One might say Sirena Irwin is much more kitchen savvy than the fun-loving famous redhead she's portraying on stage in Chicago.
"My mom was a wonderful cook. Most of what I know, I learned from her," said Irwin, who added that baking remains one of her specialties.
Irwin is currently starring as Lucy Ricardo in Broadway in Chicago's production of "I Love Lucy Live on Stage," running through Nov. 11 at the Broadway Playhouse in Chicago. The show will resume Dec. 29 and continue through March 3, 2013. Tickets are currently available for the new block of shows. FYI: (800) 775-2000 or visit BroadwayInChicago.com
The actress said her father was also an influence in the kitchen and enjoyed making breakfast foods, including omelets, pancakes and waffles.
In addition to pies, Irwin's specialties also include fish in parchment; a spicy potato dish made with rosemary; and other dishes prepared with fresh ingredients from the garden.
"I've been trying to garden more," she said, adding she's started a garden at her Los Angeles home.
"I prefer to keep it simple and enjoy food as fresh as it can be," she said.
Irwin's culinary influence is also rubbing off on her 3-year-old son Oscar. While she's performing in Chicago, she and Oscar have enrolled in a culinary class geared to kids and an accompanying parent at The Kid's Table.
"To me, cooking should start at an early age," Irwin said. Her son already has a sophisticated palate and enjoys fresh herbs and foodstuffs such as pesto and calamari.
Irwin said there's something about cooking for someone and having someone cook for you that feels nurturing.
"When I'm cooked for is when I feel the most taken care of," she said.
If she had the opportunity to cook for Lucy, Irwin said she would have served a good casserole.
The comedienne, she said, would have been a great dinner guest.
"You'd be sure to have something surprising happen. There would be something unexpected."
Try the following pie recipe from Irwin.
Apple Blackberry Yum Yum Pie
Crust for 9", double crust pie:
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
1 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon sugar
12 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup chilled lard, cut into 4 pieces (may substitute Crisco)
1/4 cup ice water — to be used as sparingly as possible
I always do my crusts by hand, so here's the "By-Hand" method:
DIRECTIONS: Place flour, salt and sugar into a large mixing bowl. Add 1/2 amount of butter, 1/2 of lard and blend, using pastry blender. Add remaining shortening; blend until coarse, leaving no large shortening lumps. Sprinkle ice water over the dough and blend with a fork until dough forms a ball. (Use as little water as possible). Divide dough in half and press into two 4-inch disks. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour. (Use within 2 days.) Then roll out dough on floured board; place one layer into 9" pie plate.
5-6 cooking apples (not Red Delicious!) — I like Granny Smith, Gala, Fuji. A mixture is better than a single kind
1 box blackberries if you can get them fresh or, if frozen, about half a bag will work — I go with feel on this one
1/2 - 3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
Pinch each of cloves, nutmeg (optional)
3 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca or 3 tablespoons white flour
3 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
DIRECTIONS: Peel apples and cut into slices. I like to keep them covered in fresh lemon juice to keep them from turning brown. Place all ingredients except butter in a bowl and mix gently until coated. Pour into your pie plate with the un-cooked crust in it. Place butter pieces evenly over filling. Cut slits in remaining pastry crust to allow steam to escape. Place pastry on filling. Trim both overhangs to an even inch all the way around. Tuck the crusts under and flute or pinch edges. Brush the top pastry with milk and sprinkle with additional sugar. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes; turn oven to 350 degrees and bake for another hour or more. Test for tenderness of apples or bubbly filling. Crust should be golden brown. (If crust becomes too brown, cover lightly with foil and continue baking.) Cool on a wire rack at least 2 hours before serving — if you can stand the wait!
Source: Sirena Irwin