Irish Pub Party

Irish Pub CookbookEveryone claims to be Irish on St Patrick’s Day but I actually am an Irish descendent. My mother let everyone she knew of her heritage and she was quite proud.  Char gave me this great cookbook awhile back and it was time to crack it open. We tried many of the dishes inside and a few others to make up our early St. Patrick’s Day party.

The menu was Guinness Beef Stew, Corned Beef and Cabbage, Potatoes and Carrots, Brown Soda Bread, Irish Soda Bread, Molasses Bread, Traditional Colcannon, Colcannon with Kale, Buttered Kale with chives & lemon, Buttered Vegetables, Apple Cake, Chocolate Stout Cake, Homemade Irish Cream, Irish Coffee, Smithwick beer, Jameson’s whiskey, Kerry butter and Irish cheese.

Since time was of the essence most items were made in advance before the cooking club members gathered. The group project was a soda bread throw down. Before we started working we had to loosen up and make Irish Cream.  Remember when I made it last Christmas? Same recipe. It was a treat to see everyone marvel at how much whiskey and cream went into it!

Now that we were relaxed, we dove into the soda bread. Traditional soda bread has four ingredients. That’s it. The other  had nine.

Irish Soda Bread from The Complete Irish Pub Cookbook  Parragon Books 2012

  • 1 lb  (450 g) plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 400 ml (14 oz) buttermilk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Place parchment paper atop or prepare an oiled baking sheet.

Sift the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl.  Make a well in the centre and pour in most of the buttermilk . Mix well with hands. The dough should be soft but not too wet. Reserve then add, if necessary the remaining buttermilk.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly. Shape into an 8 inch (20 cm) round. Place the loaf atop the making tray. With a serrated knife cut a cross into the top. Bake for 25-30 mintes under golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack. Serve warm.

two soda breads

Brown on the left, Traditional on the right.

Brown Soda Bread from Cook’s Country February/March 2013

  • 2 C flour
  • 1 1/2 C whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 C toasted wheat germ
  • 3 TBSP sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 3/4 C buttermilk
  • 3 TBSP melted butter

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, wheat germ, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda together in large bowl. Combine buttermilk and 2 tablespoons melted butter in 2-cup liquid measuring cup.

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir with rubber spatula until dough just comes together. Turn out dough onto lightly floured counter and knead until cohesive mass forms, about 8 turns. Pat dough into 7-inch round and transfer to prepared sheet. Using sharp serrated knife, make ¼-inch-deep cross about 5 inches long on top of loaf. Bake until skewer inserted in center comes out clean and loaf registers 195 degrees, 45 to 50 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking.

Remove bread from oven. Brush with remaining 1 tablespoon melted butter. Transfer loaf to wire rack and let cool for at least 1 hour.

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Traditional on the left, Brown on the right

Guiness Beef Stew

corned beef

Dessert table\ Irish Coffee

Patty’s Points:

1. General consensus of the party guests were that both breads were good, just different. The brown bread was very hearty. The traditional was lighter. Both were great slathered in butter! I favored the traditional myself.

2. The day before, a couple of members were at another potluck and tasted other soda bread versions. Some with currents or raisins and some with caraway. Soda bread is how your family made it special and traditional for you.

3.  I used bread flour. I think it helps the texture of any bread you make at home.

4. I had never made soda bread before this challenge. Hard to believe? It could have been because my mother’s father was Irish and the traditional foods didn’t get passed down through him. She loved Bailey’s Irish Cream though 🙂

5. This was an European cookbook, so many of the ingredients are in metric. It is always good to have a scale for dry ingredients. I’m a nurse so the liquids are easy for me to convert.

Mary B

Happy St Patrick's Day

How joyful that spring is nearly here. On St Patrick’s Day we Think Green. But as my mother used to say Think Irish!

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The Polish Dinner Party

Babuska doll

The Fearless Cookers have three members who are of Polish descent with family names of Bilikiewicz, Figinski, Wisniewski. It was just a matter of time before we had a Polish celebration.

Last fall when we went to a Polish restaurant to celebrate Joy’s birthday at Cracovia.  We decided right there we would have our Polish dinner party. Now that the holidays are over, we could focus on cooking and learning some new recipes. We picked a weekend with no football and gathered the group and spouses.

All good cooking adventures begin with a shopping trip. We started at the Chicago Market in our neighborhood. The website link is all in Polish.

Chicago Market

Authentic Polish food, shipped in  from Chicago distributers, the hometown of the owner, Krystyna. What a wonderful, gracious person who helped us with our shopping list. There were also Polish-Colorado food items like locally produced honey.

owner of Chicago Market

Menu

Golumbki (pronounced gwumb – key)

Polish sausage and sauerkraut

Pierogis

Potatoes

Cold beet borscht

Chruscki

Belvedere Vodka

IMG_3662Golumbki, aka stuffed cabbage or cabbage rolls, are numerous in versions. We made spicy, medium and plain versions; some with or without tomato sauce.

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Next up were Chrusckis. These lovely delicate fried pastries that took a village to make.

mixing the dough

kneading the dough

cutting the dough

making the bow ties

frying

draining

finished chrusckis

Patty’s Points:

1.  I had never heard of Cabbage rolls until I was an adult and thought they sounded odd. But, if you grew up in Chicago, Baltimore or Philadelphia you would find pockets of Polish heritage. Cabbage rolls to me, were akin to church ladies gathering together to make, sell or serve for a potluck. If you searched the internet you would also find that different types of cabbage rolls native to some South Pacific and Asian cultures as well.

2. I had never understood how to separate the cabbage leaves from the head until I saw this website on how to softened cabbage leaves. Boy, did that help!

3.  Wrapping cabbage leaves around the stuffing of meat can be done two ways: like wrapping a burrito or “pinning” the leaves together with a toothpick while steaming. It depends on how large the cabbage leaf is that you are working with. You can steamed them on a stove top, bake in the oven, or heat in a crockpot. Pretty versatile. You can make them plain or place a tomato sauce atop.

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4. Chrusckis are also a group project. Joy said that they should never be made solo. As you can see in the above pictures, there are many steps involved. Mixing the ingredients, kneading the dough, rolling it to a proper thickness, frying at the right temperature, draining and sprinkling with icing sugar. We actually used a pasta roller to get it a good thickness.

5. There are numerous recipes for chrusckis some have baking powder, some without. Joy referenced a recipe from a friend from  her teenage years .

Bow Ties from Alvena Brudzinski 

1 heaping TBSP butter

4 whole eggs

1 oz whiskey

1 tsp vanilla

4 C flour

3 TBSP baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1 small can Pet (evaporated) milk (about 6 oz)

Directions:

Mix butter, eggs, vanilla, and whiskey.

Mix flour, salt, and baking powder.

Add dry mix to egg mix gradually at the same time add the evaporated milk gradually.

Knead the dough

Roll thin, cut into strips, cut a slit and pull one end of the dough through the slit.

Fry in vegetable oil or Crisco (325 degrees)

Drain on paper towels or paper bags

Dust heavily with powdered sugar.

Joy kept us organized with all the menu items to combine. A Polish village of Fearless Cooks

Chruscki makers

the babushka picture

Oh we all donned a babushka before sitting down to eat.

the spread

 Belvedere vodka is Polish vodka We kept cold in the front yard snow bank.

Belvedere vodka

I think that is a lovely picture worth advertisement in a magazine eh?

Limoncello New Year

Remember last month when I went to my friend Phyllis’ home and made liqueur? Well the limoncello needed time to ferment. One month later, it has come to fruition.
Rosemary Limoncello

Italy’s Amalfi Coast and adjoining Sorrento Peninsula are the regions most famous for limoncello, an intensely lemony liqueur, traditionally served ice cold as an aperitif or digestive after-dinner drink. Some believe that limoncello  was used in the morning by fishermen and countrymen to fight the cold, since the invasion periods. Others, instead, believe that the recipe was born inside a monastic convent to delight the monks from prayer to prayer.

Rosemary Limoncello from Sunset Magazine December 2007

Ingredients:  18 lemons + 4 to 6 inch rosemary sprig + Two 750 ml 60 Proof Vodka + 4 1/2 C sugar + 5 C water

Directions:

Peel lemons with a sharp vegetable peeler, taking only the zest (top layer) and avoiding any white pith. Put rosemary in a 1-gal. glass or ceramic container with a tight seal. Add zest to jar.

Lemons scrubbed clean

Lemon peel

Pour one bottle of 750 ml vodka over rosemary and zest; seal container. Let sit undisturbed in a cool, dark place for 40 days.

In a saucepan, bring 5 cups water to a boil and add sugar. Cook, stirring, until sugar has dissolved. Let sugar syrup cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.

Fermenting

Pour syrup and remaining 750 ml. vodka over lemon-vodka mixture, stir, and seal container. Let sit in a cool, dark place for another 40 days.

Pour limoncello through cheesecloth into a large spouted pitcher and divide among gift bottles.

Straining

Rosemary

Phyllis’ and Sunset Magazine Points:

1. Phyllis prefers this recipe to the traditional Italian Limoncello recipes. She likes vodka which she believes is less bitter than ones made with Ever-clear.

2. When peeling lemons do not include the white pith which will make the drink bitter.

3. This rosemary came from a ranch in Idaho and Phyllis gave it to me. It is nearly 3 months old and is as fresh as if it was cut today. This drink was a favorite of her late husband.

4. Either Meyer or Eureka lemons work in this recipe (the fragrant Meyer is especially good, though). To speed up the process, shorten the infusing time in steps 2 and 4 to 1 week each, and you’ll have a fine although less intense liqueur. Limoncello keeps indefinitely in the freezer.

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Christmas time is here

It’s been wildly busy month in my kitchen and at my job. I now have a break in the action to post the events of the past four weeks.

Celebration #1. Out to dinner celebrating a co-worker’s birthday. The Irish Cream Liqueur were gifts to my girlfriends.

Gift giving Baileys

Celebration #2. Char and Dwayne hosted a fondue party. Three fondue electric plates were placed down the middle of the table and each hot plate had two bowls: one for cheese and one for hot oil. We dipped apples and bread in the cheese and we cooked steak cubes in the oil, dipping them in steak or horseradish sauce. Dessert was pound cake cubes and strawberries dipped into melted chocolate.

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Celebration #3. The 23rd Annual Hoyt Street Cookie Exchange. It was a grand gathering of baking talents.

23rd Annual Hoyt Street Cookie Exchange

I made peppermint cream cheese brownies (recipe below).

peppermint cream cheese brownies

Final Celebration-Christmas dinner. We made a Roasted Garlic Herb Crusted Strip Roast featured on Epicurious.com. It was flavorful and tender. I think we found a winner!

strip roast

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Patty’s Points.

1. The Irish Cream Liqueur should be shaken before serving. It can be stored in the refrigerator for one month. The bottles came from The Container Store but any pretty bottle can be used.

2. The fondue electric heating plates and bowls were vintage and obtained from garage and estate sales. I have never seen anything like them. I loved that they were so versatile. I want one just like it!

3. I adapted the Cream Cheese Brownies recipe from The New Best Recipe Cookbook (2004).

Peppermint Cream Cheese Brownies  

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees

Brownie Base:

Dry ingredients: 2/3 C flour + ¼ tsp. salt’+ ½ tsp. baking powder

Wet ingredients: 2 oz. unsweetened chocolate + 4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate+8TBSP butter+1 C sugar + 2 tsp. vanilla + 3 eggs

Cream Cheese Filling: 8 oz. cream cheese softened, +1/4 C sugar+1/2 tsp. vanilla + 1 egg yolk+ 4 crushed candy canes

Directions:

Spray 8” square baking pan with non-stick spray. Fold two 16” pieces of foil or parchment paper lengthwise to measure 8” wide. Fit one sheet into the bottom of greased pan (the overhang will help in removal of bake brownies). Fit the 2nd sheet in the pan perpendicular to the 1st sheet. Spray the sheets with non-stick spray.

Whisk flour, baking powder, salt in a bowl and set aside.

In medium heatproof bowel set over a pan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter, stir until incorporated. Remove from heat and whisk in the sugar, vanilla. Cool. Whisk in the eggs one at a time until fully incorporated.

In a small bowl beat cream cheese with sugar, vanilla, egg yolk and peppermint (optional) until evenly blended.

Pour half the brownie batter into the prepared pan. Drop half the cream cheese mixture by spoonfuls over the batter. Repeat layering the remaining brownie batter and cream cheese filling. Use the blade of a table knife or spoon handle and swirl the batter creating a marbling effect.

Bake in oven until the edges of the brownies have puffed slightly, the center feels not quite firm when touched lightly or a toothpick inserted comes out with moist fudgy crumbs adhered to it; about 50-60 minutes.

Cool brownies in pan on wire rack 5 minutes. Remove brownies from the pan using the foil or parchment handles Place brownies on wire rack; allow them to cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until chilled 3 hours Cut into 2 inch squares. Will keep in refrigerator for 5 days

brownies and peppermint ice cream

The brownies make a great dessert served with Peppermint Ice Cream and peppermint sticks. I am taking this to a dinner party tonight.

The Epiphany is the official twelfth day of Christmas so there are ten more days of celebrating!

 

 

Making Christmas Cheer (aka Holiday Hooch)

Me and PhyllisMy friend Phyllis retired from my workplace earlier this year. At her retirement party she talked about how she makes her own liqueur at Christmas. I asked her to give me a call because this would be a first for me. She makes her version of Bailey’s Irish Cream and Limoncello. This will be a post in two parts. We will focus on the Homemade Irish Cream Liqueur first.

Ingredients for Bailey's

Phyllis handed me the recipe from an old newspaper clipping. I also found a similar version at The Cupcake Project.

Homemade Eggless Irish Cream Liqueur

1 1/4 to 1 3/4 Cups of Irish whiskey, brandy, rum, bourbon, scotch or rye whiskey

1- 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk

2 Cups whipping cream or half and half

2 TBSP chocolate syrup

2 tsp instant coffee

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp almond extract

Place the ingredients in the blender and whirr away. Serve in a lovely liqueur glass.

Phyllis’s Points

1.Phyllis likes using rum for her recipe. She says it has a smoother taste.

2.Phyllis’s late husband preferred half and half instead of cream. He thought is was way too  thick with the cream.

3. The more chocolate syrup the better. When I held the measuring spoon over the blender the chocolate syrup just kept oozing out of the bottle, overflowing the spoon. Phyllis likes her chocolate. Again, all about your taste preference.

4. Makes a great gift for friends and family. Get yourself some beautiful bottles, labels and ribbon and you have an easy and thoughtful gift.

Doesn’t that beautiful bottle of Irish Cream Liqueur look inviting by the fireplace? Makes me want to go grab a blanket and cuddle up with some holiday cheer!

Bailey's by the fire