Michelle Darmody: Recipes in homage to Cottie Yeats, and her love for the kitchen

I had the great pleasure of combing through the archives of The National Gallery of Ireland recently.

The beautiful and fascinating collections of recipe clippings from Cottie Yeats give an insight into her life with painter Jack B. Yeats. 

The two met as art students, and married in 1894, staying together until her death in 1947. 

Yeats’s paintings at the time of her death are harrowing in their loneliness.

Cottie’s meticulously scribbled recipes are on lined paper books and diaries, filled with cutouts from newspapers and magazines, all are thoughtfully preserved by The National Galley staff. 

The clippings tell a tale of domestic life that no painting of Yeats does. 

The recipes change over time from gelatin laden at the turn of the century, to frugal during the wars, to some more extravagant later suggestions from Vogue magazine — Cottie liked her fashion.

The Yeats’ household seemed like a place full of the smells of cooking and jam making and a place where there was keen interest in an after-dinner cocktail. 

There are some fascinating drink combinations suggested in the collection.

One of my favorite clippings was a piece written in praise of the ramekin, a newly discovered, and very exciting, kitchen utensil. 

The recipes in the article would not necessarily appeal to the more modern palate so these are very loosely based on ones in the clipping. 

They are in homage to Cottie Yeats, and her love for the kitchen.

Chocolate ramekins with a hint of espresso

Michelle Darmody: Recipes in homage to Cottie Yeats, and her love for the kitchen

  • 200g of butter, cubed
  • 200g of dark chocolate, broken into small even sized pieces
  • 180g of golden caster sugar
  • 4 eggs and 4 extra egg yolks
  • 200g of plain flour, sieved
  • 1 tsp of vanilla essence
  • 1 tbs of strong espresso coffee

Slowly melt the butter and chocolate together. Set aside while you whisk the sugar with the eggs and extra yolks.

The egg mixture should double in volume and become pale in colour. Gently fold in the flour.

Beat the chocolate mixture into the eggs a third at a time until completely combined, adding the vanilla and coffee with the last third.

Scoop into four ramekins and place them on a baking tray.

Bake for a quarter of an hour, until the top has risen slightly but the centre is still soft.

Dust with icing sugar and serve warm.

Peach and strawberry cobbler

Michelle Darmody: Recipes in homage to Cottie Yeats, and her love for the kitchen

For the topping

  • 100g of butter, cubed
  • 175g of self-raising flour
  • 25g of porridge oats
  • 50g of brown sugar
  • 1 tsp of vanilla essence
  • 4 tbs of natural yogurt

For the filling

  • 300g of peaches, after they are stoned and sliced
  • 300g of strawberries, roughly chopped
  • the zest of an orange
  • 2 tbs of brown sugar

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees.

Rub the butter into the flour until it forms rough breadcrumbs.

Stir in the oats and the brown sugar.

Add the vanilla to the yoghurt, then mix it into the other ingredients. Combine it with your hands to form a dough. 

Roll the dough into walnut size balls and place into the fridge for five minutes.

Toss the peaches, orange zest and strawberries in the sugar and place at the base of your ramekin dishes. 

Press the pastry balls flat between your palms and dot them on top of the fruit.

Bake for half an hour or until the top is golden and the fruit is bubbling.

Lemon and lime meringue pots

For the base

  • 480 mls of cream
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 150g of caster sugar
  • 3 tbs of corn starch
  • 30g of soft butter
  • the zest of 2 limes
  • the zest of a lemon and 120 mls of lemon juice

For the topping

  • 75g of caster sugar
  • 3 egg whites

Heat the cream until it is beginning to shiver on the surface, just before it boils.

In the meantime mix the egg yolks in a large bowl, with the caster sugar and cornstarch, until they are completely combined. 

Gently whisk in half of the cream, then add the second half whisking all of the time.

Place back into the saucepan and gently heat until thickened to a custard, whisk continuously.

Take the saucepan off the heat and whisk in the butter, lime zest, lemon zest and juice. Pour the mixture into four ramekins leaving room for the meringue on top. 

Place them into the fridge for at least three hours.

Make the topping quite soon before you are serving the dessert. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees.

Whisk the egg whites and sugar until it forms stiff peaks. Make sure bowl and whisk are free from any grease or the stiff peaks will not form. 

Wiping them down with some white vinegar beforehand can help. 

Spoon the meringue onto each of the four ramekins and swirl it a little. Bake at for about six minutes until the tips are going golden.


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