I am always on the lookout for Master Recipes. And when I say,  “Master Recipes”, I do not mean “Fundamental Recipes”.

Fundamental Recipes are good building block recipes: think grilled cheese sambos (sandwiches), American-style pancakes, thick-n-hearty Irish soup. You learn to make them by following a series of step-by-step detailed instructions. And, then, once you’ve perfected the basic recipe, you create endless versions of the original recipe. Cookbooks and the internet are chock-full of these dishes.

Master Recipes, on the other hand, are rare and wonderful. Once you find one, you realise it stands out from all the rest. It is exemplar and you wouldn’t dream of changing a thing about it. A Master Recipe becomes a dish you cook for the rest of your life. And, if you are lucky, you hand a collection of Master Recipes down from one generation to the next. They are what Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, the founders of Food52, call “Genius Recipes”.

My whole life (and I have been cooking since the age of twelve!), I have been collecting Master Recipes. For me they are the recipes that tick the following boxes:

1) They are easy to make.

2) They taste great.

3) They look impressive and can be served to family, friends, and dinner party guests or taken to a special event.

4) Once tasted they almost always elicit a response like “Oh…my…that is delicious! Can I have the recipe?”


A few weeks ago, I found and made my first chocolate cake Master Recipe. I think I may have danced a little jig across the kitchen after taking the first bite of this delicious cake.

The ingredients include pepper, whiskey and cloves…these really play up the chocolate flavour of this cake. It is incredibly decadent but, surprisingly, not heavy. I like that. And, oh is it moist! (That word cracks my kids up…”moist”.) So many homemade cakes are dry and need cream, ice cream, or icing to make them palatable…not so with this cake. Truly, a dusting of powdered sugar is all that is needed: though, if you really wanted to go all out, some Irish Whiskey caramel sauce might be nice or some sugared red berries.

In the weeks that have passed since I found this recipe, I have made the cake for family, friends, and even taken it to a board meeting. Everyone has loved it. So…get out your springform pan and your Magimix (food processor)…and get baking! I’m sure after trying it, you’ll add this recipe to your collection of Master Recipes too.

Chocolate Whiskey Cake

Serves Eight to Ten


174g/12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, more for pan

85 grams/about 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

12oz/1 ½ cups brewed strong coffee

4 oz/½ cup Irish whiskey

200 grams/about 1 cup granulated sugar

156 grams/about 1 cup light brown sugar

240 grams/about 2 cups all-purpose flour

8 grams/2 level teaspoons baking soda

3 grams/about 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

⅛ teaspoon ground cloves

3 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

172g/1 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate

Powdered sugar, for serving (optional)


1. Pre-heat oven to 180°C/325°F. Butter a 10-inch spring form pan. Dust with 2 tablespoons cocoa powder.

2. In a medium saucepan over low heat, warm coffee, Irish Whiskey, 12 tablespoons butter and remaining cocoa powder, whiskey occasionally, until butter is melted. Whisk in sugars until dissolved. Remove from heat and cool completely.

3. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, pepper and cloves. In another bowl, whisk together eggs and vanilla. Slowly whisk egg mixture into chocolate mixture. Add dry ingredients and whisk to combine. Fold in chocolate chips.

4. Pour batter into prepared pan. Transfer to oven and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center emerges clean, 55 to 65 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack, then remove sides of pan. Dust with powdered sugar before serving, if you like. 

Additional Notes, Related Articles & Credits:

* The New York Times is my go-to place when I’m looking for really great recipes to try. Here is a list of 30 Fundamental recipes, courtesy of The New York Times, everyone should have in their recipe folder.

** I found today’s recipe (where else?) over at the New York Times. They got it from Marti Buckley Kilpatrick, who adapted it from Dol Miles, the pastry chef at Frank Stitt’s Bottega restaurant in Birmingham, Ala.


In our Irish home there are three of us who love frittatas and quiches…and one who does not.

The one who “does not” is the one we’ve always called “littlest”…even though she is now as tall as myself!. She is also the one in our family who is known as the “pickiest”! So…as long as she doesn’t like frittatas and quiches…I don’t make them and we don’t eat them.

Tired of waiting for my baby girl to change her mind, I decided last week to take a new approach: instead of a frittata or quiche…I baked a savoury tart!

I found a recipe for Yotam Ottolenghi’s Tomato and Almond Tart this summer over at theguardian.com. It looked so yummy that I knew it would eventually appear on our Irish dinner table. I was just hoping we wouldn’t have to wait until “littlest” went to college and her tastebuds grew up.


As it turned out…my sweet girl LOVED it! And, how could she not? The almond paste soaks up the juice of the tomato and creates the most luscious layer of rich, nutty sweetness…ohhh, so good! It’s the ideal savoury take on “the classic French fruit and frangipane tart”.

The best part, aside from the fact that I can now serve a frittata/quiche/tart-like main with a huge side salad for dinner, is this recipe is easy to make. Healthy, tasty, and easy-to-make (and looks good enough to serve at a dinner party)…this recipe ticks all the right boxes in our Irish home. Give it a try! I think even your “pickiest” child (or adult) will love it too.

Tomato & Almond Tart

Serves 8


140g unsalted butter*, at room temperature

2 large eggs (each 60g net weight), beaten

65g fresh breadcrumbs

80g ground almonds

2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

15g picked thyme leaves

100g ricotta

20g parmesan, finely grated

Malden sea salt* and black pepper

320g puff pastry*

sunflower oil*, for greasing

1kg medium tomatoes, cut into 1cm-tick slices (about 10 tomatoes)

12 anchovies in oil, roughly torn (optional)

2 tbsp olive oil


1. Heat the oven to 220ºC/425ºF/gas mark 7.

2. With an electric mixer, beat the butter until light and aerated. With the machine running on medium speed, slowly incorporate the eggs. If the mix splits, add some breadcrumbs to bring it back together, then carry on adding the remaining eggs.

3. Stop the machine, and work in the breadcrumbs, almonds, and garlic just until everything is combined. Remove from the mixer and, using your hands, gently fold in half the thyme, the ricotta, parmesan and half a teaspoon of sea salt. Set aside.

4. Roll the pastry into two 20cm x 30cm rectangular sheets about 2mm thick. Grease two baking trays with a little sunflower oil and lay the pastry rectangles on top. Spread the almond mixture evenly over the pastries with a palette knife, leaving a 2cm boarder around the edge.

5. Lay the tomato slices on top of each sheet in three long rows, with a fair amount of overlap between the rows (tomatoes shrink a fair bit when exposed to heat).

6. Sprinkle over the anchovies, if using, and remaining thyme. Drizzle the tomatoes with half the olive oil and season with some sea salt and a generous grind of black pepper.

7. Bake the tarts for 15 minutes, reduce the temperature to 180ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4 and carry on cooking for another 10 minutes, until the base is nice and brown. Remove from the oven, leave to cool slightly, then dribble over the remaining olive oil and serve.

Additional Notes & Credits:

* This recipe appeared in The Guardian online on 10 August 2012.

** I used salted butter for this recipe, only one roll of puff pastry, and olive oil because that’s what was in my larder. This recipe still worked beautifully.

We are smack in the middle of apple season in Ireland…

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And Halloween is just a few days away…


In our Irish home that can mean only one thing…it’s Apple Cake time! 

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Oh yes…Ireland+Halloween+Apples = Apple Cake in our Irish home and today’s gorgeous recipe comes from the Allen family…Rachel+Darina+Myrtle Allen. This recipe has been in their family for generations and it is delicious to the very core! (Sorry…I could’t help myself!)

For a change, I deconstructed the Allen recipe and turned it into these adorable single-servings for our brekkie this morning. They would be absolutely lovely served, hot out of the oven, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream immediately following dinner.

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While I prepped and baked this morning, I couldn’t help but wonder how many Irish people remember that Ireland+Halloween+Apples have been closely linked for centuries. Probably not too many anymore.

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In my mother-and-father-in-law’s time, everyone knew: they hadn’t yet succumbed to the ways of other places. In our time, however, we have been snookered into looking at the world globally and taking on board the commercialism of our celebrations…this means Halloween-a-la-America in many places around the world.

But I digress…

A few years ago, while researching my second book, Irish love & Wedding Customs, I came across a collection of handwritten manuscripts from the last century at the U.C.D. Folklore Library. On the pages were story after story about how apples were used on Halloween in celebratory games and for marriage divination.

Weeks later, I came across a painting called Snap Apple Night. It was painted by Cork-born artist Daniel Maclise in 1832. It is said Maclise was inspired to create the painting after attending a Halloween barn party in Blarney, County Cork.

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Look closely at the painting…do you see the young couple sitting on the floor in front of the fire? The young man has his arm possessively around the dark-haired girl’s waist and just near her left hand is a bright green apple. To the right of the two love birds are a group of young men and women bobbing for apples. And, to the left of dead-centre, a man is trying to take a bite of an apple hanging from a string…he’s playing Snap Apple.

The people in the painting are “trick or treating” in an incredibly voluptuous way…a uniquely Irish way…a way we’ve lost sight of. (Sigh.) Can’t you just feel the tension of the lust and love and happiness between the people in Maclise’s painting? Fantastic…don’t you think?

Another Ireland+Halloween+Apples tradition from long ago, one not shown in Snap Apple Night, is a game of marriage divination whereby a person would peel an apple carefully in order to get one long piece of the skin. Then they would throw the skin over their shoulder and check to see what letter it formed on the ground. The letter was meant to signify the first initial of a future spouse.

I adore the old Irish ways and it is such fun to share the traditions and memories of long ago with my children. Much like the Allen girls handing down of a favourite family recipe, I hope that through my cooking and writing, I am handing down something from the past to the current and, one day, the future generations of our family. From our Irish home to you and yours wherever you call home…we wish you Oíche Shamhna Shona Daoibh (Happy Halloween)!

Irish Apple Cake

Serves 6


22g white flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

110g butter

125g caster sugar

1 (organic) egg, lightly beaten

about 50-125ml milk

1-2 cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped into bit sized pieces (Note: I suggest using 3-4 apples)

2-3 cloves, optional (Note: if serving in ramekins you will need 1 clove per ramekin)

egg wash


1. Preheat the oven t0 180C/350F.

2. Sieve the flour and baking powder into a bowl.

3. Rub in the butter with your fingertips until it resembles the texture of breadcrumbs.

4. Add 75g of the caster sugar.

5. Make a well in the centre and add the egg and enough milk to form a soft dough.

6. Divide dough in two. Put one half into an ovenproof plate and press it out with floured fingers to cover the base.

7.  Add the apples and the cloves.

8. Sprinkle over some or all over the remaining sugar, depending on the sweetness of the apples.

9. Roll out the remaining dough and put on top of the apples – easier said than done as this “pastry dough” is more like scone dough. (Note: my dough was too sticky to roll out so I just flattened it with my hands and then put it on top of the apples in the ramekins.)

10. Press the sides together, cut a slit through the lid, egg wash and bake for about 40 minutes or until cooked through and nicely browned on top.

11. Dredge with caster sugar and serve warm with Barbados sugar and softly whipped cream.

* From Living Library blog: “Lady Wilde, in her book Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms & Superstitions of Ireland wrote: “It is said by time-wise women and fairy doctors that the roots of the elder tree, and the roots of an apple tree that bears red apples, if boiled together and drunk fasting, will expel any evil living thing or spirit that may have taken up abode in the body of a man.”

* From The Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids: “In a Medieval Irish story Connla the Fair, an Irish prince, fell in love with a beautiful Faerie woman, who arrived on the Irish shore in a crystal boat. She offered him an apple from the world of Faerie; he took the fatal bite, and was hers forever. They set sail for her magical island where the trees bore both fruit and blossom, and winter never came. There they ate an ever replenishing stock of apples, which kept them young forever. An Otherworldly apple tree magically makes music which can dispel ‘all want or woe or weariness of the soul’. In Irish lore, the God Óengus offered three miraculous apple trees from the magical woods, Bruig na Bóinde (New Grange), as a wedding gift for one of the Milesians. One was full in bloom, one shedding its blossoms, and one in fruit. The deliberate felling of an apple tree was punishable by death in ancient law).

* The old Irish tree list here and a brief history by Irish forester, Fergus Kelly, speaks directly to the history of old Irish trees, including the apple tree.

* The secret steamy history of Halloween apples over at NPR.og.


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Autumn has arrived. The leaves on our trees are just starting to turn and fall. The days are obviously shorter: the nights longer. And, because there’s a distinct chill in the air, the central heating is back on.

As Mother Nature moves us gently from summer to winter, I find that I am making fewer foods that are light and healthy and more that are luxurious and hearty.

Traditional Irish foods…stewed apples, Barm Brack, thick and creamy soups, roasts and, of course, Colcannon…are what we’re eating more of now.

Colcannon, in particular, is as traditional as traditional Irish food gets. Known as Cál Ceannann in Irish, which literally means white-headed cabbage, it’s the stuff songs and poems are written about here. No kidding!: “Did you ever eat Colcannon, made from lovely pickled cream? With the greens and scallions mingled like a picture in a dream.~ lyrics from a song sung by Mary Black

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Irish Americans sometimes serve Colcannon on St. Patrick’s Day, but it is customary to eat it on 31st October in Ireland. There are, in fact, quite a few Irish traditions having to do with Colcannon and Halloween. For example, a very long time ago, bowls of Colcannon were left on the front doorsteps of Irish homes for wandering spirits in search of their earthly abode. It was also used for games of marriage divination, whereby charms (namely a ring for marriage and a thimble for spinsterhood) were hidden inside the fluffy mixture and bowls were then served to the young women living at home to foretell their future. And finally, Irish colleens sometimes hung socks, partially filled with Colcannon, on their front door on Halloween night in the belief that the first man through the door would be their future husband.

To be sure, such shenanigans do not (never have/never will) happen in our Irish home. Between the arguing over the ring and the unsightly mess of a potato-filled sock hanging from the front door…I’ll be having none of it. For us, Colcannon is simply a comforting side dish we enjoy year round…but most especially at this time of year.


Serves 6


900g/2 ½ lbs potatoes, scrubbed and peeled

110g/8 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for serving

1 small green cabbage, outer leaves removed, cored, washed and thinly shredded

8oz/1 cup milk (plus a little more if the potatoes are very dry)

4 scallions, green parts only, finely chopped

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


1. Place potatoes in a saucepan and cover with cold water by 1”. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until slightly tender, about 15 minutes. Drain off about two-thirds of the water. Put a lid on the saucepan, place the saucepan back on the hob (stove) and put on a gentle heat, allowing the potatoes to steam until they are fully cooked. (Keep a watchful eye on the potatoes at this point as you do not want them to burn.) When fully cooked, drain excess water and put softened potatoes in a large mixing bowl. Rice or mash potatoes. Set aside.

2. Return saucepan to hob over medium-high heat. Add butter. When melted, add cabbage and cook, stirring, until wilted, about 5 minutes.

3. To the cabbage, add the milk and scallions, and bring to a boil. Remove from heat.

4. Add hot milk mixture to warm mashed potatoes and stir until smooth. (You may use a food mixer, but use the spade paddle for the mixing).

5. Season with salt and pepper, and transfer to a warm bowl. Serve immediately with a large pat of butter melting in the centre.

Additional Notes, Related Articles & Credits:

* Colcannon may be made ahead and reheated in a moderate oven.

* Leftover Colcannon may be made into potato cakes and fried in bacon fat until browned on both sides.

* Colcannon would be lovely served with Guinness Beef Stew!

* To hear Mary Black sing Colcannon click here.

* Irish Halloween Traditions & Customs here, here and here.

* For a fascinating look at the history of Irish food click here.

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Going, going gone! Such was the fate of the Hawaiian-style oven roasted pork ribs I made last night in honour of my grandmother Eloise’s eighty-fifth birthday.

Eloise was an island girl. Born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, she was fierce proud of her Chinese-Hawaiian heritage. Not only could she could play the ukulele well, she ended all personal letters with “Aloha”, kept cans-upon-cans of Spam in her larder, and always had a big pot of rice on her kitchen table at mealtimes…breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, and ginger in this recipe are a nod to her Hawaiian ways. The marmalade is my special Irish touch. The ribs are Baby Back…but they could easily be Spare.

“What’s the difference?”, I hear you say.

Well…Baby Back ribs are cut from the place where the rib meets the spine, in a full-grown pig, after the loin is removed. They do not come from baby pigs.

Spare ribs, on the other hand, come from the belly of the pig, after the belly is removed. They are typically bigger, tougher and have more fat on them than Baby Back ribs, which can make them very flavourful if properly cooked.

I prefer Baby Back ribs…Spare ribs seem more of an appetizer. Whichever you can get easily at your super market or butcher is fine.

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Although most people think of ribs as being a “summer-time-only food”, something to throw on the barbecue, they are actually ideal any time of year when made in an oven. Tis true! What I LOVE about this recipe is how easy it is to make: a blessing in any busy home, but especially on a weekday evening when you are exhausted from work, the kids have homework to do, and there’s a dance practice or some other extracurricular activity on.

Mix up the marinade, rinse and dry the ribs, add some of the marinade to the foil pouch you make up in a few seconds, and put the whole kit and caboodle into the oven for 1.5 hours and your done! Wham bam, thank you ma’am…or as they say in Hawaii…”ain’t no big thing!”! Simple, delicious, healthy…now, that’s my kind of cooking.

Grandma would have loved these…I know you will too.


Hawaiian-Style (Oven Baked) Pork Ribs

Serves 4-6


200g/1 ¼ cup brown sugar

8oz/1 cup soy sauce

1 tablespoon sesame oil

¼ teaspoon crushed red chile flakes

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 teaspoon ginger (more if you like)

3 tablespoons marmalade

2oz/ ¼ cup water

3-4lb pork baby back ribs


1. Pre-heat oven to 200ºC/425ºF. Using aluminum, make a pouch big enough to hold the ribs and marinade.

2. Rinse and dry ribs. Set aside.

3. Whisk together brown sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, chile flakes, ginger, marmalade, and water in a medium sized bowl.

4. Put ribs into the aluminum pouch, curved side up, and pour over enough marinade to coat well. Reserve the remaining marinade.

5. Seal up the aluminum pouch and place on a baking sheet. Roast for 1 to 1.5 hours or until the ribs are browned, glazed and tender. Remove from oven and let rest.

6. Heat the marinade over medium heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thick and syrupy. Transfer ribs to a platter, bush with hot marinade and serve.

Additional Notes & Credits

* For excellent photos and more indepth description of Baby Back and Spare ribs, visit thekitchen.

* The Irish BBQ Association was set up in 2002 to promote the sport of BBQing in Ireland. The Association has subsequently be responsible for bringing Ireland it’s first BBQ Championship, the World BBQ Cook-Off, River Feast, in Limerick May 2003. This event continued until 2008 attracting teams from all over the world to take part.

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Happy October! From our little Irish home to your home (wherever it may be), we wish you a Spooktacular month ahead!

Of course there are only two months left in 2015…yikes! And this is exactly the time of year when life speeds up…no wait…can it actually get any faster?! So, instead of writing a whole article in this week’s post, I’m doing the first In an Irish Home Roundup. Yep, that’s right…a Roundup!

From decor to travel here are all the things that are on my mind or on my radar at the moment. Most of it centre’s around Ireland or has an Irish angle of some sort…some of it not. Either way, I think you’ll find it interesting.

And, so, without further ado…I give you the October Roundup…(trumpets blaring and drum roll please!):

We’re entering those rainy days of autumn now and these shiny black rain boots from Hunter and this Dusty Parka from Avoca Handweavers are perfectly matched for the weather ahead. The light-weight, knee-length parka is fitted, styled, and has a detachable hood. Great for a morning walk with friends or a wet afternoon on the pitch: super cute!

Rainy Days

Speaking of fashion…I read last month, in Elle UK, about Dublin native Oriole Cullen, the 39-year-old Acting Senior Curator of Contemporary Fashion at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. She has a BA in History of Art from University College Dublin and an unbelievably fascinating job (not to mention great fashion sense). Check-out this article, Oriole Cullen “How I Got There”, from The Daily Telegraph: Oriole offers sound advice for how she landed one of the coolest jobs on earth. And if, like me, you’re gently guiding your offspring about how to get ahead in this world, you might like to watch this video about Oriole from Bazaar at Work.

While I’m on the subject of strong, amazing, women…here’s a story going round that has me kicking up my Jimmy Choo heels. It seems a group of researchers from the University of Western Australia decided to take a second look at a few Viking archeological remains only to discover that what was previously considered a group of males actually turned out to be a group of males and FEMALES buried with their swords and shields. It seems Shieldmaidens are not a myth! Who knew…I certainly didn’t!?!

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But seriously, this Crystal Amadeo decanter recently caught my eye. I love its flawless and graceful lines. What a gorgeous addition it would be to our/your dining table this autumn. Available at Mitchell & Sons and now reduced from €475 to €380.

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With Halloween just around the corner, our Irish home is already a buzz with conversation about costumes and decorations. Two of these spiderweb candelabra will do nicely…thank you very much Dunnes Stores. Spiderweb candelabra for €25 each.


For year’s I’ve used an eyelash comb (namely a child’s toothbrush, clean of course) after putting on my mascara to smooth out those ugly clumps one gets from mascara. This folding eyelash comb from Tweezerman, called an Ilashcomb, is so much more ladylike. I think it will be my Favourite-Christmas-Gift-to-Give friends this year.

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Like many Irish women, I’ve just booked my pre-Christmas flights to New York! These Plimsolls and this leather backpack from Massimo Dutti will be perfect for running around The Big Apple.

Ease and Comfort

I hear London calling too…especially now that Simone Rocha has opened her first ever boutique at 93 Mount Street, London. Simone, the Dublin raised, 28-year-old daughter of Ireland’s famous fashion designer John Rocha and his partner-wife Odette, has turned a 19th century building and its Queen Anne-style interiors into a bright, warm, two-story space. I hear it’s gorgeous! Known for her unabashedly feminine style, Roche’s shop is nothing short of dreamy! Can’t make it to London just yet? Check out her Facebook page and website.

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Right now I’ve got foraging on the brain. Sure I could step into my own back garden and find plenty, but farther afield things look all the more interesting. That’s why I’m following Wild Food Mary and Forage Ireland for upcoming events and dates.


My latest food crush is on Irishman Donal Skeehan and his recipe for White Chocolate & Macadamia Nut Cake with blackberries has me dying to break out my food processor! Donal launched his own Youtube channel last year to great success. He recently announced that he’s got nearly 250,000 subscribers. I’m not the only one with a crush! Donal’s also got a two-part photography series with Cannon coming up…so check it out. He says anyone can take a good food photograph…so I’ll be watching in an effort to make my photos even better. Maybe I’ll even win Donals’s competition for a new Canon camera!! To be sure, I’ll be checking out his new cookbook Fresh.

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And finally, The Irish Times recently ran a competition for the Best Shops in Ireland 2015. Sadly my friends Patrick Ryan and Laura Moore over at The Firehouse Bakery in Delgany, Co. Wicklow didn’t win (they’re brilliant!) but many other wonderful shops, stores, bakeries, and emporiums did. Print a copy of the article and keep it handy…it’s a great snapshot of things to do if you’re visiting Ireland and wonderful to have to hand if you have the pleasure of living here full-time.


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A few weeks ago, my dad telephoned from America to ask if I had a favourite scone recipe I could share.

You see, where he lives, a scone is a plate-size, golden-fried roll served with honey-butter, syrup, or powdered sugar.

Tis true.

In his neck of the woods, a scone is like a beignet..a sopapilla…a doughnut even. In Ireland they’re nothing of the sort. An Irish scone is a light, moist, baked pastry that falls somewhere between a cake and a well-made muffin.

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The differences don’t stop there, however. Irish scones have far less butter and sugar in them. Though, with the salty Irish butter and the sweet raspberry jam we load them up with, this may be a moot point! Also, Irish scones rarely have fancy add-ins: Craisins, chocolate chips, crystallised ginger, for example, just don’t make the cut here. Currants or raisins are about as “crazy” as scones get in Ireland…and even then some people feel those muck up a perfectly plain scone. And finally, Irish scones are never fried or shaped into fussy triangles. What is it about triangle-shaped scones my fellow countrymen/countrywomen like?!

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But don’t start thinking there is only one way to make scones in Ireland! There are many, many different ways to make them. For example, in a basic Irish Master Recipe, some bakers will use vegetable oil, others prefer lard, but most use butter. When using butter, there is a debate as to which is better: chilled or room temperature. Milk is nearly always used in making scones, but there are people who swear buttermilk is the only way to go, and there are others still who use cream. And where flour is concerned there are at least three options to choose: self-raising flour (self-rising if you are Stateside); cream flour (All Purpose); and cake flour.

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Ok…I have digressed…let me circle back to the beginning…my dad asked me for a scone recipe. Today I am offering him the one below. It is my favourite recipe which makes up the loveliest mixed berry scones. This recipe calls for self-raising flour, milk and chilled butter…in case you’re wondering. It works well if you omit the berries (or substitute them with raisins/currants). And, I suppose, you could change them out for something else…cherries perhaps or lemon rosemary…but why bother? Real Irish scones are simply delicious.

Irish Mixed Berry Scones

Makes about 18-20


For the Scones

900g/2lb/7 1/4 cups self-rising flour

50g/2oz/1/3 cup caster sugar

3 heaped teaspoons baking powder

175g/6oz/12.5 tablespoons butter, chopped & chilled

3 room temperature eggs

450ml/15fl oz/2 cups milk

2 handfuls raspberries, 2 handfuls blueberries or 4 oz raisins or currants

For Glaze

1 egg white, whisked with a fork

2 teaspoons water

granulated sugar for sprinkling


1. Adjust oven rack to the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 230ºC/450ºF.

2. Mix the 1 egg white and 2 teaspoons water together to make an egg wash.

3. Sieve all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

4. Whisk the 3 eggs, add to the milk, and set aside.

5. Rub butter into the flour until it’s well incorporated and the mixture resembles bread crumbs.

6. Add the mixed berries (or raisins/currants) and mix lightly.

7. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and add the milk and eggs. Mix quickly into a soft dough: do not over mix.

8. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead just enough to shape the dough into a circle about 2cm (1 inch) thick.

9. Using a scone cutter (a tall cookie cutter will do), stamp the dough into round scones. Place scones onto an ungreased baking sheet. Brush tops with the egg wash and sprinkle on some sugar.

10. Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown on top.

11. Cool on a wire rack.

12. Gather up the remaining dough into another circle and stamp out more round scones until you’ve used up all the dough. Finish as directed above.

Additional Notes, Related Articles & Credits:

* http://bakerette.com/homemade-utah-scones

* Scones do not keep well for more than a day, but for best results place in an airtight container.

* Read Sarah Kate Gillingham’s article over at thekitchn.com about a trip she took to Ireland where she learned, first-hand, how to make Real Irish Scones.


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