Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Beauty of Ireland-part2

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...


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

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