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

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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

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

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!

Thanks to NPR for a wonderful Tribute

Many thanks for the interview with NPR that took place just time for me to announce my 2nd edition printing of the Shamrock and Peach, which is now available!

It felt so natural to share my passion with Atlanta writer Beth Ware who identified immediately with the Southern connections to Irish cuisine, and it was a joy to share my passions for food and Irish culture with her.  – Hopefully you have had a chance to check out the article, but if not see the link below:

http://news.wabe.org/post/irish-chef-plants-her-culinary-roots-deep-south

So, the new edition is literally hot off the presses, and I would be glad to sign and send out copies through my website, in addition to the book being available through the usual outlets.  I am also pleased to share all the recipes that were featured on my recent Kerrygold tour with Aprons Publix cooking schools, which were also posted on the NPR website …enjoy!

So, a belated happy St. Patrick’s day to all my followers and as I always say..

Joy in the Journey Y’all

Judith the Irish foodie

 

 

 

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

Rise Up Atlanta! – Hot Wings, Irish Style…

superbowl-wings-2017

The last time the Atlanta Falcons were in the Superbowl, our eldest son was a babe in arms, and today he’s getting ready for college…so, it’s been a looong time y’all!

So, we are celebrating, whatever happens, but rooting for an Atlanta win with some really good food in the shape of hot wings marinated and glazed with my secret Irish beer and garlic hot sauce (well, secret, but recipe is below….just for you!)

So, Rise Up Atlanta, and enjoy!

Hot Wings (Rise Up Atlanta Wings)

(for the marinade)

  • 3 Lbs of chicken drumsticks and wings
  • 1 bottle of Harp Irish Beer (12 oz)
  • 3 cloves of Garlic
  • 1 Tbsp freshly grated stem ginger
  • 1/3 cup hot sriracha chile sauce
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • (for the glaze)
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup spring onions (thinly sliced)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh chili (finely chopped for garnish)

How to make them

  1. Marinade the wings in the beer, garlic, ginger, sriracha, lemon juice, olive oil and soy sauce for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.
  3. Remove the chicken from the marinade (and reserve).
  4. For a crispier skin sear the chicken meat side down for a few minutes first in a skillet to help render the fat and then transfer with tongs to a large roasting pan for about 12 minutes.
  5. While the wings are in the oven transfer the marinade to a small saucepan and reduce it by at least 50 per cent. Whisk in the honey and half of the spring onions.
  6. Remove the wings from the roasting pan and transfer to a warm platter. Toss the wings in the glaze and sprinkle over the reserved spring onions and fresh chili.

Judie, the Irish Foodie

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 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