Greetings From Ireland and a Recipe for Blueberry Parfait

Blueberry Parfait (c)2013 La Domestique

Greetings from Ireland! We arrived in our new home town of Cavan yesterday and the sun has been shining the whole time (which I’m taking as a good sign). Cavan is in the north, just 15 minutes from Northern Ireland. It’s marked by rolling green hillsides dotted with fluffy white sheep and spotted cows. I like it out here. It’s quieter and more laid back than the big city of Dublin. I will say though, ever since we got off the plane everyone has been so welcoming! People are very friendly and kind here. They do talk fast and I’m often looking towards the husband for translation of what was just said. Hopefully I will quickly develop an ear for it. We’re staying in a B & B owned by a family with three very young boys running around. The whole family is lively and fun and our bed is comfy so I’m quite happy. This morning the mother made us a full Irish breakfast, which was a real treat (rashers, black and white pudding, broiled tomato, Irish bacon, eggs, brown bread and scones)! The husband felt like he was finally back home again.

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Celebrate Spring with Pasta Primavera

Pasta Primavera (c)2013 La Domestique

Happy first day of spring! I am so excited for warmer days, gardening, and eating tender spring vegetables. How about you? One dish I look forward to enjoying this time of year is Pasta Primavera, or “Spring Pasta.” This dish is a celebration of all things green, open to variation based on what’s available at the farmer’s market or what you have to harvest in your garden. I’ve combined asparagus, baby zucchini, basil, chive, and parsley, but peppery arugula leaves, peas, leeks, spring onions or ramps would be lovely substitutions. Lemon adds a bit of brightness and crushed red pepper contributes a surprisingly welcome heat. Crumbled soft goat cheese serves as a creamy, tangy garnish.

Serve Pasta Primavera at room temperature – it’s perfect for entertaining friends al fresco. Take advantage of the first warm day that comes your way with a bottle of crisp, refreshing white wine and a leisurely weekend lunch on the patio. Buon appetito!

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Irish Brown Soda Bread and a Big Announcement

Irish Brown Soda Bread (c)2013 LaDomestique

Today I’ve got a recipe for Irish Brown Soda Bread to share with you, not just because St. Patrick’s Day is fast approaching,

but also in celebration of some big news! As the Irish say, Come here to me, wait till I tell you.

You may have noticed things have been a bit quiet around here at La Domestique. That’s because we’ve had a lot going on behind the scenes.

We’ve been doing a lot of wishing, a lot of hoping, and a lot of planning. We’ve been pacing and waiting.

Now the wait is over and IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

We are moving to Ireland!!!

I’ve mentioned before that the husband was born and raised in Tipperary, Ireland, and we’re thrilled to be moving back to his home country.

I’ll be sharing more details as we find a new home and get settled. We’ve purchased one-way plane tickets and we leave on April 1st!

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Cook in the Moment: Strawberry Tart

Strawberry Tart (c)2012 LaDomestique.com

You may remember my resolution to celebrate each seasonal fruit this year with a tart? It all started in April with a recipe for Meyer Lemon Curd Tart. The purpose of the tart project is to slow my pace of life a bit, to savor each brief season and the tender fruits that mark the passage of time. This week I celebrate the early days of summer with a fresh strawberry tart. With practice, making pastry dough has become a comforting ritual, rather than a daunting task. However, my first attempt at pastry cream was a failure. Of course I can’t follow one single recipe, so the plan was to make Elisabeth Prueitt’s Pastry Cream from the Tartine cookbook and Martha Stewart’s Cream Cheese Tart Dough from her Baking Handbook.

I chalk the failure up to fear. Elisabeth Prueitt’s instructions for making pastry cream were easy enough to follow, but full of warnings and consequences (get the pastry cream too hot and the eggs will curdle, over whisk and the thick cream will break down into a watery mess, burn the milk at the bottom of the pan and you must start over). The fear made me timid, and baking at altitude is not for the timorous. The method for making pastry cream involves heating milk and sugar on the stovetop, then carefully stirring it into egg yolks with cornstarch. The mixture goes back on the stovetop for just a couple of minutes of constant whisking, until thickened. Lastly, cubes of butter are carefully beaten in (to avoid breaking the mixture) and the pastry cream goes into the fridge to chill. After whisking the eggs and milk on the stovetop for much longer than the recipe instructed, my pastry cream refused to thicken. I threw out the watery mess, took a deep breath, and resolved to begin again. In the big picture all that I lost was a few eggs, some milk, and my time.

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10 Ways Tuesday: Strawberries

Strawberries from the farmer's market (c)2012 LaDomestique.com

I’ve got creative recipes for cooking with strawberries during spring:

1.  Strawberries and Cream

It was Jonathan Lovekin’s photograph in Ripe that caught my attention- smashed red berries stirred into a bowl of thick, devonshire cream. Juicy, luscious strawberries bled pink through the cream, staining the white tablecloth. I wanted to grab a spoonful and shove it into my mouth, not caring if I took too much and cream dribbled down my chin. This powerful photograph paired with Nigel Slater’s simple suggestion of a recipe was all I needed: “Pick the smallest, ripest berries you can lay your hands on, crimson through to their little hearts. Put them in a bowl and crush them with a fork. Mellow the flavor with a drip of balsamic vinegar. Stir in the merest dribble of golden cream. Fiddle no further.”

2.  Strawberry Tart

If a bowl of strawberries and cream is the purest, most perfect way to enjoy the first berry of the season, a strawberry tart is the most celebratory. A tender, crumbly crust filled with rich, vanilla-flecked pastry cream and studded with fresh, ruby-red strawberries commands the room’s attention when perched atop a cake stand at the table. Over at Food & Wine Elisabeth Pruett of Tartine Bakery shares a Strawberry Tart recipe made with a whipped cream as a filling or you can try Betsy Benardaud’s classic Strawberry Tart with pastry cream filling.

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