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

 

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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

 

Southern Greens Thanksgiving Salad

Collards Greens Salad

Thanksgiving Salad

Collard Greens are are a staple thing if you have grown up in the American South, but they get a little bit of a bad wrap…but I want to change your mind! Growing up in Ireland I naturally gravitate to Kale and Cabbage for my Winter Greens, and find some similarities to Southern traditions, so, hey let’s combine the best of both worlds!

The leaves of Collards are hearty and spicy with tough stems, and they make delicious salads. They can stand up to lots of strong flavors such as garlic and do not wilt like other greens when dressed with vinaigrette, which is a huge plus when it’s time to plate the salad.  In fact, if anything, collards do best when they have been resting in a vinaigrette and have given time to break down the leaves and absorb the flavors.

This is the best time of year to enjoy Collards when they have tender and younger leaves because they do tend to be tough when the leaves are mature.  Our family are big fans of marinating our collards and this salad will be gracing our Thanksgiving table this Thursday…can’t wait!

Wishing all my friends and followers a very happy Thanksgiving!

Collards and Power Greens with Roasted Sweet Potato and Seed Brittle

2 medium Sweet potatoes (peeled and diced)

2 Tbsp Olive oil

4 cups Collard Greens (hard stalks removed/thinly sliced in ribbons)

4 cups Power Greens (Baby Spinach, Baby Kale)

½ cup dried cranberries

(for the seed brittle)

2 Tbsp Pumpkin seeds

2 Tbsp Sunflower seeds

1 Tbsp sesame seeds

1 tsp Irish Kerrygold butter (melted)

1 1/2 Tbsp raw honey

Pinch of kosher salt

(Garlic Vinaigrette)

3 Tbsp cider vinegar

1 clove of garlic (crushed)

1 Tbsp course Dijon Mustard

2 tsp honey

½ cup of Olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly milled black pepper

How to make it

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Toss the sweet potatoes in olive oil and bake for 15 minutes until they begin to brown on the edges.  Remove from the oven and cool.
  2. To make the vinaigrette whisk the apple cider vinegar, garlic, mustard and honey and then slowly incorporate the olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.
  3. To make the harvest seed crunch preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Whisk the melted butter and honey together.  On a parchment lined baking sheet toss the seeds with the butter and raw honey.  Toast the seeds for 10-12 minutes and then stir and bake for a further few minutes until they are golden brown and aromatic. Remove from the oven and allow seeds to cool completely.
  4. To shred the Collards greens remove the hard stalk in the center and then roll in a cigar shape and slice in to ribbons.
  5. Toss the shredded greens in about ½ cup of the vinaigrette and allow marinating and softening the greens for about 10 minutes. Fold in the power greens, cherries, additional vinaigrette and season with a little more kosher salt and pepper to taste.
  6. To serve the salad break up the seed brittle and sprinkle over the top of the greens.

Judie the Irish Foodie

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

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

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!

Celtic Culture on the isle of Mull

Sitting in a wee pub in Tobermory on the island of Mull, also know as the Western Isles of Scotland, I was transported back home to Ireland. With only 12 miles of water between Scotland and Ireland, the people of the narrow water are held together closely, not just by geography, but also by culture.  Our red headed bar tender was from Donegal in the North of Ireland and we were later entertained by a musician (also from Donegal) singing modern and  popular Irish songs to the early hours of the morning. The locals were only getting going around midnight when we left and we knew the craic (Gaelic word for a good time) was only getting going!

At the bar sat the fishermen, and we knew that the fish had to be good, – and it was. Our guests all said it was the best fish and chips they had ever tasted, with flaky meaty flesh and perfectly crispy batter as we enjoyed a farewell luncheon booked at Macgochans Pub , sitting, viewing the bay in Tobermory in idyllic surroundings.

The joys of Scotland – the other Gaelic land!

Take me back to Tobermory!

Judie the Irish foodie