Sunday, December 27, 2009

Winter Comfort Mulled Wine

The holidays are all about people, the cards, the letters, the photos, remembering those not with us and maybe those far away. It’s the coming and going of friends in the home and the spirit of hospitality, the warmth, the welcome, the memories, and the love! Living in Georgia, so far away from my childhood home, my family and my traditions it seems important to me to fan the flame of memory and extend this comfort to others, and one way to do this is with the offering of a hot cup of ‘mulled’ wine.

This tradition of greeting visitors to the home with mulled wine has been a delight to my American friends and I’ve been asked so many times for the recipe that I have decided to post it on my blog for all to enjoy and cheer the soul in these winter nights.

There’s no better comfort on a cold winter’s night than sitting down with a pot of mulled wine drank by a blazing fire. When I make this at home the aromatic warm and pungent spices with orange overtones fills the kitchen and even in Georgia I can close my eyes and am transported back to my mother’s kitchen in Ireland. The term ‘mulled’ simply refers to the adding of spices and juices to the wine, which are all blended and heated together to make a wonderful aromatic delight.

In my particular recipe I use an English Mulled spice called ‘Allspice berries’, and unlike the name suggests they are in fact a single berry and not a mixture of spices. The berry actually takes its name because its aroma is reminiscent of the combination of cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. These amazing little berries are mainly grown in Jamaica and are harvested from the Bayberry Tree; but the evergreen tree is actually indigenous to the rainforests of South and Central American where it grows wild. The scent is so good that it’s no wonder it’s found in men’s colognes! You can pick up ‘mulling’ spices in various places, and I enjoy Williams-Sonoma’s version, simply called ‘Mulling Spices’, which can be found in their stores in a copper & green can.

Serve the mulled wine with spiced nuts, cheeses and mince pies for an authentic Irish winter holiday greeting and to give it an American Southern twist make sure the nuts are pecans!

Just the trick for your New Years party, or any winter gathering with friends…

Mourne Comfort Mulled Wine:

1 (750ml) bottle of red wine (merlot, shiraz or cabernet sauvignon)
1 cup simple syrup
1 cup orange juice (freshly squeezed is best)
2 small oranges (thinly sliced)
6 whole cloves
2 3’ cinnamon sticks
2 tsp whole allspice berries (English spice)
¼ cup brandy

Basic Simple syrup:

1 cup sugar
2 cups water

(Bring sugar and water to a boil. Refrigerate and store.)

Prepare sugar syrup and set aside (ready for the next pot).

Place cloves, allspice berries and cinnamon or 2 Tbsp store bought mulling spices in a large tea leaf filter bag or tie in a small piece of cheesecloth. Slice oranges.

Heat the wine in a medium saucepan but do not allow it to boil. Add the orange juice, simple sugar syrup, thinly sliced oranges and spices and infuse for 20 minutes.

Add the brandy and taste to see if it needs a little more simple syrup.

Ladel in to punch cups and serve.

(*Remember, if you wish to print this recipe out for your own kitchen, I suggest you copy and paste it into Word. If you print this blog you will deforest Sweden, Norway and Lapland and we'll have no Christmas trees next year!)

J the I F

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Irish Butter Vanilla Fudge

‘Tis the season for our favorite sweet treat!

Oh yes, it’s chilly outside (even in Georgia!) and it’s that time of year for our Christmas traditions. The kinds of things that conjure up childhood memories and make the holidays ‘bright’, such as sharing community, being with family and eating together (eating lots together!). And of course, it’s a time for indulging just a little more with sweet treats to be eaten around the Christmas tree and drinking yummy hot chocolate, right? (We’ll go back to broccoli in January, along with the new Gym membership!)

Everyone seems to have that special secret sweet treat they make once a year, and for me that means getting out my saucepan, wooden spoon, candy thermometer, and reaching in to my pantry for those three simple ingredients, butter, sugar and milk. Oh yes, ‘Irish Butter Fudge’, nothing like it! My kids get excited now when they smell the browned boiling butter and sugar, and begin to count the hours until it’s ready to cut and eat. And As a child I remember taking turns with my mother to beat the fudge in to perfect submission after it had reached the soft ball stage. Oh yes, it’s worth it just for the wonderful aromas that will fill your home when you prepare this. Very ‘Christmassy’

When I moved to the South the common love of both fried foods and sweets between the Irish and Southern diets made it easy to discover an endless availability in country stores of home made fudge, and we enjoy the American fudge. However, it’s very different from the Irish variety. In my experience American fudge recipes generally have marshmallow cream and come like ice cream in many flavors like rocky road, peanut butter, pumpkin or filled with nuts. Nothing wrong with that, it’s just that when it comes to fudge the Irish are purists and feel you should not add to or change a good thing. I suppose, the closest thing I have tasted in the American South to Irish Fudge is New Orleans Praline.

My fudge was debuted at my Holiday Open House recently and I could not make it fast enough to sell to my friends and loyal customers. I have also incorporated the fudge in to an Oatmeal banana scone recipe for my cook book which could be best described like buttered banana bread with of course a totally Irish twist.

So loosen the belt and enjoy the season!
Merry Christmas!

Irish Butter Vanilla Fudge

· 10 oz unsalted butter
· 1 large tin (396g) sweetened condensed milk
· 7 fluid oz (200 g) whole milk
· 40 oz (5 cups) sugar
· 1 tsp vanilla


1. Grease a 11x7x1.5’ pan.
2. In a medium saucepan combine butter, milk, sweetened condensed milk and sugar and bring to a boil.
3. When fudge reaches 115 degrees C on a candy thermometer begin to stir fudge constantly for the next 15 minutes until fudge reaches the soft ball stage. (to test fudge is ready drop a little mixture in to a glass of ice water and it should form a soft fudge ball when ready).
4. Remove from heat and begin to beat by hand. Add vanilla and continue to beat for about 5 minutes or until mixture becomes fudge like.
5. Quickly pour in to prepared pan. Mark pieces with a knife after about one hour and cut when set after 2 hours total.
6. Store in a dry air tight container (best not refrigerated).
(Remember...if you want to print this recipe for your own use I suggest cutting and pasting it into a new doc. Don't print this page unless you wish to deforest the planet!)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Braised Maple & Apple Glazed Pork Ribs & Potato Apple Mash with Crispy Fried Leeks

Apples in Appalachia...must be October!

Without a doubt October is my favorite month, set right in the middle of my favorite season, full of my favorite things...Fall color, ripe apples and fruits of every description. Wonderful for cooks like us and a feast for the senses.

This time of year our family usually carves out a day to drive up to Ellijay in the Georgia mountains and delight in all things 'appley' (my new Autumnal word!) We set sail up 575 and land in the 'apple barn' amongst those lovely Appalachians where we sniff bushels of offerings, swill down wonderful cider, load up on delicious apple breads and might even indulge in a fried apple pie or two. Then, it's back to Roswell with enough appley goodness to start our own farm stand!

So, in honor of our apple addictiveness I have created two super duper apple inspired recipes to share. A savory dish this week, and a scrummy dessert to follow .

This week it's a mouth watering dish with a long name:
'Braised pork ribs in Irish cider with maple apple glaze in a bed of potato apple mash, topped with crispy fried leeks'...phew. Don't worry though, it will be worth it. Just pop open a cool bottle of Octoberfest and give it a try. You'll be having fun in no time!

Enjoy the Fall y'all!

J the I F.

Braised pork ribs in Irish cider with maple apple glaze in a bed of potato apple mash, topped with crispy fried leeks

(Serves 4)

2 ½ Lbs pork loin back ribs or pork spareribs (cut in pieces)
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
6 fluid oz (¾ cup) Irish apple cider
4 fluid oz (½ cup) chicken stock

Maple apple glaze:

2 Tbsp chopped shallots
1 Tbsp butter
1 cup apple cider
½ cup white wine
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
½ cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 cinnamon stick
¼ black pepper

Crispy fried leeks:

1 small leek (white root and part of green only)
2 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp all purpose flour
¼ tsp sea salt

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
1. Score the bone side of the ribs with a sharp knife. Season ribs with salt, pepper.
2. In a large skillet braise the ribs in oil on medium/high heat for 4 minutes on each side until a golden brown color. Remove ribs from pan and transfer to prepared baking pan.
3. Deglaze pan with apple cider and chicken stock. Cover tightly with foil piercing a few holes for evaporation and bake for 2 ½ hours.
4. While ribs are in the oven prepare maple apple glaze by placing butter in a small saucepan and sautéing shallots for 1 minute to soften, add remaining ingredients and simmer for about 30 minutes or until liquid has been reduced by two thirds. Strain in to small bowl.
5. Remove ribs from liquid and transfer to a plate to cool.
Individually cut each rib with sharp knife. Place on baking sheet.
6. Wash leeks and then cut in half length wise. Cut in thin 2’ strips. Toss in cornstarch, flour and salt.

7. Heat oil in deep fat fryer or in skillet with 2’ vegetable oil and fry until crispy but still retaining green color.
8. Before serving slowly bake ribs to heat at 325 degrees.

9. Brush over warmed maple apple glaze.
10.Place apple potato mash in center of plate. Allow 4 ribs per person and garnish with a small handful of crispy friend leeks.

Apple Potato Mash

2 ½ Lbs potatoes (peeled and cut)
3 Granny smith apples (peeled, cored, sliced)
6 fluid oz (3/4 cup) water
1 tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp white pepper
6 Tbsp butter
2 fluid oz (1/4 cup) heavy whipping cream
2 fluid oz (1/4 cup) chicken stock

1.Peel and quarter potatoes. Place them in a large pan and cover with enough cold water to cover potatoes. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 20-22 minutes or until soft when pierced with a fork.
2.While potatoes are cooking place apples and water in a medium saucepan and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes or until apples are soft. Discard any excess water and mash apples.
3. Cream potatoes by hand or beat in electric mixer. Add melted butter, chicken stock and cream a little at a time as the liquid amount can vary according. Fold in mashed apples.

*(if you want to print this recipe for your own use I suggest copying and pasting the text into Word, then printing. Don't try to print the blog as you will use up severl small pine trees in the attempt! )*


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Zucchini & Pear Bread with Pecans & Blueberries

One of my Southern foodie friends brought this bread to me as a hostess gift a few years back, wrapped up in a cloth napkin and tied with a ribbon, and I will never forget how special I felt or how good it tasted. There is something so comforting about receiving a homemade cake or bread that makes you feel cared for. It’s the gift of time and thoughtfulness and in whilst in Ireland I have wonderful memories of friends and family bringing me freshly baked wheaten bread, or Belfast boiled cakes or Madera cakes all of which meant so much.

In my upcoming book, I have a chapter called the ‘The Ulster Bakery’ that includes some of my favorite Irish baked goodies so, this means you too will be able to get out the measuring cups and bake up a storm to comfort and delight those you love. And, lest there be any excuse, I also have a chapter in the second half of my book entitled the ‘Southern Bakery’ where I likewise bring you recipes for tasty goodies you may be more familiar with, only with an Irish twist! Tasty treats like ‘Chocolate chip pumpkin bread’, or ‘Coconut pound cake’ or ‘Irish oat scones with pecans and blackberries’. Yummy huh?

So, now that you have the smell of baking in the air, may I bring you a very creative recipe straight out of my cookbook ‘The Shamrock and Peach’, taken from the Southern Bakery chapter that will fit the bill nicely.

Its a little taste of what is to come, and a good reason to bake up this delicious sweet bread just as Summer turns to Fall. Enjoy it with coffee for breakfast or as a snack during the day. Either way, just enjoy!

Zucchini & Pear Bread with Pecans & Blueberries:

3 cups zucchini (coarsely shredded by hand)
1 cup pear (coarsely shredded by hand)
3 cups flour
1 ½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp ginger
2 ½ cups sugar
1 ¼ cups vegetable oil
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup pecans (chopped)
1 cup dried blueberries


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 loaf pans size 9x3x3.

In a large cake mixer beat the eggs and sugar. Add all remaining ingredients and mix to combine.

Pour batter in to prepared pans. Bake for one hour or until the center of the bread comes out clean when inserted with a skewer.

Cool bread slightly before removing from pans and transfer to a wire cooling wrack to cook completely.

*(If you wish to print this recipe for use in your own kitchen, then I suggest you cut & paste the text into Word and print. Don't print the blog as it will waste a lot of paper!)

J the I F

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Daily Candy is sweet!

Oh boy! The fun never today, I was featured on the front page of 'The Daily Candy'.

Already I've been getting more calls and e-mails from readers eager to find out what the 'Ulster Kitchen' is, and to ask about possible catering jobs. This is exciting!

So, in an effort to share my joy I've attached a link below. Give it a read.....

Daily Candy sure is sweet......

Back soon with another fun recipe...stay tuned!

J the I F

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Write up in 'Adventurous Tastes'!

This weekend I discovered that I had received very favorable press in a superb online food blog called 'Adventurous Tastes'. The web entry was on the 'Summer of Jar Love Garden Party' I participated in a few weeks back...(see the post below on the 'Irish Ploughboy') and despite being compared with more experinced chefs, yours truely came out on top...(OK, so I can bragg every now and again, can't I?)

I'm so pleased about this as we put a lot of work and creativity into the event, and it felt good to be appreciated by a food critic and online.

...such a confidence booster....

Enjoy what's left of summer!

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Irish Plough boy (in a jar)

Growing up on a farm in Ireland we were always familiar with the famous brown bag lunch known as the Ploughboy’s lunch which had everything needed to satisfy a hungry hard working farmer in the field. Containing goodies such as Irish brown bread and butter, aged cheddar cheese, an apple, sticks of celery and spiced apple chutney. Staple ingredients that would always be at hand in most Irish kitchens. In fact, if you were to go to any pub in Ireland or England for that matter and you may see it on the lunch menu often served with roast chicken or ham, and maybe with a slice of Cashel blue cheese in addition to the vintage cheddar.

But….you’re asking…’how come it’s in a jar?’ After all, mason jars are as Southern as grits, right? Well, the answer is that the Ulster Kitchen was invited to be part of a new Southern cook book concept called ‘That thing in a jar’ and as I scratched my head as to what to contribute it seemed right to do something ‘very Irish’ in order to contrast the ‘very Southern’ mason jar. Get it? Inspired by the Ploughboy’s lunch we crumbled and toasted the bread and baked it with butter and fresh herbs, grated the cheese and layered the apples and celery with the apple chutney to create ‘that rather Irish thing in a jar’. Strange , but true….

So, there it is, and I am glad to say that the ‘Irish Plough boy’ was a huge hit with the ‘foodies’ in Atlanta (phew!). All kinds of folks loved the savory sweet flavors, the tangy vinegar chutney with the sweetness of the apples all blending with the cheese and crunchy Irish bread.

Here is the recipe that I hope you all enjoy! (or, as I should say…hope ‘y’all enjoy!)


The Irish Plough boy (in a jar)

(Serves 4):

1/2 cup Apple Chutney
1 Granny Smith apple (cored and diced with skins on)
1 Red Delicious apple (cored and diced with skins on)
2 stalks of celery (scraped and diced)
4 Tbsp Walnut Vinaigrette
6 oz Vintage Irish Cheddar Cheese (grated)
4 slices of Irish Wheaten Bread or wholegrain bread (crumbled and toasted)
2 Tbsp butter
2 tsp thyme, sage parsley (chopped)

Walnut vinaigrette

5 Tbsp white wine vinegar
3 Tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp salt
½ tsp white pepper
½ cup walnut oil
½ cup vegetable oil
1 Tbsp sugar

Apple Chutney :

4 Lbs Granny Smith apples (peeled, cored, chopped)
1 ½ cups golden raisins
1 Lb Vidalia onions (peeled and chopped)
1 Lb soft brown sugar
1 ¾ cups cider vinegar
¼ cup lemon juice
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp white pepper
1 tsp ginger (minced)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp ground nutmeg


1. To make the apple chutney, combine all ingredients in a large saucepan and cook on medium high. When chutney is boiling, turn heat down to medium low and simmer for 1 ½ hours, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon.
2. Allow chutney to cool completely. (If making in advance follow canning guidelines and place in sealed jars).
3. Prepare vinaigrette by mixing apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, celery seed salt, white pepper, walnut oil and vegetable oil together in a large glass jar. Seal jar and shake well to combine.
4. Crumble bread and toss in melted butter and herbs. Place on large baking tray and toast in 350 degree oven for 5-6 minutes until browned and crunchy. Remove from oven and cool.
5. Chop apples and celery and combine in large bowl. Toss salad in walnut vinaigrette.
6. To layer salad, begin with apple and celery salad, then layer in the apple chutney, followed by more apple and celery salad, then vintage cheddar, and end with toasted wheaten bread crumbles.

(If you wish to print this recipe out for use in your kitchen, I suggest opening Word and cutting and pasting the text onto a new doc. Should only take a few seconds!)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Irish Morning Glory High Energy Muffins

If you are anything like me then you are constantly on the go, especially first thing in the morning when it seems there is no time to stop. On the way to the gym I grab my Punjana tea, water bottle and a muffin to consume in the car. Not the most relaxing way to eat breakfast I admit, but isn’t this how life is for many of us? So, if we need to eat on the go then let’s eat well.

I want a healthy muffin that gives me energy but of course it has to be moist, and taste terrific.

With all this in mind I have come up with the ‘Irish Morning Glory Muffin’ that conjures up memories of all the flavors I grew up with In Ireland; oats, flax flour, apples, carrots and raisins, and yet fits the bill for life in the fast lane here in America. Fusion food at work!

Growing up in a farm in Ireland the summer country air is filled with the smell of freshly cut grass harvested for winter silage, and there was a crisp earthy awakening in the earth to inspire the soul for a brand new day. I tried to capture this feeling in these wonderful little delights. I have blogged about oats before, but some of you may ask why flax with an Irish muffin? The unusual blue flax flower is the symbol of the Ulster Kitchen logo and the symbol for Northern Ireland. This flower not only produces the famous woven Irish linen clothing but its seeds are rich in Omega 3 fats, rich in fiber and antioxidants. I purchase the whole ground flax seed meal already ground and store it in the freezer once the packet is opened. Feel free to grind your own flour by placing seeds in a coffee grinder. Flax seed meal can be substituted for eggs, cooling oil or shortening in a recipe. Just for your information you can substitute 1 Tbsp flaxseed meal with 3 Tbsp water in place of 1 egg in any recipe. Carrots and apples were always in abundance for us because on one side of the farm our neighbors owned an apple orchard and on the other side our neighbors grew carrots.

Have a tasty energy boost and let me know what you think,
Judith the Irish Foodie

Irish Morning Glory High Energy Muffins

(makes 12-14 )

1 cup (5 oz) all purpose flour
½ cup (2 ½ oz) whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ginger
½ tsp salt
6 Tbsp (13 ½ oz) old fashioned rolled oats
4 Tbsp flax seed flour
½ cup (4 oz) light brown sugar
1 large egg (beaten)
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup (2 2/3 fluid oz) oil
1 tsp vanilla
2 medium size carrots (scraped and grated)
2 medium size apples (peeled and grated)
½ cup (3oz) raisins
½ cup (2 oz) walnuts (chopped)

½ cup (2 oz) walnuts (chopped)
1 Tbsp flax seed flour
1 Tbsp oats


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Grease or line muffin pans or use muffin paper liners. Sift both flours, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon and ginger in a mixing bowl. Add oats, flax seed flour, and brown sugar.

In a separate bowl beat egg and mix in the buttermilk, oil and vanilla. Add the grated carrots, apples and raisins. Combine wet mixture with dry flour mixture gently siring to combine.

Divide muffins batter evenly between muffin pan and fill 2/3 full. Sprinkle the tops of each muffin with walnuts, flax seed flour and oats.

Bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove muffins from pan and cool on rack.


Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Summer Southern Tea Treat

Ladies wearing large brimmed hats, pretty summer dresses and enjoying great conversations with friends. All the while delighting in a feast of delicate sandwiches and pastries served with the most wonderful cups of tea.
I just love that! …warms my heart to the core.

There is just something so nostalgic about practicing traditions from the past, such as traditional teas. They conjure up feelings of elegance and gentility, as ‘having afternoon tea’ is synonymous with civility and blessed with the endearing quality of being just a touch ‘high-brow’. After all, it was Anna, the Duchess of Bedford who started the tradition back in 1840’s when she ordered tea to her private parlors in the afternoon and started to invite her friends to attend. So bring on the tea and cucumber sandwiches darling! J

The Ulster Kitchen is partnering with a British Store in Norcross Georgia called ‘Taste of Britain’ who are celebrating 20 years in business. We provide themed afternoon teas and recently had an English Tea in honor of the Queen of England’s birthday. We had the pleasure of 30 ladies attending our English Tea on Saturday and our menu that included 9 different savories and sweets that were inspired by the Queen’s actual birthday dinner menu. Just to name a few, some of our tea sandwiches were entitled ‘Sandringham Roast Beef with Horseradish Cream’, ‘Smoked Salmon with Cucumber’, and ‘Cream Cheese and Dill’. Sound yummy? We also served the ‘Queen Mom’s Favorites’ a delightful date and walnut cake recipe that was shared by the Queen Mom for a WI fund raiser.

The ladies attending especially raved about the Victoria Sponge birthday cupcakes filled with Highgrove fruit filling and the mini peach fools that I served in shot glasses, which I feature here. Last but never least we served English Devonshire Cream and preserves with the Ulster Kitchen’s famous Irish fruit scones….oh, I could go on and on, but you get the picture, right?

So, enjoy the Summer and do not let it pass without sharing a cup of tea with a friend and toast to the future by remembering the past.

Wee Georgia Peach Fools

A fruit fool is a simple, rich and creamy dessert that is popular in Ireland and is made with poached fruit. My grandmother used to make it with pureed apples, gooseberries, or rhubarb. The name probably comes from the French word ‘fouler’, which means to crush or squash and it’s a delightful way to enjoy fresh fruit in season. I love to make it with peaches during Georgia’s summer season but it can be adapted from mango’s to blackberries and strawberries or really any of your favorite seasonal fruit.

(serves 12 in mini shot glasses)

(Peach Puree)
· 6 peaches (sliced and stones removed)
· 3 Tbsp Peach flavor liqueur
· 3 Tbsp water
· 4 Tbsp sugar

· 1 cup heavy whipping cream
· ½ cup Mascarpone cream
· ½ cup fine granulated sugar

· Mint sprigs (garnish)

Combine peaches, sugar, water and liqueur in saucepan. Cook on medium heat for 12 minutes or until the peaches are tender. Cool and then chill in refrigerator. Puree mixture in food processor.

Beat cream on to it forms soft peaks in an electric mixer. Soften mascarspone cheese by beating gently by hand and then fold in to the fresh cream being careful not to over beat. Gently combine about one third of the puree leaving swirls of peach puree.

Spoon cream mixture in to a piping bag with a large nozzle. Spoon 1 ½ tsp of reserved puree on bottom of each glass and then pipe cream in to individual glasses. Place a second layer of puree in glass, followed by cream and finish with a little more puree. Pipe a final decorative swirl of cream on top.

Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Garnish with a sprig of mint.
Judith, the Irish Foodie...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Filet Mignon for the 40th!

My husband Gary turned 40 this month, a big event in anyone’s books and for me time to get cooking planning a meal that would blow the socks off the man I love and leave a food memory for years to come. My plan was to have a huge birthday bash with scores of friends but alas, being the introvert that he is, the ‘do’ of his dreams was an intimate dinner party hosted in our home with special guests that have meant something to him over the past years. Close friends flew in from Colorado and Dallas for the occasion and we gathered in abandon to let the celebrations begin.

I allowed just a couple of my ‘foodie’ friends to bring appetizers including my ‘China-Latina’ friend Deborah who made her famous Chinese Spring Rolls and Chef Ford Fry who made his own soft tacos, Shredded Pork with Guava Sauce topped with Cilantro and finely shredded cabbage along with killer White Sangria. And to top off the appetizer frenzy I baked a couple of my husband’s favorite brie-en-croute dishes with brown sugar, brandy and pecans….and that was just for starters!

When it came to the entrée of choice for the evening I decided on marinated, pan seared and roasted whole beef tenderloin, and actually, I prepared two of them. We then served the beef on top of some grilled asparagus spears with Potato-au-Gratin on the side. It turned out to be wonderfully elegant…

When shopping for beef I always remember my fathers advice, a beef farmer, who advised me to look for marbling in my meat, those thin streaks of fat that give incredible flavor. And so I found just the plump specimen, and was inspired to create a delicious sauce with choice wine and peppercorn. Most chefs use shallots in this sauce but I love the sweet mild flavor of the Vidalia contrasted with the peppercorns. I think it turned out great, and now you can have a go….

Happy birthday G !

Pan Seared Filet Mignon with a Cabernet Peppercorn Sauce
(serves 6)

6 beef filet mignon
3 whole black peppercorns (crushed)
1 ½ tsp Kosher salt
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp oil
½ cup sweet onion (very finely chopped)
2 Tbsp Flour
¼ cup cabernet red Wine
¾ cup of Beef Stock
2 Tbsp pink peppercorns in brine (drained)
4 Tbsp whipping cream


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Season steaks with crushed peppercorns and kosher sea salt. Sear fillets in butter and oil in a medium/high pan for 2 minutes for rare, 3 minutes medium rare and 4 minutes for well done on both sides. Transfer to an ovenproof dish.

Place steaks in oven.

Meanwhile sauté the finely chopped onions in the pan juice with the pink peppercorns. Add the flour and cook for about 2 minutes.

Add red wine and cook for 1 minute. Slowly add the beef stock stirring with a wooden spoon.

Remove steaks from oven to rest.

Pour any juices from the steaks in to the sauce and reduce slightly. Add whipping cream and taste to adjust seasoning.

Strain sauce and serve straight away drizzled over steak.


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Baked Fish and Potato Pie

Last week a friend flew in from the UK to see us, Ged Maloney, the sales manager for Punjana Tea ( ‘Ulster Kitchen’ favorite!) However, on the way from England Ged had lost his luggage and was a bit stressed out, so, right then I knew there was a need for some old fashioned Irish comfort food to ease away those traveling blues…

The first thing that came to mind was my grandmother’s ‘Fish and Potato Pie’ with a garden salad and crusty bread, and so here it is in all it’s glory. We love this food, and it’s very much an Irish favorite. If you stay in Ireland for any length of time someone is bound to serve you some version of this tasty dish….. (Pies are also great for company because they can be prepared an hour our two ahead of time and quickly baked 30 minutes before serving with all the pots and pans washed up to give you time to enjoy your guests)

As for what fish I used?….smoked haddock or cod, which would be authentically Irish were not available at short notice, so I improvised with the popular Southern white fish Tilapia instead, and I must say and we were very happy with the texture and flavor.

As always, cook what is fresh and local and take the freedom to substitute the fish catch that is most fresh and native to where you live. Hope you are able to take this recipe and cook for the next weary traveler that crosses your path!


Judith, the Irish Foodie

Three Fish Melody Potato Pie


½ Lb haddock (skinless and boneless)
½ Lb Salmon (skinless and boneless)
½ Lb Shrimp (de veined)
1 ¼ pint milk
1 bay leaf
4-5 peppercorns
3 Tbsp butter
1 shallot (chopped)
2 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp parsley (chopped)
Sea salt and pepper
2 Tbsp Sharp Irish Cheddar Cheese


3 ½ Lbs potatoes (peeled and cut in quarters)
2 Tbsp milk
3 Tbsp butter
salt and pepper
¼ cup sharp Irish Cheddar Cheese


Place potatoes in a pot of cold salted water and bring to a roaring boil. Reduce temperature and allow potatoes to simmer for 15 minutes or until tender when pierced with a fork.

Place haddock and salmon in a large wide brimmed saucepan and pour over milk. Add bay leaf and peppercorn. Cover and bring to a boil and then reduce to simmering cooking for 12-14 minutes or until fish is flaky and cooked through.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Remove fish and place in a shallow dish. Strain and discard peppercorn and bay leaf reserving liquid.

Melt 1 Tbsp butter in large sauté pan and cook shrimp for 1-2 minutes. Transfer shrimp over fish.

Add 2 Tbsp butter to pan and sautee shallot for 2 minutes to soften, add flour and cook for 1 minute to make a roux. Add reserved liquid, lemon juice, parsley, salt and Irish cheese.

Pour sauce over fish and shrimp.

Cream potatoes, milk, butter and salt and pepper using potato masher. Spoon over fish and flatten with a knife. Sprinkle over cheese.9. Bake for 35
minutes. Broil for a minute


Friday, April 3, 2009

Barack Obama gets an Irish Linen Tea Towel at No.10

Would you believe it? The very products I sell in my Ulster Kitchen store became quite famous this week at the G20 summit. How so? You say….well, read on…(here’s the story as reported by the good ‘ol BBC)

“The leaders of the world's 20 richest countries have received a goody bag including a linen tea towel made in NI at a Downing Street reception. “(The tea towels are made by Banbridge-based Thomas Ferguson Irish Linen, and sold by ‘yours truly..)

Yes, Barack Obama, Nicolas Sarkozy and their international counterparts were also given a designer tie, chocolates and a candle.
The goody bags were meant to showcase the best of British creativity.

"They (Downing Street) placed an order and we delivered basically, but we didn't know it was going to go in the goody bag," said Judith Neilly, marketing manager at Thomas Ferguson Irish Linen.
"It's one of the finer tea towels that we do, but it's the same tea towel as you'll find in your drawer at home.
"I'd love to think of Barack and Michelle stood there in pajamas doing the washing-up after breakfast using our tea towel, however, I can't really see it somehow."
Ms Neilly said enquires from potential customers had increased three-fold since news of the company's inclusion in the G20 goody bag broke.
"It's been amazing and mainly online it has to be said, but we've been even more surprised by the furor that it's created - we've been inundated by the world's media."
The company bears the name of its founder Thomas Ferguson who established the business in 1854.
The goody bags were handed out after the leaders enjoyed a meal devised by top chef and TV favourite Jamie Oliver.

Aha!...the humble towel, hand made in Northern Ireland by Ferguson’s Irish Linen company received International acclaim. The British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, presented ‘goodie bags’ showcasing the best of British creativity and design to all the world leaders attending the G-20 summit. Top of the line tea cloths are the 100% Irish Linen which are more absorbent than the Linen and Cotton Blend cloths also sold on-line. The very best kitchen stores in the US only sell cotton tea towels so I am proud to sell a unique premium drying cloth. Linen is top notch when drying glass and fine china because the long flax fibers do not leave any lint or smears. Once you own a cloth you will know what I mean. It’s hard to believe a product that has not changed much since woven in 1854 by Ferguson’s Irish Linen is highly fashionable and a memorable gift item. Most folks just do not know what they are missing!

So, if it’s good enough for the President, then it’s..good enough!
Click on the link to my website above, go the on-line store, and you too could give a gift with a story when you order an Ulster Linen Cloth.
Ok, so you’re not drying glass in the White House, but this is the next best thing folks!

It’s a no nonsense quality item to indulge your own kitchen accessories or give away. We also stock quality Irish Butlers Chocolates and Irish Candles to complete your own ‘goodie bag’ just in time for Easter.
(you’ll have to buy the ‘designer tie’ yourself!)

So, until next time…enjoy the Irish Linen Michelle!

Judith x

Monday, March 2, 2009

Beef in Guinness with Parsley Dumplings

March 17 is rapidly approaching, so, let’s get the party started! ...and here is the ultimate Irish comfort dish that will bring them around the table wearing green and talking a ‘wee bit of blarney’…Beef in Guinness! Irish as it gets!

Over the weekend we entertained Brion Fitzpatrick, director of sales for his family business ‘All Irish Foods’ a division of the Euro Foods Group- they import some great Irish and British gourmet food products to the US, and many of these products are sold in the Ulster Kitchen’s Pails of Irish Blessing. (You can go ahead and check out the products on his website out at http:// ), and given that it was close to St. Patricks I went ahead and served up what has become my signature dish for winter cooking classes, - braised beef cooked slowly in Guinness.

This dish has proven to be a big hit for me here in Georgia. A couple of year’s back I was honored to cook as a guest on a Georgia TV cooking show hosted by Hans Rueffert called “Hans Cooks the World”. (Hans was one of the contestants on the Food Network Star a few years ago. He has a new cookbook hot off the press called “Eat like there is no tomorrow” that I cannot wait to get my own signed copy. He is a phenomenal cook!)..and again, this was the dish I chose to prepare on live TV.

So, you can gather a group of friends and the Ulster Kitchen can come to your home to cook and entertain you, or now you have my recipe get out the sauté pan and start cooking. I always say its all about celebrating life together, and for me the best way to do this is cooking, so wear some green and have a go at this!

Beef with Guinness and Parsley Dumplings
(leeks and carrots julienne)

(Serves 4-6)

2 Lbs Beef Chuck or brisket (cut in to 1 x 2 inch cubes)
1 ½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 olive oil
2 onions (peeled and chopped)
3 Tbsp flour (blended in a little water)
1 pint (2 cups) Guinness stout
¼ pint (½ cup) beef stock
Bouquet Garni (tie together sprig of thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, sage)
2 cloves garlic (crushed)
2 tsp sugar

Parsley Dumplings
1 1/4 cups self-rising flour
4 Tbsp butter (cold)
3 Tbsp fresh parsley (chopped) (plus some to garnish)
4 Tbsp ice water
Salt and pepper (to taste)
2 leeks (cut in thin strips)
3 carrots (cut in thin strips)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cube meat and sprinkle with plenty of Salt and pepper. Begin to brown meat in oil in small batches. Transfer each batch to a Dutch style oven when done.

Sautee onions in skillet until they are lightly colored. Transfer to Dutch oven with meat. Deglaze sauté pan with a little Guinness and pour over meat and onions. Add rest of Guinness, blended flour mixture, beef stock, garlic, sugar, bouquet garni.

Cover the skillet and place in oven for 2 hours or until the meat is very tender.
While casserole is baking prepare dumplings. Measure flour and salt. Mix the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in parsley and salt and pepper. Add water to form dough and shape in to 12 small balls.

Remove the casserole from the oven. Discard the bouquet garni and quickly drop the dumplings on top of the casserole while it is still bubbling until dumplings puff up.

Blanch leeks and carrots in boiling water for 1 minute. Transfer to bowl of ice water. Gently sauté for garnish.

Serve on top of Irish Champ potatoes and garnish with leeks and carrots and a sprig of parsley.

May the road rise to meet ya!


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Chicken Fried Steak

I want to dedicate this latest entry to my father-in-law, Jimmy McLoughlin back in Northern Ireland, who commented after eating this dish at a Southern restaurant in Chattanooga Tennessee that it was the best thing he had ever eaten! A true Ulster man…he loves fried food, as do Southerners of course! He will be visiting us in Atlanta this November from Ireland and I hope he will be glad to hear that I have finally nailed this dish and am ready to make his day.

So, here I go…Chicken Fried Steak, which ironically has no chicken in sight, but instead is fried just like chicken...get it? Actually, a better description would be” Buttermilk soaked steak fried with a crispy breading served with rich brown gravy garnished with thick country bacon and a sprig of thyme” whew!...but that doesn’t sound as good, does it?

Ahh, fried food…there is just something about fried food that brings such comfort to the Irish as reminiscent of those times our mothers brought out the pan to make us an ‘Ulster Fry’. The bringing out of the pan for an Irish Fried breakfast is the ultimate coming together and sure way of having everyone around the table.
In the South we find the same cravings for comfort but this time with this tasty beef entrée. Makes me wonder about its origins? Such a dish could have been invented in the heart of an early settler in those pioneer days. Of course I would want to claim it as Irish, but even if I cannot prove any Irish origins of Southern Chicken Fried Steak I have still to meet an Ulster man who did not lick his lips at this dish.

Now, be warned…the kitchen will be a mess, hot splashing fat and dripping batter, but just watch the joy in your families’ faces it is served before them. Some things are worth a little sacrifice! Hope you give it a go!

(Serves 4)

1 ½-2 Lbs top round steak (cut in to 4)
1 cup all purpose flour (plus 3 Tbsp)
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
2 eggs plus 1 Tbsp water (beaten)
2 cups buttermilk (soak)
4 slices of thick style bacon
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 ¼- 1/2 pints (2 ½- 3 cups) chicken stock
1 tsp thyme (chopped) (plus 4 sprigs for garnish)



Cut top steak in to 4 large pieces. Use a meat tenderizer to pound steak in between two pieces of plastic wrap to ¼’ thick.

Season steak with salt and pepper. Soak meat in buttermilk for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Organize flour and a little more salt and pepper in shallow bowl. Whisk eggs and water together and place in another shallow dish. Remove steak from buttermilk soap and dip in the seasoned flour, then egg mixture and finish with a final coat of flour.

Fry bacon in 1 tbsp of vegetable oil until crispy. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add steak in small batches to hot bacon fat and cook for 3-5 minutes until crust is golden brown. Pan should be medium-high and meat sizzle and spit. Turn over steak and cook for a further 3 minutes on other side until juices run clear. Remove from skillet and place on a platter lined with paper towels.

Sautee the onion in pan until soft and translucent. Add 3 Tbsp flour and cook while stirring with a wooden spoon for 1 minute. Slowly add chicken stock and thyme. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes.

To make a smooth gravy process sauce with a hand blender and strain.

Plate green beans, mashed potatoes and set steak on top. Drizzle gravy over meat and around plate. Garnish with a piece of bacon and sprig of thyme.

Enjoy y'all!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Hearty Ulster-Scots Broth

(Braised Beef with Winter Vegetables)

On the eve of the birthday of the famous Scottish Poet Robert Burns who was born 250 years ago. It makes me reflect on my history, cultural heritage and then of course to my greatest passion, namely food....and with the chilly temps we've been having in Georgia lately, this is a great time to curl up by the fire with some hearty Scots broth. So, put another log on the fire and read on....

Few things remind me more of my mother’s comfort food than Ulster-Scots Broth. It was part of our weekly diet, back then made with a lamb shank instead of stewing beef, and was always a hit. In cold dark nights in Ulster, the glow of a turf fire and a bowl of Scots broth warmed the heart and cheered the soul. Growing up in a farm it was also a staple for feeding hungry farm workers who were invited for lunch, especially during those busy times when my father contracted silage out. The mighty combine harvester would cut the grass at record speed and the men, tired from being out in the cold fields all day, said they always looked forward to working on our farm because of my mothers famous broth.

Try serving it with some hearty Irish Wheaten Bread or Warm Southern Biscuits.

1 ½ Lbs stewing beef (cut in ¾” cubes)
kosher salt and ground black pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
1½ Tbsp butter
1 large onion (chopped)
1 large leek (cleaned and chopped)
1 ½ pints (6 cups) vegetable stock
½ small yellow turnip (2 cups) (peeled and cubed)
4 medium potatoes (2 cups) (peeled and diced)
5 medium size carrots (1 ½ cups) (peeled and diced)
6 Tbsp pearl parley
3 Tbsp parsley (chopped)


Pre-soak barley in plenty of cold water for 1 hour.

Season beef with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in large sauté pan and sear the meat in small batches. Transfer meat to dutch style oven or a large saucepan. Add butter to sauté pan and cook the onions and leeks for 3-4 minutes. Remove from pan and add to meat.

Pour vegetable stock over meat, onions and leeks. Bring to a boil and then turn temperature down to low and cook for 1 ½ hours.

Add the pearl barley and cook for 15 minutes.
Add potatoes, yellow turnip and carrots. Cover and simmer broth for a further 25 minutes until all the vegetables are tender when pieced with a fork.
Skim off any fat from surface of broth.
Season to taste.

Serve in a warmed soup bowl and garnish with chopped parsley.

Stay warm, and enjoy!


Sunday, January 4, 2009

Happy New Year!...and thank you

Just wanted to add a wee post at the first of the month to wish all of you a very happy new year!

2008 was certainly eventful for me, we started our small business, 'The Ulster Kitchen', built our website and blog, finished out the concept of my book and cooked a thousand dishes, all whilst loving life in Roswell Georgia as a wife and Mom...I feel very blessed...and I'm very fortunate to be surrounded by such good friends such as you!

Thank you for your support this year, I could not have begun this journey without your love and support.

So, here's to 2009!...may it be a good year for you, full of peace ,promise, joy, laughter and hope....and stay tuned, there's lots going on in this kitchen in the coming months!