Showing posts with label tarts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tarts. Show all posts

Friday, June 10, 2016

Smoked Salmon Tartlets

I am in Ireland now, furnishing my very own cottage (once I get the electric and water turned on). I first visited Ireland in 1998 and fell in love, but it took until 2016 to stake a claim to a small piece of it (one-half acre, to be precise), in the heart of West Cork, where my father’s family came from. In fact, if you look up the hill, you can see where my great-grandmother Bridget Regan was born in 1841. The house is still standing.

When we first started traveling to Ireland, the food was as bad as everyone said: watery stews, with chunks of ham, cabbage and potatoes. The bread and butter were always good, as was the Guinness, but the sit-down meals? Not so much.

Now the food is terrific, even in smaller towns. I’ve watched the restaurants moving in, and I’ve sampled the menus (all for research, of course), and I’m blown away. Even the pubs have stepped up their game.

This recipe is adapted from The Complete Irish Pub Cookbook, which has gorgeous pictures. If I can find a pub where they make this dish, I may stake out a permanent seat. I do know where to find locally-made smoked salmon, made in a small building in Union Hall in West Cork (near the wonderful fish store I keep returning to)—and you can buy it at the Skibbereen Saturday Market. I’ve been known to plan trips so I can visit the market.

Smoked Salmon Tartlets

The original recipe called for six 3-1/2 inch fluted tart pans with removable bottoms. Most of us probably don’t have those, so you can improvise. I had one shallow six-space pan (a flea-market find), so that’s what I used. Line the bottoms with foil if you need to, to make it easy to get the tarts out. (You could also use standard muffin tins or even mini-muffin tins, if you want to make appetizers—just adjust the cooking time.)


1 cup all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
5-1/2 Tblsp cold salted butter, cut into pieces

It doesn't get much simpler than this,
does it?
Grease (or line) your tart pans. Put the flour and salt into a food processor and pulse to mix. Add the butter and process until the mixture looks line fine bread crumbs.

Place in a large bowl (or just leave it in your food processor bowl) and add just enough cold water to let the dough stick together. Place the dough on a floured surface and cut into six equal pieces. Roll each piece into a circle, then press into the tart pans. Clean up the edges. Put a piece of parchment paper in each, then fill with pie weights or dried beans and chill for 30 minutes.

I feel the need to point out that in general I am pie-crust challenged. This absolutely simple recipe produced one of the best I have ever made. It was easy to roll and didn’t fall apart, it didn’t get tough with handling, and it tasted great.

(Yanno, you can just buy your crust ready-made and then cut it to fit. I won’t tell.)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove the tart shells from the refrigerator and bake (yes, still with the paper and beans) for 10 minutes. Then carefully remove the beans and paper.


1/2 cup crème fraiche OR 1/4 cup sour cream mixed with 1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp creamed horseradish
1/2 tsp (oh, all right, a squeeze) of fresh lemon juice
1 tsp capers, chopped
3 egg yolks
8 oz. smoked salmon trimmings (the scrappy bits, which is cheaper), coarsely chopped
Bunch of fresh dill, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix together the crème fraiche, horseradish, lemon juice and capers and add salt and pepper and blend well. Add the egg yolks, smoked salmon and chopped dill and mix carefully (you don’t want it to turn into mush). 

Divide the mixture amongst the pastry shells and bake for another 10-15 minutes, or until the top and the crust edges have just begun to brown.

Let cool in the pans for 5 minutes before serving, garnished with sprigs of dill.

They'd look a bit tidier with a different baking tin, but they sure tasted good! (My husband approved.)

Is there a book? Well, the last Irish book was A Turn for the Bad, and in that one I send Maura and her friend Gillian to a nice small cafe in Union Hall, and then to the fish store. It's a lovely tiny town where the fishing fleet is based.

I can't tell you about the next Irish book because I haven't written it yet, and it doesn't have a title. But it will be coming next spring! I'm busy doing research in Ireland now, including exploring one very nice upscale hotel. The life of a writer is hard!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Please Welcome Our Guest Kay Finch!

Kay Finch is the author of the new Bad Luck Cat Mystery series, with the first of the series, BLACK CAT CROSSING, coming from Berkley in September 2015. Her most recent published mystery, Relative Chaos, features a professional organizer who finds a dead body in a hoarder's garage. Kay grew up on a Pennsylvania farm, but she got to Texas as fast as she could and discovered her favorite vacation spot, the Texas Hill Country, setting of her new series.


Thanks for inviting me to Mystery Lover’s Kitchen. My family is especially delighted because I actually quit writing for a while to bake something.  I’ve had fun this year writing Black Cat Crossing, book one of my new series, and defending Hitchcock, the alleged Bad Luck Cat, from characters who believe black cats bring bad luck. As my granddaughter wisely points out, that’s just plain silly.  I’ve learned, though, that some people are dead serious about their superstition. I prefer those that claim black cats are good luck. Hitchcock is definitely good luck for me, and I can’t wait to see Black Cat Crossing in print come September.  

PECAN TARTS (from the Finch Family Cookbook)

Crust -
1 stick butter
3 oz package cream cheese
1-1/4 cup flour

Soften butter and cream cheese. Mix together, then add flour.

 Chill for 2 hours. Roll into small balls, then press into tart pans.

Filling -
1 egg
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup chopped pecans

Beat together eggs, brown sugar, butter and vanilla. Stir in pecans. Spoon 1 teaspoon in each crust. Bake at 350 F. for 25 minutes. Makes 24.

Enjoy your tarts. Don’t tell anyone, especially not my thrifty Pennsylvania Dutch relatives, that I bought pecans for this instead of shelling the bushels of pecans we picked up from our own backyard trees.

Black Cat Crossing will be available for pre-order from Amazon soon, and I’ll be shouting that from the rooftops when the time comes. Meanwhile, my Corie McKenna mysteries, Final Decree and Final Cut, and Relative Chaos are available now in print and Kindle versions.

Happy New Year everyone!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Mincemeat Tarts

by Sheila Connolly

Mincemeat pie has long been associated with Christmas—think Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, where a mince pie awaits at the end of the final meal. (BTW, Tori Avey, who write about food and culture for PBS, called Dickens “a true Victorian foodie, a man who took serious pleasure in eating and drinking.”

Long, long ago, when I first heard the term “mincemeat,” all I could think of was the “meat” part. I was pretty sure I didn’t want meat in my dessert. Luckily nobody offered me any mincemeat.

But then one summer many years ago I had a job in a department store in London (Simpson’s Piccadilly—I had a great time!), where if we worked the late opening days, we were entitled to “tea” in the basement cafeteria, around five. Tea might include tea, of course (black or white), plus kippers and buns and—mincemeat tarts. I quickly became a convert.

This past week I was strolling through my supermarket and was halted by a display of teeny, tiny boxes of mincemeat, in a package smaller than a kid’s juice box. Surely you jest! That little box will make a whole pie? But the maker was serious: it’s dried mincemeat, that you have to restore by adding water and boiling for a minute. This I had to see to believe, so I brought one box home as an experiment.
Okay, it looks like dog food,
but it does get better!

But I don’t like the stuff well enough to eat a whole pie’s worth, so I decided to recreate the tiny tarts instead. If you want to dress them up for the holiday, use a decorative cutter instead of a plain round one for the top crust.

Mincemeat Tarts


1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 Tblsp grated fresh grated 
     orange peel
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted 
     butter, cut into 1/2” cubes
1 large egg yolk
2 Tblsp orange juice (more if needed)


3/4 cup purchased mincemeat
3 Tblsp minced crystallized ginger
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Glaze: 1 egg, beaten

Mix together the flour, 6 Tblsp powdered sugar, 2-1/2 tsp orange peel and salt in a food processor. Add the butter and process in spurts until the mixture resembles coarse meal. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and 2 Tblsp orange juice.  Add the liquid to the processor and blend until moist clumps form (add more juice by teaspoons-ful if needed). Gather the dough into a ball and flatten. Chill for 30 minutes. (By the way, this made a very nice crust: it’s light and flavorful, and also easy to roll and handle.)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Generously butter or grease 18 1-3/4 inch mini muffin pans. Mix together the mincemeat, ginger, cinnamon, and the rest of the powdered sugar and orange peel. (A note on muffin tins. I have lots, many of them vintage. I tried my two smallest ones, and while the baby size made nice two-bite tartlets, it was easier to shape and remove them from the slightly larger tin.)

Roll out the dough on a floured surface to make a 17” round. 

I had to include this--it was a gift from my sister-
in-law and it's just gorgeous!

Using a 2-1/2” round cookie cutter, cut out 18 dough rounds. Press a round onto the bottom and up the sides of each muffin cup. (A note on forming the bottoms: try not to tear the sides while pressing them into the molds, because then the filling leaks out and the whole thing sticks to the pan. I found the rounded top of a champagne cork worked quite well. If you don't have one, go out and buy a bottle of champagne--now!)

Fill the lined muffin cups with 1 heaping teaspoon filling (do not overfill). Now, you can go one of two ways with this next step: (a) seal the top with a smaller circle, or (b) say the heck with it and use whatever little decorative shape you want. (The second is easier!) For (a), using a slightly smaller (1-3/4”) cookie cutter, cut out 18 more rounds (reroll the dough if you need to). Brush the edges of the smaller rounds with some of the egg glaze. Place one of the smaller rounds atop the filling in each cup, glazed side down, and press the edges to seal. Cut a small X in each top crust. For (b) just have fun!

Glazed and ready to bake
Brush the pies with the remaining egg glaze. Bake until the top crusts are golden, about 20 minutes. With a small knife, cut around each tart to loosen, then turn out onto a rack to cool. Don’t try to remove them while they’re hot, because then they’ll crumble.

And have a lovely holiday!  

Here are a couple of pictures of Dublin just before Christmas:

I do wish I'd bought the sign in the middle:
Life is What you Bake it

In case you can't guess, An Early Wake, the third book in the County Cork Mysteries, will be out in February.

You can pre-order it at Amazon or Barnes and Noble

And you can get a taste of Ireland for free with my e-story, Under the Hill (Amazon and Barnes and Noble)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The 50 Most Delicious Foods and a Recipe for One of Them from Cleo Coyle


~ George Bernard Shaw

A fitting quote for this week, given the one-two punch of Mardi Gras and Valentine’s Day. Add the global Lunar New Year celebrations for the Year of the Black Snake and we have a foodie trifecta. 

Every culture has its favorite foods, of course, and a few years ago, members of the travel staff at CNN issued their own picks. The list of "The World's 50 Most Delicious Foods" is highly subjective and plenty of people disagreed with it. If you haven’t seen it, scroll to the end of this postand feel free to leave a comment on dishes you think should be on there.

A choice I absolutely agree with is the Hong Kong-style egg custard tart, which clocked in at #16, and if you've ever sampled one, then you know why. Creamy, eggy custard combines with flaky, buttery pastry to create a delightful combination of mouth-watering flavor and contrasting textures.

In Hong Kong—and New York’s Chinatown—the tarts are served warm, although they’re just as delightful at room temperature or chilled. (This I know from noshing a few for breakfast, straight from the fridge.) 

Watch a Hong Kong baker make
these tarts in the video below...

Cleo Coyle, trading hearts
for tarts this weeks,
is author of The
Coffeehouse Mysteries

Hong Kong-Style 
Egg Custard Tarts

from Cleo Coyle's 
A Brew to a Kill

You've heard of pub crawls? Well, to research this recipe, along with a few scenes that took place in our recent culinary mystery, A Brew to a Kill, my husband and I did an egg tart crawl to several bake shops in New York's Chinatown. 

In the acknowledgments of the book, you'll find the names of a few of those bakeries along with other fun, foodie destinations to try on your next trip to New York City.

To download this recipe in a PDF document that you can print, save, or share, click here.

The recipe below was also printed in the back of A Brew to a Kill, along with many more. Enjoy!

Makes 12 tarts 

4 large eggs 
4 large egg yolks 
2/3 cup whole milk 
2/3 cup white granulated sugar 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 

Directions: Gently whisk together ingredients. Run the mixture through a sieve. Pour into 12 pre-made tart shells or see my recipe below to make your own. Bake about 25 minutes in an oven preheated to 325° F. Centers should resemble creamy custard and not be rubbery. Tarts are done when an inserted toothpick (like a good alibi) stands up on its own. These tarts are traditionally served warm but are just as delicious at room temperature or chilled. To store, wrap loosely in wax paper or plastic and place in refrigerator. 

Tart Crusts 

Makes 12 small tart shells or 1 large tart crust 

1¼ cup all-purpose flour 
½ teaspoon salt 
1 tablespoon granulated sugar 
6 tablespoons butter (chilled) 
¼ cup vegetable shortening 
2–3 tablespoons hot water

Directions: Sift the flour, salt, and sugar into a bowl. Cut the butter into small pieces and add in the shortening. Using the tips of your fingers, work the fats into the flour until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add the hot water and continue working and kneading until it comes together into a smooth dough. Pat the dough into a large ball, flatten the ball into a disc, and wrap the disc in plastic or wax paper. Refrigerate for thirty minutes. Dust a surface with flour and roll flat. Stamp out circles and press into tart molds or (for more rustic tarts) use muffin pan tins. Bake as directed in the above recipe.

A few photos from our
Chinatown egg tart crawl...

If you see an NYPD cruiser in front of a restaurant, chances are
the food is good, and the egg custard tarts were excellent
at Golden Manna Bakery at 16 Bowery Street. Highly recommended!
No egg tarts on the menu, but you've
gotta dig a pagoda with golden arches.

Happy Chinese New Year!
~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

The Coffeehouse Mysteries are bestselling
works of amateur sleuth fiction set in a landmark
Greenwich Village 
coffeehouse, and each of the
12 titles includes the added bonus of recipes.  

To learn more...

Friend me on facebook here
Follow me on twitter here.
Visit my online coffeehouse here.

View the Coffeehouse
Mystery book trailer
by clicking here.

The World's 50
Most  Delicious Foods chosen by staff members of CNN
1. Massaman curry, Thailand, 2. Neapolitan pizza, Italy,
3. Chocolate, Mexico, 4. Sushi, Japan,
5. Peking duck, China, 6. Hamburger, Germany,
7. Penang assam laksa, Malaysia, 8. Tom yum goong, Thailand,
9. Ice cream, United States, 10. Chicken muamba, Gabon,
11. Rendang, Indonesia, 12. Shepherd’s pie, Britain,
13. Corn on the cob, global, 14. Donuts, USA,
15. Kalua pig, USA, 16. Egg tart, Hong Kong,
17. Lobster, global, 18. Kebab, Iran,
19. Nam tok moo, Thailand, 20. Arepas, Venezuela,
21. Croissant, France, 22. Brownie and vanilla ice cream, glob
23. Lasagna, Italy, 24. Champ, Ireland,  
25. Butter garlic crab, India, 26. Fajitas, Mexico, 
27. Montreal-style smoked meat, Canada 28. Pho, Vietnam, 29. Ohmi-gyu beef steak, Japan, 30. Goi cuon (summer roll), Vietnam 31. Parma ham, Italy 32. Ankimo, Japan 
33. Fish 'n’ chips, Britain, 34. Maple syrup, Canada,
35. Chili crab, Singapore, 36. Texas barbecue pork, United States,
37. Chicken parm, Australia, 38. French toast, Hong Kong,
39. Ketchup, United States, 40. Marzipan, Germany,
41. Stinky tofu, Southeast Asia, 42. Buttered toast with Marmite, Britain,
43. Tacos, Mexico, 44. Poutine, Canada,
45. Chicken rice, Singapore, 46. Som tam, Thailand,
47. Seafood paella, Spain, 48. Potato chips, United States,
49. Masala dosa, India, 50. Buttered popcorn, United States

Are your favorites listed?
What would you add?