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Visit us at one of our three store locations to find Irish Jewelry, Claddagh Rings, Irish Sweaters, Irish Foods, Guinness Products, Waterford and Belleek.

Call us at one of the numbers below or use the accompanying form to contact us.

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. 

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. 

 

Boutique Bake Brown Bread Mix

john barry

Brown Bread

Hello there! It’s been way too long. I know we’ve been cooking at our house because somehow food keeps appearing on the table at dinner time.  I’m just not quite sure what or how. Sound familiar? Because it is STILL winter here, and I’ve still got napping little ones, I’ve taken to making soup from the weeks leftovers on Sunday afternoons. I’m kind of loving this little ritual.  The relative quiet. Doing something with my hands. Letting my mind wander. Giving my sense of smell, taste and feel something to do other than sit on the sidelines as they do for most of the week. I enjoy it without any of the guilt I associate with sitting on the couch and watching netflix or shopping online or any of the other things (that I also enjoy!) that I could be doing with my Sunday afternoons.

Not that I should feel guilty for any of it, just that, honestly, I do. I blame my Dad (as wonderful and amazing as he is. Hi Dad!).  When I was a kid, my dad would walk in the room and immediately observe his surroundings.  If he saw that you weren’t engaged in something “productive” - reading, homework, cleaning etc. he would blurt out “What are you doing!?!” with urgency and more than a little distress. I would have instant regret at my foolishness for relaxing so openly.  It’s hard to tell whether it nature or nurture - and it’s surely both - but as I grew older, I internalized this sense of “What are you doing!?!” to the point where I say it to myself constantly. Having kids, and no free time has definitely toned down that voice in my head, but it is always there, somewhere. As much as it drives me crazy, I appreciate it too.  For the fact that it drives me. Even if it’s just to make soup.

My Sunday soup ritual does not involve any recipes.  Just throwing leftovers into a pot with stock really. But I have been supplementing the soup with some great  breads and bread mixes from Paddy’s on the Square. Like me, the kids love brown bread and using a mix makes it so easy.  I can make the soup and bake bread all at the same time. And if we don’t eat the soup and bread for dinner, I take the soup with me to work for weekday lunches and we enjoy the bread as toast in the mornings.

A couple of weeks ago, I made this Brown Bread mix from a Company called Boutique Bake.  It was beyond easy to throw together and came with this nice little packet of seed mix to throw on top of the loaf for even more texture and flavor.  We loved this bread. The only downside was how fast this loaf went at our house.

*Serves 12 should be taken with a grain of salt. It took 10 minutes for my clan of 6 to finish this off.

*Serves 12 should be taken with a grain of salt. It took 10 minutes for my clan of 6 to finish this off.

Just add milk…

Just add milk…

one egg…

one egg…

and the crunchy seed topping. Then your work is done. Put it in the oven.

and the crunchy seed topping. Then your work is done. Put it in the oven.

Your only remaining job is to slather it with Irish butter and eat. Now, RELAX. You can do it!

Roasted Honey-Balsamic Tri-Color Carrots

john barry

roasted carrots

We’ve actually been cooking quite a bit in the new year - I guess there’s usually more cooking going on around here in the winter. Isla has become a great little helper in the kitchen these days. She loves to set up my pour over coffee pot each night and to make her own breakfast in the morning. A toasted english muffin with jam, cream cheese and butter (in that order)! She likes to use a knife, a real one, “by MYSELF!” she warns, if my peering over her shoulder gets too intense. Emmett is taking a cooking class after school on Tuesdays, which makes me so, so happy. None of the kids are interested in watching Top chef with Paul and I yet but there’s definitely growing interest in cooking. Fingers crossed that at least one of our kids likes cooking enough to make dinner for us someday (the sooner the better).

This honey is amazing! It has a strong flavor that is the pure essence of honey and makes other honey seem like it tastes watered down. I’m so glad I have one more jar in by cupboard. Whew.

This honey is amazing! It has a strong flavor that is the pure essence of honey and makes other honey seem like it tastes watered down. I’m so glad I have one more jar in by cupboard. Whew.

Getting home from work and getting dinner on the table within the next 45 minutes or so can be tough but we manage with a lot of help from my arsenal of quick and easy recipes, leftovers and pizza every Wednesday night!  Weekends are when most of the more time consuming cooking takes place, but I’ve been finding that even when I have time to try a new recipe or take on a cooking “project” the dishes my family likes the most are the simple ones.  

carrots.jpg

Last weekend I picked up some tri-colored carrots from Trader Joe’s based on looks alone. I’m so shallow. I didn’t have a plan for them but figured they would make a pretty side dish.  It’s true isn’t it, that we eat with the eyes first? So on Sunday I roasted them in a hot oven before drizzling them with Scottish honey from Paddy’s and some good balsamic vinegar, with just a sprinkling of sesame seeds. They were totally delicious.

Roasted Honey-Balsamic Tri-Color Carrots

Ingredients

  • 1 bag tri-color carrots or about 16 ounces of carrots

  • 1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • salt to taste

  • 1-2 teaspoons honey

  • 1-2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds

Instructions

  • preheat oven to 400F

  • cut carrots in half length wise and place on baking sheet

  • drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt

  • roast for about 40 minutes, flipping carrots over once at the 20 minute mark

  • place carrots on serving dish, drizzle with honey and balsamic and sprinkle with sesame seeds and more salt

yuchoy and carrots

This recipe reminded me not to feel bad about our quick weeknight dinners because those are the dishes my family probably likes best anyway. More importantly, as long as we are eating together, we are lucky.  Dinner doesn’t need to be fancy to be good. So now, my cooking resolution for 2019 is to find more quick and easy (yet still delicious) recipes for weeknight dinners. Hopefully I can come up with at least a short list of small effort, big reward recipes this year. If you know of any, please share them with us!





Is Cake Still Cake When Looks Like Something Else?

john barry

Christmas cake french toast

Happy New Year! No crazy resolutions requiring willpower and acclimation to deprivation here. And no certain answer to the existential questions that still haunt us all. But we’re not worried. We started 2019 with cake.  Literally. As in cake for breakfast. This brilliant idea was not mine (gasp). The credit belongs to Paul, though I was more than willing to bring it to life in the kitchen.  

Christmas cake

We had a gorgeous Italian Christmas cake leftover from our Christmas festivities that we weren’t exactly sure what to do with. The cake itself was light and airy, not dense or breadlike, and it had a wonderful aroma, reminiscent of almonds or some kind of liquor possibly? I wish I could put my finger on it because it was heaven.

Still, after eating pie for breakfast for a few days, it didn’t feel right to eat cake for breakfast for the next few, well, at least not while it still looked like cake. Paul came up with the idea of turning it into french toast because it had that beautiful texture of brioche - which makes the best french toast. I decided to turn it into baked french toast since it’s easier (and how I typically give leftovers the “french toast treatment”). So easy in fact, that there is no “recipe” at all. Here’s what I did.

I took the cake, cubed it, placed the cubes in a casserole dish and let them sit out all day to dry out a little. Then, just before bedtime, I mixed up some eggs (6), milk (2 cups), cinnamon, nutmeg, a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of sugar (not very much because I was starting with cake!) and poured it over the cubes, making sure they were completely saturated. I drizzled about a tablespoon of cream over the top before covering the dish and putting it in the fridge to soak overnight. When I woke up in the morning, I pre-heated the oven to 375F and baked the french toast, uncovered, for about 40 minutes.

cake cubes
eggs
soaking cubes

The result was pretty decadent since it was, um, cake.  Actually, not just cake but cake plus eggs, milk, cream and a little sugar. But let’s not dwell on the details. The important part is that it was SO good. Especially with some bacon on the side to cut the sweetness. The kids, who weren’t into the cake when it was just cake, felt differently about it as french toast and went to town on it. Which I guess makes me mom-of-the-year.  Look at her, she somehow convinced her kids to eat cake and custard for breakfast and they agreed! They even enjoyed it. Woo Hoo! How does she do it? Again, details.  Let’s not get distracted by them.  Isn’t it more fun to think about the fact that you can have your Christmas cake and eat it too? For breakfast no less. It made a perfect one for our last couple of lazy days home for the holidays. Sure, it’s not an everyday breakfast, but I would make it again in an instant for a brunch or even for Christmas. I can imagine just sliding it into the oven while presents are being opened like I’ve done in the past with these cinnamon rolls. Or, if you must, you could make a nice whiskey sauce or creme anglaise and serve this as a dessert (AKA bread pudding).  That would really bring things full circle. Oh the irony…

Christmas cake french toast

Happiest Happy New Year Wishes to everyone.  Be on the lookout for more Irish food in 2019!