Saturday, April 14, 2012

Titanic Asparagus Salad with a Champagne-Saffron Vinaigrette

Today is the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the world's most famous ship. April 14th, 1912, the end of innocence.

As I mentioned in my previous blog, I have researched a fabulous recipe from the first class menu that was served on board Titanic on that fateful day, and I present it to you to mark this solemn occasion as we think back to a time when extravagance was celebrated, exotic tastes were savored and class was a way of life.

I hope you have a go at trying this historic recipe out, and before you get too upset with me, my confession is that I have modernised some wording and weight measurements in order that we may understand it. They may not have used the word 'aurgula' for example, but at least you know what I mean in 21st century America!...apart from this, the recipe is authentic.

Dedicated to all those kitchen staff on the Titanic who perished, unknown and uncelebrated.
Ladies and gentlemen I give you....

Spring Asparagus and Sweet Pepper Arugula Salad with Champagne-Saffron Vinaigrette
(Sixth course, First Class menu served April 14th 1912. RMS Titanic)

(Serves 4)

• 1 lb slender spring asparagus (tough ends trimmed and roasted)
• ¼ sweet yellow pepper (roasted and finely diced)
• ¼ sweet red pepper (roasted and finely diced)
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper to season
• Olive oil (to drizzle)
• 4 cups Arugula salad greens
• 1 ½ oz shaved Ivernia Irish cheese (or Parmesan)

• 4 Tbsp champagne vinegar
• 1 shallot (minced)
• 1 tsp Dijon mustard
• ¼ tsp saffron threads
• 1 Tbsp honey
• ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
• Salt and pepper

How to make it

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Spread asparagus and peppers in a single layer on roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast for 8-10 minutes until crisp tender.
2. To make salad dressing soften the saffron by adding a tsp of boiling water and let it stand for a few minutes to soften. Whisk in the champagne vinegar, minced shallots, honey, mustard and finally add the olive oil in a slow steady drizzle. Season with salt and pepper.
3. In a large bowl combine the Arugula with enough vinaigrette to coat the greens.
4. To assemble the salad arrange in the Arugula in the center of each plate. Arrange the asparagus spears and the roasted red peppers. Finish with drizzling a little more vinaigrette over salad. Sprinkle over Ivernia shavings.

Judie the Irish Foodie!
(check back next week for a glimpse at 21st century Belfast - Titanic town is thriving!)

Oh, Please also check out the itinerary also for our upcoming 'Culture & Culinary' of Ireland, where we will visit the new Titanic museum in Belfast in the Docks where Titanic was built and explore the city of dreams. see attached, and let me know if you're interested!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Titanic- the pride of Belfast in 1912

As a native of Northern Ireland, Belfast is always close to my heart somehow, and this week the entire world seems to be looking on my home city as we mark the centenary of the Titanic disaster. Isn't it amazing how this ship sinking has captured the imaginations of the globe?

The sinking of the Titanic was a watershed moment (mind the pun!) for the Edwardian age. The end of innocence and the beginning of what proved to be the turbulent years of the twentieth century. Before the great disaster there was an optimism about society and the direction of all things, and after disaster the realization that mankind may not be reaching the heights of civilization after all. This picture was also true for Ireland, and for Belfast. Within months of the sinking, Irish society began to convulse and change which would lead to the splitting of the island into two countries and a path of change that continues to this day.

The photograph above is an amazing shot to me (click to see it a bit bigger!) as we view the scene of thousands and thousands of workers leaving Harland & Wolff shipyard in Belfast, Northern Ireland after a days work on the Titanic - which is clearly visible in the background looming large above the city of Belfast. What a sight that must have been!

Belfast in 1912 was a highly motivated, wealthy and industrious city on the cutting edge of technology and advancement. The status of the city was reflected in the many elegant Edwardian building projects that were springing up around the town, which make it such an interesting place to visit today, giving it an aire of elegance. The twentieth century though would prove to be tough on this Edwardian jewel of a city but after one hundred years it really has found it's place in the sun again.

So, in many ways the story of the Titanic is the story of Belfast, and of Northern Ireland. A piece and place of wonder in early times that went into a period of decline, but is emerging today as a major world attraction!
Today massive cruise ships pull into Belfast harbour every week, full of curious tourists who want to see  this famous city, the birthplace of Titanic and of so any stories and culture, and all of this makes me so proud.

To mark the centenary I'm going to post three blogs - this one which looks to Belfast of the past. A second post where I will share an authentic and wonderful recipe that I recreated from the first class menu of the final day of the Titanic's voyage, and a final post giving you a glimpse into the breathtaking elegance of Belfast as it is today. So, there it is!...and if you would like to visit Belfast yourself this year, remember that I am leading a 'Culture and Culinary Tour' to Ireland this summer, created and facilitated by 'Specialized Tours' of New York, and we still have a few spots open so check out the link below:

So, check in with me later in the week for another fascinating installment and a free Titanic recipe!

Till then!
Judie the Irish Foodie.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

What's on your menu for Easter Sunday?

Growing up in Northern Ireland, our family always had Easter Sunday traditions. On Easter Sunday morning, as children we were allowed (at last!) to open our large chocolate Easter eggs that we had been glaring at with envious eyes all week. Those huge globes of chocolaty goodness are a tradition throughout the British Isles and Ireland, and if you stop by a British store, such as the wonderful little 'Corner Shop' on Marietta Square run by my friend Tina, or the equally delightful 'Taste of Britian' over in Norcross owned by my other great friend will see what I mean!

I remember the 'Milk Tray' egg, and the 'Smarties' egg, and the 'Milky Way' egg (with the Milky Way kid on the front), and last but not least the 'Aero' egg. Yummy, yumm yumm in my tumm! Brings back wonderful memories, and if you've never been to Ireland or the UK at this time of year, or been to a British store, you've no idea what I'm talking about do you? Well, ok, check out this photo for a clue:

So, apart from chocolate eggs though...what is on your menu for Easter? Or perhaps you haven't thought about it? Well, here's a suggestion for you....

What about firing up the grill and trying some lamb? Yes, I know, many folks don't do lamb in America...but let me urge you to give it a try, especially at Easter. Here in Georgia we have had unseasonably warm weather. We simply skipped Winter it seems, Spring is more like Summer...and who knows what August will be like so I say we go outdoors this weekend and enjoy it!

Lamb is a flavorful, succulent meat choice and when cooked just right can be a talking point of any meal. This weekend it has added symbolic significance also as millions of Christians around the world celebrate Easter so, what could be more fitting? I just add some of my delicious homemade peach salsa for that Southern touch, and viola!

Happy Easter everyone!

Lamb ingredients (serves 6–8 people):

• 4–6 lbs. boneless leg of lamb (cut into 8 pieces)

Marinade ingredients:

• 6 fl. oz. (¾ cup) natural yogurt
• 2 fl. oz. (¼ cup) Dijon mustard
• juice and zest of 1 lime
• 2 rosemary sprigs (stems removed)
• 2 cloves of garlic
• ½ Vidalia onion
• 1” piece of root ginger (peeled)
• 1 medium red chili pepper (seeds removed)
• 1 tsp. kosher salt
• ½ tsp. ground black pepper

Mint drizzle ingredients:

• Bunch of mint (1½ cups with the stems removed)
• 2 tsp. sugar
• ½ tsp. kosher salt
• 3 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
• 4 fl. oz. (½ cup) olive oil

How to make it:

1. In a food processor or blender mix all the marinade ingredients together to make a smooth paste.
2. Rub the resulting paste all over the cut portions of the lamb and marinade for 4–6 hours or overnight, covered in the refrigerator.
3. Preheat the grill to a high heat.
4. Remove the meat from the marinade and discard the remaining liquid.
5. Place the lamb on the grill and cook on both sides for the first few minutes to sear.
6. Turn the heat down to medium and continue to cook the lamb according to your preference, turning frequently. (The lamb is cooked medium to well after 30–40 minutes.)
7. While the lamb is cooking on the grill, prepare the mint drizzle by placing the mint leaves, sugar, vinegar and salt in a food processor. Pulse in the processor for a few seconds to form a roughly chopped paste, and then slowly blend in the olive oil.
8. Transfer the resulting liquid in to a small bowls and then set aside.
9. When the lamb is cooked according to taste, remove from the grill and let it rest for 10 minutes to allow the juices to settle.
10. To serve, place the lamb in the center of each serving plate then drizzle a little mint dressing onto the plate and spoon some over the meat.
11. Spoon some salsa onto the side of the plate and garnish with a sprig of mint.

Judie the Irish Foodie
(the chocolate egg gobbler!)