Monday, December 13, 2010

Ulster Kitchen Festive Open House

This past weekend we opened our home in the spirit of Christmas and welcomed all kinds of friends, neighbors, and customers for food, fun & general festive jolly making! This has become an annual tradition for us, and we just love it. OK, I admit it, for some folks, having 70 people through your home on a given day may not be your idea of fun, but for us...it is!

My friends Deborah, Linda & Jane came over to help and we kept a steady stream of wonderful Irish food, tea, and goodies going without fail throughout the day. We served soups, smoked oatcakes with crab, Irish cheeses, a wonderful new chicken dish I've been working on (future blog entry!) all kinds of Irish shortbread, and of course my new 'hot ticket item', my Irish vanilla butter fudge, with white chocolate & cranberries. yum.

We also enjoyed the wondrous and soothing talents of Angie Beamis through the day as she played some very beautiful Celtic Christmas music on the Irish harp. There is just something about the beauty of this instrument that has to be experienced. Somehow, it's good for the soul!

So, fun was had by all...and if you missed out, the good news is we're going to do it again this coming Saturday!

so, mark your calendars, and plan to drop by (if you're in the ATL area) for more Irish festive goodness, and pa rouse our latest Ulster Kitchen offerings while you're here. Our new products make the perfect gifts!

Merry Christmas everyone, and happy shopping!

Judith, the Irish Foodie.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Festive Orange & Cranberry Chicken

Sing with me now....'Tis the season to be jolly, fa la la la la...la la la la! And to cook with orange and cranberry, fa la la la la..la la, la, la...'

Yes, it's December and just like everyone else I know, I'm not overly thrilled with the commercial side of 'The holidays' as they are known of here in the USA, but I still adore Christmas, and for many reasons. I love to cook and entertain, I love to give & receive gifts. I love the pageantry of dressing up for parties and gatherings. I love the decorations & aromas of fresh pine & mulled wine, and I love the message of Christmas. So for me, this is a time to celebrate. A time to invite friends & neighbors over to share in the magic of Christmas, and I love dreaming up new festive recipes to enjoy this comforting and exciting time of year. So, here is one of my favorites;

'Festive Orange & Cranberry Chicken'.

This festive dish looks good, smells good, tastes good and is good at any time of year, but in December, when ripe New England cranberries are in the stores, the combination of tangy orange & tart cranberry scream for Christmas. Best of all, this recipe is relatively easy to make, which is a blessing at this time of year when everyone has just too much to do. You can serve this wonderful dish with fluffy rice, or potato-au-gratin or with a simple green salad. Your choice, just serve with friends and enjoy.

So, plan your party. Send the invites. Find that 'awkward' snowman sweater. Put another log on the roaring fire and cook up a storm this Christmas, making it a season to remember for years to come! Have a go at this tasty festive dish and you won't be disappointed.

Enjoy!
Judy the Irish Foodie

'Festive Orange & Cranberry Chicken'.

Ingredients:
• 6 Chicken breast fillets
• 6 Tbsp flour
• ¼ tsp ground ginger (or ½ tsp grated fresh ginger)
• kosher salt and pepper
• 1 Tbsp Vegetable oil
• 4 Tbsp Butter
• ¼ cup Brown sugar
• 3 oranges (1 1/3 cup) freshly squeezed orange juice
• 1 ½ tsp of orange zest
• 2 oz (¼ cup) of Chicken stock
• 4 oz (1 cup) fresh cranberries
• 6 slices of orange (for garnish)


How to make it:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Combine flour and ginger. Season chicken fillets with salt and pepper and then coat in 3 Tbsp flour and ginger. Heat 1 Tbsp of butter and 1 Tbsp of oil in skillet and sear seasoned chicken breasts on medium high heat until golden brown, (about 1 minute each side).
3. Remove the chicken from the pan, and place in a 9x13” casserole dish. Zest and squeeze oranges. Add the remaining 3 Tbsp of butter to the pan and melt before adding the remaining 3 Tbsp flour and ginger. Stir together and cook for about 1 minute, as you would do when making a roux, before adding orange juice, zest and chicken stock, salt and pepper and brown sugar. Strain sauce over chicken breasts. Stir in cranberries and pour over chicken in casserole dish.
4. Bake in oven covered for the first 20 minutes, and then add cranberries and bake uncovered for the final 15 minutes.
5. Garnish with a slice of twisted Orange.

Ho! Ho! Ho! y'all....

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Crab Pate with Chives & Lemon on Irish Oatcakes

So, Thanksgiving is here (so fast, huh?) and the mind turns to turkey, squash, sweet potato casserole, pumpkin pie, Macy's parade, polite distant relatives, and cranberry juice. But wait, what on earth will you have for an appetizer? How will you impress Auntie and prove to her that you are a whiz in the kitchen after all? Fear not, because after much thought I've decided to share with you an elegant, but strikingly different dish to possibly serve those awkward relatives that will have them talking about your hospitality all the way home...

Yes, it's 'Crab Pate with Chives & Lemon on Smoked Irish Oatcakes'....

Trust me, serve this with a crisp, cold glass of chardonnay as your guests arrive, and it's sure to kick-start the conversations on the right note! It's very different to the turkey & squash & pumpkin favorites, but then again why not choose to experiment?
I recently ordered a new product for the 'Ulster Kitchen', namely these wonderful smoked Irish Oatcakes, and they are very delicious. Especially when served as an appetizer like this that will enhance the platform of smokey oats. The crab meat, creme fraiche, lemon & horseradish shine when combined into a flavorful pate, then served on these bite sizes oatcakes.

Of course, this is a tasty piece of Irish cuisine, and even though none of the pilgrims were Irish, the Mayflower did sail past Ireland on it's way to Plymouth...and that must count for something, right?? OK, I tried...but let me encourage you to give this one a spin for your upcoming parties or events this holiday season. We will be serving them during our annual Christmas open house events, and are sure they will be a hit!
Enjoy your feasting!

Judith the Irish Foodie.

Crab Pate with Chives and Lemon on Irish Oat Cakes

• 1 8oz packet cream cheese
• ½ cup crème fraiche
• 1 shallot (finely chopped)
• 2 Tbsp chives (finely chopped)
• ½ tsp lemon zest
• 1 Tbsp lemon juice
• 1 Tbsp milk
• 1 tsp horseradish sauce
• ¼ tsp fine sea salt
• freshly ground black pepper
• 8 oz lump crab meat
• few chives (to garnish plus a little lemon zest)
• Irish Oatcakes (see bakery chapter)

How to make it:

1. Bring cream cheese to room temperature and then beat to soften with hand held electric mixer. Gently fold in the crème fraiche, shallot, lemon zest and juice, chives, milk, horseradish and salt and pepper.
2. Fold in the crab meat using a rubber spatula.
3. Refrigerate for about 2 hours before serving.
4. To serve place a teaspoon of crab pate on top of a buttered oatcake, a little lemon zest and ½’ piece of chive.

J the I F

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Apple, Cranberry & Pecan Morning Muffins

Being raised on a farm in Co. Armagh, the ‘orchard county’ of Ireland, I am always drawn to recipes that contain apples, particularly in the Fall. Makes me think of my mother’s warm kitchen and the aroma of apple pie, or tart as we knew it, wafting through the house. So, when I was working in New York City a few weeks ago, I discovered an absolutely delicious apple, cranberry and walnut muffin from the famous Magnolia Bakery. Super yummy indeed!...I made this delicacy my New York morning ritual, and, when I got back home to Atlanta I did my utmost to recreate the texture and flavors of this moist muffin, loaded up with tart green apple, cranberries and a crispy topping. Of course, I just had to switch the walnuts out for pecans as I am in Georgia, of course!

So, the red cranberries and the bright green skin of Granny Smith apples make these muffins a colorful contribution to holiday brunch parties or family gatherings, or just as a welcome indulgence on these crisp, cold mornings to munch on with your hot, hot coffee...

Packed with good anti-oxidants, give these beauties a go this Fall and let me know what you think!

Enjoy!
Judith the Irish Foodie

Apple, Cranberry and Pecan Muffins

(makes 12)

• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• ½ cup whole wheat flour
• 1 tsp baking soda
• 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
• ¼ tsp ground cloves
• 1/4 tsp salt
• 2 large eggs
• ¾ cup dark brown sugar
• ¼ cup vegetable oil plus 2 Tbsp melted butter
• 1 tsp vanilla
• 1 large granny smith or any tart apple (1 ½ cups chopped with skins on)
• ½ cup cranberries
• 3/4 cup pecans (toasted and chopped)

(cinnamon topping)

• 3 Tbsp demerara sugar
• ½ tsp cinnamon
• 2 Tbsp melted butter

How to make it:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease or line muffin tins with paper cups.
2. Combine flours, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and sieve in to a large bowl.
3. In another large bowl or cake mixer whisk together the eggs, sugar, oil, melted butter and vanilla. Add the flour mixture to the liquid ingredients and stir to combine. Fold in the apples, pecans and cranberries.
4. Use an ice cream scoop to spoon batter in to prepared muffin cups. Mix the melted butter with cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle over muffin tops.
5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until muffins are firm to the touch.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Pumpkin & Lentil soup with crispy cinnamon croutons

Loving Fall, oh yes. Pumpkins on the porch, chilly mornings at the bus stop, deep blue skies to backdrop the turning leaves and the beginning of the 'comfort food season'. This is my, and many others favorite season, so I thought I would get all creative like and showcase a brand new Autumnal recipe to get you well and truly into the spirit of all things Fall, (with an Irish twist, of course!)

So, see what you make of this one my foodie friends...'Pumpkin & Lentil soup with crispy cinnamon croutons'. Yum, yum. Yes, I took a few risks with this one, but my family raved about it, so why not give it a spin? Think of the dish as a combination between warm ginger bread and pureed root vegetables. Comforting indeed, eh?

But what about the ingredients? I hear you cry? Well, I have to admit that I do often cheat and use canned pumpkin puree and find it not only a quality product but a huge time saver, but, this afternoon in true Autumnal style I was quite determined to test this recipe using fresh pumpkin and came home with an adorably cute orange gourd from the market. I sliced it in half, removed the skin and after slicing my finger for the hundredth time with the blade I decided to roast it first. I placed the pumpkin, flesh side down with the seeds removed, on a foil lined baking sheet and roasted it for an hour. Viola! The flesh was easy-peasy to scoop out and add to the soup!

Our family then had this soup for a main course tonight as the lentils add a hearty element and texture for a suitable entree. One thing though, I did add a little crumbled apple wood smoked bacon for my meat lover husband who was happy to partake along with a chilled harvest style beer, and he swore that the bacon added to the soup made a great thing even better...I'll let you decide on that one!

So, enjoy the leaves turning, the silly costumes and buy a wee pumpkin to give this one a try!

Enjoy!
Judith the Irish Foodie.


Pumpkin and Lentil soup with cinnamon croutons

(serves 6)

• 1 medium onion (finely chopped)
• 2 Tbsp butter
• 1 tsp fresh root ginger (grated)
• 1 cup lentils (rinsed and soaked)
• 5 cups vegetable stock
• 1 lb peeled pie pumpkin or a 16 oz can of pureed pumpkin puree
• ½ cup soft brown sugar
• 1 tsp kosher salt
• dash of freshly ground black pepper
• 1 tsp cinnamon
• ¼ tsp nutmeg
• ¼ cup heavy whipping cream

(Cinnamon Croutons)

• 6 ¼ inch slices of rustic baguette
• 3 Tbsp butter (room temperature)
• 1 Tbsp brown sugar
• ¼ tsp cinnamon

(Garnish)

• ¼ cup cream fraiche (to garnish)
• pinch kosher salt
• squeeze lemon juice

Method:
1. Soak lentils to remove any foreign materials.
2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan on medium heat and saute onions until fragrant and translucent. Add fresh root ginger and saute for a few more minutes with onions.
3. Add stock, lentils, pumpkin, brown sugar, salt, pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg stirring well. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until the lentils are soft.
4. Puree the soup with a food mill or liquidize in a blender.
5. Transfer the soup to a saucepan and slowly heat through. Stir in cream and taste to adjust seasoning.
6. To make the cinnamon croutons preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Blend the butter, cinnamon and brown sugar and spread over bread slices Bake for 5-7 minutes until crispy. Chop with a knife.
7. Prepare cream fraiche garnish by blending a little kosher salt with lemon juice.
8. Serve soup in warmed bowls with a dollop of cream fraiche and a small handful of croutons.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Jude in New York City!

video

Last week I had the incredible honor of representing Northern Ireland to the world (well, a slice of the world I suppose!) as I, and my small business 'The Ulster Kitchen' was part of an incredible showcase in New York City entitled 'Experience Northern Ireland'. For one week the Vanderbilt hall in Grand Central Station was transformed into a stunning exhibit illustrating just what a wonderful place Northern Ireland is for a vacation. The cream of Irish talent was there including dancers, singers, song writers, performers, celebrity chefs, actors, musicians of every stripe....and me!

Yes, little ol' me was there and I was demonstrating and exhibiting a wide range of wonderful products from Northern Ireland including Irish linens, teas, coffees, baked goods, music, food & drink and more...all of which is available on my website, I hasten to add!

It was a blast! Literally thousands of people came through and it was exhilarating to meet so many people, showcase what we have to offer and represent my home country. What a thrill! Many New Yorkers were of Irish descent, and all wanted to tell a story.

So, enjoy this little 'snapshot' video, and I'll see you next time with a 'knock out' recipe to celebrate Fall!

Until then, enjoy!

Judith, the Irish Foodie

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Goodbye Summer!

OK, so it's still hot in Georgia, but at least there's a 'hint' of coolness in the air these mornings which means...goodbye summer! hello Fall!

Yes, it's September and the beach holiday is but a memory, the kids are back in school, the homework wars have begun, and life seems somewhat normal again. So, in celebration of the end of summer I'm posting a warm, colorful late summer Georgia favorite. Southern style ratatouille.

The great thing about this time of year is the abundance of fresh, locally grown produce available right on our doorsteps. Just take the time to visit any of the many Saturday morning farmers markets in our areas and you'll see! Ripe, plump vegetables bursting with flavor, as opposed to sad veggies flown half-way across the world in gas filled containers. Yes, now is the time you cooks! Get out there and grab those fresh veggies and you'll be rewarded with flavors that are only available this time of year.

Last week we entertained some friends, and used 'in season' vegetables to create this wonderful ratatouille which is easy, incredibly tasty, and looks fabulous on the plate. Just don't crowd it with too many other things. Let the colors and flavors speak for themselves and you'll be in for a treat.

So, wave goodbye to summer with this seasonal delight....and roll on Fall!

Enjoy!
Judith the Irish Foodie

(Farmers market ratatouille)
• 3 Tbsp olive oil
• 1 small sweet vadalia onion
• 2 cloves garlic (crushed)
• 1 red pepper (seeded and chopped)
• 1 yellow pepper (seeded and chopped)
• 1 ear of fresh corn
• 1 small eggplant
• handful of okra (ends removed and chopped)
• 1 medium zucchini (thinly sliced)
• 1 14 oz can organic chopped plum tomatoes
• 1 Tbsp fresh thyme (chopped)
• coarse salt and pepper


Method

1. To make farmers market ratatouille heat olive oil in a large sauté pot. Begin cooking the onions and garlic until soft and then add red and yellow peppers for cook for 2 minutes to soften.
2. Next add the eggplant, okra and corn and cook for another 3 minutes before adding the thinly sliced zucchini and tin of tomatoes.
3. Simmer vegetables for 5 minutes until soft.
4. Stir in fresh thyme and season with salt and pepper.

J the I J

Friday, August 27, 2010

Fried Green Tomato Stack with Irish Blue Cheese and Peach & Onion Jam

As I mentioned to you all last week, we just returned from Savannah, Georgia after having a wonderful time in that beautiful Southern gem. And, whilst there, we dined at a delightful spot that served the most delectable 'Fried Green Tomatoes'. (Yummy y'all!)...so good in fact I just had to experiment with this in my own kitchen and write about the experience, so , here goes....

So, what is it about 'Fried Green Tomatoes' that makes them sooo good? After all, at first glance they're unripened tomatoes and cornmeal, no big deal, right? Ah, but when you consider the genius of this dish you will think again. The tomatoes, as I said, are unripened so they remain quite tart and crunchy, which works perfectly in harmony with the egg, cornmeal & buttermilk batter. The firmness of the fruit helps to hold it all together, and the result is a crunchy, tasty, tart perfection.

Now, the question remains.....how to serve them?

In pondering this question I decided to introduce a little Irish Blue cheese into the recipe, and used a wonderful new product I've discovered from 'File Mile Town Creamery' in Northern Ireland called 'BallyBlue'. I tied this explosively tasty cheese with the tomatoes in a stack and sat everything on a bed of my own 'Peach & Onion Jam'. Again, the balance of flavors here work wonderfully. The savoury fried tomatoes serve as a wonderful foundation of flavor to showcase the tangy blue cheese, contrasting with the sweet/savory peach & onion jam. Wonderful as a summertime lunch, or a more traditional 'Southern style' starter (with an Irish twist!) ...now, just add some reduced balsamic syrup for that gourmet touch, and viola!

So let me invite you to give this southern belle a spin. Pick up some green tomatoes, along with the other ingredients below...and have a go!

Enjoy (y'all!)

Judith, the Irish Foodie


Fried Green Tomatoes
(serves 4)

• 4 green tomatoes
• coarse sea salt and pepper
• 1/2 cups stone ground cornmeal
• 1/2 cups all purpose flour
• 1 egg (beaten)
• ½ cup buttermilk
• vegetable oil (to fry)
• 2 Tbsp basil (chopped)
• 4 oz Ballyblue cheese

Balsamic syrup
1 cup dark balsamic vinegar

Peach and Onion Jam

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion (1 cup finely chopped)
2 Lbs peaches (2 ¼ cups peeled and diced)
3 Tbsp white wine vinegar
3 Tbsp brown sugar
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp sale
¼ tsp ground black pepper

Method:

1. To make peach and onion jam heat oil over medium high heat and gently fry onions for 3 minutes or until soft. Stir in peaches, brown sugar, vinegar and spices. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow cool.
2. To make the balsamic syrup place vinegar in small saucepan and gently boil until reduced by 75%. Remove from heat and set aside.
2. Slice tomatoes in to generous ¼’ pieces and season with coarse sea salt and ground black pepper.
3. Beat eggs and buttermilk together with a fork. Mix flours together in a small bowl. Dip each slice of tomato in to wet mixture shaking off excess and then coat in dry flour mixture.
4. Heat oil in heavy cast iron skillet to medium-high temperature. Avoiding crowding place a few slices of tomato at a time in skillet frying for about 3 minutes on each side. Place on a warmed plate.
5. Assemble by placing a little peach and onion jam in center of plate. Stack tomatoes with a slice of blue cheese between each tomato layer ending with a little cheese on top and a teaspoon more of the peach and onion jam. Sprinkle over a little freshly chopped basil.
6. Best served immediately.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

O Savannah!

So, we just returned from a weekend in beautiful and historic Savannah Georgia, and I was certainly inspired by the city, I must say. We were in Savannah as vendors at an Irish dancing event and my curiosity was very much piqued by the experience...

Savannah is indeed an architectural and cultural gem, with beautiful period squares, oak lined streets, old brick facades, wrought iron porches...and, a quirky Irish tinge to the place that I found intriguing. At first glance you would not normally associate such a genteel place as Savannah with all things Irish. After all, the city has an 'air' about it of 'old South'. Horse drawn trams, live oaks, shrimp & grits, but around every corner you find either an Irish pub, or place name, or flag, or something of the 'ol sod that wouldn't be out of place in south Boston or Chicago. So, what gives?

The amazing thing is that Savannah's St. Patrick's day parade in March in the 2nd largest in the US, right after NYC. Thought it was Boston? No, think again y'all, it's Savannah! It appears to me that what Mardi Gras is to New Orleans, St. Pats is to Savannah, and they have literally built a culture around it..(long may it continue I say!)

The city welcomes over 400,000 (yes, that's four hundred thousand!) visitors to take part in the week long St. Pats festivities,and it has obviously transformed the culture of this Southern gem. Can you think of any other city in the US that attracts almost three times it's population to watch a parade outside of Mardi Gras? Wow...indeed.

So, Irish in Savannah it is, and we felt so welcomed and enjoyed our time there so much that we will be back. A lot!..and certainly every March 17th if we can spare it!

That said though, this is a food blog after all, so let me indulge you with one of Savannah's culinary treats.

On one of the nights we were there we walked along the River Walk and dined in a wonderful spot called 'Vic's on the River'. Very Southern, very authentic, and everything we had was fresh and delicious. I would recommend it, and for my blog entry next week I'll be posting a creative 'fried green tomatoes' recipe that I've been perfecting that was inspired by my Savannah experience....so, tune back in next week!

And there it is...if you have time and the inclination please make sure you visit Savannah, and if you don't mind mucking in with 400,00 of your closest Irish friends, let's visit on March 17th!!

'till next time!

Judith the Irish Foodie x

Monday, August 9, 2010

Full Irish Breakfast- Ireland part 3

Part of the joy of being in Ireland is waking up every day and relishing an Irish breakfast yet to come. Granted, breakfast is done very well in America, I love our coffee & donuts, but there's just something about the Irish cooked breakfast that fires you up for the day, and sets you out in your pursuit of all things green....(if you've ever been to Ireland, and stayed in a hotel, or guesthouse, or B&B, you will know what I mean!)

What I'm referring to is known around the world as the 'Full Irish Breakfast', and I so enjoyed our breakfasts whilst in Ireland that I just had to include a blog entry on the subject, and introduce you to my spin on this Irish classic.

Perhaps it's the colder climate that makes you appreciate a hot cooked breakfast. Or perhaps it's the quality farm produce behind the fry. The thick cut Irish bacon, the sausages, or the scrumptious Irish breads. Or perhaps it's the nostalgia that a full Irish breakfast brings...whatever it is, I loved it and enjoyed several during my trip, accompanied with a lovely cup of Punjana, and I'm sure you will too!

Of course, each hotel or guesthouse will have their own spin on what makes a cooked breakfast special, and below you will find my 'take' on the subject. You see, In Northern Ireland, we know the breakfast as an 'Ulster Fry', and the addition of potato bread and soda bread to the list of ingredients makes ours very 'northern' in flavor. So, along with the fry, I'm going to give you pointers on how to make 'Soda griddle bread', an essential ingredient.... (you'll love it)



Let me invite you then to go the extra mile, see if you can pick up the ingredients, conjure up this wonderful soda bread and you too can create the feeling of an Irish morning right there in your own kitchen...(umm, just don't look out the window, or you will ruin the effect!)

So, here it is, another 'taste' of Ireland, specifically from Northern Ireland...
Enjoy!

Judith, the Irish Foodie.

(serves 4 people)

1 Tbsp vegetable oil
4 slices of bacon
4 large breakfast sausages (sliced in two)
4 cage free eggs
1 large tomato (cut in four slices)
sea salt and pepper
4 slices potato bread (substitute with another bread)
2 soda farls (sliced in two length ways)
2 Tbsp parsley (chopped)

Soda Farls

Griddle (preheated)
2 cups plan flour
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda (sift)
1 Tbsp shortening
1 cup buttermilk


METHOD

1. To make the farls preheat griddle to medium high heat. Measure dry ingredients and sift soda. Rub in shortening. Add buttermilk and bind together with large metal spoon.
2. Knead very lightly with floured hands. Use a floured rolling pin to roll dough in to a circle ¾ “in diameter. Cut in to quarters with a floured sharp knife.
3. Place each quarter on griddle and cook for about 10-12 minutes on each side. (I like to cover farls with a clean, dry tea towel when cooking on the griddle). Farls are ready when bread is golden brown and the sides are firm to the touch.
4. Fry the bacon in a large skillet with a little vegetable oil until crispy. Remove bacon from pan and place on a warmed plate in low oven. Drain off some excess grease from skillet and fry sausages, adding to plate with bacon in low oven when cooked.
5. Drain and clean the pan or use a new nonstick pan to fry the eggs. Add a little vegetable oil to the pan and place on medium heat. Crack the eggs carefully in to the pan, and add a little water to steam a little. Continue to cook for about 2 minutes for ‘sunny side’ up or turn if you like them ‘over easy’.
6. Season tomato with sea salt and pepper and add to skillet, cooking to soften on each side.
7. To stack fry begin with a slice of freshly baked farl, slice of prepared potato bread (optional), fried egg, tomato, sliced sausage and bacon on top. Sprinkle a little parsley over stack!





Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Beauty of Ireland-part2


video

This is a 'first' for me, but I thought one of the only ways to capture some of the wild beauty of Ireland was through moving pictures, so here is a little video we shot whilst visiting a very beautiful place called 'Carrick-a-Rede, on the north Antrim coast in Northern Ireland.

Carrick-a-Rede is a rope bridge that was created by north Antrim fishermen, and is put up each summer to span the cliffs between the mainland and a series of small rocky islands just off the coast. Crossing the bridge is nerve-tingling, and a thrill to the senses given the spectacular beauty of the landscape, and the height above the sea. As you gingerly edge your way across the bridge you can look down at the sea swirling around the cliffs over a hundred feet below you. Quite a thrill.

So, enjoy the video of this corner of the emerald isle and stay tuned as our adventure continues...

Enjoy!

Judith, the Irish Foodie


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Irish Fish & Chips by the Sea

The great thing about the island of Ireland is that you're never any more than an hour or two away from the sea, and in fact, the vast majority of Irish people live right on the coast as all of our cities are harbour towns. Belfast, Dublin, Cork, Derry, Waterford, etc. So, you would guess that we as a nation enjoy our seafood, right? Well...that is kind of true, but it's only in the last few decades that Irish cuisine has fully embraced the wonderful treasure trove of marine delicacies that we have right on our doorstep. For generations, most of our seafood was exported to other parts of Europe where exotic dishes were created in fine restaurants whilst the Irish made do with the most basic dish that is now very familiar in every pub in the land....and what is it?

Yes, it's the humble 'Fish & chips'.

There's just something comforting about this dish that suited the Irish climate. The picture above is from a wonderful pub called 'The Percy French' in a seaside town we love called 'Newcastle'. We always went there as children and enjoyed the beach, the sea air, the wonderful views of the mountains...and the fish & chips. The fish was always fresh, came from a neighboring fishing village called 'Kilkeel', pictured here, and when paired with the right side dishes is a classic.

In the picture above the dish came with thick cut chips in a pale along with freshly made tarter sauce and some super duper mushy peas! Oh yes.

So, as a special treat, Im posting my very special battered fish & chips recipe. Nothing more Irish, or tasty. Enjoy!

Battered fish and chips with malt vinegar and Tarter Sauce
(serves 4)
• Vegetable oil for deep fat frying
• 3 large russet potatoes
• 1 ½ Lbs of flaky white fish such as cod or haddock
• malt vinegar and salt (to serve)
• (Irish spring water batter)
• 1 egg yolk
• ½ cup cornstarch
• ½ cup plain flour
• 1 cup very cold Sparkling spring water (Preferably Irish)
• 1 tsp salt
• ¼ tsp white pepper
• (tartar sauce)
• 1 cup mayo
• 1 tsp yellow mustard
• 1 Tbsp capers (chopped)
• 1 Tbsp lemon juice
• 1 Tbsp tarragon (chopped)
• pinch salt and pepper

Method:
1.Prepare tartar sauce by mixing together and refrigerate until ready to serve.

2.Heat 2-3” of oil in heavy saucepan or use a deep fat fryer to 325 degrees.

3.Peel the potatoes and slice lengthwise and slice in to large chips. Fry the potatoes for about 3 minutes in the oil until they are soft but not brown. Drain over paper towels.

4.In a small bowl mix together the egg yolk and very cold sparkling water using a whisk. Measure flour, corn flour, salt and pepper and add a little at a time to water and egg mixture being careful not to over mix. Dip fish in to the batter.

5.Switch temperature up to 350 degrees to medium high. Fry the fish for 2 minutes on each side until golden brown and crispy. Remove and drain over paper towels.

6.Place chips back in the deep fat fryer or heavy saucepan. Fry the chips for 4-5 minutes until golden brown.

7.Serve straight away sprinkled with malt vinegar and plenty of salt.

Enjoy!..and watch out for another Irish trip treat next time!
Judith, the Irish Foodie x

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Just back from a month in Ireland!

This past month I celebrated a 'special' birthday (not saying which one I'm afraid!), and to celebrate, we all went back to Northern Ireland as a family for an extended holiday. And what a time we had! The weather was wonderful (an occurrence that only happens once in every thousand years...) for weeks on end, and we enjoyed immersing ourselves in the rich culture and heritage of our homeland. The rugged beauty of the north Antrim coast (pictured by my husband above), the soft flowing landscape of County Down, the new excitement of Belfast and it's up and coming foodie scene, the serenity of quiet Irish country roads around my parents farm , the warmth of family and of course the delight of tasting some very, very good food.

It's been several years since we've been back, and yet again the sheer quality of the local produce amazed me. The potatoes and vegetables were crisp and tasty, not processed and ripened with gas. The beef was tangy and rich in taste as only comes with grass fed cattle, the butter was yellow (see my previous post..) and the fish were fresh.

Ireland as an agricultural economy puts huge investment into the wholesomeness of it's food chain, and you can tell the difference immediately. The wonderful produce literally drives you into the kitchen to get cooking, and pushes your creativity.


'Farm to table' works over there, and we need to fight for the same level of quality from our food here in the United States. Yet again let me say, consider organic, consider grass-fed, consider farm fresh foods. Yes, you will pay more for them, but in the long run we may change the food culture in America and encourage farmers to grow the kind of food we all deserve!

OK, off my soap box now! Over the next few weeks I'll post some ideas and stories I collected during our trip, along with a lot of cracker recipes!

Check back for some surprises!

Jude, the Irish foodie

Monday, June 14, 2010

Rhubarb & Peach Crumble with Fresh Ginger Cream

OK, so last week I extolled the quite incredible virtues of rhubarb. The new superfood. It can lower your cholesterol, it can heal digestive ailments, it can help fight cancer, leap tall buildings in a single bound, and, when used in the right recipe, it can also be a very suprizing and amazing ingredient!

So, true to my word, here is a super recipe for a superfood that I think you will love, and is a delicious dessert to conjure up just in time for the 4th of July. Easy to make, even in larger quanities, casual to serve and will round off any backyard barbeque perfectly so you can pull up the lawnchairs and enjoy the fabled fireworks.

This recipe does owe a lot to my Irish heritage and would be familiar to many in Ireland, however, I have given it a Southern style spin by adding peaches to the fruit mix, and some wonderful hints of ginger to the fresh cream in order to 'up the ante' somewhat. The intense sweetness of the peaches will work superbly with the tartness of the rhubarb, balancing each other beautifully whilst the crunchy crumble gives just the right amount of texture to every bite. And as for the cream, well, add as much as you like, depending on how much you want to 'splurge'....

Have a go, it's easy!...and as ever, enjoy!
Judith, the Irish foodie.

(for the syrup and fruit):
• 8 oz (1 cup) water
• 7 oz (1 cup) granulated sugar
• 3 Tbsp cornstarch
• 1 tsp vanilla
• 2 Large rhubarb stocks (4 cups) (cut in to ¼ slices)
• 5-6 peaches (3 cups) (skin removed and sliced)

(for the crumble)
• 7 oz (1 cup) old fashioned oats
• 8 oz (1 cup) brown sugar
• 4 ½ oz (1 cup) flour
• 8 oz (1 cup) butter
• pinch of salt
• 1 tsp cinnamon
• dash of nutmeg

How to make it:
1. In a saucepan whisk to combine sugar, cornstarch, water and vanilla. Cook together until clear. Set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
3. Combine peaches and rhubarb and toss in prepared syrup.
4. In a large mixing bowl add the oats, sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add the diced butter and using your finger tips work the mixture until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
5. Lightly butter a 9x13 size pan and pour peach and rhubarb mixture in to the baking dish. Sprinkle the crumb mixture evenly on top of fruit.
6. Place the baking dish in the oven and bake for 45 minutes, or until the filling is bubbly and the topping is golden brown.
7. Best served warm with a serving of ginger fresh cream.

Enjoy your summer everyone!

See you next time....and, if you enjoy reading this blog as much as I enjoy writing it, please tell your friends, and forward it to others. That way, we can all spread the joy!

J.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Rhubarb, a superfood that can ward off cancer?

Rhubarb is a classic ingredient in many Irish desserts, and for me it brings back memories of my grandparents little walled vegtable garden in the heart of Co. Armagh. Ruby red stalks of wonder ripening in the sun that made the most delicious pies and crumbles. Tart, yet tasty. An Irish beauty...but here's the rub, did you know that this humble vegtable is a bona fide superfood that can heal digestive systems, lower your cholesterol and...wait for it...ward off cancer!?

Yes, according to new research published in the journal 'Food Chemistry', rhubarb could be an important natural remedy in the battle against cancer. Researchers discovered that natural chemicals called 'polyphenols' found within the plant may help to destroy cancer cells. And here's the best part...to harness the cancer blasting effects of these 'polyphenols' the rhubarb must first be exposed to heat. Yup, you guessed it...you've gotta bake it! Music to the ears of cooks everywhere. Now the humble rhubarb pie is a power punching, cancer killing, fat eating super food!

Now, I know what you're thinking, surely vegtables must be eaten raw to get to all that goodness. Well, in may cases yes that may be true, but not in this one. The anti-cancer benefits are greatly enhanced by baking it in the oven for at least twenty minutes researchers tell us.
This is good news, right? Yes indeed, let's roll up our sleaves, pick up some wonderful red rhubarb at your local market and let's have some fun with our latest superfood....

So, tune in next time for a wonderful recipe that I will share with the world, namely a 'Rhubarb and peach crumble with fresh ginger cream', perfect for Sunday cookouts and 4th of July parties.

...until then foodie fans!

Judith,
the Irish foodie.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Goats cheese with peaches & an Earl Grey vinaigrette

Now here's the thing...goats cheese is a strong flavored cheese, of that we all agree, and sometimes it can be a little sharp for many folks. But, what if you paired it with some sweet Georgia peaches, micro greens and topped it all off with a wonderfully mellow vinaigrette flavored with Earl Grey tea, huh? Yes, now you get the picture...sharp, but yet soft. Strong, and yet mellow. Tangy, yet sweet. Ladies and gentlemen, this week I'm introducing you to this wonderful starter that will make your mouth water, and impress even your most grumpy of friends. Just add a swill of cold chardonnay to the mix, and we have it!

So, for my recipe I'm going to pull a portion out from this recipe and lay it all out for all of you to see..how to make the 'Earl Grey' vinaigrette.

Now, what is 'Earl Grey' you may ask? Simply, it's a blended black tea that is infused with oil of bergamot, a small Mediterranean citrus fruit. The flavor of this tea is legendary and the story goes that the dear old Earl was given this 'secret' recipe by a grateful 'mandarin' subject after he saved his life. The Earl was the British prime minister at the time, and made great use of this fantastic tea on his return to London. Clever marketer no doubt, as Earl Grey is now the worlds most popular tea. He ended making tons of cash, and retired to a respectable castle in Dublin, Ireland to end his days sipping his tea in absolute splendor!

So, there you have it! Now, follow this recipe and you too will enjoy the high life. This goes great with a range of salad options, but will go particularly well with my lovely wee goats cheese delight!

Enjoy,
Judith the Irish Foodie

Earl Grey Tea Vinaigrette:

• ½ cup sherry vinegar
• 3 Punjana Earl Grey tea bags
• 2 small shallots (finely minced)
• zest and juice of one small orange
• 1 tsp Dijon mustard
• 1 tsp sugar
• 1 Tbsp honey
• 1 cup oil (1/2 canola and ½ olive oil)
• kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Prepare vinaigrette by bringing sherry vinegar to boiling point and pour over the Earl Grey tea bag to steep for 3-5 minutes. Remove tea bags and discard.
Allow infused vinegar to cool.
Combine vinegar, orange juice and zest, shallots, honey, sugar, mustard, salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in oils until incorporated.
Taste to adjust seasoning.
Refrigerate.

Have fun (darlings...)

Monday, May 10, 2010

White butter, yellow butter?

I wonder if you ever realized that this difference even existed. Surely butter is just butter, right? Cows are just cows, milk is just milk, no difference right?...uh oh, wrong I'm afraid. In my pursuit of the best ingredients for my food I've done a lot of research and a lot of tasting of various products and have been shocked by the results that I found in many basic ingredient categories. Check this out...

Take butter for example...a staple ingredient used every day in every kitchen, and a world of difference exists between 'great' butter and average butter. See the photo above? Did you realize how 'white' everyday processed butter is? Compare it with the other stick of butter which is a 'Kerrygold' product. Do you know what makes the color difference? And why should you care?

The white butter comes from corn (force) fed cattle, whilst the yellow butter comes from hormone free 'grass' fed cattle, and the secret to the color difference is a thing called "beta-carotene". When cattle are allowed to roam free in the open air and eat grass, as they were created to do, their milk is rich in Omega-3 and beta-carotene. This is the same stuff that creates the strong color in carrots and pumpkins, etc. A wonderful source of vitamin-A and a strong anti-oxidant. However, when cattle are stuffed inside windowless enclosures and are force-fed corn, which they were never intended to eat, then their milk is devoid of all the 'good' unsaturated fats and anti-oxidants. This is why white butter is so hard to spread, even at room temperature, whilst this wonderful yellow butter spreads right from the fridge...(which comes in 'handy' !)

So, if you take just a little extra time to find grass-fed dairy products you will do your family a world of good, I personally found that Kerrygold products work for me, but keep your eyes open...you'll be glad you did! (And remember; always go for 'colorful' foods. The color is evidence of goodness!)


Enjoy,
judith, the Irish Foodie.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Creamy Banoffee Pie with a Crunchy Pecan Crust

Everybody I know in Ireland absolutely loves banoffee pie, and why not? Bananas, caramel, toffee, cream, pie, yummy, yummy, yummy....but what is 'Banoffee Pie?' I hear you cry! Well, actually it's a dish that originated in England in the seventies and has spread through the UK and Ireland as a firm favorite in coffee shops throughout the land, or as the perfect suburban dessert, served as a 'sure bet' after the home cook has embarrased her guests with the weird exotic dish she dreamed up just last night...

But seriously, this is a suprizingly yummy dessert, made with suprizingly simple ingredients that will very much impress your guests at your next party event....

Here in the South there is already a love affair going on with 'pies' in general, so, to sweeten the deal I have added a pecan crust into the recipe to give it that little 'Southern twist' and make a wonderful dish even better, (oh, and I replaced that 'boil the can for hours' thing as well, which can be a little tiresome I'm afraid.)

So, give it a go...bananas, creamy caramel, rich pecan crust and fresh whipped cream...what could possibly go wrong!

(serves 8-10 people)

(crust)
8 oz (2 cups) graham crackers or Irish digestive biscuits (crushed)
1 Tbsp fine granulated sugar
½ cups finely chopped pecans
½ cup melted butter
¼ tsp cinnamon

(Cooked Toffee layer)
4 oz (1/2 cup) butter
9 Tbsp fine granulated sugar
1 ¾ 14 oz cans (2 cups) sweetened condensed milk

(Filling)
3 medium bananas
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp fine granulated sugar
1 tsp cocoa powder (sieved)

Method
1. To make crust combine all ingredients and press the crumb mixture in to the bottom of a large greased 9” pie plate.
2. Bake crust for 10 minutes at 325 degrees. Cool and set aside.
3. To make the toffee combine the butter and sugar and stir until melted. Add the sweetened condensed milk and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to low and simmer for 12-15 minutes until it becomes a rich caramel color. Remember to stir all the time as mixture can easily burn. Remove from heat and cool.
4. Slice the bananas and arrange on the bottom of the prepared crust. Squeeze lemon juice over bananas to help prevent fruit from browning. Then spread caramel mixture on top.
5. Refrigerate until ready to eat. Whisk fresh cream and sugar in electric mixer until soft peaks appear and spread over toffee layer. Using a sieve dust liberally with cocoa powder.

Enjoy!
Judith

*oh, and if you want to print this out for your own kitchen I suggest copying and pasting it into Word. If you print this blog you will depleat the entire forests of Canada in one fell swoop! ...you have been warned! :-)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Pan Seared Salmon & Dubliner Cheese Potato Bread


This week I will be at Whole Foods in Alpharetta GA taking part in a wonderful event entitled 'Take Home a Chef'. I will be one of several chefs taking part with the goal being to teach and encourage people to cook & eat quality wholesome food at home. Yes, you too can make restaurant qualtiy food with a little imagination, and a little help from your friends (thanks Paul McCartney!) So, my contribution to the evening is a wonderful 'Salmon & Potato bread' dish I created especially for the night. This dish is simple, yet elegant, tasty, wholesome, low in fat and can be prepared in minutes! Don't believe me?...go on and give this a try!

I infused KerryGold 'Dubliner' cheese into the potato bread for a more robust flavor that compliments the delicacy of the fish perfectly, and rubbed the salmon with a smoked paprika for an added kick. Put this altogether with a fresh salad and side of my special 'lemon caper mayo', and you are good to go! Serve with a cold crisp glass of chardonnay, and viola!

Enjoy!!

• 1 ½ lbs salmon (skin removed cut in to 4 pieces)
• ½ tsp sea salt
• ¼ tsp smoked paprika
• 1 Tbsp olive oil

(Baby arugula salad with citrus herb vinaigrette)

• 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
• ½ tsp honey
• Pinch of sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
• 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• 4 cups (packed) baby arugula salad greens
• Sprig of dill (chopped)
• Sprig of flat leaf parsley (chopped)
• 1 Tbsp finely sliced red onion

(Lemon caper mayonnaise)
• 1/2 cup mayo
• 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
• 2 tsp capers (drained and chopped)
• 2 tsp lemon juice
• pinch salt and ground black pepper

(Dubliner cheese potato bread)

• 2 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled (1 cup mashed)
• 1-cup flour
• ½ tsp baking powder (sifted)
• ½ tsp salt
• ¼ cup Kerrygold Dubliner Cheese
• 1 Tbsp butter (melted)
• ¼ cup whole milk


Method:
1. Prepare the lemon caper mayo by mixing mayo, mustard, chopped capers, lemon juice, salt and pepper together in a bowl, then refrigerate until ready.
2. To make potato bread, cut potatoes into quarters and place in a saucepan with cold salted water. Bring water to a boil and cook for 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork. Then drain and allow them to dry out on low heat for a few seconds in a colander over the warm pot. Finally, mash the potatoes.
3. Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt together then add to potatoes. Stir in the Dubliner cheese, milk and melted butter. Knead lightly on a floured surface.
4. Roll out to ¼“depth with a floured rolling pin and shape into a rectangle. Use a sharp knife to cut around uneven edges, then cut into 4 squares lengthwise and cut again to form 8 triangles.
5. Sprinkle salmon fillets with a little sea salt and smoked paprika. Add olive oil to a hot heavy based skillet and place salmon to sear for 3-4 minutes on each side (flesh will be pink and flakey).
6. Sprinkle a little flour on griddle and cook potato bread in small batches on medium heat for 3-4 minutes on each side until the crusts are golden brown.
7. To make citrus vinaigrette, squeeze lemon juice in to bowl with sea salt and honey. Slowly whisk in olive oil until mixture emulsifies then stir in arugula, herbs and red onion. Gently toss together.
8. To assemble, place a dollop of mayo on each potato bread triangle (allow 2 per person) arrange on one side of the with the salad on the other. Place the salmon over the salad into the center of the plate, drizzle with olive oil, garnish and serve.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

BLT Boxty Bites

So, the sun is shining in Atlanta at last. Shorts are back, flip-flops are here. Fire up the grill and pop a cold beer! (hey, that rhymes!) Yes indeedy, it's time for fun food on the deck and this week I thought I would take advantage of the wonderful weather in Georgia during Spring Break to introduce you to a light & fun favorite of mine - 'BLT' Boxty Bites.

These wonderful wee morsels pack a punch of flavor, go fantastic with a nice glass of your favorite chilled white wine, or a wheaty beer and are simply fun to share with friends on a back porch or as an appetizer when guests arrive.

'Boxty' is an old Irish recipe for a particular type of potato bread, and for my appetizer I have made the recipe 'current' by reducing them to 'bite sized' rounds which I prepare on the griddle then top with roasted red tomatoes, apple wood smoked thick cut bacon, mayo & olive oil. Try them....you'll enjoy a little bit of Ireland whilst basking in the sun!...and as the ol' Irish saying goes:

“Boxty in the Griddle
Boxty in the Pan
If you cannot make Boxty
You will never get a man”

Boxty BLT bites

• 24 potato rounds
• 12 roasted red tomato halves (cut in half)
• bunch Arugula leaves (stems removed)
• 1tsp olive oil
• salt and pepper to season
• 8 slices Irish style or Apple wood smoked bacon (cooked and cut in to 3 pieces)
• ¼ cup mayonnaise

Boxty Bread rounds

(Makes 24)

• 2 medium baking potatoes peeled (1 cup mashed)
• 1-cup flour
• ½ tsp baking powder (sifted)
• ½ tsp salt
• ¼ cup Kerry gold Dubliner Cheese
• 1 Tbsp butter (melted)
• ¼ cup whole milk

Roasted Red Tomatoes

• 6 Roma Tomatoes (cut length wise)
• ½ tsp sea salt
• 1/4 tsp pepper
• chopped fresh garden herbs (parsley, thyme)
• 1 Tbsp good quality olive oi1
• 1/2 tsp sugar (to sprinkle)

Method

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
2. Toss tomatoes in olive oil and season well with sea salt, pepper, sugar and herbs. Place tomatoes face side up on a baking pan and slowly roast for 1 ½ to 2 hours. 3. Remove from oven and cool.

Method:

1. Cut potato into quarters and place in a saucepan with cold salted water. Bring water to a boil and cook for 15-20 minute until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork. Drain, and allow potatoes to dry out on low heat for a few seconds in a colander. Mash the potato.
2. Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt together and add to potatoes. Stir in the cheese, milk and 1 melted butter. Knead lightly on a floured surface.
3. Roll out to ¼“depth with a floured rolling pin and cut with a 1” biscuit cutter.
4. Fry bacon in a large heavy based skillet until crispy and set aside on a warmed plate.
5. Sprinkle a little flour on griddle and cook boxty bread bites in small batches on medium heat for 3-4 minutes on each side and crust is golden brown.
6. To assemble bites begin by slicing bacon into thirds and dressing Arugula with a little olive oil and salt and pepper. Place a small dollop of mayonnaise on top of the boxty bread. Follow with the Arugula leaves, apple wood smoked bacon and then the sliced red roasted tomatoes.

Enjoy!
Judith the I F

(oh, and as ever, if you want to print this recipe for your own kitchen be 'green' and paste the bit you want into Word and print. Don't print the blog or you will 'eat the planet') :-)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Happy St. Patricks Day!

March 17th is here again, and allow me to wish you every blessing as you don the green, pinch passers by, drink oddly green colored beer and raise a toast to dear oul Saint Pat. I wonder what he would make of it all, eh?

This year has been especially busy for me with teaching opportunities at Whole Foods, catering, selling, writing, and of course...cooking. Speaking of which, pictued above is the signature dish I have created for Murphys in Virginia Highlands, 'Braised short ribs in Guinness with shallots & peanuts, on a bed of Irish spring potatoes'. I will be there on St. Patricks day to create the dish along with chef Tom Harvey and it should be fun...

Looking forward to teaching my Whole Foods class also, next week on Tuesday evening (spaces are still available...) We will feature the very same dish and I hope you like it....the beef just melts in your mouth!

So here's to dear oul Patrick. The only Englishman famed for Ireland. A slave who returned to love his captors and in so doing won over an entire nation.

Pretty impressive, (even if he didn't drink green beer!)


My husband took this photo whilst in Ireland last year, and it's of St. Pat at the entrance to St. Patricks cathedral in Armagh.(how many times can I say 'St. Patrick in one sentence?) The place where the dear old saint first established the church and converted the king of Tara.
And again, not a drop of green harp in sight!

So, here's to you! Thanks for faithfully reading my blog and for enjoying food just as much as I do. Don the green!

Enjoy!
Judith xo

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Paddy’s Chocolate Mint Pie with an Orange Twist

So here we are again, it's almost S.t Patricks day again and all things Irish are on the horizon. It's also my busiest season with lot's of cooking classes, demos and even an open house to boot....I wonder what ol' St. Pat would think of it all? Not sure about that, but I know he would love this dessert, that's for sure! Hence, the name, 'Paddy's Chocolate mint pie', yum, yum, yum. Oh, and if you know anything about Northern Ireland, and our 'wee history', you'll also get a kick out of the 'orange twist....enough said!

This recipe is also going to be featured in a cooking class I have coming up at Wholefoods in John's Creek, Atlanta. It's part of the menu I developed for Murphy's and I will be putting this together with chef Tom Harvey from Murphys at the event. Should be fun!

So, have a go at this one. It's a crowd pleaser, delcious with the mint flovors blending in the chocolatey base & sauce mix...and it's green. What could possilby be better in March!

Have fun out there!
Judith.

Paddy's Chocolate Mint Pie with an Orange Twist:

• 1 ½ cups chocolate wafer cookie crumbs
• 2 oz butter (1/4 cup butter)
• 32 large marshmallows (8 ½ oz)
• ½ cup (4 fl oz )whole milk
• ¼ cup Crème de menthe
• 2-3 drops of green food coloring
• 2 Tbsp Baileys Irish Cream or white chocolate liqueur
• 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
• sprigs of Mint (to garnish)
• Chocolate Orange sauce (to drizzle)
• 1 orange (use to zest and segment)

Method :

1. To make crust crush cookies in food processor and combine with melted butter. Press in to the bottom of 8 lightly buttered ramekin dishes or a 9” spring form pan. Set pan aside.
2. In a medium saucepan over low heat melt marshmallows in milk stirring with a wooden spoon. Allow to cool.
3. Stir in the Crème de Menthe, Baileys and a few drops of food coloring. Beat heavy whipping cream on to soft peaks appear and slowly fold in green marshmallow mixture.
4. Pour in to prepared ramekins or spring form pan.
5. To serve pies place in center of plate, garnish with a slice of segmented orange and a little orange zest and a spring of mint. Drizzle plate with the Chocolate Orange Sauce.

Orange Chocolate Sauce

• 1 (12 ounce can) evaporated milk
• 12 oz quality semi sweet chocolate
• 1 Tbsp melted butter
• ¼ cup fine granulated sugar
• 1 Tbsp Orange Liqueur or 1 tsp orange essence

Method

1. In a double boiler over a low heat stir together the milk, chocolate and sugar stirring constantly until melted. Remove from heat.
2. Beat in the butter and orange liqueur. Pour in to a glass jar and store in the refrigerator for up to a month.

(As ever, please be truely 'green' by not printing this recipe directly from the blog. Instead copy & paste into Word & print from there. That way, ol' St. Pat will be smiling...)








Sunday, February 7, 2010

Twice Baked Irish Cheese Soufflés

In a few days I will take another small step toward that perverbial 'dream' by teaching a gourmet Irish cooking class at Whole Foods in Alpharetta. I have wanted to do this for ever, and now at last I'm walking into this role, and I'm very excited (As I'm sure you can tell!) To me, Whole Foods is the 'creme de la creme' for foodies in Atlanta and it's an honor to be there.
So, the big question is?.....What am I making?

Well, I'm making several mouth-watering things such as my Beef & Guinness signature dish with Irish champ, etc...but as a starter, I will be teaching the 'art' of creating 'Twice baked Irish Cheese Souffles', which I think will be a winner. (we hope!)

I made these for my family yesterday and they were a BIG hit! The light 'melt-in-your-mouth' quality of the souffles partnered with the richness of the Cashel blue cheese is a match made in foodie heaven. Then, serve the souffles with a crisp mixed green salad in a warm bacon dressing and you will have your dinner guests begging for more!

Why not try these sometime as an elegant starter, or as a light lunch option. You will be suprized just how good these are!

So, wish me luck at Whole Foods!

Judith,

Irish Blue Cheese souffles.

  • 3 Tbsp (1 ½ oz) butter (plus more for greasing ramekins)
  • 1 cup (8oz) whole milk
  • grating of nutmeg
  • 6 Tbsp (1 ½ oz) flour
  • 4 oz Vintage Irish Cheddar cheese (grated)
  • 2 oz Cashel Blue cheese (crumbled) (or Roquefort)
  • 4 eggs (separated)
  • 1 tsp English mustard
  • ¾ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 ½ oz (5 cups) mixed organic greens
  • warm bacon dressing (to drizzle)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 6 ramekin dishes and prepare baking pan for bain-marie (Pan must be at least 2 ‘deep).


2. In a medium size saucepan warm milk, onion and nutmeg and infuse for 10 minutes. Strain liquid in to a small bowl and discard the onion.


3. Prepare béchamel sauce by melting butter in a clean heavy based saucepan. Add the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes until it becomes a glossy, smooth paste, (being careful not to brown.) Whisk in the warmed milk a little at a time and stir until sauce thickens and comes to a gentle boil. Cook for 2 minutes and remove from heat. Stir in cheddar cheese. Beat in egg yolks one at a time and stir in mustard.


4. In a heavy duty mixer beat eggs whites until foamy. To lighten soufflés stir in a little of the egg white mixture and then fold the remaining using a large metal spoon.


5. Fill buttered ramekin dishes. Place them in a prepared pan and fill with boiling water from kettle at least ½” deep. Bake for 20 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool slightly. Turn out each soufflés upside down in to a large buttered baking dish. Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.


6. To reheat the soufflés bring to room temperature. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Sprinkle blue cheese on top of each one and then bake for 25 minute until lightly browned and puffed up.


7. Spoon cream over soufflés and bake for 5 more minutes.


8. Plate mixed greens and drizzle over warm bacon dressing. Serve souffles immediately on the side.


Enjoy!


(oh, and as ever, if you want to print this recipe for your own kitchen I suggest copying the text into Word and printing. If you print this blog you may explode all and every printer you own!)


Monday, January 25, 2010

'Burns' the Scots bard, or burns the fat? You decide!

Ach aye! It’s ‘Burns night’, the one night of the year where we dish out the haggis and dance around with a wee dram o’ whiskey (um, which you will need after eating the haggis…) Ooh yes, and for those of you not familiar with the Scottish bard, you can just take my word for it!

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Anyhoo, if you did have a ‘Burns supper’, let me suggest you get an early night and plan to eat a ‘fat burning’ breakfast to get you going in the morning after all that haggis. Don’t be fat with Burns, burn the fat!

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Doctors also tell us that oatmeal lowers cholesterol and provides us with vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidents. So put away the kilt for another year and start your day off right by adding a few power packed walnuts containing Omega 3 fatty acids with a handful of vitamin rich cranberries. Feeling better? Now, with all that guilt free goodness in your breakfast bowl you can afford a ‘wee’ drop of sweet whiskey sauce to pour over the top and start you day off in the most delicious and healthy way! Speaking from experience I recently dropped more than a few pounds and I am not just sharing a recipe secret, but the best kept one for loosing weight! Blueberries and strawberries are of course not in season but they also are another healthy fat burning topping! Check it out! Time to do away with the deep fried mars bars and heavy fried starches often associated with Scottish food and rethink with another recipe from the Ulster Kitchen to break the myth!..

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Go ahead and cook Ulster-Scots, sure wee Robbie Burns would be proud!...

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Ulster-Scots Oatmeal with Cranberries and whiskey sauce

(serves 4)

  • 7 oz (1 cup) organic steel cut Scots or Irish Oats
  • 1 pint (2 cups) spring water
  • 1 pint (2 cups) milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 Tbsp dried cranberries (roughly chopped)
  • 2 ½ oz toasted walnuts (chopped)

Sweet Whiskey Sauce

  • 6 oz ( ¾ cup) butter
  • 5 oz (3/4 cup) fine granulated sugar
  • 1 egg yolk (beaten)
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 3 Tbsp Irish Whiskey
  • 2 Tbsp heavy whipping cream

Method:

1. Bring water, milk and salt to simmering point in a medium heavy based saucepan. Slowly stir in the steal cut oats, sprinkling lightly so the grains do not stick together in clumps.

2. Stir with a wooden spoon until the oatmeal begins to thicken. After about 5 minutes, reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 30 minutes or until oatmeal is cooked, remembering to stir several times.

3. To make the whiskey sauce combine the butter, water and sugar in a medium heavy based saucepan and stir on low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and slowly whisk in the beaten egg yolk, whiskey, vanilla and heavy whipping cream.

4. Strain sauce in to a wee jug.

5. To enjoy the traditional way, serve the porridge in small individual bowls steaming hot, with the whiskey sauce and cranberries and toasted walnuts on top.

Enjoy!

Judth the I F,.

(*oh, and as ever, if you want to print this recipe for your own kitchen I suggest cutting and pasting this entry into Word and printing, otherwise we will never replenish the Scottish highlands with those fabled trees from the Braveheart movie at all!)