Friday, April 29, 2016

Irish Pizza

Wait, ­the Irish don’t make pizza, do they? Well, this didn’t start out as pizza. After last week’s fish casserole, I got to thinking about smoked salmon (which I adore, and I do know a great place that smokes their own in West Cork) and what to do with it. Not another casserole, so what about a crust? No—puff pastry (which even out of a frozen package is far better than my pie crusts)! And cheese. But not Italian cheese—how about goat cheese? A nice sharp tang to offset the smoky creaminess of the salmon. And some good Irish cheese (Kerrygold, which does use some milk from Cork). And maybe some of my homegrown chives (which overwintered quite well, thank you) for color contrast and a hint of onion.

It was only an hour or two later that I figured out what I had done: put together the colors of the Irish flag. Which is important because this week marks the hundred anniversary of what most Irish people regard as the birth of the Republic, with the infamous Easter Uprising, a disastrous and poorly planned confrontation with British troops in the heart of Dublin. If things had ended there, probably tempers would have cooled, but the British decided they had to execute the leaders of the uprising, which rallied the rest of the population to the cause of a free Ireland. So this is my celebration. 

The Irish flag (bratach na hÉireann) is a vertical tricolor of green, white and orange (in that order, left to right). The green represents the Gaelic tradition of the country, the orange represents the followers of King William III (of Orange) in Ireland (his troops defeated King James II at the Battle of the Boyne), and the white stands for the hope for peace between the two. It was first raised over the General Post Office in Dublin in 1916 and came to be seen as the national flag, and symbolizes the hope for union.

Here endeth the history lesson. Let’s eat!

Irish Pizza

1 piece frozen puff pastry, thawed according to package directions

8 oz. smoked salmon (you don’t have to buy the expensive stuff—a package of the tag ends would do just fine and it’s cheaper)

4 oz. goat cheese (okay, here I faced a dilemma: goat cheese is squishy, in general, so how do I spread it evenly over the crust? I froze it first, then grated it coarsely!)

4 oz. Kerrygold Irish Cheddar, grated

1 bunch chives (however many you like)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Put a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet and lay the thawed piece of puff pastry on top.

Isn't that a great rolling pin? It was a gift from
my sister in law, who knows the guy who
made it.
If the smoked salmon pieces are large and/or raggedy, chop them up into smaller pieces (but not too small).

Chill your cheese, then grate it. Roughly chop your chives.

Sprinkle the grated goat cheese evenly over the crust. Place the salmon pieces on top, then sprinkle with the chives. Add a top layer of the cheddar. (Don’t overload the crust or it won’t rise well.)

At this point a little oil might be good. I’d suggest butter, which would be more Irish, but I don’t think that would work, so a neutral vegetable oil or oil will do just fine. Add just enough to keep the toppings from burning while the crust is cooking.

Bake for…well that’s a little tricky. Bake until the crust has risen and the cheese in lightly browned. The edges will rise first, but be patient and wait until the center had risen too (it won’t go as far as the edges). Keep checking every couple of minutes to make sure things aren’t browning too quickly, but it wasn’t a problem. Total time was probably 20-25 minutes. 

Remove from the oven and let cool briefly, then cut into serving pieces. This recipe served two of us (my husband scarfed down the last piece as a late snack), but to serve more just duplicate it (the frozen puff pastry comes in a package with two, so you’d be all set).

Now raise a glass of Guinness (or Murphy's stout, which is made in Cork city), or maybe a shot of good whiskey (quite a few labels are made in Middleton, which is also in Cork), and salute one hundred years of Irish history!

[If I don't respond to your comments quickly, it's because I'm hanging out with all my cozy-writer friends--and probably some of you readers--at Malice Domestic in Maryland.]

A Turn for the Bad (County Cork Mystery #4) came out in February 2016 and was a Barnes and Noble bestseller.

The next book doesn't yet have a name or a cover, but it will appear in February 2017. I can tell you it involves an old open case and a big snowstorm (yes, they do happen in Ireland, if rarely)!


  1. Whether the Irish have pizza or not, this looks delicious. I think I could even enjoy it for breakfast.

    1. It's nice and light, so that could work. I also wondered about cutting into smaller pieces for an appetizer, but I doubt that it travels well. Better eat it quickly!

  2. Freezing the goat cheese is positively brilliant!
    This looks and sounds scrumptious. I believe there is some puff pastry in my freezer.

    1. That was indeed a brainstorm. I like the flavor of goat cheese, but it's kind of gooey and hard to distribute evenly. Sticking it in the freezer for a short while really did make a difference.

  3. Ahem, as someone who is half Italian (and also very proud of her heritage, mixed though it is) I resent this being called pizza! Just kidding--it looks great. Wouldn't it make a wonderful brunch dish? And like Libby I have some puff pastry in the freezer!

    1. If you're looking for savory, this is it. I too usually have some frozen puff pastry--right next to the four boxes of filo dough I inherited from my daughter (she liked to make spanokopita). And if you'd like to come up with an alternative for the term "pizza" go for it. Maybe I should be calling it Patriotic Irish Crisp something.

  4. Pat ( 29, 2016 at 1:57 PM

    Very innovative! My husband would like it. I like all but the smoked salmon. I had an unfortunate experience with it in Ireland. Enough said. Have your latest on my TBR pile; A Turn for the Bad.

  5. Have fun at Malice Domestic! I would love to be there with all of you! And I am so happy to hear that there will be a snow storm in your new book. I love snowstorms! I miss them since I am dragged off, kicking and screaming, to Arizona for winters. (Actually, one advantage to going to AZ is I am close to bookstores.) Have fun!

    1. I'm sure people will be saying, "Huh? Snow in Ireland?" But when I first stayed in a bed and breakfast in Leap, my landlady told me all about one blizzard. She had four small children at the time, who couldn't go to school, and after a couple of days snowed in they were all going stir-crazy.

      Malice was great! It's like a big annual reunion. We get to visit with old friends, talk shop, and meet a lot of people we only know from our blogs or FaceBook.

  6. Thanks, for the chance to win a book. I am a sucker for any book with Cat or Poodle on the cover. Patricia Sarka