Vegetarian

Summer Strawberry Salad

Summer Strawberry Salad

When I think of summer, my mind immediately turns to thoughts of fresh vegetables and fruit, farmer’s markets in full swing and hazy humid weather where all you want is something light and refreshing to eat. And who wants to cook in the kitchen when that time could be so much better spent outside enjoying the sun? Enter our Summer Strawberry Salad: quick, easy, nutritious and delicious. Plus there’s something about these classic salad ingredients that play so well together.

Ingredients

  • Spring mix
  • Strawberries
  • Feta cheese
  • Cashews
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Balsamic vinegar

Okay, so there’s not really a recipe to follow here… throw the first four ingredients on a plate and top with the olive oil and vinegar. Did we mention that it was easy?


IngredientsSummer Strawberry Salad sans dressing

Guinness ketchup

Guinness ketchup put into action


Tired of the blasé condiments you pick up at the grocery store? Has it even dawned on you that there are other options you could choose to top off that burger or dip fries into? Irish Food Revolution has added the rich smoothness of Guinness Stout into a sweet and spicy ketchup that is a perfect complement to anything you’d eat with regular ketchup. The results are full-flavored, sweet and spicy and you probably have most of what you need already on hand.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ onion, diced
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
  • ¼ cup malt vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (reduce or omit if you don’t like spicy heat)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 16 oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • ¾ cup Guinness Stout

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium, then add onions and cook until softened and translucent. Add the remaining ingredients, bring to a boil and simmer for about an hour until thickened. Let cool for a few minutes and add to blender, or simply use an immersion blender. The ketchup should last a few weeks in the fridge.

Ingredients
Everything you need to make Guinness Ketchup

All of the ingredients cooking
All of the ingredients beginning to simmer

Ready to blend
Ready to blend

Guinness Ketchup

Coconut and blackcurrant chocolates

Coconut blackcurrant chocolates

Recently we were browsing through an international market named Kazimierz in Kittery, Maine and stumbled upon an old favorite — blackcurrant hard candies. We took a container home and fumbled around with some recipes until we hit upon a simple mix that combined chocolate, coconut and the crunchy, unique flavor of blackcurrant candies. They didn’t last long.

There are just a few ingredients in this recipe and it couldn’t be much easier to whip up a batch. We used chocolate molds, which are available at most craft stores, but you could use small ice cube trays or mini muffin cups in a pinch. The candies melt into the chocolate a bit, but there’s still enough crunch to keep things interesting. Just make sure not to turn the candy into dust.

Ingredients (makes 20-22 chocolates)

  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • ¼ cup cacao (or cocoa)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3-4 hard blackcurrant candies (you can substitute mints or whatever hard candies you prefer)
  • (Optional) powdered sugar

Place candies in a sandwich bag and smash into bits (bigger than pulverized — enough to offer some crunch) with a kitchen hammer. Sprinkle a little in each of the chocolate molds.

In a saucepan over low heat, melt the coconut oil. When it is just liquified, add the honey and whisk to combine, removing from heat. Add the vanilla and cacao and whisk until smooth. Spoon into molds and refrigerate until solid, 30-45 minutes. If desired, sprinkle with powdered sugar. And that’s it.

Ingredients
Pretty basic ingredients

Coconut oil and honey just melted
Coconut oil and honey heated until just melted

Ready to pour
Chocolate ready to pour

Molds with crushed blackcurrant candies
Molds with crushed blackcurrant pieces

Ready to cool
Chocolates ready to refrigerate

Ready to eat

Dublin French Toast

Dublin French Toast


Tired of limp French toast? Can you power through a day without the sausage and bacon? You bet you can. And our version is hearty enough that you won’t even miss the meat. We used our own brown soda bread rather than the pale white excuse for bread that passes the muster most elsewhere. Throw on your favorite toppings and you’ll have a breakfast fit for a marathoner.

Ingredients
2-4 slices thick cut brown soda bread
2-3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon brown sugar
½ cup milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs

Pictured toppings
Real maple syrup
Strawberries (optional)
Banana slices (optional)
Powdered sugar (optional)

Place a frying pan on medium heat.

Whisk two eggs until frothy. Stir milk, vanilla, cinnamon, brown sugar and salt into egg mixture. Stir or whisk well to combine.

Soak bread slices in egg mixture, flipping with tongs until bread is pretty well saturated — a minute or so per slice. Set soaked bread on a plate.

Spoon 2 tablespoons of butter into the frying pan and heat until melted, tilting the pan or using a spatula to coat the bottom of the pan. Place soaked bread in pan and cook until underside is browned, flipping and repeating with the second side. Add more butter if desired or if you’re making more than two slices.

Serve warm with plenty of real maple syrup and/or any combination of powdered sugar, fruit, berries or jam.


Egg mix
The egg mix ready to combine

Ready to dip
Ready to soak

Soda bread soaking
Soaking the brown soda bread

Dublin French Toast frying
Frying the soaked bread

Dublin French Toast

Strawberry shrub

Strawberry shrub

Under categories, I’ve labeled this Strawberry shrub as quick and easy. Though technically it takes several days, the prep is about as quick and easy as it gets, so I feel vindicated.

Let’s start with the definition of a shrub. Some of you might know a shrub as a mix of fruit juice and liquor, but vinegar is a fine substitute and it’s what I’m using here. I like to have some around at parties so teetotalers have something interesting from which to choose. It not only makes a refreshing soda type beverage, but it can also be an ingredient in alcoholic drinks as well (sangria, gin fizz) or in salad dressings, desserts or even sweet and savory dishes.

Shrubs have been around for centuries and were originally a way of preserving summer flavors through the winter. The two mainstays of this basic shrub syrup are sugar and vinegar. Obviously the type of vinegar you choose will affect the end results, but for me, the fun comes in choosing the flavor. For ease I’ve chosen fresh strawberries. You can try substituting other flavors as well, like citrus - lemon/orange (avoid lime); peach; apple, berries, or combinations thereof. Then try to pare a vinegar to match your flavor, apple cider vinegar for apple shrub, for example.

Keeping a ratio of 1-1-1 is the trick. I’ve used 2 cups of strawberries, 2 cups of sugar and 2 cups of vinegar - simple. And you won’t believe the results - unique and delicious. You can vary the strength by adding it to seltzer, which is my favorite way to use this. You can have anything from mildly flavored to strong and sweet with a hint of tart. The vinegar indeed comes through, but it is remarkably refreshing with the sugar to balance things out.

The acid in the vinegar helps to preserve the syrup, but it should still be kept in the fridge nonetheless.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups strawberries (I used frozen for convenience. They’re generally picked at their peak and frozen soon afterward.)
  • 2 cups raw sugar (Feel free to use refined, but the hint of molasses gives it a little more interest for me.)
  • 1¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ¾ cup apple cider vinegar

If frozen, thaw the strawberries enough to be able to slice. Slice or mash the strawberries a little bit (quartering them is enough). Mix the strawberries and sugar in a bowl, cover and place in the fridge for two days, stirring a couple times along the way. Stirring will help to mix the sugar into the berries as the whole concoction “melts.”

Remove the bowl from the fridge, strain out the strawberries, making sure to push down on them to extract as much syrup as you can. Discard the remaining berries. They will be fairly broken down. This will leave a syrup. Stir in the apple cider vinegar and balsamic vinegar and place the mix in a jar or sealable bottle. Store in the fridge for two more days or until the sugar is fully dissolved.

Mix into seltzer at whatever ratio you like, top with ice and enjoy. Then try variations of the recipe: red wine vinegar, ginger, peaches, plums, pomegranates. Experimentation with such a simple recipe is a fun way to try new flavors. One of my favorites is 2 cups of blueberries, 2 cups of sugar, 1 cup of apple cider vinegar and 1 cup of red wine vinegar - fruity and smooth.

Strawberries and sugar
Strawberries mixed with sugar

Strawberries and sugar after two days
What strawberries and sugar look like after two days

Ready to mix
Ready to mix the syrup with the vinegar

Bottled strawberry shrub
Bottled and ready to add flavor at a moment’s notice

Healthy and Easy Banana Oat Bars

Healthy banana oat bars


Easy, healthy, gluten free, vegan and tasty — there truly is no downside to these chewy banana oat bars.

The demand for bananas in Ireland and the UK began in the late 19th century, with the famous “banana boats” bringing in vast amounts of the fruit (actually it’s an herb), along with passengers, but as recently as a few decades ago the banana was still considered quite exotic in Ireland. Nowadays Tesco (grocery chain) reports bananas are the most popular item among all the fruits and vegetables that it sells with apologies to cauliflower and kale at the bottom of the heap.

Bananas provide our bar’s overall sweetness and hold everything together, while dried cranberries give them a sweet punch. Feel free to swap chocolate chips or any other dried fruit if you want to go that route. These are slightly sweet, so don’t expect cupcake levels of sugar. For a tropical flavor (believe it or not, Ireland is a tropical island), I’ve added coconut as well.

Ingredients (makes 9 squares)

  • Spray oil (alternatively coconut oil would complement the dish quite well)
  • 2 large ripe bananas
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries (unsweetened - who needs the added sugar?)
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds/pumpkin seed mixture (use one or the other, both, or even substitute your favorite chopped nuts)
  • ¼ cup shredded coconut (I use unsweetened)
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • Cinnamon for dusting (optional)

Heat oven to 350° Fahrenheit. Oil 8”x8” pan with spray oil or coconut oil.

Mash the bananas well in a medium bowl so that they are basically liquid. This should result in a cup or a little more or bananas. Add the salt, vanilla extract, dried cranberries, nut/seed mixture, shredded coconut and rolled oats. Mix to combine.

Spoon the mixture into the pan and flatten evenly. Dust with cinnamon if desired. Bake for 30 minutes or until the edges begin to brown. Place the pan on a cooling rack until it is cool to the touch, then slice into 9 bars. Enjoy with a cup of tea or a cold glass of milk. The bars should keep sealed at room temperature for 4-5 days. Alternatively, you can make several batches and freeze some for an easy snack or breakfast when you’re rushed.

Mashed bananas
Mashed banana

Ready to add the oats
Everything except the oats

Oat bars ready to bake
Ready to bake

Banana oat bars for breakfast
A quick breakfast

Overloaded Potato and Garlic pizza

Overloaded Potato and Garlic Pizza closeup


One of the golden guidelines of making pizzas is not to overload them. But you have to know when to throw the rules out the window. Case in point: our overloaded potato and garlic pizza. This isn’t your cookie cutter, corner store pizza. It’s a savory sweet concoction unlike anything you’ve tasted. It comes topped with crispy potatoes, sautéed red onions, sharp cheddar cheese, plenty of garlic and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar glaze.

The secret to the potatoes is to grate and soak them to reduce the amount of sticky starch. Grating allows you to take only what you bite from a slice and not half the toppings, while their color adds to the pizza’s visual pop. Sautéing the onions also creates a sweet base for the potatoes to play off, as does the balsamic glaze. The cheddar cheese? Well, what better to complement potatoes?

Ingredients

  • 2 medium/large red potatoes
  • 1 large red onion
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 package prepared pizza dough (store bought works fine, but remove from fridge a half hour before you use so it has a chance to warm up a bit)
  • 3 oz. grated sharp cheddar cheese (Please grate your own. The pre-packaged stuff just isn’t the same.)
  • Balsamic glaze (available in most vinegar sections)

Preheat oven to 500° Fahrenheit.

Scrub the potatoes under running water, then grate them, leaving skin intact for color, into a bowl of water using a large grater. Soak the potatoes for at least a half hour, but preferably an hour, changing the water a few times while stirring the potatoes to clear out the starch. Meanwhile slice one red onion into small pieces. No need to dice. In a pan over medium heat, drop a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and heat for a few seconds before adding the onion and adding a dash of salt. Sauté until the onions turn brown and sweet, 20-30 minutes. Add 2 cloves minced garlic in the last minute and remove from heat.

Drain the potatoes in a colander and squeeze them as dry as you can. I usually squeeze them out for several minutes before employing paper towels. This is an important step as they will be saturated with water which otherwise could prevent browning and make the pizza soggy. While still in the colander sprinkle the potatoes with a pinch or two of salt and stir to distribute (which will further help extract water) and pepper.

Flatten the pizza dough and place on a well oiled pizza pan (the holes in the pan help to crisp the crust). Drizzle extra virgin olive oil onto the crust and brush to spread a think coat evenly. Spread 4 cloves minced garlic on top of the oil, then spread the onion mixture evenly on top of that.

Add 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil to the potatoes and pile evenly on the top of the pizza. As a recommendation, start on the outside of the pizza and work your way in making sure not to center load. This is more topping than I would normally put on a pizza, but it works. Sprinkle grated cheddar cheese on top of that, once again starting around the rim and working inward.

Bake at 500° Fahrenheit for 15-20 minutes or until cheese and crust are golden brown and bits of potatoes have crisped up. Remove from the oven and drizzle balsamic glaze on top. Slice and serve with more balsamic glaze for dipping and/or chopped chives sprinkled on top for a little color and freshness. C
utting this pizza into smaller slices will give you a unique appetizer sure to impress.


Soaking the potatoes
Soaking the potatoes

Raw onions
Small slices, but no need to dice the onions

Sauteed onions
These are looking ready

Shredded soaked potatoes
Make sure the soaked potatoes are as dry as you can get them

Onions and garlic added
Extra virgin olive oil, garlic and onions added

Ready to bake
Ready to bake

Pizza fresh from the oven
Hot out of the oven

Fresh chives sprinkled on top
Fresh chives sprinkled on top

A slice of potato pizza

Toasties and egg

Grilled cheese with arugula, egg and balsamic glaze

We’ve taken toasties (grilled cheese) and bumped it up a notch with arugula, then topped it with a sunny-side-up egg and balsamic glaze, and served it with a side of fried tomatoes rather than the traditional tomato soup. It makes a meal that’s equally delicious for breakfast or lunch. Our recipe is made with thick-cut slices of our own soda bread, but feel free to substitute. Either way you’ll want a fork and knife to tackle this flavor powerhouse.

Ingredients (for one sandwich)

  • 2 slices of bread (I used our own homemade brown soda bread)
  • 1-2 ounces sharp cheddar cheese grated or sliced (or whatever your preference is, but use real cheese, not cheese product. Your taste buds will thank you.)
  • Handful of arugula
  • Butter
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ tomato sliced
  • Balsamic glaze (optional. Glaze is a sweet balsamic vinegar reduction and usually sits near the balsamic vinegar at a grocery store.)

Preheat oven to 300° Fahrenheit and a skillet over medium low heat. Butter two slices of bread and place one on the skillet butter side down. Top with cheese and arugula and cover the skillet to keep in the heat. Cook about two minutes and add tomato to the skillet, sprinkling the tomatoes with salt and pepper and recovering the pan. Continue cooking until the underside of the sandwich is golden brown and cheese is melted, about 2 more minutes. Place the second slice of bread on top — butter on the outside — and flip the sandwich using a spatula and your hand. Compress sandwich a bit with the spatula. Flip the tomatoes. Cover the pan and cook the sandwich and tomatoes until underside of sandwich is golden brown, 2-3 minutes. Place sandwich and tomatoes on oven safe plate in oven to keep warm.

Melt ½ tablespoon of butter into pan and crack egg into butter. If using a nonstick pan, you can reduce the amount of butter. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until whites are set, but the yolk is still runny, about 2 minutes.

Remove plate from oven and top the sandwich with the egg and more arugula if desired. Drizzle balsamic glaze over the top of everything. Serve with a fork and knife.

The sandwich ready to assemble
Ready to assemble.

Frying the sandwich bottom and tomatoes
Frying the sandwich and tomatoes.

The egg frying in the pan.
Nearly there…

The finished sandwich
Grilled cheese, arugula and egg with a side of fried tomatoes.

The sandwich with balsamic glaze
Looking for that extra punch? Drizzle some balsamic glaze over the sandwich and tomatoes.

Soda bread

Fresh from the oven

You’d be hard pressed to find an Irish kitchen without a recipe or two for brown soda bread, the old hearty standby that puts any store bought loaf to shame. It’s basic, but practically required Irish home-cooking. Our recipe produces a soft, nutty loaf equally at home with a bowl of soup, as part of a sandwich or just by itself with a spot of butter and/or jam. One of the great aspects of brown bread is that you can enjoy it sweet or salty depending on how you pair it. Toasted soda bread with butter and honey (one of James Joyce’s favorites) is a classic for a reason. I like to make a loaf a week to keep on hand.

Ingredients (one loaf)

  • 2½ cups whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • ½ cup steel cut oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 325° Fahrenheit. Coat a 9x5 loaf pan with cooking spray, line with parchment paper and coat the paper with spray.

Combine dry ingredients; combine wet ingredients; then add wet mixture to dry and mix until combined, taking care not to over mix. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan and flatten with a wet spoon. If desired, sprinkle more oats on top. Bake for 65 minutes or until crust is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove loaf from pan and parchment paper and cool on a rack.

Wrapped in tinfoil or plastic, bread should last several days up to about a week at room temperature and will last longer if refrigerated or frozen.

Looking to create a delicious sandwich with this bread? Try our Toastie and egg.

Gathering the ingredients
Gathering the ingredients.

Wet and dry ready to mix
Wet and dry ready to mix.

Ready to bake
In the pan, ready to bake. So simple, but so perfect.

Soda bread disappearing
A blank slate.

butter-honey
Butter and unfiltered honey topped soda bread. Cue James Joyce.

Foraging for Elderflowers


Bottle of cordial


Elderflower marks my first time truly foraging for food. The fantasy of foraging through the woods on a hot summer day has played around in my mind for years. I originally toyed with the concept before making the seaweed salad, but due to zero experience, I ended up purchasing it. A safer route for the inexperienced. You can buy elderflower cordial at many European style markets.

Foraging is a great deal more complex than it first appears. Make sure that you do not forage for anything the first time without an informed guide. Elderflower is quite similar to White Hemlock (poisonous, I believe) so I decided to enlist the assistance of a more knowledgable friend. Maria from NH Home Grown Eats was glad to show me the ropes. She also makes a mean elderflower cordial so proved invaluable to the learning process. We picked the elderflowers first thing in the morning when first in bloom. The end of June is a great time in New England to find it.

Maria picking elderflowers
Maria from NH Home Grown Eats picks elderflowers

Elderflower cordial developed into a bit of a habit during the recent trip to Ireland. After purchasing Ballymaloe Cookery School’s cordial at Midleton Farmer’s Market, and pairing it with Highbank Orchard’s Gin, the drink turned into a ritual on the trip. It was a sad day when the gin and cordial reached the last drop. Upon returning to the States, I was excited to try my hand at making my own cordial.

Imen McDonnell has a lovely sounding recipe for elderflower/honeysuckle cordial and Darina Allen has one for a more straightforward cordial. Both recipes are helpful to read as an overview for the general steps involved. In the end, I decided to go a slightly different route after looking over a few more recipes and talking with Maria. My final recipe worked well with my schedule and turned out quite nicely (it takes a few days to make – but fairly easy).

Basket and lemon jug
Elderflowers in a basket, next to a jar of Maria’s fermenting Elderflower soda


Elderflower Cordial


Ingredients

  • 25-30 Elderflower heads
  • 5 cups of cold filtered water
  • 3 large lemons (washed, organic, non-waxed are preferable)
  • 4 cups of cane sugar
  • 1 tsp of citric acid

Shake off the flowers to discard any insects. Remove the flowers from the stem (pull off just the flowers, otherwise, the stems can be toxic) and place in a large jar with a decent seal. Slice up the lemons and put them in the jar. Boil the water and pour into the jar. Close it, let it cool for about 30 minutes. Put the jar in the fridge for three days.

After three days, strain the infused liquid into a large saucepan (my ceramic coated, 5 quart dutch oven worked great). I used a fine mesh sieve to strain it, but a cheesecloth is recommended. Next, add in the sugar and citric acid. Slowly heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring often. Bring to a very gentle simmer (needs to bubble), cook for a few minutes, then using a funnel, pour into a flip top soda type bottles. 1 liter bottle, plus a smaller .5 liter bottle did the trick. Complete this step in the sink since it will spill. I poured my mixture into a smaller bowl and then bottled it – the dutch oven was rather heavy for pouring. However, I still managed to spill the sticky cordial in the oddest of places. Finding sticky spots days later and the fruit flies are having a field day- but worth it!

Allow to cool a bit and then store in the fridge. The citric acid helps preserve the cordial, so it should keep up to a year.

edlerflowers
Elderflower “head” partially in bloom. Only use the ones in full bloom.


I am also trying my hand at elderflower soda, following a recipe from Darina Allen. The soda can take up to two weeks to ferment, so I will keep you posted!

After making the cordial, it is fun coming up with ways to include the lovely stuff in recipes. So far, drinks have been the focus (tough, I know!). My favorite non-alcoholic beverage is simply seltzer and cordial in a glass with ice (add gin for the adult version). My favorite alcoholic creation uses orange as the focus. Elderflower cordial is often made with oranges; since I did not use orange in my cordial, it seemed a wonderful mixer.

Elderflower cordial in a glass



Summer in a Glass


Ingredients

  • 1 oz Elderflower Cordial (either homemade or store bought)
  • 1 oz Vodka
  • Club soda
  • Juice of half a medium organic orange
  • Orange slice
  • Ice

In a shaker mix the cordial, gin, and orange juice. Shake gently. Pour into a glass with ice, top up with club soda (or tonic water). Garnish with an orange slice. Tastes like summer in a glass!



Edlerflower shrubs





Maple cinnamon scones and whipped cream

Maple Cinnamon Scone-served


One of the greatest pleasures in life is tea and scones — the lightly sweet buttery crumbliness of these traditional cakes is proof that there’s a reason classics endure. But how do you improve on a time-tested winner?

A recent meal at McCambridge’s in Dublin provided the answer for me. My breakfast was served with fresh maple syrup and I realized maple and cinnamon would blend perfectly into a scone, so I created my own version. Along the way, the concept of maple cinnamon whipped cream seemed to fit the bill for an accompaniment and I set about putting it all together.

Ingredients (makes one cake)

For the scones

  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon + more for sprinkling
  • ⅓ cup currants
  • 6 tablespoons cold butter
  • Scant ½ cup buttermilk
  • ¼ cup minus 1 teaspoon real maple syrup + more syrup for drizzling
  • 1 teaspoon table sugar

For the whipped cream
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons real maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon

For the scones
Preheat oven to 425° Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly grease.

Combine flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda and cinnamon in a bowl. Stir in currants.

Cut in butter with pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add buttermilk and maple syrup and stir until the mixture forms a soft, sticky dough that clings together. With wet hands to prevent sticking, form the mixture into a ball and pat into an 8-inch round on prepared baking sheet. Cut into 8 wedges and sprinkle with teaspoon of table sugar.

Bake 15-18 minutes or until lightly browned. About 7-8 minutes into baking, carefully line the edges of the cake with tin foil to prevent burning. Maple syrup browns more quickly than sugar, so keep a close watch.

For the whipped cream
Chill a high edged bowl in the freezer. After a few minutes, place whipping cream into bowl and beat at high speed using an electric hand mixer until the cream starts to thicken. Add the syrup, vanilla extract and cinnamon and continue whipping to desired consistency.

Serving
The scones may need to be recut after baking. Drizzle maple syrup on a plate, place a scone on top, dollop a spoonful of whipped cream next to it and sprinkle the plate with cinnamon. Scones served warm are delightful, but room temperature is nothing to scowl at.

Storing note
The scones will keep for up to a week in the fridge if they last that long. If you have leftover whipped cream, dollop individual servings onto a parchment lined baking sheet and freeze until solid. Then place into a freezer bag for longer term storage. (Try it on top of hot chocolate.)

Scone dry ingredients
The mixture with butter cut in.

Maple Cinnamon Scone-raw
Ready to bake.

Maple cinnamon scone-baked
Out of the oven.

P.A.C.E. Wrap

Potato, asparagus, cheese and egg wrap

I’ve tossed together some of my favorite brunch ingredients to make my own P.A.C.E. wrap (potato, asparagus, cheese and egg). Then I tossed in a bite of healthy yogurt and a dash of balsamic vinegar for zing. No need to feel guilty with this one, though you might have a hard time convincing your taste buds.

Ingredients (makes two wraps)

  • 2 medium red potatoes
  • ½ lb. fresh asparagus
  • 2 large eggs (preferably organic)
  • Cheddar cheese (I used Kerrygold Aged Cheddar)
  • 1-2 green onions (scallions)
  • 2 wraps of your choice (avoid any with hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils as those are your trans-fats)
  • 1½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons yogurt (preferably non-sweetened, full fat and grass-fed)
  • White vinegar
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Salt
  • Pepper

PACE ingredients

Preheat oven to 400° fahrenheit. Wash and dry potatoes and asparagus. Snap and discard woody ends off asparagus and snap each stalk into 2-3 pieces. Cut potatoes into 1” chunks. Place potatoes and asparagus pieces into a sealable gallon bag, toss with 1½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and a pinch and a half of salt. Roast vegetables on roasting sheet for 20 minutes, stirring several times.

Meanwhile, rinse and dry 1-2 green onions and slice into thin rounds. Cut a few thin slices of cheese and crumble into small bits or just shred enough to fill ½ cup loose give or take.

Fill a small saucepan with a few inches of water and bring to a boil with 1 teaspoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of white vinegar.

After the potatoes and asparagus have roasted for 20 minutes, remove from the oven and gather into a pile on the roasting sheet. Cover with the crumbled/shredded cheese and return to the oven for five more minutes.

One at a time, crack cold eggs into a small bowl or ramekin, stir the boiling water to create a whirlpool. Pour an egg at a time from the small bowl into the center of the whirlpool (this should help keep the egg neat). Remove from heat and cover with a towel for 5 minutes.

Smear a tablespoon of yogurt on the center each wrap, sprinkle a few green onion slices on top and drizzle on a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar.

When the vegetables have roasted for five minutes, remove from the oven and stir to combine with the melted cheese, then spoon half the mixture onto each wrap, ensuring that the mixture is at least an inch from the edges. It is important not to overfill the wraps.

Remove the eggs from the water with a slotted spoon and place one on top of each wrap. Add a dash of salt and freshly ground pepper to the top of each wrap. Then carefully fold the top and bottom ends of each wrap inward slightly covering the ingredients and roll one side edge into a tube to make a fully enclosed wrap. Slice each wrap in half and enjoy. Try these with Irish beans.

Ready to roast
Ready to roast

Roasted with cheese
Roasted with cheese

Ready to roll
Ready to roll

Pub sandwiches

Party sandwiches


So the big rugby match is on and you’re looking for something simple and satisfying. Maybe some friends are coming over for tea and you don’t have time to run to the store. Rest assured, the Irish have an answer and there’s a good chance you already have the ingredients: party sandwiches. These little goodies are proof that the simplest foods can be the tastiest.

I’m making three types — egg, cucumber and ham — and they’ll be scarfed down by the score. Vegan friendly butter can be substituted on the cucumber sandwiches to accommodate vegan friends.

Traditionally the Irish have used white bread for these bites, but increasingly you’ll find healthier options. I’ve used seeded rye for the extra flavor.

Ingredients (makes three sandwiches)

  • 2 peeled hard boiled eggs (I place eggs in a pot covered in cool water, bring just to a boil, remove from heat and cover with a towel for 12 minutes)
  • Sliced ham
  • Cucumber
  • Butter
  • Bread
  • 2 Tablespoons Mayonnaise
  • Dill weed
  • Salt

Slice crusts off bread

Egg salad

For the egg sandwich:
Dice eggs and combine in bowl with mayonnaise, a pinch and a half of dill weed and a dash of salt. Spoon egg mixture onto one slice of bread (there will be a little leftover); cover with second slice of bread.

For the ham sandwich:
Cut several layers of thinly sliced ham to fit the bread; place them flat on one slice of bread; butter second slice generously and cover.

For the cucumber sandwich:
Cut cucumber into ¼“ slices (or paper thin if you prefer); layer on first slice of bread; butter second slice generously and cover.

Quarter each sandwich and serve.

Party sandwiches open

Chocolate Blackcurrant Smoothie

Chocolate blackcurrant smoothie


Most people aren’t aware that the Irish are among the biggest consumers of chocolate per capita in the world. Forbes ranked them number three behind Germany (#2) and Switzerland (#1). It’s easy to understand when you realize that Irish chocolate is also among the best in the world.

We’ve combined the Irish love of chocolate with one of the country’s favorite berries, the blackcurrant, and created a delicious frozen treat. The blackcurrant is a tart berry and fares well with the added sugar in jams. It is the backbone of one of the country’s most popular beverages, Ribena, which we’ve used as flavoring in this smoothie. It’s also used as an herbal medicine in Europe and is catching on in the States for good reasons. High in Omega-6 fatty acids, it helps to reduce inflammation in the body, is sky high in antioxidants, has 3-4 times the vitamin C of oranges based on serving weight and can help lower blood pressure. Combine those superfood qualities with the anti-oxidant power of pure cacao powder and the nutrient dense, fiber and protein rich, antioxidant knockout punch of chia seeds and you’ll have reasons to smile at this sweet concoction.

Keep in mind, Ribena contains a fair amount of sugar, so we couldn’t list this as a healthy drink.

Ingredients (makes two 14 once servings)

  • 1 frozen banana (break banana into 4-5 segments before freezing)
  • 2 tablespoons cacao powder
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds
  • 1½ cups Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk, chilled
  • ½ cup Ribena Blackcurrant Concentrate (sold in some international aisles), chilled
  • 7-8 ice cubes

Combine ingredients in blender, placing the harder items on top. Blend until smooth.

Berries and cream

Blueberries and cream


No one is going to hold it against you. You don’t have time to prepare all the food you’d like to. No one does (especially as I prepare for my trip to Ireland!). But if you have even five minutes you can create a delectable sweet and creamy treat and take in a load of antioxidants at the same time. Okay, so the cream might outweigh the benefits of the berries, but who’s counting? You can hold your head up high knowing your indulgence is also packed with an all-natural superfood.

Organic whipping cream is a healthier alternative to the regular brands found in the supermarket, but it’s also sometimes pretty hard to find. If you can buy organic, use it. If not… well, it is dessert after all. And while fresh blueberries aren’t found on the Dirty Dozen list (compiled by the Environmental Working Group) this year (2016), they are often listed on it, having had more than 50 pesticides detected as residue on them by the US Department of Agriculture. Frozen blueberries seem to be a little safer, but frozen just won’t cut the mustard when it comes to berries and cream. You can, of course change up the type of berries you use or even create a mix, but keep in mind that non-organic strawberries are one of the greatest pesticide-laden culprits according to the Environmental Working Group.

We’ve omitted one of the main ingredients usually found in whipped cream: sugar. For us, the berries add enough sweetness and added sugar is now considered one of the worst things you can ingest. Try just berries and cream; you may not go back.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 1 cup organic heavy whipping cream (makes two cups)
  • Fresh organic blueberries (or berries of your choice)

Store everything in the refrigerator including the bowl until you are ready to make the cream. The colder you keep things, the easier and better the cream will whip up.

Pour the cream into a mixing bowl and whip with an electric mixer on high, making sure to move the beater around the bowl and change directions occasionally. You can use a hand whisk, but be prepared for a forearm workout. Beat until the cream thickens, usually a few minutes. Feel free to whip until it forms stiffer peaks, but be careful not to overdo it as it will quickly turn into butter. If the cream turns thicker than you like, you can mix in a little more cold, unwhipped cream to loosen it.

Spoon the desired amount of cream into a bowl and top with washed berries.

Farmer Cheese, Potato, and Tarragon Quiche


Imen and Libby
Me with the lovely Imen McDonnell, Fare Plate/ Refinery Rooftop


On March 12, 2016, I traveled to New York City to attend Fare Plate, an Irish food tasting event held at the lovely Refinery Rooftop. Featured at the event was the food of Imen McDonnell, an American woman living on an Irish farm and a brand-new cookbook author (The Farmette Cookbook). She is living my dream! And is the nicest woman. I encountered her on twitter (@modernfarmette) and it was an honor to meet her in person. She has a great blog too: www.farmette.ie

I travelled home eagerly the five hours from New York with my new signed cookbook; so far I have made her brown bread (amazing!), and I continue to drool over the pictures as well as be enthralled with her storytelling; she has led such an interesting life. But the most exciting thing for me was making my own cheese! I thank her for the inspiration! After making the cheese, I even developed a new recipe to feature my creation (see the crustless quiche below).

Imen McDonnell's brown bread
Best Brown Bread, The Farmette Cookbook, recipe on page 41 (all photos ©Irish Food Revolution unless otherwise noted)

Butter and bread on cheese
Best Brown Bread with Kerrygold butter and drizzled honey (ate too much of this one!)


My First Cheese: Basic Farmer Cheese, page 12, The Farmette Cookbook (available on Amazon)

Prepping the cheese
Getting ready (purchased cheese cloth from Bed, Bath, and Beyond – worked great, hung with twine)

The only challenge I had with the cheese was ensuring the milk did not scorch as it heated up. Be vigilant and make sure you stir often, including the bottom of the pan. I used a 5 quart dutch oven, which worked very well. I also found locally made raw milk, which yielded a nice amount of cheese. You can also use organic milk.

Raw whole milk
Raw milk purchased from Brandmoore Farm, Rollinsford, NH. Thanks to @NHHomeGrownEats for telling me about the farm!


Stirring cheese
My obsessive stirring!

Cheese draining
Beautiful!

Drained it, hung the cheese for a couple of hours, and then used it! Before I developed the quiche, I also spread some blackberry jam on the toasted brown bread, sprinkled with cheese and salt: divine! Tastes like rich, creamy butter! And I sprinkled some cheese over roasted vegetables, which was also very tasty. I plan on making some roasted tomatoes, which I will sprinkle with cheese and balsamic glaze.


Farmer Cheese, Potato, and Tarragon Crustless Quiche

quiche-cheese-potato-tarragon

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbs of butter (Kerrygold salted is my favorite for this dish)
  • 1 large leek, thinly sliced (white part only)
  • 1 Tbs of fresh, finely chopped tarragon
  • 2-3 cups of potato and asparagus, steamed
  • 8 organic eggs
  • 1 cup of organic milk
  • 3/4 cup of crumbled farmers cheese (you can also try 1 cup of shredded cheddar if you have not made cheese)
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1/2 tsp of pepper


Preheat the oven to 400° Throughly butter a 9 inch glass pie plate

Heat up the tbs of butter in a frying pan. Sauté the leeks with a bit of salt and pepper until soft and barely golden brown- 5 minutes or so. Layer them on the bottom of the glass pie plate and sprinkle the fresh tarragon over it (the tarragon really brings this quiche to the next level). They will form a "crust" on the bottom of the dish. Put aside.

tarragon-leek
Tarragon and Leek "Crust"


While the leeks are cooking, peel and chop up the potatoes into bite sized pieces. Put about an inch of water in the bottom of a saucepan and place a steaming basket in. Put the potato pieces in the steamer. Then steam on medium high heat for about 15 minutes; as it steams, chop up the asparagus. After 15 minutes, add in chopped asparagus on top of the potatoes. Steam both for another 5 minutes or so.

As the potato and asparagus steam, mix together the eggs, milk, cheese, salt, pepper in a large bowl. Break up the yolks and stir gently for about a minute or two.

After the potato and asparagus are done steaming, remove them from the stovetop and cool for about 10 minutes. Then fill the pie plate about 3/4 of the way with the vegetables.

Next, pour in the egg mixture (be careful not to overfill). If you have mixture left over, use it for some scrambled eggs or an omelet! Depending on the density of the veggies and the amount in the pie plate, I do often have a bit left over.

Put it in the oven and cook for 45-50 minutes. Serve immediately, sprinkle with salt if desired. Also makes great leftovers!


plated-quiche

Sweet Potato, Cabbage and Seaweed Salad


seaweed-salad


I always thought of seaweed as something only used in Japanese cuisine; however, after a study of Irish foods, I realize it has a long tradition of use in some recipes. Darina Allen says: “...seaweeds are an entire world of undiscovered knowledge for many people although they have been part of the diet of coastal peoples since time immemorial....In our family, the babies are weaned onto carrageen moss (a type of seaweed) pudding” (The Forgotten Skills of Cooking, page 65). I never knew about this aspect of Irish food history until recently, and the more I learn, the more fascinated I am.

Despite my foray at the beach that you see in the pictures, I chose to purchase my seaweed at a local health food store to ensure freshness/safety, and to be certain I knew the variety. I plan on taking a seaweed walk in Ireland to improve my knowledge of the varieties, of course (see below for seaweed walk companies).

At a local health food store, I was lucky to find raw kelp that was already cut into noodles (Ocean Approved is the brand name). The kelp I purchased was green and simply seaweed cut into noodle shapes. There are clear “kelp noodles” found in most health food stores or Asian markets; however, these are not raw. I wanted as close an experience to raw seaweed, and I found it with the Ocean Approved Kelp!


seaweed
Kelp, Noodle Cut

Below I have listed where you can purchase kelp and Irish sea spaghetti, which Clodagh McKenna uses in her Vegetable and Seaweed Salad. Her dish simply inspired mine, so I have not tasted the sea spaghetti; however, the kelp worked delightfully! I am sure the Irish sea spaghetti will also.

Ingredients (serves 4)

For the salad

  • 3-4 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into bite size pieces
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Half head of red cabbage, chopped
  • 3 scallions, diced
  • 1 granny smith apple, peeled and grated
  • 1-2 handfuls of rinsed and blanched seaweed (either Irish sea spaghetti or raw Kelp- noodle cut)

For the dressing
  • 2 tbs of lime juice (about 1 or 2 limes)
  • 2 tbs of honey
  • 2 tbs of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400°

Preparing the seaweed:
If using Irish sea spaghetti (see below for availability): rehydrate the sea spaghetti and rinse -according to the package- then put in boiling water for about five minutes. I cooled them before tossing with the other ingredients.
If using RAW kelp noodle cut (harder to find- but my local health food store had them. Again, they are green, not clear like the popular kelp noodles you find- so look for raw): defrost if frozen, overnight in the fridge. Rinse thoroughly. You can eat them raw or throw them in boiling water for about a minute, which I did.

Toss the peeled and chopped sweet potatoes with a bit of olive oil and salt. Then roast them in oven for about 15 minutes (be sure to stir halfway through)

While the sweet potatoes are roasting:
Chop half a head of red cabbage into bite size shred-like pieces- then rinse and pat dry with paper towels.
Rinse and dice three scallions
Make the salad dressing by whisking together the lime juice, honey, and olive oil
Finally, peel and grate the apple. Do this step after all the other ingredients are ready since apple tends to brown quickly.

Toss everything, from kelp noodles to apple (except the sweet potato), with the salad dressing. Divide onto plates and place the sweet potatoes on top of each plate of salad. And dig in!

To Purchase

Whole Foods, various locations

Ocean Approved www.oceanapproved.com Portland, Maine (to find a store near you that sells their kelp)

The Cornish Seaweed Company www.cornishseaweedcompany.co.uk (ships to the US for about $6.50, which is reasonable)

To Learn More About Seaweed

Prannie Rhatigan www.irishseaweedkitchen.ie (knows everything about seaweed)

Milseog na Mara www.milseognamaraonline.weebly.com (a seaweed company started by five teenagers- based in Donegal)

Atlantic Irish Seaweed www.atlanticirishseaweed.com (conducts seaweed walks)

Irish Seaweed Safari www.wildirishseaveg.com (conducts seaweed walks)

libby-seaweed

Tentatively identified as the Alaria variety by the folks from Atlantic Irish Seaweed!

An Ode to Oats

1. Apple, Pecan and Cinnamon Porridge
clodagh_oats

2. Steel-cut Oat Porridge
allen_oats

3. Pineapple-Coconut Porridge
libby_oats

Oat porridge is one of my go to breakfasts and another popular Irish dish. I chose to make it three different ways to highlight its versatility. In honor of the chefs and their work, I will not reprint recipes here; however, I do provide tips and comments for each. All of the books I use are readily available at your local bookstore or online. And finally, I included my own recipe for porridge (with coconut cooked directly in), which I hope you try!



1. Apple, Pecan, and Cinnamon Porridge from Clodagh McKenna, Clodagh’s Irish Kitchen, page 48. Do please seek out her book if possible, I am loving it!

She uses rolled oats, steamed, rolled, then toasted rather than steel-cut that are just roughly chopped. Both are close in nutritional value to each other although the glycemic index – which helps with blood sugar levels – is lower on steel cut (www.prevention.com).

This dish is also cooked with milk rather than water, giving it a creamier texture and filling me up a bit more than the water-based porridge. One tip is to bring the milk and oats just to a boil; watch it like a hawk. Since I am an easily distracted amateur cook, I did overcook it a bit and the milk scalded.

As for the taste? Rich, creamy, delicious. The grated apple was a beautiful touch (great way to sweeten it- I did not even need honey), and something that I had never done in all my years of making oats. The mixture of cinnamon, pecan, and apple was just right.



2. Steel-cut Oat Porridge from Darina Allen, Irish Traditional Cooking, page 268. Her books are thorough and gorgeous resources for cooking all Irish foods. She gives the history and variations so I feel like I am in school – in a good way! It is a class I wish they had offered at my college.

She uses steel-cut oats, which always bring me back to Ireland. I remember my bedroom in one house where I stayed was so cold in the winter that I saw my breath every morning. We only had one coal fireplace to heat a three-bedroom house. I was such a cliché, wearing my fingerless gloves, clutching my porridge, surrounded by blankets. I was in heaven.

So Darina Allen’s recipe was perfect for warming me up both in body and spirit. She soaks the oats overnight, which brought out even more of the nutty flavor that characterizes steel-cut. I use McCann’s since it is readily available in the states.

Before reheating it in the morning, I swirled my bowl with some unsweetened vanilla almond milk, and after, I loaded on the brown sugar. It was scrumptious. And you can really put anything on it, which brings me to my own recipe for porridge.



3. Coconut and Pineapple Steel-cut Oats. I cook the coconut with the oats and the aroma swirls through the house. If you like coconut, please try it. The smell alone is worth it – rich and tropical, which is great on a bleak winter’s day. And it tastes amazing!

  • Half cup of McCann’s Steel Cut Oats
  • 2 cups of water
  • ¼ cup of organic, finely shredded, unsweetened coconut – very important that it be finely shredded
  • 2 heaping teaspoons of sugar
  • Fresh pineapple chopped to bite size pieces
  • Extra shredded coconut for topping

Boil the water. After it comes to a rolling boil, add the oats. Keep it at a boil, stirring until the oats start to thicken a little (5 minutes or so).

Stir in the coconut. Bring it to a boil again then reduce the heat to medium low and cover.

Simmer covered for about 30 minutes, stirring frequently (make sure it does not boil over- lower the heat if necessary). Add two heaping teaspoons of sugar after about 10 minutes. The oatmeal should be fairly thick when done; but if not thick enough, let it stand for five minutes off of the burner –in the pan– and it will thicken up. Or if you prefer thinner, eat it right away!

Serve it in a bowl topped with plenty of pineapple and a bit of shredded coconut. And a bit of extra sugar – if desired.