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Irish Puddings, Tarts, Crumbles, and Fools: 80 Glorious Desserts Paperback – September 2, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The test of any Irish baker is soda bread: the raisin-filled and caraway-scented loaf, served warm with butter in the dank cold of the Irish countryside, is a symbol of hospitality. Johnson has judged two serious soda bread competitions and, naturally, the recipe she features in this, her third cookbook, is her mother’s. It is a simple recipe with classic proportions and yields a bread that is slightly sweet, slightly cakey and, when slathered with butter, irresistible. Lest readers think that Irish baking begins and ends with soda bread, however, Johnson leads readers through 80 accessible and mostly traditional desserts, from a Celtic Apple Crisp to a Christmas Cake that can and should be made two months in advance, nurtured every week with fresh whisky. One or two recipes call for mead (fermented honey) or less common Irish spirits, but otherwise, Johnson has designed this book for the home chef who has no need for exotic ingredients. Simply written, each recipe is preceded by a paragraph offering details on cooking lore or suggestions for pairing and substitutions. Numerous elegant photographs of the dishes are interspersed with shots of Irish gardens or country manors. Occasionally, the simplicity falters, as when several recipes for brown bread are confusingly cluttered together on the page. The busiest-sounding recipe, Soda Bread Tarte Tatin with Cashel Blue and Cider Ice, taken from Derry Clarke’s L’Ecrivain restaurant in Dublin, looks interesting but ends up nearly inedible: a meager helping of caramel apples with a risen, cakey crust, garnished with an unpleasant mixture of blue cheese and lemon sorbet. While many recipes are conventional and not necessarily even Irish (c.f., Pear Tart with Almond Cream), this book would still be valuable if only for the holiday recipes and the solid soda bread.
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About the Author

Margaret M. Johnson writes frequently about food and travel in her ancestral home, including the Irish Heritage Cookbook (0-8118-1992-2). She is an Irish-American in New York.

Leigh Beisch is a San Francisco-based photographer. Her work has appeared in many magazines, as well as in Olives, Anchovies, and Capers (0-8118-2494-2) and Cooking for the Week (0-8118-2128-5).

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 168 pages
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books (September 2, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811841634
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811841634
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #991,188 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Margaret M. Johnson has been writing professionally since 1992 when Mustang (Memphis, TN) published her first book, Festival Europe: Fairs and Celebrations Throughout Europe. She later devoted her travel and writing efforts exclusively to her ancestral home, Ireland, and followed with two cookbooks published in Dublin-- Ireland: Grand Places, Glorious Food (1992) and Cooking With Irish Spirits (1995; 1998)--and five published by Chronicle Books, San Francisco--The Irish Heritage Cookbook (1998), The New Irish Table (2003), Irish Puddings, Tarts, Crumbles and Fools (2004), The Irish Pub Cookbook (2006), and The Irish Spirit (2006), named as one of 20 noteworthy cookbooks for the holidays by (December 3, 2006). Tea & Crumpets, an afternoon tea cookbook, was published in May 2009, and Flavors of Ireland was released in February 2012, by Ambassador International.
Although her passion for Ireland remains unfailing, she continues to travel to Europe and has written countless articles for Tribune Media Services (Chicago), where she has been a regular contributor and for HOUSE Magazine (New York) on destinations including London, Edinburgh, Paris, Amsterdam, Budapest, Bologna, Milan, Venice, the south of France, Monaco, Switzerland, and Greece, to name a few. She currently writes about food and travel for and contributes to Food & Wine Magazine (Dublin), CARA, the in-flight magazine of Aer Lingus, and wrote a feature on Irish food for Cooking Light Magazine's March 2010 issue.
Margaret has appeared at many food events and book signings, was a featured presenter on a Crystal Cruise to Great Britain and Ireland (July 2005), has appeared on television both in the U.S. and in Ireland, and twice on Martha Stewart Living on Sirius Radio. She represented the Irish Dairy Board on a satellite media tour prior to St. Patrick's Day 2006 and was the featured speaker at an Irish-American dinner at Zingerman's, Ann Arbor, in 2008. She is a regular participant in Philadelphia's "The Book and the Cook" and at Massachusetts Irish Tourism's "Gaelic Gourmet" event. In 2007, she completed a series of cooking demonstrations for broadcast by Comcast Digital Cable.
She lives in Westhampton Beach, NY, with her husband. Her websites include and
She published her first Kindle Ebook, The Irish Spirit, in April 2012.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Mary Lou Heiss on October 7, 2005
Format: Paperback
No, I am not Irish, but sometimes I wish I was, and this is one of those times. Margaret M. Johnson captures the charm and essence of the style and simple beauty of the Irish countryside and traditional Irish desserts without making them sentimental, or, heaven forbid, contemporary and up-town. These are comfort-food recipes that make me want to sit at a simple wooden kitchen table covered with a cheery tablecloth and a well-laundered napkin and be served a plate full of something gooey and rich and warm from the oven by my 'Irish' mother. I plan to make most everything in this book, but I started with the Simnel Cake because I liked Margaret's head-note about it, and, as she states, it is lovely to seve at tea ( and is a keeper ! ) and the Jameson Chocolate-Walnut Caramel Tart because,well, it sounded so.....good ( which it was. )
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By B. Marold HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on February 13, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
`The New Irish Table' and `Irish Puddings, Tarts, Crumbles, and Fools' by Irish-American culinary journalist, Margaret M. Johnson who seems to provide low end books covering Irish culinary practice, beginning with her `The Irish Heritage Cookbook', also from Chronicle Books. The middle ground, being the `Julia Child' for Irish cooking is Darina Allen, along with husband, Tim Allen and mother in law, Myrtle Allen, all of the Cork culinary powerhouse, Ballymaloe House and Cooking School. The high end of modern Irish cooking is held by Irish-American culinary academician and chef, Noel C. Cullen. The ethnographic corner of Irish / Celtic foodways is filled out by `Celtic Folklore Cooking' by culinary writer and folklorist, JoAnne Asala of Chicago. There are many more Irish cookbooks to cover between now and St. Patrick's Day, but this pretty much covers most major points on the culinary compass for Irish cooking.

`The New Irish Table' and Cullen's `Elegant Irish Cooking' complement one another pretty well, as they both present recipes from modern Irish hospitality centers. The difference is that where Johnson is covering pubs and `bed and breakfast' style eateries, Cullen is covering dishes from Michelin one and two star restaurants in Ireland, as well as many of his own creations as a working chef, before he took up teaching at Boston University.

Between these two featured books, Johnson's Desserts book is a much more valuable addition to your cookbook collection, as it includes a lot of fancy and holiday desserts which I have not seen in any other good book on Irish cooking. The best thing about this book and its companion is that like a lot of Chronicle Books, it seems to be on a fast track to the Bargain Book table, both real and on-line.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Happy-Harper on May 3, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Delicious! That is what I think of each and every one of the recipes I've tried from this lovely cookbook. This is the book I use to find recipes for desserts that I bring to parties, family reunions, music sessions. Each time, people rave about the luscious, tasty dessert that I bring. Try the Lemon-Ginger Scones, or the Irish Cream Bread Pudding (use Carolan's Cream Liquor for that one) or the Strawberry Bread. I look forward to the next party so that I can make another treat from this terrific cookbook. I also purchase this book to give as a gift.
Highly recommended!
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By Nik on March 13, 2011
Format: Paperback
For anyone who loves to try recipes from all over the world... I found this book for a reasonable price and after receiving it, have tried two of the recipes : the scots-irish oat cake and the Victoria Sponge with Lemon Curd and whipped cream filling. Both were amazing and so different. I made everything from scratch and by hand. The ingredients are easily obtainable and the directions very simple. The Oats cake calls for an irish brand of rolled oats, but I used what I had and it came out wonderful with its deep, earthy flavor and caramalized pecan, coconut topping. And the Victoria Sponge was mouth tingling, with the homemade Lemon Curd (recipe included). You can make the curd a day or two ahead and store it until you need it, like I did. It was tangy and wonderful. I think this will be my go to recipe for any citrus curd I wish to make. You and your family/guests will not be dissapointed. Enjoy!!!
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I received this cookbook in satisfactory time. My compliments to all that created this great dessert cookbook. I tried a few of the recipes and they are wonderful! If you like these types of deserts I highly reccomend it. The book has wonderful photos and quite a bit of regional information on the recipes and areas of Ireland that it includes.Irish Puddings, Tarts, Crumbles, and Fools: 80 Glorious Desserts
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