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…!!
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.