Halloween & My Barmbrack Recipe

Halloween, celebrated on October 31st, is one of those true Celtic traditions that has become a world-wide celebrated occasion. Historically, it is based on the Celtic festival of Samhain which is derived from Old Irish and means roughly “summer’s end”.
With the plantation of Ulster in the early 1600’s, the Scottish colonists brought with them the festival of All Hallow’s Evening (All Hallows Even’) celebrated on the same night and the two traditions merged. This was the night that the souls of the dead were thought to walk the earth and many people believed it a setting for supernatural encounters! I remember how Holy Water was sprinkled on the outhouses, sheds and farm animals  to keep them safe during the night and mirrors in our house were covered with sheets so that the poor souls could not enter the living world.
The traditional bread served on the night was the Halloween Barmbrack, meaning speckled cake, which is a sweet fruit bread. The word Barm comes from an old English word, beorma, meaning yeasty fermented liquor and Brack comes from the Irish word brac, meaning speckled – which it is with the dried fruit and candied peel.
The bracks made with yeast are called “barmbracks” and those that use baking powder and fruit soaked in tea are called “tea bracks”.
Each member of your family must get a slice and it was always a great treat, to find the penny in the cake as this meant you were going to be rich. Other items buried in the barmbrack are: a ring for the bride-to-be, a thimble for the one who would never marry and a small piece of cloth indicating the one who would be poor. This is the recipe I have used for many years and it makes one loaf.
My Ingredients:
450g plain flour
1/2 tspn ground cinnamon
1/2 tspn ground nutmeg
7g (1 sachet) dried yeast
75g butter
75g castor sugar
250ml milk
1 beaten egg
150g raisins
100g currants
50g chopped peel
A little melted butter for greasing
My Method:
1. Warm the milk, add the butter and let it melt in the warm milk.
2. Mix the yeast with 1 tablespoon of sugar. Add half the warmed milk mixture. Add the beaten egg.
3. Sift the cinnamon with the flour into a bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour the yeast and liquid mixture into it. Sprinkle a little flour over the liquid and leave it in a warm place for 1/2 hour until yeast froths up.
4. Add in the remainder of the liquid and mix the whole lot into a dough. Turn it out onto a floured board and knead the sugar, raisins, currants and chopped peel into the dough.
5. Put the dough into a butter-greased large bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave in a warm place until doubled in size.
6. Knead it back again and then shape into your greased bread tin. Brush the top with melted butter and cover until doubled in bulk again.
7. Bake for 40 minutes in a pre-heated hot oven at 200°C until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
8. To give it a nice glaze stir 1 tbls sugar into 50ml boiling water and brush this over the top of the loaf when it comes out of the oven and is still hot.
Don’t forget to Feed the Fish at the end of this Post!
Posted in barmbrack, Halloween, http://verygoodrecipes.com/irish, http://verygoodrecipes.com/recipes, recipe | Leave a comment

A Halloween Treat with an Irish Whiskey Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie has not been traditionally eaten in Ireland and is historically baked around the festivities for Thanksgiving and Christmas in the United States and Canada. It is however, becoming a more popular Halloween dish here in recent years, as many coffee shops and restaurants have been adding this sweet, mousse-like dessert dish to their seasonal menu.

The original Jack O’Lanterns were carved from turnips, potatoes or beets and has been a popular tradition here for centuries! Immigrants from Ireland brought the Jack O’Lantern tradition with them when they went to the United States. They soon found that pumpkins, a fruit native to America, make perfect Jack O’Lanterns.

So, I am going to add another little piece of Ireland to the Halloween story, by flavouring my Pumpkin Pie with a little Jameson Irish Whiskey. You can use whichever brand is your own favourite!

There are many many types of pumpkin, some are good for eating and some are not! The big Halloween carved Pumpkin that you see each year was bred especially for carving, with it’s tough thick skin and fibrous flesh. Pumpkins grown to be eaten tend to be heavier because they have more flesh inside. The veg shops and supermarkets sell smaller pumpkins like the French Rouge vif d’Etampes, also known as the “Cinderella Pumpkin” (it got it’s nickname from it’s the fairy tale carriage). The most common pumpkin on sale here in Ireland, that is used for cooking, is called a “Becky” Pumpkin.

The first recorded recipe for “modern” pumpkin pie was published as a ‘Pompkin Pudding’ in 1796, in a book called American Cookery by Amelia Simmons. This cookbook is considered the first Cookery Book to be published by an American, in America. Only four copies of the first edition are known to exist!

The first American Cookbook: American Cookery, by Amelia Simmons, 
published by Hudson & Goodwin of Hartford, Connecticut, USA, in 1796

A Pumpkin Pie is made, more or less, in the same way as a Baked Cheesecake or a Custard Tart and is flavoured with cinnamon, cloves and ginger. If you’ve never eaten a pumpkin pie, you could be excused for thinking that it might taste like a savoury vegetable quiche – but it’s really more like a cheesecake in a pastry crust! The Gingernut biscuits add flavour and also help to make the base crunchier. The evaporated milk gives a richness to the pie and the Irish whiskey works just perfectly with the spices to give it a yummy warming taste sensation!

It’s very simple to make and once you have the pumpkin purée made, the rest of it comes together quickly and easily. In the US, they buy canned puréed pumpkin for use in cooking.
Becky Pumpkin – Butternut Squash – Sweet Potato

You can make this recipe at any time of year by substituting Butternut Squash or Sweet Potato instead of pumpkin. Their texture and taste are almost the same when flavoured and cooked!

This makes one 10″ x 1.5″ Pumpkin Pie.

To Make the Pumpkin Puree:
Cut a medium-sized pumpkin into wedges and discard all the seeds. Cook the pumpkin in the microwave on high power for 12 minutes. Scrape off all the cooked flesh and purée it quickly in a blender until smooth. (If you are using canned pumpkin purée you’ll need to spoon this onto a clean tea-towel and squeeze away as much liquid as possible.)You’ll need 400g Pumpkin Purée for the pie.

The Puréed Pumpkin, a Splash of Irish Whiskey & Crushing the Gingernut Biscuits
Sweet Pastry
250g Plain Flour
100g Butter
75g Demerara Sugar
1 medium egg
a little Cold Water
100g crushed Gingernut Biscuits

1. Rub the butter into the flour until it’s like breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and mix in. Break in the egg and quickly pull the pastry together adding a little cold water if needed. Roll it out and line a floured  10″ Pie Dish (about 1.5 ” deep). Trim off any extra pastry.

2. Crumb the Gingernut biscuits in a blender or by placing them in a sandwich bag and rolling them with a rolling pin until fine. Sprinkle the biscuit-crumb over the pastry base, pat it down and refrigerate until needed.

Crush the Gingernut Biscuits and gently press them onto the Sweet Pastry

The Filling
3 Medium Eggs
160g Light Brown Sugar
1x 410g can Evaporated Milk
1 tspn ground Cinnamon
1/2 tspn ground Ginger
A pinch of ground Cloves
1/2 tspn Salt
400g Pumpkin Purée
35ml Irish Whiskey

1. Break the eggs into a large bowl and whisk them well by hand. Add the brown sugar and mix in for 30 seconds until they’re thick and creamy. Add the can of Evaporated Milk and mix well for about 30 seconds.

2. Add the pumpkin purée along with all the flavourings and mix everything together until smooth. Lastly add the whiskey and stir it into the filling.

There is no cheffy logic behind the mixing and stirring by hand. Sometimes it’s just relaxing and therapeutic to slow down and do it all by hand!

3. Carefully pour the mix into your Pie Dish and tap the side of the dish a few times to help raise the air bubbles to the top. Bake in the centre of a pre-heated oven at 160°C for 40 minutes.

4. Check the pie as you would when testing a sponge cake. It should be soft, but responsive to the touch, when it’s cooked – giving you a little spring in the centre when gently pushed down.  Leave the pie aside, in the dish to set, until cold.

5. To turn it out, put a flat plat on top, turn it over tap the bottom of the baking tin and lift up gently. Now put your serving plate on the bottom of the pie and turn it back over.

Zack’s Irish Whiskey Pumpkin Pie

I must admit, this was the first Pumpkin Pie I ever made – and it was Delicious! A little dollop of fresh cream went down a treat with my Irish Whiskey Pumpkin Pie – as did the extra “wee doodley” (as they call a sneaky shot of whiskey around Donegal Town) – Give it a try and Enjoy!


Posted in http://verygoodrecipes.com/irish, http://verygoodrecipes.com/recipe, pumpkin, pumpkin pie, recipe, thanksgiving | Leave a comment

Blas na hEireann Irish Food Awards 2015 culminate this weekend!

The Blas na hEireann Irish Food Awards 2015 culminate this weekend with Finalists Judging tomorrow (Thursday 1st October).

Now in their 8th year, the Blas na hEireann (which means Taste of Ireland) Irish Food Awards is the biggest competition for quality Irish produce on the island of Ireland. Over 2500 products have been entered into this year’s competition to win Gold, Silver and Bronze Awards in over 90 food and drink categories as well as key awards such as Supreme Champion and Best Artisan Producer.

A Blas na hEireann accreditation has been researched to show the highest recognition amongst Irish consumers and using the award logo on product packs really does encourage shoppers to buy these great products. It is a guarantee of a top quality Irish product.

Blas na hEireann  takes place annually on the first weekend in October, 1st – 4th October 2015. Set against the backdrop of the Dingle Peninsula Food Festival the awards and events throughout the weekend are a fantastic opportunity to meet with producers, trade and press.

The Blas Awards and the Dingle Peninsula Food Festival is an event which has grown to be one of the most recognised and well attended food events in Ireland. In the past few years the first weekend in October has become a critical date in the food industry’s calendar. in 2014 this Irish Food Networking event was attended by over 200 producers with buyers and press from all over Ireland, the UK & US!

Most importantly, the Blas na hEireann awards and the Dingle Food Festival have retained a sense of informality while becoming a key business event.

There is a real sense of the pressure that the food producers are under when you attend the awards ceremony. Everyone in the room knows that winning a Blas na hEireann Award, whether it is Gold, Silver or Bronze, can help launch a new product and boost sales of an existing line. And that is what awards the Blas are all about – helping passionate people with wonderful food products to reach new customers.

I’m delighted to have been asked to be one of the Finalists Judges again this year and I write this as I sit in the Dingle Benner Hotel. If you’re coming down to Dingle for the Blas na hEireann Awards and/or the Dingle Peninsula Food Festival, do try to get around as much of it as you can, if you can!

Food Festivals all over Ireland have come to understand the power of social media in helping to get the word out about their event and so you can:
Follow the Blas na hEireann Awards on Twitter at @BlasNahEireann
Follow the Dingle Peninsula Food Festival on Twitter at @DingleFoodFest
And of course you can Follow me on Twitter at @IrishFoodGuide

For more details on the Blas na hEireann Awards see www.IrishFoodAwards.com
For more details on the Dingle Food Festival see www.DingleFood.com

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Kelly’s Butchers of Newport open new Black Pudding factory

Celebrity Chef Neven Maguire performed the official opening of a 6,000 square foot manufacturing facility at Kelly’s Butchers in Newport, Co. Mayo, on Friday 25th September 2015.

The affable Cavan chef has been a longstanding supporter of Kelly’s Butchers and their products. The new manufacturing unit represents an investment of €1 million. It trebles the capacity of the previous facility and leaves Kelly’s Butchers poised to sell into new and bigger markets both at home and abroad. The Kelly family would like to thank South West Mayo Development Company and Mayo LEO for supporting this expansion project.

“I’ve used Kelly’s puddings not only in my restaurant but all over the world from Dubai to the USA”, said Neven Maguire, speaking in the very appropriately black and white themed marquee, “I love their consistency and their quality – you can taste the passion the Kellys put into their food. Through that they’ve put Newport, Mayo and Ireland on the map and I’m delighted to be here today to celebrate with them.”

“This is a very proud day for the Kelly family”, said Seán Kelly, “It’s the culmination of our family’s work since my father opened the first butchers shop here back in the 1930s. His name, Dominic Kelly, is still over the door.”

The ribbon on the new manufacturing facility was cut by Seán’s mother-in-law, 95 year old Mamie Marley, ably assisted by Neven Maguire.

The new facility will be used to manufacture Kelly’s award winning puddings and sausages. It will hugely increase the manufacturing capacity and will allow Kelly’s to supply customers all over the island of Ireland as well as the UK market. Kelly’s are already supplying customers in major UK cities, and are now able to respond to the increasing demand.

Kelly’s Butchers are a phenomenal success story in the West of Ireland; their turnover has increased steadily year on year and this is expected to continue into the future. Several jobs have already been created by Kelly’s Butchers and they expect to take on more staff over the next year. This will bring their employee numbers to 22.

“We would like to thank everyone who has helped and supported Kelly’s Butchers”, said Seán Kelly, “Every person who chooses Kelly’s Black Pudding or sausages for their breakfast is doing their bit towards creating and sustaining jobs in Ireland.” 

Stuffed Saddle of Rabbit with Serrano Ham and Kelly’s Black Pudding
from Sage Restaurant, Westport

Indeed Kelly’s Puddings are seen in all sorts of guises in literally every course of every meal – even in desserts. Seán Kelly has been credited as the man who took black pudding off the breakfast table and put it on the dinner table.

Gerry O’Neill, CEO of South West Mayo Development Company said, “This is another step in the evolution of the Kelly brand which is such a hallmark of success. We are delighted to have supported this project, particularly as it supports rural employment and uses local skills. We wish the Kellys well in their future.”

Michael Holmes, Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council, recalled bygone days on the football field with Seán Kelly, saying, “Seán always played at the front, he was always moving forward and he still is. He and the family have always been very progressive and have always been more than generous in helping their community as well. It’s a fantastic day for them and for Newport.”

Tanya Whyte, Business Advisor with Mayo LEO who has special responsibility for food, noted that ‘The Kellys are significant employers in Newport and important to the community. I see three reasons for their success: hard work, innovation and excellence in marketing.”

A special presentation was made to the Kelly family by Peter Hynes, Mayo County Manager of a commemorative scroll for Mayo Day created by artist Fionntan Gogarty. Mr Hynes said, “Kelly’s Black Pudding is being consumed everywhere from Beijing to Buenos Aires and everywhere in between. I wish them every success with their new venture and into what looks like a very bright future.”

Sean Kelly presents the cheque to Caroline Leneghan Mc Manamon
Seán Kelly presented a cheque for €3,000 to Cystic Fibrosis West. This is from sales of the book of Kelly’s Puddings recipes, entitled ‘The Proof is in the Pudding’ which was launched last year and is on sale in Kelly’s shop. Caroline McMenamen of Cystic Fibrosis West thanked the Kelly family for their support saying, “This money will all go towards the new clinic in Castlebar”, she also noted, “It’s very appropriate that Neven Maguire is here beside me today – one of his recipes is in the ‘Proof is in the Pudding’ book.”

Kelly’s Butchers produce and sell award winning black and white puddings and six varieties of speciality sausages. Awards include Blás na hÉireann, Great Taste Awards, Business Achievers Award and many butchers’ awards. Kellys also manufacture the ‘Putóg’, a traditional farmhouse black pudding. Kelly’s products are available through their shop and in hundreds of outlets around Ireland and the UK. 

Their products will soon be available online as well, through a new website which will launch in the next few weeks at www.kellysbutchers.com
Posted in black pudding, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, kellys of newport, news, sean kelly, Westport | Leave a comment

October 24th is "International Bake Bread for Peace" Day

“Bake Bread For Peace has the potential to become a global movement and an international initiative made up of individuals who wish to bring peace, harmony, neighbourliness and a sense of community to those around them and to the world they live in.”

International Bake Bread for Peace Day was born out of a passion for humanity, in 2014, by a Baker and Storyteller from Glenties, Co. Donegal, named Breezy Kelly.

The aim of Bake Bread for Peace is to bring people together in a celebration of everything communal and good through one of the most common and basic activities that humanity shares all over the world – Baking Bread. 
Baking bread together as a sign of peaceful intentions is a world-wide costume, common to cultures around the globe and it is the main aim of Bake Bread for Peace to bring the costume into communities and to strengthen it where already present.

What must you break apart in order to bring a family close together? 
Bread of course.” – Jodi Picoult, Storyteller.

“We are all at a loss for words to describe our sadness about the dis-ease in the world at present and things seem to be going from bad to worse”, said Breezy. “We hear talks of ceasefire, talks, talks and more talks but the madness goes on. The world wide chaos is so terrible that we try to ignore it, bury our heads in the sand and hope that it will go away, we feel helpless that there seems to be nothing we can do and yet we want to do something.”

Breaking Bread together is a universal sign of peace, it is something we can do together, no blaming, no making anyone right or wrong, just baking and sharing bread to reach out in peace and for peace. Together we can make a difference. 

Join in on October 24th for “International Bake Bread for Peace Day”, get your thinking hats on, create an event in your area, in your kitchen, in your local school, it’s up to you. Share your ideas, send photos, advertise your events, spread the word far and wide that we want Peace! 

Bake Bread for Peace is not an organization, it does not raise funds, it does not have a CEO, managers, or accountants. It is solely based on people taking the initiative and creating events in their own locality. It is based on communication and creative thinking shared between individuals across the world that have the same aim – to bring people together and share their love for Baking Bread and for Peace.
Breezy Kelly (aka Breezy Willow) is a native of Glenties in Co. Donegal. She has been involved in promoting the ancient tradition of home-baking for over 15 years. For over a decade she was included in the Heritage in Schools scheme which is run by the Heritage council and the I.N.T.O.

Breezy comes from a background where traditions were very important and it was her realisation that these traditions are fast disappearing that prompted her to launch “Sillybucks”, a project whose aim is to collect and record stories, songs, recipes and cooking methods of days gone by.

In 2006 she published a collection of traditional recipes – “Bread, Scones, Stories & Songs” – which is now in the process of its 3rd print. In 2013 she was involved in organizing and facilitating ‘Born and Bread’ project, as part of the ‘One Donegal Cultural Diversity Month’.

Breezy came up with the idea for “Bake Bread for Peace” in 2014 and on October 24th of the same year she organized the first “Bake Bread for Peace” day. Working mainly through social-media, she encouraged countless individuals, in Ireland and abroad, to share their wishes for world-Peace and bring their neighbours and communities together through the ancient and Peaceful activity of baking Bread together.

Breezy Kelly, with her dog Sheila, Baking Bread for Peace around the world

During 2015 Breezy, along with her wee dog Sheila, a bag of bread soda and a tub of Bextartar has taken to the roads of Ireland, north and south, to share the idea of Bake Bread for Peace. During her journey she was hosted by various individuals and families and wherever she stayed she organized an evening of baking, songs and stories, encouraging her hosts to invite family and friends and to turn the evening into a celebration of Peace, unity and neighbourliness.

Breezy believes that although Bake Bread for Peace Day is now becoming an established date in many individual calendars, it is in fact an ongoing, year-long event. “It is a philosophy, a universal wish, an urge to make a positive change in the world that we are all invited and welcome to take part in.”

Breezy wishes to encourage those who wish to organize an evening of Baking, Songs & Stories to contact her. She believes, “Think globally – Act locally, Peace begins at home. All that is required is an invitation, and baking ingredients. Together we can create an evening of Bread, Scones, Stories & Songs and most importantly, Peace and neighbourliness”.

For More info about “International Bake Bread for Peace Day” and pictures and recipes of bread posted by people from all around the world, visit: https://www.facebook.com/bakebreadforpeace
and you can also contact Breezy at   breezy.willow@hotmail.com
Posted in Breezy Kelly, Breezy Willow, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, Irish Bread, news | Leave a comment

Irish National Bread Week starts 4th October

From 4th – 10th October 2015, National Bread Week will be calling on the nation to ‘Love Your Loaf’ and celebrate one of Ireland’s favourite foods – Bread! The week is organised by Ireland’s bakers, who make the fantastic range of great tasting breads for us to enjoy every day. Whatever kind of loaf you prefer, be it Soda Bread, Sour Dough, Batch Loaf, Fruit Bracks or simply Sliced Pan – Irish Bread has so much to offer and is arguably the best in the world!

National Bread Week celebrates Irish Bread and aims to encourage consumers to love bread and its heritage and versatility and is organised by FCBA (Flour Confectioners and Bakers Association)

The week-long celebration, which is being supported by TV chef and author Rachel Allen, will highlight the heritage, value and versatility of bread, and dispel some of the myths about breads. Irish bread is steeped in history and tradition and has been part of our culture for hundreds of years and is definitely something we should all be proud of. 
Imagine breakfast without toast, a picnic without sandwiches or soup without soda bread – bread has a part to play in every meal and is also one of the most versatile foods there is. Registered Dietitian Dr Mary McCrery, explains that bread also has a valuable role to play as part of a healthy balanced diet: 
National Bread Week is a great opportunity to correct some of the confusion there is about bread. For example, many of the facts quoted about bread are based on American bread which is completely different in its composition, particularly its sugar content, to the healthier style Irish bread. Contrary to popular belief bread is good for us – providing protein, folic acid and many nutrients such as dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals.”

To find out more about Irish Bread and National Bread Week visit www.nationalbreadweek.ie. There you will find a host of information all about bread as well as details of participating bakeries around the country. Make sure you join in and Love Your Loaf this autumn!

Follow the campaign on Twitter @loveyourloaf and like them at www.facebook.com/nationalbreadweek.


see also our story about  International Bake Bread For Peace Day

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Irish Food Guide Blog

Source: Irish Food Guide Blog

Posted in irish food | Leave a comment