Monday, December 19, 2011
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Well, firstly, you actually may be surprised to learn that the cultures are quite similar. The pop culture part of Christmas in America and in the UK and Ireland is the very same. The north pole, elves, snowmen, red nosed reindeer, strange bearded men in red suits invading your home through the chimney, that sort of thing. Yes, that's all the very same. The stores all have the same marketing gimmicks, the TV commercials are all quite similar...so what are the differences I here you cry? Well, below is a few (with my tongue firmly in cheek!):
- Irish people eat turkey and goose for Christmas dinner
- underwhelming Christmas decorating
Hard to believe eh? No Griswold style home lighting theatrics, no lighted reindeer in the garden, no inflatable snowmen, just a sad little tree in the living room. (Pathetic! I hear you cry!)
Of course in America the outdoor lighting is becoming quite spectacular, and fascinating...just like the photo above that I took in my neighborhood tonight. Our very creative neighbors put together a winter wonderland complete with glistening reindeer drinking by a blue lighted stream...superb indeed!
- Christmas crackers, silly hats and terrible jokes
- Brandy fueled Christmas pudding
- Christmas is called Christmas
- The day after Christmas is called Boxing Day, and St. Stephens Day
- Irish people actually like fruit cake
- The Queen's speech
- No eggnog
- ...and lastly, the Christmas sweater is not a joke!
OK, I could go on and on...but that's it. Remember, this is just a bit of 'tongue-in-cheek' fun, so please excuse me!
Hope your Christmas plans are coming together, and look out for a fantastic recipe idea I am planning to make your Christmas dinner special, which I will be posting shortly, so stay tuned!...and as a reminder of the joy of the seasons I'm posting a fun photo of my youngest son in front of the Christmas tree on our porch. This joy is what it's all about!
Festive blessings to you and yours!
Judie the Irish Foodie!
Sunday, December 4, 2011
Gingerbread is an Old World recipe that has somehow become synonymous with Christmas in America as every child builds gingerbread houses and bakes gingerbread men this time of year to please the ‘big man in red’, so let me invite you to get out the spices, warm up the oven, don that awkward snowman sweater and make delightful treats that will please random visitors and distant family members who come to your parties no end!
May you have a continuing wonderful Christmas season, until next time,
Judie the Irish Foodie
(oh, and if you would like a superb Shamrock and Peach Recipe sheet in PDF format, then let me encourage you to go to my new food blog over at Wordpress where I'm now making these formats available for download...absolutely free!! Follow the link below:)
Gingerbread scone ingredients (makes ½ dozen):
• 1 lb. (4 cups) self-rising flour
• 1 tsp. baking powder
• 2 oz. (¼ cup) dark brown sugar
• ¼ tsp. salt
• 1 tsp. ground powdered ginger
• ½ tsp. nutmeg
• ¾ tsp. cinnamon
• 6 oz. (¾ cup) butter (cold and cut into small pieces)
• 1 egg (beaten)
• 4 fl. oz. (½ cup) buttermilk
• 2 fl. oz. (¼ cup) molasses
• egg wash (1 egg beaten with a little water or milk)
How to make them:
1. Preheat your oven to 425° F.
2. Sift the flour with the baking powder then combine the remaining dry ingredients together in a food processor or a large mixing bowl.
3. Cut the cold butter into the mixed dry ingredients then rub the mixture together with your fingertips or add them slowly to a food processor to form a breadcrumb-like texture.
4. Beat the buttermilk, egg, and molasses together in a small bowl and combine with the dry ingredients, mixing well.
5. Turn the resulting dough out onto a lightly floured surface.
6. Knead the dough a few times and then roll it out with a lightly floured rolling pin until it’s about ¾” thick.
7. Cut the scones out of the flattened dough using a 1” biscuit cutter.
8. Brush dough scones with egg wash and place onto a lightly greased baking sheet.
9. Bake 12–15 minutes until well risen and golden brown on top, turning the baking tray halfway through baking time to ensure even baking.
10. Best served warm. Serve sliced in half and slathered with clotted cream.
Clotted cream ingredients (makes just over a cup):
• 3 oz. cream cheese (softened to room temperature)
• 1 Tbsp. fine granulated sugar
• zest of 1 lemon, or orange
• pinch of kosher salt
• 8 fl. oz. (1 cup) heavy whipping cream
How to make the cream:
1. In an electric mixer, combine the cream cheese, lemon zest, sugar, and salt.
2. On low speed, combine the heavy whipping cream into the mixture, being careful not to over-beat, until cream mixture becomes stiff.
3. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Monday, October 17, 2011
Monday, October 10, 2011
It's getting to be quite a tradition now, but every year thousands (and I really mean thousands!) of normally 'happy to be Southern folk' are transformed into 'Braveheart' extras look-a-likes for the pageantry of these wonderful few days in Stone Mountain park in Atlanta. I personally couldn't believe it the first time I went, and now, like a Celtic moth to the blue flame of all things Scottish I'm drawn to this event year after year! Trust me, you should check this out:
But seriously, this year I'm particularly thrilled to be there as a guest chef of Tourism Ireland and I get to hang with and cook with the incredibly talented Irish celeb chef Noel McMeel. Noel and I will be cooking up some wonderful Irish and Scots-Irish treats for visitors to the Tourism Ireland stand in the games and whilst the food vendors offer up soggy fries and horrific plastic burnt burgers we will be giving away hundreds of gourmet Irish treats, all courtesy of our friends at Tourism Ireland.
The goal is to try and paint a true picture of the Scots-Irish beyond all the haggis and kilt things, and with a bit of luck people will see why Northern Ireland is truly a world class destination! (but then again, I'm biased, ain't I?)
If you haven't heard of Noel McMeel...please, please check this chef out. He is the talent behind the Lough Erne resort, home to Rory McIlroy and one of the most incredible golf resorts in Ireland. Noel is just incredibly famous throughout Ireland and the UK for his inventive food presented as an artform, so please have a wee lookie.
Here's a few links to whet the appetite:
So, don that kilt, work on your best 'Shrek' impression and come and check us out this weekend!
Judie the Irish Foodie
Sunday, September 18, 2011
Don't you just love the Autumn, turning leaves, cool mornings, pumpkins, jackets and apple pies!
After a long hot summer (90 plus days of 90 plus degree heat in Atlanta this year!!) it's amazingly, wonderfully cool again in the morning and evenings and as the weather turns cooler and leaves begin to loosen on the trees many of us think of baking again, particularly with the abundance of autumn fruit now available on farm stands and markets across the land, and in my mind I tend to turn first to that classic bake, the apple pie. After all, as I consider the Scots-Irish heritage in both Northern Ireland and Appalachia what could be more classically American and also classically Ulster than the apple pie? Known as apple tarts in Northern Ireland these pies are a great tradition in County Armagh, also known as the Apple County where I grew up. In the autumn I spend an entire Saturday baking these for my freezer so I can enjoy them all winter and if you are like me and plan to make several to freeze, do not slit the top of the crust or bake; wait until you are ready, then prepare.
Also, to give this wonderfully traditional recipe a new twist I have added a taste of blackberries into the mix which add a delightful nuance to the flavor of the tart combining the sweetness of the berries with the sharpness of the apple. The results are just wonderful.
So, if you would like this recipe I've have a new and easy way to get it which should make it much more convienient for all you cooks out there...I have condensed the recipe into an easy-to-read PDF file as below:
Or...jump on over to our new Irish food blog!...yes, I have started a new and improved food blog and will move all my posts over there soons, but I want you to move with me. Here's the link:
Enjoy the turning of the leaves and the delights of autumn!
Judie the Irish Foodie XX
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
• 4 handfuls of salad greens (washed)
• 2 ripe pears (quartered and cored)
• handful of blackberries
• handful of spiced walnuts
• 4 oz. Irish blue cheese
• 2 fl. oz. (¼ cup) blackberry vinaigrette
Blackberry vinaigrette ingredients:
• 5 oz. (1 cup) ripe blackberries
• juice of 1 lemon
• 2 fl. oz. (¼ cup) honey
• 1 shallot (minced)
• 2 fl. oz. (¼ cup) balsamic vinegar
• 6 fl. oz. (¾ cup) olive oil
• sea salt and pepper
How to make it:
1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
2. To make the spiced walnuts, combine the sugar, salt, cinnamon, and cayenne in a bowl.
3. Coat the walnuts in egg white and toss them in the prepared dry mixture.
4. Spread the coated walnuts on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes.
5. Stir the nuts and bake for a further 5 minutes, being careful not to burn.
6. Prepare the vinaigrette by blending the blackberries and lemon juice in the food processor.
7. Strain to remove seeds.
8. Blend strained lemon blackberry purée, shallot, honey, and balsamic vinegar in the processor. Add the oil in a slow, steady drizzle.
9. Season with salt and pepper then refrigerate.
10. To serve, divide the salad mixture between 6 plates, then arrange the pears, blackberries, blue cheese, and a few spiced walnuts on top of each salad mixture.
11. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and serve.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Both looked fabulous as they wandered around Dublin, and I'm sure the chat was great. They visited the sights, the Queen was even tempted to try a pint of Guinness, but to no avail.
Then to top it all off, the Queen was the honored guest at a state banquet in Dublin castle, once the hated seat of British rule in Ireland. Amongst rich symbolism they dined and spoke their way into history.
I would just loved to know what was on the menu! (oh, and check out the beautiful diamond brooch the Queen is wearing, just amazing)
To me, this visit is actually very emotional. A watershed moment in Irish history and to celebrate I'm going to post my favorite food fit for 'tea with the queen'...White Chocolate and Raspberry Buttermilk Scones. They're decadent, delicious and if the Queen came to my house, it's defiantly what I would serve
So, check back this weekend for a recipe fit for a Queen!
Judie the Irish Foodie.
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Lamb is not just as readily available in the US as it is in Ireland, so it takes a little more effort to find the right cut, but the beauty about most slow cooked one pot meals are that they are suited to cheaper cuts of meat. 'Lamb shoulder chops' are very inexpensive, but loaded with flavor when braised and cooked properly, and there is nothing as quintessentially Irish as this stew. The staple dish of most Irish farms.
To be honest it’s been a very long time since I served this classic meal to my boys and I was a little dubious of their response, but delighted when they loved it. It’s a very nutritious meal and goes a long way, particularly if you have a pack of hungry boys to fill like me.
So, give this a spin this Spring time and see what you think! (Oh, and by the way, adding the potatoes in two batches allows the first for thickening the stew and the second to stay in chunks.)
It’s actually also great to prepare the day in advance if you have a busy schedule and need to plan ahead.
Judie the Irish Foodie!
• 2 Lbs. of gigot or shoulder lamb chops (bone-in)
• 1/2 kosher salt
• ½ tsp. ground black pepper
• 2 Tbsp. flour
• 2 Tbsp. olive oil
• 2 Lbs. (about 6 medium potatoes) (peeled and diced in to 1’ chunks)
• 2 medium onions (finely chopped)
• 4 medium carrots (peeled and cut in to 1 ½’ chunks)
• 1 pint (2 cups) water (Condiments)
• Rosemary Salt (1 Tbsp. sea salt to 1 tsp. finely chopped Rosemary) • Parsley (finely chopped)
• Olive oil ( to drizzle)
1. Peel and dice potatoes and carrots. Place in a bowl of cold salted water.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
3. Trim off any visible fat from the lamb chops. Combine flour and salt and pepper. Coat chops in flour mixture. Heat oil in a large heavy ovenproof skillet and braise chops in small batches. Transfer meat to base of an ovenproof dish.
4. Sauté the onion in same skillet used for the lamb for 3-4 minutes.
5. Transfer the onion and half of the potatoes on top of meat.
6. Cover and bake for 1 1/2 hours.
7. Add the rest of the potatoes and carrots and simmer covered for another 30 minutes until vegetables are tender.
8. To serve remove bones from chops and stir meat and vegetables to combine. Place in individual bowls and garnish with rosemary sea salt, chopped parsley and a drizzle of olive oil.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
As you may or may not know, this has been a long running inside joke with us as folks always ask us about this dish in March, and we have always been a little embarrassed to confess that we actually never heard of 'Corned Beef & Cabbage' until we landed on these star-spangled shores. Yup. Corned beef is truly more culturally Jewish than Irish, and a total unknown in Ireland...but it has ended up as the national Irish American dish. Strange but true.
But tell me why I hear you cry? Well, it was actually in the late 19th century that it began to take root. When the Irish emigrated to America and Canada, where both salt and meat were cheaper, they treated beef the same way they would have treated a "bacon joint" at home in Ireland: they soaked it to draw off the excess salt, then braised or boiled it with cabbage, and served it in its own juices with only minimal spicing - may be a bay leaf or so, and some pepper.
This dish, which still turns up on some Irish tables at Easter, has become familiar to people of Irish descent as the traditional favorite to serve on Saint Patrick’s Day. Certainly, there will be many restaurants in Ireland that will be serving Corned Beef and Cabbage on March 17th , but most of them will be doing so just to please the tourists. Truth is, in Ireland there really isn't any one particular Saint Patrick dish to think of.
But hey, why spoil the fun?... if we want Corned Beef & Cabbage, then let's have it! But let's make it a tad more gourmet shall we?
I serve my Corned Beef with curly Kale Colcannon and a Parsley Cheese Sauce which would be traditional in Ireland with a cooked ham or gammon steak. The tangy beef brisket works wonderfully with the cheesy parsley sauce, and the curly kale in the potatoes makes for a very satisfying combination. Serve with your favorite Irish stout and there you are...Irish for the day!
• 2 ½ Lbs Irish potatoes
• ¼ cup milk
• 7 oz Curly Kale (hard stalks removed
• 8 spring onions (finely chopped)
• 1 ½ tsp sea salt
• ¼ tsp black pepper
• 4 oz unsalted Irish butter
• ½ cup heavy whipping cream
• ¼ cup reserved cooking liquid from Kale
• 1 ½ Lb Flat Cut brined Corned Beef
(Parsley Cheese Sauce)
• 2 oz butter
• 2 oz flour
• 1/2 pint whole milk
• 1/4 pint chicken stock
• 1 oz Dubliner Irish Cheese
• 1 tsp Dijon Mustard
• Handful of curly parsley (leafy part only finely chopped)
• Curly Parsley sprigs (for garnsh)
How to make it:
1. To cook the brisket preheat oven to 300 degrees. Wrap up the brisket like a parcel inside a sheet of foil fat side up. Drizzle over a little olive oil and roast for 1 hour per pound leaving 15 minute for meat to rest before carving.
2. To make the Colcannon place potatoes in a large pan of cold salted water with milk, adding just enough water to cover potatoes. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes until the potatoes are soft when pierced with a fork.
3. Drain potatoes with a metal strainer. Set potatoes back on the warm stove top to allow them to dry out a little.
4. In a large saucepan bring water to a roaring boil and blanch Kale for 1 minute. Drain and place Kale in blender pulsing for a few seconds.
5. Melt the butter with the cream and reserved cooking liquid from Kale. Infuse the spring onions cooking for 30 seconds to soften. Mash potatoes and slowly add liquid. Fold in the Kale, salt and pepper.
6. Prepare parsley sauce by melting the butter in a small saucepan. Add the flour and allow cook gently for 1 minute stirring constantly. Whisk in the milk and chicken stock and bring sauce to a simmer and cook for 3-4 minutes. Stir in cheese, mustard and cook for 1 more minute. Season with salt and pepper and stir in chopped parsley.
7. To serve spoon potatoes in to a warmed plate. Place slices of corned beef on top. Drizzle meat and dish with about 2 Tbsp of parsley sauce.
8. Garnish with a small sprig of curly parsley and serve immediately.
Judy the Irish Foodie
Monday, January 24, 2011
Well, dream you may, but for me, this is the time for comfort food! Yes, something cozy. something gooey. Somthing warm and sticky. Something hot and sweet. Yes, it's time for, it's time for....
'Sticky Toffee Pudding!' (hooray!)
Did you ever wonder how the British and Irish survive those ever so long dreary winters? Endless rainy days and freezing fog? Knitting perhaps? Or cracking good chat shows on the dear old BBC? No, here's how....'sticky toffee pudding', and lots of it.
You can tell I love this dish, right? Yes I do, and honestly, every time I make this and serve it to guests we have folks performing 'backflips' over how good it is. America did not know what she was missing!
Go into any decent pub, small hotel or restaurant in Britain and they'll have mountains of this wonderful stuff flowing with sticky, buttery toffee sauce. Why, some people judge restaurants not on the elegance of their wine list, but on the quality of their sticky toffee pudding! Forget the entree, with desserts this good we should just skip the steak and jump straight into the pud! Life is much too short.
Now, I've piqued your interest at this point. right? and you know I have a killer recipe for this superb dessert, right? So, where is it? Well, I do have a killer recipe for this pudding, and it will be in my upcoming book, 'The Shamrock & Peach', but for this blog entry I've decided to just share my joy and tease you into action. So, here's what... if you want the recipe, jump onto my website; http://www.theulsterkitchen.com/, send me an e-mail, and I'll send the recipe to you. How's that?
It's a true winter comfort food, and once you learn the recipe you will spend a lifetime perfecing it, then you will pass it on to yor kids. Trust me, it's that good.
So, throw another log on that fire and light up the stove! Winter can have it's blessings!
Judith the Irish Foodie
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Few Scottish recipes date back as far as this traditional soup which can be traced as all the way to the 16th century. A time of kilts and castles and roaring cooking fires when Scots folk where always going back and forth to Ulster. So, this is an old recipe, but I have given this old bird a new twist with some modern flavors to enliven the ancient experience!
A version of this soup was always cooking on the Aga cooking stove when I was growing up and must be one of the most popular farm house favorites throughout Northern Ireland. Sometimes my mother would replace the rice with barley, and the family recipe did not include the traditional prunes, but most other ingredients are true to tradition.
The chicken left over from the stock pot would typically then be served up with a pot of potatoes as our main course after the soup, just to ensure that nothing was wasted in our home. (in good Ulster-Scots tradition)
So enjoy a warm bowl of this Ulster-Scots favorite as we wait out the winter and look forward to warmer days!
• 10 dried plumbs (6oz)
• 1 small chicken (3 lbs washed with giblets removed)
• 6 medium size leeks (2 lbs) washed and chopped
• 2 oz long grain rice (washed)
• 3 medium carrots (grated)
• water to cover chicken (6 pints)
• Bouquet garni (thyme sprigs, sage, bay leaves)
• 2 tsp salt
• ½ tsp freshly milled black pepper
• 4 slices of smoked bacon
• 1 bunch flat leaf parsley (1 cup with stems removed)
• 2 medium garlic cloves
• 1 oz Kerrygold Ivernia cheese (grated)
• 4 fluid oz olive oil
• zest of one lemon
• 1 tsp kosher salt
How to make it:
1. Soak prunes overnight in cold water.
2. In a medium size saucepan add chicken, half of the leeks, 1 slice of smoky bacon, bouquet garni and enough water to cover the bird. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 ½ hours until the meat is falling off the bone.
4. Strain the stock in to a clean pot. Remove chicken from the bones and discard everything else. Add remaining leeks, grated carrots and dried plumbs and cook for 20 more minutes. Remove from heat and add a portion of the cooked chicken very finely chopped. Taste to adjust seasoning and add salt and pepper.
6. Prepare puree by placing parsley, garlic, cheese and lemon zest in food processor and slowly drizzle olive oil to make a paste. Sautee remaining slices of bacon to crispy and chop.
7. Serve in warmed bowls using a fork to swirl a little parley puree and sprinkles of chopped crispy bacon.
Judith the Irish Foodie
Saturday, January 1, 2011
Happy new year to you my readers, my customers, my friends and anyone else who may stubble across my Irish culinary verbage on this new year occasion! 2010 was a great year for me, and for my small business 'The Ulster Kitchen', and it is my sincere wish that 2011 be even better for us all! So, to celebrate this fine new era, I'm including an absolute favorite...my recipe for the perfect 'Irish Coffee'. What could be better?
An Irish coffee is a way we say welcome and offer hospitality in our home. It’s definitely a celebratory drink, the perfect ending to a great meal and the perfect way to carry on a conversation.
It may surprise you however to know that Irish coffee is a relatively new tradition in Irish terms, created in 1943 by bar man Joe Sheridan. The drink was first served to transatlantic passengers arriving on boats from the USA to Foynes in Co. Limerick and it did not take long for the recipe to spread all over the island. The drink became even more famous in 1952 when a journalist from San Francisco visited Ireland and brought the recipe back home passing it on to Jack Koeppler owner of the Buena Vista. The drink was a huge hit and the rest is history!
Here are the measurements for 1 cup of coffee, and you can make them to order as your guests are ready to enjoy. In Ireland it is traditionally served in a glass, so you can see the dark coffee and whisky base with the floating cream on top. The cream is lightly whipped and not beaten too thick so it will float on the top.
So, raise your glass, tip the tipple, enjoy the comfort and start the new year in style!
Judith the Irish Foodie.
(measure for 1 cup coffee)
• ½ cup strong hot coffee
• 1-2 Tbsp brown sugar (to taste)
• ¼ cup Irish Whiskey
• 2 Tbsp cream (lightly whipped)
• freshly ground nutmeg
1. Beat heavy whipping cream with electric beater until stiff. Set aside in refrigerator until ready to serve coffee.
2. Heat stemmed glass or coffee cup. Place the sugar in the bottom of the glass before adding the freshly brewed coffee. Stir until dissolved.
3. Pour in the Irish Whisky.
4. Top with the freshly whipped cream spooned lightly on top. Sprinkle a little freshly ground nutmeg on top. Do not stir.