Saturday, September 14, 2019


Starting to feel a bit of fall chill in the air here in Ireland so what better time to make stew. The first recipe is my own, but please take lots of liberty to change it up.
1 quart lamb stock (or combination of Chicken, Lamb or Vegetable stock)
1 1/2 lb. Lamb shoulder, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
2 large parsnips, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 cup uncooked barley
1 cup frozen green peas
1/2 cup flour for coating lamb
2 Tbsp. Oil for Browning lamb (or use 1 Tbsp. Fat skimmed off the top of your stock and 1 Tbsp. Oil)
Sprig of sage
A few stems of fresh thyme
Salt/pepper to taste
Parsley to garnish
I happened to have a huge bowl of lamb
stock all made. Look how gelatinous it is!
Place lamb chunks I'm a large plastic zip-lock bag. Very liberally salt/pepper--at least a tsp. Salt and 1/2 tsp. Pepper. Add flour and shake to coat.
In a large soup pot, heat oil (or fat) until bubbling. Drop in lamb and gently stir to brown all sides--about 5 to 7 minutes.
Add 1 quart stock and bring to a boil stirring occasionally.  Reduce to simmer and add carrots, parsnip and celery. Add sage and thyme. Check seasoning and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes. Stir in 1 cup barley, cover and simmer another 30 minutes.
The stew will thicken as it cooks.  Check to make sure veg is tender. Barley should be tender, but still have a little chewiness. Also check tenderness of lamb. Shoulder can be a little tougb, but has wonderful flavor.  Remove stew from heat and add the cup of peas. I like to make stew the day before serving to really bring flavors together, but you can also eat it immediately!

This recipe comes from my new Irish cookbook, Wild Atlantic Way. I had made a batch of cannellini beans on the weekend and also had more stock on hand so this stew went together very quickly. 

1 kg (that's about 2 lbs.) Lamb shoulder, cut into bite sized pieces
10 g plain flour (1/8 cup)
Salt/freshly ground pepper to taste
1 Tbsp. Vegetable oil
1 small onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
120 ml (1/2 cup) dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc--I used 1 cup
500 ml (2 cups) chicken or veg stock (I used 3 cups half lamb/half chicken stock)
1 cinnamon stick (I didn't have whole cinnamon so used 1 scant tsp.)
1 large sweet potato, peeled and roughly chopped
1 400g (that's about 1 1/2 cups) tin canellini beans, drained and rinsed

To serve: Bread crumbs, crusty bread with creamer butter (I made big toasted croutons and garnished with a little chopped, fresh parsley.)

In a plastic bag, toss together the lamb and flour until meat is well coated. Season with salt/pepper. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, heat the oil over a medium-high heat and saute the onions and garlic until garlic is aromatic. Add the lamb and sear until it is golden brown on all sides, about 3 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil, scraping up any brown bits that have formed on the bottom of the pot.

NEXT, add the stock, cinnamon, and sweet potato and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and let the stew bubble away. Add the beans after 20 minutes, then allow the meat and sweet potato to simmer until they are tender, for about a further 25 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls, sprinkle with toasted breadcrumbs and serve with crusty bread slathered with creamer butter.

Both the sweet potato and cinnamon give this soup an exotic sweet flavor. 

I prefer to make my own beans. Simple, quick and much better texture and flavor than canned. Rinse the dried beans well and check for stones. Bring a quart of Chicken or veg broth to boil. If you are using a very flavorfull well-seasoned broth, no need to add anything else. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to simmer and cook beans until just barley tender, about 1 hour. Cooking time depends on age and size of the bean.

I made a WHITE BEAN, CARAMELIZED ONION AND BLACK PUDDING dish with some of the cannellini beans. This would also be excellent with grilled and sliced Italian sausage, if you don't have blood pudding in the fridge! 😊
I also cooked 1 cup of the cannellini's until very tender, then mashed with a fork, added 1 clove minced garlic, lots of freshly ground black pepper, fresh thyme, a dash of smoked paprika, squeeze of fresh lemon juice and drizzle of olive oil. Place into a small serving bowl, top with a little more olive oil, lemon zest and chunky sea salt (such as Maldon) and serve with crackers, small toasted breads or veg. Delicious bean dip!


Me and my hubby in Copenhagen enjoying a canal cruise.
The Regal Princess showed us a fantastic 11-day
adventure throughout the beautiful Baltic!

Sunday, August 25, 2019


I may have no right to call this dish Chicken Cordon Bleu, but there are so many different variations that I am taking the liberty to do so.
My version of Cordon Bleu is stuffed
with salami, Irish Wensleydale cheese
with cranberries and wilted spinach.
Turns out Chicken Cordon Bleu did not originate in France, as I have always thought, but in Switzerald around the 1940's, although as with much food history disagreement abounds. From what I've learned it has nothing to do with the famous Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris, however top chefs are awarded a Cordon Bleu (Blue Ribbon) for their excellence and high standard of cooking. The term Cordon Bleu relates to a special order of French Knights. Originally these Knights wore a wide blue ribbon designating them as the highest order of knighthood instituted by Henri III of France in 1578. Wouldn't this lead you to believe this is a classical French dish? Many regional dishes throughout Europe share the characteristics of Chicken Cordon Bleu--namely chicken, veal or pork (think snitzel) wrapped around meat (generally ham) and cheese. In Switzerland this, of course, is Swiss or Gruyere cheese. In some cases the filet is breaded and deep fried or simply baked. Here is my version.
4 chicken breasts, pounded evenly to just under 1/2 inch
4 Tbsp. Mayonnaise, 1 Tbsp. per breast
4 tsp. nice, grainy mustard, 1 per breast
10 oz. Bag fresh spinach, wilted
4 slices good quality Italian salami  per breast
Enough cheese to cover filling. I used an Irish cheese called Wensleydale that is infused with  cranberies.
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
Olive oil to coat breasts once they are stuffed and rolled. This technique is known as a roulade. The term roulade is French meaning rolled and stuffed and is used for both sweet and savory dishes.

Preheat oven to 375. Rinse spinach thoroughly. Heat a large pot and drop in spinach. The moisture from the rinsing is all you'll need to just wilt spinach, about 2 minutes. Allow to cool and squeeze out any moisture if necessary.  Evenly pound chicken breasts until they are just under 1/2 inch thick. Liberally salt and pepper both sides of the chicken. Lay breasts flat with inside up. Spread each filet with 1 Tbsp. Mayo and 1 tsp. Mustard. This keeps the chicken super moist. Lay 4 slices of Italian salami on each breast. Top with wilted spinach and generous amount of cheese. One of my husband's favorite cheeses is Wensleydale with cranberries. This cheese was originally made in Wensleydale, North Yorkshire by an order of Cistercian monks as far back as 1150. It's a mild cheese and the cranberries lend a delicious sweet/salty combination of flavors. Originally made with sheep's milk, it is now made throughout the UK and Ireland with either sheep or cows milk. This version is from cows milk.

Roll each breast from the long side using your fingers to keep pulling stuffing inside as it tends to slip as you roll. Lightly oil a piece of foil and lay breasts, seem side down in a baking pan.

Top each roulade with a little olive oil and a sprig of rosemary. Place in preheated oven and bake for about 35 minutes. More time may be needed if your chicken breasts are very large. I have become a big fan of testing with a meat thermometer. 165 degrees means you are done!

Let the chicken cool for about 10 minutes. I decided to cut into thick slices and lay on a bed of greens with lightly steamed peapods and pickled beets.
All for today.
Tomorrow we embark on an epic journey 
throughout the Baltic Sea. Can't wait to 
taste treats from Copenhagen, Stockholm, 
Helsinki, St. Petersburg, Warnemunde Germany, Tallin Estonia AND Oslo!



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!