Tuesday, March 23, 2010

St. Patty's Day Dinner, 2010

If you don't know, I'm 3/4 Irish. I wear my green on St. Patrick's Day, I drink beer and sing along to any song on the radio. Growing up in an Irish Household is fun. You celebrate everything! And everyone gets together to partake in this feast. Unfortunately, our families grow and each branch does their own thing.

Three years ago, I decided I'd host my own little party. Just a few friends, some great food, both traditional Irish and Irish-American dishes. Many things stay the same, the desert always changes.

So here's the menu for St. Patrick's Day 2010

Irish "Bacon" with Cabbage and potatoes
Corned Beef with Cabbage and Carrots
Roasted Root Vegetables
Irish Champ
American Mashed Potatoes
Irish Soda Bread & American Butter
Irish Bangers (3x Guinness) with Onions
Irish Cheese and Hard Genoa Salami with Murphy Mustard
"Murphy" Mustard
Warmed Books N Brew Chipotle Dip
Apple - Walnut salad with BNB Mustard Vinaigrette
Banger Gravy
Fudge Brownies with Green Mint Frosting
"Green" Blondie-Fudge Brownie Cupcakes
Irish Coffees
Lots of Beer

Sounds like a daunting menu, right? It was. I did hours of Prep Friday night, got everything packed, slept well, then while loading the last box, Disaster struck. While walking with the last box the last few feet to my truck, I tripped off the sidewalk, rolled my ankle, smashed my knee into the curb and landed on my side. I felt nothing but shock. I screamed out a few curse words on my neighbor checked my ankle for breaks. Nothing broken, I made sure that everything was okay after my ungraceful tumble.
Thank you to my wonderful neighbor for going back up the three flights of stairs into my apartment and getting me ice packs and Advil. Sent a text to my friends and I was on the way. Suffice to say, I am only posting the menu tonight as the ankle is not hurting, but extremely swollen and I need to lay down.
Here's a few pictures of the meal to tide you over until I get the recipes uploaded!

And here is our famous bangers, getting ready to bake in some Guinness!

Friday, March 12, 2010

A Single Tradition, Fridays

No matter what happens during the week, and what is scheduled for the weekend, Friday night is my night. It's Food Time. I'm a 31 year old single gal and I love to cook. My routine starts after work, at one of the numerous grocery stores. I see what's fresh, what's on sale, and what would make a good dinner, for myself.

Some Fridays it's steak & seafood. Some it's just seafood, and sometimes, the store is for the few things that my fridge doesn't have in it.

Take today for example. I'm doing the St. Paddy's Dash in Seattle on Sunday. Am I ready for it? Heck no. But I'm doing it. Why? I need some exercise and I'm 75% Irish. I did it last year, even trained for it, but this year I'm winging it. I'll take some aleve and walk most of the way, but I'll do it.

So for tonights menu, I knew I had thin cut boneless pork steaks. It was either cook or toss, so some salt, lemon juice, pepper, dried rosemary (from last year's crop), fresh thyme (this year's start), and a little shake of the Cajun Foreplay. I knew I wanted some pasta. I have many kinds of noodles, but then I saw the Farfalle. So I boiled up some water, heated the garlic in the pork pan, and started on my Pasta Fresca. Here's how it ended up:

Just sear the pork on each side, add some onions and water and let cook until the water evaporates! The pasta is just cooked farfalle, fresh cut raw veggies, and a little of my homemade alfredo sauce.

Here's my Friday receipe for Pasta Fresca with a touch of alfredo sauce

1 cup Farfalle Pasta (or any pasta of your choice)
1 small ripe tomatoe, chopped
3 1/2" slices avocado, chopped
1/4 cup sliced mushrooms
3 cloves roasted garlic, sliced (from the pork pan - see pork receipe)
1/4 cup asparagus heads (Raw or aldente)
1/4 thinly sliced red onion
8 Basil leaves - Fresh and sliced
Lemon Juice
Sea Salt
Olive Oil
Parmesan Cheese

Alfredo Sauce
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp half n half
1 tbsp Parmesan cheese
1 tsp sea salt

While the pasta cooks in sea salted water, chop up the veggies and place them in a large glass bowl. Add a squeeze of lemon juice, a dash or two of sea salt (NEVER use regular table salt!), a few sprigs of parsley, and about 1 TBSP of olive oil to coat. Mix well. Toss in 1 TBSP of Parmesan cheese and let rest until pasta is cooked.

Once pasta is cooked - slightly al dente, rinse with cold water, and let sit for about 1 minute before tossing in with veggies.

While pasta is sitting, add the butter to pasta pan. Let cook until it just about turns brown, then add the half n half. Swish the half and half around and then dump the parmesan in the center, mix, and bring to a boil. Add a pinch of salt and if needed, a squeeze of lemon juice. Once it's coated well to the pan, remove from heat and pour over pasta mixture.

Toss to coat the pasta and serve.

Friday Pork

Boneless cut of pork with fat trimmed off.
Sea Salt
Coarse ground pepper
Dried Rosemary
Fresh Thyme
Lemon Juice
Cajun Foreplay (to add a little heat)
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion

Olive oil

Season pork chops with all but garlic and olive oil. Set on counter and heat pan to medium. Place whole peeled cloves of garlic in pan and let them sweat for about 3-4 minutes, or until browned.

Add 1 tbsp olive oil and once garlic "pops", remove from pan to cool and use in pasta.

Add Pork and sear both sides. Add red onion and 1/2 cup water. Cook until water evaporates. If using thick cuts of pork, add more water, cover and steam additional 10 minutes, or until pork is cooked to your liking.

I look forward to posting more Friday Dinners.

Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Banana French Toast

Here's one of my favorites in the summer.

Banana French Toast

For Each Person you’re serving:

2 pieces of Hawaiian Bread
1 Banana
1 tbsp Brown Sugar
2 Eggs
2 Tbsp Maple Syrup (The Real Stuff)
2 Tbsp Butter
¼ Cup Milk (Any Style, but not Non-Fat)
1 tsp cinnamon

Maple Syrup
Powdered Sugar

Optional: whip cream, sliced strawberries

First, Slice the Banana, mix with brown sugar, and cook over med-low heat with 1 tbsp butter until softened and slightly browned.

Remove from heat.

Take 1/3 of this mixture and in a bowl, mix with eggs, Milk, maple syrup, and cinnamon.

Dredge bread (both sides) through Mixture and set on parchment paper for up to 1 minute.

Place in pre-heated griddle or skillet with 1 tbsp butter for about 1 minute per side, or until browned.

Serve warm with warmed bananas, maple syrup and a sprinkle of powdered sugar.

Optional: Add sliced strawberries and cinnamon whipped cream!

The basic principle of Books N Brew is why buy it when you can make it yourself? Food tastes better when it's made in your own kitchen, or at least in my kitchen.

Have you ever browsed the grocery frozen entree section, just to see what you can make at home? That is what I do. I look at soups, deli counters, pre-packaged meals, then recreate them, with as many fresh ingredients as I can.

I live in a great culinary area (Edmonds, WA) and between my cat and I, we tend to eat very well!

I also read all the time and have my own collection of books. So stop on by and see what we're brewing up and reading!

Someone once asked me, 'What do you eat when you're stressed?'. Eat? I cook. Then I read.

Edmonds, WA