Monday, January 24, 2011

Sticky Toffee Pudding

So, what have you been doing during these cold winter days? Lighting the long dormant fire? Sipping hot tea in your favorite polka-dot wooly socks? Or flicking through those annoying travel magazines dreaming of sunny days on sunblest beaches?

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.

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.

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!

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;, 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

Cock-a-leekie Soup

Oh the winter blues! Cabin fever, freezing temps, the snow bound South!? It's enough to get you down, right? Well, never fear, as I am here with a heart-warming, 'pick-me-up', comfort food special right out of the mists of time. A dish Braveheart's 'William Wallace' would have enjoyed. Something to warm you up while we all wait on the ice melting so we can get back to work...I present to you one of our favorites, 'Cock-a-leekie' soup.

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!

Cock-a-Leekie Soup

• 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

(parsley puree)

• 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 with an Irish Coffee!

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 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.