Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Pancake Tuesday, who knew?

So, do you what today is? Yes,it's Tuesday...and? Yes, it's Mardi Gras...and?

None other than 'Pancake Tuesday'. 'Huh?' I hear you shrug...yes, yet another Irish custom, and this one is a cherished childhood memory of mine that I thought I would share.

So, what is Pancake Tuesday?

Today is also known as 'Shrove Tuesday', 'tis the day before the fasting of Lent begins, so years ago in Ireland this meant having a good old feast of yummy, sticky goodness the day before the chocolate and alcohol were locked away in the build up to Easter. As a child, I remember our school cafeteria serving pancakes of questionable quality on Pancake Tuesday and my Mum and Dad always had pancakes as a side, or a dessert after dinner on Pancake Tuesday.

Sometimes festivities across Ireland and UK would mean pancake tossing competitions, and believe it or believe it not even the fabled Kate, the dear old Duchess of Cambridge along with 'Wills' came to Belfast, Northern Ireland last year to delight the onlookers with her pancake Tuesday tossing skills...William was very impressed I'm sure!

So, there you have it! Yet another piece of Irish fun-factness to store away, and to suitable mark the grand occasion my husband has gracefully agreed to share his secret Saturday morning pancake recipe with the world. It's his one culinary contribution, and of these fluffy rounds of goodness he is very pleased.


Judie the Irish Foodie

(makes around 16 pancakes)

2 eggs
2 cups of flour (shifted)
3Tbs of sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2-3 cups of buttermilk
1/2 stick of Irish butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla flavoring
2 Tsp of vegetable oil

Mix the dry ingredients together first, then add the eggs, butter, vanilla nd finally the buttermilk. Whisk lightly without overbeating and ladle onto the waiting hot griddle!

Believe me, once you've made real pancakes you'll never go back to store-bought mixes again....and sometimes to make these special, I'll whisk up some of my special Irish whiskey caramel sauce to spoon onto them. But that's another blog for another day my friends!!

J the I F

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Irish food for lovers! oooh...

OK, so St. Valentine was a Roman guy I believe, or Spanish, or something...but definitely not Irish, but hey, we Irish can be lovers too, no? Alright, alright, I admit it. When you think of all things romantic, Ireland doesn't spring to mind instantly. You tend to think of beautiful people swooning around with French accents bearing gifts of roses and chocolates with ridiculous moustaches, fabulous hair and overly tight fitting clothes whilst the Irish are stuck in the pub... but I am here to put this injustice to right!!

Yes, believe it or believe it not we Irish can have a romantic side, and this week I have a super duper 'after-dinner' recipe to prove it. Ladies and gentlemen I give you.. 'Winter Tipsy Trifles'. Decadent, delicious and just the thing to round of a perfectly romantic evening with the one that you love.... ahh.

You see, during these dark wintry nights we all need a wee something to lift our spirits. Something dark, sweet and preferably with a kick of whiskey would do the trick! So, I am presenting a wonderful chocolaty treat that will whisk away those cold February blues. Curl up with one of these and your honey bunny before a roaring fire, and all will seem well with the world...

These wonderful desserts are also very easy to make and are a fun Scots-Irish spin on the traditional English Sherry Trifle, using Bushmills Irish whiskey instead of sherry. So, have a go. Make one of these and you never know!!!

Dark Chocolate Custard ingredients:
• 4 egg yolks
• 1 Tbsp corn flour
• 1 cup milk
• 1 cup light cream
• 2 Tbsp sugar
• 11.5 oz (1 1/2 cups) dark organic chocolate (at least 70% cocoa )

How to make it:
1. Gently heat the milk in a small saucepan, being careful not to boil. Remove from the heat.
2. In a clean bowl combine the egg yolks, cornstarch and sugar and gently whisk together.
3. Whisk in the warm milk to egg mixture and then transfer all the combined ingredients to the small saucepan used to heat the milk earlier.
4. Cook the custard on medium-low heat for 2 minutes stirring constantly until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Stir in the chocolate until it has melted.

Irish tipsy trifle ingredients: (serves 4-6)

• 4 oz lady fingers or an 8”sponge cake (cut in to small piece)
• 3 Tbsp raspberry preserves
• 4 Tbsp (¼ cup) raspberry flavored liqueur
• 4 Tbsp (¼ cup) whiskey
• 10 oz raspberries
• 4 Tbsp (¼ cup) sugar (plus 2 Tbsp water)
• Dark chocolate custard (see custard recipe)
• 4 fluid oz (½ cup) heavy whipping cream (1 cup whipped)
• 1 Tbsp fine granulated sugar
• (for the garnish)
• 3 oz (¼ cup) Chocolate (shaved)
• 6 mint sprigs
• 6 raspberries

Hope you enjoy your Valentines Day!
Judie the Irish Foodie.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Neeps & Tatties & Tartan time

So this week I am continuing my early in the year obsession with everything Scottish after just having returned from the most wonderful night, giving a presentation with Gary at the Burns Club of Atlanta, in an authentically recreated Burns cottage right in the middle of the city of Atlanta! A superb and surreal experience that I will blog about next, but as ever, it made me think of what food to pair with the event and, I thought I would serve up a wee Scottish delight in the form of 'Neeps & Tatties'...that's pronounced N-eeeps and Tat- tees. Got it?

Neeps and what?

Actually, they're a fun and incredibly comforting and delicious way to serve root vegetables. Very fitting for these Winter nights (what winter I hear you cry??)

So, the neeps is Scots slang  for parsnips...neeps, nips, get it? And the tatties are the beloved po-tat-o.
Oh yes, never grows old.

So here's the thing...Scots-Irish folks love to mash their root vegetables and when freshly dug from the earth, boiled, seasoned and mashed, there are few more simple pleasures than these. A true comfort food that suits the colder climates in Scotland and Northern Ireland, this simple pairing will never-the-less work as a cold comfort in Appalachia also. Serve the Neeps’n Tatties mashed side by side either on their own, or as a side dish. Enjoy.

Ingredients for the Neeps:

• 1 lb. turnip/rutabagas (peeled & cut into chunks)
• 1 lb. carrots (peeled and quartered)
• 2 tbsp. butter
• 3 tbsp. half cream and milk
• ¼ tsp nutmeg (good pinch)
• 1 tbsp. parsley (chopped)
• 1/2 tsp sea salt
• ¼ tsp. white pepper

Ingredients for the Tatties:

• 2 lbs. white potatoes (peeled & quartered)
• 2 oz. butter
• 4 tbsp. half cream & milk
• 1 tbsp. chives (chopped)
• ½ tsp. sea salt
• ¼ tsp. ground black pepper

How to make the Neeps:

1. Prepare the turnip and carrots then cut into small even pieces.
2. Place the turnip in a pot of cold water and bring to the boil.
3. Cook for 10 minutes before adding the carrots.

1. Cook the vegetables together for a further 20-25 minutes until tender when pierced with a fork.
2. Drain the vegetables and mash them together.
3. Gently heat the milk and butter together, incorporate liquid with the vegetables and stir in the parsley, nutmeg, salt and pepper.

How to make the tatties:

1. Prepare the potatoes and place in pot of cold water.
2. Bring to the boil and cook for 15-20 minutes until tender when pierced with a fork.
3. Drain and dry out by placing the potatoes in metal colander over a saucepan, allowing the heat to gently dry and steam them.
4. Warm the milk and add the butter.
5. Mash potatoes and add wet ingredients.
6. Stir in the chives, salt and pepper.

Judie the Irish Foodie...