Monday, March 18, 2013

Patty Cake, Patty Cake

Happy St. Patrick's Day!  We've been celebrating this Irish holiday all weekend.  St. Pat was the most well known patron saint in Ireland and given credit for championing Christianity in Ireland.  He was born in Roman England and lived in the fourth century.   Not much is known about Pat, but legend has it that he taught Irishmen about the Holy Trinity by using a shamrock.  Also, the original color associated with St. Patrick was blue, but it morphed into green over the years perhaps to match the shamrock.


St. Patrick's Day is an official holiday in Ireland and an unofficial one everywhere else.  Guinness beer coined a marketing campaign years back stating, "Everyone's Irish on March 17th."  Indeed some interesting traditions have been created outside of Ireland for example drinking green beer, pinching someone if they don't wear green, a lot of merriment and raising of glasses and participating in parades.  The city of Chicago even dyes the Chicago river green.


The tradition of drinking whiskey, as legend has it, comes from a time when St. Patrick visited an inn and the inn keeper was only filling patron's glasses half full with whiskey.  St. Pat taught the inn keeper a lesson in generosity and the Irish whiskey has been flowing freely ever since.  

Guinness is a dark stout first produced in 1759 in Dublin Ireland, but  not sold publicly for ten more years until 1769.  It's tangy, creamy and smoothness is crafted like an English porter.  A little known fact, although it's dark as night and seems like a very heavy beer, it's one of the lowest calorie beers out there (we don't count lite beers they are not even worth mentioning let alone drinking).
For Americans the tradition of eating corned beef and cabbage came about from the first generation of Irish immigrants in search of the comforting tastes they remembered and were missing from home.  For St. Paddy's day, this had traditionally been boiled bacon, but times were tough and most immigrants were poor.  So they substituted bacon for the cheapest cut of meat available, which was beef brisket.  New York City was a melting pot of cultures as it is today and the Irish used that to combine cooking methods and tastes to "spice" up the brisket.  They copied the salt-curing technique from Eastern Europeans.  The corn part of corned beef is not literally corn.  Rather, it's the salt crystals used in the brining process that look similar to kernels of corn.  The spices used for corned beef were largely derived from Jewish immigrants making pastrami using mustard, black pepper, coriander seed, allspice and clove.  The pairing with cabbage was again an economics decision because cabbage was the cheapest vegetable available.  Before this weekend, Ro's knowledge of corned beef was solely the variety that came from a can.  She was about to be reformed!


The next component, Irish soda bread doesn't have Coke in it at all, or any other soda pop.  The "soda" comes from bicarbonate of soda- or as we Americans refer to it- baking soda. This leavening agent gives the simple bread its flavor.  It is traditionally made round because it used to be baked over an open fire on an iron plate.

We celebrated by doing what the early Irish did to celebrate, yes by raising a few glasses, but also by having a feast of traditional simple Irish food.  We started our feast on Friday night, inviting our friend Mindy "O'Toole" over for our twist on the traditional Irish-American St. Patty's dinner.  She brought the Guinness and Harps for another fun drink, the black and tan, which combines both the light and dark beers, but separates them so you can see both colors.  If you are ever in Ireland make sure not to order a black and tan.  This drink is referred to as a half and half in Ireland to avoid the negative association with the Royal Irish Constabulary Reserve Force, nicknamed the "Black and Tans."



Here's what we included in our Irish feeding frenzy:

  • C to the Three:  Corned Beef, Cabbage and Carrots w/ Whiskey-Orange Glaze
  • Mashed Potatoes (typically boiled potatoes are served, but we LOVE mashed)
  • Cheesy Irish Soda Bread Pudding
  • Black and Tans
  • Irish Chocolate Coffee ice-cream w/ Irish coffee
  • Cheesy Irish Mushroom and Asparagus Quiche- Saturday breakfast
  • Corned beef hash- Sunday brunch



The first step was to get the beef cooked.  This step will take approximately 3 hours depending on the size of the brisket.  Being a cheaper cut of meat, the brisket needs the extra time to cook and get nice and tender.

Cx3: Corned Beef, Cabbage and Carrots with Irish Whiskey-Orange Glaze
  • Whiskey-orange sauce:
  • 1 cup sweet orange marmalade
  • 1/2 cup Jameson Irish whiskey
  • 1 tablespoon Nunya sauce (if not available increase Dijon to 2 TBSP)
  • 1 tablespoon Grey Poupon Dijon mustard plus more for serving

  • 1 2- to 2 1/4-pound piece lean corned beef
  • 1 pound bag of carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise
  • 1 head of cabbage with the core removed and cut in half, quarters and quarters again
  • 3 TBSP butter
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Nonstick oil spray

Put corned beef brisket into a large pot and cover it completely with water.  Add the packet of spices that comes with the brisket.  Bring the water to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cover pot with a lid.  Allow brisket to cook for 50 minutes per pound.

When there is 30 minutes remaining on the cooking time preheat oven to 425°F. Coat large rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray. 

Boil next 4 ingredients in saucepan until reduced, stirring often, about 5 minutes. 

Remove corned beef from the pot and pat dry with paper towels.  Place the corned beef on the baking sheet.  Generously brush corned beef all over with glaze; place on one side of prepared sheet. Toss carrots and 1/4 cup glaze in large bowl to coat; place on the other side of sheet. Sprinkle carrots with salt and pepper. Roast until carrots are tender and beef has a crispy glazed coating, brushing occasionally with more glaze, about 35 minutes. 

Meanwhile discard the water the beef was cooking in and refill with pot with clean water.  Bring to a boil.  Add the cabbage (cooking in batches as needed).  Allow cabbage to cook for approximately 3 minutes or until tender.  Remove cabbage from water add 3 TBSP butter and salt and pepper to cabbage.  Keep warm.

When ready to serve transfer brisket and veggies to a family-style platter.


Next comes the dessert because it needs time to freeze.  Again, this sounds like a lot of work, but if you have an ice-cream maker this is pretty fast.  If you don't want to go to the trouble of making your own,  pick out a fun Irish ice-cream from  your store's freezer section and top with Irish mint cookies.  But, this recipe makes a delicious boozed up variety that you can't find in your store and it has a smooth finish like gelato.


  • Irish Chocolate Coffee Ice-Cream:
  • 4 beaten egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup 2% milk
  • 3/4 cup half-and-half
  • 3 oz semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (1 oz for finishing)
  • 2  TBSP Mocha Mint instant coffee crystals
  • 1/4 cup Jameson Irish Whiskey
  • Your favorite mint cookie (we prefer Oreos in our home)



In a heavy medium saucepan combine the egg yolks, sugar, milk, half-and-half, chocolate and coffee crystals.  Cook and stir over med heat until mixture is slightly thickened and bubbly and then immediately remove from heat.  Beat mixture to get some air into the mixture and making it smooth.  Transfer the bowl with the mixture into a bigger bowl with ice to cool down the mixture.  Once cool stir in the whiskey.

Then place the mixture into your ice-cream maker and churn until frozen.  Place in the freeze until ready to serve. 

Once ready to serve, place two scoops in each bowl.  Finely grate remaining chocolate over the ice-cream and top with a cookie.  

We had Irish coffee along side the ice-cream.  Make a pot of your favorite coffee, add sugar cubes to taste, 2 TBSP Jameson Whiskey and cream to taste.  Delicious!

For the Irish Soda Bread we had the option of slices of bread with butter, but all of us chose the other option, which was Cheesy Irish Soda Bread Pudding.  They were light like a quiche with the rich cheesy goodness that added some luxury to the meal.  The two part process seems long, but this is pretty easy to make as the soda bread does not need to rise.

Cheesy Irish Soda Bread Pudding
Irish soda bread:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup half and half with 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Pudding:
  • 4 ounces grated sharp Cheddar cheese (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups half and half milk
  • Salt and pepper
  • Nonstick oil spray

Make soda bread:
Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle.
Put the half and half and lemon juice together in a bowl and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Add milk and butter. Stir just until dough is evenly moistened but still lumpy.  Add a little additional flour if needed.
Transfer dough to a well–floured surface and turn dough to coat with flour. Gently knead with floured hands about 8 times to form a soft but slightly less sticky dough.  It will still be sticky!
Form into a domed 6–inch round and put on a lightly greased baking sheet. Cut a 1/2-inch-deep "X" across top of each loaf with a sharp knife. Dust 1 tablespoon of additional flour over loaf.
Bake in middle of oven until golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer loaf to a rack and cool completely.

Make puddings:
Needed Equipment 6-8 ramekinsPreheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Spray ramekins with cooking spray.
Cut loaf in half and reserve remaining bread to be used for breakfast the next morning.
Tear other half of loaf into bite size pieces. Divide bread among ramekins, placing in the bottom
Whisk together eggs, milk, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Stir in cheese and spoon over bread in ramekins or baking dish. Let stand 10 minutes.
Put ramekins into another baking dish and add enough hot water to come halfway up sides of ramekins or dish.
Bake until just set and a knife inserted in center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.
Allow ramekins to cool 20 minutes before serving.



We used Friday night's leftovers to make breakfast the next two mornings.  The leftover  bread pudding batter (or if you need more just make another batch of the pudding) can be used to make a cheesy quiche.  Instead of putting the mixture into ramekins we used a pie dish.  Tear the left over Irish soda bread and place in the bottom of the pie dish.  Then whip up more of the egg and milk mixture if needed.  We added sautéed asparagus and mushrooms to the mixture.  Then fill the pie plate, pouring the liquid mixture over the bread crumbs.  Place in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until a knife comes out cleanly.  

For Sunday brunch we used the leftover corned beef to make hash.  Pour 2 TBSP olive oil into a dutch oven pan.  Add 1 package of hash browns and cook until almost brown.  Add 1/2 a chopped onion and 1/2 cup chopped red pepper.  Continue to fry and then add left over corned beef.  Hash should be crispy and browned when done.  Then fry an egg (or two) per person to place over the top of the hash.  We served with slices of mango and banana and an English muffin (not Irish, but as close in geography as it gets).

We had a great time cooking our version of St. Patty's Day favorites and spending some quality time hanging out with friends and enjoying this festive weekend together.  

Ro, Koa, Mindy and Lucy

An Old Irish Blessing
May love and laughter light your days,
and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,
wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world
with joy that long endures.
May all life's passing seasons
bring the best to you and yours!
Live life with flavor and fun!

Sprinkles McSpud & Greenie O'Blaze


Our Green Play List:
  1. Green Light- John Legend, Andre 3000
  2. Good Riddance- Green Day
  3. Green Eyes- Coldplay
  4. Love and Happiness- Al Green