Saturday, April 9, 2016

Spring 2016 - Annual St. Patrick's Feast

One of the biggest things I wish for around the start of spring every year is to see all of my extended family gather for St. Patrick's Day.  One day I remind myself, One day I will have a large enough house / kitchen / eating area that I can host them all.  That day will be glorious, and hopefully no punches fly! 

For 2016 we had our two good friends over (who were married the day after we were!), as they hadn't been over yet for "Irish" night.   They love coming over and always bring wine (best hostess gift by the way!).    Meal prep for this dinner actually started a few days before.   Missy the taste-tester was ready too!

This year my recipes did not come from a cookbook.  However, I love cookbooks.  Look to my next post about my latest Amazon purchases!   My husband laughs when I tell him I ordered something from Amazon.  We have a running joke that there is one guy who visits here all the time, but I don't even know his name!  I just call Mr. UPS man.   It wasn't until AFTER St. Pats that I ordered three Irish cookbooks.  They arrived before Easter, but not in time for me to dive into them for my favorite Holiday. 

What I did read, and it only made me understand the point I am trying to make, is that Irish cooks are now being recognized for their style.   They are no longer thought about as the bland salt/pepper cooks who we are used to thinking they are.   The Farm to Table movement has been a forever thing in many cultures.  You grow it, you eat it.  If you do not eat it, you sell it, share it, gift it, or preserve it.  It is not a new thing in Europe, but it is becoming more and more mainstream here in America, as it was a few hundred years ago.  Doing things the old-fashioned way may not make you huge profits, but it feels good to grow parsley in dirt, know how to make farm cheese (next on my list) and use ingredients that bring out the subtle and delicate flavors that the Irish are becoming more and more known for.  

Farm style cooking is the type of cooking that truly appeals and calls to me.  Freshest ingredients or stored from the previous year(s), quality, wholesome, selected with care, and served with a side of great company!  Purchased items should be fresh, limited items canned or frozen, and rare items would be pre-packaged (there are just some things I cannot replicate at home).

The Irish are a resilient lot.  Most think of their Irish ancestors as sitting in a pub or working in a field, starving, poor or drunk.   Good times should be celebrated, and hard times endured.  What binds us together is food.   The point I am really trying to make today is that Food should not be just thought of as nourishment.  To me it means items prepared with love and care, shared with friends and family.   It is hope for another day, and another day with memories of the past.   May you enjoy the recipes and stories behind each dish below, and in turn share with those you love most!

Irish Guinness Bangers
First, Banger = Sausage. Next, this year I had a hard time sourcing true Irish bangers, so I substituted English Bangers. Please do NOT sub with Brats. You may use plain chicken sausages, but do not use spicy sausages here.

Serving 2-4, double or triple for more!
Four Bangers
1/2 thick sliced onion
One clove garlic
One Bay Leaf
Two Guinness, Draft in Bottle

Spice Mixture (use for up to 8 bangers, then double if more are used)
2 TBSP Dried Parsley
1 TBSP Mustard Seed
1 TSP dried Basil
1 dried sage leaf, crushed (or 1/2) TSP
1 TSP dried Rosemary
1/2 TSP dried Marjoram
1/2 TSP dried Thyme

Step 1 - the Soak
Place Bangers in a dish to marinate (24-48 hours). Use a large Ziploc or deep sheet pan.
Use HALF of the Beer listed (the other half comes later for braise and roast!) to marinate
Add the spice mixture to the marinating liquid.
Reserve the Onion until Step 2.
Step 2 - The Braise
On the morning you are cooking, start early. These take up to 4 hours to cook.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees
Remove bangers from marinating liquids.
Remove garlic cloves and bay leaves
Place the bangers in a single layer in a deep roasting dish.
Cover with onions; re-add the garlic and bay leaf
Use the remaining Beer, which should just barely cover.
Cover pan tightly with foil.
BRAISE for 2 hours at 300 degrees, not removing the foil
Make the Mustards!
At 2 hours, remove foil and turn to coat.
Cook 1 more hour, no cover
At hour 3, remove pan from oven.

Step 3 - The Roast
Remove bangers (will be HOT) and slice into 1" diagonal pieces.
Discard cooking liquid, reserving the onions and garlic
Place the sliced bangers and onions back into pan
Turn oven temperature up to 375 to roast and crisp up the edges of the slices, should take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how thick and how many slices you have.
Once the edges are roasted and crispy, remove from oven and plate to serve with mustard!

Jameson Honey Dijon Mustard; Guinness Stone Ground - Honey Mustard
Start with your favorite plain mustard: Dijon, Stone Ground and/or Spicy Brown.

Whiskey Mustard
1 Cup of Dijon Mustard
1/4 Cup of Raw Honey
1-2 Shots of Jameson Whiskey
1 TBSP dry mustard powder
Splash of Lemon Juice
Beer Mustard
1/2 Cup of Dijon Mustard
1/2 Cup of Stone Ground and/or Spicy Brown Mustard
1/4 cup Raw Honey
1/2 Cup Irish Stout (Guinness works great)
1 TBSP dry mustard powder
Splash Lemon Juice

In a bowl, add the alcohol to the mustard, whisk to combine
Drizzle honey and whisk to mix
Add a splash of lemon juice to brighten
Adjust honey, alcohol and mustard to your liking.
CHILL for at least 1 hour
If the mustards are too runny, you can add more dry mustard powder to thicken. Just whisk more in, and re-chill for 30 minutes

American Irish Corned Beef
Corned Beef can be prepared many ways. You can buy the little package at the supermarket, either the Point or Flat Cut, or you can go to a restaurant supply chain (Cash & Carry) and buy the whole brisket and cut it into pieces yourself, which is what I do.

The best and easiest way to cook Corned beef is… by Crockpot. Why? Low and slow. Unless you want to cook it in your oven, taking valuable oven space for 6-10 hours. No? I agree. Crockpot it is!
  1.  In a large enough crock-pot, place your corned beef on the bottom. If you have a large Crockpot, you can double layer the meat.
  2. You want to place enough water (cold, filtered) to just barely cover the brisket.
  3. Then place the spice packet in, put the lid on and set it so it cooks on low for 8-10 hours. I used two Crockpots this year, as we wanted corned beef leftovers!
  4. With 1 hour remaining, I add Cabbage and carrots to the mix, removing 1-2 cups of liquid for use in the potatoes.
  5. Cook until tender! If liquids start to boil or bubble over, just remove some juice and reserve (liquid gold right there!)
  6. To serve, remove from Crockpot (carefully), remove layer of fat, slice across grain on the Flat cuts and diagonally for the point cuts.

The Sides.  
I should not have to tell you my recipe for these items below. Nevertheless, I will give you some hints:

Mashed Potatoes
I use Golden potatoes. Sometimes I love to leave the skins on, for the following dishes I remove, and cut into large chunks to cook in my pasta pan as it has a steamer basket that I use to steam the cabbage. And yes, I do add some meat broth to the liquids for cooking. I even add a few cubes of chicken stock making these taters super tasty!

Roasted Beets
 Peel, quarter, toss with olive oil, thyme, season with salt & pepper and roast for 45 minutes or until caramelized.

Roasted Carrots
 Scrub, peel only if large, toss with olive oil, thyme, season with salt & pepper and roast for 20 minutes
Steamed Cabbage
 Add to steamer basket with potatoes. Season with salt & pepper. Serve with some chopped parsley and butter.

Boiled Cabbage & Carrots
 Add to Corned Beef with 1 hour left on the clock!

 Unsalted, REAL Butter is a side dish. Why? Cause we use it on the potatoes, bread and cabbage!

Traditional White Soda Bread  
adapted from
4 cups (16 oz) of all-purpose flour.
1 Teaspoon baking soda
1 Teaspoon salt
14 oz of buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 425 F degrees. 
Lightly grease a cast iron dutch oven (or skillet with lid)
In a large bowl sieve and combine all the dry ingredients.
Add the buttermilk to form a sticky dough. 
Place on floured surface and lightly knead (too much allows the gas to escape)
Shape into a round flat shape in a round cake pan and cut a cross in the top of the dough.
Cover the pan with lid, or another pan and bake for 30 minutes (this simulates the bastible pot). 
Remove cover and bake for an additional 15 minutes.
The bottom of the bread will have a hollow sound when tapped so show it is done.
Cover the bread in a tea towel and lightly sprinkle water on the cloth to keep the bread moist.
Cut into Wedges and serve with butter!

Guinness Chocolate Cake with Jameson Ganache

I used the same recipe as before in my previous post, Chocolate Irish Beer Cake, but I made this as a Large Cake. And made sure there was lots of Whiskey in the Ganache and then dusted it with "Gold Dust". Came out pretty good!

All in all, the Dinner was a Success!!! Afterward we headed out to the local pizza place where an Irish Music night was in full swing. And I had brought a few Irish Beer cakes for the staff.
Until next time…