Contact Us

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. 

 

Filtering by Category: Appetizers

Chocolate and Deviled Eggs, an Irish-American Easter

john barry

deviled eggs

Confession.  My oldest is 6 and I have yet to put together a single Easter basket. There are a lot of reasons for this - other people, like my fabulous babysitter who always comes through, along with the kids’ Aunt, Uncle and Grandpa; my borderline compulsive need to eliminate all of the little plastic items in my house; and, most importantly, the simple fact that I’ve got enough mental load to carry without having to be the Easter bunny too. I call it prioritizing.

Semi-related: Just a little shout out to the parents of the kid at my son’s school who got $20 from the tooth fairy. NO. Just. NO.

I told my little guy that the kid meant 20 CENTS and should really be brushing up on his math more.

Whew. THAT felt good. Now back to Easter.

Giant Chocolate Eggs! On my wish list every single year. I know, I know, I should have posted this earlier, because there probably aren’t any left at the store. Not to worry though, you can get your fix of chocolates from across the pond at Paddy’s on the Square year round.

Giant Chocolate Eggs! On my wish list every single year. I know, I know, I should have posted this earlier, because there probably aren’t any left at the store. Not to worry though, you can get your fix of chocolates from across the pond at Paddy’s on the Square year round.

No Easter Baskets? Am I the worst Momma ever? If so, not for lack of Easter baskets. My kids have yet to complain - which is saying a lot - my son mastered the art of guilting me long, long ago.  I think that I probably have these giant chocolate Cadbury eggs to thank. It seems they are ubiquitous in Ireland and they are delicious, addictive really (I keep telling myself, “I’ll just have a teensy, tiny piece” but you know how that goes). John sells out of them at the store every year no matter how many he orders. It’s proof of his love for his nephew and nieces that he always sets aside a few for us.

Never too young to aggressively hoard candy. Especially when you are the fourth child.

Never too young to aggressively hoard candy. Especially when you are the fourth child.

Just because I don’t do Easter baskets, doesn’t mean I don’t do Easter with my little ones. I’d just rather spend the time and energy I have with them, instead of on gifts for them (and if you happen to do both, go you!).  So we made Cool Whip dyed eggs, twice, which only sort-of worked. We had a flashlight Easter egg hunt with the neighbors (shout out to my amazing neighbor-mom-friend who put in 100% of the mental and physical load on that one) and a lovely spring Easter dinner outside exactly one week before (and after!) it snowed here in Chicago.  

Flashlight egg hunt was SO much fun. Also, it’s important to accessorize appropriately.

Flashlight egg hunt was SO much fun. Also, it’s important to accessorize appropriately.

Our Easter was a small gathering this year but so enjoyable and laid back.  We had Irish bacon and potatoes (duh) plus a few other delicious things - kale salad, sweet potatoes, lemon pie.  Everything was so good that we were sad instead of relieved when the leftovers were finally gone later in the week. My little helpers made deviled eggs with me and were so proud of their contribution to our meal. I was proud too - I know that cooking, like other kinds of art, is naturally appealing to kids, but I just love that all of mine enjoy cooking.  I’m not biased or anything, but they’re good at it too.

These could not be easier, even though there are about a BILLION variations on deviled eggs, I wanted to make the simple, classic ones.  You know, the ones from the church buffet line. We garnished them with a little sprinkle of paprika and some resilient chives that braved the long, cold winter and are still growing like gangbusters in our small garden.  

Classic Deviled Eggs

  • 6 large eggs

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise

  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne

  • ½ teaspoon of lemon juice

I don’t think you really need directions but here goes. Hard boil the eggs, or use your Cool Whip dyed eggs from last week. Peel and cut each egg in half,  scoop out the yolks, mix with mayo, mustard, cayenne and a squeeze of lemon. Find an almost-three-year-old to mash the yolks and stir the mixture until smooth. Spoon mixture into egg white halves or, if you want to be fancy, spoon mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and fill the egg white halves that way (4-year-olds can definitely do this! 2-year-olds can too if your going for the “deconstructed” look). Garnish with chives and paprika, or whatever. Eat with gusto, especially in front of your little assistants. Enjoy the smiles.

Deviled Eggs






End of Summer Salad: Heirloom Tomato Salad with Yellow Pepper,  Basil, Feta and Dijon Vinaigrette

john barry

salad.jpg

Thank you to everyone who came out for Long Grove Irish Days and made the festival a huge success! It amazes me that the stores have been part of the Long Grove community for almost 40 years.  It means so much to us to see so many people come out and support Long Grove and participate in the festival. I finally made it to Galena Canning Company and I am so excited to try the fancy mustard, apricot-peach and fig preserves I bought. I’m still looking forward to checking out the new spot in town,  Buffalo Creek Brewery.  I’ve heard it’s fantastic.

Isla taking in an Irish dance lesson on the stage at Irish Days. 

Isla taking in an Irish dance lesson on the stage at Irish Days. 

How can it be that summer has already come and gone? As much as I love fall, summer is always over too soon.  How I’m going to miss the warm, long days and all of the produce that makes dinner effortless.  All of the outdoor cooking. Taking walks to the park or out for ice cream.  All the things we only do during the summer in Chicago. There’s a part of me that enjoys sweater weather, apples and pumpkins, getting cozy when it’s dark out at 5:00 pm and perhaps most of all, the kids going to bed a little earlier (because I want to go to bed earlier too). Still, for the most part, I don’t get very excited in anticipation of fall, I’m too busy trying to soak up the last of the summer.

Last weekend was a good example of this. We had some friends over, hung out outside, went out for ice cream and mostly just tooled around the neighborhood. Sunday night my brother and father-in-law came over for dinner.  Because Paul and I had both fallen asleep on the couch and didn’t wake up in time to get to the store before dinner, we cooked up whatever was left in the fridge. Which ended up being corn, sweet potatoes and chicken.  Fortunately, my father-in-law arrived with some beautiful heirloom tomatoes from the Farmers Market.  He knows the way to my heart.

Heirloom tomatoes are easily in my top ten favorite foods on earth. They taste just like summer and are guaranteed to be delicious even if you don’t do a thing to them.  I will happily eat one over the sink with juice running down my chin just like a fresh peach. In this case, that might have been rude. I decided instead to make a salad.

I clipped some basil from the yard, found some feta cheese in the fridge and rooted around in my vegetable drawer until I came up with a single yellow bell pepper.  This would be enough. I decided on a mustardy-lemony vinaigrette and got to work. This dish came together in less than five minutes and was such a beauty. I think it would have been equally good with blue cheese and chives in place of the feta and basil.  It would have been good with anything because the heirlooms carried the day. I have one tomato left.  I saved it to eat over the sink all by myself.

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Yellow Pepper,  Basil, Feta and Dijon Vinaigrette

For salad:

3 large heirloom tomatoes

About a fistful of fresh basil

1 large yellow pepper

3 ounces of feta cheese

For dressing:

½ shallot, minced

Juice from ½ of a lemon

3 tablespoons olive oil

1-2 teaspoons honey

1 ½ tablespoons of dijon mustard

Salt and pepper to taste

 Mix shallot with lemon juice and allow to sit about 20 minutes to take some of the raw edge off the shallot. Whisk in dijon, honey, and olive oil until emulsified.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cut the tomatoes into rounds and plate on a large platter. Cut yellow pepper into small squares and roughly chop basil.  Top tomato rounds with yellow pepper and basil and crumble feta over the top.  Spoon dressing over topped tomatoes. Serve.

salad2.jpg

Bacon-Wrapped Date Inspired Tart

john barry

Does your block party? Our block didn’t have one this year, probably because there aren’t that many young kids on our block.  Or, because we would be the obvious ones to organize it (since most of the young kids on our block are ours) and we didn’t.  I do, however, love a good block party and I’m glad that we live in an area where they exist.

Block parties weren’t a thing in any of the neighborhoods I lived in when I was growing up but I think they must be especially fun to experience as a child. From the simple pleasure of being able to actually run in the street (even if it is just one day a year), to having a bounce house, face painting and an excuse to run amok with all of the neighborhood kids while your parents are busy chatting and grilling burgers to notice what you are up to. It seems like a kid’s dream come true.

I give you Exhibit A. at the start of her three-course dinner which included: strawberry ice; vanilla ice cream; and a chocolate cupcake to round out the meal. Party on!

I give you Exhibit A. at the start of her three-course dinner which included: strawberry ice; vanilla ice cream; and a chocolate cupcake to round out the meal. Party on!

A couple of our good friends’ have an amazing block party every year. There are a ton of kids on their block and the parents are extremely organized when it comes to throwing their annual block party. They’ve got a schedule that includes a children’s lunch, a DJ, carnival games and raffle prizes, face painting, a bounce house, a talent show, a potluck dinner, a band, wine tasting and a bags tournament. They even have an ice cream truck.  They also have really nice neighbors who are always welcoming when we crash their events.

When crashing events, I like to come prepared with some kind of offering.  As I was brainstorming ideas for a dish to bring to the block party I kept thinking that I wanted to bring something that :

  1. feeds a crowd,
  2. is easy to transport, hold and eat,
  3. is good at room temperature, and
  4. keeps well.

I knew that slab pie or tart of some kind would do the trick, but I was having such a hard time deciding on what to put in or on it.

So I started to make a list of crowd-pleasing hors d'oeuvres and appetizers. You know, the stuff that everyone seems to like when it’s served at a party or event. The stuff you end up ordering at restaurants when you have a big group who can’t seem to agree on anything. My list went something like this: caprese salad (too difficult to eat, doesn’t really keep well or look pretty after a while); hummus (too boring, although I do love hummus); jalapeno poppers (best eaten when hot and not very kid-friendly); spanakopita (a possibility) and then I came up with this one...bacon-wrapped dates. I love bacon-wrapped dates, especially when they are stuffed with goat cheese.  Does anyone not like bacon-wrapped dates? I knew I had a winner.

One of the benefits of this choice was ease of execution, which, let’s face it, I am all about. The older I get and the more experience I have cooking for others, the less daunted I am by recipes with multiple steps or a lot of ingredients.  Still, I’m a big believer in simplicity and that a lot of times, simple is not just simple, but also superior in taste.  So, once I made a decision, it was beyond easy for this little tart to come together.  

Bacon Wrapped Date Inspired Tart

  • 1 sheet puff pastry (10” by 15”)
  • 8 oz goat cheese (chevre)
  • ½ cup grated parmesan
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon of water (egg wash)
  • 12 dates, roughly chopped
  • 6 slices of bacon
  • ½ cup chopped pistachios
  • Honey or balsamic reduction for drizzling on top

Preheat oven to 375F.  Cook bacon for 8-13 minutes until a lot of the fat has rendered but bacon is not yet crispy.  The time this step takes will depend on thickness of your bacon.

Set bacon aside to cool in between two paper towels to collect any extra fat.

Turn oven temperature up to 400F.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine the goat cheese, parmesan, thyme, garlic and lemon zest and whip until texture is a smooth and spreadable consistency. Add a little cream or milk if necessary to make the goat cheese mixture easy to spread.

Roughly chop bacon.

Unfold one sheet of puff pastry and crimp edges like you would a pie to form a border. Spread goat cheese mixture evenly over the puff pastry all the way to the border.

Top with bacon and dates.

Brush edges of the tart with egg wash.

Oven-ready

Oven-ready

Bake on a rack set in the center of the oven for 20-30 minutes or until tart is evenly browned all over.

Set on a rack to cool for 10 minutes. Top with pistachios and drizzle with honey or balsamic reduction before serving.

Sliced and in transport (on my lap in the car).

Sliced and in transport (on my lap in the car).