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!