Monthly Archives: March 2013

Not to Condemn but to Save

Good Friday. A Holy and reflective day for the followers of Christ.

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But why is it called Good Friday. What is good about the suffering, humiliation and death of the son of God? I remember my pastor from childhood posing that very question. A question that has undoubtedly been asked thousands and thousands of times.

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And the answer? Love. The answer is love.

“God so loved the world that He gave His only son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16

Perhaps the most well-known verse in the bible and for good reason. But do you know what verse 17 says?

“God did not send His Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it.” John 3:17

Not to condemn but to save.

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Forgiveness. Cleansing. Resurrection. Rebirth. Salvation. Life. Love.

For ALL of us. He came for us all. All broken. All hurting. All sinners. All stained.

Not one better than the next.

Not one clean enough to sit in judgement over another.

He came in love. He washed us clean and called us to follow Him and only Him.  And He called us to love.

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Why then do we claim condemnation as our own? Why? When even God Himself, did not. It breaks my heart and convicts me to live differently.

I recently read a post by Christian author and speaker Jen Hatmaker that was like a breath of fresh air. Nail on the head kind of stuff. I hope you will click the link above and read it too. I would love to know what you think – whatever you think.

I am blessed by those in the Christian faith who, like Jen, think outside the boundaries of convention. Who believe that Christ calls us out of the pews and our freshly ironed Sunday best to reach deeper, do more.

To LOVE. Not just to say it but to DO IT.

To get dirty. To stand up for the enslaved and oppressed. To embrace the hurting. To minister to the sick and impoverished. To care for the widow and the orphan. To love those who, in the eyes of the world, would be deemed unlovable. Not just to “add a little Jesus to our already awesome lives.” As my current pastor, Mark Connelly at Mission Community Church, has said.

That is what being a Christian means to me.

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Not to condemn but to save. No strings attached.

” … this world needs some Good News, but they can’t decode what is actually good about us. Good is finding a safe place to struggle, to doubt, to ask hard questions. Good is food when you’re hungry. Good is warm, kind, genuine love extended, no strings attached. Good is clean water, medicine for your sick baby, education, family. Good is community, even before ‘belief’ binds us tight. Good is sustainable work, dignity. Good is Jesus and His backwards, upside-down ways.”

Unafraid. Unthreatened. Unreserved. Arms wide open.

“The skeptic, the cynic, the doubter; my arms are wide open. Their questions and disbelief don’t scare me; I am unthreatened. The loosey-goosey, tambourine shaking, barefoot liberal who loves Jesus and the earth and votes straight-ticket Democrat? I love her. The young adult generation who is leaving the church but running to Jesus in unfamiliar, new ways – I gather them to me like a Mama because they are going to change the world.”

Perspective and compassion. Not judgement.

“I am not put off by creed or denomination or sexual orientation or terrifying doubt or outright anger or nationality or socioeconomic status or issues or weirdness or politics. I’m not going to make a deal out of a glass of wine when 25,000 people will die today of starvation.”

Renegades. Closer to the margins.

 “… we need some renegades closer to the margins, building bridges, creating safe spaces to question, wrestle, rethink.

He is everything good and gracious.

Bring me your doubts, your fear. My Jesus can handle it all and then some. He is all of our dreams come true. If you don’t believe me, start in Matthew and read until the end of John. Jesus is a hero, a brother, a Savior in every sense of the word. He is everything good and gracious. His love for us is embarrassing, boundless, without standards at all.”

He is ALL of our dreams come true.

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If you don’t know my Jesus, YOUR Jesus, if you think something like … Christianity wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the Christians;  I invite you to take another look. If reading up to this point you have determined “Oh man, she’s a Jesus freak, I thought she just blogged about food and her kids” … It’s true. You are correct. Jesus freak here. But perhaps that means something different than you might think. Something different than perceived notions or past experience has impressed upon you.

I hope that you will take another look.

What puts-off and offends is not Christianity or Christians it is legalism and judgement. That offends me too. And I promise you. That is not Jesus.

Take another look.

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I love the church and do not mean to sound as if I don’t. I believe we are called into community to live as a body of believers. To gather together, to do life together, to worship together, learn together, grow together. Community. One body. Inclusive. Even if we don’t always see eye to eye. Even if we don’t agree on everything. That is Grace.

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Because Jesus is our savior, not our religion. Because He died for us. For you and for me. Both sinners, both struggling, both redeemed in Him, both made new. Because He loves us. And He wants us to love each other, differences and all.

Be blessed today, this Good Friday. Share a little grace, show a little love. Remember what has been done for you.

If you would like to talk with me or prefer not to comment here publicly or if I can pray for you in any way, please e-mail me at welcomecompany@cox.net.

And, if by chance, you are a renegade, closer to the margins, Jesus freak too – I’d love to know it!

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Pineapple Angel Torte

I think I might have been a little tough on Jello salad recipes in yesterday’s post; perhaps having a little too much fun at the expense of an iconic American dish.

Today, in an effort to make amends, I am going to share another old family recipe that has a filling quite similar to … gulp … a Jello salad. I also want to tell you about it because it is DELICIOUS and would make a perfect Easter dessert. Fruity, fluffy and very light, which is perfect after the ham and scalloped potatoes which are so often an Easter staple.

This torte is a favorite of my Aunt Andi, my mom’s sister, and my grandmother made it on her birthday for many years. I promise, it is that good.

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There is my amazing aunt. Pretty hot stuff, huh? I love those 60’s hairdo’s! Tres chic!

Her name is actually Diana but to us she will always be Aunt Andi. And she’s still just as gorgeous.

Pineapple Angel Torte

This recipe is a tough one with some exotic and complicated ingredients …

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Just kidding!

Here’s what you need …

  • 1 can – 1lb. 4 1/2 oz – Crushed Pineapple, undrained
  • 1 package – 3 3/4 oz – Instant Vanilla Pudding Mix
  • 2 cups Whipping Cream
  • 1 Angel Food Cake

That’s it! I know right about now you have your doubts but I promise you, it is wonderful. If it just feels too much like cheating, I understand. If making an angel food cake from scratch would make you feel better, I won’t judge. You are safe here.

Here’s what you do …

Pineapple-Torte-5This is a great recipe for kids to help out with! Sara is stirring together the can of undrained crushed pineapple and the instant pudding mix.

Pineapple-Torte-8Mix until combined and let sit for 5 minutes.

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Next, split your angel food cake into three equal layers.

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Whip the 2 cups of whipping cream – I draw the line at Cool Whip but again, I won’t judge. Gross.

Nathan just peeked over my shoulder while I was writing, saw this picture of Sara and Grandma, put his head on my shoulder and said in a sweet, quiet voice “I miss grandma”. Me too, Nathan. Sniff. If you are new to my blog, that’s my mom – Grandma as she’s known around these parts. She comes down to visit with us a lot and we miss her when she’s not here.

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Add the whipped cream to the pudding/pineapple mixture

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and gently fold it in.

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Put your first layer of cake on your serving dish and spread with a third of your pineapple mixture.

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Repeat with the second layer.

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Top and finish with the remaining pineapple mixture. Chill for one hour.

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And there you have it, Pineapple Angel Torte.

Now, let’s back up for a second. You may have noticed that we could have been smarter about the layering of this particular cake. Angel food cakes are tapered. They are smaller at the bottom. Thus for proper balance and stability, one should invert the layers and construct the cake using the top, which is in fact larger, as the bottom. Sadly, Einstein was not in the kitchen with us that day. We did it backwards. My mom has made this cake correctly a million times so I blame her. Okay, now I feel guilty. It was all my fault.

The good news, it still tasted great. Thankfully, physics has no impact on flavor.

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Meanwhile, Sara has moved on (probably because she wanted no part of the backward cake layering) to help her great-aunt Andi with a big pot of Taco Soup (another family favorite). Yes, we made the cake when my aunt was here visiting. Just for her. I told you she was still gorgeous.

Pineapple-Torte-19See, once it is served, you can’t even tell it wasn’t perfect all along.

Enjoy!

I am pleased to announce that if you like, you can now follow my blog on Bloglovin. Because I have actually figured out how to set it up there. I think. We shall see.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Lemon Yogurt Cookies

Here in Arizona, we have incredible citrus all around us.  The blossoms smell heavenly right now, perfuming the warming spring breeze.

On our little patch of ground, we have planted orange, Meyer lemon, Eureka lemon, Mandarin orange, and two lime trees but our trees are young because we have had to start from the ground up – literally. One of these days, I promise I will tell you all about the desert wasteland we purchased three years ago and have spent every moment since remodeling and cultivating into what is now pretty much my favorite place on earth.

Back to the trees; they are filled with blossoms and budding but not yet mature fruit. Soon. I just have to be patient. Sadly, patience is not my super power so I am grateful to our neighbors who are supplying me with more lemons than I know what to do with, presenting me with the challenge of coming up with all sorts of ways to use them.

The leaves are still looking a little rough from the cold but the lemons are incredible!

The leaves are still looking a little rough from the cold but the lemons are incredible!

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Over the weekend, our citrus supplying neighbors invited us over for cocktails and a tour of some recent renovations to their home. It is hard to get me out of the yard these days (just ask my son who was on a desperate hunt for a pair of clean socks this morning) so I needed to find something quick, easy and of course, “lemony” to take to them (after all it is their lemons I’m having so much fun with).

In my quest to use every last precious lemon, I have been looking for new recipes. I have a lot of good ones already but my curiosity led me to browse through the numerous “fundraising” cookbooks I have; you know the ones – spiral binders, put out by churches and booster clubs, lots of jello salad recipes.

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Those are the ones.

Just to be clear, I am not knocking Jello salad, I am simply using it as a descriptive example. The fact that Mrs. Mabel Johnson or Mrs. Thelma Thompson thought it was the best dish in her arsenal, worthy of immortality, preserved for all time between the color coded pages of the “Best of fill in the blank Church’s” cookbook is none of my concern.

All joking aside, these little books really do have some “best of” recipes. Good basic recipes that offer considerable opportunity to fine tune, tweak and make your own. In the “Favorite Recipes from St. James” cookbook circa 1984, which was my Great Aunt Helen’s Episcopal church in Tigard Oregon, I found this lovely little Lemon Yogurt Cookie recipe.

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After tweaking the recipe a bit, I baked up a batch of what turned out to be a soft and moist cookie that has a delightful cakey texture, more like a soft scone than a cookie.

I am IN LOVE with this recipe.

Because I am in love with this recipe, naturally, I just had to see which sweet church lady submitted it. I doesn’t matter that I would have no idea who she was, it would just be fun to imagine her, cheek dusted with flour, humming softly as she lovingly placed each cookie on a rack to cool and then turned her attention to one of the other four dishes she was working on for the church potluck the next day.

Scanning down the page, I found the lovely woman’s name at the bottom of the recipe. My great-aunt Helen. It was her recipe. What? Out of all of the recipes in the book, I chose hers. I kid you not. I was a little take aback.

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Helen LeFebre, age 20, circa 1936

The best part about this story is not the fact that up to this point I hadn’t noticed her name on the page, Helen LeFebre right there in front of me, and baked on oblivious to the fact that I was making a family recipe. No, the best part is that Helen LeFebre did not cook or bake. Never. Not ever. I have absolutely no memory of her doing anything in the kitchen beyond making tea.

Aunt Helen was more of the “let’s do lunch” type of lady and certainly never made five dishes for the church potluck. Actually, she would have been the lady who placed the tin of Danish Butter Cookies amid the Jello salads and countless hot dishes.

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In all honesty, this is probably the reaction you would have gotten from her had you asked “these are delicious, did you make them?”

Her life’s passion was not for the domestic. She was a teacher, studied at Berkley and spent nearly thirty years (1950-1978) in the Philipines as a missionary for the Episcopal Church, serving as a Medical Librarian for St. Luke’s hospital, training local women in her field.

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She never married or had children. Her heart was always in the Philipines and with the Filipino people.

I can’t tell you how blessed I feel to have landed on this recipe. This little book was pretty much single-handedly created from the recipes of Alice Thornton and June Boone. Whoever they were. Sweet little 5 dishes for the potluck ladies I am sure. But I was led to one of the two recipes submitted by my great-aunt who didn’t cook. And it was fabulous. And I got to spend the morning thinking about her, writing about her, remembering her.

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I have no idea where she got this recipe. But I am most grateful that she submitted it and that 29 years later, it fell into my hands when I opened a small little paper cookbook looking for a lemon recipe.

Great Aunt Helen’s Lemon Yogurt Cookies

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Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon zest
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup lemon yogurt – I used lemon flavored Greek yogurt
  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice (originally called for 1 tsp. lemon extract)

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside.

In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the sugar, butter and lemon zest until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until well incorporated. Add the lemon yogurt and lemon juice and mix well. Add in the flour mixture in thirds, incorporating well after each addition.

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls two inches apart on prepared cookie sheet (greased or covered with a Silpat matt or parchment paper).

Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until just a light golden brown around edges.

Makes 4 dozen cookies.

The recipe did not originally call for a glaze but I decided to add one, which turned out to be a really good decision. It added a lot to the flavor to the cookies, upped the intensity of the lemon flavor and made them just a little bit more finished and special.

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For the glaze …

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 6 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. lemon zest

Mix until smooth and drizzle over cookies.

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I feel like I have discovered treasure with these little cookies and I am so happy to share them and my great-aunt Helen with you.

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I hope you will try them. They would be a wonderful Easter treat and will be on my Easter buffet. Alas, there will be no Jello salad.

Enjoy!

Beef in Stout by the Fire in an Irish Castle

Beef in Stout … seriously does it get any more Irish than that?

Can’t you just picture yourself in the library of an old Irish castle

JohnstownCastle55843220Photo from advertising for Johnstown Castle, Ireland

(now a cozy hotel with every creature comfort imaginable, delightfully historic but with indoor plumbing, central heat and no ghosts or banshees or sieging Norman invaders), curled up in an overstuffed chair in front of a roaring fire, (yes, my post title was shamelessly misleading) soft tartan plaid cashmere throw draped over your lap.

A polite knock at the door, your dinner has arrived and just in time; that massage in the spa followed by several hours of reading by the fire have left you with quite an appetite. The handsome waiter, let’s call him Seamus, sets a large silver tray on the weathered walnut table by the window overlooking the lush green glens and rocky cliffs that lead down to the sea still glistening in the fading evening light.

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Yes, exactly.

Image from Discover Ireland.

Seamus ladles out steaming, heavenly scented bowls of rich stew topped with wedges of perfectly crusty bread. He flexes slightly as he pours two generous glasses of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, placing the yet to be finished bottle gently back on the table.

Okay, I know what you’re thinking … wouldn’t Beef in Stout, in Ireland, go great with an oh, I don’t know, Irish Stout? All I have to say to that is, I’m creating this travel fantasy so there will most certainly be French wine. Besides, a good French red goes with everything. Everything. And there are currently no invading Norman hordes, so we’re good.

Oh, and Belgian chocolate, that’s on the tray too. It also goes with everything. Truly.

And who is that second glass of fragrant red wine for?

Well, in my case, it is for my sweet, handsome husband who just came in from 36 straight holes of golf. Who did you think it was for?

Interestingly enough, I am picturing him in traditional Irish golf attire …

I think it goes without saying, this is not one of my original photos, but I'll put it out there - just for the record.

I think it goes without saying, this is not one of my original photos, but I will put the disclaimer out there anyway – just for the record.

Just. Like. That.

No, I’m not poking fun. He could totally pull off the look. And besides, you don’t make it to seventeen years of marriage if you can’t laugh at each other together.

Incidentally, I am also picturing him preferring to have an Irish Stout with his stew. And darn it, he is just too full for Belgian chocolates. But what to do with that second glass of wine? Good thing I’m on vacation.

Yes, that was a lot of set up for a Beef in Stout recipe. The laundry I have to do, dishes waiting in the sink and errands I need to run may have something to do with my need for Calgonesque travel fantasies.

Poof. Back to reality. At least there’s still the stew. And Calgon.

Beef in Stout with Herb Dumplings

from Irish Pub Cooking, Parragon Books, serves 6

Ingredients

Stew

  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 8 carrots, sliced
  • 4 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 lb braising beef cut into cubes, I used chuck
  • generous 1 3/4 cups stout
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
  • salt and pepper

Herb Dumplings

  • generous 3/4 cup self-rising flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup shredded suet – I know, use butter
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley, plus extra to garnish
  • about 4 Tbsp. water

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Heat the oil in an oven-proof cast iron casserole (like Le Creuset). Add the onions and carrots and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until the onions are softened.

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Meanwhile, place the flour in a plastic bag and season well with salt and pepper.

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Add the beef to the bag, close the top, and shake well to coat. Do this in batches.

Remove the vegetables from the casserole with a slotted spoon and reserve. Add the beef to the casserole, in batches, and cook, stirring frequently, until browned all over.

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Return all the meat and the onions and carrots to the casserole and sprinkle in any remaining seasoned flour. Pour in the stout.

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Add the sugar, bay leaves, and thyme. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook in the preheated oven for 1 3/4 hours.

To make the herb dumplings, sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Cut in the butter and stir in the parsley and add enough of the water to make a soft dough. Shape into small balls between the palms of your hands. Add to the casserole and return to the oven for 30 minutes.

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Remove and discard the bay leaves and serve, sprinkled with parsley.

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I have yet to visit Ireland and I gave up wine for Lent (well the second half of Lent anyway) but even so, I got to enjoy this wonderful stew with my sweet, handsome husband and the three little people who make reality (laundry, dishes and errands included) far better than any fantasy escape to a distant land could ever be.

Now where’s that Calgon.

Irish Side Dishes, Not Just for St. Patrick’s Day

So sorry I didn’t get this published yesterday but the masses of weeds in my front yard, nurtured by the spring rains and then gorgeous sunshine we’ve had, were demanding my attention and the day just got away from me.

So, continuing on with the results of my culinary “St. Patrick’s Day Project”, today I am sharing with you the side dishes. Sides don’t often get the attention they deserve. They are the back-up singers. The best supporting actor and actress. Humbly taking a back-seat to the entrée. Both of these sides, however, deserve their moment in the spotlight.

Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage and Colcannon.

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Both are traditional Irish dishes, which many of us seek out only when preparing a St. Patrick’s Day feast. After selecting these dishes from the Irish Pub Cooking cookbook that inspired me and preparing them on St. Patty’s Day, I am here to tell you I will be making them again soon. These are not just for St. Patrick’s Day. In fact, I will be making the cabbage for Easter dinner and can hardly wait to share it with the friends and family who will join us. It is fresh and bright and the color is beautiful. This cabbage was one of my absolute favorite dishes of the St. Patrick’s Day meal. Sweet with apples, brown sugar and spices and just a little bit tart and tangy with a touch of vinegar, it will be a most welcome addition to Easter dinner.

Here’s how you make it …

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Sweet & Sour Red Cabbage from “Irish Pub Cooking”, Parragon Books

Modifications I made will be in italics.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium head of red cabbage
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, finely sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 2 small baking apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 2 Tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp crushed juniper berries – I left these out
  • whole nutmeg, for grating
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • grated rind and juice of 1 orange
  • 2 Tbsp cranberry jelly – I used jellied cranberry sauce
  • Kosher salt and pepper

Directions

Cut the cabbage into quarters, remove and discard the central stalk, and shred finely. I just thinly sliced it.

Heat the oil in a large pan and add the cabbage, onions, garlic, and apples (I used Granny Smith). Sprinkle over the sugar, cinnamon, and juniper berries and grate a quarter of the nutmeg into the pan.

Pour over the vinegar (I was out of red wine vinegar and used apple cider vinegar) and orange juice and add the orange rind (zest). Stir well and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is just tender but still has “bite”. This will take 10-15 minutes, depending on how finely the cabbage is sliced.

Stir in the cranberry jelly and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Serve hot.

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Colcannon

What in the world is colcannon? It is simply mashed potatoes with cabbage or kale and leeks or scallions mixed in. I did mine with kale and scallions and it was delicious.

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You may have noticed that I served the colcannon with a plain mashed potatoes option. My husband may be of Irish descent but he is a mid-western American boy who doesn’t want anything green in his mashed potatoes.

Colcannon is simple and a nice twist on plain old (albeit much-loved) mashed potatoes. First, make a standard batch of mashed potatoes, the amount depending on the number of people you will be feeding. This particular recipe recommends the following for 1 pound of potatoes, which will serve 4, …

  • 1/2 small head of cabbage (about 2 cups of chopped kale)
  • 6 scallions, cut into 1/4 inch slices

Remove and discard the central stalk from the cabbage or kale and shred finely. Cook in a large pot of boiling salted water for 1-2 minutes (blanching) until it is soft. Drain thoroughly.

Mix the cabbage or kale and mashed potatoes together, then stir in the scallions. Season well with salt and pepper. Serve immediately. I recommend eyeballing it and adding in as much or as little kale and onions as you like. You really can’t go wrong.

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Both of these dishes were delicious and added wonderful color to the plate.

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I hope you’ll try them and as always, I’d love to know what you think. Enjoy!

Tomorrow, the main dish – Beef in Stout. Heavenly.

 

Smoked Salmon, Dill & Horseradish Tartlets

Yesterday I shared how I deviated from my St. Patrick’s Day norm of Shepherd’s Pie to create a menu entirely from the “Irish Pub Cooking” cookbook I’ve had for sometime but hadn’t yet experimented with. I was so inspired by the gorgeous photos and recipe details that I just had to break the cardinal rule of never serving recipes that you haven’t perfected or at the very least, tried once.

Actually, I break that rule all the time. Life is too short to take food so seriously. Home cooking and entertaining should be fun.

Experiment. Yes, on your guests. Don’t be afraid.

Besides, if you fail, they will love you for being human, laughing it off and ordering pizza. And sometimes, your bravery will be rewarded with a gem of a dish that has everyone swooning over their empty, crumb licked plates.

Smoked Salmon, Dill & Horseradish Tartlets is just such a dish.

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“Irish Pub Cooking”, Parragon Books Ltd.

You will need six 3 1/2 inch loose-bottom tartlet pans.

Ingredients

Pie Dough

  • heaping 3/4 cup all-purpose flour plus extra for dusting
  • pinch of salt
  • 5 Tbsp COLD butter, cut into pieces, plus extra for greasing

Filling

  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp creamed prepared horseradish
  • 1/2 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Spanish capers, chopped
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 7 oz smoked salmon trimmings
  • bunch of fresh dill, chopped, plus extra sprigs to garnish
  • Kosher salt and pepper

Note: I have modified the directions slightly, adding more instruction, as they were a little vague for a less experienced cook. “Add a little cold water” isn’t really going to cut it for someone who has never made a crust before. And if you are anything like me, you would totally try this recipe even if you’d never made a crust before.

Butter six 3 1/2 inch loose-bottom tartlet pans. Sift the flour and salt together and put into a food processor fitted with the chopping blade.

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Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add a little cold water (see what I mean), just enough to bring the dough together (2-3 Tbsp). Start with 1 Tbsp at a time and mix together with your hands so that you can feel when the dough is the consistency that you are looking for – soft but very workable, not sticky or dry and crumbly.

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Turn out onto a floured counter and shape into a log so that it is easy to portion out into six equal-sized pieces.

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Roll each piece to fit the tartlet pans.

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Carefully fit each piece of dough in its shell and press well to fit the pan.

My tart pans are 4 1/4 inch (I am now in the market for 3 1/2 inch pans) but I was determined still to get six tarts out of the recipe so my shells are rolled a little thinner.

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Roll the rolling-pin over the pan to neaten the edges and trim the excess dough.

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Put a piece of parchment paper in each pan, fill with dried beans or pie weights …

(learn all about Blind Baking here)

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and let chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Bake the tartlet shells blind in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, then carefully remove the paper and beans/weights. If you use beans, you can save them in a mason jar to re-use again and again. Be sure to label them though because once you have used them for blind baking, you won’t want to eat them.

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Meanwhile, put the sour cream, horseradish, lemon juice, and drained capers into a bowl with salt and pepper to taste and mix well. Be careful with the salt as smoked salmon is pretty salty.

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Add the egg yolks, smoked salmon, and chopped dill (I put in about 2 Tbsp) and carefully mix again. Divide this mixture among the tartlet shells and return to the oven for 10 minutes or until just firm (mine took about 15  minutes).

About the salmon; I used cold smoked salmon, which is more like lox with a soft, silky texture. You could also use hot smoked salmon which is drier and flaky. Both are usually either in the deli section or by the seafood counter.

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Here’s where I lost my sixth tart, there just wasn’t enough filling.

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Thankfully, I only had two dinner guests so there was a tart for each adult and Sara and David split one; although they devoured their respective halves and would most certainly have eaten a whole one. Don’t worry about Nathan, he wouldn’t have eaten one of these tarts for anything.

Not a chance. No way.

Which is just fine because I did not want to share.

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Let cool in the pans for 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with dill sprigs.

Smoked Salmon, Dill and Horseradish Tartlets Printable Recipe

I am planning on making these again for Easter (they are that good)  but I will be making them in smaller tart pans as bite sized appetizers for a bigger crowd.

I will let you know how they turn out.

In fact, I may experiment ahead of time. No, not because I’m perfecting anything, I’m just not sure I can wait until Easter to have another tart.

Enjoy!

Tomorrow, I will tell you all about my second favorite dish of the day;

Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage.

I may make this again for Easter too as it had gorgeous color and was absolutely delicious!

A St. Patrick’s Day Menu of Irish Pub Food

Top o’ the mornin’ to you!

I hope you had a fun, safe and festive St. Patrick’s Day filled with good times and great Irish food. I am always up for a little festive fun and of course a dinner guest or two, so for us St. Patrick’s Day is all about the food.

Normally, I make shepherd’s pie for dinner. Technically, an English dish, but my husband (who is of Irish descent) doesn’t like the traditional corned beef and cabbage. Weird, I know, but he doesn’t. He does like Guiness though, so he gets to keep his “Irish Card”.

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My three “Irishmen”.

This year, however, I decided to put to use the “Irish Pub Cooking” cook book that I picked up a while back. The plan, every dish on the menu would come from this book. Appetizer, entrée, bread, sides and dessert. Fun!

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So many of the recipes looked and sounded tasty but ultimately I decided on Smoked Salmon, Dill & Horseradish Tartlets for the appetizer, Beef in Stout with Herb Dumplings for the entrée, Colcannon and Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage for the sides, a bread called Barm Brack and Apple Cake for dessert.

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The pictures. Perfectly styled food pictures. They are why I have about a thousand cookbooks. They get me every time!

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And inspire me to play with my food.

So, how did the Irish Pub Cooking project turn out?

Delicious. Mostly.

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The Smoked Salmon, Dill & Horseradish Tartlets were incredible. My favorite recipe of the day.

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The Beef in Stout and Colcannon were great but the star of the dinner plate for me was the Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage (my second favorite dish of the day). It was absolutely wonderful and will be a side dish I make again, and again and again.

Well, the kids didn’t like it.

But I’m still going to make it again, and again and again.

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The apple cake was good. Not change your life epic but not disappointing. And it looks pretty.

The Barm Brack

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This is different from Irish Soda Bread. It is a yeast bread. Yeast bread is my kryptonite. In fact, this bread was like trying to eat kryptonite. The flavor was good. The texture? Kryptonite.

Moving on. Did I mention we had company?

My Uncle George and Aunt Marilyn are “snow birds” and live only a few miles from us during the winter months when it is just too darn cold in the Pacific Northwest. It had been a long time since we’d seen them, too long – which is so silly since they are so close by. We were happy to welcome them to dinner. I am kicking myself now though for not taking their picture, I’ll have to get one next time.

Uncle George brough his specialty, “Pistachio Jello Salad“. It was a much bigger hit with the kids than the cabbage.

In fact, Nathan was only too happy to start his day with a little left over jello salad for breakfast (I promise, he had an egg and an apple too).

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Yes, courtesy of daddy, my boy has a mohawk. A crazy, crooked mohawk. Mommy agreed for spring break only. But now, he loves it. He loves it so much that he didn’t want me to wash his hair because he thought the mohawk wouldn’t stick up anymore. I am actually not sure he is going to let me shave it off  before he has to go to school tomorrow. So, he maybe going to school with a crazy crooked – freshly washed – mohawk. I have learned to pick my battles.

I will share all of these Irish Pub recipes (even the Barm Brack) with you all week so be sure to come back tomorrow for the Smoked Salmon, Dill & Horseradish Tartlets recipe. For now, I’ll leave you with a big cheesy smile and an old Irish Blessing …

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May the blessing of God’s soft rain be on you,
Falling gently on your head, refreshing your soul
With the sweetness of little flowers newly blooming.
May the strength of the winds of Heaven bless you,
Carrying the rain to wash your spirit clean
Sparkling after in the sunlight.
May the blessing of God’s earth be on you,
And as you walk the roads,
May you always have a kind word
for those you meet.