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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. 


Filtering by Category: Cook the Book

Rachel Allen’s Brown Scones with Black Treacle

john barry


Having four kids under the age of 5 requires a lot of energy in every sense of the word.  This includes energy in the form of calories.  If I wasn’t before, I am now (justifiably, I think) ALWAYS hungry.  Now that the enormous quantities of Christmas cookies, brioche and other forms of simple carbs in my house have been successfully annihilated, I’m turning to something simple and a little more healthy for the energy (and carbs) I both need and crave. A touch more decadent than a simple brown soda bread, I discovered the recipe for these scones by Rachel Allen in her book Bake.


I cannot say enough about the virtues of baking with Coarse Wholemeal Flour. The taste and texture it gives to baked goods is like nothing else. It has a warm, nuttiness, almost like almond flour, though it bakes up lighter and more moist than any nut flour.  The texture is coarse but unlike most other coarse flours, it is unevenly so, which gives it an unmistakable consistency. I got two bags of the good stuff from Paddy’s over the holidays which came in handy when I woke up one morning wanting a warm brown scone.

See what I mean about the texture?

See what I mean about the texture?

These scones are fabulous.  I made them on a school day in about 30 minutes all in (washing up included)! I love that they only have 2 tablespoons of butter in them and just one tablespoon of sweetener.  I still don’t understand how they taste so good but they do. I probably wouldn’t have tried these if the recipe came from someone other than Rachel Allen, my secret best friend. She proves that time and time again, simple totally works. I didn’t have any sesame seeds but I did add a small amount of cardamom, which I strongly recommend if you like cardamom. I sprinkled them with sea salt and coarse sugar before baking which was also a very good idea, if I do say so myself.  I loved the salty, sweet crunch it gave each one.

Try this! Please! You can find coarse wholemeal flour at Paddy’s on the Square, or you can stop by my house and I’ll give you a couple of cups if that’s what I have to do to convince you that you need this in your pantry. Seriously. You do.


Rachel Allen’s Brown Scones with Black Treacle

Adapted ever so slightly from Rachel Allen's recipe that can be found here


  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting

  • 1 ½ cups coarse wholemeal flour

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 1 tsp baking soda

  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, plus extra for sprinkling (optional)*

  • 2 tablespoons butter, diced

  • 1 egg

  • 1 ¼  cups buttermilk or soured milk (add 2 tsp vinegar or lemon juice to 1 ¼ cup cow’s milk or soy or rice milk and leave to stand for 10–15 minutes)

  • 1 tablespoon black treacle (or dark molasses)

  • Sea salt and coarse sugar for sprinkling on top

*I didn’t have any sesame seeds but added a ½ teaspoon of cardamom, because I love it.


  • Preheat the oven to 425°F. Dust a baking sheet with flour.

  • Put the wholemeal, all-purpose flour and salt into a large bowl. Sift in the baking soda.

  • Using your fingertips, rub in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.

  • In a separate bowl, whisk the egg with the buttermilk or soured milk, then stir in the treacle (or molasses) and pour most of the liquid into the dry ingredients. Using one hand with your fingers held out like a claw, mix in full circles to bring the flour and liquid together, adding more liquid if necessary. The dough should be quite soft, but not too sticky.

  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently bring it together into a ball, but without kneading it, then flatten it slightly to about an inch high. Cut the dough into 10–12 square or round scones. Brush the tops of the scones with any leftover liquid and sprinkle with some sea salt or coarse sugar (I used a combination of the two)

  • Put the scones onto the prepared baking sheet and pop in the oven to bake for 15–20 minutes (depending on the size of the scones). Have a look at them after 10 minutes: if they’re already a deep golden brown, then turn the heat  to 400°F, for the remainder of the cooking time. When cooked they should sound hollow when tapped on the base.

  • Transfer to a wire rack to cool.


Cook the Book: Coast by Rachel Allen

john barry

Do you have any friends so perfect you would hate them if you didn’t love them so much? We do. Every year we get a Holiday card or two from those perfect friends who have gorgeous, well-mannered children and live in beautifully curated homes. When the cards arrive I show them to my husband who can’t help but agree with my assessment that: “This card looks like an ad for Tiny Prints! Wouldn’t you hate them if you didn't know them?” This is sort of how I feel about culinary goddess Rachel Allen - minus the part about knowing her personally.  She’s the beautiful and talented cook who graduated from Ballymaloe Cookery School at the age of 18 and went on to work there, marry the very handsome Isaac Allen, son of Ballymaloe’s famous Darina Allen, raise three children, write cookbooks, star in TV shows and basically lead the life dreams are made of. Somehow, despite all of her beauty and talent, she seems to be totally down to earth and, just like those perfect friends of ours, way too lovely to hate.

It’s very, very tough to hate a woman who provides you with a delicious meal like this one that can be made on a weeknight (oh, and my birthday cake).  So instead I am one of her biggest fans. I watch her on TV and buy her cookbooks. Her latest one, Coast, is probably my favorite yet. The book is set up as a culinary road trip that takes you along Ireland’s Atlantic coast from Cork all the way up to Donegal. The book makes you wish you were able to join Rachel on her journey and sample all of the local produce and artisanal products available along the way.  Each time I open it, I vow to make the same trip up the coast with my family.  I will, once the kids are old enough to remember and enjoy it. In the meantime I feed them.

Pork Schnitzel with Sage Butter

adapted slightly from Coast by Rachel Allen

1 ½lb fillet of pork, cut at an angle into ½ inch-thick slices

½ cup all-purpose flour

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 ¼ cup fine white breadcrumbs (fresh or frozen)

Grated zest of ½ lemon

2 eggs, beaten

Butter and extra virgin olive oil, for frying

For the sage butter:

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed

1 stick butter, softened

1 tbsp chopped sage

1 tbsp lemon juice

Mix all the ingredients for the sage butter in a bowl. Put on a sheet of greaseproof paper, roll into a log and chill.

Place the pork fillet slices between two sheets of plastic wrap and, using a rolling pin, gently beat until flattened to about one quarter of an inch thick .

Mix the flour with a pinch of salt and a twist of pepper in a bowl big enough to toss the pork in; in another bowl, mix the breadcrumbs with 1⁄4 teaspoon of salt, a few twists of pepper and the lemon zest; and, in a third bowl, whisk the eggs together.

Dip each piece of pork into the flour, then into the egg and then in the crumbs. Make sure they are well coated.

Heat one tablespoon each of butter and olive oil in a frying pan and fry the schnitzels in batches, adding more butter and oil when needed. Keep the cooked schnitzels, uncovered, in a warm oven while you cook the rest. Serve with slices of sage butter melting on top, and a salad or seasonal greens.

Get out the meat mallet and some aggression.

Get out the meat mallet and some aggression.

Breading station - flour, egg, breadcrumbs.

Breading station - flour, egg, breadcrumbs.

Add salad, rice and lemon. That's it. Perfect.

Add salad, rice and lemon. That's it. Perfect.

Irish Country Cooking: Recipes from the Irish Countrywoman’s Association

john barry

I’m loving this cookbook.  It’s a collection of recipes from members of the Irish Countrywomen’s Association. The photos are beautiful and the recipes are both interesting and approachable. Each recipe includes a little blurb about the recipe and how it came to be.  My favorite part is the one sentence description of each contributor.  Stuff like “Golf-mad grandmother of 12” or “Volunteer and busy mum of three”.  My personal favorite is “Hill-walking granny and expert patchworker”.  The recipe I used today was from Margaret O’Reilly of County Cork, “Prize-winning maker of Carrickmacross lace”.

Now that it’s October and the weather seems to have turned, it really feels like Fall. Maybe that’s why I bought a huge bag of apples the other day. Apples. Just what you need when you want to make a simple, comforting, fall dessert.  I needed to make something easy, preferably something you could throw together while holding a baby. Rolling out pie dough was out.  An apple crumble was in order.

I chose the one in this book because it was different from any apple crumble recipe I’ve made before. The apple crumble recipes I’ve tried in the past all call for a streusel topping made with flour, sugar, warm spices and cold butter that you sprinkle on top of apples that have been tossed with sugar and lemon juice, sort of like a crustless streusel-topped pie. This was totally different. Toasted breadcrumbs, ground almonds, lemon zest, brown sugar and golden syrup with no warm spices, or any spices, to be found. Plus, the topping was cooked on the stovetop prior to baking and everything was layered in the pan - apples, topping, apples, topping - lasagna style. The recipe also called for blackberries, which I didn’t have. Still, the result was delicious. Simple. Clean. Extra “appley” without those spices for vying with the fruit for attention. The lemon zest complemented the sweetness of the apples without taking over. It also felt sweet and indulgent without being heavy.  No guilt in eating this on top of yogurt or oats for breakfast.

A few years ago I bought this apple corer, peeler, slicer, which is one of the few uni-taskers allowed in my kitchen. I’m so glad I have it.  This was Emmett’s first time using it and he thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Isla was able to use it too (little miss “anything you can do I can do better” - she’s a competitive little bugger).  They made quick work of 4 apples.

A few years ago I bought this apple corer, peeler, slicer, which is one of the few uni-taskers allowed in my kitchen. I’m so glad I have it.  This was Emmett’s first time using it and he thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Isla was able to use it too (little miss “anything you can do I can do better” - she’s a competitive little bugger).  They made quick work of 4 apples.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t measure, again. So the amounts below are just estimates. I’m just not big on measuring unless I absolutely have to. But I’ve outlined the ingredients and basic process below.

This golden syrup is available at the boutique and has  so many uses.  

This golden syrup is available at the boutique and has so many uses. 

Apple Crumble

Recipe adapted from Irish Country Cooking

2-3 tablespoons Butter

1 cup Breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons Brown sugar

2 oz Golden Syrup

Zest and juice of one lemon

pinch of salt

2oz Ground almonds

2 oz Sliced almonds

4 apples, cored, peeled and sliced

Preheat oven to 350F.  

Spray a pie pan or other baking dish with cooking spray or coat with butter.  

Melt butter in a large skillet and toast breadcrumbs for about 5 minutes, until they are light brown and smell toasted.

Place golden syrup, lemon juice and zest, salt and sugar in a small saucepan and heat over low heat.

Once breadcrumbs are toasted, add them to sugar mixture, then add ground almonds and sliced almonds and stir.

Layer 2 apples in the pan and top with one half of the topping mixture.

Layer the remaining apples on top and top with the remaining sugar-breadcrumb mixture.

Place in oven. After 20 minutes, check the crumble and place foil loosely over the top if it is browning too fast (this is important, I almost didn’t check mine in time and it was very brown by the time I covered it).  

Cook for another 20-25 minutes or until apples are soft and bubbling. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Serve with ice cream, whipped cream or custard.  

Melt butter for toasting breadcrumbs, Irish butter if you have it. 

Melt butter for toasting breadcrumbs, Irish butter if you have it. 

Breadcrumbs and nuts are combined with warm sugar, syrup, lemon juice mixture.

Breadcrumbs and nuts are combined with warm sugar, syrup, lemon juice mixture.

Layer apples and topping in the pan. 

Layer apples and topping in the pan. 

Ready to bake.

Ready to bake.

I ate this as an afternoon snack - plain with some coffee.  The next evening we had it after dinner with custard and tea. 

I ate this as an afternoon snack - plain with some coffee.  The next evening we had it after dinner with custard and tea.