Category Archives: St. Patrick’s Day

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.

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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.