Tis the Season for Festive Cocktails and Holiday Cheer

Whiskey Coctails

Cranberry Whiskey Fizz

Tis’ the season for festive cocktails and holiday cheer!  Oh yes!  – This year we got to bring groups to visit the Jameson’s Whiskey distillery in Middleton, Cork, and whilst there I absolutely fell in love the simple mix of Ginger Beer and Whiskey we were served at the distillery bar, and it made me think of just how fun cocktails can be!

My catering company, Shamrock and Peach Foods, will be serving a fun new Irish styled cocktail that I came up with this year, namely a Cranberry Whiskey Fizz ,at upcoming Christmas events, and I can’t wait to hear the reaction. The cranberry base can be made a few days in advance and stored in the refrigerator, so no last minute scrambling is necessary, and your party guests will love it. It’s very light, totally refreshing and embodies all the flavors of what I consider to be Festive, merry and bright, – and I wanted so much to share it with my faithful blog followers!

So, here’s the recipe and hope you enjoy!

Spiced Cranberry – Whiskey Fizz with Rosemary

  • 5 oz Jameson’s Irish whiskey
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp Spiced Cranberry Syrup
  • Club Soda (enough to fill up the glass)
  • (for the spiced cranberry syrup)
  • 1 cup of cranberries
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 rosemary stem
  • ½ inch of sliced Ginger root
  • (for the garnish)
  • Rosemary, Cranberries, lime curl

How to make it

  1. To make the Spiced Cranberry syrup place the sugar, water, cranberries, ginger root, rosemary and cinnamon stick in a saucepan and simmer together for 7-8 minutes. Cover and allow to sit overnight and strain before using.
  2. To serve fill a glass with ice and add the whiskey, lime juice, cranberry syrup and top with club soda.
  3. Stir together and then garnish with a sprig of rosemary and a few cranberries.

Judith, The Shamrock and Peach

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The Celtic Roots of Fruitcake at Christmas

Christmas preparations

Tis the Season for baking fruitcake!

So, despite all the jokes, it ’tis the season for Fruitcake once again!  In Independence CA, an annual festival called ‘All things Fruitcake‘ chooses a Fruitcake King to eat a slice of the fruitcake from when the festival began in 2005 (yes, it might STILL be good?). Shortly after the holidays, a Fruitcake Toss is held in Manitou Springs, CO to compete for the title of Fruitcake King or Queen (not sure how those pieces of fruitcake taste?). Our grocery store baking isles are laden with candied cherries, orange peel and dried fruits and in the USA, the bad jokes about giving fruit cake begin to be told. Regardless of whether you love or hate fruitcake  it is a season of giving, abundance and bounty! – and yes. despite the bad press, fruitcake is traditional, and delicious…try it and see!

The Winter Solstice Celebration marks the shortest day of the year and the longest night of the year.  It’s the promise that nature will again bear fruit and care for all living things. Giving fruits in the bleak mid winter at a time of scarcity was a sacrifice and redistributed bounty within a community.

Many of us (especially those of us with Celtic and Irish roots) are also baking plum puddings and fillings for mince pies.  Here is my recipe for homemade mincemeat (the delicious filling for my annual pies).

Sweet Mincemeat (recipe makes 4 Lbs)

  • 8 oz currants
  • 8oz raisins
  • 8 oz sultanas
  • 8 oz dried apricots (chopped)
  • 8 oz (glazed cherries)
  • 4 oz fruit and peel mix
  • 2 oz chopped almonds
  • 8 oz soft brown sugar
  • 2 oz butter (melted)
  • 2 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 oranges (juice and zest)
  • ¼ pint brandy
  • ¼ pint of sherry

How to make it:

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl.  Stir together and cover over with plastic wrap.  Leave overnight.

The following day mix all the ingredients to combine.  Spoon in to sterilized jars.

Mincemeat will keep for up to 2 months

Enjoy the Season!

Judith, The Shamrock and Peach

 

Fall in love with Ireland in 2019

We are delighted to announce next years itinerary release. We strive to hand pick the best accommodations and destinations we can find in Ireland for our guests, and many of you who have been on past tours with Shamrock and Peach, will recognize some of the amazing accommodations in this video.

Next year we are excited to deliver the same Luxury Ireland to our guests from the stunning Antrim Coast to the Dingle Peninsula. North, south, east and west. In our Legendary Ireland tour of the North and West of Ireland where we offer you the 5 star Culloden Hotel and Spa, the 5 star Lough Erne Hotel and Spa and the Luxury Boutique Twelve Hotel in the West, voted the best hotel in Ireland in 2018. On our Southern Ireland tour we offer you Mount Juliet Estate and Spa in Kilkenny and dining at the Mitchell Star Lady Helen restaurant, the 5 Star Castlemartyr Hotel and Spa in Cork with dining at Ballymaloe House, and the fabulous Killarney Royal Hotel, featured in Ireland’s blue book – the gold standard for historic luxury resorts in Ireland.

Please check out our website for more details:

http://www.shamrockandpeach.com

Slainte… we are excited, very excited!

Judith

Shamrock and Peach

 

Apple Dumplings with Candy Apple Sauce

Apple Desserts

Fall Desserts

Homemade Apple Dumplings

It may seem as if the holiday of Halloween is a very American tradition with it’s trick and treater’s and all the candy inspired pageantry, however, it may surprise you to know that in actual fact Halloween began in Ireland. Yes, the origins of the holiday is the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, which was celebrated over 3,000 years ago. Today however, Halloween is similar in Ireland as it is celebrated in America – It’s a time to gather family and friends together for some community fun, and of course eating together.

Growing up in Armagh, also known as the Orchard county of Ireland, my favorite ‘go-to-desserts‘ always involved apples. I was practically raised on apple tarts (pies) and crumbles, and so when I emigrated to the Southern US states over 20 years ago, I continued this tradition and just love all the wonderful American fall desserts, such as ‘Apple Dumplings‘.

An apple dumpling is a whole apple filled with brown sugar and a little butter wrapped up like a little present in pastry and baked in the oven. The dumpling is finished off with Candy Apple Sauce and please do not forget the vanilla ice cream!

It’s time to celebrate with apples!

Apple Dumplings(for the pastry)

  • 2 ¼ cups of all-purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp of salt
  • 2/3 cups of shortening
  • 6 to 8 Tbsp of ice water
  • (for the egg wash)
  • 1 beaten egg and a little water
  • (for the apples)
  • 6 medium size baking apples
  • 3-4 Tbsp of brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp of butter
  • (for the candy apple sauce)
  • 1 cup water
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 drop of red food coloring

How to make them

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. To make the pastry combine the flour and salt in a large bowl and rub in the shortening until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Using a knife stir in the ice water until a dough is formed adding a little extra water if necessary.   Form the dough in a rectangular shape disc with hands and then cut that in to 6 equal pieces to make it easier to roll out in to square shapes.
  3. Core and peel the apples and place each one in the center of prepared pastry. Spoon a little butter and brown sugar inside the center of each apple.  Brush the inside edges of the pastry with a little water, and pull up to the center to completely cover the apple like a little package. Brush the outside of the dumpling with egg wash.
  4. Grease a medium size baking dish and set the dumplings gently in to the pan. Place the dumplings in the oven and bake them for 45 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and the apples are soft.
  5. While the apples are baking prepare the sauce by boiling together the water, sugar, spices and a little food coloring and then whisking in the butter.
  6. To serve place the apple dumpling in the center of a dish and pour of the sauce. Best enjoyed  with a spoonful of vanilla ice-cream.

Judith, Shamrock and Peach

http://www.shamrockandpeach.com

Apple Desserts

Fall Desserts

In Ireland, Soda is bread…

It’s National Bread week in Ireland between 10th and 16th of September 2018.  We love our bread in Ireland and I am excited to share one of my favorite breads and the secret recipe…aren’t you lucky?

In America, soda is a fizzy drink such as a coke or sprite, but in Ireland soda is a bread, and a beloved bread at that. My mother always bakes some specially for my husband when he returns to Ireland and visits the farm.

Irish brown soda bread also known as Wheaten bread is a staple in the Irish bakery.  It is full of fiber, yeast free and so simple to prepare. Just like any quick bread it’s best to eat at the day it is baked but try toasting it for breakfast the second day and it will be scrumptious. It seems every week I get emails from people asking me about the wholewheat flour in the United States and that it’s not gilding the same results from the bread they have enjoyed while visiting Ireland, so, to remedy, I have tweaked this recipe using flours from the United States adding extra oats and wheat germ for fiber and I am getting rave reviews from this recipe (also featured in my cookbook the Shamrock and Peach)…..give it a try!

Happy National bread week and enjoy your soda!

Ingredients (makes 3 loaves in a 1-lb. tin):

  • 1 lb. (3 cups) coarse whole wheat flour
  • 5 oz. (1¼ cup)  flour
  • 5 oz. (1¼ cup) oats
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 oz. (½ cup) wheat germ
  • 3 oz. sugar (3/8 cup)
  • 3 oz. butter or margarine
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • 1½ pints (3 cups) buttermilk
  • 1 Tbsp. honey

How to make it:

  1. Preheat oven to 425° F. Grease and flour 3 small 8x4x2” loaf pans.
  2. Measure all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Rub in the butter you’re your fingertips and create a well in the center of the mix.
  3. Beat the eggs in a small bowl and mix with the buttermilk and honey. Add to the dry ingredients and mix well with a large spoon.
  4. Transfer the resulting dough to a floured surface and knead gently with floured hands.
  5. Divide the dough into loaves and place each loaf into prepared tins. Using a knife, cut a line down center of each loaf.
  6. Bake for 40 minutes until a deep golden brown color or until base of loaf sounds hollow when lightly tapped.

Judie the Irish foodie

 

The Sweetest Sweet Trolley

My Irish grandmother served desserts and sweets from a ‘sweet trolley’ and passed on that most old world of traditions to my mother in Ireland. I can still hear my grandmother describe the desserts on her trolley, and then have to repeat it several times because we all wanted an excuse just to to hear it all over again! The ‘Oohs ad Aahs’ added an entertaining highlight to our family gatherings; as my grandmother was a world champion sweet maker…oh yes indeed!  Our heads would be spinning trying to decide what to choose and wondering if we could try just a little of everything?  The sweet trolley was trending  way back from the late 50’s when my grandparents ran their own bed and breakfast, but it’s a tradition my mother still maintains when hosting to this day.

This summer I had the honor of bringing groups of fellow foodies from the US to Ireland to dine at Ballymaloe House to the rolling green hills of East Cork, and, you can only imagine my delight when at the end to our dining feast they produced ‘the sweetest sweet trolley’.  The room went suddenly silent as our charming hostess began to describe the puddings.  I remember we had Honey Mousse with Lavender Jelly, Carrageen Moss Pudding, Raspberry and Mint jelly, Chocolate ice-cream served in an ice bowl, a fruit filled baked Pavlova with cream.  Then, as if that wasn’t enough, we had a second trolley of local Irish cheeses with homemade Ballymaloe Brown Cheese biscuits that were light, crispy and a perfect pairing with the quince jelly.  Finally, came the petit fours including Ballymaloe Fudge, garden blackcurrent jellies.

I am so happy the sweet trolley never went away from Ballymaloe House and my vote is for the comeback of the vintage sweet trolley. Bring it on…darling!

Judie the Irish foodie

Lough Erne Legendary Irish Elegance

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!

Joy in the journey!

Judie the Irish Foodie

Foraging Walks and Irish Clovers

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….

Judie the Irish foodie

Irish Pottery inspired by the Royal Wedding

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!

Here’s a video clip…

Judith the Irish foodie

Fire Flame Cooked Guinness Oysters

Oysters cooked over fire

Fire Fork Feast Guinness Oysters

I had no idea how many foodies out there love to eat Oysters!  So, here’s the recipe for those of you who have written in to request that I share my recipe and others who attended the Fire Fork Feast event in Nashville over the weekend.

Reducing the Guinness for me was the key to amazing flavor and of course in the words of Derek Wolf, founder of Over the Fire Cooking, “fire is an ingredient”  with the smokey flavor enhancing this sensational dish. I recommend equal parts butter to oyster… and if in doubt…where possible… always reach for Irish grass fed  Kerrygold but (it’s da bomb)!

Grilled Oysters on the Half Shell with Guinness Herb Butter

  • 2 dozen large fresh oysters on the half shell
  • ½ cup of Parmesan cheese (finely grated)
  • (for the Guinness butter)
  • 8 oz (1 cup) of salted Irish Kerrygold butter
  • 1 cup of Guinness stout (reduced to 4 Tbsp)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbsp shallots (finely chopped)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp thyme (finely)
  • 2 Tbsp parsley (finely chopped)
  • 1 tsp of kosher salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

How to make them

  1. Prepare oysters using an oyster knife and shucking severing the muscle that is attaching the oyster to the shell. Leave the oyster in the shell that is more cupped shaped.
  2. In a small sauce pan simmer the Guinness, sugar and thyme until it has reduced by 75% (leaving 4 Tbsp of liquid) and cool.
  3. To make the Guinness butter sauté the shallot in 1 tbsp of vegetable oil for a few minutes to soften and then add the garlic at the end and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Whip the room temperature butter by hand or with electric whisk and add the cooled reduced Guinness, parsley, shallots and garlic, salt and pepper.
  5. Preheat the fire or grill to 400-475 degrees F.
  6. Arrange the oysters in a single layer on a grill and spoon 2 tsp of the butter mixture into each oyster shell and then top with finely grated Dubliner Irish Cheese. Grill uncovered for 6-7 minutes until the butter is sizzling and the oyster is puffed up.
  7. Remove from the grill and serve immediately.

Judie the Irish foodie