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     As soon as the Christmas decorations are down it's time to start thinking about Marmalade!  In January Seville oranges come to Ir...


All in the cooking!

      Is there a cookbook you used in school for cookery classes? Do you still have it? Sadly I got rid of mine, it was a paperback and prone to falling apart, but I later found an early edition of it in a secondhand book shop and later again book 2.

      What I didn't realised was that it was a classic and has just been reprinted by O'Brien Press

      It is "All in the Cooking" written for Coláiste Mhuire  and approved by The City of Dublin Vocational Education Committee. It also became the cookery textbook for all Intermediate and Leaving cert students. Many of whom kept their copies and went on to use them in their homes.

      Hearing it was being reprinted I got out my copy and had a go at a couple of the recipes that I remember. We had a lot of plums at the time and one of the childhood desserts we I enjoyed was "Stewed Plums and Custard". 
      Partly for the fortune telling at the end when I counted up the stones.
I added a little spice to the plums and made the custard to the All in the Cooking Recipe.
It went down as well as I remember it.

          The second recipe I looked out was one for a 'cake' of Brown Soda Bread, 'cakes' of bread are round with a cross cut into the top of them and baked on a baking sheet. When broken into four quarters the individual quarters were known as a 'square' of bread in our house!

      These two brought back happy memories of watching in the kitchen as Delia, my Mum's wonderful kitchen help, made cakes of bread always pouring the last of the buttermilk onto her hand and smearing the top of the bread with it before cutting the three slashes to make the cross. Oh, happy days!



A Seasonal Pie: Apple and Blackberry Tart!

      Now you may well ask why this is called a tart, as it has a top on it and is therefore a pie, but for some reason this sort of plate pie is known as a tart here! We were regularly fed on apple tarts and custard in the autumn. Apple tarts are always a big hit with any older men at a gathering, so much so I keep a supply of foil plates to make them on if I'm asked to bring a dish to a 'do'!

An Apple and Blackberry "Tart"
       I love the old white and blue enamel plates for these tarts, they remind me that no matter how sophisticated we have become or so on trend with our kitchen equipment that something like enamel wear, used by our grand parents is still around and doing a great job.  
      And why didn't I put tart in the post title, well you can guess what might come up if you put "Seasonal Tart" into an internet search! 
      The filling for this tart I make by eye rather than by exact measurement. I do use exact quantities for the pastry, but the filling is dependent on the size of the plate, the sweetness of the apples and blackberries, all variables. Elderberries are also good with the apples.
      The blackberries were really good the week before last I picked a couple of tubs full and froze them the day before the rain came. And rained steadily for about 18 hours! I was very glad of them as I needed some for a cookery demonstration at GROWFest organised by GIY  in Waterford.
      Blackberries have a uniquely autumnal scent when hot, well worth the stained fingers to be transported back to childhood kitchens, warm and fuggy with just out of the oven tarts.

250 g plain flour 
125 g butter 
3-4tbs cold water

egg wash 

      Sieve the flour into a bowl and cut the butter into small chunks.
Add the butter to the flour and rub it in with the tips of your fingers. When the flour and butter resembles breadcrumbs add the water.  Mix with a dinner knife or wooden spoon to make a stiff dough.
      Take the pastry out onto a floured worktop and shape into a ball, cut in half and flatten into two discs. Wrap in cling-film and chill for 20-30 minutes in the fridge.

       Place a baking tray or pizza stone in the centre of the oven and pre heat the oven to 200˚C, GM 6. 

Roll out one of the pastry discs on a lightly floured work surface and line the pie plate. 
Fill with a layer of peeled and sliced apples and sprinkle with sugar, then add a layer of blackberries and some more sugar. 

Frozen Blackberries and Sliced Apples

      Repeat until the layers come just above the hight of the pie plate. Leave the edge uncovered and paint with egg wash.

      Roll out the other disc of pastry and cover the tart with it crimp the edges, decorate with pastry leaves stuck on with egg wash and paint the top with egg wash.
      Place the tart into the oven onto the hot baking tray or pizza stone and bake for 15-20 minutes. When the top is golden turn the oven down to 180˚C, GM 4 and finish baking for another 15-20 minutes.

A Slice of Autumn!