Friday, March 17, 2017

Good Bread series: Treacle Tart

Far be it from us not to conclude this series with a good-looking pie...or tart. In honor of the Irish holiday, bake a Irish treacle tart!

This tart is a touch flat, by American standards. It makes up for it, though, with its rich taste. The recipe I found uses golden syrup...but light or dark corn syrup can be substituted

"Treacle," by the way, is molasses -- or sweet syrup leftover from the sugarmaking process. A tablespoon of molasses is considered an excellent tonic. Bake one of these tarts, and you've gotten your spring tonic out of the way! 

Here's my version, adapted from  the original recipe here, courtesy of The Spruce.


2 cups flour
5 tablespoons butter
couple shakes of salt
ice water   (about 1/3 cup)

1 1/4 cups golden syrup OR light corn syrup
1 tablespoon treacle (or dark molasses)
4 eggs
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
4 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
      (or use one fresh lemon or lime, and include the grated zest from the skin, as well)
chopped pecans

Pastry first.  Mix butter into the flour/salt mixture until it resembles little crumbles. (Or grate the butter in -- much faster.) Add ice water, a little at a time, stirring as you go, until the mixture forms a ball. Roll out on a floured board, adding more flour as needed, then line a pie pan with the dough.
     The Spruce recommends keeping this in the refrigerator for at least 30 min., to help firm things up. It's not a bad idea -- but you can keep it in there all day, if need be.

When you're ready to start up again, heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Now the Filling. Mix all ingredients together except pecans. Pour into the pie shell, then sprinkle chopped pecans around the edge. Bake for 40-45 min., until the crust and filling are golden brown. Pie will be a little runny at first, but firms up nicely. Serve warm to eight hungry Irishmen (or women).

Another recipe for Treacle Tart is here.

The Nolands' recipe uses 1 cup of syrup, 2 eggs and a lot more breadcrumbs. They also bake the shell first, then add the filling before baking it more.

Obviously, you can adapt ingredients for this, based on what's in your pantry and fridge. The recipe reminds me somewhat of Amish or Pennsylvania Dutch Shoofly pie. 

Marie Claire's version is here.

 I'm now told this is Harry Potter's favorite food. Frankly, I have always found Harry and his cohorts more goofy than interesting. However, many of our friends are fascinated with Hogwarts and its environs.


This is how Marie-Claire's recipe turns out...they use less lemon juice, 
and recommend substituting cornflakes for the breadcrumbs

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Being a wee bit Irish meself, not to mention married to a man whose name (Brick) actually means 'badger' in Gaelic...

Well, I enjoy serving Irish dishes during St. Patrick's Day.

We've got all kinds of Irish dishes sprinkled throughout the Holiday Goodies blog, including:

This series, from Kinky Eton Mess to a Dublin Coddle (stew) that will warm your heart any day.


This series, including Irish Stew, Colcannon and that all-American Irish dish:  Corned Beef and Cabbage.

Enjoy -- there's more than enough to cook through the weekend!

Erin Go Bragh. Yup, forever.

Good Bread Series: Breadsticks OR 'Messy' Rolls

Homemade pizza is a great way to stretch your budget, as well as use up small bits of this and that.
     Half a slice of green pepper, or a green onion? A handful of ham and a few mushrooms? Leftover chicken breast, or a pork chop? These are perfect, chopped small and scattered over the pizza.
     (I'm teasing you -- I'll post some terrific pizza recipes in the near future.)

But there are other ways to use that versatile pizza dough, including breadsticks and a trick I just discovered by accident a week ago. 
    Here's the basic recipe.


1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon yeast
1 tablespoon sesame seeds (optional, but they really add to the taste)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
few shakes of salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups flour  (either all white, or a fistful of whole wheat flour + white.
                                 Use heaping cupfuls if you're at high altitude)

'Proof' your yeast by mixing everything but the flour, then letting the bowl sit covered in a warm spot for 10-30 min. Mix in the flour, kneading to make a soft dough. Let rise for as little as 30 min., or as long as 8-10 hours. (Punch down, if you're around to do it, every few hours, so it doesn't overflow the bowl. Use a larger bowl, if you're gone for the day.)

Now your dough is ready for:

Garlic Breadsticks

one recipe of pizza dough
1 stick butter
powdered garlic OR garlic salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees; melt butter on the baking pan. Roll out the dough, adding flour on the board and your hands as needed, and cut the dough into strips. Roll the strips in the melted butter and sprinkle heavily with garlic; add salt, too. (Or just use garlic salt, to begin with.)
     Bake approx. 10-15 min., until sticks are golden brown. Makes up to 2 dozen breadsticks. Serve warm with pasta, soup, stew or whatever....they're excellent for stretching a meal for company.

(This recipe is good for breadsticks, too...makes a fluffier breadstick, though. I like mine crunchy.)

They're good with pizza, too.

'Messy' Rolls

I bumbled onto this variation by being in a hurry. I made a double batch of pizza dough BUT only added half the flour, stirring it in. Then we had to go somewhere, so I didn't even knead the dough. When we returned, it was rising beautifully.
    This time, instead of adding more flour, I just scooped up serving spoonfuls of dough and plopped them on the greased cookie sheet. They baked about the same time, but made a soft, tender roll that was crunchy outside. Messy-looking, sure...but delicious.

I tried it both ways -- 'iced' with melted butter, then sprinkled with garlic and salt, and just baked plain. It worked either way.

Try it for yourself -- but only use half the flour in the standard dough. Add a little extra flour if the mixture is too liquid, but keep it on the sticky side. Then cover with a towel and put in a warm place. Bake just before the meal.

This works for a 'messy' loaf, too -- just plop the dough, then gently shape it into an oval. Bake, slice and serve.

I think you'll be pleased.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Good Bread Series: Peach (Or Any Other Fruit) Cobbler

Warm fruit, tender crust, cinnamon meltiness...what's not to like about a fruit cobbler?

Our version tonight will feature a bag of peaches I found in the back of the freezer -- just in time, too. The temperature's dropping, and clouds are moving in. 

     *Use many different kinds of fruit -- fresh, canned or frozen -- for this country dish. If you're planning on frozen, use it partly-thawed, or it will be mushy. Mix and match, if you like.
     *Make up the cobbler dough earlier in the day, and store in the refrigerator until needed.


(adapted from an All Recipes version)

For the fruit:
     2 cups fruit, your choice -- peeled and chopped, if needed
1/3 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon and/or nutmeg
               (I don't use any spices, except a bare sprinkle of nutmeg, for blueberries, strawberries -- or any other berry)

For the cobbler:
1 cup flour
6 tablespoons butter, crumbled or grated into the flour
1/4 cup each of white and brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
shake of salt
just enough milk (I used an egg) to moisten the mixture, if needed

Sugar/cinnamon topper:
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 tablespoons white sugar, mixed into the cinnamon

Start your oven to 425 degrees.
     Mix the cobbler dough. (This will be crumbly, more than doughy. No worries.) Mix the fruit, then pile into a greased 8" square baking dish. Dump the cobbler mixture over, spread out, then sprinkle with the sugar/cinnamon, if you like. (It's also good without, if you're planning on serving with whipped cream or ice cream.)
     Bake for 30 minutes, until golden brown. Makes four warm servings -- unless it's really cold out, and you've had a long day. Then it might only be two.


Sunday, March 5, 2017

Good Bread Series: Scones!

Blustery March days are perfect for afternoon tea: a steaming pot of English or Irish Breakfast tea, lemon curd, butter...and the perfect just-baked scone.

These little goodies are actually named for the Stone of Scone, or the Stone of Destiny, the famous stone that Scottish rulers are crowned over. Scones were being served back in the 15th century, but didn't use baking powder then, and were often made of oats. Today's version is a light, flaky almost-biscuit, almost-roll, shaped in a circle or wedge. 

The real Stone of Scone -- probably not too tasty with butter

Just a few things to remember:

*Keep your butter and liquids
as cold as possible. This keeps your scones light and flakey. (The batter, not you!)

*If you're incorporating fruit, cut them finely and use them frozen. 

*Don't overmix. A light hand is best.

     They're best just out of the oven. Not as hard as you might think, since your scone batter (or wedges) can keep in the refrigerator before baking.

Dozens of recipes are out there for these toothsome better-than-biscuits, including a 'drop scone' version that Queen Elizabeth gave the recipe to Dwight Eisenhower. (Apparently he asked.)

In its post on the subject, Luna Cafe points out the many ways scones can be made and gives you all sorts of variations. Here's the recipe I've been using, adapted from one the Savoy Hotel uses. 

Photos and recipes adapted from


2 cups flour
4 tablespoons baking powder
shake of salt
1/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons butter (kept cold)
1/2 cup milk  (also cold)
1/4 cup sour cream (ditto)
1/2 cup fruit   (I'm not a huge fan of this, but plenty of people like it -- 
                             try currants, dried cranberries, raisins, blueberries, etc.)
1 egg
a little extra milk and sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix dry ingredients together, then gently cut in butter until it's pea-sized...and frankly a lumpy-looking mess. (Luna Cafe recommends cutting the butter in larger chunks, then literally rolling it into the flour mixture in sheets.) Quickly mix in milk and sour cream; add the egg as well, or use it to paint the cut wedges. Use as light a hand as possible.
      Add the fruit now too, if you want it.
      You should have a soft mixture that's slightly wet. (Add a little flour if it's too runny.) Form into one large circle of dough, then cut into 8 wedges. Transfer to ungreased cookie sheet. (Stop at this point, if you want -- and keep the wedges in the refrigerator.)
     Paint wedges with milk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake 10-15 min. until lightly brown; serve hot with butter, jam or lemon curd.

Need lemon curd?  Here's a great microwave recipe.

Oh my.