Thursday, August 15, 2019


I found this recipe on the Simply Recipes site and it is by far the best and easiest Banana Bread I have ever made. Very moist and flavorful and comes together in minutes, and all in one bowl! On their site they claim it is their most popular recipe for over 10 years. No mixer required, which is good since I don't own one here in Spiddal, although that may soon change. I have my eye on a beautiful standing mixer in Galway. But back to the recipe...

2 to 3 very ripe bananas, about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups, mashed
1/3 cup melted butter
1 tsp. Baking soda
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup sugar, more or less depending on how sweet you like it (I used 1/2 cup white and 1/4 cup brown)
1 large egg, beaten
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 1/2 cups white flour
1 cup chopped walnuts, optional
Demerara brown sugar and cinnamon for topping, also optional

Batter ready to pop into the oven.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F/175C. Add butter to a 4x8 inch loaf pan and melt the butter in the oven. In a mixing bowl, mash the ripe bananas with a fork until completely smooth. Stir the melted butter into the mashed bananas. Mix in baking soda and salt. Stir in sugar. Push this mixture to one side of the bowl. Add the egg and beat lightly. Mix beaten egg with other ingredients. Add vanilla and finally mix in flour. The original recipe does not call for nuts, but I added 1 cup chopped walnuts. Add them now, if using. 

Liberally butter your baking pan and add the batter. I also topped the batter with about 2 Tbsp. of Demerara brown sugar and a healthy sprinkling of cinnamon, which the original recipe did not call for.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes until top is golden brown and inserted toothpick comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool in pan on a rack for 15 minutes.
Then remove bread from the pan and let it cool completely before slicing.
Using a bread knife helps keep slices from crumbling. Nice, big thick slices help, too!



Monday, August 5, 2019


My new Wild Atlantic Way cookbook inspired me to create this recipe.
1 cup Risotto
6 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup half and half or cream
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 cup prawns or small shrimp, thawed if previously frozen
1 cup wild mushrooms, roughly chopped (I used oysters.)
1 Tbsp. Butter
1 cup dried seaweed (I used a seafood mix that I found in my local health food store.)
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Freshly ground black pepper
Chives for garnish

In a large saucepan heat chicken stock to a boil then reduce to simmer. In a separate medium size saucepan melt butter. Add risotto and stir to thoroughly coat the rice. Keep heat on lowest simmer. Add salt/pepper. Add mushrooms and stir to coat them with butter, as well. Add chicken stock to rice one ladle at a time stirring rice constantly until all liquid is absorbed before adding additional stock. About 3 ladles into this process add 1/2 cup white wine. Stir until wine is absorbed. Continue adding stock one ladle at a time for 15 minutes until rice just begins to soften.  You may not need all 6 cups of stock. Add prawns, peas and seaweed and continue stirring, adding stock as necessary for another 5-10 minutes until desired risotto consistency is reached. Finish by adding 1/4 cup grated parmesan and 1/4 cup half and half or cream. Continuing stirring for 2 more minutes. Serve garnished with chives. I also added a chive blossom for color.

This is the wine I used in the Risotto. Porcupine Ridge is a bright, citrusy Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa. The cook enjoyed a glass, too!

There is nothing tricky about making Risotto. Just remember to keep stirring and also to keep the chicken stock simmering the whole time.



Galway Bay

Sunday, July 28, 2019


I recently bought a new cookbook when Deb and Steve were visiting. It is filled with wonderful Irish recipes including this one, which Deb and I tweaked slightly. In the cookbook--"Recipes and Stories from Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way" they call the recipe: BAKED WHITE FISH WITH BLACK OLIVES AND ROASTED TOMATO SAUCE. Earlier in the day we were at the Galway Market and bought some fabulous brined black olives, semi-sundried tomatoes, and very fresh swordfish, which inspired us to put this dish together.

2 red peppers, seeded and sliced into chunks
1 large red onion (We used white as I didn't have a red onion.)
6 plum tomatoes (Couldn't find plum tomatoes at the Market so we used 3 cups of the sweetest cherry tomatoes.)
Olive Oil, as needed; about 1/4 cup
Generous salt/pepper
1 400 g tin chopped tomatoes (We omitted the canned tomatoes as we had so many fresh cherries.)
75 g pitted black olives (about 1/2 cup Calamata's or other brined olive)
4 200 g skinless, boneless white fish fillets, such as cod, halibut or haddock (We chose 4 large swordfish steaks as they looked the best at the Market.)
Pine nuts or almonds, toasted for garnish
We also added 4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped, and about 3/4 cup of freshly chopped herbs: Thyme, rosemary, parsley, sage, basil.

Yes we are cooking in our 'comfy cozies'; aka PJ's!
Preheat oven to 220C (425 degrees F). Arrange the peppers, onions, semi-sundried tomatoes, tomatoes, and garlic in a large casserole. Drizzle liberally with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast until aromatic and edges are slightly charred; about 20 minutes.
Here is the sauce after 20 minutes of roasting.
Since we were using all fresh ingredients we roasted the sauce for about 40 minutes in total. After 20 minutes add the minced herbs and olives, and roast for 20 minutes more. Season the fish with salt and pepper, then add the fish filets to the sauce.

Lay the swordfish into the sauce...
Cover the fish completely with the sauce.
Cook until the fish filets are cooked through. The swordfish took about 18 minutes more, but it will depend on the thickness of your fish.
Deb toasting the pine nuts.
Me plating. We topped with the toasted pine nuts and chives.
The overall cooking time in the original recipe was less I believe because it used canned tomatoes, which would break down the sauce quicker. I really liked the chunkiness of the sauce and the freshness of the ingredients we used. It was rich and flavorful. We served with a whole wheat French bread slightly toasted with olive oil. Original recipe calls for serving over rice or pasta as that sauce was much thinner than ours. As with so many dishes like this there is much latitude for adjustments!

And here is the wine we served with dinner. Thanks Steve!
Today is my birthday and we are heading
into Galway to see the final play of the
Galway International Arts Festival.
It's been a wonderful season of music, dance, and drama!



Monday, July 22, 2019


Also known as Refrigerator Cookies!

And the reason for the name is that the dough must be refrigerated at least 8 hours before slicing and baking making these cookies perfect for preparing in advance. Rich, crisp, buttery, these cookies were one of my Mom's favorites. My Mother was a fabulous baker: pies, cookies, name it; she made it. I also like to bake so decided to unearth this old Betty Crocker recipe and have the dough on hand for our visitors, Steve and Debby Vis from Arizona.
3 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
3 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs

In medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt; set aside. In large bowl, beat butter, white sugar, brown sugar and vanilla with electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. On low speed, gradually beat in flour mixture just until blended.

Cut dough into quarters. Shape dough in 4 (roughly 6 inch) logs. Wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate 8 hours or up to 3 days.

Drop one quarter of the dough onto 4 pieces of plastic wrap.

Using your fingers form the dough into a log.
Tightly wrap the plastic around each log.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Unwrap dough. Cut into 1/4 inch slices. Place slices on cookie sheets 1 inch apart.

Bake 8-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack. Do not overbake.

Icebox cookies are good anytime, but make a very
special treat in bed with an ice cold glass of milk!

We had a wonderful visit with Steve and Deb and really packed a lot into a few days. A quick ferry ride away is Inis Mor, the largest of the 3 Aran Islands.  With Gabriel Faherty as our trusted guide, we toured the whole island with a stop at his goat farm to learn a bit about cheese making. Gabriel, fisherman turned goat cheese maker, produces a beautiful, creamy soft goat cheese (plain, Italian or infused with seaweed) and has just started making a firm goat cheese; equally as delicious.

Deb gives this "kid" some love!
Gabriel cutting a 1 kg. (about 2 lbs.)
round of the firmer goat cheese in half.
We took a pound home.
Teach Nan Phaidi is the Café owned by Gabriel's
mother-in-law, Catherine Concannon in the village of Kilmurvey.
Phenomenal food and baked goods.
My husband, Jerry, and our good friend Steve outside the Café.
Me with The Seven Churches (Na Seacht Teampall in Gaelic)
in the background. The Churches, dating back to the 8th century,
 are located on the western side of Inis Mor in the village of
Eoghanacht. A must-see while visiting the island.

If you go to Inis Mor be sure to contact Gabriel Faherty in advance to reserve a tour. He is charming, knowledgeable, funny, and offers loads of stories about the island both past and present.
That's all for today. Next time I will share
a recipe for Mediterranean Swordfish that
Deb and I put together with the help of our new cookbook,
"Recipes and Stories from Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way".

Wednesday, July 10, 2019


There is something that doesn't sound right about that, but having now done it myself I see how innocent it is! Spatchcocking is simply a method for cooking chicken by removing the backbone. This allows the white meat and dark meat to cook evenly. Sometimes when cooking a whole bird, in order for the legs to get completely cooked, the breast meat dries out. It doesn't change the taste, but I believe because it cooks more quickly, with bones still in, it stays juicier and more tender. To spatchcock is to remove the back bone from the whole bird and lay it flat for cooking. Here are some photos to demonstrate.
Clean chicken thoroughly. Dry the chicken with paper towels and lay breast side down on a large cutting board. Rub your fingers along the backbone to identify it. Carefully insert your sharpest knife on one side of the bone and begin making a cut. You can alternatively use chicken shears to cut out the bone.

Continue cutting on each side of the bone until you are able to remove.
Lift and remove the bone and save for soup stock.
Next, cut off wing tips and also save for soup stock.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Lay chicken flat on a baking sheet and roast at 425 for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 375 and roast for 10-12 per pound or until chicken is done. FDA recommends cooking to an internal temp of 165 degrees F.
I slathered my chicken liberally with olive oil, salt and pepper and then doused with a quick BBQ sauce. These are the ingredients I used. I will leave it to you to decide how much of what to use.

Tomato sauce
Roasted Red Pepper paste
Onion salt
Garlic granules
White pepper
Smoked Paprika
Brown sugar
Malt Vinegar
Cook down for about 15 minutes. Cool. Pour over chicken to marinate for 1 hour before roasting. Once the chicken is in, baste every 15-20 minutes with more sauce.

I can't wait to spatchcock a Turkey,
Cornish hen, Duck or other poultry.
I'm going to close today with a few photos from a delightful new restaurant in Portsmouth, NH. I just returned to Ireland from a week long visit with my dear brother, Skip and his wife, Esther. Botanical is an upscale, hip, but casual gin bar serving 32 different varieties of gin along with just about any other spirit you might want, and of course, beer, wine and fabulous food!

Botanica opened in January. It's located in a cool, funky converted warehouse.
Esther chose the Empress gin from Canada.
It is royal blue when poured, but see what
happens once the tonic (or any acid) is added. turns purple!
Our server, Nick, was very knowledgeable about the gins.
He suggested I try a traditional martini
made from Nolet's. This family owned distillery
in Holland has been making this gin for
over 325 years. It was clean, crisp and delicious!

Skip selected 'The Last Word' made with Dry
Town Gin, Green Chartreuse, Marachino Liqueur
and Lime. Very herbaceous!

Sunday, June 16, 2019


I found this recipe online (, but believe it originally came from a wonderful magazine published in Vermont called 'Cooks Illustrated'. This is a perfect biscuit recipe rendering a nice crust and velvety interior. 


1 cup very cold buttermilk
8 Tbsp. butter, plus one more for brushing when done
2 cups flour, more for counter
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cup finely shredded cheddar (I used a nice sharp, aged Irish cheddar.)
1/4 cup finely chopped chives, more for garnish (I didn't have time to garnish as Marilyn, my lunch guest was on her way!)
Here's my new friend, Marilyn French St.-George in front of
Ferocious O'Flaherty's 300 year old thatched cottage in Spiddal.
It is now rented as a vacation cottage.
In the 1841 Irish census 40% of the Irish population lived in a one room thatched
cottage, along with the family pig and a bunch of chickens. That's 3 1/2 million people.
Today it is believed that only about 2500 thatched cottages have survived.
A significant aspect of Irish heritage is disappearing.

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or spray liberally with cooking spray. Measure 1 cup buttermilk and place the cup in the freezer while prepping other ingredients; about 10 minutes.
Melt butter in a saucepan on top of stove (or you can use your microwave). Whisk flour, baking power, baking soda, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add grated cheese and chives. Stir to combine.
Remove the buttermilk from the freezer and combine with the melted butter. Stir with a fork until butter forms clumps or globules. If globules don't form possibly your buttermilk wasn't cold enough. Return the mixture to the freezer for another 5-10 minutes. Stir again and butter globules should form. Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula until all flour is incorporated and batter pulls away from the bowl. The dough should hold together nicely, but also be soft and pliant. It should not be wet. If it is wet, add more flour 1 Tbsp. at a time, stirring to combine until dough become stiffer.
Generously spread flour over your work surface.  Place the biscuit dough from the bowl onto floured counter and coat all roll around so all surfaces are covered with the flour. Gently knead 5-6 times (about 20 seconds). Flip dough over to make sure all sides are lightly coated. Pat into a 6 inch square that's about 1 1/2 to 2 " thick.
Cut as many biscuits as you can with a biscuit cutter. The number of biscuits will depend on the size of your cutter. You can also use a glass or I used the edge of my 1/2 inch metal measuring cup.
Place biscuits on prepared sheet pan. Knead scraps together a few times until they hold together. Pat into a circle and cut more biscuits.
Place in oven and bake until tops are golden brown and crisp; 10-15 minutes. Start checking at 8 minutes as everyone's oven is different and you don't want to overbake. Melt remaining tablespoon butter and brush on tops as they come out of oven. Sprinkle with more chives. I did not have time to do that as Marilyn was about to arrive!

I cut my biscuits quite small so this recipe made 12 biscuits
plus the scraps that I pulled together into a circle
and scored to make 4 small biscuits (top left).

With the biscuits I served Potato Leek Soup.
Go to: 
for the recipe. I make this a lot in Ireland!
Last year we began converting one of our own sheds into an
Irish Cottage. It's sad that thatch is becoming a thing of the past in Ireland.
Next, I'm putting in a rose hedge.
Me and Marilyn at the top of the bog.