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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Heartwarming Dublin Coddle

Heartwarming Irish Coddle

Sausage, Bacon, Potatoes and Onions with Sage

The weather is getting cooler and we anticipate the upcoming winter season. For some of us, this means snow on the way, icy roads and long days driving home in the dark (yuck)…but dreary winter days are made comforting through warm welcoming dishes from the kitchen. (yum)

One of my favorite, easy ‘one pot’  prepared meals is Dublin Coddle, a simple rustic Irish dish with sausage, bacon, potatoes and onions. This winter dish is associated with Ireland’s capital city, Dublin, and is famously served on many pub menus. The verb ‘coddle’ means ‘to cook food in water below boiling point’ (gently boil or stew) or what is often called ‘slow food’. The actual dish goes back as far as the 1700’s in Ireland but this is my take on a old traditional recipe…enjoy!

Dublin Coddle

  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 4 slices of thick cut bacon (thinly sliced)
  • 4 Large Pork sausages (cut in two)
  • 2 medium size red onions (sliced)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (thinly sliced)
  • 1 Tbsp butter (room temperatures)
  • 1 ½ lbs Potato (Yukon gold’s) thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • kosher salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp fresh sage (chopped)
  • 6 sage leaves
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil and butter

How to make it

  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet and fry bacon until crispy. Remove bacon from the skillet and set aside.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Add the pork sausages to the skillet and brown on all sides.  Remove the sausages from the pan and set aside.
  3. Pour all but 2 Tbsp of oil from the skillet and fry the red onions until they are caramelized.   Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Deglaze the pan with the apple cider vinegar and chicken stock scraping down all the brown bits and reduce for a few minutes.  Stir in the sage.
  4. Grease a 13×9 size dish with butter and then layer the potatoes, seasoning with salt and pepper on each layer. Pour over the onion, garlic stock and spoon sausages on top.
  5. Bake in oven one hour until the potatoes are soft and most of the liquid has evaporated.
  6. Add the reserved bacon and sprinkle over dish. Transfer to oven for a few minutes to warm.
  7. Melt butter and olive oil and fry sage leaves for 1 minute each side.
  8. Remove coddle from oven and add the fried sage.
  9. Serve and Enjoy!

Judie the Irish Foodie

 

Irish Barmbrack for Halloween

Irish Sweet Bread

Halloween Baking

Halloween was always one of my favorite times of the year growing up in Ireland, and it should come as no surprise that my best memories are related to home baking and fun traditions shared around the dinner table. My mother would always hide hidden charms in our favorite Halloween baked goods as a tradition, and amongst those treats she always included a wee home made BarmBrack loaf and an apple tart.

Barmbrack is a traditional warm and spicy fruit loaf that is absolutely delicious hot from the oven with loads of creamy Irish butter – and of course, apple tart is an apple pie here in America! So now you know!

So, here is it to share  – my family recipe that’s enjoyed in Ireland this time of year.

This name “brack” comes from the Irish word “breac” meaning speckled (the speckles are the fruits and candied peel baked in the bread).  I used to be so excited to wrap tiny items in silver foil for my mother to hide in the sweet bread.  All of the items we would bury in our baking had a hidden meaning, for example a ring (for love), money (for good fortune), a button (bachelor), a thimble (spinster), rag (poverty). I always wanted to get the ring for love and was devastated if I had the slice with a rag or thimble!  It was all in good fun and made great memories shared together around the kitchen table. Hope you enjoy this recipe and maybe even event  your own ‘lucky charms’

  • 4 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1tsp ginger
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp of salt
  • ½ cup soft brown sugar
  • 4 ½ tsp of dry active yeast (2 packets)
  • 4 oz unsalted butter
  • 1 ¼ cups of warm milk
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • 1 cup of golden sultanas (golden raisins)
  • 1 cup of dried currants
  • ¼ cup of candied orange or lemon peel (finely chopped)
  • (for the glaze)
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp warm water

How to make it

  1. Butter a 9’ round cake pan and set aside.
  2. Measure and combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl including the flour, spices, salt brown sugar, dry active yeast and the dried fruits and candied peel.
  3. Combine all the wet ingredients in electric bread mixer including the warm milk, melted butter and egg. Slowly add the dry ingredients 1 cup at a time and mix to combine.
  4. Transfer the sticky dough into the prepared pan and pat the dough in place. Cover with a clean dish towel and set aside in a warm place for about an hour for the dough to rise.
  5. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and then bake for about 30 minutes (to test the bread insert a skewer in the center and should come away clean).
  6. Dissolve the sugar in boiling water to make the glaze and brush over the bread. Return the bread to the oven for a further few minutes until the loaf is glistening.
  7. Transfer to a rack to cool and serve with Irish creamery butter.

Judith the Irish foodie

A touch of green! – Salsa Verde Flank Steak

Fresh and Easy Recipe

Grilling Out

We have really been enjoying Salsa Verde with our Grilled Steak this summer, and thought it was time to share this magical touch of green!  This Mexican style Salsa Verde uses green Tomatilios (not to be confused with green tomatoes). These fruits are wonderful, however, the skins can be a little tough so they need to be blanched or roasted before adding to the salsa Verde…little tip!

The recipe can be made chunky style (chopping all the ingredients by hand) or smooth by using the food processor or Vitamix to blend. Either way, it’s really fresh and delicious, and a good way to enjoy the last few weeks’ of grilling season.  Adding just a touch of Kerrygold Garlic and Herb butter to the resting flank steaks adds to the love (making this an Irish Mexican style recipe).  As always Enjoy!

Flank Steak with Salsa Verde (Mexican Style influence)

(recipe serves 4 people)

(for the steak)

  • 1 ½ to 2 Lbs Flank Steak (room temperature)
  • Salt and pepper and olive oil
  • 1oz kerrygold garlic and herb butter
  • (for the salsa verde)
  • 1 Lb (about 5) tomatillos (husked and washed)
  • 2-3 Serrano peppers or jalepeno peppers
  • ½ small onion (chopped)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

How to make it

  1. Preheat the grill to 400 degrees F. Season the room temperature flank steak with salt and pepper and drizzle with a little olive oil.  Cook the steaks for about 4-5 minutes on each side for medium cooked and juicy and a few minutes longer for well done (depending on the thickness of the meat).
  2. While the meat is cooking make the salsa. Place the tomatillos in a small saucepan with just enough water to cover them and gently simmer for 5 minutes just to soften.  Remove from the heat and place in an ice bath.
  3. In a food processor add the tomatoes, onion, peppers, garlic, cumin, lime and salt and pepper and pulse until smooth.
  4. Remove the steak from the grill and place on a platter to rest for 6-7 minutes. Spread the Kerrygold butter on the steak while it is resting.Slice the steak against the grain at an angle and then spoon over the Salsa Verde.

Judie the Irish foodie

Peachy Irish Whiskey Frozen Yogurt

Peachy Frozen Yogurt

Sweet endings!

Who’s up for a ‘super easy to make’ dessert that’s under 200 calories and tastes awesome? Me you say? How about a shot of Irish Whiskey (80 calories) and some Peachy Irish Whiskey Frozen Yogurt (90 calories)?  Tangy, tasty and totally great…

For those of you who are sensitive to dairy products you can switch out the Greek yogurt for coconut milk yogurt, and the pairing will still work a treat.  We like to pair this with an Irish whiskey that has a rich and floral fragrance to the nose, and sweet fruity notes of nectarines or citrus with a smooth mellow finish.

Other interesting flavor notes in whiskey that pair well with this peachy little dessert are vanilla & toasted wood,  and spicy notes perhaps from flame charred barrels.  Just like fine wines it’s all about personal taste and what you like!

Enjoy!

Peachy Whiskey Coconut Frozen Yogurt

(serves 4)

  • 2 1/2 cups peaches (frozen)
  • 1 cup Greek Yogurt or Dairy Free Coconut Yogurt
  • 3 Tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 3 Tbsp Irish Whiskey
  • (Serve with a dram of Irish Whiskey)

How to make it

  1. If using an ice-cream maker be sure to have the bowl frozen for 24 hours beforehand (an ice-cream maker is preferable but the recipe will work without having one).
  2. Combine the peaches, maple syrup and vanilla extract in a food processor or vita mix until smooth and then add the yogurt.
  3. If using an ice cream maker transfer in to bowl.  It takes around 15 minutes in my ice-cream maker and it’s best to eat straight away or transfer to a container and freeze for a few hours.  If you don’t have an ice-cream maker you can just freeze after combining in the food processor and enjoy the next day.
  4. To serve spoon the frozen yogurt in to a small bowl and enjoy with a wee dram of Irish Whiskey on the side.

Judie the Irish Foodie

Fit for the Fighting Irish

The Notorious Irish mixed martial artist, Conor McGregor says “I never lose. Either I win or I learn“.  Last night in Vegas, the reigning UFC Lightweight Champion, and former UFC Featherweight champion lost the Ultimate Fighting Championship to Floyd Mayweather – no shame though as Mayweather is the best of the best – and he carried with him the pride of millions of Irish!. His competitor just proved too strong and this was one fight where McGregor had to learn after proving himself fierce, very fierce.

So what does this fighting champ eat to perform and look this good? How about good quality protein?  His nutritionist shared that it’s his recommendation to eat lean proteins before a fight instead of carbs. So in honor of team McGregor, we are sharing our Irish Whiskey Barbecue Sauce perfect for brushing on lean proteins after grilling…and before fighting, of course!!!.

Irish whiskey barbecue sauce ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. butter (or coconut oil)
  • ¼ large onion (chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • 8 fl. oz. (1 cup ) Irish whiskey
  • 8 fl. oz. (1 cup) ketchup
  • 6 fl. oz. (¾ cup) apple cider vinegar
  • 2 fl. oz. (¼ cup) brewed coffee
  • 6 Tbsp. cup brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. coco powder
  • ¾ tsp. cumin
  1. To make the barbeque sauce, melt the butter in a small saucepan and cook the onion for a few minutes until they are soft but not browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Then combine all the remaining ingredients and simmer gently for 20–25 minutes or until the sauce has been slightly reduced.  Cool slightly before processing with an electric blender until smooth.

Judie the Irish foodie

Georgia grown Pecan Bounty Squares

Only hours away from the eclipse in Georgia we wanted to highlight a local Georgia business (Oliver Farms) pictured standing in their homegrown sunflower field. Oliver Farms make award winning cold pressed, unrefined, non GMO oils from seeds and  nuts native to the South – and they are fabulous, really fabulous!  The also offer gluten free seeds and nuts!

www.oliverfarm.com

When entertaining recently for a friend who is both gluten and diary free it was the perfect time to bake with the Pumpkin and Pecan flours in my pantry.  I loved baking with the flour!  I just loved the bright green color of the pumpkin flour and the sweet and rich flavor of the pecan flour.  The bars are a good protein packed breakfast cookie with enough good fats and energy to keep your running towards the sun.

Here is the recipe:

Blackberry and Pecan Bounty Squares (gluten free recipe)

(Recipe makes 1 ½ dozen squares)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups gluten free oats (pulse for a few seconds in food processor)
  • 1 cup unrefined coconut oil (melted)
  • ¾ cups cup pecan flour (ground pecans)
  • ¼ cup pumpkin flour (ground pumpkin seeds)
  • ¼ cup rice flour
  • 2 Tbsp flax seed flour
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp real vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 1 (10 oz) jar blackberry blackberry preserves (or fruit spread)
  • ¾ cup unsweetened coconut
  • ½ cup pecans (chopped)

 

How to make it

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line a 9×13’ baking dish with parchment paper to make it easy to slice.
  3. Combine the pecan flour, oats, pumpkin flour and rice flour, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Stir in the coconut oil and the vanilla and mix together until fully incorporated.
  4. Press the mixture onto bottom of dish. Spread the fruit spread on top.  Sprinkle top with coconut and pecans.
  5. Bake for 18-20 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the coconut is toasted and let the squares cool for a couple of  hours before slicing.

Joy in the Journey

Peach Crisp with a Buttery Oat and Pecan Topping

Sweet Georgia Peaches

Buttery Oat and Pecan Crumble

Summer loving is happening right now because when the Peaches are in season they are juicy and delicious!

You know the kind of peach that explodes when you bite into it, and the juice literally drips down your chin?  Oh yes…it’s that time! Sometimes though,  this can be counter productive when you are making a summer peach crisp and there is just too much juice when you bake your crisp (or crumble as we call it in Ireland) so, my suggestion is to allow the fruit to macerate in sugar and then strain and reduce the resulting juice before pouring over the peaches and baking. That should do the trick…

Oh, and I do admit that this recipe does not skimp on the butter ( the magic ingredient!) but the recipe is essentially ‘gluten free’ if you purchase gluten free oats.  So, come on, this must count for something less to feel guilty about when reaching for the second bowl? Right??…. and don’t forget the vanilla ice cream (if anything is worth doing its worth doing right)!

Enjoy these summer days and the bountiful fruits in season!

Peach Crisp with Buttery Oat and Pecan Topping

(serves 4)

  • (for the filling)
  • 6 cups of fresh summer peaches (cut in to bit size pieces peeled and stone removed)
  • ¼ cup sugar plus 3 Tbsp
  • 2 Tbsp corn starch
  • ½ vanilla pod (split in half and seeds scraped out) or tsp of vanilla bean paste
  • Unsalted Kerrygold butter (for greasing pan)
  • (for the topping)
  • 1 ½ oz oats (use gluten free oats if liked)
  • ¾ cups of ground almonds
  • ¾ cups pecans (chopped)
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 6 oz cold Kerrygold unsalted butter (1 ½ sticks)
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Vanilla ice-cream (for serving)

How to make it

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and butter a 9 inch size baking dish.
  2. Combine the peaches with the sugar and allow macerate for 30 minutes. Place the peaches in a sieve over a small saucepan to drain the juice. Simmer the juices in a small saucepan to reduce slightly (the liquid should be less than half a cup).  Allow to cool slightly before whisking in the cornstarch and vanilla bean pods. Toss the peaches in the infused peachy sugar syrup.
  3. Add the fruit to the prepared dish and spread out evenly.
  4. To make the topping place the almond flour and oats in the food processor and whizz to break down the oats a little. Stir in the sugar and chopped nuts and then rub in the butter with your hands until all the ingredients are fully incorporated.
  5. Sprinkle the crumble mixture over the peach mixture.
  6. Bake for about 30-35 minutes or until the crumble topping is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling.
  7. Serve with ice cream.

Enjoy the summer flavors while they last!

Judie the Irish foodie

Grass Fed Irish Butter Burgers (Friday feeling)

What could possibly make a flavor packed grass fed burger better?  Try adding some grass fed Irish butter? Kneading in some grated frozen grass fed Irish butter to your burger makes the juiciest flavor packed mouthful ever!

Get this...Cooking Light Magazine said that lean grass fed beef has a nutrition profile more similar to salmon than grain fed beef! – wow! Cooking light also mentions grass fed beef has half the saturated fat of dark meat chicken!  So, with all that said we could afford to add just a little grass fed butter?  I mean what could be wrong adding more good fat?   Please allow me to share the secret of one of the best burgers you will ever make (or taste)? A ‘wee bit ‘ of Irish goodness goes a very long way…

Grass Fed Butter Burger

(recipe makes 4 ¼ Lb patties)

  • (for the Pattie)
  • 1 lb lean grass fed ground sirloin
  • 3 Tbsp (grated frozen or very cold unsalted Kerrygold Irish butter)
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • (for the burger)
  • 4 slices of Kerrygold Dubliner cheese
  • 3 Tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 4 Brioche buns (toasted)
  • 4 slices of thickly sliced tomato (optional)
  • 4 slices of Bibb lettuce (optional)

 

How to make them

  1. Preheat the grill to medium high.
  2. Caramelize the onion in a little canola or grape seed oil for a few minutes to soften.  Set aside and cool.
  3. Break up  the sirloin and sprinkle with the salt and pepper, garlic powder and stir in the caramelized cooled onions..
  4. Use a box grater to grate the butter grate directly over the ground sirloin keeping everything very cold (try not to touch with hands to prevent the butter from melting).
  5. Gently knead the butter in to the burger and then divide in to 4 patties.
  6. Cook the patties for 3 minutes on one side and then turn top with cheese and then tun them over and grill for another 2-4 minutes.
  7. To serve toast the bun and top the patties with tomato ketchup, bib lettuce and freshly sliced tomato. Place filling inside of bun and enjoy!

Happy Grilling!  Summer is almost here!

Judie the Irish foodie

 

A taste of tea and history

You can tell by now that I am pretty crazy about history! So combing tea and history has me working in my element.  I was asked to host an Irish afternoon tea event at Barrington Hall, an 1839 Greek Revival style mansion in downtown Roswell, Georgia earlier this month.  The building is ranked as one of the 50 most beautiful homes in Metro Atlanta and it’s been fully restored and furnished with many period and family pieces. The original owner, Roswell King’s daughter (Eva and her husband Rev. William Baker) moved into Barrington Hall in 1883 and owned a tea and coffee importing company. The Bakers have entertained some rather famous people for tea including President Theodore Roosevelt and Margaret Mitchell, so, naturally I wanted to know about the tea they imported and served and ferociously began researching.

The tea that they imported was Orange Peoke!  The ‘orange’ in Peoke is sometimes mistaken to mean the tea has been flavored with actual orange.  However, the word “orange” is unrelated and refers to the Dutch house of orange black tea leaves of a specific size and quality.  These grading are typically used from teas from Sri Lanka, India other than China.  After research I found that the closest tea I could serve was an Irish Breakfast tea (I served Punjana).  Irish Breakfast has a higher proportion of Assam blended with a little Ceylon.  The Assam is copper colored and what we call in Ireland ‘a hearty brew’ and it’s good with a wee spot of milk.  We like to say it’s full of Malty gusto and it’s great any time of the day (if your Irish or Irish at heart).

So, I hope this inspires you to fill a kettle and enjoy a spot of Irish tea that’s been enjoyed from Victorian times and a historic pleasure we can all afford to enjoy every day!

Hope you make time for a cuppa today!

Judith the Irish foodie