Whisked Away

Good Irish whiskey can liven up anything from cakes to steaks to coffee. An Irishwoman shares her secrets. Recipe and online extras from People & Food, December

Spanish Whiskey Tart

Pastry:
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
Water to mix
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon sugar

Combine ingredients. Grease the inside of an ovenproof quiche dish or pie pan and spread pastry over bottom (consistency is wet). Bake at 350 F until light brown and flaky. Allow pastry to cool.

Filling and glaze:
1/4 cup soft, unsalted butter
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup almonds, ground finely
2 tablespoons cooking whiskey
1 tablespoon plain flour
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
Enough fresh apricots, peaches, or plums to cover tart
2 tablespoons apricot jam
1 tablespoon whiskey

Beat the butter and sugar until light and white. Gradually add the egg, stirring well as you go. Stir in the ground almonds, whiskey, and flour. Sprinkle the pastry base with the toasted almonds and spread the filling over it, smoothing the surface with the back of a wet spoon. Pit and halve the fruit and arrange, cut side down, over the tart. Bake at 350 F for 35 to 40 minutes, until the filling is puffed up and golden. Cool, then top with glaze: Gently heat apricot jam and whiskey together until smooth. Brush a thin layer over the cooled tart. Serve with Irish coffee (recipe follows).

Irish Coffee

First -- and this is most important -- heat the serving glass with boiling water. Put a spoon in the glass to prevent it from cracking. Discard water. Add a measure of whiskey to the warm glass. Make up strong, very sweet instant or brewed coffee and pour into the glass to within 3/4-inch of the top. For the topping, use whipping cream that has been beaten to thicken slightly but that still pours rather than drops. (If you don’t have a whisk, shake the cream in a small screw top jar to beat.) Slowly and steadily pour the cream over the back of a teaspoon on to the coffee. TIP: Make sure the coffee is “still,” not swirling, after stirring when you pour the cream. This will help make sure it doesn’t sink.

Gaelic Steak

1-2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons whiskey
Black pepper, to taste
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 small onion, chopped finely
2 medium rib eye (or other) steaks
1 additional tablespoon whiskey
1/4 cup heavy cream

Combine first five ingredients and marinate steaks for several hours. Remove steaks from marinade and pat dry with paper towel. Reserve marinade. In an almost dry (VERY lightly oiled) saute pan, cook steaks to desired doneness on both sides. Remove and set aside. Add the reserved marinade to the pan and stir well t deglaze. Add another tablespoon of whiskey and 1/4 cup heavy cream. Stir well and simmer gently until thickened and reduced. Pour over steaks to serve. This is good served with stewed or sauteed mushrooms and steamed or boiled potatoes.