We started our American immigrant adventure in New England over 20 years ago now, and living close to Boston we had the opportunity to experience the wonder of freshly caught Maine lobsters, simply poached and served with butter. Such a delicacy!
As a child, my experience was that lobster was only something you ate for very, very special occasions, and up until then I had only tasted a few times living in Ireland. I am thrilled to say that these cold water Lobsters from Maine are now shipped throughout the world, frozen, for us all to enjoy – and we should! Many of us are limiting the amount of trips we can take to the grocery store these days, so frozen produce that we can store away is a huge plus. It’s still a special splurge, but frozen lobster tails are reasonably priced and readily available.
To pair with the lobster, cauliflower is one of my favorite vegetables and it’s a lovely addition to this dish, especially when it’s caramelized with butter and pureed with cream. Lets not count the extra calories here though, shall we? The vegetable sauce is very bright but delicate enough not to overpower the delicious flavors of the lobster. Our family enjoyed this lobster for dinner last night and it is my joy to share this with our followers and my friends.
Hope you enjoy this recipe cooking from home:
Poached Lobster Tail with Cauliflower and Butter Sauce
(for the lobster)
4 Fresh Water Rock lobsters (defrosted at room temperature)
1 Tbsp of salt
(for the sauce)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup of onion
1 ¼ cups of carrots
¾ cups of celery
¼ cup of whiskey
¾ cup of water
2 Tbsp tomato puree
2 Tbsp of Tarragon (chopped)
2 Tbsp of butter
2 Tbsp cream
4 cloves of garlic
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
(for the caramelized cauliflower)
1 cauliflower (plus water to cover and cook)
½ cup of butter
(for the puree)
½ cup of cream
Kosher salt and pepper
How to make it
Prepare a large pot of boiling water for the lobster and an ice bath. Plunge the lobster tails in for 30 seconds until the tail turns pink and then place them in to the ice bath. Let the lobster cool for a few minutes and then using scissors cut down the center of the lobster and remove the meat. Place the meat in the refrigerator.
To make the sauce place the olive oil in a pan and add the onion, carrots and celery cooking until they are soft. Add the whiskey and reduce. Add the water and tomato puree and cook until the liquid has reduced by half. Remove from the heat, liquidize and then strain sauce.
To prepare the cauliflower slice it into thick slices and keep the smaller pieces for the puree. Blanch the larger pieces in a small pot of boiling water and then plunge into an ice bath.
For the cauliflower puree chop up the pieces and place in a small pot with a little water to cover and salt and cook until most of the water has evaporated and then stir in the cream and cook for a few more minutes. Remove from the heat and the puree in liquidizer or Vitamix.
Remove the lobster tails from the refrigerator and bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Poach the lobster for 4 minutes. Allow to rest for a few minutes.
To serve the dish reheat the vegetable butter sauce and stir in the tarragon cooking for 1 minute. Lightly brown the cauliflower steaks in butter and then arrange it around the outside of each plat. Place the cauliflower puree in the center with the poached lobster on top and then pour the butter sauce over and serve right away
Dark Chocolate and Blue Cheese is a divine food pairing combination! It’s an example of one of the many surprises guests have when they dine at the tables of modern Irish Chefs in Ireland. The first time I tried this taste sensation was at the Lough Erne Resort at the Catalina Restaurant with Chef Noel McMeel. Chef Noel introduced this course as a ‘pre dessert’ to our tour guests, and our sommelier suggested pairing it with a glass of Ruby Port Wine. Some guests were cautious of the pairing because it sounded unusual, but it seemed everyone expressed being ‘surprised’ and that’s always such a treat when we experience the ‘unexpected’.
Back in 2014 I had the opportunity to be featured with Chef Noel McMeel and Chef Stephen Holland at the James Beard House in New York; and this is one of the courses we served on the menu. I can remember the course sending shock waves of tantalizing emotions as some guests tasted a new food pairing taste, sending their taste buds exploding. We paired it with Irish Cashel Blue Cheese and used Valrhona Dark Chocolate to make the ganache.
Orange Marmalade and Whiskey are a happy Marriage of flavors
Bread pudding was always a staple in our home, growing up on our family farm in Ireland. The colder Irish climate makes us crave warm comforting desserts to fill the heart and tummy in dark winter nights. My mother used to make a lighter version for our family when making a weeknight dessert, substituting milk for heavy cream, adding raisins and using a lighter white bread. My mother really didn’t serve us ‘whiskey sauce’ as kids, but she would have had a jug of light cream or whole milk and we would have poured that over our bread pudding. It was all wholesome, simple food that brings back so many memories of life in Ireland and my family.
Dessert is not something I enjoy on week nights with my family; but when I create a dessert it’s always a celebration of some kind, or at least a weekend treat. We are only getting close to those Burns night suppers, so I have created a more a decadent version worthy of a celebration meal. I am skipping the January calorie conscious count and made this pudding with sliced brioche bread, that makes the pudding more custardy and super rich. Orange Marmalade always pairs well with Irish Whiskey (or Scotch Whisky) and adds a citrus tang to an old Irish favorite dessert.. I hope you enjoy and make time to celebrate this January because life short -and sometimes we got to eat dessert first!
Here is the recipe that makes a large pan to serve 8 to 10 people…
1 loaf (3/4 lbs of brioche or other white bread)
4 Tbsp of unsalted butter
24 large eggs (beaten)
4 cups of heavy whipping cream
2 cups of whole milk
2 cups of sugar
½ cup of orange marmalade
(Irish Whiskey Sauce)
8 oz of butter
¾ cup of fine granulated sugar
2 egg yolks
¼ cup Irish Whiskey (or Scotch Whisky)
How to make it
Grease a 13×9 pan with 1 Tbsp of the room temperature butter. Cut the sliced loafs in triangles and arrange in a single layer in pan.
Whisk together the eggs, sugar, milk and cream and pour half the custard over the bread. Repeat with one layer of sliced bread triangles and pour over the remaining custard mixture pressing down with your hands to absorb the liquid. Cover and set aside to soak for at 1 ½ to 2 hours before baking (or leave overnight in the fridge).
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
Dot the remaining 3 Tbsp of butter over the top of the soaked bread pudding.
Bake the pudding for one hour until the pudding has risen and the custard has set. Heat the orange marmalade and brush over the top of the pudding using a pastry brush.
For a caramelized top switch, the broiler to high and allow the pudding to brown a little on the top for 2 minutes.
To make the custard sauce heat the milk and cream in a small saucepan until simmering and remove from the heat.
To make the whiskey sauce melt the butter in a small saucepan and stir in the sugar until it has melted. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly and whisk the egg. Slowly add the melted butter and sugar into the egg yolk to gently temper until it is fully incorporated. Transfer the liquid back to the small saucepan and cook on medium low stirring all the time until the sauce comes to a low simmer. Strain into a jug and then add the whiskey.
To serve the pudding cut and slice while still warm and pour over a whiskey sauce.
Dining with Executive Chef Noel McMcMeel at the award winning Catalina Restaurant!
G 8 at the Lough Erne
Sunset at the Lough Erne
Chef Noel McMeel and Judith
Words cannot fully describe how we were royally treated at the Lough Erne Resort in Co. Fermanagh last week when our Legendary Irish tour. We got to experience world class dining and accommodation staying at one of Northern Ireland’s most prestigious 5 Star resort. Executive head chef and friend Noel McMeel rolled out the red carpet for our guests. One of the most memorable meal experiences was the recreation of the menu served at the G8 summit. Our guests got to taste the menu experienced by our world leaders, the very best of Irish cuisine. Our guests were overwhelmed with the Lough Erne Hospitality and the way we were treated by the restaurant servers and chefs will be a food memory to last a life time. We feel so humbled and grateful to the team at the Lough Erne including Chef Noel McMeel and Chef Stephen and would like to send out a personal applause and thankfulness to them. This this Sunday I will embark on two back to back tours of Southern Ireland, but before we lunch our new venture I wanted to acknowledge our appreciation of the very best of Northern Irish hospitality!
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.
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.
I am so proud of the deserved success of Chef Noel McMeel and his talented chef team at the Lough Erne Hotel. The Catalina restaurantwas awarded Best Hotel Restaurant of the year at Ireland’s Food and Wine awards. Miriam Atkins, editor of Food and Wine Magazine said “Ireland is celebrating a Food Revolution” – and how true that is!
This summer I was able to bring my wonderful American tour guests to dine at the Catalina restaurant and stay at the prestigious Lough Erne Hotel, which is always a particular treat. The welcome and treatment we receive is second to none and one guests even said that we are treated like royalty! We are so looking forward to returning to dine in 2018 and on behalf of Shamrock and Peach tours offer our heartfelt congratulations!
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
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.
The 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
½ pear (cut in to matchsticks)
Squeeze of lemon juice
Drizzle of good olive oil (or creame fraiche)
How to make it
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.
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.
Using a hand blender puree the soup until smooth or use a food processor.
To serve place 1 tsp of chopped pear in each warm bowl followed by the soup and then drizzle with a little olive oil.