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.
Ah, Christmas baking. I’m definitely putting my time in at the oven and hob (such an Irish word to use!). We hosted a small Christmas party for our team last night, which gave me the incentive I needed to try out a few ideas. This recipe for Cranberry and Lemon Thyme Shorbread was inspired by a favorite place of mine to have tea. Each cup comes with a little tiny shortbread cookie with a perfect dried cranberry placed in the middle. It adds such a tasty flavor to the classic cookie.
I grow lemon thyme, a hardy little herb, in my garden year round. It makes a beautiful shrub or border plant (mine is in a spare container, planted as an afterthought). The plant is easy to find at a garden shop, both in Ireland and in the States.
My original batch was made in bar form, for the second I rolled into a snake and cut into rounds. I prefer the second method, which is easier to cut and to freeze. If you aren’t a fan of cranberries, simply omit the fruit and keep the lemon. Or switch it out for your favorite dried fruit.
In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugars, and salt together until fluffy. Add the remaining ingredients and beat for 20 seconds until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Let sit for a minute, then begin to mix the dough by hand. Knead until dough forms. Let sit for another minute or two.
Preheat oven to 350 F.
If you want bar cookies, press dough into a 9x9 pan, making sure it is evenly distributed. Bake for 45 minutes until top is lightly golden. Remove from oven and cut into slices when shortbread is cool.
If you want round cookies, roll dough into a long snake (about 1.5" thick). Cut into .5" slices. Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes until tops are lightly golden brown.
You can freeze this dough for about 4-6 weeks until ready to use. Double wrap the dough in cling film and write the date on the outside. When ready, remove from the freezer, thaw completely, and bake as instructed.
Things I’ve been doing instead of blogging: cooking, cooking, cooking, baking, going to see Catching Fire, reading, reading, reading, eating turkey, and making this delicious leftover turkey pot pie. When I say delicious, I mean deliciously perfectly comforting. It’s great end to all that holiday feasting, the kind of comfort food that you can curl up with on the sofa and watch your favorite holiday movie.
In a large saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat. Add in the onion, carrots, and celery and saute until tender, about ten minutes. Add in the peas, turkey, and parsley, let cook for another minute, then pour into casserole dish.
In the same saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in the herbs and flour, cook for a minute, then remove from heat. Add in the broth and wine, whisk until smooth, then place back on the burner. Cook for a few minutes until thick.
Add in the milk, whisk until smooth. Turn up the heat to medium-high and let thicken. Whisk or stir frequently to prevent burning. When sauce is desired thickness, season with salt and pepper, and remove from heat. Pour over the vegetables, until dish is about 2/3 full. Let cool for a few minutes before putting the crust on.
Preheat the oven to 400 F.
Remove the puff pastry from packaging and cut to fit the dish. Brush with the egg yolk and place egg-side down onto the ramekin. Press the sides down a bit to seal the edges, then cut three or four slices into the top. Brush the egg wash over the top. Bake for 15-20 minutes until top is golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool slightly before serving.
The hardest part of this recipe is the whisking. Make sure the mixture is thick and smooth as you cook. If you don't like the puff pastry top, replace with a pie crust and cook for the same time. If you want the tops puffy (as pictured) don't cut slices in the top of the pastry.
You can also replace the turkey with cooked chicken, or leave the meat out completely and replace with mushrooms for a veggie-friendly option. For the stock, I use concentrated pots of herb or vegetable stock, which adds a much more intense flavor than traditional stocks. You could also use bouillon.
Ah, Thanksgiving. The holiday where everyone pulls out their turkey pants, football schedules, and prepares for marathon eating and napping sessions. While we won’t have the whole country celebrating with us, we will have quite a group at an annual dinner hosted by friends in Kilkenny. But before that happens, I decided to see if I could create a healthier version of the traditional holiday feast, without sacrificing flavor.
Consider this mission accomplished. The turkey? Succulent and peppery. The gravy? Surprisingly satisfying and flavorful. The carrots and stuffing? Delicious and warming. And the salad…who knew clementines and kale would be such a great combination.
The total cook time was about 2.5 hours from start to finish. I wasn’t in a hurry, so I know you could shave the time down quite a bit. Especially if you had someone helping you prep the ingredients. All recipes serve about 4 people, with a few leftovers. For the stuffing, I used a seeded spelt bread. The darker and nuttier the bread, the better the flavor. While this dinner isn’t completely paleo, you can make it so by switching out the butter for coconut oil and removing the bread in the stuffing and replacing it with a paleo ingredient, like turkey sausage which adds flavor and bulk.
Kale and Clementine Salad
Pepper Crusted Turkey Breast with Potato Gravy
Honey Glazed Carrots with Raisins and Cranberries
Mushroom and Leek Stuffing
Sequence of Events
Prep all vegetables and place in containers on your counters.
Start the gravy and place on the back burner to simmer. Puree and strain when you take the turkey out of the oven and keep warm until ready to serve.
Prepare the turkey and let sit to the side until meat is room temperature and oven is pre-heated. I like to wash up after this step.
Make the stuffing, and place to the side. Bake when turkey is almost done. I have a double oven, so it is easy to make two dishes at once. If you only have one, place it on the top rack of the oven above the turkey when the turkey is 25 minutes from being done.
Begin the carrots last. They’ll cool the quickest. So leave them in the saucepan until you are ready to serve.
Kale and Clementine Salad
4 cups kale, de-stemmed and shredded
1/2 small red onion, sliced thinly
juice of 1 clementine
Clean the kale and pat dry. Place in a bowl. Top with the red onion.
Squeeze the clementine juice over the salad, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Peel the other clementines and add the segments to the salad.
Pepper Crusted Roasted Turkey
2.5 lb turkey breast
2 tablespoons butter (or coconut oil)
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Melt butter. Baste over top and bottom of turkey. Sprinkle liberally with salt. Lightly grind the peppercorns in a bowl, then sprinkle over top of turkey and press lightly into the meat.
Place in roasting pan, breast side down, and cover very loosely with foil. Cook for 30 minutes at 350°, then reduce heat to 250°. Let cook for 45-60 minutes more until turkey is cooked through and juices run clear. Remove the foil during the last 20 minutes so that the meat can brown.
Remove from the oven and let rest for 10-15 minutes until dinner is ready to serve. Carve into very thin slices.
Paleo Potato Gravy
1 potato, peeled and cubed
1 small onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
4 cups organic vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns, crushed
pan drippings from roasted turkey
In a medium pot, place all ingredients together. Bring to a boil and let simmer until mixture is reduced by half, about 45 minutes. Use an immersion blender or potato masher to smooth out the gravy as finely as possible. Let sit until turkey is carved then serve over the top or on the side.
Remove from heat and pour mixture through a sieve. Serve while still warm.
Honey Glazed Carrots with Raisins and Cranberries
4 large carrots, matchsticked
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup dried cranberries
In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add in the carrots, and stir until butter covers the sticks. Cover, and let cook for 10 minutes, only stirring once or twice.
Remove cover and add honey and dried fruit, stirring until coated. Let cook for 10-15 minutes until carrots are very tender and browned. Salt and pepper to taste.
Gluten Free Mushroom and Leek Stuffing
8-10 chestnut mushrooms, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 leek, thinly sliced
1 green apple, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
6 cups gluten-free bread, cubed
1/2 cup water
Pre-heat oven to 350° F.
In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add in the garlic and leek and sauté for a minute or two. Add in the remaining ingredients, excluding bread cubes, then cook until ingredients are lightly tender. About 5-10 minutes. Stirring frequently to prevent burning.
Remove from heat and add the bread cubes. Mix well together with a fork, taking care not to destroy the cubes. Place in a casserole dish. Bake for 25 minutes until warmed through and top is golden brown.
If you like, you can baste the top of the stuffing with melted butter before baking.
I stand hemmed in by branches unable to move more than six inches in every direction. I can hear the distant sounds of my friends, searching the forest floor for mushrooms. It’s the kind of silence I rarely find in life. So still I can hear my breath as it leaves my lungs. I take a few minutes to soak it in, before I’m off to the next batch of mushrooms. At home, I strip my hair of embedded twigs and pine needles. Happy to have my basket of Ceps and Boletas, ready to cook a batch of mushroom soup for this cold fall day.
To forage for mushrooms, make sure you have a guide, either an experienced forager or a guide specific to your region. Because so many mushrooms are inedible, or even poisonous, you’ll need to proceed with caution. If in doubt, photograph it and research it at home. Mushrooms grown as a companion plant to trees. They can be found in autumn, before the weather gets too cold. Be careful to check for maggots or decay. Picking only the firmest and best, and leaving the rest to slip back into the forest floor for next year’s harvest. For more information, click here.
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!