Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Today is my day. It is my favorite day. It is national raspberries n cream day.It is my pleasure and duty to pay homage to that glorious fruit, the raspberry !
If I were stranded on a dessert island and could choose one fruit, the raspberry is the one I choose. I even love the seeds. When I bring raspberries home from the store, my oldest son, James, who is almost 17 tries to beat me to them and will inhale one container whilst standing there. Therefore I have to buy at least two at a time !

It is by no means a task for me to celebrate the fruit today. I will gladly purchase more and eat them tonight for dessert out of respect for this national holiday ! Mind you, I have not seen Hallmark cards for this day. I may have to contact them about that and straighten it out!

These luscious fruits are grown on canes in Ireland. Wicklow and Wexford counties are profuse with these. Raspberry jam, Raspberry coulis, Raspberry crumble, Raspberry tart or simply popping them in my mouth just because , are the many ways I eat them. As today is raspberry n cream day then here's a suggestion for you.

Raspberry Fool

Heavy Whipping Cream
Vanilla Extract
A little powdered sugar

Whip the cream, add a little vanilla and powdered sugar to taste.
Add 3/4 of your raspberries to a blender with a little powdered sugar and blend. Pass this mixture through a sieve to remove the seeds (especially for elderly people, their dentures hate them!)
Fold this mixture into your whipped cream.
I kept my sundae glasses in the freezer until ready to serve. Then add your mixture and top with remaining raspberries. I served mine with my home made Irish butter shortbreads.

Friday, July 13, 2012


Last Christmas, my husband received some wine from a client which came in a pretty wine crate. I was loathe to throw it away and decided to keep it. I wasn't quite sure what to do with it. It sat in my pantry until last week.
Skimming through 'Pinterest' I was inspired to whitewash it.

Using a drill I bore a couple of holes on both sides, then simply painted with diluted white paint. 3 Parts Paint: 1 Part Water.

There was an 'Anthropologie' bag laying on my chair and as soon as I saw it , I knew that this ribbon was perfect to thread through the holes on the sides of the new drinks caddy.

Using mason jars, with straws this makes an easy and pretty drinks caddy for your guests.

Thursday, May 3, 2012


At times, I tend to get a little homesick. I think everyone does. Even as adults we all want our mothers to look after us when we are not well.It is the care that nurses us back. Last week, I took a very brief trip home but it was indeed a whirlwind of a trip. Behind the scenes here in Dallas, some really exciting projects are in progress, so I could only spend 5 days in Ireland.
I spent 2 nights in Dublin. This time I chose to stay in a smaller hotel, namely 'The Pembroke Townhouse'
Situated in the historic Georgian district, this little gem beckons you to stay.

I could write about the hotel describing it's interior and exterior but this does not really tell you anything about the experience. It was the hospitality I received from one person in particular that made it feel like home for me. I have been following 'Pembroke Townhouse' on Twitter for some time now and it is operated by Fiona Teehan, the manageress. If they ever have someone else manage that social media account, believe you me, I will know! Why? Fiona's hospitable touch extends through this social media outlet, just as much as it does in person. She cares about people and their stories, sharing and interacting with them. Fiona also 'Loves' food. She cares about family recipes and she cares deeply about ingredients.

Upon arrival at 'Pembroke Townhouse' perched upon the reception desk, a home made chocolate buttermilk cake,recipe courtesy of Darina Allen, 'Forgotten Skills of Cooking', awaits you. Neatly stacked plates, pastry forks and freshly squeezed lemon water greets the weary traveler. I could not resist. A morsel of this moist cake will melt the coldest of hearts!

Have we forgotten about hospitality and what it really means? I tend to think we have. I visited other places in Ireland that had 5 star ratings and ate in restaurants where customer service was not on the menu. My early days, before kids, was spent working in hotels, from reception and reservations and eventually sales and marketing for a major hotel chain. I do understand this industry, it's occupancy figures and rating standards. We award stars based on 24 hour room service, health & fitness, concierge, in room amenities and much much more. All the things we want. What about the things we need? Remember the fable 'The Emperor's New Clothes' where the king was walking naked down the street and everyone told him he looked wonderful because they were supposed to. One little boy simply exclaimed 'But he's naked'.
NAMA is the 'National Asset Management Agency' in Ireland formed by the Irish Government in 2009. It is this agency that is propping up large hotels and keeping them afloat. These hotels are EMPTY people. Lets do what that little boy did and call it what it is. I have called my blog 'Rachel Gaffney's Real Ireland' and this is indeed REAL. It is the small family owned hotels, producers and manufacturers that need our help. They are working hard doing what they do best. These are the people that give us what we need. Just like we need food, sleep and light, we also need love, care and kindness. It is here in this lovely terraced Georgian hotel that you will find what you need.

It is the care and food that warms our hearts. There is not a marble floor or indoor heated pool that could make feel as welcome as a slice of home made chocolate cake. For breakfast, I discovered that they bake their soda bread every morning. They lovingly stew fresh rhubarb for you to enjoy with organic yoghurt and home made granola. Fresh herbs are grown in pots outside.
When you are next in Dublin, make sure you stay at 'The Pembroke Townhouse', ask for Fiona Teehan and tell her Rachel Gaffney sent you!
She will welcome you home........

Monday, April 16, 2012


Last week I was teaching at the Central Market Cooking Schools around Texas, which involved many airplane rides. With Easter hot on my heels, I was looking for some treats to make for my own family. (They feel abandoned at times!)
I pulled a few of copies of 'Lunds and Byerly's Real Food' from my magazine library and read them again from cover to cover. Reading through the Spring edition from 2011 I came across an article by Sarah Randell (English Cookbook Author)
This article and it's recipes spoke to me as it reminded me of my homeland and my mothers baking. I had found my treats to bake for Easter. Here, in an American magazine lay European cake recipes that I was more than familiar with and it was the 'Victoria Sandwich with Fresh Mint and Strawberries' that captured my attention for it was this time honored recipe that my mother and grandmother made for us again and again. It was indeed an old recipe but would be a new one for my friends and family.

The cake layers for this classic English cake are best eaten as fresh as possible.

14 tablespoons (13/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened,plus enough for tins
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 2/3 cups self raising flour, sifted
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch salt
confectioners sugar for dusting


1 pint strawberries
2 tablespoons confectioners sugar
grated peel of 1 unwaxed lemon
2/3 cup creme fraiche or heavy cream, chilled
1/3 cup mascarpone, chilled
1 tablespoon mint leaves, shredded


1. For cake: Lightly grease two 8-inch round cake pans and line with baking parchment. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

2. Put butter and sugar in an electric mixer (or use a large mixing bowl and an electric whisk) and beat 3 to 4 minutes, or until pale and fluffy. Gradually add eggs with beaters still running, followed by vanilla, flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix until all ingredients are combined.

NOTE I use 'Kerrygold Unsalted Butter' so the color of the batter is different if you use domestic butter.

3. Spoon batter into prepared pans and spread evenly with a spatula.

4. Bake 25 minutes, or until lightly golden and risen. Let cool in pans 30 minutes. Tip cake layers out onto a wire rack and peel off parchment. Let cool completely.

5. For filling: Hull and thinly slice strawberries, then mix in a bowl with 1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar and lemon peel. Let macerate for 30 minutes. In another bowl, use a balloon whisk to whisk creme fraiche and mascarpone together until smooth. Stir in remaining confectioners sugar and shredded mint.

6. To assemble, place one cake layer on a serving plate and spread creamy filling over top. Scatter strawberries over filling. Place other cake on top and dust with confectioners sugar.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Using Simple Burlap and various yarns instead of ribbons.

With only 3 days left until her wedding, Julianne Plauche will be welcoming her bridesmaids, future mother in law, mother, aunts and girlfriends to Dallas by hosting an Irish bridal evening. After all, she is to wed the kicker for the New York Jets, Nick Folk on Saturday, March 17th (St Patrick's Day)
A few days of Irish themed festivities have been planned.
As most people know I am not a fan of the typical green beer and shamrock but when it comes to real shamrock,that's a different story. I have used plenty of shamrock along with 'Dianthus' to create these simple arrangements for our tables tomorrow night.