Love Chocolate…. continued….

Dreamy Irish Chocolate Desserts

Shamrock and Peach Tours Chocolate dessert memories

It’s almost Valentine’s Day and I am still dreaming of Irish Chocolate! Today I wanted to highlight a few of my favorite chocolate desserts that we had the opportunity to taste and devour last year whilst leading our Shamrock and Peach Tours.

Irish chefs are creating world class chocolate desserts made with chocolate from homegrown Irish companies, which is kind of a new thing. In Ireland, we are known for our wonderfully pure and wholesome dairy products and herds who enjoy a grass fed diet producing milk that is rich, yellow and naturally salted by our clean and pure sea breezes. So, guests who come to Ireland are falling in love with more than just Ireland….. our chocolate alone is worth the Journey!

Yum!

Shamrock and Peach (Judie the Irish Foodie)

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To all Wild Irish Woman everywhere, St. Bridget and Roots of Hospitality

Pouring a Guinness

To Wild Irish Woman everywhere and the story of St. Bridget

Ireland’s legendary hospitality has many roots but on the first day of Spring, February 1st, we remember St. Bridget or Mary of the Gaels.

St. Bridget of Kildare is buried in Downpatrick, County Down beside our St. Patrick, and legend has it that Bridget defied her father, the King at royal matchmaking and gave away food to those in need – not the done thing. This started a life of hospitality, and Bridget would devote herself to giving and loving those all around her with the gracious gift of hospitality. Under a great oak (the sacred tree of the druids) Bridget founded her monastery in Kildare. It was here the sick were tended to, travelers were fed and poets, craftsmen and farmers were welcomed and their trades nurtured. you go girl!

This poem is associated with St. Bridget:

I should like a great lake of finest ale

For the King of Kings.

I should like a table of the choicest food

For the family of heaven.

Let the ale be made from the fruits of faith,

And the food be forgiving love.

So I lift my glass to you St. Bridget for all you have taught us, and may your legacy continue in the hearts of the Irish in every corner of the world! To those who have not visited the shores of Ireland you will find a a hundred thousand welcomes, Cead Mile Failte awaits you!

Shamrock and Peach (Judie the Irish Foodie)

http://www.shamrockandpeach.com

Bluegrass meets Greengrass

Summer tours are off and running and what a kick off!  Starmakers Dance Academy from South Carolina took Ireland by storm!  In Larne, a port city in County Antrim, the links between South Carolina and Northern Ireland were celebrated and highlighted  – and with good cause, as the first immigrant ship left from this very port of Larne to the American colonies in 1718 carrying those pioneering first Scots-Irish settlers, and the influence of our rich Irish heritage was demonstrated right here with the art of clogging.  An art from that traces it’s roots directly to those Scots-Irish settlers, but now is a distinctly southern American dance.

We were generously hosted by the Mid-Antrim Council and greeted by the Lord Mayor’ with our group performing with the Antrim Coast Dance Academy where again,  the fusion and influence from the shores of Ireland to South Carolina became apparent.

Other high lights included the Titanic Center in Belfast, the Giants Causeway, Slieve League Cliffs, Devenish island and Trinity College Dublin.  We ended the tour with dancing in Ireland’s highest point at Johnny Fox’s Pub to complete our week of adventure and fun.

Tomorrow I meet a greet my second tour in Dublin airport and looking forward to more stories to share from the road!

Joy in the journey!

Judie the Irish foodie

Perfect Irish Christmas Pudding

My neighbor is from Co. Kerry in Ireland and she gave me the best gift this year by sharing her family recipe with me for her special Irish Christmas pudding. – what a treat and a joy to receive a recipe such as that from a friend!

Sometime called a ‘Plum Pudding’, even though it never contains plums, this delicious dessert is the traditional end of the family Christmas dinner in most homes in Ireland, and in Britain. Made with fruit, citrus, breadcrumbs and healthy doses of alcohol (in this case Irish whiskey!) the dish is a curiosity in America, but let me encourage you to give it a try…

One of the Irish traditions my friend Anne Marie shared with me was this…”stir the pudding, and when all the ingredients are combined, then make a wish”. These memories are passed on generation to generation and her girls all agree they are going to be passing the recipe and cooking an Irish Christmas pudding when they have their own homes!

So, here is the recipe and remember to make a Christmas wish from my home to yours… Merry Christmas!

Christmas Pudding

  • 8 oz unsalted Kerrygold butter
  • 8 oz brown sugar
  • 6 oz bread crumbs
  • 2 oz all purpose flour
  • ½ tsp of baking powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 12 oz mixed fruit (currants, raisins and sultanas)
  • 1 apple (finely chopped)
  • 2 oz of glaze cherries
  • 2 oz of nuts
  • ½ tsp of mixed spices (all spice with cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg)
  • ½ cup of citrus juice (orange or lemon)
  • ½ cup of Irish whiskey

How to make it

  1. Cream the butter and sugar together in a medium size bowl until creamy and light. Fold in the breadcrumbs, flour, and baking powder string to combine.  Add the eggs, fruits, nuts, spices cherries and finally stir in the citrus juice and whiskey stirring until everything is fully incorporated.
  2. Transfer to a round shaped bowl. Cover with wax paper and secure tightly with string.
  3. Transfer to a large pot of boiling water and simmer on low for 12 hours. (It does not need to be a constant 12 hours if you are leaving your house you can turn the stove off and restart it again when you get home or wake up)

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

 

Newgrange winter solstice-a 5000 year old puzzle

new-grange2012-29

In Ireland, December brings many things – frost that coats the ground, cold foggy mornings, hot whiskeys, and all things Advent and Christmas, of course – but an even older tradition happens each December 21st…

5000 years ago, an ancient people in Ireland built a temple dedicated to the sun – or so we think. That temple today stands at Newgrange in County Meath, Ireland, and is a most incredible place. Especially tomorrow, December 21st, which happens to be the Winter Solstice. The shortest day of the year, and the point at which the earth is farthest from the sun.

Amazingly, these ancient people knew all this, and they built a temple with a light projector to celebrate!

5000 year old solar alignment

Above the entrance to Newgrange there is a opening called a roof-box. On mornings around the winter solstice a beam of light penetrates the roof-box and travels up the 19 meter passage and into the chamber. As the sun rises higher, the beam widens so that the whole chamber is dramatically illuminated. -The opening to this light passage is pictured below.

newgrange-stone-1

Access to the chamber on the Solstice mornings is decided by a lottery that takes place at the end of September each year. So, a handful of lucky people get to witness this beam of light as it travels perfectly down this 5000 year old passage and illuminates the triple spiral in the chamber at the center of the temple…must be a sight to see!!

new-grange2012-13

But how did they know to do this? How did stone age people align this temple so perfectly to catch sunbeams at 9 in the morning on December 21st.Truth is we really don’t know….but sometimes, mystery can be a good thing! right?

Join me in Ireland, and we can check out Newgrange together- you will be absolutely puzzled and amazed by this incredible place…

www.shamrockandpeach.com

Merry christmas everyone!

Judith xx

Lemon Posset is making a come back!

Lemon and Raspberry Posset

The Posset makes a come back

This tangy lemon dessert is perfect for holiday entertaining and fantastic paired with ginger snaps or Irish butter shortbread.  During my Shamrock and Peach Tours last year I was pleasantly surprised to see ‘the Posset’ making a come back in many of our top Irish Chef’s menus.

…and what is a posset I hear you cry? The Posset goes as far back to medieval times where hot milk was flavored with honey, wine or ale. Today, the Posset has evolved to a dessert classic and is simply delicious with passion fruit and citrus. The lemon is perfect for holiday entertaining and I like to serve them in tiny shot glasses for the perfect small indulgent treat….just perfect!

Here is the recipe and what’s not to like about a recipe with 3 simple ingredients?

Lemon Posset:

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 lemons (5 Tbsp plus zest)
  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • ¼ cup berries (for garnish)

How to make it:

Finely grate the zest of lemons and then juice.

  1. In a small saucepan heat the cream, sugar and lemon zest to a gentle boil stirring for about 5 minutes until the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the lemon juice.
  3. Allow the posset to cool slightly before pouring in to containers (4 Martini glasses or 8 shot glasses).
  4. Refrigerate for several hours before serving.
  5. Before serving garnish with fresh berries.

Merry Christmas and I hope this graces some holiday parties this season!

Joy in the Journey

Judith the Irish foodie

Thanksgiving’s Pumpkin Pie Still Steals the Show

Happy Thanksgiving to all my wonderful followers and friends and I am so thankful for you all!  People say there’s nothing more American than an Apple Pie, but I think a more iconic choice would be to say; ‘Pumpkin Pie’.  Growing up in Ireland and in my travels throughout Europe, it’s always been considered an all American classic. For many it’s the taste of the holidays and it’s still the most popular dessert on the Thanksgiving dessert buffet table – I mean, what’s not to like about rich a rich spicy custard filling and buttery pastry?  I love to add a taste of Orange Zest to my filling but I don’t like to fool much with a classic.  I mean good is always just good! Right?

So, Happy Thanksgiving from the Shamrock and Peach…. and enjoy this yummy recipe that will be on my table tomorrow!

Pumpkin Pie (with cinnamon whipped cream)

  • 1 (15 oz) cooked pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 2 eggs (beaten)
  • ¼ cup organic brown sugar
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Zest of one orange
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ginger
  • ¼ tsp cloves
  • 1 unbaked 9-inch (4 cup volume) deep dish pie shell
  • (cinnamon whipped cream)
  • 1 cup (8 oz) heavy whipped cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg

How to make it:

  1. In a large bowl or electric mixer combine all the pie ingredients and stir until well blended.
  2. Pour pumpkin mixture in to the prepared unbaked pie shell.
  3. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until testing with a knife the center comes out clean.
  4. Cool on a wire rack for 2 hours.
  5. Beat heavy whipping cream until soft peaks appear with vanilla, cinnamon and a touch of nutmeg.
  6. Slice pie to serve and top with cinnamon whipped cream.

Judie the Irish foodie

Irish tours begin – sun and fun for all!

Summer is here at last, and my tours of Ireland have begun! After months of careful preparation, phone calls, emails, events and more the time has finally arrived, and I could not be more excited to share the beauty of Ireland with another group of my wonderful guests.

My first tour this year was particularly blessed with majestic weather, which made the beauty of the land shine all the more and I really believe some of my guests were deeply impacted by the landscape and history. Few places are so beautiful when the sun shines, believe me! -I just love to see the smiles on the faces of people when we turn a corner and a mountain vista opens up, or a castle comes into view. This is why I do what i do…

more to come…hope everyone is enjoying their summer!

Judith…somewhere of Paddy’s green Irish shore!

Best thing I ever ate in Ireland (part 2)

Congratulations to Chef Noel McMeel and the Lough Erne for continued Success!  This month Chef Noel dined as a guest at the White House and is featured in a double page spread in Bon appetit magazne.  Chef Noel McMeel says “What we eat has to delight the taste buds, and nourish body and soul”.  The bountiful feast is influenced by heritage, inspired by the season and focused on local.  So, my series two in the best thing I ever ate in Ireland goes to Noel McMeel.  “Fillet of Kettyle Irish Beef, Parsley and Potato Puree, Spinach, Celeriac Remoulade, Roast Beef Sauce”

Shamrock and Peach tours will be visiting the table of Noel McMeel and his masterful chef team at the Lough Erne this June.  Looking forward to enjoying the bounty with many of you and for those who have been on one of my tours enjoy the memory and pick up your own copy of “Bon appeetit” today!

Jump in to Ireland and Joy in the Journey!

Judith the Irish foodie