The pace of my life has slowed down dramatically over the past week. We’re back from a visit to the States for the holidays. Christmas was celebrated, New Years Eve was slept through, and a new team was launched from Georgia. Here in Ireland, it’s clearly winter. A short walk through the pastures behind our house results in frozen and rosy cheeks. When I press my fingers to my chin, I can’t feel my skin, a worthy price to pay to see the sunset over the hills of County Kilkenny. My city eyes are loving the wide open spaces of Ireland that allow my soul to expand and feel despite winter’s chill.
Last fall, before the weather turned, we put in a new bed of tulips, hyacinth, snowdrops, and other spring bulbs. Each day a new fragile green stem shoots through the dark soil, waiting until the right time to burst into bloom.
My husband just taught me this maneuver where you spread out a throw or blanket onto the couch with the entire surface as covered as possible. Then you lay down on the sofa and wrap the blanket completely around you with just your head exposed for movie watching. He calls it a couch taco. Sometimes that’s exactly what a cold winter night calls for!
I love picking up a chicken to roast. It’s such an easy meal, just glaze, roast, eat. But with only two people in the house, we usually have quite a bit of meat leftover. So, inspired by Yolène’s Leek and Carrot Quiche, I simmered up a batch of soup with leftover chicken from a roast.
The flavor comes from white wine and cream. Let the veggies simmer in the wine as long as you can, you’ll be glad for it at the end. If you like a thicker broth, pour the cream into a small bowl at the very end, whisk in a spoonful of the soup and a tablespoon of cornstarch or arrowroot powder. Pour it back into the soup, and voila, a thicker soup.
Is there anything in the kitchen more beautiful than a well made tart shell? I don’t think so! Which is why I was so excited when my friend Yolène passed on her recipe for standard pastry crust. I’ve made several batches, and each time it bakes up so beautifully. There’s no need to pre-bake the shell (that’s what makes a pastry crust overcooked). Just press in, chill for a few minutes, and fill with your favorite tart or quiche recipe. The tartness of the lemon filling is complimented perfectly with the sweetness of blueberries. I’ve made it three times in the past week, to give to neighbors and serving at a holiday party.
If you have extra of the mixture, it freezes well. Pour it into a baggie, remove the extra air, seal it, and lay it flat in the freezer. It will keep for a few months. Although I have heard that raw eggs can be frozen for up to a year.
Use this simple pastry crust recipe as a base for pies, tarts, turnovers, and more. It's a fuss-free baking staple.
1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup butter (chilled and diced)
1/4 cup cold water
Pour the flour into a large bowl. Drop the butter into the bowl, then mix with your fingers until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
Add the water, and continue mixing with your hands until dough begins to form. Knead in the bowl until all of the flour and butter is combined into a dough bowl, about 6 times.
Wrap the ball in cling film, then place in the refrigerator. Dough will keep for up to 2 days. You can also freeze it for later use.
This will make the equivalent of 1-9" round pie crust. The recipe can be multiplied as needed. If you want a sweet crust, add a tablespoon of sugar in with the crust. You can also flavor it with lemon zest, vanilla bean, and more.
An easy lemon and blueberry tart that will have your guests puckering up for more.
1 Batch pastry crust
4 Large eggs (room temperature)
1 1/2 cup caster sugar
2 Large lemons (juiced)
1 Zest lemon
1/2 cup plain flour (heaping)
1/2 cup blueberries (frozen or fresh)
1 tablespoon caster sugar
Make the pastry crust and refrigerate for 1 hour. When chilled, roll out in a circle about 2" larger in diameter than the tart pan. Press into the bottom and edges of the pan, trim the excess off, then prick the bottom of the crust with a fork. Place back into fridge while you make the filling.
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar for a minute or two. Add the lemons and zest and whisk until sugar is dissolved completely. Add the flour and whisk until combined. Pour into the tart pan until 3/4 full. Scatter the blueberries over the top. Place into the oven and bake for 45 minutes, until middle of tart is set.
(Optional) Remove from the oven and sprinkle the top with sugar. Place under a broiler until sugar is caramelized, or you can use a kitchen torch.
Hello! I'm a freelance writer and photographer living in Kilkenny, Ireland. Honeysuckle Life® is my creative outlet for my adventures in my home, kitchen, and travels. I'm available for hire, so if you would like to see a portfolio, please contact me!