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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: Dessert

Pumpkin Pie with Cream Cheese Whipped Cream

john barry


How was your Thanksgiving? Ours was low-key, in a good way.  I cooked some, but not as much as usual, and I was just fine with that. I can’t stay the meal suffered for it any either, though my ego might have just a tiny bit. Actually, the more I think about it, it’s nice that Thanksgiving, for us, is about the food but more than that, about everyone getting together year after year to share the meal together and reflect upon what we are thankful for. This year Isla wasn’t crazy about being put on the spot about what she was thankful for (maybe she needs another year before she’s ready to speak in front of a group) but Emmett said that he was grateful for “Grocery shopping with his Mama” which was definitely the highlight of my Thanksgiving. Eve, our little bulldozer, slept through dinner and we were all thankful for that.


I thought it was pretty cute that Emmett proclaimed his readiness “to eat his Turkey dinner” a few times throughout the afternoon. At just 4 ½ years of age, this annual ritual that connects us to our families, friends, culture and shared history as Americans is already a part of him. Although he prefers ham and probably didn’t end up even eating any of the turkey, I took his words to express the sentiment that he gets it and he’s in when it comes to this Holiday. It’s kind of amazing to see family rituals being created for your children right before your eyes.

And also, there’s pie. Pie might be my favorite part of Thanksgiving. I like to pack the leftovers for people to take home and do the dishes before serving dessert and tea. This provides a break from eating and also means that by the time it’s “pie time” there’s not a lot of cleanup left for me to do. It means I can relax a little more and really enjoy the last of our Thanksgiving dinner.

Although desserts are some of the easiest dishes to just buy for the Holidays, I’m firmly grounded in the homemade or bust camp when it comes to Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.  So I was determined to make a pie even though I was streamlining when it came to the other dishes. Believe it or not I had never made a pumpkin pie before. Crazy. I cobbled the following recipe together using a few tricks that I’ve heard of over time like sauteing the pumpkin first (some people roast it) to remove some moisture and get more concentrated pumpkin flavor and pureeing the filling in a food processor for a more creamy texture. I don’t eat pumpkin pie enough to know whether or not these techniques worked but I can say that the pie was good. As in, I ate a big slice on Thanksgiving and way too much of it in the days that followed - I couldn’t help myself! I topped it off with cream cheese whipped cream, which I chose instead of regular whipped cream for both the stability (it’s pipeable and no weeping for days means you can even frost cakes with the stuff - genius, if you ask me) and because I like the tang that the cream cheese adds.  I think I’ll make this again next year.


Pumpkin Pie with Cream Cheese Whipped Cream

For Pie:

  • One homemade or store bought pie crust
  • one 15oz can (about 2 cups) pumpkin puree
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 and 1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar (light brown sugar is fine too)
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1 cup  heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup milk (any type works, I use whole milk because that’s what we have at home)
  • egg wash: 1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water

For Cream Cheese Whipped Cream:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 4 ounces cream cheese (room temp)
  • 3-4 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla paste (I like vanilla paste because it has flecks of vanilla in it)

To make pie:

Preheat oven to 375F.

Roll out chilled pie crust and turn into pie plate. Chill in freezer while the oven preheats and you prepare your filling.

Place pumpkin in a heavy-bottomed pan over a burner set on medium heat. Stir pumpkin, allowing it to dry out a little but making sure not to burn it. Lower the heat if it is scorching. Saute about 15 minutes.

Remove chilled pie dough (in pie plate) from the freezer and brush with egg wash (1 egg plus 1 tablespoon of water); Cover pie dough with parchment paper and fill with beans, rice, or pie weights. Place in the oven and blind bake for 15 minutes. Remove pie weights and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

While pie dough is in the oven, combine sauteed pumpkin, 3 eggs, brown sugar, cornstarch, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, pepper, cream, and milk in the bowl of a food processor and process until very smooth.

Pour filling into warm pie crust. Bake pie until filling is almost set about 55 minutes. Start checking at 30 minutes and cover the edges of the crust with foil if they begin to brown too much.

Once done, cool on a rack for at least three hours then cover tightly and refrigerate for 3 hours more or up to three days.

To make cream cheese whipped cream topping:

In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, whip cream cheese, vanilla and sugar together until fluffy, about 4 minutes.  

In a separate bowl, using the whisk attachment, whip heavy cream on medium-high until soft peaks form. Add whipped cream cheese mixture, about a tablespoon or two at a time and continue to whip on low until the mixture holds stiff peaks.

Pipe or spread onto chilled pie before serving


Gingerbread Cookies

john barry


One of Emmett and Isla’s favorite activities after school is looking through all of the catalogs that are sent to the house.  They love to sit at the kitchen table while I make dinner and take turns flipping through catalogs, pointing out ALL of the things that they want. These days, because retailers are sending out Holiday catalogs, they keep noticing gingerbread cookies displayed prominently on trays, in jars, on cookie sheets  - think Crate & Barrel, Pottery Barn, West Elm, Williams-Sonoma etc. Having promised Emmett we would make our own gingerbread cookies, last weekend we finally did.


Emmett and Isla enjoyed using the rolling pin and trying to eat as much raw dough as they could (Eew!) and of course, cutting out the cookies with their cutters on parchment paper. I used dark molasses instead of light, only because that is what I had in the house.  I was worried that the flavor would be too strong for the kids, but they didn’t seem to mind and gobbled up all of the cookies in no time.

I used this recipe from King Arthur Flour and didn’t change a thing. I froze half the dough so that we can do this all over again in a few weeks and possibly decorate the cookies next time (they were gone too fast to frost)! I love the idea of making our own version of these mug toppers, or ornaments out of gingerbread.  

It’s almost Thanksgiving.  What are you cooking? We’re having turkey, ham, gravy, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, stuffing, sweet potatoes, green beans, kale salad, corn pudding, rice and pumpkin pie.  I can't wait! 


Teddy’s Apple Cake

john barry


Apples? Again? I know, I know. In the fall, I seem to have a near constant appetite for apples, but come spring I am always dying for other kinds of fruit to start appearing at the market. Did you know that apples have been growing in Ireland for at least 3000 years? Early monastic records show that apples were served to monks with their meals and Brehon laws (originating between 2000 and 1000BC) included harsh punishments for cutting down apple trees.  Eating, cooking and cider apples are all still grown in Ireland and much research has been done to find varieties best suited to Irish growing conditions. There are all kinds of apple varieties in Ireland that I’ve never even heard of; Discovery, Orange Pippins, Howgate Wonder, Greensleeves, James Grieve, Charles Ross...the list goes on and on. The most popular type of apple in Ireland is called a Bramley’s Seedling, or Bramley, which is mainly grown in Armagh, Louth, Meath and Dublin.  Bramley’s are usually used for cooking due to their sour flavor.


While I would love to try some Irish varieties, there are so many apples here in the States that are great for both eating and cooking.  The other day I was buying a bag of Honeycrisps at the grocery store and the guy at the register was a wealth of knowledge about the history and origin of Honeycrisp apples.  He knew exactly when and where they were developed (at the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station's Horticultural Research Center at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, released in 1991), and more details than I can remember about their meteoric rise to the top of the apple hierarchy.  He really would have made a very good lobbyist, if Honeycrisp apple growers needed a lobby.

Honeycrisps are sort of like peaches to me, so good raw I almost feel bad cooking them - but then, they are great in baked goods as well. Because my kids are always looking for a reason to get out the apple corer-peeler, I decided an apple cake would make a nice birthday cake for my father-in-law this year. The kids poo-pooed this idea because they wanted something chocolate and frosted with layers. I had to point out to them that Grandpa never has those types of desserts at his house and instead favors fruit desserts - pies, strudels, etc. Despite his desire to help with the apples, Emmett was disappointed with the prospect of apple cake. He proclaimed a boycott of all cake eating festivities that evening but proceeded to peel my apples anyway (until Isla came over and demanded a spot on the chair to finish the job).


As tempted as I was to make Dorie Greenspan’s amazing French apple cake, again. I decided to try something different and make Teddy’s Apple Cake, another long-time favorite of the New York Times’ food section and its readers. I’ve seen the recipe countless times in the past several years and always planned on trying it one day. Well, carpe diem. This cake was super simple to throw together - and made the house smell delicious. I served it with custard and to everyone’s surprise, especially his own, Emmett LOVED it!

Teddy’s Apple Cake

adapted slightly from the New York Times

  • Butter for greasing pan
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting pan
  • 1 ½ cups vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups peeled, cored, and thickly sliced sweet and tart apples like Honeycrisp or, tart apples like Granny Smith
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • Bird’s custard to serve (you can find a how-to on that here)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 9-inch tube pan or 2 6-inch cake pans. Beat the oil, sugar and maple syrup together in a mixer (fitted with a paddle attachment) while assembling the remaining ingredients. After about 5 minutes, add the eggs and beat until the mixture is creamy.

  2. Sift together 3 cups of flour, the salt, cinnamon and baking soda. Stir into the batter. Add the vanilla, apples and walnuts and stir until combined.

  3. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan. Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan before lifting out. Dust with powdered sugar and serve at room temperature with custard, if desired.

The original recipes calls for 2 cups of sugar and a cup of raisins.  I reduced the sugar and subbed some maple syrup for a portion of it because maple syrup screams fall to me and because I was using Honeycrisps instead of super-tart apples.  I also omitted the raisins because I thought they might make the whole thing too sweet and because I never know when the kids will refuse to eat something due to the presence of raisins. I stop catering to the tastes of others when it comes to nuts however, and I’m glad I kept those in.  

I made two of these cakes in my 6-inch cake pans.  One of them was gone post-breakfast the following day and I’m quite happy to know that the other one is well-wrapped in my freezer for a future “NEED CAKE NOW!” kind of day.