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Posts Tagged ‘In an Irish Home’

Wishes from In an Irish Home to You and Yours

I have so much to be thankful for today and every day: my sweet family {the inlaws and the outlaws!}, wonderful, supportive, friends, and you…the fabulous visitors who call-in to this blog every day!

From the bottom to the top of my Irish heart…THANK YOU!

Thank you for visiting In an Irish Home, for leaving your comments, and for sharing what you like with me and others.
Wishing you and those you love a blessed Thanksgiving Day!

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Yellow and red cherry tomatoes with basil and garlic and olive oil served on a dark grey dish

This recipe started out as a traditional oven roasted tomato dish…one I’ve made a million times. But then, something wonderful and unexpected happened.

The afternoon light began to fade: there was no way to get the tomatoes roasted in time to be photographed, so I wrapped them up and left them on the counter overnight.

yellow and red tomatoes with garlic, basil and olive oil in a baking dish

The next morning, after removing the cling film {plastic wrap}, a cheeky red tomato beckoned me with its lusciousness. Unable to resist, I popped it into my mouth and that’s when I knew…THERE WAS NO WAY THEY WERE GOING INTO THE OVEN!

The tomatoes were sweet and salty and garlicky. I could not stop eating them. In a flash,  I imagined the many ways they could be used {bruschetta, pasta, couscous, salad, grilled chicken, omelet}: so many ways! Then the kids came into the kitchen and they started to nibble on them too. I’ve since made this dish {can it be called a dish?} several times and just poured them into a jar and left them in the fridge. They’ve never lasted long!

Aren’t you thankful when something wonderful and unexpected happens? What dish have you accidentally created…do tell!

Garlicky Marinated Tomatoes

One jar

Ingredients

1 dry pint cherry tomatoes, red and yellow, washed, stems removed, the larger ones cut in half

2 large leaves of basil, rinsed, dried, and finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced thinly

olive oil

dried Italian herbs, to taste

salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1. Place the cherry tomatoes in a flat glass or ceramic baking dish that leaves a little room all around {but not too much room}.

2. Add the garlic, basil, and Italian herbs.

3. Add a few good lugs of olive oil. {this isn’t an exact recipe…I know…you don’t want the ingredients swimming in oil, but you do want a nice thin pool in the bottom of the dish}

4. Add salt and pepper to taste and mix well.

5. Wrap the baking dish with cling film {plastic wrap} and leave on the counter overnight to marinate.

6. The next day, unwrap and pout everything into a glass container, with a tight fitting lid, and refrigerate.

Additional Notes, Related Articles & Credit:

* Weck jars…so cute!

** Just used these tomatoes in our omelets this morning. One word: delicious!

*** Eating tomatoes is a good thing: here’s 10 reasons from webmd.com, why we should all be eating tomatoes.

**** Growing basil is a doddle: here’s a post on how to do it from thekitchn.com.

***** If you like tomatoes, this Tomato and Almond Tart from Yotam Ottolenghi is out of this world good.

 

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Fresh Apple Cake in a loaf pan with a pot of Irish Whiskey Caramel Sauce

Oíche shamhna, Dear Readers! A very happy Halloween to you indeed. We’re feeling festive in our Irish home tonight. The fire is lit, the kids are passing out candy, and we’ve just tucked into the most spooktacular fresh apple cake, topped with Irish whiskey caramel sauce. And, oh my goodness…this is so much better than a chocolate bar or sweet could ever be! The mixed spice and walnuts in the cake give it a gorgeous flavour…but, truth be told, I think the caramel whiskey sauce stole the show!

A jar of homemade Irish Whiskey Caramel Sauce with a bottle of Jameson Irish Whiskey behind it

Did you know Halloween originated with the ancient Celts? ‘Tis true! It is an Irish tradition predating St. Patrick by more than 300 years. It arose from the Celtic fire festival called Samhain (pronounced “sow-in”); marking the end of the harvest period and the beginning of winter.

The Celts believed that on the eve of Samhain, the veil separating the living from the dead opened briefly allowing for mischief and anarchy. Huge bonfires were lit to keep evil spirits at bay and costumes were worn to protect people from being carried off into the “other world”. The friendly spirits of loved ones were welcomed home at this time of year and nuts and apples were offered as enticement.

And it was the thought of Halloween+nuts+apples that led me to make tonight’s pudding (dessert). This fresh apple cake incorporates four apples and nearly 4oz of chopped walnuts. And while it may be too late to make it in your home this evening, print the recipe or save it for another autumn celebration {Thanksgiving is right around the corner!}: I think you’re going to love this!

Fresh Apple Cake

Makes 2 Loaves or 1 Bundt Cake

Ingredients

338g/12oz/3 cups all-purpose flour

454g/16oz/2 cups sugar

3 large eggs

350ml/12oz/1-½ cup vegetable oil

125ml/4oz/ ½ cup apple juice

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon mixed spice {pumpkin spice}

1 vanilla bean, split open and seeds scraped out

102g/36oz/3/4 cup walnuts, finely chopped

4 apples, cored, peeled and finely diced

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 170ºC/325ºF. Grease and line two 900g/2lb loaf tins with parchment paper or grease a 10-inch Bundt pan and lightly flour it too.

2. Using an electric mixer, mix the sugar, eggs, seeds of the vanilla bean, and oil until, smooth. Stir in the apple juice and mix well.

3. Sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, and mixed spice. Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and stir well.

4. Stir in the walnuts and apples. Pour the batter into the prepared pans.

5. Bake for 90 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven, let it cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then carefully remove it from the loaf tins/Bundt pan and allow to cool on a wire rack.

 

The above photos were taken while I was making the whiskey caramel sauce. It’s a very easy process that only takes minutes to make: the results are out of this world good!

Irish Whiskey Caramel Sauce

Makes 6oz

Ingredients

114g/4oz/1 cup sugar

50ml/2oz/ ¼ cup water

118ml/4oz/1/2 cup double cream {heavy whipping cream}

30g/1oz/2 tablespoons butter

¼ teaspoon salt

50ml/2oz/ ¼ cup Irish whiskey

Directions

1. Bring the sugar and water to boil in a large heavy bottom saucepan over medium-high heat. Using a wooden spoon, stir until sugar is dissolved.  Boil, without stirring, until mixture turns a golden/amber color.

2. WHILE the sugar water is cooking, into a separate saucepan add the cream, butter and salt. Cook over medium heat until the butter is melted.

3. When the sugar water has turned amber color remove the saucepan from the heat and CAREFULLY add the cream mixture to it.  The combined mixture will bubble up and the caramel will harden.

4. Return the saucepan to a low heat and simmer, stirring constantly, until the caramel is dissolved and the sauce is smooth.

5. Once combined, add the whiskey and stir well. Set aside to cool and use as desired.

Additional Notes, Related Articles & Credit:
For more information and recipes about Halloween+Ireland, please click on Quick Barm Brack, Halloween & Irish Barm Brack {this is my Barm Brac yeast bread recipe}, Halloween & the Irish offers up lots of lore, Making Candle Pumpkins is a fun craft for this time of year, so too is Halloween Marshmallow Pops, Ireland+Halloween+Apple Cake  features Darina Allen’s Apple Cake recipe+information about the famous Snap Apple Night painting by Cork-born Daniel Maclise, Haunted Ireland is where you’ll find information about haunted Irish castles and homes, and, last but not least, over at Colcannon you’ll find my recipe for this traditional Irish Halloween potato and cabbage dish.

 

 

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Three candles in pumpkins with autumnal leaves

With two daughters in our Irish home, there is always a craft project in the works. And, happily, these sweet little pumpkin luminaries are a doddle to make. In fact, we a had a few odd shaped and left-over candles on hand, so I didn’t even have to buy wax for this activity. Wicks are readily available, as are tiny pumpkins…so there’s no excuse not to try making these pumpkin candles in your home. Enjoy!

Candle Pumpkins

Materials & Equipment

Small pumpkins

Wax flakes or left over candles

Wicks {if you have odd-shaped or old candles you are repurposing, you may also be able to repurpose the wicks}

Aluminium

Cutting board

Knife or store-bought serrated carver {the later worked well for us}

Spoon

Paperclip

Wooden skewer

Old pot

Tape

Instructions

1. Line your countertop or work surface with aluminum. Set out all your supplies.

2. Carefully, cut out the top of the pumpkin with your knife or store-bought serrated carver. This is the trickiest part, especially for little hands. Discard the top.

3. Hollow out the pumpkin with the spoon. Scrape out all the seeds and strings. You can save the pumpkin seeds for roasting later, if you like.

4. Tie one end of the wick to a paperclip and place in the hollowed out pumpkin. If you buy wicks with the metal ring already attached, press the base of the wick into the hollowed out pumpkin.

5. If repurposing old candles, chop them into small pieces on the cutting board…again, taking care not to cut yourself.

6. Put wax into your pot and melt over very low heat on the hob {stove}. It will be clear and totally liquid when ready.

7. Pour the wax, carefully, into the pumpkin. Only fill about half-way. Hold the wick upright as you pour.

8. Tape the top part of the wick to the skewer to hold it in place.

9. Pour the rest of the wax into the pumpkin until it is completely filled.

10. Reposition the wick, if necessary, and leave to cool for at least 6-8 hours or overnight.

11. When the candle is fully set, remove the tape and the skewer. Trim the wick to about 1/2-inch in length above the wax surface.

Additional Notes, Related Articles & Credit:

* While it is still warm, wipe clean the pot you used to melt your wax with kitchen roll {paper towels}. Do not pour hot wax down your sink and do not pour it into your kitchen bin {trash can}.

** For a warm, autumnal smell, add crushed  cinnamon sticks to the wax and stir well before pouring into the hollowed-out pumpkins.

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Marshmallows dipped in chocolate and covered with sprinkles

We have two scary teens in our Irish home who are gravely-deep in study mode. When they’re not murdering the books, however, they’re frequently staring zombie-like at a phone or a computer screen. Damn Snapchat, Youtube and Instagram to hell!

Thankfully, with Halloween terrifyingly near, I have a few crafty distractions up my unearthly sleeve for study break times that don’t involve being tethered to an electronic device.

These adorable Halloween Marshmallow Pops, for example, are the perfect, devilish, quick craft: they take less than 20 minutes to make!

Two halloween marshmallow pops on a plate

What’s more, if you still have little-monsters in your home, these Halloween Marshmallow Pops will be very popular with ghosts and goblins at school, and they make for a howling good project for a playdate. Trick-or-treat!

Chocolate dipped Halloween marshmallow pops

Halloween Marshmallow Pops

Ingredients

Large marshmallows

chocolate buttons, chips, or melts

assorted sprinkles

colourful paper straws

coloured decorating gel {I use Wilton}

Directions

1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet.

2. Melt chocolate in a microwaveable bowl in 30 second increments, stirring in between, until all the pieces are completely melted {may take up to 2 minutes}.

2. Insert a straw into the middle of a marshmallow. Set aside on the baking sheet.

3. Dip each marshmallow into the melted chocolate to the depth of your preference. Tap the straw, gently, on the side of the bowl to remove excess chocolate.

4. Coat marshmallow with sprinkles and place on the baking sheet until the chocolate is set. You may speed up the process by putting the marshmallows in the fridge.

5. Repeat with remaining marshmallows.

6. Using decorative gel, draw faces, lines, or whatever you like on each marshmallow.

Additional Notes, Related Articles & Credit:

* I buy most of my craft supplies when I’m in American, but you can buy Wilton Decorating Gel and sprinkles in Ireland at Homestore & More and you can frequently buy American marshmallows at Avoca Handweavers.

** If you’re visiting America in the next few months, call into Target and Michaels for fun craft items and decor: these are two of my favourite go-to places.

*** How many Halloween vocabulary words did you spot in this post? Thanks to enchanted learning.com for the inspiration!

**** There are more how-to ideas for making adorable marshmallow pops over at justtaste.com, multiplesandmore.com, and momalwaysfindsout.com.

***** For more fun kid-friendly recipes check out the following blog posts at In an Irish Home: A S’Mores Cake, Irish Caramels, Ginger Biscuits, Irish Shortbread Biscuits, and Irish Rice Krispie Buns.

 

 

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A glass bowl filled with maple vanilla whipped cream

My girls are growing up fast. So fast {sigh}.

In no time at all they’ll be leaving secondary school {high school} and heading to university.

Where they will go to college is anyone’s guess. Being Irish and American, and practically having been born with a suitcase in their hand, they think globally. Ireland…America…the U.K….or even farther afield..are all options.

And, so, with mixed emotions, I am opening my heart, mind, and our hall door to allow them the freedom to chose what feels best for them. Yes, like generations of Irish mothers before me, I am steeling myself for the eventual immigration of my children.

“But why now?”, I hear you ask. The answer is sweet and simple. Not too long ago, while I was making dinner, my eldest daughter walked into our kitchen and said, “Mom, I’ve got to learn how to cook.”

Even today, as I write this blog post, I can see her, plain as day, standing in our kitchen, hands folded across her chest, earnestly running through the list of things she needs to learn to do before she graduates next year. “And, I need to learn how to clean, do laundry, shop, and drive too! Maybe I won’t be ready for college!!”, she said.

In that moment, I realised, she’s a planner…a worrier…and already thinking about leaving.

With regard to food, she was very specific: “I only want to make easy things…not microwaveable ones…I’ll only eat microwaved food sometimes!”. And then just to be sure I was listening, she repeated, “I just want easy food mom”.

So, in the coming year, starting with today, I will be posting recipes that even a sixth-year student {senior in high school} can make while living under our roof, studying for exams, applying to university, making us crazy, and waiting for their lives to begin.

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First up…Maple Vanilla Whipped Cream. It’s a Cooking 101 recipe. For those of us with more than basic cooking skills, it seems a bit ridiculous to write a blog post about whipping cream. And yet, there is science and creativity to making whipped cream {as anyone who has accidentally turned their cream into butter can attest to}.

And, yes, I know it’s a crime to add anything to Irish whipping cream. Unlike cream in my native country, Irish cream is gorgeous. It has real flavour and needs no embellishment whatsoever. But, since my girls may not end up in Ireland one day {and because, on occasion, we all like to try something new} I’m starting my College Bound Girls blog posts with this incredibly delicious recipe. If you’ve got university bound kids, please share your recipes with us.

And, finally, a side note: the Victoria Sponge pictured above was made by my youngest daughter last week. The recipe will be posted soon!

Maple Vanilla Freshly Whipped Cream

Makes about 2 pints/4 cups

Ingredients

1 pint/2 cups cream

1 tablespoon maple syrup (optional)

1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)

Directions

1. Pour cream into a large mixing bowl.

2. Add maple syrup and vanilla and beat until soft, billowy, peaks form. You may use a balloon whisk, an electric hand mixer, or a stand mixer…whichever you prefer.

3. To test: lift the whisk out of the bowl and turn upside down. If the cream peak holds its shape and falls slightly to one side, you’re done.

Additional Notes, Related Articles & Credits:

* A ballon whisk is very easy to use…and I think the most satisfying. I used a balloon whisk for years, until my sister-in-law, Rosaleen, bought me an electric hand mixer for Christmas. Now I alternate, depending on how much time I have.

**If you use an electric mixer, beat the cream on medium speed, being careful not to over beat. You will recognise over beaten whipped cream instantly by its grainy  texture. To rescue, add a few extra tablespoons of cream from the carton and, using a hand whisk, gently mix it together.

***If you’re out to really have fun, continue beating your cream until it becomes butter!

****You can make whipped cream ahead of time and refrigerate it, covered, for up to four hours before serving.

***** In this video, one Irish dad gets very creative while helping his wife in the kitchen make cream. And, yes, that’s a drill he’s using!

******And, finally, here’s a video of life hacks one of my daughters downloaded to my phone. Just one more example of how they are preparing for adulthood. Be warned this video is addictive.

 

 

 

 

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Brown and white Irish button mushrooms on a tea towel.

Myrtle Allen's mushroom soup in a white bowl.

The lazy days of summer are well and truly over and everyone in our Irish home is moving back into life lived at warp speed.

The kids are busy with school, sports practices/games, clubs, and homework. Our eldest daughter recently added an after school job to her schedule, which brings great opportunities for personal growth and some very welcome pocket money! My husband is traveling a lot again. And, as for me, I’m holding the whole show together.

On those days when I need a meal that’s quick and easy to make, I am thankful to have Irish Mushroom Soup as one of my go-to recipes. This particular recipe, from Myrtle Allen of Ballymaloe House, is delicious and wholesome and takes all of about 20 minutes to make. What’s more, I don’t feel the need to make anything else to call this supper: a loaf of bread and lashings of good Irish butter make it totally complete.

I’ve adjusted Myrtle’s recipe ever so slightly, God forgive me! I use a yellow onion rather than a load of spring onions and I don’t make a roux (I just pop everything into the soup pot and give it a good, stiff, stir). This soup is absolutely no fuss but it tastes like you’ve slaved over a hot hob (stove) all day.

Enjoy!

Myrtle’s Mushroom Soup

Serves 4

Ingredients

4oz/1 cup onions, finely chopped

2 oz/4 tablespoons butter

8oz/2 ½ cups mushrooms, finely chopped, (I use a variety of mushrooms)

salt and pepper

2 tablespoons plain flour

8oz/1 cup milk

80z/1 cup chicken stock

Directions

1. Sweat the onions in the butter until soft (5 minutes approximately).

2. Stir in the mushrooms and seasoning and cook for 1 minute.

3. Add the flour and cook for 2 more minutes, stirring well.

4. Remove from the heat. Blend in the milk and stock. Return to the cooker and bring the mixture to the boil, stirring all the time.

5. Adjust the seasoning (my two cents here: using a hand-held blender, blend until you have a consistency you like) and serve.

Additional Notes, Related Articles & Credits:

* If you have a few minutes, watch this interesting interview over at the Irish Food Channel with Myrtle Allen regarding Irish food production and why Irish food is so delicious.

** Read the Wall Street Journal’s article on how Myrtle Allen helped transform “fine Irish cuisine” into a bona fide culinary movement.

*** Here are some fab mushroom hunts in Ireland: Mushroom hunt with Bill O’Dea at Killruddery House and the Annual Mushroom Hunt & Lunch at Longueville House, Cork.

**** The Northern Ireland Fungus Group has lots of advice on which mushrooms can be eaten and organises annual fungal forays. See http://www.nifg.org.uk for details.

***** For other delicious soup recipes, check-out my Autumn Vegetable Soup, Leak and Potato Soup, Pea & Mint Soup, and, last but not least, my Good Old Fashioned Chicken Soup.

 

 

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