Cranberries take center stage now in both sweet and savory dishes.
One of my favorites is this quick bread, sweet enough for dessert but not-too-sweet for breakfast or afternoon tea. The versatile little berry is widely available in markets now, so buy a few bags to use now and a few to freeze for later.
You’ll find recipes for similar fruit breads in my latest cookbook Teatime in Ireland. Order signed copies at irishcook.com.
Fresh figs are thought to have been used as early as 2000 B.C.
One of the first fruits to be dried and stored, figs appear regularly in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, and they’re revered in many world religions as a symbol of peace, fertility and prosperity.
Most figs grown in the U.S. come from California and are available from mid-May to November. One of the most popular variety is the Brown Turkey, pear-shaped with purple to brown skin.
Similar to the Black Mission but lighter in color, it’s distinguished by the green shades around its neck. It has a light pink interior with robust flavor and is perfect for this delicious dish.
Serve it for dessert topped with whipped cream or for breakfast with honey yogurt and crunchy granola.
Little neck clams. Irish stew. Guinness braised brisket and cabbage. Roasted half chicken. Pan pizza. Vegan meatloaf. Homemade brownies with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream.
Is your mouth watering yet?
Save your whetted appetite for a new restaurant, opening in the cozy Fireside Room at the Commodore John Barry Arts and Cultural Center (the Irish Center). It’s called The Commodore, and it’s opening for a soft launch October 29 and November 1.
All of those delicious dishes and more are on the menu. And, of course, you are cordially invited.
This is a “soft” opening, meant to refine the concept, with plans to open on a regular basis afterward.
If it’s October, it’s time to add apples to the menu. This recipe for an apple tea loaf is reminiscent of a traditional Irish apple cake.
The brandy adds a little kick and the nuts a bit of crunch.
I like to bake it in a stoneware tea loaf pan (12 x 4 x 2 1/2-inches) that creates smaller slices than a traditional full-sized loaf.
The tea loaf pan (I bought mine at kingarthurflour.com) holds the same amount as a 9 x 5-inch pan, so you can also use it to bake other quick breads or yeast breads.
Baking times will vary if you bake it in the smaller pan.
You’ll find other recipes like this in my cookbook Teatime in Ireland; signed copies available at irishcook.com
Fresh or dried, figs are it!
While not native to Ireland, they’re no longer considered “exotic” and are widely available to use in dishes ranging from teatime sandwiches to appetizers and desserts.
Christmas bakers have probably already started to stockpile dried ones for holidays sweets, but in between try some fresh ones in these yummy recipes.
Some varieties to look for are the dark purple Black Mission, most heavily cultivated today; the green-but-ripe Kadato; the Brown Turkey, similar to Mission but lighter in color; and Calimyrna, often found as dried figs.
You’ll find similar recipes in my cookbook Teatime in Ireland (Buy One, Get One Free) with signed copies available at www.irishcook.com.
FIG AND GOAT CHEESE TOASTS
MAKES 24 TOASTS
Fruit and cheese are a stunning combination in these little toasts made with raisin bread. Serve them at teatime or on a cheeseboard with drinks.
As August comes to a close, the fruits of summer show no signs of slowing down—lots of peaches, blackberries, plums, and nectarines available for snacking and baking.
This tart recipe starts with a shortbread-like crust and is then filled with peaches and blackberries (you can substitute blueberries if you like).
The crumble top adds a third delicious dimension.
You’ll find other sweets recipes in my cookbook Teatime in Ireland (Buy One, Get One Free) with signed copies available at www.irishcook.com.
PEACH-BLACKBERRY TART WITH CRUMBLE TOPPING
For the topping:
- 1/2 cup flour
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup hazelnuts or almonds
- 1/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- Pinch sea salt
A fruit “fool”—the word supposedly derives from the French fouler, meaning “to crush”—calls for combining puréed fruit with beaten eggs and sugar, whipped cream, sour cream, or yogurt for a virtually “foolproof” dessert.
This recipe, which pays homage to the fraughan (also known as bilberry and wild blueberry), combines the berries with layers of whipped cream and crushed biscuits.
You’ll find similar recipes in my new cookbook Teatime in Ireland with suggestions to serve the fool in small 2 to 3-ounce glasses for the “sweets course.”
To order signed copies (Buy One Get One Free during the SUMMER SPECIAL), visit irishcook.com.
What could be sweeter (and easier) than a big bowl or fresh berries for a summer dessert? A trifle, perhaps? A cobbler? A summer pudding?
A bit more effort, I agree, but the rewards are greater too.
You’ll find other sweet summer recipes in my new cookbook Teatime in Ireland. Order a signed copy at www.irishcook.com and get one FREE with my “Christmas in July” special offer.
Some attribute this deliciously simple dessert to the English, but it’s equally popular in Ireland. As its name indicates, summer fruits like strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries are the main ingredients. But don’t be fooled by the word “pudding” in its name, since the dessert is actually made with white bread or brioche!
After the fruit and bread have mingled overnight, the result is a colorful and unusual dessert that almost looks too pretty to eat.
I’ve been a fan since 1999 when the recipe first appeared in my Irish Heritage Cookbook.