There's a little bit of Montgomery County in County Cork, Ireland.
Now, she lives in County Cork, and she recently played a key role in the creation of Ireland's first-ever bloggers' cookbook—A Modern Irish Cookbook, consisting of recipes from the country’s food-blogging community.
The cookbook—launched by Goodall’s of Ireland, purveyor (since 1933) of high-quality herbs, spices, flavorings, seasonings and other pantry items—"is the culmination of a nationwide search by Goodall’s for recipes that represent what modern Irish home cooking looks like today," according to a Goodall's statement. Proceeds from the sale of the cookbook benefit two Irish charities—Cork Penny Dinners and Dublin Food Bank.
O'Keeffe provided creative direction for the compilation of the cookbook's recipes—two of which are hers. Twelve of the book's photographs are hers as well.
"To me, my Irish roots are something I cherish and I love living in Ireland, especially given its current focus on artisan food producers and local ingredients. Being included in A Modern Irish Cookbook marries those roots with the modern producers, while adding awareness about sustainability, health and managing time in the kitchen," O'Keeffe said.
"Growing up, my impression of Irish food was hearty stews, fresh fish, earthy vegetables and buttery breads and scones. Some of my old family recipes reflect that but fall short of fully exploring what modern Ireland's food producers have to offer," she added.
O'Keeffe first visited Ireland about 20 years ago. From that trip, two particular dishes—both made with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients—stood out: "One was a mushroom vol-au-vent in Castletownshend, County Cork, and the other was salmon and mashed potatoes I had outside of Limerick. Both were simply prepared with fresh ingredients, which is the foundation for success in my mind."
"...[Instead] of just mushroom vol-au-vent, the restaurant would boast that they use Ballyhoura mushrooms and instead of just salmon, it might be served with fennel shavings and lightly pickled fresh cucumber alongside mashed potatoes with melted Gubbeen cheese. Exploration of flavors and local sourcing seem to really be important to consumers, and therefore to restaurants," she explained.
A Modern Irish Cookbook includes both traditionally-inspired Irish dishes with traditional ingredients as well as recipes influenced by international culinary trends, according to the Goodall's statement.
Recipe authors for the cookbook were chosen last fall, when Goodall's invited bloggers from across Ireland to submit recipes. The 50 "best and most diverse" recipes—from a total of 43 Irish food bloggers—were chosen.
"This book was born out of a conversation that we had about how we would describe what is Irish food to an international visitor," Goodall's marking manger Rosin O'Shea said. "There’s no doubt about the quality of our produce or the level of talent in our best restaurants but what is our culinary identity...does it need to be redefined now that we have moved away from traditional meat-and-two-veg meals?"
"We feel [these recipes] best represent modern Irish home cooking today," she concluded.
A Modern Irish Cookbook may be downloaded from the Goodall's website for €2.99 ($3.89). Hard copies also are available at €12 ($15.60) plus shipping and handling (see the Goodall's website for details. (Euro-dollar conversions are accurate as of March 12, 2013, according to fx-rate.net.)
What are your favorite Irish recipes? Tell us in the comments.