We are savoring our last few hours at Mount Juliet Estate in Kilkenny, before heading to our next destination, and what an experience it has been! The welcome we received from our arrival has been second to none with a few guests on my tour are telling me they are not leaving this Irish paradise. With it’s elegant Manor house, built in 1757 and the beautiful grounds, stables and gardens, this is a beautiful lady indeed. As is the Michelin star awarded Restaurant, ‘The Lady Helen‘. Our tour group had the chance to dine in the Lady Helen last night, located inside the historic Manor House, and what a lady she is! Each course was better than the last, and yet again I amazed at the sheer inventiveness of Irish cuisine and the flavor of Irish produce, mot of which is produced on this Irish country estate, nestled in 1,500 acres of woodlands and lush gardens.
A big thanks also to Des McGrath another Mount Juliet legend and local character who shared the history of the estate with gusto, graciousness and a sparkle of Irish wit and charm – my guests loved it! – The one bit of good news is that next week I am returning with a second group and I’m already hungry for more!
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!
Augh….We are in the foodie destination heaven here in the grounds of Ashford Castle and the Lodge at Ashford Castle! Our group got to steal Chef Jonathan Keane away on Father’s day on a foraging walk of the grounds and tour of the Polytunnels, vegetable and herbs garden. Lucky for us we also got to dine in the famous Wilde’s restaurant for two evenings and experience the delicious flavors we had tasted, smelt and seen on our walk in a stunning settling, over the waters of Lough Corrib. So, with full hearts and memories to last a lifetime we are departing Cong as we adventure further North on our Legendary Irish tour! Big thanks to Chef Jonathan and the team at the Lodge for such a brilliant stay yet again….
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!
Less than a week to go before the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at Windsor Castle and I wanted to share the story of this Belleek Irish Pottery heart shaped basket that was inspired for the Royal occasion, made by Belleek using the Irish craftsmanship famous across the world.
The basket itself is full of symbolism, and ties between Ireland, England and the United States. The Ribbon detail at the top of the basket signifies ‘tying the knot’ (an iron age Celtic wedding tradition). The Roses are both the national flower of England and the United States. The peony is thought to be Meghan’s favorite flower and the Lilly of the valley is associated with the month of May. Oh, and an Irish Belleek basket would not be complete without a hand crafted Shamrock to wish them a lucky and happy marriage, or course!
So from the Shamrock and Peach, may we wish the happy couple well and many years of happiness. Meanwhile the limited edition basket is for sale!
Shamrock and Peach went crazy green at Crazy Love Coffee House last night in Roswell. The menu theme was all things green (some healthy recipes…. some fun recipes…. but everything that just tastes good in honor of the month of March and all things Irish). We had a full house with smiling faces, great coffee, conversations and Irish food. If you live in the Atlanta area, check out Crazy Love Coffee house and I can guarantee you’ll love it. Here’s the link to check out
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.
Last week I had the honor of being a featured chef at the annual Angels on Earth event to benefit the Thomas F. Chapman Family Cancer Wellness Center. The venue was at the gorgeous Bill Low Gallery in Atlanta with 250 attendees, and yes, yours truly was the Irish chef on hand. What a privilege!
What did I present? Well, The Shamrock and Peach featured Smoked Salmon with Cucumber and Dill and Kale Irish Dip, and I believe it was a hit! So much so that several guests at the event asked me to share the recipe, so being the giving type – here it is in all of it’s glory. A Kale Irish Dip Recipe- sharing the love, and hope you enjoy!
Kale Irish Dip (with Vegetable Credos and Garlic Toasts)
2 Tbsp olive oil
6 oz of Lacinato Kale (1 bunch with the stems removed and roughly chopped)
3 Tbsp of vegetable stock
12 oz artichoke hearts (frozen or a canned drained/chopped)
Valentines day is almost here and in the spirit of love and heart shaped romance I wanted to share a perfect dessert for Valentines, along with a few delicious quotes from one of my favorite Irish poets, the one and only Oscar Wilde…
Many of his quotes are profound and I am always saddened that his life journey was so short. So, in honor of a poet I enjoy, here are a few of quotes on love…
“Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead”
“Woman are made to be loved, not understood”
“To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance”
Hope you enjoy this special Valentine’s dessert….and remember the best ingredient is always ‘love’.
Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Raspberries and Chocolate with a Sugar Spun Basket
(for the buttermilk Panna Cotta)
2 Tbsp water
2 gelatin leaves (3/4 tsp) unflavored gelatin
1 cup of heavy whipping cream
½ vanilla pod (split lengthwise)
1/4 cup sugar
Pinch of fine sea salt
½ cup of buttermilk
(for the sugar spun basket)
1 ½ cups of granulated sugar
(for the garnish)
12 fresh raspberries
4 sprigs of mint
(for the raspberry sauce)
1 cup of raspberries
2 Tbsp of fine granulated sugar
(for the chocolate sauce)
1 cup of chocolate chips
¼ cup of whipping cream
How to make it
Place 2 Tbsp of water in to a small bowl and sprinkle over gelatin. Let it stand for 5 minutes until the gelatin softens.
Scrape the vanilla seeds from the pod and add in to a medium size saucepan with 1/2 cup of the cream, pod, sugar and sea salt. Bring to a low boil and stir constantly for 3-5 minutes until the sugar has dissolved. Reduce the heat and stir in the gelatin mixture.
Strain the cream mixture through a sieve and add the buttermilk and remaining cream.
Divide in to molds and chill for at least 4 hours in the refrigerator.
To make the sugar spun baskets melt the sugar in a small skillet and boil until it is a light caramel color. Remove from the heat and place the pan in a basin of cold water to stop the cooking process. Using the back of a spoon, drizzle the caramel in a think steady stream weaving back and forth to create a weave design. Gently remove the basket and place on a sheet of parchment paper.
To make the sauces puree the raspberries and sugar together and strain to remove the seeds. Melt the chocolate over a double boiler with the cream and stir to melt. Transfer to squeeze bottles.
To serve remove the panna cotta from the mold and place in the center of the plate. Place three raspberries on the side of the panna cotta and a sprig of mint. Using a squeeze bottle pour three circles of raspberry sauce and a swirl of chocolate sauce. To serve gently place the sugar spun basket on top.