when the temps drop eat gingerbread

November 17th, 2014

0081I love all the New England food classics that I grew up with in 1950’s Massachusetts.  Gingerbread has and always will be at the top of the list of Indian Pudding, Toll House Cookies and Boston Cream Pie, to name a few. The aroma of this spicey treat brings me back to  snowy days where my hopes were bent on getting a hot piece right out of the oven topped with fresh whipped cream and tomorrow being a snow day off from school!

This is a twist on the old classic. I can’t remember how I came upon it, but since it has Guinness Stout in it, well, you know…… It is dark, rich, moist and absolutely scrumptuous!

Boil 1 cup Guinness Stout (drink the rest!) with 1 cup dark molasses. Take off the heat, transfer to a bowl and add 1 1/2 teaspoon baking (bread) soda. This will bubble up and expand so make sure it is in a medium sized container.

In a mixing bowl add 2 cups white flour, 2 Tablespoons of ground ginger, 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder, 3/4 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. cloves, 1/4 tsp. nutmeg, 1/8 tsp. cardamom.

In a separate bowl beat 3 eggs with 1/2 cup white sugar, 1/2 cup dark brown sugar and 3/4 cup good vegetable oil.

When the Guinness has cooled, add it to the dry mix, beat and add egg mixture. Beat until smooth.

Use your pan of choice, tube, bundt, or I use a  8×8 greased baking pan and a 12 mini muffin pan.

Grease the pan and bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.

ENJOY!

snow days call for pancakes!

February 17th, 2014

Tired of the snow, ice and sub zero temps in the Northeast USA!  It’s time for some really tasty comfort food. Let’s start with Breakfast.croppedpancake1I created this new recipe while stuck in the house during a blizzard last week. I love the combination of buckwheat and spelt flour. Buckwheat is gluten free but spelt is an ancient wheat that many people who are wheat sensitive can tolerate.

The trick for making good, nutritious meals is having all the right ingredients. This might be a challenge if you are trying to eat gluten, wheat or dairy free, and using natural sugar substitutes. All of these ingredients are now available in supermarkets or your local Health Food Store and the flours have a long shelf  life so just stock up and store in airtight containers for freshness.  You can substitute whole milk and butter for soy milk and oil. And, use an egg substitute and eliminate honey if you are Vegan.  Enjoy!

Buckwheat Spelt Pancakes

In a large bowl mix together 2 eggs, 1 1/2 cups almond or soy milk. Beat in 2 Tbl. olive oil, 2 Tbl. Agave syrup, maple syrup or honey.

In another bowl mix together 1 1/4 cup spelt flour, 1/2 cup buckwheat flour and 1/2 cup brown rice flour. Add 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder and 1/2 tsp. baking soda. Grate 1 tsp. fresh nutmeg and add.

Slowly pour wet into dry ingredients, mixing with a hand blender or in a food processor. Batter should be thick but not heavy.

On medium heat, warm up a griddle or fry pan. Add a Tbl. of oil or butter.   Pour 1/3 cup of batter into pan. Cook until pancake is bubbly, flip and cook for no more than a minute.  Keep warm on a baking sheet in low temp.oven.

Fresh Fruit Compote

Cook 1 cup fresh cranberries in 1/2 cup orange juice, 1 Tbl. honey, 1 tsp. vanilla and 1 Tbl. Agave syrup. Add 1 chopped, peeled apple and cook til cranberries and apples are soft. Take off heat and add 1/2 cup chopped, toasted pecans.

Stack pancakes, spoon over compote and drizzle with maple syrup.  Yum!!!!

the fresh flavors of spring

May 2nd, 2013

saladFinally it’s here. The hedgerow is blooming at last. Nettles, wild garlic, hawthorne, primrose and violets ready to eat!  I have the pleasure of giving a Hedgerow Cooking Class at Boghill for a journalist from the UK, who is doing an article on the Burren Food Trail and Boghill’s own Culinary week May 13-16. It was a challenge, given the late arrival of Spring  this year in Ireland. But, we managed to pick enough wild edibles and fresh young greens and herbs from the gardens for a great learning experience and a delicious meal. I wanted to include a variety of recipes that are not only made from the food around Boghill but that are an example of the menus we create for clients with diverse diets such as gluten and dairy free and vegan. So, the menu included a salad made entirely from garden veg, herbs and wild flowers. Green Goddess dressing was blessed with mint, fennel, chives and parsley. The Nettle soup was light and delicious, including lovage, wild garlic and spring leeks.  Penne  pasta was dressed with a tangy wild garlic pesto. A spicey corn bread recipe from Coming Home to Cook used chives, parsley and Boghill’s chicken eggs. A blancmange was light and sweet garnished with primrose and violets. Crispy vegan ginger snaps and a fresh herb tea of lemon balm and mint rounded out this exceptional lunch. So, get walking on the paths and lanes and start foraging to make your own!

NETTLE SOUP - serves 6

Pick 1 litre of young nettles, preferably tops. Be careful, the leaves sting so pick from the stem. Wash and separate leaves from stem. In a soup pot, drizzle a few tablespoons of Irish rapeseed oil/ Add to it 4 washed and chopped leeks, 1 1/2 cups lovage, 1/4 cup wild garlic leaves.  Let cook until greens are wilted. Add 3 cups chopped white potatoes. Cook for a few minutes then add 1 litre of fresh vegetable stock. Bring to a simmer, cook until potatoes are tender. Add nettles and cook for 5 minutes. Puree soup. Add sea salt and cracked black pepper.

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Between the seasons

April 11th, 2013

sliced-loafSpring has not come to Ireland yet.  The fields are still brown, not at all like the Emerald Isle!  But, we had a good drenching of rain in the past 24 hours and already everything is looking fresher.

It feels like we are in between seasons. It’s  still cold and looks grey but the daffodils, primroses and spring gentians are up and gradually, a few things in the garden are sprouting. So, to alleviate the “winter is too long blues” I decided to invite some friends for dinner.

I don’t know if there’s anywhere else I’ll ever live where  guests come  bearing their own cheese made from their own goats and  fresh lambs lettuce salad from their early spring (or is late winter?) garden.  And, hiking up from the edge of the Atlantic on the Cliff path, more guests arrive with backpacks full of French wine and chocolates. Add to that, French baguettes and pastries from Fabiolas Patisserie,  a warm fire, a stunning sunset and the night is indeed, a success!

For another memorable dinner party last winter in NJ, a friend made a Lentil Loaf from an English Vegetarian Cookbook . I thought it was perfect for this occassion but I tweeked it, leaving out the cheese and changing the spices according to what has wintered over in my little herb garden. Pair it with roasted potatoes, ginger honey carrots and soy gravy from my cookbook and you have a hearty, impressive meal. Enjoy!

Red Lentil Loaf

serves 6, cook at 350 or gasmark 4 for 1 1/2 hours.

12 oz. cooked red lentils, 1 1/2 cups hard cider, 1 large onion, 1 large carrot, 1 large stalk celery, 2 cloves garlic, 4 large button mushrooms,1 1/2 tsp. thyme and rosemary, 4 oz. hazelnuts, 1 Tbl. chopped parsley, 2 eggs, sea salt and pepper.

Cook lentils in cider until all liquid is absorbed. Finely chop onion, carrot, celery, mushrooms and garlic. Saute all in olive oil until cooked. Beat eggs. Roast hazelnuts in oven until brown, about 10 minutes. Grind in a food processor. Mix all ingredients together, it will be mushy.  Spoon into an oiled bread pan (tin) or line with parchment paper. Bake for 1 1/2 hours or until brown and skewer comes out clean. Let sit for about 15 minutes to set. Remove from pan and slice.

Happy Spring from Ireland!

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Chocolate Guinness Cake

December 10th, 2012

0201Not many desserts are better than a delicious, moist chocolate cake with a creamy icing, unless you add tangy, creamy guinness stout to the batter.  Then, you have perfection!

This is a dense, rich cake that works with any kind of good, dark porter or stout. Why not try it as an alternative to the traditional pies and xmas puddings, your family and quests will be truly impressed!  It will keep up to a week in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Enjoy!

CHOCOLATE GUINNESS CAKE

Combine 1 cup guinness and 10 Tbl. butter in a pot and heat until butter melts. Remove from heat and add 3/8 cup cocoa, 2 cups sugar, Beat until well blended. In another bowl beat together  3/8 cup sour cream, 2 large eggs and 1 Tbl. vanilla. Add to guinness batter. Add 2 cups sifted white plain flour and 2 1/2 tsp. baking soda and mix well.  Pour into a greased 9″springform pan. Bake 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. When it is cooled, take a long, sharp knife and slice the cake in half through the middle. Lift off the top half, ice the bottom half and replace the top. Ice the top and sides.

ICING

In a mixer or food processor combine 1 1/4 cup icing sugar, 8oz. cream cheese and 1/2 cup heavy cream. Ice cake when it is cooled completely.

Local, Fresh, Foraged and Homegrown!

November 1st, 2012

072056055205210531The  Burren Ecotourism Food Fayre was a great success! Part of the Burren Winterage Festival last weekend in North Clare, the Food Fayre was an intimate gathering of local food enthusiasts promoting all that is unique and special about producing something very special in the Burren.  Local businesses such as Fabiola’s Pattisserie, The Burren Smokehouse, St. Tola’s Cheese, Burren Free Range Pork, and  Burren Food and Wine gave tastings. Local vendors who sell at the area’s numerous Farmers Markets, like Adva The Bread Lady with her sourdoughs and fabulous truffles,  Cate Conway with her gluten free baking and Roshan Groves with her unique products  sold their wares and some entered the masterchef competition. I was honored to be one of the judges, along with Sila Nic Chonaonaigh of TG4’s Garrai Glas and Sally McKenna of Bridgestone Guides. We were presented with 25 dishes to sample. After tasting the first few we realized we had some outstanding cooks and would create a few different categories of winners. Special commendation went to Cate Conway for her butternut Squash and Pumpkin Quiche made with a rice flour pastry. Roshan Groves won for her Red Epicure Broad Bean and Tomato Casserole. Roshan and her partner, Peter, grew all the ingredients in Fanore, including the chili peppers and lemons!  Gemma Dowling’s Quince Jelly and a Blackberry Mousse with Hazelnut Macaroons and an Apple Brack  also won. What made these dishes so special? Local, fresh, foraged and home grown products. It can all be done right here in the Burren, under the most challenging of weather conditions! The Burren Masterchef  award went to Richard Morrison of Maurices Mills.  A boned out Rack of Goat with Blackberry and Sloe Gin Jus and Braised Red Cabbage cooked to perfection.   All of the ingredients were either reared, grown or foraged by Richard and his family or produced in Ireland. Ok, this is Vegetarian Ireland so I won’t get into the details of the goat and black pudding, but fair play to Richard for really understanding what local, homegrown, fresh and supporting your fellow producers is all about.

Harvest Festival Weekend

October 19th, 2012

I am delighted that I was asked to be one of the Judges for the Burren Master Chef competition during the winterage weekend. I will be joining with Sile Nic Chonaonaigh , the presenter of Garrai Glas on TG4, a lovely Irish language show in which Sile travels around Ireland visiting Organic Farmers. The cookery competition judging will take place on Saturday 27 October between 2 and 5 in the Lisdoonvarna pavillion.  Participants must produce a delicacy of  local, seasonal, homegrown or foraged produce. Yum! I love this job!

Besides the Food Fayre, the weekend is packed with a full schedule of over 30 events, including a sacred stone walk, traditional music sessions, storytelling, and an outdoor concert in a natural stone ampitheatre.

Before I moved to the Burren, I remember driving through it, at this time of year, when the hedgerows are brown from ground frost, the skies are dull and the roads in all the villages seemed empty. I thought, what a barren place, who would live here?!  But, then, several years later I was offered a job here and my opinions of the different environments on this relatively small island changed dramatically.

The Burren is a magical place that holds life all year. In the spring, the gentians and bloody cranesbill peek up from the grikes in the rocks. In the summer  the swallows make their trek from Africa to my stone shed, emerging with their young in July and sadly,leaving again in September. The cows, sheep, goats, donkeys and horses give birth and color to the meadows year round. The hedgerows are full of edible weeds and fruits for much of the year. My garden produces year round, admittedly leaner and slower in winter but still full of greens!  I spotted a gorgeous falcon on the post the other day and a mother and baby fox on the road.  The Aran Islands glimmer in the autumn sunlight and most days I can see the 12 peaks of Connemara.

And, in winter,  there’s always a pub to escape from the rain and sit by the fire, often listening to a traditional tune. And, when the gale force winds come, there’s a community of friends planning something,  a class, a session, a hike,  a communal dinner and a festival! Hope you will join us. check out the website for a calendar of events www.burrenwinterage.com

Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms

July 30th, 2012

blossomsMid July and it’s finally summer in Ireland. Everyone was afraid that week of perfect weather in May was it for the season. So, as the sun shines down on us, the gardens are finally coming into bloom. I picked zucchini, blossoms and  parsley, kale and fennel that were as green as you would expect on the Emerald Isle.  Zucchini blossoms are traditionally dredged in flour, milk and egg and batter fried or stuffed with meat and cheese. All these options are great but as a vegetarian, I’m trying to eat low fat and for the moment, I’m staying away from cheese. So, I created this scrumptious,  healthy dinner that was received with rave reviews from my dinner guests. As one satisfied friend exclaimed, “the flavors are really developed!” Try it, you won’t be disappointed!

Stuffed Zucchini blossoms over butternut squash-coconut pureeroasted-garlicSteam 1 medium butternut squash, let cool and save liquid for soup stock.

Boil 2 cups of water, add 1 cup of quinoa and cook until done. This will produce about 3 cups cooked.

While squash and quinoa are cooking, toast in the oven 2 Tbl, sunflower seeds and 2 Tbl. chopped almonds. Separate 4 garlic cloves , put a little olive oil in a baking dish and roast until they become whilted and start to brown (as above).

In a little olive oil saute 1 cup  finely chopped kale, with 2 large button mushrooms and 1 medium oniuon.

Steam 1 medium zucchini (courgette) in Ireland! let cool and puree. Squeeze water out.

Chop 1 Tbl. fresh parsley and 2 Tbl. fresh fennel.

Mix together parsley, fennel, nuts, sauteed veg. and quinoa. Pick of end of garlic clove and squeeze garlic into mixture. Add Zucchini puree and mix all together, add sea salt and cracked black pepper.

Pick the stems off the zucchini blossom and wash lightly. Dry and stuff with filling. You can do this by tearing a side and rolling or just filling it up.

Butternut Squash Puree

Puree the squash with 2 heaping Tbl. creamed coconut, 2 Tbl. minced ginger, 2 Tbl. chopped fennel, a whole lime juiced, sea salt , black pepper and a very small dash of cayenne pepper. The consistency will be smooth and creamy. Place 1/2 the puree in a baking dish, lay the blossoms over and cook for 20 minutes at 350, gas point 4.

Have fun garnishing with baby zucchini, herbs, lime wedges. Enjoy this delicious, healthy vegan meal!

Shopping List: quinoa, zucchini, blossoms, fennel, parsley, sunflower seeds, almonds, kale, mushrooms, onion, garlic, creamed coconut, butternut squash, fresh ginger root, lime, cayenne pepper, sea salt, black pepper.

summer simplicity

July 27th, 2012

hummosHaving tired of the same old chick pea hummos, as good as it is (!) I decided to try something different to serve as an appetizer. This little plate of summer fresh delicacies are straight from the garden. A mixture of lettuce, rocket, mustard greens, cucumber and radish make up the bed for a delicious black bean hummos that can be served as a dip, as a filling in pita bread, or just simply with a little salad such as this. Decorate with chives, tangy edible flowers, drizzle with fresh squeezed lime juice and serve with a crusty piece of bread or cracker. Ah summer!

Black Bean Hummos

In a food processor pulse 2 cups of cooked black beans. Slowly add 5 Tbl. tahini (sesame butter), 4 Tbl. fresh squeezed lemon juice, 2 Tbl. light olive oil, 3 large garlic cloves, sprinkling to taste of fresh minced cilantro (coriander), paprika, cumin, red pepper flakes, sea salt and black pepper. Blend all together until smooth. Add enough spring water until it is a smooth consistency. Enjoy!

Edible Flowers

June 26th, 2012

edibles2This almost looks too good to eat! A fresh salad picked minutes before from your garden truly sums up the joys of summer. I’ve lived in Ireland for 6 years and all of the summers have been rainy. It seems, however, that this season has been a little sunnier. Here I go, so Irish, talking about the weather!  For Irish gardeners and farmers, it’s a challenge to grow a variety of greens, veg and flowers to eat in June.  Having a polytunnel helps , especially for a good mix of lettuce. At Boghill the greens are under cover but the flowers, radishes, chives and herbs are thriving under the ever changing Irish skies. The edible flowers in this beautiful salad of lettuce, radishes, chives and beetroot are marigolds, chive flower, nasturtium (flowers and leaves) and mustard leaf flower.To top it off add a tangy local goat cheese and top with a basil vinaigrette. Your guests will surely be impressed and whether it’s a soft rain falling or a lashing wind with the kind of rain that dosen’t hit the ground (more weather talk!) the colors will bring light and a smile to your summer day!

Basil Vinaigrette

In a blender combine 2 cups of extra virgin olive oil, a big handful of fresh basil, a squeeze of 1 large lemon, 1 tbl. of honey, 1 Tbl. dijon mustard and a sprinkling of sea salt.  Blend until all ingredients are thoroughly pureed. Enjoy.