All Posts By

Margaret M. Johnson

Food & Drink

Celebrating Goat Cheese!

Did you know August is National Goat Cheese Month? Frankly, I didn’t, but a friend who follows a “National Day Calendar” that celebrates foods on a monthly and daily basis reminded me to promote goat cheese before I’m too late.

No problem, as I’ve enjoyed goat cheese countless time during my visits to Ireland. I particularly love St. Tola, a luscious goat cheese made in County Clare, especially when it’s paired with roasted beets — multicolored preferred!



For the beets

2 to 3 medium beets

Olive oil, for roasting

Sea salt 

Ground black pepper

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Food & Drink

Another Easy Summer Supper: Poached Fish

Everyone loves a good portion of fish ‘n chips, but not everyone appreciates the added fat and calories that come with it. 

Here’s where poaching comes in—a simple, healthier and flavorful way to prepare fish with no batter, no breading and no hot oil. When you return to Ireland, you’ll definitely find poached fish in restaurants there, but until then, try this recipe that comes from renowned Chef Jacques Pépin, whom I was fortunate to interview onboard an Oceania cruise where he serves as executive culinary director for the line. 

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Food & Drink

Here’s an Easy Supper, With Roots in County Cork

If the idea of a one-dish meal with Irish roots is appealing, then this recipe will definitely please. I enjoyed it as the “catch of the day” many years ago at Aherne’s Seafood Bar in Youghal, County Cork. There it featured locally caught cod fillets cooked in a “parcel” with wine, fresh herbs, and wild mushrooms, but you can easily adapt it to whatever thick white fish is available.

You can also substitute cherry tomatoes for the mushrooms if you wish. Make your own herb butter, or for an easier approach, use Kerrygold’s Garlic and Herb Butter. Both butters are delicious additions to grilled, broiled, or poached fish.

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Food & Drink

Bake Up a Springtime Quiche

What’s not to love about spring vegetables? 

Everyone welcomes asparagus, spinach, and pencil-thin spring onions for salads, soups and side dishes, but I love them in cheese-filled tarts and quiche.

Make your own crust, use refrigerated or frozen pie crusts, prepared puff pastry, or make one with no crust at all.

All you need to complete your meal is a crisp salad, a great loaf of bread, and an equally great bottle of wine. Cheers! 

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Food & Drink

Mini Desserts for Every Taste

You like cheesecake. Your mother likes carrot cake. Your son likes brownies. If you’ve ever faced a dessert dilemma — or you’re just looking for a fresh idea for your next special occasion meal or afternoon tea — dessert in a jar is your solution.

In addition to making an impressive presentation, these mini treats offer something to please every taste. If you have small glasses (2 to 3 ounces) or 4-ounce Mason jars that you use for canning or preserving, use them for layering your ingredients.

Mini desserts are ideal for sampling, and they’re especially charming for a spring tea. You’ll find similar mini desserts in my Teatime in Ireland cookbook. To order signed copies, visit

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Food & Drink

Spring Has Sprung … Along with a Springtime Recipe

The March equinox (this year Saturday, March 20, at 5:37 a.m. EDT) marks the moment the sun crosses the celestial equator, the imaginary line in the sky above the Earth’s equator, from south to north. 

In simpler terms, it marks the official start of the spring season in the Northern Hemisphere, a time that can’t come soon enough for most of us suffering through a dreary Covid year.

Now that it’s here, we have some lovely things to look forward to — longer days, warmer weather, and for cooks, baking with bright and beautiful lemons.

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Food & Drink

Worth Repeating: Classic Carrot Cake

Ever since the early 1980s when I first discovered carrot cake, I’ve been intrigued by the many iterations the little sweetie assumes.

I thought about it again recently and dug out my carrot cake “file” filled with recipes shared by friends, neighbors, and chefs—no two were alike!  I found that the only ingredients in common in all of my carrot cake recipes were these: flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, eggs, nuts, raisins and, of course, carrots.

Most cakes use oil for shortening, some use butter, and one recipe in my file uses coconut oil. Reduced-fat recipes substitute yogurt, applesauce, low-fat buttermilk and egg whites for the shortening, but almost every recipe tops the cake with cream cheese frosting, full-fat or reduced. 

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Food & Drink

St. Brigid’s Day Signals Spring is Near

In Ireland, February 1 is the feast day of Saint Brigid, a woman whom many believe should be granted equal billing with Saint Patrick as Ireland’s female patron saint and that her feast day should be declared a national holiday.

Saint Brigid’s Day also coincides with the start of the festival of “Imbolg,” one of the four major “fire” festivals celebrated by the ancient Celts. Saint Brigid is known to be the patron saint of cattle farmers, dairy maids, beekeepers, midwives, babies, blacksmiths, sailors, boatmen, fugitives, poets, poultry farmers, scholars and travelers. She’s also known as the founder of the first Irish monastery in Kildare in the fifth century. 

One of the best-known traditions associated with her is the tradition of weaving St Brigid’s Crosses from reeds. According to the legend, she was called to the bedside of a dying pagan chieftain, and while she watched over him she bent down, picked up some rushes from the floor, and wove a cross to explain the Christian story. The chieftain was promptly converted to Christianity. 

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