until they are fragrant.
Add the stock and potatoes and season with salt and pepper.
Stir to combine on medium heat and bring to a boil. Cover and then turn the temperature down allowing the soup to gently simmer for about 20-25 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.
Allow the soup to cool slightly before using an emulsion blender to smooth.
To make the spring onion purees blanch the spring onions in salted boiling water for just less than 1 minute. Strain and place in Ice water. Transfer to a blender to puree. On low heat melt butter and slowly drizzle in to the puree to create froth.
To make the croutons preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Melt the butter and toss in the bread cubes. Bake for 10-15 minutes turning half way or until crunchy and toasted. Sprinkle the cheese over croutons for 1 more minute to melt.
To serve the soup return to heat and bring to a gentle boil. Lower the temperature and finish the soup by adding the cream. Taste to adjust for seasoning. Serve in individual bowls with a drizzle of the frothy spring onion puree and a few garlic and herb cheesy croutons.
Kale Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing and Crispy Shallots
New Season’s Lamb, Mixed Carrots, Colcannon and Rosemary Jus
Just this past weekend I teamed up with Shamrock and Peach photography (my husband Gary) to teach a class on Food Photography at Whole foods Salud cooking school in Alpharetta. Gary is an artist and designer for his day job and a skilled photographer with a passion for creating beautiful imagery that explores the world around us and the Irish landscape. We got to work together combing food with photography when we wrote our first book together ‘the Shamrock and Peach”. We are always learning and exploring and we love to share with others. I heard a quote recently that said “we only own what we give away” so I wanted to share some of the images from our food styling class. Valentine’s day is coming up soon so I am going to share the recipe for the Raspberry and Chocolate Panna Cotta next!
Oh, and here is Gary’s website if you want to check out his work http://www.shamrockandpeachphoto.com/
It has been said that we eat with our eyes first and with a world of social media, blogs and iphones we all get to share the magic instantly! Here are a few images of food photography taken by Gary recently that made my food look mouthwatering. Only a true artist can see behind the lens and it takes patience, talent and passion. Here are few that he has taken recently that I really love!
Steak and Guinness Pie
Peach and Irish Cream Macarrons
Bacon and Cabbage
Over 10 years ago when I started my blog there was a need for some great photography and my husband who is a graphic artist rose to the occasion. At the time I am not sure he knew what we was getting himself into, but since then we have published two additions of our first cook book called the Shamrock and Peach filled with beautiful images of Ireland in addition to food photography and now we’re finishing up our second cook book.
Mastering the art of good food photography is not easy and then there are styles and trends and multiple digital features on our cameras to contend with. Gary is excited to share the knowledge of the tricks he has learned behind the lens at Wholefoods Salud cooking school in Atlanta on Saturday Feb 3rd between 10-1pm. We have a really interesting and delicious Shamrock and Peach menu for you to enjoy as you shoot, eat and most importantly laugh and enjoy some Irish craic.
We’d really love to see you at the class if you live in the Atlanta area and for everyone else thanks for following our blog! Maybe well share some tips from the class in future posts! Here is the link for our Atlanta friends to sign up:
Happy New Year 2018! Wishing all my friends and followers good health and Prosperity with Irish Savoy Cabbage Greens and Bacon…a true Irish favorite!
In the South it’s a tradition to enjoy collard greens as part of a New Years tradition (cooked in a smoked ham hock bone and served with black eyed peas and cornbread). The greens are symbolic of paper money and bring good luck and wealth for the upcoming year, whilst the black eyed peas represent the coins… so now you know!
So we wanted to share a new year suggestion for you with some Irish style crispy cabbage and wishing you a year like no other!
Bacon with Crispy Cabbage and Mustard Sauce
3 lbs cured loin of bacon
2 bay leaves
1 tsp peppercorns
1 stick of celery (chopped)
1 large onion (cut in quarters)
1 carrot (chopped)
(for the cabbage)
1 large green savoy cabbage (hard core removed and thinly sliced)
3 Tbsp of butter
2 Tbsp water
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
(for the mustard sauce)
3 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
½ cup reserved cooking liquid
1 Tbsp whole grain mustard
How to make it
Put the bacon in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Add the bay leaves, peppercorns, celery, and carrot. Bring to the boil and then cover with a lid and reduce the heat to a low simmer for 20 minutes per pound plus an additional 30 minutes.
Remove the bacon from the pan and set aside. Reserve ½ cup of cooking liquid for the sauce.
To make the mustard sauce melt the butter and add the flour cooking for a minute and then whisk in the reserved cooking liquid, heavy whipping cream, mustard and salt and pepper.
To make the cabbage melt the butter in a large skillet and then add the cabbage tossing with tongs until it’s bright and fragrant. Sprinkle 2 Tbsp of water over the cabbage to wilt slightly but still remaining crispy and bright.
To serve slice the bacon and drizzle with a little mustard sauce and top with crispy cabbage.
Enjoy, and have a peaceful and prosperous new year!
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:
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
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.
Blend the egg yolk, lemon juice and the water together and gradually add to the dry ingredients, until just enough to hold together.
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.
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.
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.