Sunday, September 18, 2011

Irish American Apple & Blackberry Pie

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:

To get this handy PDF in your mail-box either click on this link which will lead you to our website and send me an e-mail:

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

Alas, the end of summer...

So, here it is. Labor Day has passed. The sun is setting that wee bit earlier. The mornings are just that wee bit cooler. The beach holiday is a memory, the neighborhood pool is closing and your car is now just a little less than 3 million degrees when you return to it in the supermarket parking lot! Yes, it's the end of summer.

So, what to do methinks to celebrate this passing of the season? Well, one of my childhood 'end-of-summer' memories is the gleaning of the blackberry bushes that surrounded our farm in Northern Ireland. Sticky fingers, messy shirts and tummy aches accompanied the ritual, but oh how good it was to peruse the blackberry bush and taste that sweet fruit!

Archaeological evidence tells us that people have been eating blackberries for eons, and why not? It's a delicious, easy to obtain fruit that grows easily in a range of climates. In fact, it's almost a weed in Ireland! And, it's versatile, lending itself to jams, syrups, sauces and in this case, a wonderful 'end-of-summer' celebration salad dressing.

Yes folks, here's another sneak peak into our upcoming book; 'The Shamrock and Peach; with a wonderful recipe pinched from it's pages. I give you:

"Golden Pear & Irish Blue Cheese Salad with blackberry balsamic vinaigrette and spiced walnuts"

Enjoy this superb salad as you contemplate the summer that's been, and as ever...enjoy!

Judie the Irish Foodie xx

Salad ingredients (serves 4):

• 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.