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

 

Spooky Chilli for Halloween

Warm Chili

Chill for Halloween

Yet again it’s time for trick or treaters, and for us, we have an annual family tradition to make spooky chili on Halloween night – spooky, but good! . We live in a suburban Atlanta neighborhood and Halloween is actually one of the best times of year for our community to come together. Our little street will be hosting a fun party with many of our neighbors making different types of chili – and it really is very fun. We always have a toppings bar with various options such as cheese, avocado, chopped cilantro,  smoky olive oil and more – and people just love the fun of this – perhaps your neighborhood could too?

The forecast will be chilly (can’t help myself…) so a warm bowl of chili will hit the spot!

This fall I have been making chili for cooking classes and received some rave reviews (not bad for an Irish lass whose only been to Mexico once!) So, here’s my best shot…  Hope you enjoy!

 Grass fed Beef Chili (garnished with Avocado, Cilantro and Olive Oil)

 (for the base)

3 ancho chilies

3 dried chipotle chilies

1 Tbsp Coriander seeds (toasted)

1 tsp cumin seeds (toasted)

1 tsp yellow mustard seeds (toasted)

3 cloves of garlic

2 (14 oz) cans whole tomatoes (drained)

1 Tbsp tomato paste

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 Tbsp coco powder

1 Tbsp fresh oregano (1tsp dried)

(For the chili)

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 large onion (chopped)

1 stalk of celery (finely diced)

2 lbs grass-fed ground beef

1 (15 oz) can of chili beans

(for the stock)

1 bottle of Irish Stout (Guinness)

2 cups of chicken stock

(for the garnish)

1 avocado (chopped)

Kerrygold Irish Cheddar cheese (grated)

Juice of one lime

Drizzle of good olive oil

Bunch of cilantro (chopped)

How to make it:

  1. To make the base broil the chili’s on a grill turning until they are charred on all sides. Place them in a zip lock bag for about 10 minutes to sweat until the skins are easy to remove. Using plastic gloves or a zip lock bag turned inside out remove the stem and the seeds (leaving a few seeds will be good).
  2. In a large blender combine the prepared chilies, toasted coriander, mustard seeds, tomatoes, garlic, tomato paste, coco powder, salt and pepper.
  3. Add olive oil to a large saucepan and add the onions and beef stirring together until browned.
  4. Pour over the chili base, stock and beer. Season with a little salt and pepper, cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hour.
  5. Stir in the chili beans and simmer uncovered for another 30 minutes.
  6. To serve top with freshly chopped cilantro, avocado and a drizzle of Olive Oil.

Happy Spooky Halloween!

Judith 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

Goodbye Summer, hello Fall!

Today is the first official day of Fall (also known as the equinox). Its the astronomical start of fall in the Northern hemisphere, and Spring in the Southern Hemisphere. The earth is in alignment with the sun directly above the Earth’s equator which means equal day and night…it’s still hot here in Hotlanta, but the promise of cool, fresh fall is in the air (hopefilly!!)

It’s also time for fall festivals and home baking with our favorite recipes, using pumpkins, squashes and apples – which makes this a favorite time of year for me. So, to celebrate I thought to share one of my favorite recipes (shared by a friend when I first came to the American South).  Hope you enjoy! Happy Fall baking….  Let the season begin….

Pumpkin Bread (makes 2 loaves)

  • 3 1/2  cups all purpose Flour (sifted)
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp fresh nutmeg (or ½ tsp ground)
  • 1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger or 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1tsp salt
  • 4 large eggs (room temperature and beaten)
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 cups canned pumpkin (or cooked fresh pumpkin)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (8 fluid oz) vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup water

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 2 large size loaf pans.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, freshly grated nutmeg and ginger (unless you are using fresh ginger).
  3. In a large cake mixer or bowl beat the eggs and sugar. Add the pumpkin, oil, beating well to combine.  Slowly add in the remaining dry ingredients.
  4. Pour batter in to prepared pans. Bake for 1 hour in the center rack in the oven or until skewer inserted in the center of bread comes out clean.
  5. Cool slightly before removing bread from tin and finish cooling on a wire wrack.

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

Excited to announce our 2018 Irish Tours!

For many of us, summer is drawing to a close. Schools are back in session, traffic has resumed it’s daily grind and the memories of our 2017 vacations are behind us – however, we are now giving you something to look forward to! – yes, our plans for next years Irish vacations are complete and we are excited to showcase them to you and our website is ready to accept bookings for our 2018 tours! Who-hoo!

…and we have a brand new tour to announce into the bargain! Yes, after three years of painstaking research we are glad to reveal our ‘ Southern Elegance Ireland Tour’ for 2018. Many of you have been asking whether the Shamrock & Peach will tour Cork and Kerry – well, now we will, but with lot’s of other goodies and luxury touches added for good measure…

Our now famous Legendary Ireland tour will include some of our favorite luxury resorts including the Lodge at Ashford Castle, the Lough Erne Resort and the Slieve Donard Resort. While our accommodations in our Southern Irish tour include Mount Juliet Estate, Hayfield Manor, the beautiful Malton Hotel in Killarney and the one and only Ballymaloe House in Co. Cork. We are seeking to find the best and most unique accommodations in Ireland and are working with our favorite chefs to make our guests feel like each day exceeds beyond all expectations.

Going to Ireland is on the bucket list for many people and that’s why we make each day extraordinary when you tour with us. Please check our our website and email me!

Judith@shamrockandpeach.com

Here is the link to our website for our new Southern Elegance tour:

http://www.shamrockandpeach.com/tour_2__southern_elegance_irish_tour

…and for our Legands tour:

http://www.shamrockandpeach.com/tour_1__legendary_ireland_tour

Joy in the Journey!…and see you in Ireland!…let’s dream!

Judie the Irish foodie

 

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

Roasted Beet Salad for the 4th!

Happy birthday America! – my adopted home, and land of liberty…we love celebrating the 4th of July every year with special friends, fireworks and festivities and great food – as always – and this year I wanted to share with you one of my favorite summer salad recipes, my Roasted Beet Salad with Crème Fraiche, Sunflower Seeds and Parsley

Enjoy the fun and spectacle of the 4th in style…

What you’ll need…

1 ½ Lbs Beets (6 medium size beets)

1/2 red onion (thinly sliced)

½ cup Crème Fraiche

2 Tbsp Lemon juice (and zest)

3 Tbsp parsley (chopped)

3 Tbsp sunflower Seeds (toasted)

Drizzle of good olive oil

Freshly ground pepper and sea  salt.

How to make it

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Brush beets with olive oil and wrap in tin foil and set on a baking sheet to roast for 40 minutes .
  2. While the beets are roasting combine the Crème Fraiche, Lemon juice and zest together.
  3. Allow the beets to cool, slice and toss in the Crème Fraiche dressing. Stir in the chopped red onion, 2 Tsp of the parsley and toasted sunflower seeds and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
  4. To serve drizzle with olive oil and the remaining parsley.
  5. Enjoy!