The best thing I ever ate in Ireland (number #1)

Dessert perfection!

Banana Praline Parfait

I am ending this ‘best thing I ever ate in Ireland’ series from my Shamrock and Peach Irish tours with a sweet note – ‘Banana Praline Parfait’.  The dessert was served at the Beechill Country House Hotel in Derry-Londonderry by Head Chef Ryan Burke.  I loved this dessert so much that I recreated it for my family yesterday for Easter Sunday.  So thanks to Chef Ryan for sharing his recipe and I cannot wait to dine again in June with some more guests from the US.

One of my favorite things about dining at the Beechill Country House is the quality of the vegetables, fruits and herbs that are grown in the walled in garden on site.  The garden has been restored to recreate what life would have been like 200 years ago.  Inspiration from the modern menu comes from a historic cook book written by ‘a lady’ by the name of Mrs Skipton (a previous owner of the Beechill). Some of the recipes in the historic cook book are most amusing given the time they were written and a fun buy on Amazon, especially after staying at the Beechill Country House and seeing the restored walled gardens for yourself.  After all it’s the power of great stories that make the best food memories!

Finally,  I hope to see some of you in Ireland to try some of these delicious dishes created by some of our best Irish Chefs.

Judith the Irish foodie

Banana Parfait-17

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Summer Buttermilk Panna cotta

Panacotta-8Summer fruits are bursting with juice and flavor this time of year and I am always looking for seasonal desserts that will showcase this simple but profound truth. Growing up in Ireland, the ‘go to’ fruit show off dessert was a baked pavlova meringue that made the Irish summer strawberries shine, however, I wanted to try something a little different so I’ve plumed for an Italian classic Panna cotta – which means cooked cream. This creamy delight is made by simmering together milk, cream and sugar and then mixing it with gelatin.(oh, and you could also swap out buttermilk for the milk to give it that extra tang)

Tomorrow I head back to Ireland for my last Shamrock and Peach tour of 2014 and it will be no surprise to see Panna cotta making it on to the menus as this dessert is hot at the moment on hip menus…

Next week we will be dining with some of Ireland top chefs including Chef Michael Dean from Deans, Chef Danny Miller from Balloo House, Chef Ryan from the Beechill, Chef Ian Orr from Browns, and our finale with Chef Noel McMeel from the Lough Erne and in my next blog I will let you know how many of these chefs showcased Panna cota for us in our menu.  But for now, here is my Georgia Peach Panna cotta version. Sweet Georgia peaches, ripe, juicy and scrumptious with locally grown blueberries. Now, it don’t get much better than that!

So, get creative and let this summer fruits delight the senses with Panna cotta. Simplicity at it’s very best!

Enjoy the end of summer!

Judith