Wild Foods Walk in the grounds of Ashford Castle

Chef Jonathan Keane and his team forage daily on the 350 acre Estate at Ashford Castle and were willing to share their experiences with Shamrock and Peach tours this summer.  Eating Wild foods is growing in popularity in Ireland and so has the idea of working with what we have. Certainly, a value my parents taught me and I feel ingrained in the Irish psyche.  There’ nothing like the flavor of fresh wild greens, flowers and berries just hand picked that day.  Our guests got to taste this first hand when dining at Wilde’s restaurant.  One of the culinary highlights of our meal at Wilde’s restaurant was the wood sorrel sorbet.  The tangy acidic herb  (also know as sourgrass) has a tart green apple flavor and it was the perfect palate cleanser with our feast.

May you enjoy the bounty of fields, forests,  gardens and coast!

Joy in the Journey

Ginger Pear & Parsnip Soup

pear-and-parsnip-soup-12The cooler Winter months are the perfect time for cooking root vegetables, especially when it comes to bowls of comforting soups, broths and stews. – such an Irish thing, and living in a warm climate such as Georgia, I always enjoy the opportunity for wonderful soups.

This week I had the opportunity to cook at the Piedmont Cancer Center in Atlanta with a menu featuring Winter Root Vegetables, which gave me the perfect opportunity to pull out some recipes from the homeland. – Growing up as a child in Ireland, my favorite vegetables were always mashed carrots with parsnips, and along with roasted parsnips, -essential parts of a traditional Irish Sunday roast dinner. So, when creating nutritious recipes for my Root Vegetable class I was naturally drawn to include parsnips in the menu.

When preparing this delicious soup, the inclusion of fresh ginger and curry, alongside the root vegetables, gives this soup a modern Asian flair while the fresh pears add a natural sweetness. Julienne matchstick pears on top, then gives the dish a refreshing fresh and surprising crunch.  

I do hope you enjoy this healthy recipe which is so good for the body and great the soul!  Finish the soup with a little cream, or olive oil -your choice! It’s all good…

Parsnip and Ginger Pear Soup (with fresh pear garnish and olive oil)
 

  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil or Kerrygold butter
  • 1 medium (1 cup) Vidalia onions (chopped)
  • 1 celery stick (3/4 cup diced)
  • 4 parsnips (4 cups peeled and diced)
  • 2 medium (1 ½ cups) pears (peeled and chopped)
  • 2 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 6 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 cups pear juice
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • (to garnish)
  • ½ pear (cut in to matchsticks)
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • Drizzle of good olive oil (or creame fraiche)

How to make it
 

  1. In a large soup pot, melt the butter or coconut oil and sauté the onions, celery, parsnips, pears and grated fresh ginger over a medium to low heat, then over and cook until they are fragrant and beginning to color for another 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add the stock, pear juice, curry powder and salt and pepper and simmer for 25 minutes until all the ingredients are tender and the liquid has slightly reduced. Taste to adjust seasoning.
  3. Using a hand blender puree the soup until smooth or use a food processor.
  4. To serve place 1 tsp of chopped pear in each warm bowl followed by the soup and then drizzle with a little olive oil.

Judith the Irish foodie

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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Christmas Scones are Gingerbread Heaven

Ginger Scone Recipe

Gingerbread Scones for Christmas Brunch

Certain smells and flavors conjure up the essence of Christmas!  Just like the aromas of the spices baking in the oven of my favorite Gingerbread Scones.  Gingerbread is an Old World recipe that has somehow become synonymous with the Christmas Season around the world including both Ireland and America.  These Gingerbread Scones are perfect for holiday brunch are always a hit especially when served with Lemon Curd and Fresh Whipped Cream.  Enjoy the season and the spices of Christmas..  It’s the time!

Gingerbread Scones with Clotted Lemon Cream

Gingerbread scone ingredients (makes ½ dozen):

  • 1 lb. (4 cups) self-rising flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 oz. (¼ cup) dark brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground powdered ginger
  • ½ tsp. nutmeg
  • ¾ tsp. cinnamon
  • 6 oz. (¾ cup) butter (cold and cut into small pieces)
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • 4 fl. oz. (½ cup) buttermilk
  • 2 fl. oz. (¼ cup) molasses
  • egg wash (1 egg beaten with a little water or milk)

 

How to make them:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425° F.
  2. Sift the flour with the baking powder then combine the remaining dry ingredients together in a food processor or a large mixing bowl.
  3. Cut the cold butter into the mixed dry ingredients then rub the mixture together with your fingertips or add them slowly to a food processor to form a breadcrumb-like texture.
  4. Beat the buttermilk, egg, and molasses together in a small bowl and combine with the dry ingredients, mixing well.
  5. Turn the resulting dough out onto a lightly floured surface.
  6. Knead the dough a few times and then roll it out with a lightly floured rolling pin until it’s about ¾” thick.
  7. Cut the scones out of the flattened dough using a 1” biscuit cutter.
  8. Brush dough scones with egg wash and place onto a lightly greased baking sheet.
  9. Bake 12–15 minutes until well risen and golden brown on top, turning the baking tray halfway through baking time to ensure even baking.
  10. Best served warm. Serve sliced in half and slathered with clotted cream.

Happy Holiday Baking!

Judith the Irish Foodie

 

Irish Culinary Halloween Traditions

In hope of keeping Irish traditions ‘alive’ at the Feast of the ‘dead’ wishing you all a very Happy Halloween!  As as we prepare for tonight’s trick or treating and the family culinary traditions that make this celebration memorable,  I am also reflecting on my childhood.  In Ireland Oiche Samhain, or Samhain Night , marks the end of harvest and the beginning of winter.  Irish Culinary traditions include Colcannon (potatoes and curly Kale and Spring Onions), Barnbrack (yeasty bread with fruit) and apple pie.

The most fun part of our Irish culinary traditions is the hiding of symbolic items in the food we serve. Oh, the suspense of who would receive what?  The items included money wrapped in aluminium foil (symbolizing good fortune), a ring (symbolizing an upcoming romance or marriage), and a rag (symbolizing poverty), a thimble (symbolizing the person will not marry).  So tonight wherever you are wishing you happy memories with those you love in this ‘feast of the dead’ and beginning of winter.  I hope you may even add some Irish culinary traditions to tonight’ Halloween feast?

Judith the Irish foodie!

Celtic Thunder Legacy ticket giveaway

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I am so excited to announce to my blog followers a chance to go and see the Legacy Celtic Thunder tour at the Fox theater next Thursday night!

This week I had the pleasure of interviewing one of the original members of Celtic Thunder; Ryan Kelly.  Although he studied accountancy at Queens University, Belfast and is a qualified Chartered Accountant by trade – music and theater has always been Ryan’s true passion and he longed for a break, as many of us do! Well, turns out the break came when his brother encouraged him to go and try his hand at the auditions in Dublin back in 2007, and it may have seemed far-fetched, but, he landed the role, and the rest is history. A real inspiration to all of us!

Ryan and I talked about the success of Celtic Thunder and why Irish Culture and music is so loved throughout the world. Ryan artistically described how the Irish have become a nation of travelers and story tellers and set our roots in other countries. We shared a common bond of family, friendship and the love that brings us back home to Ireland – and that’s the feeling many people here express to me all the time. A longing to return to Ireland to explore their roots, to see where their ancestors came from, and to enjoy the culture!

Ryan loves to run and has played Gaelic football and basketball at a national level.  We joked how he likes to run to burn calories after enjoying a full Irish breakfast; his favorite meal of the day.  Yes folks, we are talking about the famous Irish Fry, and for those of you who have been to Ireland, you know what I mean. A hearty combination of Irish bacon, sausages, black pudding, tomatoes, mushrooms and best of all the distinctive Irish breads namely, potato bread, soda bread and brown bread with lots of creamy Irish butter.

So, the question is…which of these Irish breads do you think would be Ryan’s favorite?

A. Irish Brown, also known as Wheaten Bread

B. Potato Bread, also known as potato farls, or

C. Irish Soda bread

To enter the drawing, simply follow the link below to my website and go to the ‘contact‘ drop down in the top right corner. Click on it, fill it out and send me your answer.

www.shamrockandpeach.com

I will announce the winner from among the entries promptly, and you could be on your way to see Celtic Thunder at the Fabulous Fox theater, courtesy of Shamrock and Peach!…good luck to everyone, and send me your entries!

 

Joy in the Journey!

Judith the Irish foodie

Announcing tomorrow’s ticket giveaway to Celtic Thunder

Shamrock and Peach is excited to announce a free ticket giveaway to go and see the Celtic Thunder Legacy tour at the Fox theater on October 13 2016.

The giveaway will be based on a personal interview I had with Celtic Thunder star Ryan Kelly.  Ryan is from the Moy in Northern Ireland and we had so many shared food memories from our homeland.  Tomorrow we will be launching the quizz question to my readers and the winner will receive 2 complimentary tickets to the Fox Theater.

So…stay tuned! Tell your friends, and get ready for a chance to this incredible show at the Fabulous Fox Theater!

Judith the Irish foodie

Ox retains Michelin Star in Belfast

Congratulations to Ox for retaining a Michelin star in Belfast.   It’s pretty amazing that Belfast has two restaurants achieving awards for the world’s greatest dining.  Both Chef Michael Deane’s restaruant Epic and Ox with Chef Stephen Toman and Alan Kerloc’h deserve the highest applause for retaining their 2017 Michelin stars. Ox is one of the incredible fine dining experiences I schedule on my Shamrock and Peach Tours each summer, and am always so proud to showcase just how good the food is in Ireland!

Being a Game of Thrones fan I was also excited when Chef Stephen Toman showed me his set of three Valyrian Steel kitchen knives on display inside the restaurant.  The knives were delivered by Tourism Ireland in partnership with HBO to celebrate Northern Ireland as Game of Thrones Territory.  Chef Stephen told me he has cooked with the knives and they are remarkably sharp.

The photos were taken when I was in Ireland to lead Shamrock and Peach tours. My sisters treated me to lunch and meeting Chef Stephen was a surprise bonus – and I am very excited to be bringing my USA guests to dine there next summer!….please plan to join us!

www.shamrockandpeach.com

Judith the Irish foodie

An apple a day made easy

Fall has finally arrived in Georgia and the time for cooler days and apple picking has begun! (yeah!)  It’s easy to enjoy an apple a day when all the local apples, grown in your actual state and not in some far flung country, are readily available as they are this time of year…

We made our annual fall to the apple barn in North Georgia over the weekend and came home with all our favorites Arkansas Black, Ginger Gold, Musu and Jona gold. Growing up in the apple county of Armagh we baked with Bramley’s and to me, there is nothing like a home made apple pie made with the first seasons apples!  So here it is, our first apple pie of the fall and happy apple baking once more!

Irish Blessings..

Judith the Irish foodie

Irish Boxty Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Summer Bites

Irish Style Summer Bites

Griddle Boxty BLT Bites with apple wood smoked bacon, Lettuce and Tomato

Summer tomatoes are now ripe on the vine for the picking, so now is the time to enjoy them. Inspired by attending the ‘Attack of the Killer Tomato’ Festival in Atlanta last weekend, I am harvesting my own garden tomatoes and making all kinds of cool eats with them, including this one – Irish Griddle Boxty BLT bites.

There’s an old Irish saying that goes like this “Boxty in the griddle, Boxty in the pan, if you cannot make Boxty, you’ll never get a man“.  The recipe has come in very handy for me over the years and I hope you enjoy this recipe idea from the Shamrock and Peach cook book.  It’s a fun summer appetizer using a base of classic Irish Potato Bread or ‘Boxty’.  So, enjoy summer tomatoes while they last and are at their very best!  Here’s the idea…..

Boxty BLT bites ingredients (allow 3–4 per guest):

  • 24 potato bread rounds
  • 12 roasted red tomato halves (cut in half)
  • 1 bunch Arugula leaves (stems removed)
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • kosher salt and ground black pepper (to season)
  • 8 slices thick cut smoked bacon (cooked and cut into 3 pieces)
  • 2 fl. oz. (¼ cup) mayonnaise

Roasted red tomatoes ingredients:

  • 6 Roma tomatoes (cut lengthwise)
  • ½ tsp. sea salt
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • chopped fresh herbs (parsley, thyme)
  • 1 Tbsp. good quality olive oil
  • ½ tsp. sugar (to sprinkle)

How to make them:

  1. Preheat oven to 250° F.
  2. Toss tomatoes in olive oil and season well with sea salt, pepper, sugar, and herbs. Place tomatoes face-side up on a baking pan and slowly roast for 1½–2 hours. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  3. Follow the instructions for classic potato cheese bread.
  4. Roll out to ¼” depth with a floured rolling pin and cut with a 1” biscuit cutter.
  5. Fry bacon in a large heavy-based skillet until crispy and set aside on a warmed plate.
  6. Sprinkle a little flour on griddle and cook Boxty bread bites in small batches on medium heat for 3–4 minutes on each side until the crust is golden brown.
  7. To assemble bites, begin by slicing bacon into thirds and dressing Arugula with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place a small dollop of mayonnaise on top of the Boxty bread, followed by the Arugula leaves, smoked bacon, and the sliced roasted tomatoes.

Enjoy the fruits of summer!

Judith the Irish foodie