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The Irish Boutique - Long Grove, IL (847 634 3540)

Paddy's on the Square - Long Grove, IL (847 634 0339)

The Irish Boutique - Crystal Lake, IL (815 459 1800)

 

847 634 0339

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. 

 

Secret Ingredient for Fall Baking: Boiled Cider

john barry

Apple Pie Contest at !BANG! BANG Pie Shop in Logan Square, Chicago 

Apple Pie Contest at !BANG! BANG Pie Shop in Logan Square, Chicago 

Just about three years ago I won a pie contest.

Yep. I did. Seriously. I still don't know what made me go to the trouble of entering, especially since I had never made a pie from scratch (i.e. homemade pie dough) before.  The contest was held outside on what turned out to be quite a cold October day.  I made Paul, my dear friend Amanda and then-9-month-old Emmett hang out outside for HOURS while deliberations were underway. Third, I won. The whole thing. I still can’t believe it. As nerdy as it sounds, and is, it was exhilarating! More so because of the shock.  When they announced my name just after the first runner up it was as if everything was moving in slow motion and Chariots of Fire was playing in the background. I WISH I was kidding, but it’s true. It was amazing.

The big moment. Proud winner of a $50 gift certificate and bragging rights. 

The big moment. Proud winner of a $50 gift certificate and bragging rights. 

Nerdy in more than just my exhilaration at winning, I’m also a nerd in the kitchen, and competitive at that. So if I’m going to enter a contest, I want to win. As unlikely as it was that I could, I definitely tried my best.  The contest was for the best apple pie so the only limitation was that it had to be apple. I researched apple pie recipes at length as well as how to make the best pie dough. I made my pie dough the weekend before – so I wouldn’t feel rushed on the day of the contest – and even invested in the peeler, corer, slicer that still gets a lot of use during apple season

I can't believe Emmett was ever this small.

I can't believe Emmett was ever this small.

My research led me to an interesting ingredient, one that I had never heard of before. Boiled Cider.  By the time I discovered it, it was too late for me to order it online and I didn’t know where to buy it in person. I decided to make it myself. As it turns out, boiled cider is hardly something you have to “make” at all.  It’s just as the name would lead you to believe – Boiled. Cider. And the directions are as follows: put a gallon (or more) of apple cider in a large pot and boil it until it becomes the consistency of maple syrup.

That’s it.

It does take a few hours but very little of it is active time. You just have to watch it as you get to the very end and it is becoming syrupy so you can take it off the stove before it becomes too thick. Once it’s ready, add a tablespoon to your pie filling to give it that extra “Apple-y” flavor.  You can use it in pancakes, cakes, and all kinds of savory dishes as well. I like to put a little in a salad dressing that I make with Dijon mustard and cider vinegar, or in pan sauce for chicken thighs or pork chops. Ever since I first made it three years ago, I’ve kept some in my refrigerator - where it stays good for months and months.

One gallon of cider in a large pot. 

One gallon of cider in a large pot. 

Here's what it looks like about 3 hours later. Glossy with the consistency of syrup.

Here's what it looks like about 3 hours later. Glossy with the consistency of syrup.

Boiled cider. Oh yeah, did I mention it goes great on top of ice cream? Or in place of pancake syrup? 

Boiled cider. Oh yeah, did I mention it goes great on top of ice cream? Or in place of pancake syrup? 

And now you know the secret to my “award winning” apple pie. Because there should be no secrets in delicious.