For more information regarding the fantasy series, The Tales of Tanglewood, please visit the website to learn more about Colin and the other characters in the 'wood, and to download a sample of the first few chapters of each book for free.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Celtic & Irish Recipes

Those of you who read the first book may have noted that feasting played a minor role in Tanglewood. A feast in the 'wood is always a grand thing, full of music and magic and of course, food.

In the Second Tale, tentatively titled The Secret of Satyr Stump, there are more feasts to be enjoyed, and I've decided to include a few recipes for some of the sweet treats Colin might find at these feasts. As the Second Tale takes place during Samhain, at around the time the chestnuts in Chestnut Grove are being harvested by Cox and the brownies, there will of course be treats made from the chestnuts as well, but I'll write about those sometime in the future.

These recipes were found at the website Irish Culture & Customs. Be sure to pay the site a visit for lots more info about Irish Culture, Customes, and many more Irish Recipes. Also check out the books at the bottom of the post for great Irish & Celtic Recipes, both old and new.

Crunchy Apple & Blackberry Crumble
Contributed by Hartson Dowd

"In autumn the hedgerows are bursting with juicy, plump blackberries. Apples are the perfect flavor partner to blackberries, and now is the time when local varieties are in season. Crumbles are a classic and so easy to make. Here is one to welcome in the autumn!"

For the filling:
2lb Bramley or Granny Smith cooking apples
1lb blackberries
6oz brown sugar
2 lemons

For the topping
8oz plain flour
6oz butter
2oz brown sugar
4oz muesli or a mixture of oats, seeds and chopped nuts

1. Pre-heat the oven to 400F.
2. Peel, core and chop the apples into small chunks. Cut the lemons in half and squeeze the juice over the apple and mix well. This not only adds flavour but prevents the freshly peeled apples from discoloring.
3. Layer the apples, blackberries, and sugar in a large pie dish
4. Place the flour in a large bowl and then rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs - leave a few lumps of butter so that the topping is not too fine. Add the muesli or oat/seed/nut mixture and the sugar and mix through.
5. Use a spoon to sprinkle the crumble topping evenly over the fruit. Bake for 45 minutes or until the fruit is cooked and bubbling juices seep through the topping.
6. Cool for a few minutes and then serve with custard or fresh cream.
Serves 6 to 8

Irish Fraughan Sunday Cake with Fraughan Cream

Contributed by Hartson Dowd

Fraughans, herts or bilberries are the names used in different parts of Ireland for the intensely flavored wild blueberries that grow on the acid hilltop soil. The 'Huckleberry' of North America is the equivalent of the European bilberry - the name being a corruption of 'Whortleberry.'

If you live in North America, there are about 40 native species of huckleberries, but in some parts of the United States the name "huckleberry" is improperly used for both blueberries and true huckleberries. Other people mistakenly believe that blueberries always have blue or bluish fruit, and that all huckleberries are black or purplish black. However, there are dark-colored blueberries, and huckleberries that are distinctly blue, but there is a sure way to tell one from the other: blueberries have a large number of tiny soft seeds, whereas the huckleberries have 10 rather large, bony seeds. Huckleberries would be an appropriate substitute in the following recipes; however, in the absence of bilberries or huckleberries, tart, fresh blueberries should work just as well.

Fraughan Cake
8-oz self-rising flour
6-oz granulated sugar
6-oz butter
4-oz fraughans
2 eggs, beaten
3 tbsp milk

Fraughan Cream
6fl-oz whipping cream
2-oz fraughans
1 tbsp granulated sugar

Pre-heat oven to 350°F
Butter a 7-inch round cake tin. Cream together the butter, sugar, until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs, adding 1 tablespoon of flour with the last of the eggs. Sift the remaining flour and fold in, adding enough milk to produce a stiff mixture. Gently stir in the fraughans, ensuring they are evenly distributed through the mixture. In a bowl, cream the sugar and butter and beat the eggs in one at a time. Transfer to the prepared tin. Bake for 1 hour.
Remove from the tin. Allow to cool on a rack for 1-2 hours before serving.

Fraughan Cream
Place the fraughans in a bowl and mash into a juicy pulp. In a separate bowl whip the cream and sugar until stiff; fold in the fraughan pulp.
Chill before serving.

Serve a slice of cake accompanied with a portion of the cream.

Connemara Apple Tart
Edited and adapted from a a recipe published by George Steeler in the Irish Heritage newsletter. If you would like to subscribe, send George an email:

In the old days, after the crops had been built into stacks, dried out and then brought into the haggard, it was time for the threshing. Entire communities would come together to help each other out and farmer's wives would vie with each other to produce the best feed for the menfolk. Topping off the main course would be apple or rhubarb tart served with big mugs of hot sweet tea.

1 cup self rising flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 large apples - Granny Smith, Bramley or other green cooking apple
1 beaten Egg
2 ounces butter
1/4 cup milk
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg.

Sift flour, ginger, salt and sugar. Rub in the fat. Add milk and eggs to bake a soft dough. Roll out on a floured board. Cover the base of a greased pie dish with the pastry. Grate the apples onto the pastry. Dot with butter. Sprinkle cinnamon and nutmeg over top. Bake in a moderate oven for 1/2 hour. Serve hot with custard.*

Check out these books for great Irish & Celtic Recipes, both old and new!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Irish Fairies

Called by any number of names, whether it be fairy, faery, fae, fey, shee, wee people, and many more, the fairies of Irish folklore have fascinated us through the years.

No doubt as children, many of us searched for evidence of fairies, sprites, brownies, leprechauns, and other fey, in dark corners of our attics, rings of toadstools in our backyards, and secluded areas of woods, all magical places unto themselves.

Whilst writing my own book, I cam across a few tomes that are exceptionally entertaining and instrumental for anyone wanting to learn more about the many fairies of Ireland, and the myths and legends that go along with them. Aside from the more well-known fairy types, these books also introduce you to other fey that are no less intriguing, such as the banshee and the pooka.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Authentic Irish Food and Groceries at

10 years in business, delivering nothing but the best, authentic Irish food & groceries

As neighborhoods become more culturally diverse, supermarkets have adjusted, allocating more shelf space to international and ethnic foods. Whereas several years ago, the international section consisted mainly of Asian and Mexican foods, you can now find Polish, Irish, and other cultural groceries, depending upon where you might shop.

Unfortunately, selection is still rather limited, but thanks to the internet, you can easily order any type of ethic or international food you desire, including authentic Irish food. It is very hard to find any stores, on the internet or in your hometown, where you can purchase authentic Irish sausages, bacon, bread, and fish, among other Irish products. Luckily, internet store Food Ireland can easily meet your needs for fresh Irish food, along with a bevy of additional Irish and European products.


Visit the FoodIreland website

The Long Island Irish Festival, July 18-20, 2008

The 2008 Long Island Irish Festival
will be held
July 18th, 19th and 20th, 2008
Abbess Farm, 3581 Middle Country Road,
Calverton, NY

I originally intended to have a booth at this great event to promote my book, but alas, I will only be a visitor this year. Still, it is a great way to spend the weekend.

There will be 3 large stages, featuring over a dozen great Irish bands, including Black 47, Mythica, Stone Cross, and more.

The marketplace features over 40 vendors selling everything from clothing, music, decor, crystal, and many unique items.

Additionally, you'll find a lot of great food vendors, Irish step-dancing performances, various workshops, and much more.

Visit the website for more information and to purchase advance tickets.