Hi, I'm Theresa Storey and I run The Green Apron Artisan Preserve and Tea Company and write and blog and garden and teach and.....

Spiced Christmas Cookies-Holiday Biscuit exchange

dec 2011 031Christmas is the time of year cookies really come in to their own at our house  especially since I inherited such a great range of  christmas cookies cutters from my Grandma. My girls  are happy to spend hours rolling baking and decorating cookies  and peace reigns.

Aoife Ryan from Babaduck came up with this recipe and kindly sent it on to me as part of the Irish Food Bloggers christmas recipe exchange. Yummy crispy,spicy, honey flavoured cookies.

Athene and Belle spent all evening producing these lovelies.dec2011 004

Spiced Christmas Cookies

50g Butter
100g Golden Caster Sugar or brown sugar
100g Runny Honey
225g Plain Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
1 tsp Ground Ginger (double this for a spicier cookie)
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon (or 2 tsp Allspice if that’s all you have)
1/2 of a beaten egg

In a pot, heat the butter, sugar & honey together, stirring until melted & smooth.  Remove from the heat.

Put all the dry ingredients into a bowl, add the melted butter, honey & sugar & mix for a minute with a wooden spoon .

Add in the half egg  and mix  until the mixture has turned into a smooth & shiny dough. If you have a good mixer use that instead of the spoon as mixing the dough is  hard work.

Wrap the cookie dough in clingfilm & chill in the fridge for at least a few hours until cold.

When you’re ready to use the dough, heat your oven to 160c  and line two large cookie sheets with baking parchment.

On a floured surface, roll out the dough until it’s about 1/4 inch thick and cut out shapes with your cookie cutters.  (Flour it well as its awfully sticky)

Place the shapes on the sheets & bake for 8-10 minutes until golden.  dec 2011 032

Remove from  the tray and allow to cool completely before icing.dec 2011 038

My girls used premade fondant icing on these and some of their stash of American gel icings which  our friend Emer (and her american in-laws )keep us supplied with. Icing makes the cookies a bit softer but still yum  and we used a bit of warm jelly to stick the fondant cutouts to the cookiesdec 2011 039

If you are very lazy like me mould the dough into sausages before chilling and when cold slice rounds of cookie dough instead of  bothering rolling the dough out  and bake as above.

Aoife says they’ll keep for about a month un-iced in an airtight tin -if you can resist them that long. We made a double batch and they are almost all gone already.dec 2011 040


Christmas Gifts – Saturdays at The Milk Market.

Gift BagsI finally remembered to bring my camera in with me to the market last weekend and took a quick run around to get some pictures of what I buy as presents for my family and friends so this post will be heavy on pictures and light on  words.

For Food Gifts I often  make up a wee hamper of non perishables.

Applejuice from Adam of Killowen Orchard which we give with our “Spices for mulled wine” -spices work for applejuice as well.Adams juice

Chocolates from Chocolate Trish at Wildes Irish Chocolatedecember 2011 038december 2011 037

Chorizo from Olivier  -“On The Wild Side”december 2011 033

december 2011 040Whole small cheeses from Pete of ” Kilshanny Cheese” .Every April we get him to put away a big Plain cheese  in his cheese house for us . By Christmas its fantastic- almost fudgey textured and sharp on the palate. A whole  cheese doesn’t last long in our house.

And of course Amazing preserves from Us at The Green Apron. I usually give  our Christmas Chutneys and Mustards. Partridge in a Pear Tree Chutney, Apple and Walnut Chutney,Sugar Plum fairy Chutney and our Crunchy Honey Mustard.Alex Green ApronKatrina also has the cutest Finnish Gingerbread Cookies in all shapes and sizes (also a whole range of Gluten free baking)december 2011 027

Aruns puddings from  Green Saffron look  fantastic  don’t they.december 2011 039Locally roasted award-winning Coffee is available from Ponaire s Coffee house and teas are available from “Teas and Grind” and “Tea4You”december 2011 022Why not pop in a bag of Irish Harvested Seaweeddecember 2011 041

For Immediate Gratification Gifts Brid has delicious awardwinning piesdecember 2011 043

Vi makes the yummiest sourdough  Rye Bread and a range of organic cakes and breadsdecember 2011 024You can pick up a variety of cheeses from Mairis Cheese shop ,december 2011 034 Pates, preserved fish, and terrines from Olivier, wines from Country Choice (along with about anything else you can think of.december 2011 058

There are lots of craftspeople selling their pieces  in the market. Local and Handmade Crafts

Here is some of Ruth at Nice Day Designs  fabulous  pieces.Ruthdecember 2011 046

Aileen with her beautiful jewellry december 2011 010Susan ‘s  Nativity scene december 2011 011 and her Crazy cameldecember 2011 012december 2011 017Handmade hats to keep you warm and stylish this winterdecember 2011 025

december 2011 006Handcarved wooden pieces

For Body and Bath Gifts

Tobias from Nonin Herbal has a  range of essential oils and a fantastic Rose Avocado Cream for problem skin It smells divine and works brilliantly -I bough some for mom for her birthdaydecember 2011 048december 2011 049Jasmine from Sunvale Soaps has a  great range of homemade and french soaps, salves and creams. december 2011 050

Last year I gave the sisters  each a chicklit book, a bar of Wildes Chocolate and Bath Melts from Sunvale . Ingredients for a  perfect evening.

There are plenty of Plants here for a lovely living present and lots of spring bulbs (get them in fast though)december 2011 047

Heres some of the other fabulous things available at the market Couldnt take enough pictures and get everything in .december 2011 023december 2011 028december 2011 030december 2011 005december 2011 007

Now you can see why almost all my presents come from the Market.

Oops – One last thing . I bought these for everyone last year and am wearing a pair now-invaluablewool socks


Lemon Bars

Lemon Bars When I was little we knew it was Christmas because Mom started making the Christmas cookies. At the start of every December she would start baking a few batches every day, filling old biscuit and sweet tins with all sorts of bars and cookies. They’d be piled everywhere in the kitchen and scullery (even stashed under the couch), fifteen or twenty different tins and you’d have to go through them all to find your favorite. We all loved the sugar plums, Dads favorite were the cherry bars, we fought over the tree and reindeer sugar cookies and everyone hated the mincemeat squares -they were the only ones  left in January.

I love these Lemon Bars and picked these to share in The Irish Food Bloggers recipe exchange. We only make these at christmas ,which is odd now I think about it, as they are so good and not specifically christmas flavoured. But tradition is tradition -it would be like having christmas pudding in July .

They are ridiculously easy and the fresh lemon flavour is a fabulous contrast to the fruity stodginess of most traditional christmas food. I’ve tweaked the recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook here.

Lemon Bars

2/3 cup butter

1/2 cup sugar

2 cup flour

4 eggs

1 1/2 cup sugar

4T flour

grated zest and juice of one big or two small lemons

1/2 tsp baking powder.

Using a food processor whizz up the butter, 1/2 cup sugar  until combined then add the 2 cups flour and whizz  untill crumbly and shortcakey.shortcake base Press into the base of  an ungreased 13 x 9 x 2 baking pan and bake for about 15 minsat 350 degrees until golden.

decembr 2012 037Whilst that is cooking whizz up all the other ingredients until combined making a thin custardy filling which turns  into a lemoncurdy yummieness when cooked.decembr 2012 038

decembr 2012 040Pour the filling over the shortcake and bake for about 20 mins until set and its browning a wee bit around the edges. dec2011 001Then cool and cut into 2 inch x1 1/2in squares . For a finishing touch you could shake a bit of icing sugar over them

dec2011 013


Gingerbread Syrup

In the bottle -the complex syrup. In the coffee mug- the easy syrup .Notice the colour difference.

In the bottle -the complex syrup. In the coffee mug- the easy syrup .Notice the colour difference.

I’ve been trying to make my mid morning coffee a bit more exciting for the last few months. Mostly by adding natural vanilla bean paste and muscovado sugar -with the occasional cinnamon hint. I really don’t like coffee syrups  as they are way too sweet for my palate and a bit artificial flavoured. I keep looking at the bottles in the store going- somedayI really need to make my own.

Today is that day. Instead of filling out a scholarship application,delivering jars or any of the list of tasks given to me by the sister for her wedding I spent the morning playing with Gingerbread Syrup recipes. Procrastinator extraordinaire -thats me.

This morning there was a tweet about someones recipe for making your own gingerbread liquer but since booze in my morning coffee is not an everyday occurance I figured I’d try making a non alcoholic syrup.spices

I found a bunch of recipes and dismissed them all to make my own.

FridgeboardHere’s the recipe in progress. All recipes in my house get written onto a clean spot on the fridge until we’ve finished tweaking them and then they get committed to paper. Heaven help the helpful person who decides to clean the outside of  my fridge before the recipes are all taken down (Mike periodically takes pictures of the fridge just in case a new fab recipe would dissapear).

Gingerbread Syrup

1Tablespoon cloves

3inches cinnamon stick

125g  Ginger root (I know its that much cos thats what the bag says. but its about 7 good fat inches otherwise)

1/2 nutmeg

2 pt water

1 t ground cinnamon

1 t ground ginger

1/2 t vanilla paste

2 cardamon pods (optional)

2 T mollases or treacle(use less or leave out if you wish)

2 T agave syrup(optional)

2T muscovado sugar Dark

4 T  light brown sugar

Whizz up the gingerroot with the cloves and  cinnamon stick in a food processor(grate the root if you dont have one and just break up the cinnamon stick) I left the skin on the gingerroot as its being filtered out anyway.

Put these spices in a big pot with 2 pt water and bring to a rolling boil and boil for about 15 mins until the ginger has lost most of its flavour into the water( pull out a shard of ginger and taste it).

Remove from heat and strain through a  fine sieve, a jellybag or a coffee filter. (If you use a paper coffee filter run some boiling water through it before you use it to get the papery taste off it) . You should have about 1 1/4 pt of liquid .  If less add more water , if more you may have to cook the syrup for longer.strained liquid ready for syrupifaction.

Then add vanilla , ground cinnamon and ginger, mollases, sugar, agave,and the two cardamon pods (you can fish the cardamon out later). I added the ground spices now because they would have been strained out by the coffee filter and I want them in the finished product.

Cook all of this up for about 10 mins, stirring occasionally, until it gets syrupy and starts to coat the back of a spoon. It will boil/foam up so use a big pot.

Remove from heat and  pour into sterilized bottles.


used Agave syrup in the recipe to reduce the  refined sugar load in the  gingerbread syrup but since Im not used to working  with it it Im being sparing and only adding a bit. I may add more next batch.

If you hate Mollases leave it out of the recipe but it really does give a fabulous underlayer to the syrup.

If you don’t have muscovado just use normal brown sugar.

If you hate all brown sugar just use granulated sugar.

Im thinking that next batch I’ll add the rind and juice of an orange to the whizzed spices to make Orange Gingerbread Syrup.

The spices will settle out in the bottle just give it a shake before using.Keep it in the fridge and use within 3 weeks or so.

So first I made this with no brown sugar(to be healthy) and felt it was too bitter, thought I’d over cooked the spices and was going to throw it out. But I found and tried a different easy recipe which made me realise the only problem with my origional was just not enough sugar . Added the sugar and now its fabulous (although now not a bit healthy).

Heres the simple recipe  From Penny Golightly on the Domestic Sluttery blog . Its a nice fast recipe  and with a tasty result but the more complex recipe is well worth the effort as it is a multi-layered joy.

Gingerbread Syrup

  • 250ml water
  • 150g light brown muscovado sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey (optional)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 whole cloves (optional)

Make it!

  • Heat the whole lot gently in a saucepan until all the sugar has dissolved. This will take less than 5 minutes.
  • Give it a good stir, remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  • Fish out and discard the cloves, if you’re using them, then pour the syrup into a clean jar and cover tightly.

Nasturtium Pesto

harvest 2011 013

I was teaching a workshop here today on “Foraging and Preserving the Autumn Fruits” so I yanked out all of my preserving books for the students to read.  I started leafing through the R iver Cottage preserving book and found a recipe for nasturtium pesto which I’d always overlooked before but since my front porch is overrun with nasturtium I figured I’d give it a try.

Love it . Its very similar to wild garlic pesto with the strong green flavour and sharpness and look at the fabulous colour. The kids loved it too and have just hogged down half of the bowl on their bread and in the french onion soup we had for dinner. I tweaked the recipe a bit from the River Cottage recipe to fit what I had in the house.

I’m so glad I tried this as I’ve always more nasturtiums than I know what to do with . I dont really like the leaves in salad and I forget to put the blossoms in salad. I have a few wee nastutium plants in pots that didnt make it into the garden this year so Ive now got them in the greenhouse to make this all through the winter.

harvest 2011 009

Nasturtium Pesto.

Five good handfuls of Nasturtium leaves- I used small and medium leaves  for a more delicate flavour.

a dozen  fresh nasturtium seeds

3 oz of parmesan or whatever stong cheese you have -I used an aged gouda

2 Tablespoons Pine nuts

3 big cloves of garlic

about 100ml of Rapeseed oil ( or you can use  an olive oil)

1/2 teaspoon of salt or to taste.

Bung all of this into the food processor and whiz for about a minute and Voila- Fantasic garden pesto.

Im so happy -Im going to make loads of it tomorrow  before the frost cuts all the plants down and put it in the fridge covered in rapeseed oil where it should keep for about 4 weeks.

So go out and get some nasturtium from your or somebody elses garden and try it  -you wont be dissapointed.

harvest 2011 016


Market 8th October

market 8th october 001After a long summer break I’ve finally restarted my menu planning each week and thus my posts on my market haul each week. We’ve pretty much been living from our garden for the summer and haven’t needed  any additional market food but since its the end of the season and I’ve cleared my tunnel of tomato plants and the marrows its time to start supplementing .

We picked up some Horse Makerel from Ballycotton Fishmongers.I’d never heard of them before but was assured you cook them the same as makerel they just taste a bit stronger. Alex baked them whole with a  Crunchy Mustard and Lemon Butter. Very yum but, and its a big but, they were very bony and had armored scales all down their sides- I’llask for them skinned and filleted next time.market 8th october 010 I also picked up some plaice  from the O Driscoll boys.We had those baked in a parsley butter then cooked up the heads and bones for a fish stock which became a really good chowder with the addition of some carrots,corn and marrow (don’t tell the kids but Ive been hiding marrow in everything) and two kippers out of the freezer.

The  Florence fennel,some of the white cabbage and carrots  from Steve the Organic man became a  very tasty salad with some beetroot and oranges to accompany the makerel. market 8th october 012,The cabages were cooked with butter and seasoned -fantastic. The swede and parsnips will give and excellent base for this weekends stew. Joy of joys Steve had some fresh figs I bought six and as you can see had only 2 left for the pictures – I love them so much. Maybe next week Ill buy enough to  actually have enough left to make a vanilla fig tart.

The ABC bread company were the source of the cherry cake. Just like mammy used to make,soooo good.

The mozarella from the  Real Olive Co will go nicely with the end of my cherry tomato crop with a drizzle of basil oil.

Good haul this week.


May 7th Market

england aprilmay 2011 120I was sooo happy with my shopping this week. Tobias at Noinin herbs  had fresh basil and new season courgettes for sale-summer is here. BasilI also picked up some of his fabulous coriander- thats been in carrot salads all week and his new season onions.

This week is “Eat only Irish for a week”. week and so I tried to make an extra effort to design our weeks menus around Irish produce. Which was kind of hard – the origional menu leaned heavily towards potato as the carbohydrate.

The O Driscoll boys sold me 4 huge haddock and threw in a bag of fish heads and bones. This made saturdays fried haddock dinner for 6 and then two days of fish soup for 7 . Not bad at all for a tenner.

We picked up three different types of Petes cheese including a new one he made using Bellishes onion relish -excellent stuff.

For our salads this week we picked up another bottle of the irish rapeseed oil at Country Choice .It really  is excellent.

When I went to pick up my veg from Organic Steve all I could get were parsnips and turnip as almost everything else was non irish (except for salads which I have already in the tunnel).He says its the end of the season and impossible to source irish organic carrots or beets.When I went to get irish carrots in the supermarket nobody had irish so i bought non organic scottish but they were yuk- very watery.

Lots of lovely Irish apples from Adam the appleman kept up in fruit snacks all week.

I bougt a pile of herb plants too this week as we are dealing with herbs this week in my organic gardening class . I can never have enough thyme and my cotton lavender succumbed to the frost tlast winter.I also love the tri-color sage . Its so pretty even if its flavour isn’t as strong as that of regular sage.england aprilmay 2011 126


April 9th Market

april2011 025Very belated post this week but we’ve been busy as it’s now planting season.

This week we picked up about 5 kilos of carrots , a bunch  of broccoli heads and a few banana shallots from Steve’s Organic veg stall. The carrots were turned into innumerable carrot sticks and a very tasty carrot harissa salad (carrot, harissa, fresh coriander, olive oil, lemon juice.) april2011 048The broccoli was turned into a gorgeous broccoli, leek and cheese soup using Comte cheese from Maris cheese shop and served with crusty white bread from the ABC Bread Company. Normally we’d have our own sprouting broccoli but the big freeze seems to have killed ours and everyon elses.broccolli soup

The Rose bottle is actually full of marmalade wine made  by my friend Nancy usingw rose and  the marmalade oranges I got her in January. Tastes like concentrated sangria. Roll on the summer!

I picked up a few bags of Dulse from Olivier from “On The Wild Side”. Being half Northern Irish I love to eat it straight from the packet( as it’s eaten up there -a bit of an acquired taste) but we also use it when cooking lentils and other pulses to remove their flatulent effect (just add a 2” square as you boil the pulses).

Artichokes and fresh pesto came from the Real Olive Co. for lunches this week.

I love the basil soap from Jasmine at Sunvale soaps. It smells so fresh and delicious.

I picked up a couple of courgette/zucchini plants as mine are only being planted now. This will give me courgettes a month earlier. They can go into the tunnel this week.

We picked up a piece of Petes Chili cheese. Pete produces Kilshany Cheese, a gouda type. We love this and all our family celebration feasts feature a full wheel of Pete’s cheese.

And there’s my Lapsang Souchong in the foreground. I ran out on Friday morning so it was an unhappy Saturday breakfast.

The beer was only picked up on the way home from the market I felt they were worth a mention. We picked up a selection that included the Dungarvan Brewing Company’s Helvic Gold which is the finest beer I have had in along time. Fantastically robust and complex. Great to see Irish micro-breweries producing such superior products.


April 2nd Market

april 2 Market haulDoesn’t that look great. I had a hard time piling it all on my  kitchen trolley.

Look at that lovely fish- two Haddock and an organic Salmon courtesy of O Driscolls fishmongers and The Ballycotton fish guys.The haddock was baked with a red pepper butter and served up for saturday nights dinner  with sauted baby mushrooms and spinach. The salmon was boned out (bones made a stock) and cut into piece which will go really well with the bag of watercress from Tobias at Noinin Herbs. Tobias also provides us with our fresh coriander which is amazing. You know how supermarket bought herb packets go all mushy and slimy after a few days in the fridge. Tobias’s lasts for weeks -it just dries out a bit. Thats growing things organically for you.The coriander will flavour our curry this week and I’ll make a batch of cheesey coriander cornbread one day.Cornbread

I also got a bottle of his Cinnamon leaf oil as I love the smell of cinnamon ( it helps suppress sugar cravings -we are on a healthy eating  jag) and his oils are very good quality.

I picked up the spinach, celeriac, carrots, leeks and shallots from Organic Steve. He had homegrown baby leeks so I picked up a bunch for mom for mothers day. Weird present you say. Well shes always on the lookout for baby leeks to make Belgian Leeks with- its one of her favorite dishes. I figured that would make a better present than flowers or candy.

For Belgian Leeks you wrap the leeks in ham and bake them in a white sauce. Love It.

The celeriac and carrots are this weeks healthy raw lunch veg and tomorrow we are turning a bunch of the carrots into Zesty Carrots . Parboiled carrot sticks baked in a horseradish mayonaise . Absolutely excellent ,especially with beef.

Lots of mushrooms from the lovely Nicole . Big ones are stuffed, small ones are sauted in olive oil and garlic and then chopped spinach is added . Yum.

Black Morrocan Olives from Toby at The Real Olive Co. are a staple in my fridge as they are so flavoursome a little goes a long way . They will be added to salads and breads  and sauces all week.

Lots of juicy Jonared apples to keep us fruited up from Adam at  Kilowen Orchard. When we run out of our own apples these are the only ones we eat for the rest of the year.

See the tiny green heartshaped soap in the corner (bottom right ) and the wee bath bomb that looks like a cupcake. These are from Jasmine at the Sunvale Soap Company. She’s our go to soap girl.I love all her stuff -her soaps and her homemade lipbalm and Bath bombs especially. Her super footcream is just the ticket for sandal feet.

Peter from Country Choice provided me with my packet of Spanish pinenuts (no pinenut mouth here). He also very kindly shared his yummy sandwich lunch. Since I had forgotten to eat as I was talking too much(often happens) that was much appreciated.It was a cheese, ham and marinated mediteranean vegetable roll using their products. Lovely.

Finally I picked up  fresh nutmegs and a pack of  Masala Gohst curry spices from The Green Saffron. Arun has us spoilt for lesser spices now -theres nothing like his fresh nutmegs, and I can’t wait for thursday as its Masala Gohst day.


This week at the Market

I’ve decided to try and find time to write a weekly post about what Ive picked up each week at the market. Whats in season, whats a new product, something I was given or bartered for or something thats just plain scrummy.26th March 2011This is this weeks haul.

Katrina, from Little Red Hen, is just back from Finland where she spent the last two weeks skiing with her family. She brought me back the triangle of Juustoleipa (bread cheese) neatly packaged with a tub of cloudberrry jam. I’ll fry it up in a bit of butter tomorrow for my breakfast when everyone’s gone to school( Greedy Me). She also brought me back the dried wild mushrooms which will be turned into a  fabulous creamy pasta sauce later in the week.

I picked up my bag of Lapsang Souchon from” Teas and Grind”. Brona and Silas do a  great range of teas and coffees and I really cant live comfortably without my stash of Lapsang.

I got  a bottle of Kalamata Olive oil and a jar of Harissa from Clare at The Real Olive Co.

I like the Kalamata because its so fragrant and green and I’ll be pairing that with some of the wild garlic we’ve got in moms garden to make a pesto.The Harissa is fantastic mixed with cubes of fried potato and some yougurt sort of Patatas Bravas.wild garlic

This week I picked up a crusty loaf from the ABC bread company for toast and I also picked up an organic rye loaf from Vi at The Sunflower Bakery. The rye will be my breakfast for the week-slathered in raspberry jam.Its so yummy , will hold all week and one slice is enough for breakfast.

Nicole from the Mushroom Company traded me the fresh mushrooms for a cup of hot mulled apple juice. Thal’ll be turned into Cheesey,Creamy Garlic Mushrooms on the ABC  bread toast for  a lunch this week.

The cabbage and Chicons can from Organic Steve who runs Meelick Bay Nursery in Clare.

The chicons wil be dipped in a hot anchovy butter and eaten  with our fingers  as a light supper/ snack.I think that anchovy butter recipe came from Nigella but its so simple and yunmmy.  Just cook up some tinned anchovies in a bit of butter till they disintegrate then dip the individual chicon leaves.I love when the chicons come into season just for this recipe.

The cabbage will be mixed with grated carrot and some thinly sliced leeks and mixed with a  crepe style batter to made Japanese pizzas (okonomiyake). which we will have with Katrinas Red Pepper and Chili relish.This relish really is fantastic all sweet and hot and smokey as she uses smoked paprika in it. We’d run out as we eat so much of it so I traded a jar of raspberry for one. I love bartering.Japanese Pizza