Irish Shortbread with Lavender and Lemon

January 19, 2015 by Katie

 

 

LAV 4

I have had lavender in my pantry that I have been dying to use.  I decided I would make Irish shortbread cookies but add a twist, lavender and lemon. This is not a cookie for everyone, the boys in my house did not approve. I however liked the citrusy floral aroma these cookies had, perfect with a cup of tea on these cold winter days or some fresh lemonade in the summer. The recipe is very easy and it is hard to mess this one up. The only thing I would be careful with is the amount of lavender you add. I think everyone is different some may want a very subtle hint, while others may enjoy amore powerful perfumed punch of lavender. The one thing I do know is that they smell divine baking….Enjoy!

 

Ingredients:

1 & 1/2 sticks of Kerrygold Irish Butter, softened

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, will need more for dusting work surface

2 teaspoons dried lavender flowers (more or less depending on your taste)

2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest (about 1 large lemon)

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

1–2 tablespoons lemon juice

 

Shortbread Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

2. Using a hand held mixer, cream together butter and sugar.

3.  Slowly add the flour, 1 teaspoon of lavender and 1 teaspoon of lemon zest and mix with your hands. Continue mixing until dough comes together to form a ball.

4. Drop spoonfuls  onto an ungreased cookie sheet.

5. Sprinkle the tops with sugar and press down with the bottom of a glass slightly.

6. Prick the edges lightly with a fork.

7. Bake until shortbread just begins to turn golden, approximately 25-30 minutes.

8. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Glaze Instructions:

1. Whisk together the confectioner’s sugar, 1 teaspoon of lemon zest and 1 teaspoon of dried lavender. Start mixing in lemon juice by using one tablespoon at first, then continue adding in only enough until your icing is smooth and tastes yummy. If you want you can add more lavender or lemon zest to your taste.

2. Ice the cookies by dipping the tops into the icing and turning them over onto a wire rack.  The icing will dry on the cookie .

Enjoy!

 

 

On the Lig

October 2, 2014 by Katie

My son Alex  and I recently had the opportunity to be extras in the filming of a new Irish comedy called “On the Lig” . If you are unfamiliar with the term “On the Lig” (don’t worry, I was too), this term roughly means getting something for free or very cheap. This series is about struggling Irish artists living in New York who have big dreams but not big amounts of cash and how they survive in this big city. This series is directed and produced by Emmy award winners,  Niall McKay and  Marissa Aroy.

We had a wonderful time being “extras”, it was something we had never done and the people could not have been nicer.  Our role was to act as guests at a fundraising event during the shoot and the actors portrayed their parts hilariously.  We had many laughs throughout the day and met some wonderful new people. It was interesting to see all the work involved in taping just one episode of a series. This series is still in the making and I ask that all of you keep an eye out for this great comedy. Please see the links below to find out more information. A kickstart program will be beginning shortly so please consider helping out a comedy that features the Irish, something we do not have right now in the states and I am sure we would all love to watch.

 

Short preview trailer:
 
Longer “look” trailer:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

White Soda Bread

September 19, 2014 by Katie

 

 

Soda Bread 1

 

White Soda Bread

It is starting to feel a bit like fall here in New Jersey so  I decided to make a big pot of soup. I also wanted to make some crusty bread to enjoy with the soup.. I decided to try another form of soda bread, traditional white soda bread. Here in America we tend to think of soda bread as sweet with raisins or dried fruit. Traditional white Irish soda bread however is not sweet. Soda bread usually accompanies hearty meals like soups and stews, great for soaking and sopping up all the gravy. I have tried my hand at white soda bread before and I will admit a few times I was left with a very heavy hockey puck but not this time. This bread was very easy to make and was hearty but soft inside with a crusty exterior.

All you need to know about soda bread is that it’s really easy and quick to make. Fight the urge to over knead the bread more than necessary… I believe this is what I was doing wrong during my other attempts. Once you’ve mastered the basic mixture and technique, you can have a fresh hot loaf of soda bread  within an hour .

Once the dough is ready,  a cross is cut into the dough. The cross on the soda bread has several explanations, legend it was done to “let the devil  or fairies out” while it’s baking for good luck, and others say that it made it easy to divide into 4 pieces.

Ingredients

  • ½ teaspoon unsalted butter and 1-2 tablespoons flour for preparing pan
  • 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1¾ cup buttermilk

 

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Lightly butter and flour a round cake pan.

3. Using a large bowl, combine the flour, soda, salt and buttermilk. Turn out onto a floured surface and lightly knead, just for a minute or two.

4. Shape the dough into a round, flat shape, place in prepared pan and cut a cross into the top of the dough.

5. Cover the pan of dough with another round cake pan.

6. Bake for 30 minutes covered, then remove top pan and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

7. Enjoy warm, toasted or at room temperature with some good Irish butter.

 

Soda Bread 2

St. Patrick’s Day 2014 – Parades & Events

March 7, 2014 by Katie

word art for St. Patrick's Day

Hello all it is my favorite time of year once again – St. Patrick’s Day! Here is a list of all he parades in our area. I hope you are able to make at least one, hey maybe you can make them all.

I know I will try! I think there are enough parades here to keep you busy. Come out and celebrate the Irish.  Enjoy!

New Jersey

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Ocean County St. Patrick’s Day Parade – Seaside Heights, NJ – 12PM

http://www.ocstpatricksdayparade.com/,

South Amboy Saint Patrick’s Day Parade – 2pm.

http://southamboyparade.com/index.html

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Rumson NJ St. Patrick’s Day Parade – 1PM

http://rumsonstpatricksdayparade.org/

Asbury Park Saint Patrick’s Day Parade – 1pm – The parade route begins at the Asbury Park Boardwalk on Ocean Ave at 4th Ave and continues southwest towards  downtown.

http://asburyparkstpatricksparade.com/details/

Woodbridge NJ Saint Patrick’s Day Parade – 1:30pm, parade begins a t Woodbridge High School and ends at Woodbridge Town Hall.

http://www.amerirish.com/id4.html

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Morristown Saint Patrick’s Day Parade  – The parade starts at 12:00 noon near the corner of South Street and James Street. It proceeds up South Street around the Morristown Green and Ends at Atno Avenue.

http://paradeday.com/

Wildwood Saint Patrick’s Day Parade – 12noon – Parade  proceeds north on Atlantic Avenue to Olde New Jersey Avenue.

http://www.wildwoodsnj.com/calendar.cfm

Atlantic City Saint Patrick’s Day Parade – 1pm –  North of Revel’s Casino and the Boardwalk ending at Albany Avenue and the Boardwalk.

http://acstpatricksdayparade.com/

Union County  Saint Patrick’s Day Parade – 1pm – The Marching units gather at Morris Avenue and along Commerce and Jeanette Avenues, the parade route proceeds east along Morris Avenue to a turn at the Main Reviewing Stand and ends at Roosevelt Avenue.

http://www.unioncountystpatricksdayparade.com/

West Hudson NJ Saint Patrick’s Day Parade – 2pm – Parade begins at the intersection of S. 3rd Street & Harrison Ave in Harrison, turns into E. Newark at Central Ave, and into Kearny at Kearny Ave and Johnston Street.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

West Orange St. Patrick’s Day Parade – 12:15pm on Main Street

http://www.westorangeparade.com/

Somerville New Jersey St Patrick’s Parade -1:30pm –  The parade will startat the corner of Grove and E. Main street and proceeding west through W. Main St. eventually ending at Immaculate Conception School on West End Ave. A pre-parade show is typically held weather permitting at 1:00 P.M. and will feature Irish Dancing exhibitions, and will be located in front of the Review Stand at the corner of Main Street and Doughty Avenue.

http://www.somervillesaintpatricksparade.com/index.html

Bergenfield St. Patrick’s Day Parade – 2pm – The parade marches up Washington Avenue.

http://bccia.wordpress.com/2012-31first-annual-bergen-county-st-patricks-day-parade/

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Ringwood Saint Patrick’s Day Parade – 1pm – Parade Begins at The Ringwood Plaza, goes down Skyline Drive then up to 112 Erskine Road.

Sunday March 23, 2014

Bayonne Saint Patrick’s Day Parade – 1pm – Broadway from 5th St to 39th St.

http://www.bayonnestpatricksparade.org/

New York

Saturday, March 8, 2014

White Plains Saint Patrick’s Day Parade – 12pm

http://whiteplainssaintpatricksday.com/

Sunday,  March 16, 2014

Throggs Neck Saint Patrick’s Day Parade – 12pm – Parade begins at E. Tremont and Lafayette Avenues and continues down E. Tremont, Right onto Harding Avenue and concludes at Harding and Brinsmade Avenues.

http://tnsaintpatricksdayparade.blogspot.com/

Brooklyn  Saint  Patrick’s Day Parade – 1pm – From 15th Street & Prospect Park West > Down 15th Street to 7th Avenue > Along 7th Avenue > To Garfield Place > Up Garfield Place To Prospect Park West > And Along Prospect Park West To 15th Street

http://brooklynstpatricksparade.com/home.html

Rocky Point Saint Patrick’s Day Parade – 1pm – The beginning of the parade is Rt. 25A & Harrison Ave. Miller Place and goes east along Rt. 25A and ends at Broadway & Prince Rd.

http://www.friendsofsaintpatrick.com/index.html

          

Monday, March 17, 2014

New York City Saint Patrick’s Day Parade – 11am – Fifth Avenue from 44th Street to 79th Street.

http://nycstpatricksparade.org/home.html

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Yonkers Saint Patrick’s Day Parade – 1pm – McLean Avenue

http://www.yonkersstpatricksparade.org/

Sunday March 23, 2014

Bayridge  Saint Patrick’s Day Parade – 1pm – The parade will run along 3rd Avenue, starting at Marine Avenue/3rd Ave down to 67st Street.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bay-Ridge-St-Patricks-Day-Parade/178108715628472

Rockland County Saint Patrick’s Day Parade – 1:30pm – The Streets of Pearl River, NY             

http://www.rocklandcountyaoh.com/category/parade/

 

Roddy Doyle – The Guts

February 5, 2014 by Katie

Brooklyn Book Launch: The Guts by Roddy Doyle, co-sponsored by the Irish Arts Center

 

Today is yet another snow day here in New Jersey. I am a big baby when it comes to driving in the snow. Just the thought of having to drive in the snow brings on intense feelings of panic. If it had been a nice day I would have loved to go into Brooklyn to hear author Roddy Doyle an Irish novelist, dramatist and screenwriter speak about his new book, The Guts. In his newest novel, Doyle brings back Jimmy Rabbitte of The Commitments.

In the 1980s Jimmy Rabbitte formed the Commitments, a ragtag, blue-collar collective of Irish youths determined to bring the soul music stylings of James Brown and Percy Sledge to Dublin. Time proves a great equalizer for Jimmy as he’s now approaching fifty with a loving wife, four kids, and a recent cancer diagnosis that leaves him feeling shattered and frightened.  As he battles his illness on his path through Dublin, Jimmy manages to reconnect with his own past, most notably Commitments guitarist Liam “Outspan” Foster and the still beautiful backup vocalist Imelda Quirk. Jimmy also learns the trumpet, reunites with his long-lost brother, and rediscovers the joys of fatherhood.

Roddy Doyle is the author of ten novels for adults, seven books for children, seven plays and screenplays, and dozens of short stories. Many of his books have been made into movies including one of my favorites, The Snapper.

If you feel like braving the snow head on over to The Powerhouse Arena in Brooklyn and see a wonderful writer who will have you laughing out loud.

 Brooklyn Book Launch: The Guts by Roddy Doyle, co-sponsored by the Irish Arts Center.

Wednesday Feb 05, 2014 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

THE POWERHOUSE ARENA [Dumbo] 37 Main Street Brooklyn, NY 11201

For more information, please call 718.666.3049

RSVP appreciated: RSVP@powerHouseArena.com

 http://powerhousearena.com/events/book-launch-the-guts-by-roddy-doyle/

 

 

 

Bangers, Beans & Kale Soup

January 3, 2014 by Katie

Banger Soup

Today was a snow day here in New Jersey. My son could not have been happier and I too was glad I could stay in my pajamas and work from home. I recently bought some Irish sausages (bangers) at an Irish grocery store and wanted to make something different and healthier with them besides the traditional Irish fry  breakfast. I decided I would use them today and make a big pot of soup on this cold snowy day. If you do not have Irish sausages do not worry any sausage can be substituted in this recipe so use what you have and what you like. My son Alex is my official taste tester and he loved it so I hope you will too.

 

Bangers, Beans & Kale Soup

Ingredients:

  • 8 Cups of Chicken Broth
  • 6 Irish Sausages Cooked (Can be substituted with any sausage of your choice)
  • 2 Cans of Cannellini Beans
  • 8 Ounces Frozen Kale
  • 1/2 Cup Penne Pasta
  • 1 Small Onion Diced
  • 3 Scallions Diced Small
  • 3 Cloves of Garlic Chopped Finely
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
  • Parmesan Rind
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

Directions:

  1. Sauté onion and scallion in olive oil for two minutes. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté for 1 minute be careful to not let burn.
  2. Add 8 cups of chicken broth, sausage and parmesan rind. Bring to a boil.
  3. Add pasta, Cannellini beans and Kale and  let simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese.

Banger Soup 2

 

Irish Movies on Netflix

November 24, 2013 by Katie

Waking Ned Devine

 

Today has been a lazy day. It is freezing here in New Jersey and I have a big pot of Guinness Stew cooking on the stove (recipe to follow). It smells wonderful and is the perfect food on a day like today. I am going to curl up on the sofa with the family and watch a movie. This got me thinking, which Irish movies does Netflix have to offer?  I did my research and this is the list I came up with:

  • About Him – A deceptive lad courts all three sisters in a tight- knit Irish family and none of them have any idea in this romantic comedy.
  • Agnes Browne – Agnes must fend for herself and her seven children when her husband dies. Fortunately her best friend is there to lend support and laughter.
  • Alarm – A young journalist Molly buys the home of her dreams in the suburbs. Although she is recovering from an old trauma, Molly feels secure, especially with her new boyfriend, Mal until a string of burglaries triggers her mental instability.
  • Citadel – Months after a gang of feral children attack and kill his pregnant wife, agoraphobic young father Tommy is left to raise their daughter on his own. But his persistent visions of his late wife’s attackers propel his phobia to menacing new heights.
  • The Dead – Gabriel Conroy and wife Greta attend a Christmas dinner with friends at the home of his spinster aunts, an evening which results in an epiphany for both of them.
  • Dead Bodies – When self-absorbed couple Tommy (Andrew Scott) and Jean (Katy Davis) decide to give their rocky romance one more shot, a deadly event changes Tommy’s life forever.
  • Death of a Superhero – Sick of chemo, since it hasn’t cured his leukemia, 15-year-old Irish lad Daniel is full of fear, anger and worry. Concerned about dying a virgin, he’s sent to a therapist whose compassionate yet pragmatic attitude helps him face his fears.
  • The Fall (TV Series) – A murder in Belfast is unsolved, and DSI Stella Gibson is brought in to solve the case and catch the killer.
  • The Field – Set in 1930’s Western Ireland, a peasant and a wealthy Irish American battle over land.
  • Five Minutes of Heaven – Five Minutes of Heaven is a story inspired by two extraordinary lives, which explores the challenges of coming to terms with Northern Ireland’s troubled past.
  • Happy Ever Afters – Two couples getting married on the same day and host their receptions in the same hotel set the stage in this comedy.
  • How About You – This film is based on a short story by Irish author Maeve Binchy. When the manager of a retirement home goes away for the holidays, four mischievous residents turn the place upside down.
  • In the Name of the Father – This biopic  examines Irishman Gerry Conlon, who was wrongfully sentenced to life in prison for an IRA terrorist attack that killed four people.
  • Into the West – Two Irish brothers embark on a daring rescue to save their beloved white stallion from an unethical horse breeder.
  • Jack Taylor (TV Series) – Irish television series based on the novels of Ken Bruen.  Set in Galway, Jack Taylor, a former officer with the Garda
    Síochána  (national police) unwillingly becomes a private investigator after leaving the service.
  • Jig – This documentary goes behind the scenes at the fiercely competitive 40th Irish World Dancing Championships.
  • Night Train – An ageing ex-con with a passion for trains is released from jail in Ireland and moves in with a middle-aged woman and her mother. Whilst tentatively striking up a relationship with his lonely landlady, the timid train lover finds unfinished business from his previous career is coming back to haunt him.
  • Nora – Author James choice falls for passionate Nora Barnacle and they move to Italy. Joyce later returns to Ireland and they begin an erotic correspondence.
  • Omagh – After the 1998 IRA Battle in Omagh, Northern Ireland, the bereaved father of a victim battles for an explanation.
  • Ondine – The story of an Irish fisherman who discovers a woman in his fishing net who he believes to be a Selke (a water nymph).
  • The Runway – The citizens of Ireland’s County Cork come to the aid of a South American pilot who has crash landed in their town,
  • Secret of the Kells – Animated film in which Vikings attack an Irish abbey and the young nephew of an abbot must brave the enchanted forest to complete work on a legendary book.
  • Shadow Dancer – Collette, a single mother and career IRA terrorist, is captured after an abortive bombing in London and faces an excruciating ultimatum.
  • Shrooms – 3 couples go to Ireland woods to collect magic mushrooms and trip out. On their way they meet some strange inhabitants of the woods and it doesn’t take long until a creepy story is being told at the campfire which might be more than just a story.
  • The Snapper – In this comedy,Sharon Curley is a 20-year-old living with her parents and many brothers and sisters. When she gets herself pregnant and refuses to name the father, she becomes the talk of the town.
  • Stella Days In mid-1950s Ireland, a parish priest, in an attempt to raise funds for his church and merge his passion for film with his faith, opens a small cinema in his community, provoking conflict with the bishop and the parishioners.
  • Tara Road – Based on Maeve Binchy’s novel, Marilyn, a grieving American mother, meets Ria, an Irish wife recently dumped by her husband. Through a chance phone call, the two agree to swap houses for the summer and strive to find strength and healing amid new surroundings.
  • Wake Wood – After losing their only child, Alice, in a vicious dog attack, two grieving parents relocate to a small town where — to their horror and fascination — they discover a pagan ritual that will grant them three more days with their deceased daughter.
  • Waking Ned Devine – When a lottery winner dies of shock, his fellow townsfolk attempt to claim the money.
  • Waveriders – Documentarian Joel Conroy traces the Irish origins of surfing, focusing largely on George Freeth, an Irishman of Hawaiian descent who is credited with popularizing the sport in the early 20th century.
  • The Wind that Shakes the Barley – As political tensions brew in early 1920s Ireland, brothers Damien and Teddy abandon their civilian lives and take up arms to liberate their country from the oppressive “Black and Tan” squads of Britain.

There you have it, a list of Irish movies on Netflix. If you have any to add please do so in the comments section below. Enjoy one tonight!

Bread and Butter Pudding

November 17, 2013 by Katie

Bread 2

Bread and Butter Pudding

This dessert is warm and comforting perfect to enjoy on a cold day with a hot cup of tea. This pudding can be made with any type of bread you desire from raisin bread to sourdough. This dessert is very simple to make and does not require many ingredients. Bread and butter pudding is a dessert with a long history in Ireland and most Irish grandmothers have their own bread pudding recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 8 slices of  bread 
  • butter, softened
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup of raisins or mixed fruit
  • 14 ounce can of condensed milk
  • whole nutmeg, for grating
  • ground cinnamon
  •  2 tablespoons raw brown sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease an 8 x 10 – inch baking dish.
  2. Spread the butter over the slices of bread. Cut each slice of bread diagonally in half, then arrange half the bread overlapping in the prepared baking dish.
  3. Scatter half of the raisins/fruit over the bread , grate some nutmeg over the slices and sprinkle with cinnamon and brown sugar and then cover with the remaining buttered bread slices and the remaining raisins/fruit.
  4. In a bowl beat the eggs and then add the condensed milk and mix well. Pour into the baking dish and let stand for 15 minutes to let the bread soak up some of the mixture.
  5. Tuck the fruit under the slices of bread so it does not burn. Grate some nutmeg on top, and sprinkle all over with brown sugar and cinnamon.
  6. Place the baking dish on a baking tray at the top of the oven for 30-40 minutes until just set and golden brown. Serve warm and enjoy!

Bread 1

 

 

Barm Brack

November 3, 2013 by Katie

Barm Brack 1

 

In the spirit of Halloween week there seemed no better choice than to make Barm Brack. This bread is delicious and not too sweet. It is delicious served warm with butter and a lovely cup of tea.  Barm Brack is traditionally served on or around Halloween and what makes this bread so special is the fortune telling game associated with it. Charms are backed into the bread inside wax paper and each charm when found holds a prediction for the person who found it. Here are the charms that may be baked inside and their meanings:

Ring – Will be married within a year

Bean/Piece of Cloth – Poverty

Coin – Wealth

Button – Bachelorhood

Thimble – Spinsterhood

There are many variations on the charms and their meanings and you can even add your own. I took the plane from my son’s Monopoly game and added that too and the receiver,  well they would travel of course. Please warn people that there are charms inside the bread before they bite, broken teeth would ruin all the fun.

 

Ingredients:        

  • 1 3/4 cups brewed black tea, cold ( I used Earl Grey)
  • 1 cup  sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups raisins
  • 1 1/4 cups self-rising flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp. allspice

Directions:

1. Grease a loaf pan.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

3.Put the tea and raisins  into a bowl, cover and leave to soak overnight. The next morning the raisins will be very plump and moist.

4. Mix  the flour,  sugar and allspice into the bowl with the tea and raisins.

5.  Mix in the beaten egg and pour into a loaf pan.

6. If you would like to add charms place them in wax paper and add to the batter.

7. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, approximately 1 hour. Each time I bake this the baking time tends to vary so please keep an eye on the bread. It usually needs a little more time not less.

Barm Brack 2

 

 

Champ

October 27, 2013 by Katie

Champ 2

 

Champ is one of my favorite comfort foods and extremely simple and easy to make. Champ is mashed potatoes with scallions mixed in and a nice dollop of melted butter in the center.  This dish is great on a budget and satisfying too. Some children have Champ for Halloween dinner. A coin is wrapped in greaseproof paper and buried inside the Champ.If you were lucky enough to find the coin in your portion you would have good luck for a year not to mention some temporary riches.

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 Medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 8-10 Scallions
  • Cup of milk, may need more depends on your liking
  • Stick of butter
  • Salt to taste

Champ 3

Directions:

1. Wash and peel the potatoes and boil in a large pot until fully cooked, make sure to drain the potatoes once fully cooked.

2. Add half a stick of butter and a some milk to the pot and proceed to mash the potatoes until smooth using a hand masher. You can add more or less butter and milk until you reach  the smoothness   you prefer for your mashed potatoes. Add salt to taste.

3. Chop the scallions and fold  into your mashed potatoes.

4. Serve the mashed potatoes onto warm plates or bowls. Now this is the most important part, shape the servings into a volcano and make a small well in the middle.  Add a generous pat of butter  into the well of each serving.

5. Enjoy!

Champ 1