Saturday, January 31, 2009

So what makes MY IRELAND REAL?????? I get asked questions regularly like ...Is Ireland near Scotland? Is it part of the United Kingdom? What kind of cars do we drive? And my recent favorite...what is the name of the river between Ireland and the United Kingdom?!!!

Come on people....geography ???

So lets put a few things straight here once and for all. The name of this RIVER is actually called THE IRISH SEA !!! Ireland is divided up into 4 provinces namely Ulster,Leinster,Connaught and Munster. Each of the provinces has its own counties (A county being similar to a state)

I was born and raised in Douglas,Cork which is located in the province of Munster. This is in the southern part of Ireland. Northern Ireland (Ulster) is under British rule,and is therfore part of the United Kingdom. The remainder is known as THE REPUBLIC OF IRELAND. Dublin is the capitol. I hope this helps a little........

My mother Margot Gaffney was born and raised in Waterford. As a child she used to vacation in a place called Ardmore,so as I was growing up,I too used to vacation there. It is a beautiful location just surronded by natural beauty. The beaches are never ending. The tides are calming to the senses. I used to love to watch the fishing trawlers come in,you also knew they were coming in by looking up to see sea gulls circling them from miles out hoping to swoop in and steal a little lunch !!! I used to walk out to the head,and walk to the Round Tower which is an historical site. There are approx 52 Round Towers in Ireland. When you reach the one in Ardmore,the view is magnificent overlooking the beaches and bay below. It once housed 40 soldiers when battling with the English. If only these walls could talk !!!!!!!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

SHOWCASE MINNESOTA is the morning show for KARE 11 ,a CBS affiliate. I will be doing another cooking segment on March 6th. This time I will be making a Raspberry Ice Cream Shortbread cake,with an Irish Liqueur . I will also be discussing the importance of Irish Butter,namely KERRYGOLD UNSALTED BUTTER. I just love the cold weather in Minnesota !!
No problems keeping the ice cream cold, I shouldnt think............

Monday, January 26, 2009

So, today we agreed (Joan Donatelle & I ) to have more cooking classes in the Culinary School in Byerlys St Louis Park on March 6th & March 7th.
My good friend Margaret Johnson is a noted cookbook author. She is certainly no stranger to writing,having penned for 'Los Angeles Times',Dublins 'Food &Wine'. Margaret lives in New York and has published several cookbooks including one of my favorites "the Irish Spirit". So that being said I think I will make Lamb Follain. This word is from the irish word,wholesome. Yes,Irish word. This is entirely another language. It is not English with an Irish accent as most people have asked me !!!

Irish or Gaeilge is studied in school in Ireland as soon as you begin school and is a mandatory subject all the way through. There are regions in Ireland known as Gaeltacht Regions or Irish speaking regions. One of such regions is off the West Coast of Ireland. The Aran Islands. I once spent a whole weekend there with friends. It was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. Breathtaking.

So to honour these regions we will make all things wholesome and good................
The up coming menu will be posted soon. Margaret has visited such regions also,perhaps she can share her experience with us??

Friday, January 23, 2009

The next client was all the way North in the great state of Minnesota. Little shock to the system,living in Dallas and working in Minneapolis/St Paul in the winter !!!
Lunds & Byerlys a chain of grocery stores throughout the twin cities decided to have RACHEL GAFFNEYS TRADITIONAL IRISH BUTTER SHORTBREADS grace their shelves.
Their flagship store,located in St Louis Park has become my second home now !
Both staff and customers remind me so much of home.

We have held Irish cooking classes in their culinary school and they have turned in to a fun and educational hour about Ireland. Last time I held "An Irish Favorites " class.
Joan Donatelle (Culinary School) and I cooked up a storm. This is where the Ireland I know and the Ireland of long ago mesh to make a great tapestry. We made Irish Blue cheese stuffed mushrooms,with an Irish Whiskey Marmalade sauce, Guinness Irish stew,followed by my own recipe for Irish cheeseecake using Baileys Irish Cream and RACHEL GAFFNEYS SHORTBREADS CRUMBLED to make a delicious crust. These are fun and should try it sometime.........

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

With St Patricks Day (March 17th) fast approaching,people will be donning green hats,dying beer and rivers green, consuming vast amounts of bacon & cabbage and looking for Leprechauns!!!
As I discovered in my research, St Patrick was once held captive by "Niall of The Nine Hostages" King of Ireland,379-406. So my family held St Patrick hostage......So,I should make ammends !

You see, you have just learned a little history!

St Patricks Day 2006 saw the arrival of RACHEL GAFFNEYS TRADITIONAL IRISH BUTTER SHORTBREADS on the shelves of 'Central Market' stores throughout Texas.
I make these shortbreads,using the finest ingredients,including 'Kerrygold Unsalted Butter'
These are preservative and additive free. I want you to experience the same taste I did when my mum made them. With that in mind it took 2 long years to find a bakery that would make them to my specifications, ie using real ingredients. The process was LONG and THOROUGH.
At times disheartning. I remeber flying back to Dallas one day after a day of complete failure at the bakery. All this money for nought. IT WASNT. It was just another way of knowing what did not work and another step to knowing what did work.......2 years later, a lot of travel,late nights,early mornings,cheap hotels,lonliness,worry we had our first succesful production run!!!

Monday, January 19, 2009

So, how did I begin this? Why Shortbreads?

Upon moving to the United States in 1996, I simply made them for friends,after all thats what my mum did. I can remember the Friday evenings before my birthday parties (always on a sat !) The smell coming from the kitchen was delicious. Trays of IRISH BUTTER SHORTBREAD cooling on the wire racks. I couldn't wait for the next part.....icing them.! Pink,that was the colour I wanted. Then they were sliced and placed on serving platters. Needless to say they were a huge hit. These became a signature at our birthday parties. Sometimes,mum layered them with caramel and finally laced them with melted chocolate. My mum was and still is a wonderful cook,as were both my grandmothers.. Cooking for the family was as much a part of the day as was taking care of the kids. For that ,I am eternally grateful.

I too, began to make them for every special ocassion. I lived in Dallas until 2000 and then spent 2 very memorable years in Chicago. Soon after,we were transferred back to Dallas! Now both my kids were in school,and lunching was not on my radar for extra curricular activity. So I began a catering you do !!
Rutherfords Interior Design Store, on Lovers Lane in Dallas was one of my clients.
I was to do a High tea for their clients . I did. The shortbreads were a hit. I remember people asking if they could buy them. Robert Rutherford came to me and said that if I made them,he would be my first customer. And true to his word,the gentleman that he is,he was indeed my first customer.

The journey from Kitchen to shelf is quite another one..........

Sunday, January 18, 2009


So how far back does the love of food and baking go back? Is it solely from my youth? Or is it perhaps in my blood?

The Gaffneys traced their lineage to Niall of the Nine Hostages,King Of Ireland 379-406. In medieval records these septs appear as McEngowny,McNegowny (and to think only people funnelling through Ellis Island thought their names were changed !!!) My name in Irish is in fact Rachel Ni Ghabhna . On further research Darby and Michael Gaffney of Dublin (1720s-1730s)are recorded as 'cakemen' (or bakers) . So there it is.....perhaps it is in my blood after all !!!!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I was born and raised in Cork,Sothern Ireland. An Ursuline girl,educated by the nuns,what more needs to be said there?! Irish,English,Maths,Physics,chemistry were a must but so too were home economics...What an archaic name but oh so neccessary !
At the age of 9,I won the Cork Gas Cooking Competition,making a Pineapple Upside Down Cake...very tropical for Ireland !!!! And so began my love of baking...Going to City Hall and receiving my prize from the Lord Mayor of Cork was the pinnacle for my 9th year of life.
You see,I still cherish that memory .

I loved to eat and frankly still do ! what a gift good food is. My mum made homemade brown bread and marmalade. She even went so far as to send us out in wellington boots every September with a large bucket to gather blackberries. We ate copious amounts of jam and blackberry crumble. mmmmmm

Sounds so romantic,but it rained a lot in we sludged through fields,fell into brambles,turned our fingers purple and ate half before we made it home. Oh but those really were fun days. So thanks to my mums slave labor laws,so began my love of food....Thanks Mum..

Monday, January 5, 2009

Since moving to the US in 1996 I noticed that peoples perception of Ireland was not what I knew and know it to be. Movies like "Far & Away" and "The Quiet Man" still remain fresh on peoples minds!! Whilst there was a time and a place once upon a time,the Ireland that I was raised in was and is a very different Place. My hope is to take you somewhere that is beyond Green Beer and Cabbage !! This is intended to be a fun & informative site. I invite you to share your experiences and views with me and others. I will invite friends who are writers,cooks,cookbook authors,to write along with me sharing their experiences with you.

In 2004 I started RACHEL GAFFNEYS AUTHENTIC IRISH GOODS. My idea was to educate people about Ireland through my products and events.More about that later.....