George V. Reilly

Plums

The cen­ter­piece of our back yard is an aging Italian plum tree. We moved in to our house in late August 2000, right as the fruit was fully ripe. We didn't have a ladder and the former owners didn't have time to deal with the tree either, so most of the fruit that year ended up in the yard waste. I dragged one enormously heavy yard waste can up the back steps into the alley that year. I like to say that it weighed as much as I did, but it probably didn't.

We bought ladders and we've picked the fruit thereafter. The tree is old and no longer continue.

Dark Chocolate Gelato-Buttermilk Milkshakes

For the CookBrite holiday party this evening, we selected recipes from the CookBrite app and cooked them for each other.

We had a lot of good food. I par­tic­u­lar­ly enjoyed making and drinking these milkshakes.

In­gre­di­ents

In­struc­tions

Cooking time: 12 minutes

Adapted from Twenty-Dollar, Twenty-Minute Meals, continue.

Christmas Pudding

Tra­di­tion­al Irish Christmas Pudding.

This recipe comes from my mother, who has used it for many years. I added the soaking of the fruit in hot water.

This amount makes one large pudding and two smaller ones (4–5 quarts), so scale down to your needs.

Stick a sprig of holly in the top before bringing to the dinner table. When it's placed on the dinner table, heat a tablespoon of brandy or whisky over a flame until it catches fire, then pour over the pudding. Turn down the lights to enjoy the blue-tinged flames.

Serve with Brandy Butter.

1 lb Raisins
1 lb Sultanas
1 lb currants
1 lb suet (if you can't get suet, you could use continue.

Christmas Cake

I made royal icing last night for the Christmas Cake to put over the marzipan. A very tedious half hour with an electric handheld mixer to beat the egg whites until they were stiff, and then beat in the powdered sugar.

The recipe that I used from an old Joy of Cooking called for the juice of 1 lemon. I used ReaLemon which says that 3 ta­ble­spoons = 1 lemon. I added two ta­ble­spoons, which was quite lemony. The recipe that I've linked to calls for two teaspoons, which seems like a better choice.

I had drizzled whiskey over the cake several times to keep it moist. That was a continue.

Christmas Cake: Royal Icing

I made royal icing last night for the Christmas Cake to put over the marzipan. A very tedious half hour with an electric handheld mixer to beat the egg whites until they were stiff, and then beat in the powdered sugar.

The recipe that I used from an old Joy of Cooking called for the juice of 1 lemon. I used ReaLemon which says that 3 ta­ble­spoons = 1 lemon. I added two ta­ble­spoons, which was quite lemony. The recipe that I've linked to calls for two teaspoons, which seems like a better choice.

I had drizzled whiskey over the cake several times to keep it moist. That was a mistake. The cake continue.

Butter

I'm Irish. I was raised on butter. Not margarine. Butter. Good Irish butter. Yellow, creamy, with a little salt.

Melted onto toast. A soft yellow layer on bread. A pat of butter on your potatoes. Fry your eggs in butter. Let butter melt on your chips.

I knew butter was important in baking, but I didn't realize until today how carefully it should be treated:

The most common mistakes made by home bakers, pro­fes­sion­als say, have to do with the care and handling of one ingredient: butter. Creaming butter correctly, keeping butter doughs cold, and starting with fresh, good-tasting butter are vital details that pro­fes­sion­als take for granted, and home bakers often miss.

Butter is basically an continue.

Irish Brown Bread

There's little that I miss about Irish cooking. One notable exception is Brown Bread aka Brown Soda Bread. I don't know of any bakery that makes it in the States, though I've found it at a couple of Irish pubs. The main difficulty in making it is finding the coarse-ground wholemeal flour. The usual fine-ground stuff has the wrong texture.

I know of only one place in the Seattle area that carries the right flour and that's The Grainery, 13629 1st Ave S, Burien, WA 98168; (206) 244-5015. I bought some flour there today, made a loaf, and brought the loaf and a 10lb bag of flour to an Irish friend's birthday continue.

How to Carve a Turkey


How to Carve a Turkey

Just in case you need some tips for tomorrow's feast.

We're hosting a dinner. My Irish friends, Paul and Maggie, who moved to San Jose at the end of last year, have come up for a few days. It will be their first Thanks­giv­ing together in the States. We'll also be joined by Frank & Lyndol, Raven & Iain, and Peter & Carol.

We're cooking the turkey at high heat, using Barbara Kafka's 500F recipe. The others are bringing everything else. Yum.

Habeneros Hurt!

Last night, I un­wit­ting­ly bought some habenero peppers when I was shopping for in­gre­di­ents for Afghan Chicken. They tasted hot, but not too hot, when I nibbled a couple of small pieces. I cut them up with my bare hands. By the time that I was finished, my fingers felt as if they had been burned! As if I had burned them with steam or something. It took several hours for the pain to go away. For­tu­nate­ly, I didn't rub my eyes or more delicate mucous membranes, while I still had the habenero oils on my skin.

The chicken itself was fine: not too spicy. The cooked-up onion marinade had continue.

Christmas Cake

This recipe comes from my mother, who has used it for many years. I added the soaking of the fruit in hot water.

Fruit-based Christmas cake is considered a treat in Ireland, not a thing of horror, as so many Americans regard it.

12 ozs butter
12 ozs brown sugar
12 ozs plain flour
1 tsp salt
12 ozs raisins
12 ozs sultanas
6 ozs dried currants
6 ozs candied peel
4 ozs glacé cherries
4 ozs walnuts, optional, cut in half
2 ozs angelica, optional
4-5 eggs

Makes one round cake in a 10"x"3"-tall cake pan or two cakes in 8"x3" pans".

Note: For the raisins, you can substitute stoned muscat raisins or valentias if you wish. Be careful to only take the stone and leave the flesh. I usually cut them in continue.

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