Mary Sheehan Coming Home To Cook

July 30, 2012

Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms

blossomsMid July and it’s finally summer in Ireland. Everyone was afraid that week of perfect weather in May was it for the season. So, as the sun shines down on us, the gardens are finally coming into bloom. I picked zucchini, blossoms and  parsley, kale and fennel that were as green as you would expect on the Emerald Isle.  Zucchini blossoms are traditionally dredged in flour, milk and egg and batter fried or stuffed with meat and cheese. All these options are great but as a vegetarian, I’m trying to eat low fat and for the moment, I’m staying away from cheese. So, I created this scrumptious,  healthy dinner that was received with rave reviews from my dinner guests. As one satisfied friend exclaimed, “the flavors are really developed!” Try it, you won’t be disappointed!

Stuffed Zucchini blossoms over butternut squash-coconut pureeroasted-garlicSteam 1 medium butternut squash, let cool and save liquid for soup stock.

Boil 2 cups of water, add 1 cup of quinoa and cook until done. This will produce about 3 cups cooked.

While squash and quinoa are cooking, toast in the oven 2 Tbl, sunflower seeds and 2 Tbl. chopped almonds. Separate 4 garlic cloves , put a little olive oil in a baking dish and roast until they become whilted and start to brown (as above).

In a little olive oil saute 1 cup  finely chopped kale, with 2 large button mushrooms and 1 medium oniuon.

Steam 1 medium zucchini (courgette) in Ireland! let cool and puree. Squeeze water out.

Chop 1 Tbl. fresh parsley and 2 Tbl. fresh fennel.

Mix together parsley, fennel, nuts, sauteed veg. and quinoa. Pick of end of garlic clove and squeeze garlic into mixture. Add Zucchini puree and mix all together, add sea salt and cracked black pepper.

Pick the stems off the zucchini blossom and wash lightly. Dry and stuff with filling. You can do this by tearing a side and rolling or just filling it up.

Butternut Squash Puree

Puree the squash with 2 heaping Tbl. creamed coconut, 2 Tbl. minced ginger, 2 Tbl. chopped fennel, a whole lime juiced, sea salt , black pepper and a very small dash of cayenne pepper. The consistency will be smooth and creamy. Place 1/2 the puree in a baking dish, lay the blossoms over and cook for 20 minutes at 350, gas point 4.

Have fun garnishing with baby zucchini, herbs, lime wedges. Enjoy this delicious, healthy vegan meal!

Shopping List: quinoa, zucchini, blossoms, fennel, parsley, sunflower seeds, almonds, kale, mushrooms, onion, garlic, creamed coconut, butternut squash, fresh ginger root, lime, cayenne pepper, sea salt, black pepper.

July 27, 2012

summer simplicity

Filed under: home base,Recipes — admin @ 10:36 am

hummosHaving tired of the same old chick pea hummos, as good as it is (!) I decided to try something different to serve as an appetizer. This little plate of summer fresh delicacies are straight from the garden. A mixture of lettuce, rocket, mustard greens, cucumber and radish make up the bed for a delicious black bean hummos that can be served as a dip, as a filling in pita bread, or just simply with a little salad such as this. Decorate with chives, tangy edible flowers, drizzle with fresh squeezed lime juice and serve with a crusty piece of bread or cracker. Ah summer!

Black Bean Hummos

In a food processor pulse 2 cups of cooked black beans. Slowly add 5 Tbl. tahini (sesame butter), 4 Tbl. fresh squeezed lemon juice, 2 Tbl. light olive oil, 3 large garlic cloves, sprinkling to taste of fresh minced cilantro (coriander), paprika, cumin, red pepper flakes, sea salt and black pepper. Blend all together until smooth. Add enough spring water until it is a smooth consistency. Enjoy!

June 26, 2012

Edible Flowers

Filed under: home base,Recipes — admin @ 11:59 am

edibles2This almost looks too good to eat! A fresh salad picked minutes before from your garden truly sums up the joys of summer. I’ve lived in Ireland for 6 years and all of the summers have been rainy. It seems, however, that this season has been a little sunnier. Here I go, so Irish, talking about the weather!  For Irish gardeners and farmers, it’s a challenge to grow a variety of greens, veg and flowers to eat in June.  Having a polytunnel helps , especially for a good mix of lettuce. At Boghill the greens are under cover but the flowers, radishes, chives and herbs are thriving under the ever changing Irish skies. The edible flowers in this beautiful salad of lettuce, radishes, chives and beetroot are marigolds, chive flower, nasturtium (flowers and leaves) and mustard leaf flower.To top it off add a tangy local goat cheese and top with a basil vinaigrette. Your guests will surely be impressed and whether it’s a soft rain falling or a lashing wind with the kind of rain that dosen’t hit the ground (more weather talk!) the colors will bring light and a smile to your summer day!

Basil Vinaigrette

In a blender combine 2 cups of extra virgin olive oil, a big handful of fresh basil, a squeeze of 1 large lemon, 1 tbl. of honey, 1 Tbl. dijon mustard and a sprinkling of sea salt.  Blend until all ingredients are thoroughly pureed. Enjoy.

February 28, 2012

Baking Bread

Filed under: home base,Recipes — admin @ 3:18 pm



I love baking bread. Theres nothing quite like the  smell of it wafting out of the kitchen into every room of the house on a cold winter day. Or, out into the garden in the spring, when the windows and doors have finally been freed of their heavy curtains and latches. I find it relaxing, comforting, centering. Although, it’s a process with a few steps you have to master, once there, you’ll be trying all kinds of loaves. Wholesome and delicious, this bread is good for sandwiches, as toast with homemade jam, with a big bowl of homemade soup or a light spring salad. Take your time and don’t rush the process of bread baking. M.F.K. Fischer wrote :

The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight…

[Breadmaking is] one of those almost hypnotic businesses, like a dance from some ancient ceremony. It leaves you filled with one of the world’s sweetest smells… there is no chiropractic treatment, no Yoga exercise, no hour of
meditation in a music-throbbing chapel. that will leave you emptier of bad thoughts than this homely ceremony of making bread.”
M.F.K. Fisher, The Art of Eating

So, enjoy the process and the results

Honey Whole Wheat Bread      

Preheat oven to 350f or 180c.                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

 Ingredients:  2 pkgs.(5 tsps.) dry yeast//2 cups whole milk, heated to warm (105-115f or 40-46c)//1/4 cup honey//2 large eggs//6 cups whole wheat flour//2 tsps. sea salt//2 Tbl. ground flax seeds//6 Tbl. unsalted butter, softened.

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in milk and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. The milk has to be at the right temperature, if it’s too hot the yeast will die, if it’s too cold the yeast will not grow. You’ll need some kind of kitchen thermometer for accuracy. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the honey and eggs. Add the flour, salt and butter and mix well until it all incorporated and forms a ball.  Lightly flour a work surface, take dough out of bowl, place on surface and knead. This is the fun part! Work it baby, knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, adding just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking. This should take you about 5 minutes.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled glass or ceramic bowl. I don’t use metal as it conducts heat and you don’t want the dough to get too warm or it won’t rise. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and place in a warm place (on top of stove or radiator) until it doubles in size, about 1 1/2 hours.

Take the dough out of the bowl, place on floured work surface, cut in half  and knead each half for a few minutes. Form into 2 oval loaves and place seam side down in 2 oiled bread pans. Sprinkle with sesame or sunflower seeds. Cover with towels and let rise in warm place for about 45 minutes or until dough is a little above top of pan. Bake in centre of oven for 35-40 minutes.

Let cool on wire rack, slice and eat warm. Yum!



January 20, 2012

Terrific Toffee

Filed under: home base,Recipes — admin @ 12:50 am

pudding6This is a truly delicious dessert that is good anytime of the year. It’s simple to make, bakes in no time at all, and you will get rave reviews! Sticky Toffee Pudding at it’s finest. Here’s how:

1 cup chopped dates/1 cup boiling water/2 Tbl. butter/1 tsp. baking (bread)soda/1 cup dark brown sugar/2eggs/1 1/2 cups sifted self-raising flour.

Soak dates and butter in boiling water. Let sit until dates are soft and butter is melted. Cream sugar and eggs. Add baking soda and flour. Mix well.

Butter and flour 10 small muffin cups. Pour in batter. Bake for about 15 minutes at 350F or 180C.

While cakes are baking make the toffee sauce:

Combine 1 cup dark brown sugar, 1 cup light cream, 1 tsp. vanilla extract and 2 Tbl. butter. Bring to the boiling point, turn heat down and let simmer for 5 minutes.

While still warm, place a cake on plate, drizzle with toffe sauce. Add a jigger of Irish Cream on the plate and a dollop of whipped cream on top. Nothing better!

December 1, 2011

North Clare Food Trail

Filed under: home base — admin @ 6:54 pm

lambsThis is going to be a great week of cooking, tours, music and fun! Through the last 4 years of selling my book, being a vendor at farmers markets and “Irish networking” I’ve met unique gardeners, farmers, herbalists and local characters who will share with us their knowledge and passion for their craft. In the mornings you’ll be working with me in the kitchen, creating gorgeous, healthy vegetarian meals from Boghill’s garden. In the afternnon we will go out for tours. And, because we are in the epicentre of Irish Trad, every night will be a visit to the pub for a session and even a ceili! Let me know if you are interested in joining us. Email me at check out my website and Boghill at And, plan your trip to Clare soon!


Join us for a week of cooking, farm and food producer visits, nutritional workshops, food themed, historical and cultural nature walks in the Burren and more. This is a unique opportunity to explore the farms and back roads that tourists don’t see. The holiday includes Vegetarian cooking classes where you will cook lunch for the group each day using our own organic, garden supplies and locally sourced produce.
Instruction will be by Mary Sheehan an American who has returned to her Irish family and roots. Mary has been a professional cook for 30 years, specializing in healthy, organic cuisine and developing recipes for varied diets and lifestyles.

Afternoon tours include the Burren Smokehouse and the Burren Brewery, visits to local farmers producing goats cheese, herb teas, apples, vegetables and organic free range meat, a herb walk through a Burren meadow where you think you’re in an ancient fairyland. You will be also be guided through the ancient landscape of the Burren and shown how our ancestors cooked in Fulachta fiadh. This trip offers you a chance to experience Clare life through its food, culture, botany, traditions, music, dance and its people.

The Boghill Centre is a sustainable complex with a strong Environmental policy set in 50 acres of land at the foot of the Burren. The estate includes organic vegetable and fruit gardens, a nature trail, a stone circle, a wildlife pond, a reed labyrinth, a chicken coop and pig pen, an orchard, and several recently planted native woodland areas. Our mantra is reduce, reuse, recycle and our ethos is based on creating an environmentally sustainable business having a minimal impact on the earth. The Boghill kitchen is renowned for its delicious nurturing vegetarian food sourced primarily from the adjoining organic garden and orchard. Our gourmet menu will nourish your soul as well as your body and we are happy to cater for special diets.

The Boghill Centre is a key member of the Burren Ecotourism Network. B.E.N. is a nucleus of local tourism providers who choose to grow their businesses in a sustainable way. The network’s aim is to support its members in their efforts to encourage visitors to explore the Burren region in an environmentally-conscious way whilst benefiting the local economy.

The Burren is a limestone-layered area – a 500 square kilometre stone-plated crown for North Clare and South Galway. “It is an upside-down world of contradictions where rivers run underground through a honeycomb of caves carved by nature through low-resistance limestone; year-round pasture flourishes at rocky heights; Arctic, Alpine and Mediterranean plants grow side by side as strange flower-bed fellows in secret stone pockets and rocky wrinkles. Burren roads that vary in age from 200 to 1,000 years lead back through 7,000 years of habitation marked by 120 ancient stone tombs, 500 stone forts plus castles and churches from every century of the Christian era.” (Taken from ) With its unusual geological features, its well preserved archaeology, its unique flora and fauna and its local culture, it is an ideal area to explore intimately in a small tour group. The nature of the area – unspoilt countryside, unusual natural features, numerous heritage sites, small roads , working farms – make it a haven for visitors, but not suitable for large group coach tours.

At Boghill we offer a holiday with a difference – a refreshing change from a Hotel based trip. We replace the impersonal grandeur with a friendly home-from-home, the mass catering with the nutritious, home cooked organic food and we offer one-to-one attention and a community spirit. Our aim is to give you a full flavour of life in the picturesque County Clare and integrate you with the people, the traditions and the customs – A personalised holiday treat. Stay in one of our single or twin en-suite rooms or share a family room in our hostel. You will have full access to the Boghill estate and can enjoy our Interaction with Nature Tour.

As well as the tour programme there will be the opportunity to indulge yourself in a choice of individual therapies at affordable guest rates. Our therapy range includes Aromatherapy massage, Indian Head massage, Reflexology, Reiki and Spiritual healing.

Price: from €830 (Private room €890) inc meals, tours, cookery workshops, evening lectures, talks and story telling

2012 Dates: 21st May – 25th May, 18th June – 22nd June

October 20, 2011

baking class goodies

Filed under: home base — admin @ 1:30 pm

Cookies, biscuits, brownies, muffins, cupcakes, tarts and cakes are on the menu for this Sunday 23rd october at Boghill Ctr.I am offering a baking for mothers of autism who have been prescribed a diet free of gluten, dairy, sugar, corn and soy. There are 2 spots left for anyone who wants to join us, the group is open to anyone who would like to learn how to bake fabulous treats that are good for you! email me at for details. Slan020

October 15, 2011

Live simply

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 10:39 am

so that others may simply live… today is 15 October Occupation day worldwide and tomorrow is World Hunger Day. What a world we inhabit. So full of hope, fear, joy, sorrow, anger, love, desperation, hate. So many of us find it so hard to take action. Where do we begin? How can I really make a difference? It often seems too overwhelming. But, hopefully, the world is at crossroads. People are standing up to put an end to poverty and hopelessness. If not you, then who? Do something, anything to join in and make your unique voice heard. Start the conversation. You have something to offer. Peace.


October 11, 2011

baking for chidren with autism

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 1:14 pm

Always up for a challenge, I jumped at the opportunity to teach a baking class for mothers of children with autism. As a cook who specializes in vegetarian menus that are often gluten and dairy free,  cooking for people with food sensitivities is just what I do. But, throw in the ever present corn,  soy and sugar and it’s time to get creative.  Research has shown that some of the behavioral characteristics of autism can be alleviated with the elimantion of gluten, dairy, sugar, corn and soy. So, I’ll be taking these mothers through the maze of flours, rising agents, oils, natural sugars and non dairy alternatives so that they can create tasty treats at home and for the lunch box.  Is it possible to have chocolate pudding, yummy cookies, scrumptuous cakes and tarts without these traditional ingredients? Absolutely! Here’s a recipe for chocolate pudding cake that is easy peasy and delicious!       

Sift together 1 1/4 cups brown rice flour with 1 tsp. gluten free baking flour and 1 tsp. cinnamon.  Add 1/3 cup xylitol*. Whisk 2/3 cup almond milk, 2 Tbl. sunflower spread and 2 Tbl. gluten and dairy free cocoa powder. Heat until spread melts. Set aside and let cool. To the flour mixture  add 1 egg and  slowly add liquid mixture and blend well in food processor. The batter will be thick. Pour into a greased 5 cup ovenproof dish. Whisk together 1 -1/2 cups boiling water with 2 Tbl. molasses and 2 Tbl. cocoa powder and pour over batter. Bake for 35 -45 minutes or until tester comes out clean. *xylitol is a 100% natural sweetener that was first researched in Finland. It comes from berries, fruit and vegetables. It has a significantly lower glycemic response than refined sugar, has 40% fewer calories and 75% fewer carbohydrates. In recipes, use a 1/4 cup less when substituting for granulated or caster sugar. cake2

October 5, 2011

What’s in a name?

Filed under: home base,Recipes — Tags: , , , — admin @ 10:29 am

Why do we have such silly names for food?   Snickerdoodles, hermits, flapjacks (in America they’re pancakes, in Ireland granola bars). Cookies are biscuits in Ireland, biscuits in America are well, biscuits! Serve ’em up with gravy, all buttery and warm. My cousin in Dingle has an old label on his pub wall from Pegs Leg, a favorite candy from the past. I’m always looking for new variations on old treats so I created one of my own – the Burren Stack. As I’m living and cooking in the Burren, I get a lot of inspiration from the organic gardens, the berries and herbs that  grace the hedgerow, the goat farmers making their cheese.   The Burren is a unique, diverse landscape in North Clare that is full of  erratic rock formations left over from the Ice Age. choco-bar1

Well, I know it’s a stretch to go from the Ice Age to a variation on a Hermit, but why not! Here’s the recipe I use at Boghill for a nice sweet dessert which is gluten and dairy free. It will appear in Coming Home to Cook Part Two, or maybe I’ll come up with a crazy name for that too!


Preheat oven to 180c or 350f. Butter and flour a 10″ baking pan.

Cream 1 cup soy butter with 1 cup brown sugar, 2 eggs.  Add 2 tsp. gf baking powder, 1/2 tsp. baking soda, 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. cloves, 1/2 tsp. nutmeg. Mix in 1/3 cup soy milk. Sift in 2 2/3 cups gf brown rice flour. Beat until well mixed. Add 2/3 cup raisins, 2/3 cup chopped walnuts, 2/3 cup chopped dairy free chocolate bits or chocolate chips.

Bake for 35 minutes or until tester comes out clean. Let cool on wire rack, remove from pan and eat immediately! Or, if you have willpower, it will keep well wrapped for a week.

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