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The Irish Boutique is an Irish import store that has been located in the Chicago land area for over 40 years.  The shop stocks a variety of products ranging from Irish jewelry, crystal, china, food, sweaters, caps, t-shirts and a wide variety of Irish gifts. 

Cooking Blog

Visit our blog to read about Michelle Barry's adventures in cooking and eating Irish cuisine and to learn about new products and upcoming events. 

 

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

john barry

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When I was a kid, I played competitive tennis. We lived in Colorado where winters were cold and court time was expensive.  So I often practiced very early in the morning or late at night when it was easier and cheaper to reserve a court at the indoor tennis club in our town. I also traveled to tennis tournaments which sometimes required catching a flight or getting on a bus at 5:00 a.m. No matter how early I had to leave, my mom would always get up to make me breakfast before sending me off.  I especially remember the days when she would pop those Pillsbury cinnamon rolls with orange glaze in the oven for a 4:00 a.m. pre-tennis breakfast.  I loved the way they made the house smell and the sweet sticky glaze on top. And while I’m sure I never expressed it back then, I loved that even when my dad was driving me or someone was picking me up, my mom always, always got up to feed me.

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One morning a couple of months ago, when we were in California visiting my parents, my mom made us all cinnamon rolls for breakfast. Emmett claimed that he did not like cinnamon rolls and then proceeded to devour at least two big ones. I wasn’t surprised, given my healthy appreciation for them. And I couldn’t help but remember those early tennis mornings from my childhood. Watching him eat the rolls with gusto made me think about food memories and family rituals. And that got me to thinking that we should have something special for Holiday breakfasts. Something the kids look forward to and always remember the way I remember 4:00 a.m. cinnamon rolls.

So, seeing as most of us were verified cinnamon roll lovers, I thought it would be nice to make them as a special Thanksgiving breakfast this year.  Because I could make them the night before and let them rise overnight in the fridge, I knew they would be a low-maintenance breakfast that would allow me to focus on cooking the “real food” for the day. When we woke up, all I had to do was leave them on the counter for an hour or so before popping them in the oven.  

"MORE!" Another cinnamon roll lover. 

"MORE!" Another cinnamon roll lover. 

They were a hit with the kids who love, and often request a “special breakfast” on the weekends or on Holidays.  Perhaps the best part is that the recipe makes 16 rolls in two cake pans - so I had one leftover for the freezer. I plan on defrosting them overnight in the refrigerator on Christmas Eve so that we can have another “special breakfast” on Christmas. The kids have actually asked to have them again a handful of times in the last two weeks, so I think they will be a welcome addition to our Christmas morning activities.

This recipe is adapted slightly from the book Baked Elements by Matt Lewis.  I add salted chopped pecans to the filling because the saltiness and texture of the nuts cuts some of the sweet and softness of the rolls as they would be otherwise.

I went back and forth on when and how to freeze them before deciding to simply freeze them fully baked and frosted so that I can reheat them (after defrosting overnight) in a 250 degree oven for about 20 minutes. While I have yet to test this, I’m pretty confident that they will be just as good this way.  I’m already looking forward to indulging in one of these with a big cup of coffee on Christmas morning.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

For the Dough:

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup whole milk, slightly warm (but not hot)
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant or active dry yeast
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out
  • 1/2 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2/3 cups pumpkin puree, canned
  • 1 large egg
  • Oil or cooking spray for coating rising bowl

For the Filling:

  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon table salt
  • ½ cup chopped roasted, salted pecans
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

For the Glaze:

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temp
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • ½ teaspoon  vanilla extract or vanilla paste

Melt the butter in a small saucepan or the microwave. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.

Add yeast to milk in a small bowl and set aside. After a few minutes, it should start to foam, if it doesn’t your yeast might be bad. Try it again with new yeast.

In the bottom of the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flour, sugars, salt and spices. Add about 3/4ths of your melted butter, reserving the other 1/4th for assembly, and stir to combine. Add yeast-milk mixture, pumpkin and egg and mix until combined. Switch mixer to a dough hook and knead on low for about 5 minutes.

Place mixture in a large oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside for 1 hour in a warm place until the dough just about doubles.

Spray two 9-inch round cake pans with cooking/baking spray.

To assemble buns: Once dough has nearly doubled, turn it out onto a well-floured surface and roll the dough to an approximately 16×11-inch rectangle. Brush with reserved butter. Stir filling ingredients together in a bowl and sprinkle mixture evenly over your dough rectangle. Roll the dough into a tight spiral. Cut into 16 equal sized rolls by applying minimal pressure to the rolled up dough and slicing with a serrated knife (this helps to avoid squishing the rolls when they are cut). Cutting with dental floss also works well.

Place 8 buns in each prepared pan. Cover and place in refrigerator overnight. In the morning, take buns out and leave on the counter for 1 hour. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350F and make glaze.

To make glaze: Beat cream cheese until it is light and fluffy. Add sugar and vanilla. Drizzle in milk a little at a time until glaze is the right consistency - spreadable or pourable. We like it on the thicker side.

She loved them too! YAY! I found something we can all get excited about.

She loved them too! YAY! I found something we can all get excited about.

Pumpkin Pie with Cream Cheese Whipped Cream

john barry

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How was your Thanksgiving? Ours was low-key, in a good way.  I cooked some, but not as much as usual, and I was just fine with that. I can’t stay the meal suffered for it any either, though my ego might have just a tiny bit. Actually, the more I think about it, it’s nice that Thanksgiving, for us, is about the food but more than that, about everyone getting together year after year to share the meal together and reflect upon what we are thankful for. This year Isla wasn’t crazy about being put on the spot about what she was thankful for (maybe she needs another year before she’s ready to speak in front of a group) but Emmett said that he was grateful for “Grocery shopping with his Mama” which was definitely the highlight of my Thanksgiving. Eve, our little bulldozer, slept through dinner and we were all thankful for that.

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I thought it was pretty cute that Emmett proclaimed his readiness “to eat his Turkey dinner” a few times throughout the afternoon. At just 4 ½ years of age, this annual ritual that connects us to our families, friends, culture and shared history as Americans is already a part of him. Although he prefers ham and probably didn’t end up even eating any of the turkey, I took his words to express the sentiment that he gets it and he’s in when it comes to this Holiday. It’s kind of amazing to see family rituals being created for your children right before your eyes.

And also, there’s pie. Pie might be my favorite part of Thanksgiving. I like to pack the leftovers for people to take home and do the dishes before serving dessert and tea. This provides a break from eating and also means that by the time it’s “pie time” there’s not a lot of cleanup left for me to do. It means I can relax a little more and really enjoy the last of our Thanksgiving dinner.

Although desserts are some of the easiest dishes to just buy for the Holidays, I’m firmly grounded in the homemade or bust camp when it comes to Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.  So I was determined to make a pie even though I was streamlining when it came to the other dishes. Believe it or not I had never made a pumpkin pie before. Crazy. I cobbled the following recipe together using a few tricks that I’ve heard of over time like sauteing the pumpkin first (some people roast it) to remove some moisture and get more concentrated pumpkin flavor and pureeing the filling in a food processor for a more creamy texture. I don’t eat pumpkin pie enough to know whether or not these techniques worked but I can say that the pie was good. As in, I ate a big slice on Thanksgiving and way too much of it in the days that followed - I couldn’t help myself! I topped it off with cream cheese whipped cream, which I chose instead of regular whipped cream for both the stability (it’s pipeable and no weeping for days means you can even frost cakes with the stuff - genius, if you ask me) and because I like the tang that the cream cheese adds.  I think I’ll make this again next year.

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Pumpkin Pie with Cream Cheese Whipped Cream

For Pie:

  • One homemade or store bought pie crust
  • one 15oz can (about 2 cups) pumpkin puree
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 and 1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar (light brown sugar is fine too)
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1 cup  heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup milk (any type works, I use whole milk because that’s what we have at home)
  • egg wash: 1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water

For Cream Cheese Whipped Cream:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 4 ounces cream cheese (room temp)
  • 3-4 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla paste (I like vanilla paste because it has flecks of vanilla in it)

To make pie:

Preheat oven to 375F.

Roll out chilled pie crust and turn into pie plate. Chill in freezer while the oven preheats and you prepare your filling.

Place pumpkin in a heavy-bottomed pan over a burner set on medium heat. Stir pumpkin, allowing it to dry out a little but making sure not to burn it. Lower the heat if it is scorching. Saute about 15 minutes.

Remove chilled pie dough (in pie plate) from the freezer and brush with egg wash (1 egg plus 1 tablespoon of water); Cover pie dough with parchment paper and fill with beans, rice, or pie weights. Place in the oven and blind bake for 15 minutes. Remove pie weights and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

While pie dough is in the oven, combine sauteed pumpkin, 3 eggs, brown sugar, cornstarch, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, pepper, cream, and milk in the bowl of a food processor and process until very smooth.

Pour filling into warm pie crust. Bake pie until filling is almost set about 55 minutes. Start checking at 30 minutes and cover the edges of the crust with foil if they begin to brown too much.

Once done, cool on a rack for at least three hours then cover tightly and refrigerate for 3 hours more or up to three days.

To make cream cheese whipped cream topping:

In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, whip cream cheese, vanilla and sugar together until fluffy, about 4 minutes.  

In a separate bowl, using the whisk attachment, whip heavy cream on medium-high until soft peaks form. Add whipped cream cheese mixture, about a tablespoon or two at a time and continue to whip on low until the mixture holds stiff peaks.

Pipe or spread onto chilled pie before serving

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Gingerbread Cookies

john barry

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One of Emmett and Isla’s favorite activities after school is looking through all of the catalogs that are sent to the house.  They love to sit at the kitchen table while I make dinner and take turns flipping through catalogs, pointing out ALL of the things that they want. These days, because retailers are sending out Holiday catalogs, they keep noticing gingerbread cookies displayed prominently on trays, in jars, on cookie sheets  - think Crate & Barrel, Pottery Barn, West Elm, Williams-Sonoma etc. Having promised Emmett we would make our own gingerbread cookies, last weekend we finally did.

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Emmett and Isla enjoyed using the rolling pin and trying to eat as much raw dough as they could (Eew!) and of course, cutting out the cookies with their cutters on parchment paper. I used dark molasses instead of light, only because that is what I had in the house.  I was worried that the flavor would be too strong for the kids, but they didn’t seem to mind and gobbled up all of the cookies in no time.

I used this recipe from King Arthur Flour and didn’t change a thing. I froze half the dough so that we can do this all over again in a few weeks and possibly decorate the cookies next time (they were gone too fast to frost)! I love the idea of making our own version of these mug toppers, or ornaments out of gingerbread.  

It’s almost Thanksgiving.  What are you cooking? We’re having turkey, ham, gravy, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, stuffing, sweet potatoes, green beans, kale salad, corn pudding, rice and pumpkin pie.  I can't wait! 

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