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
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
Butter a 9’ round cake pan and set aside.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
Transfer to a rack to cool and serve with Irish creamery butter.
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!
Peachy Whiskey Coconut Frozen Yogurt
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
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).
Combine the peaches, maple syrup and vanilla extract in a food processor or vita mix until smooth and then add the yogurt.
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.
To serve spoon the frozen yogurt in to a small bowl and enjoy with a wee dram of Irish Whiskey on the side.
Georgia grown Pecan Bounty Squares (Gluten and Dairy Free)
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!
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)
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
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Line a 9×13’ baking dish with parchment paper to make it easy to slice.
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.
Press the mixture onto bottom of dish. Spread the fruit spread on top. Sprinkle top with coconut and pecans.
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.
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
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 .
While the beets are roasting combine the Crème Fraiche, Lemon juice and zest together.
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.
To serve drizzle with olive oil and the remaining parsley.
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.
Holding Shamrock and Peach cook book (new addition)
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:
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!
Irish Kale Salad
Pan Seared Irish Salmon, Colcannon and Boxty
Sticky Toffee Puddings
So, a belated happy St. Patrick’s day to all my followers and as I always say..
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
Marinade the wings in the beer, garlic, ginger, sriracha, lemon juice, olive oil and soy sauce for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.
Remove the chicken from the marinade (and reserve).
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.
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.
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.
The Saul church – St. Patrick’s first church founded in the 5th century
The first day of Spring (Feb 1st) has been important in Ireland from the Neolithic period. In Ireland the lighting of fires and candles invited the power of the sun in the period between the cold Winter months and Spring! Can you believe it folks….? We’re almost there and I am ready for the warmth of the sun and the buds of Spring to appear.
The relics of St. Bridget and Columcille are said to be enclosed in Downpatrick in the same grave as our National St. Patrick. I loved this photography shared on the Friends of Saint Patrick’s website today of a group of students from John Brown University in Missouri placing a St. Bridget’s cross on the grave. The hanging of the St. Bridget cross on the front door is symbolically asking Gods protection on livestock and homes in many homes in rural Ireland.
Those of you who have been on Shamrock and Peach tours are familiar with Dr. Tim Campbell and this quote he often shares around the grave side.
“In Downpatrick, three saints one grave do fill, Patrick, Bridget and Columcille”
Welcome Spring and and let the feasting of St. Bridget begin!
In honor of Burns Night, and the celebration of the famed Scottish poet, Robert Burns, may I present to you ‘Neeps and Tatties Patties’…
An authentic Burns Night Supper includes whisky, haggis, Neeps and Tatties (Potatoes and Turnips). However, my family are taking a different approach tonight and going with a ‘Veggie Burger’ with mashed turnip, sweet potato and oats; a really tasty and nutritious alternative to haggis! I think even Rabbie himself would agree it’s a great substitution… so Cheers to you Rabbie (and we will be raising our glass tonight in your honor)
…and, let me say, there’s no substitution for Scotch ‘whisky’ so please, rest easy in your grave tonight… we get it…
Burns Night Celebrations
Here is the recipe….
Neep’s and Tattie’s Patties (Vegetable burgers with Oats, Turnips and Sweet Potatoes)
¾ Lbs sweet potatoes (cut in half lengthwise)
¾ lbs small turnips (cut in half lengthwise)
1 cup quick oats (1 minute oats)
1 cup cooked quinoa
2 cups of cooked black beans (mashed a little)
1 large shallot (finely diced)
½ cup mixed fresh herbs (parsley, cilantro, chives)
1 tsp natural sea salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cumin powder
Dash of hot sauce
semolina flour (about ¼ cup to roll Patties)
Coconut oil (about 3 Tbsp to sauté)
How to make them
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking tray with aluminum foil and place cut sweet potatoes and Rutabaga’s flesh side down. Roast for about 35-40 minutes or until soft. Set aside to cool and then remove the skin from flesh.
To make the patties in a large bowl combine the sweet potatoes, rutabaga, cooked black beans, shallots, mixed herbs, salt, pepper, paprika, hot sauce and cumin. Use a potato masher to evenly incorporate all the ingredients together.
Process the large oats slightly in the food process and then add to the mixture stirring to combine and thicken the patties.
Divide the mixture into 8 round balls and then flatten to create a disk shape. Dip each patty in to semolina flour.
Add coconut oil to the pan and begin to cook the burgers in batches 3-4 minutes each side adding more oil as needed. The patties should have a brown crust.
Serve warm and enjoy!
We still have a few spaces on our Historic Scotland Tour May 29th to June 4th 2017 ,please check out our website and send me an email…
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:
Preheat your oven to 425° F.
Sift the flour with the baking powder then combine the remaining dry ingredients together in a food processor or a large mixing bowl.
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.
Beat the buttermilk, egg, and molasses together in a small bowl and combine with the dry ingredients, mixing well.
Turn the resulting dough out onto a lightly floured surface.
Knead the dough a few times and then roll it out with a lightly floured rolling pin until it’s about ¾” thick.
Cut the scones out of the flattened dough using a 1” biscuit cutter.
Brush dough scones with egg wash and place onto a lightly greased baking sheet.
Bake 12–15 minutes until well risen and golden brown on top, turning the baking tray halfway through baking time to ensure even baking.
Best served warm. Serve sliced in half and slathered with clotted cream.