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Make Your Own Christmas Pudding and Whiskey Custard

Christmas pudding is also known as plum pudding because of the abundance of prunes in it! This rich tasty pudding is made of a mixture of fresh or dried fruit, nuts and suet (beef or mutton fat) and traditionally boiled or steamed. Vegetarian suet may also be used.

The pudding is dark and can be saturated with whiskey or brandy, dark beer, or other alcohols. They used to be boiled in a "pudding cloth," but today they are usually made in pudding bowls.



People have always stirred lucky charms into their Christmas pudding mixture for good luck, similar to those in Halloween Barmbracks. These charms included silver coins (for wealth), tiny silver wishbones (for good luck), a silver thimble (for thrift), a gold ring (for marriage) or an anchor (for safe harbour) and whoever got the lucky serving, would keep the charm!

Ready-made and cooked puddings are available in the shops but they will never compete with the pleasure that comes with making your own Christmas Pudding!

So, here's my easy to make Christmas Pudding recipe with a whiskey (or brandy) custard cream too!

My Ingredients:
125g ready-to-eat prunes, chopped
225g raisins
225g currants
225g sultanas
Grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
50g chopped almonds
1 cooking apple, peeled, cored and grated
1 medium carrot, peeled and grated
225g demerara sugar
225g suet (I use vegetable suet rather than beef suet)
125g fresh white breadcrumbs
125g plain flour
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
3 eggs
150ml Stout
1 tbsp black treacle
35ml Irish Whiskey

It sounds like a lot of work - but the Christmas Pudding is very easy to make!
My Method:
1. In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together.

2. Whisk the eggs, stout, whiskey or brandy and black treacle together and stir into the mixture.

3. Cover and leave to stand overnight in a cool place.

4. Butter three x 600ml pudding bowls and put a circle of grease-proof paper in the base.

5. Pack the mixture into the bowls and smooth the top. Leave about 2.5 cm space to the top of the bowl.

6. Cut a double layer of grease-proof paper into a 30cm circle. Cover each pudding with the paper and tie with string around the edge. Tie another piece of string across the top of the pudding so that it can be easily lifted in and out of the pan.

7. Put the bowls into a heavy-based saucepan (placing an up-turned plate in the bottom of the pot first, to raise the pudding bowls off the bottom of the pot). Pour boiling water around the edge until it comes two-thirds of the way up the sides of the bowls. Cover with a lid and simmer for 3 hours. Top up the pot with boiling water to the starting level every hour.

8. Lift out the puddings after 3 hours and let them cool. Put on a new grease-proof or parchment cover and then cover tightly with foil.

9. Store in a cool dark place until Christmas. The puddings will keep for up to six months.

10. To serve cut into portion sizes and heat in a microwave, on full power, for 1 minute until piping hot. Warm two tablespoons of whiskey or brandy in a small saucepan. Set alight and carefully pour over the pudding. Serve with my flavoured custard cream (see recipe below).

Christmas Pudding with a Brandy Custard Cream!
Whiskey Custard Cream
This is a very simple and tasty Christmas cream that I prefer to serve with my Christmas Pudding more than anything else!..

Whip 250ml cream until it holds a figure eight shape and stir it into 250ml of cold custard. You can make this yourself or buy it pre-made. Pour in 35ml (one shot) of Irish Whiskey (or brandy) and add a pinch of grated nutmeg and stir until smooth.

This can also be served over warmed mince pies for a delightful change to the usual! Enjoy!

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 "breac", 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 (3½ Cups) plain flour 
1/2 tspn ground cinnamon
1/2 tspn ground nutmeg
7g (1 sachet) (2 teaspoons) dried yeast 
75g butter (4 tablespoons)
75g (1/3 Cup) castor sugar 
250ml (1 Cup) milk 
1 beaten egg
150g (1 Cup) raisins 
100g (3/4 Cup) currants 
50g (1/4 Cup) chopped Dried Fruit 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.


zack

The Wine Goose Chase comes to Portnoo, County Donegal, This Saturday for One Night Only!

The Wine Goose Chase is a one woman wine theatre show, performed by Susan Boyle, a native of Kildare and it is being performed this Saturday, October 13, 2018 at 7:00pm, in the Dawros Bay House in Portnoo, County Donegal.




This amazing hour-long one-woman theatrical performance fuses interactive wine-tasting with storytelling, in the warm intimate setting of the Dawros Bay House, a stone’s throw from the Santa Ana Duguesa wreck, from the Spanish Armada. Wine & Drinks consultant, artist and historian,  Susan Boyle, will take you on a journey of the best know wines and spirits in the world, that all have an Irish Heritage!

Susan Boyle loves wine! What’s more she knows what she’s drinking and talking about and she’s got 2,000 years of Irish wine history to back her up! So, sit back, let her pour you a glass while she takes you on a trip with the tenacious Irish people who transformed the wine world and didn’t let coming from a grape-free land stop them!

Joe Molloy and family, who own and run the Dawros Bay House, are providing a delicious and specially adapted Wild Atlantic Tapas Menu, to coincide with the theme of the evening. (The show costs only €20 and the option of the food is separate).





Audience members will have the opportunity to put their senses to use and hopefully leave with a new insight to the Spanish Armada and a drink that has been part of Ireland’s history or much longer than we might think - Wine. (You get to taste almost all the wines that Susan's stories are based on!!)

Susan has a BA in Drama and Theatre Studies from Trinity College Dublin and is an Irvine scholarship recipient to the University of California. She continued her drama studies at the University of London Royal Holloway where she gained an MA in Performance Studies. She has been attending professional wine tastings for the past 15 years, has studied up to advanced level with WSET (The International Wine & Spirit Education Trust) and also works as a freelance wine and drinks consultant! Susan is also one of Failte Ireland's Food Champions.


Susan Boyle takes you on the journey of the best know wines and spirits in the world, that have an Irish Heritage

The event is being hosted by the Ardara GAP Heritage and History Group, which aims to research, develop and promote the cultural and built heritage of Ardara and the surrounding areas of south-west Donegal. They are committed to the promotion of existing facilities, expansion and development of areas of geological, geographical, historical, archaeological, and heritage importance etc. in addition to areas of wildlife, natural biodiversity and other areas where themed events can be showcased.

The mission of the Ardara GAP Heritage and History Group is to increase awareness and enjoyment of the potential of this area and to foster educational research and development as part of an integrated approach to cultural heritage. They are also one of the five voluntary community groups to be selected by The Heritage Council's 'Adopt a Monument' scheme for the island fortress of Doon Fort.

(A wee taster of on of Susan's performances of The Wine Goose Chase)


Tickets can be bought securely online from EventBrite for only €20 CLICK HERE TO BUY

I've seen this wonderful show performed by Susan and I guarantee You Will Love it! Places Are Limited places and pre-booking is essential, so Get Your Ticket Now!

See ya there on Saturday!
Zack.

Donegal Signature Dish event hosted by Donegal County Council a massive success!

Over 70 guests were treated to a wonderful display of Donegal food on Tuesday night when chefs from all around County Donegal came together in Harvey’s Point Hotel to cook a ten-course dinner that showcased the very best of Donegal food and produce. 

The Donegal Signature Dish event was hosted by Donegal County Council in association with Donegal Tourism.

Donegal Chefs who took part in the Donegal Signature Dish event in Harvey’s Point Hotel:
Standing L/R: Brian McDermott, Guest host and MC - Paul Brady, Castle Grove Country House Hotel - Marco Letterese, The Olde Castle Bar & Restaurant - Gary McPeake, McGrory’s Hotel - Christopher Molloy,The Lemon Tree Restaurant - Brian McMonagle, Arnolds Hotel - Ian Orr, Browns on the Green - Karl Murtagh Silver Tassie Hotel & Spa.
Sitting L/R: Kamal Rai, McGrory’s Hotel - Anthony Armstrong, Nesbitt Arms Hotel - Colin McKee, Harvey’s Point Hotel - Joe O’Hora, Benny & Co Coffee Bar & Restaurant - Chris McMenamin, Harvey’s Point
.
The mouth watering dishes were prepared by some of Donegal’s most talented chefs using local produce from local suppliers. Guests, including high profile food writers and bloggers, where blown away by the high standard at what was the first ever Donegal Signature Dish event.

Master of Ceremonies here at the Signature Dishes event was the very excellent and professional Mr

Chef Brian McDermot, well known for his promotion of Donegal food (and the owner of the Foyle Hotel in Moville), was the host for the evening and the chefs who cooked their dishes on the night and represented their establishments were:



Among the invited guests was Irish celebrity chef, television personality, author and owner of Dunbrody House Kitchens and Cookery School, Kevin Dundon - Assistant Editor with National Geographic Traveller Food, Farida Zeynalova - Chairperson of the Irish Food Writers' Guild, freelance journalist, author, restaurant critic and HolyMackerel.ie, food blogger Aoife Carrigy -  Fáilte Ireland Food Ambassador, Irish Food Guide Blogger and Donegal Chef, Zack Gallagher (me!) - Michelin trained chef, founder of ChanChan and ambassador with Bord Bia Shanghai, Kwanghi Chan - representative of the Restaurant Association of Ireland, Sean Redmond and representing Fáilte Ireland, Máire Áine Gardiner among others. Representatives of the Donegal Food & Hospitality sector were also invited.

Greencastle smoked haddock and Leek Chowder from from

Autumn Beetroot Salad by from

King Scallops with Gin, Basil & Cream by Chef Anthony Armstrong from

It was lovely to meet up with Farida Zeynalova, National Geographic Traveller and Aoife Carrigy, Irish Food Writers' Guild

Held in the new Garden Suite at Harvey's Point, the event started with a canapés and drinks reception during which guests had a chance to sample a selection of locally produced drinks including craft beers, gin and whiskey compliments of Bog Hopper Brewery from Muff, Donegal Brewing Company from Ballyshannon, Kinnegar Brewing from Letterkenny, Old Mill Brewing Company from Convoy and Sliabh Liag Distillery from Carrick.

The service by the waiting team was simply precision in motion!

Donegal Beef Cheeks with pickled Oyster, Seaweed Crisp, Smoked Celeriac, Oyster emulsion and Leaves by Chefs and from

Garden Tomato & Basil Pressed Terrine with courgette relish, mascarpone by from

The full service dinner consisted of 10 different dishes from around the county cooked on the night, which was a real feast for the palette, as well as the eyes! Each tasting dish had to fulfill two criteria, they had to consist of Donegal produce and be available on each establishment’s menu either currently or on a seasonal basis. The dishes were chosen by the organising committee in a selection process earlier this year.

Donegal Seafood Sharing Platter by from

Turf Smoked Donegal Lamb, Boxtie Potato, Toasted Oatmeal, jus from from

Rib Eye Steak, Crab Claws, Prawns, Garlic from from

Cllr Seamus O’Domhnaill, Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council, who hosted the event, said, "We have outstanding, creative chefs in Donegal who utilise the delicious, locally grown foods produced by farmers and marine producers to prepare new dishes of cuisine that highlight our heritage and culture. We must tell a renewed story about Donegal food and drink experience, focusing on quality, authenticity, innovation and value for money and this is why we are here this evening".

Donegal Gin infused Carrageen Moss Pudding by from The Silver Tassie

Bitter Chocolate Torte with Autumn Poached Blackberries and Honeycomb
by Brenda and from Benny & Co

Barney Mc Laughlin from Donegal Tourism thanked "the committee, the chefs who submitted their dishes, the guest host Chef Brian McDermott, table hosts, suppliers, Harvey’s Point staff and management and all the guests for their attendance and paid a special tribute to the chefs who took on a challenging task of cooking and serving their dishes," making it a very memorable evening for all attending.

The Donegal Signature Dish event was brought together to showcase Donegal Food and to encourage chefs around the county to be more proactive in the use of locally sourced food produce. 

It certainly has worked as already more chefs around county Donegal are already planning more Donegal Signature Dish events in more locations around the county! We all really look forward to much more super delicious Donegal Food!

Zack


The Wild Atlantic Way is the world's Longest Coastal Route

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The Irish Food Guide Blog www.IrishFoodGuide.ie includes news, foodie chat, recipes, award results, links and other general information on the Food & Tourism Industry in Ireland.

It is written & curated by Zack Gallagher, Donegal Town, Co Donegal, Ireland.

“My Blog is a slice of the Irish Food ‘Network’. I’m a Chef with over 27 years experience and also have a background in media. I’m passionate about Irish Food Tourism and I believe that a rising tide really can lift all boats!”

Supporting Irish Food created by passionate producers and encouraging the Irish food & hospitality industry to use modern social media methods to increase their business.

Zack is building an all-Ireland Food Tourism network to assist Tour Operators bringing guests into Ireland to connect easily with artisan Irish food producers, so as they can experience the provenance and personality behind our Irish food Visit www.IrishFoodTours.ie