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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. 

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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. 

 

A Cup of Tea

john barry

Grandpa and (baby) Isla

Grandpa and (baby) Isla

Just the other day we were at my father-in-law, Paddy’s house, he was making dinner for us as he always does (we are very well-fed at grandpa’s) when Emmett ran into the kitchen and told him “YOU are the Mammy of this house!” I was in the other room when Emmett said this but my father-in-law proudly relayed it to me and I couldn’t help but feel such a pang of love and happiness as well as a kind of awe at how this man has tirelessly supported, guarded, guided and set the BEST example for his children and grandchildren.

I know his late-wife, Linda, looks down on him with such pride at how he honors her memory and the family that they built together. I feel confident that Paul would do the same if he had to. I know it isn’t easy, no matter how readily one can be lulled into believing it might be - because of the grace and humility with which my father-in-law accomplishes it all.  I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been to turn into a single parent when your children are any age, much less young adults who in their way, need you more than ever. Fortunately for Paddy, Linda has always remained a grounding presence in the lives of all of her loved ones and a great motivator even, perhaps especially, now.  I wish I had known her and find myself wondering what she would do in so many situations.

I would be lying if I didn’t admit that when Emmett made that comment I wondered if he thought that moms did all of the cooking. But only for a second.  I think he meant that moms take care of everybody.  Make sure they’re all ok. With tea and kindness.  Like Paddy does. I'm so grateful that he has his Grandpa to show him what that looks like and to prove that men do it too. 

Today I’m making the most basic of all basics. A simple cup of tea. I don’t exactly know where I picked up this technique, I’m guessing it was from Paddy as I don’t think it’s something I would have ever stumbled upon myself.

Special equipment:

1 ½ quart saucepan

Ingredients:

3 bags of Barry’s tea

½ cup cold water

1 liter boiling water

Place the tea bags and ½ cup cold water in the bottom of a 1 ½ quart saucepan set over medium-high heat.

Bring to a boil and turn the heat off.

Add about 1 liter boiling water (I use an electric kettle for this) to saucepan and cover with lid for 3 minutes.

Remove teabags, pour and serve. Yes, I pour straight from the pan.  If you want to use a teapot you can boil the 1/2 cup of water with the teabags (step one) in the microwave.

5 Things About Saint Patrick’s Day

john barry

So as it turns out, there are a lot of things that I didn’t know about St. Patrick’s day.  Here are five facts about the Holiday that you might not know. 

#1 St. Paddy’s v.s. St. Patty’s

In Ireland, Patty is short for Patricia and Paddy is short for Patrick, technically short for Pádraig, a variant of Patrick.  I did know that Paddy is short for Patrick as this is my father-in-law’s name, but I didn’t think about it in relation to St. Patrick’s Day - which I’m sure I have referred to as St. Patty’s a millions times - probably right here on this site. Apparently, a few years back,  the Dublin Airport even issued a statement regarding this in an attempt to banish the term St. Patty’s as a reference to March 17th festivities.  I will try to remember this one and call it St. Paddy’s Day from here on out.

Clapping to the rhythm during an Irish dance performance. 

Clapping to the rhythm during an Irish dance performance. 

#2 St. Patrick

Do we even know what we are celebrating on St. Patrick’s Day? Green beer? I learned a little bit about St. Patrick just the other day from a friend.  St. Patrick’s Day is cultural and religious holiday that takes place on the traditional death date of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. St. Patrick was thought to have used the three-leaf clover to explain the Holy Trinity to Irish pagans. St Patrick's Day parades began in North America in the 18th century and did not spread to Ireland until the 20th century.   St. Patrick’s Day has been recognized as a national holiday in Ireland since 1903.  Today, St. Patrick’s Day parades are held across the world. Paul and I even went to one in Japan when were were there in 2012.

#3 Leprechauns

So far as I can tell, these little fairies, who, as a part of Irish folklore, are usually found mending shoes and searching for the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, have nothing to do with St. Patrick’s Day, except of course that they are Irish.

#4 Corned Beef

So this one I knew. Corned beef is an Irish-American thing. Corned beef and cabbage is the Irish-American variant of the original Irish dish of bacon and cabbage. Some say that, in America, Irish immigrants weren’t able to obtain the cut of bacon used for boiling bacon which led to using cured brisket as a stand in. In New England, the proximity of Irish and Jewish communities may have led Irish immigrants to start using brisket, introduced to them by their Jewish neighbors, for this dish as it most closely approximated the taste and texture of Irish bacon.

#5 What do you do when March 17th falls on a Friday?

According to the archdiocese of Chicago, Chicago’s Irish-Catholics MAY eat corned beef today, as long as you substitute another form of penance. Whew. Just kidding. I made this corned beef on Wednesday so we could eat it before St. Patrick’s Day and again after since it’s even better a day or two later. It was my first time EVER making corned beef. And well, I didn’t really make it. I was planning on getting all of the ingredients to cure my own a couple of weeks ago but when I ran into our local market for a gallon of milk, the pre-cured ones were right there in front of me and I couldn’t help myself. Maybe next year I will cure my own, but this first time all I did was buy it, rinse it off and throw it in the slow cooker.  It was GREAT.

Here’s how I made it.

Open the package of corned beef.

Rinse off the meat under cold running water. 

Throw it in the slow cooker with enough water to go ½ to ⅔ the way up the sides of the meat.

Turn slow cooker on low for 7 hours.

At the 5 hour mark, turn the meat over and throw some cabbage, carrots and potatoes in with the brisket.

Once the timer goes off, remove and slice your corned beef.

Remove the vegetables from the pot leaving the cooking liquid.

Place your vegetables on a large serving platter and lay slices of corned beef on top.

Add 1 tablespoon of dijon mustard to the cooking liquid and boil the liquid for about 10 minutes until it is reduced slightly - tasting to make sure it’s not reducing too much (i.e. getting too salty).

Pour the cooking liquid over your meat and vegetables and serve.


Happy St. PADDY’s Day!!!

Cinnamon Grahams

john barry

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Happy Saint Patrick's day weekend! I've got my corned beef in the fridge ready to go and I'm about to go to the store for some cabbage - which was sold out at my local market (that's when you know you live in an Irish-Catholic neighborhood). But for today, its crackers.

I cannot tell you the number of cracker recipes I’ve bookmarked, pinned or torn out and filed away in my life. So, so many. I love the idea of making my own crackers but I never make them.  Until now. This recipe came to my inbox as the featured recipe for one of the weekly newsletters I subscribe to. I deleted it at first, because I need another cracker recipe like a hole in my head, but something made me go back and retrieve it from my deleted files. I skimmed the recipe once and it seemed easy enough. I turned the oven on and started throwing these babies together.

The entire process took 30 minutes and they were so good. We ate about a third of them while they were still on the sheet, not completely cool. After dinner we used them for s'mores.  Like granola, chicken stock and several other basics, after making these I wondered why I haven’t been making them for years. It’s never too late to start right? I feel like there are so many kitchen projects like this.  Versions of things we are used to buying but are so much better when you make them yourself. I always joke to my husband that I would make a good pioneer - if I had the time, I would eventually make almost everything from scratch (...oh, all the things I would do in my second life, or maybe retirement).  

Fortunately, I can make these crackers again with just a few minutes and ingredients I always have in my pantry. Since they are made with whole wheat flour and not too much sugar I would feel good about turning them into a cookie project and adding a simple glaze. I’m sure the kids would enjoy getting out the cookie cutters. Perhaps best of all, these last quite awhile though you may want to double the recipe if your kids are anything like mine where crackers are concerned.

Cinnamon Grahams

Adapted from the recipe in Better Baking by Genevieve Ko

1 cup whole wheat graham flour (Odlums coarse whole wheat flour works great in this recipe but regular white whole wheat flour will also work.)

3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/4 cup wheat bran

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Granulated sugar, cinnamon and sea salt for sprinkling

Whisk both flours, wheat bran, cinnamon, salt, and the baking soda in a medium bowl.

Whisk both flours, wheat bran, cinnamon, salt, and the baking soda in a medium bowl.

Whisk the sugars, oil, vinegar, and 4 tablespoons water in a large bowl until smooth.

Whisk the sugars, oil, vinegar, and 4 tablespoons water in a large bowl until smooth.

Add the dry ingredients and stir until flour mixture is evenly moistened.  Cover the bowl and rest for 15 minutes.

Add the dry ingredients and stir until flour mixture is evenly moistened.  Cover the bowl and rest for 15 minutes.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Place dough on a large piece of parchment paper and pat into a rectangle.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Place dough on a large piece of parchment paper and pat into a rectangle.

Place a large sheet of plastic wrap over the dough, then roll the dough into a 14-by-12-inch rectangle. 

Place a large sheet of plastic wrap over the dough, then roll the dough into a 14-by-12-inch rectangle. 

Mix equal parts granulated sugar and sea salt with a pinch of cinnamon. Sprinkle evenly over the dough. (As you can tell, I didn't do it in the right order. Woops!)

Mix equal parts granulated sugar and sea salt with a pinch of cinnamon. Sprinkle evenly over the dough. (As you can tell, I didn't do it in the right order. Woops!)

Using a bench scraper or knife, cut the rectangle into 1-by-2-inch rectangles, then poke the crackers with a fork to make dots. Slide the parchment (with the dough on it) onto the cookie sheet.

Using a bench scraper or knife, cut the rectangle into 1-by-2-inch rectangles, then poke the crackers with a fork to make dots. Slide the parchment (with the dough on it) onto the cookie sheet.

Bake the grahams until the edges are dark golden brown and the center is dry and set, 17 to 20 minutes. Cool completely on the sheet on a wire rack, then break into crackers along the cut lines.

Bake the grahams until the edges are dark golden brown and the center is dry and set, 17 to 20 minutes. Cool completely on the sheet on a wire rack, then break into crackers along the cut lines.

Make Ahead: The crackers will keep at room temperature for up to 2 weeks or in the freezer for up to 2 months.