Monthly Archives: May 2014

Coffee-glazed Pastries with Whipped Cream

My favourite meeting spot when I am in Dublin is Bewley’s Oriental Café in Grafton Street.

Bewley’s  has been a Dublin institution since the late 19th century and its coffee and tea is sold throughout Ireland.  It still hand roasts all its coffee on site on the fourth floor of 78 Grafton Street.  Named “the heart and hearth of Dublin” by poet Brendan Kennelly, the Grafton Street café was the haunt of Irish literary greats such as James Joyce, Patrick Kavanagh and Samuel Beckett.  It’s a great spot to meet friends for a chat or to take a break from Grafton Street shopping.

I When I was a student at Trinity College Dublin many years ago, I treated Bewley’s Westmoreland and Grafton Street cafes like my sitting room.  Countless confidences were shared and romances begun and ended over “white” coffee (café au lait) and cakes. My favourites were almond buns and coffee slices.  Here is an easy recipe for the coffee slice — a coffee-glazed puff pastry with fresh whipped cream — using store bought puff pastry.

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Coffee-glazed Pastries with Whipped Cream

Prep Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes

Yield: 8 slices

Coffee-glazed Pastries with Whipped Cream


  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 tbsp. (15 ml) coffee syrup
  • 1 tbsp. (15 ml) cold water
  • 6 tbsp. (90 g) confectioner's (icing) sugar
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) raspberry jam


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit/200 degrees Celsius.
  2. Line a heavy large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface to 15 x 12 inches. Cut pastry lengthwise into three 12 x 5 inch strips. Transfer two of the strips to the baking sheet. Dock each strip all over with a fork. Freeze for 10 minutes.
  4. Bake pastry strips until golden and puffed -- about 15 minutes. Remove baking sheet from oven and place on a rack to cool.
  5. Using a long, serrated knife, trim top side of the pastry strips so they are flat and event.
  6. In a small bowl, stir coffee syrup with cold water and confectioner's sugar to make a spreadable glaze. Add a little more water if the glaze is too thick.
  7. Using an offset spatula, spread the coffee glaze on the bottom of one of the pastry strips.
  8. Whip cream thickly.
  9. Place second pastry strip on a work surface. Spread jam on the pastry. Top with the whipped cream. Cover with the coffee-glazed strip -- glazed side up. Refrigerate for at least an hour.
  10. Using a serrated knife, cut pastry into eight slices.

Who is America’s Top Irish Chef?

2013-09-09_1378748959Chef Cathal Armstrong


Restaurant Eve, Alexandria, VA.

Restaurant Eve, Alexandria, VA.


I am very proud that one of America’s top chefs is Dublin born Cathal Armstrong, owner of seven restaurants in the Washington, D.C. area and a James Beard nominee. I have been reading about him and his recipes in national food magazines such as “Food and Wine” for years.  I promised myself that the next time I was in the Washington, D.C. area I would make my way to Old Town Alexandria to eat at one of his restaurants.   Last week, I was fortunate enough to eat at the two restaurants named for his children — the counter service “Eamonn’s, a  Dublin Chipper” and the very elegant Restaurant Eve.  “Food and Wine” called him “a one-man urban renewal engine” for revitalizing the Alexandria restaurant scene using French techniques and local produce.  Friends who live in the area confirm that food options in the historic D.C. suburb were dull before he opened his first restaurant ten years ago.  I admire his commitment to the environment by cooking with local, sustainably sourced ingredients — going so far as to plant a garden at his restaurant — and only using environmentally friendly products at this establishments.  He was recognized by the White House as a “Champion of Change” for establishing an organization called Chefs as Parents to promote healthy school lunches.

With its $120 dinner tasting menu, for me Restaurant Eve would normally rank as a special occasion restaurant.  Fortunately, it offers a fantastic deal at lunchtime in the lounge — the “lickety-split” lunch is an unbelievable $14.95 for two courses.  I ate a velvety asparagus soup made with local, first of the season asparagus, shallots, cream, wine and olive oil  that was spring in a bowl and very tasty pork rillettes with a grainy mustard sauce and toasted baquette.

Asparagus soup from Restaurant Eve, Alexandria, Va.

Asparagus soup, Restaurant Eve, Alexandria, Va.

There was quite a crowd in the lounge even after 1 p.m. on a Thursday. Because I was alone, they were able to squeeze me in at the bar.  Supporting my theory that this is often the best seat in the house, a conversation with my dining neighbor, a Restaurant Eve regular, led to an introduction to Chef Armstrong who signed my copy of his cookbook, “My Irish Table.” Co-written with David Hagedorn and published by Ten Speed Press, it includes his take on homey and sophisticated Irish dishes along with recipes from Restaurant Eve.  For more information on the book see the web site:

This past weekend I tried his very easy version of the classic Marie Rose sauce — an indispensable component of the Dublin Bay Prawn Cocktail.   The rosy sauce is simply mayonnaise, ketchup and lemon juice.  It’s a wonderful accompaniment to seafood.  I don’t understand why it’s not served more often in the States. I substituted large, gulf shrimp for the Dublin Bay prawns.   I can’t wait to try his other recipes and report back here.

More information about Chef Cathal Armstrong, Restaurant Eve and his other restaurants is available at