Saturday, January 30, 2010

What's for dinner?

So, I haven't updated in a while....I was sick with the swine flu, so cooking kind of became a last priority. Today though, is the Irish Potluck. Fredric and I are inviting over several friends. I gave them a list of Irish Recipes to choose from or the choice to bring $5. I will be cooking a few interesting things as well.

So what are we having tonight? My friends are bringing the following:

-Irish Potato Stuffing:

-Cream Delight with Whiskey:


-Irish Potato Casserole:

-Soda Bread:

I will be making Guiness Soaked Ribs, Corned Beef & Cabbage, Colcannon, Boiled Bacon & Cabbage and a Bailey's Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

I have already made Colcannon and the cheesecake, but I want to add some variations to them. This time with the cheesecake I have a spring form pan, so that should be good. I also want to add whiskey into the whipped topping. With the Colcannon, I am going to make it with salt potatoes.

I will post the recipes for these later!

***Just took the cheesecake out! The spring form pan=MUCH better results!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Lamb Shank Stew

First of all, I don't like lamb...something about eating it freaks me out. Second of all, I added rutabaga & parsnips....which I never use. Third of all, I varied wayyyyyyy from the recipe....They used a dutch oven in theirs, and I adapted it for a crockpot. I just finished making the stew....sort of--I am letting it cook a bit more now that I stripped the meat from it's bones (well it actually fell right off the bones) and added some salt & pepper to it. I will show the entire recipe I used then point out where I modified.
Olive oil
3 lbs of lamb shanks, each shank cut into a couple of pieces
Salt and freshly ground pepper
6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
2 celery ribs, coarsely chopped
4 carrots, 2 coarsely chopped, 2 cut into 2-inch segments, and quartered lengthwise
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup tomato paste ( I used stewed tomatoes)
1 cup dry red wine
3 cups chicken stock*
1 medium rutabaga, roughly chopped (1 1/2 inch pieces)
1 medium turnip, roughly sliced or chopped (1 inch pieces)
2 parsnips, chopped

2 Tbsp chopped parsley
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

So basically, I took the shanks and browned them in olive oil & wine. Then I added all the ingredients to the crockpot and let it cook for approx. 12 hrs. Then I made the Gremolta, de-boned the lamb, skimmed the fat off the top, and added salt and pepper. I am now letting the crockpot cook on high for the next 20-30 minutes to let the seasonings and such soak in. The Gremolata is a topping to put on as a garnish. Here is the way to cook it if you have a dutch oven:

1 Heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil in a large Dutch oven on medium high heat. Season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper, add them to the casserole and brown well on all sides, working in batches if necessary. Transfer the shanks to a plate.
2 Add the unpeeled garlic cloves, celery, chopped carrots (half of your carrots, the other half are cut lengthwise to be used later in the recipe) and onion to the pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, about 2 minutes. Add the wine; boil over high heat until the liquid is very syrupy, about 5 minutes.
3 Return the shanks to the pot and add the stock and orange zest. Bring to a simmer. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to low, and braise the shank for 3 hours, or until the meat is falling off the bone tender; turn the shanks from time to time as they cook.
4 Preheat oven to 350°F. Put the root vegetables (turnip, rutabaga, parsnips, and lengthwise-cut carrots) in a large baking pan and toss with enough olive oil to coat. Season with salt and pepper and bake in the oven for about an hour, or until tender.
5 In a small bowl, mix the minced garlic with the parsley and lemon zest (the "gremolata"). Set aside.
6 Remove the shanks from the pot and transfer to a plate. Pass the sauce through a coarse strainer, pressing hard on the vegetables. Discard the vegetable pulp. Skim the fat from the surface of the sauce.
7 Return the sauce to the pan, season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Separate the lamb meat from the bones. Add the lamb meat and root vegetables; simmer just until warmed through.
Garnish with the gremolata and serve.

OK, so the jury is back.....Fred gave the soup a ten....I thought it was a good soup, but I did not like the taste....lamb honestly freaks me out, and that could be why I don't like the taste. It's kind of like when my uncles told me that the reason Swiss Cheese has holes is b/c mice run through it. To this day, I still can't eat swiss cheese. The same goes with baby animals....

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Irish Stuffed Herb Chicken

So tonight I am attempting this dish, it seemed easy enough to try on a busy night, about 10 minutes prep then in the oven for 20-25. I am making green beans for the side. I couldn't find Dubliner cheese, so I used cheddar, which is supposed to be similar. I made my own Mediterranean herb mixture, using Rosemary, oregano, thyme, bay leaf, & sage.

Here are the ingredients:

8oz Dubliner cheese

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

4oz fresh bread crumbs

1oz pack fresh Mediterranean herbs, finely chopped

2 medium size eggs, beaten

1/2 teaspoon salt


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Grate 3 1/2 oz Dubliner cheese and cut the remainder into thin slices.
Cut a pocket in each chicken breast and insert the slices of cheese.
In a bowl, mix together the bread crumbs, herbs, seasoning, and grated
Dubliner cheese.
Place the beaten eggs in a shallow dish and dip the chicken breasts into
it, until evenly coated,
then press firmly into the crumb mixture or until cooked through (this step did not make too much did not list a time for how long to cook either, so I guessed 20-25 minutes).
The chicken portions can be sliced into four and served with salad and
spinach or
tomato pasta tossed in melted Kerrygold butter.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Banging Bangers & Mash

OK, for dinner tonight I decided to make Bangers & Mash. I strayed a little from the recipe using a bit of milk, buttermilk, and whipping cream in the mashed potatoes (I like realllllly creamy ones). I also converted the recipe to a smaller quantity seeing as I did not need 8 servings.



8 large baking potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 teaspoons butter, divided
1/2 cup milk, or as needed
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 pounds beef sausage
1 diced onion
1 (.75 ounce) packet dry brown gravy mix
1 cup water, or as needed

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Place potatoes in a saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, and cook until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain, and mash with 1 teaspoon of butter, and enough milk to reach your desired creaminess. Continue mashing, or beat with an electric mixer, until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the sausage until heated through. Remove from pan, and set aside. Add remaining teaspoon of butter to the skillet, and fry the onions over medium heat until tender. Mix gravy mix and water as directed on the package, and add to the skillet with the onions. Simmer, stirring constantly, to form a thick gravy.
Pour half of the gravy into a square casserole dish so that is coats the bottom. Place sausages in a layer over the gravy (you can butterfly the sausages if you wish). Pour remaining gravy over them, then top with mashed potatoes.
Bake uncovered for 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until potatoes are evenly brown.

I did not cook the onions long enough so they were a bit crunchy, I also had to cook the mixture a bit longer, I would say 30 minutes would prob be better, or add 5 min with the broiler on to brown the top. Fredric said he gave it a 7....personally I think it was closer to a 9......but then again, I am a bit biased!

Friday, January 8, 2010

(Semi)-Full Irish Breakfast

This morning I decided to make a full Irish Breakfast. When I looked up what all of this entailed, I knew that there was no way in hell I would able to make and eat everything it entailed. Traditionally, the most common ingredients are bacon rashers, sausages, fried eggs, white pudding, black pudding, toast, sauteed, sliced potato, and fried tomato. Baked beans and sauteed mushrooms are also sometimes included, as well as liver (although popularity has declined in recent years), and brown soda bread. A full Irish breakfast may be accompanied with a strong Irish Breakfast tea such as Barry's Tea, Lyons Tea, or Bewley's breakfast blend served with milk. Fried potato bread, farl, potato farl or toast is often served as an alternative to brown soda bread.

First of all, white and black pudding kind of freak me out, I am more of a Bill Cosby kind of pudding person. Second of all, I was already going to make eggs (which I am not overly fond of), so I didn't want to make tomatoes. Having sausages and bacon would have been over the top as well. Also, the only kind of ready-made bread product we had was bagels, so I skipped the bread portion. I ended up with bacon (rashers), Irish beans, eggs, & potatoes. I also made tea. Even this was a bit much for Fredric and myself, I am not quite sure how people manage to fit all that food in them first thing in the morning--we even have left-overs.

I got my information about traditional Irish breakfasts from two places:

I did make the bacon and potatoes the traditional way--the bacon was not at all crispy, and it was fried in Irish butter. I used the remainder of bacon fat and butter to fry the potatoes. It was a great and VERY filling breakfast.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Colcannon and Dinner Results

So tonights dinner of Guinness Irish Stew, Irish Soda Bread, Colcannon, and Baileys Chocolate Chip Cheesecake. I decided to make the Colcannon to help supplement the rest of the meal so everyone had enough. It all was awesome! Everyone loved it!! The cheesecake was a bit rich, but you could really taste the Baileys and it was good!

Here is the recipe for the Colcannon:


3-4 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
3 tbsp. milk or unsweetened/plain soy milk
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
2 cups chopped cabbage or kale
2 tbsp. butter or margarine
1/4 cup chopped onions or green onions

Cook potatoes in a pot of boiling water until tender. Drain, reserving water.
Place the hot potatoes in a large bowl.
Add chopped cabbage to the reserved potato water. Cook 6-8 minutes or until tender.
Meanwhile, fry the onions in the butter or margarine.
When they are cool enough to handle, mash potates with a hand masher or fork. Add the fried onions and cabbage.
Add milk, salt and pepper and beat until fluffy.
Indulgent peasants: fry in a touch of oil or margarine to make colcannon patties.
Rich peasants: add cheese and a touch of butter to the top.
Modern peasants: colcannon can be made with leftover meat. Add some chopped meatless ham when mixing the ingredients together.
Nutritious peasants: substitue kale for the cabbage.

I added carrots to mine and it turned out super yummy!

Baileys Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

Ok, so I just made the Bailey's Chocolate Chip Cheesecake. It is currently in the oven for the next hour. Once it comes out of the oven, I will make the topping. I was not able to procure a spring-form pan, so I used a pie pan. Once I added the filling, I had a bit left over. This is either b/c the crust was too thick or my pan was too small. I am leaning towards a little bit of both. Most cheesecake has a decent sized amount of filling, I fear that this one will be a bit puny compared to that. I also was a little worried when I saw that some of the cream cheese had stuck to the side and did not blend as well as I had hoped....Heres hopping it all went well!!

Here is the recipe:

Non-stick vegetable oil spray
2 cups crushed McVities digestives* (I substituted graham crackers for these)
1/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons Irish butter* melted (I used regular butter)

2 1/4 pounds cream cheese, room temperature (I used a little less than this)
1 2/3 cups sugar
5 eggs, room temperature
1 cup Baileys Irish Cream Liqueur
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup chilled whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon instant coffee powder (I am going to use a instant mocha cappuccino instead)

Chocolate curls or shavings

1. Pre heat oven to 325 degrees
2. Coat 9-inch diameter spring-form pan with non-stick vegetable oil spray
3. Combine digestives and sugar in pan; stir in the butter
4. Press the mixture into the bottom and 1 inch up sides of pan
Bake until light brown about 5 minutes. Remove from oven (keep oven turned on to 325 degrees)
5. Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth
6. Gradually mix in sugar, then beat in eggs 1 at a time. Add Baileys and vanilla
7. Sprinkle half of chocolate chips over crust
8. Spoon filling into crust; sprinkle with remaining chocolate chips
9. Bake until puffed, springy in the center and golden brown - about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Cool completely
10. Beat cream, sugar and coffee powder until peaks form; spread mixture over top and sides of cooled cake. Garnish with chocolate curls or shavingsfrom a bitter-sweet chocolate bar. Refrigerate until serving time. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Ok so the cheesecake is done....and iced. I topped it off with chocolate chips. Using a pie pan was the total wrong move. When I pulled it out of the oven it looked like a weird muffin mushroom thing. Then when I managed to get it out of the pan (so I could ice it), it had shrunk a bit and looked kind of like a flat smooshed pancake with a muffin top.....I made extra whipped topping (thank goodness!) and was able to conceal most of the damage....

Strawberry Scones and Irish Soda Bread

Ok, so this morning I got up and made Strawberry Scones and had Fredric help me make Soda Bread (he knew how to use a breadmaker better than me). The Guinness Irish Stew looks great--I tried a bit of it this morning, and it tastes great too. I will be adding the cornstarch to it to thicken it, once it gets a little closer to the time to serve it!

The Strawberry Scones proved to be a bit odd to make....but I have never made a scone before. I am a bit worried I screwed it up (it's in the oven now), due to the fact I did not have cookie cutters to make even shapes, I just used my hands. Also I was worried that it didn't look/feel right when I put it on the seemed like it might be a bit more runny than it should (this could be due to the fact I used frozen strawberries). Here is the recipe I used:

1 cup strawberries
2 1/3 cups of flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons Irish Butter*
2/3 cup milk

Preheat oven to 425°F
1. Cut strawberries in 1/2 inch pieces and set aside
2. In large bowl, sift the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt
3. Add butter. With pastry blender or two knives, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs
4. Stir in reserved strawberries and toss well to coat
5. Add milk all at once. With a fork, lightly toss until mixture holds together
6. With floured hands, gently form into a ball. Gently roll out dough on floured board until 1/2 inch thick
7. Cut into two-and-a-half-inch circles with floured cookie cutter or upside down plastic tumbler
8. Place on greased cookie sheet and bake until golden - about 12 minutes.
Serve warm with either strawberry preserves and/or whipped cream.

As for the bread, I wanted to use the breadmaker, but all of those recipes had carraway seeds and raisins in them. I ended up just removing those. Traditional Irish Soda Bread does not have those things in them. So here is the recipe for that:

1 1/8 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons margarine or butter
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. caraway seeds
3 cups bread flour
2 tsp. yeast
1/3 cup raisins

How to make this recipe:
Add all ingredients in order per your bread maker instructions (follow directions for 1 1/2 pound loaf) EXCEPT for raisins; add those at the beep. Continue with your machine instructions. Makes a 1 1/2 pound loaf

The bread has 3 hours left on it, and the scones have 3 minutes!! I will update once the scones come out!

Ok Scones are done....and taste YUMMY! They do not look so great though. If I had used the cookie cutter I am sure they would look alright. Also I used frozen strawberries, so they were a bit more moist (and in some cases, the strawberry juice "leaked" a bit) than a regular scone (which is good for me, seeing as I don't really like that dry crumbly texture that much.) In an hour or so I will be making the cheesecake. I will be posting pics of the stew and bread when they are ready.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Guinness Irish Stew

I decided that I am going to make some Guinness Irish Stew in the crockpot over night. I am going to have some friends and my Grandfather over for dinner tomorrow. The dinner will consist of Guinness Irish Stew, Soda Bread, and Baileys Chocolate Chip Cheesecake.

I will make the Soda Bread in the bread maker (I got one for Christmas!)in the morning and while that is making, I will make the cheesecake, I will include the recipes and stuff for them tomorrow, but seeing as I am making the stew tonight, I will do this one tonight.

Irish Beef Stew Recipe


1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/4 pounds well-marbled chuck beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch pieces (NOT extra-lean)
6 large garlic cloves, minced
6 cups beef stock (make sure you don't use bullion)
I bottle of Guinness beer (I used the extra stout)
1 cup of fine red wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 7 cups)
1 large onion, chopped
2 cups 1/2-inch pieces peeled carrots
Salt and Pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon cornstarch


Evenly coat the meat with the flour.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil and butter - allow to melt. When a drop of water sizzles once dropped in the skillet, the pan is ready to have the meat added. Brown each side of the meat without allowing it to stick. Add the bay leaves and allow the meat to cook for another 1-2 minutes, then remove the meat from the pan, but keep the bay leaves in. Place the beef cubes in a crock pot.

Add the onion, garlic, thyme, and rosemary to the skillet and sauté until the onions just begin to soften and the edges turn slightly golden. Remove everything from this pan by pouring the contents over the meat that's been placed in the slow cooker.

Return the skillet to the stove and pour in half of the beef stock to deglaze the pan. Remove this and pour it over the contents of the crock pot along with the rest of the beef stock and then add the Guinness Stout. I also added the wine, Worcestershire, and tomato paste.

Finally, layer the carrots then the potatoes over the ingredients already on the slow cooker and add salt and fresh cracked pepper to suit your taste.

Cook for 4-5 hours on high heat, or 8 hours on low.

During the last hour before serving, dissolve the cornstarch in cold water and then stir into the broth. Simmer on the High setting for a few minutes to thicken.
(I am cooking mine overnight)
Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

First Irish Dish of the New Year

So today we went grocery shopping.....and loaded up on the potatoes!! We decided to make the following dishes:
guniess irish stew
shepard pie
carrot soup
irish breakfast
irish rarebit
strawberry scones
bangers and mash
soda bread
cheese stuffed herb chicken
boiled bacon & cabbage
potato soup

It was a bit tricky for some things, for example one recipe called for Irish Bacon....and that couldn't be found, but we did find Irish butter. Also, we could not locate Dubliner cheese or the right type of lamb, so there will be a few dishes we still need to shop for.

Tonights first Irish dish will be Shepard Pie. I am going to make the mash potatoes from scratch. There are a lot of different ways to make Shepard Pie. I am going to combine a few recipes I found, due to the fact that I liked some parts of each recipe.

So here are the ingredients:

1 1/2 lbs ground round beef
1 onion chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-2 cups vegetables - chopped carrots, corn, peas (I used 1 can of carrots, 2 carrots, and a handful of frozen peas)
1 1/2 - 2 lbs potatoes (3 big ones)
8 tablespoons butter (1 stick) (I mixed a bit of Irish butter in)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons sour cream or softened cream cheese
1/2 cup cream, for a lighter version substitute vegetable or chicken broth (I also added a little splash of buttermilk for extra creamy potatoes)
2 tablespoons flour
1 sprig of thyme
Salt, pepper, other seasonings of choice

1 Pre-heat oven to 200C/400°F.
2 Saute carrots in the olive oil until starting to get tender.
3 Add in the onions and saute for a minute or two then add the meat.
4 Season with black pepper and thyme.
5 Cook until browned then drain fat.
6 Add the butter and peas.
7 Sprinkle with flour and stir through.
8 Add wine and Worcestershire sauce.
9 Allow to reduce down until you have a thick meaty gravy (you can add beef stock if desired). Season to your taste.
10 Remove from heat. Grease an oven proof dish (I used a 9x13 and to grease it I used some spray butter).
11 Drain potatoes and pour them into a bowl. Combine sour cream, egg yolk and cream. Melt butter in microwave. Add the cream mixture and butter into potatoes and mash until potatoes are almost smooth.
12 Spoon or pipe the mashed potatoes over top. Brush with egg (you can also sprinkle cheese on top)
13 Bake for about 20 minutes or until the potato is nice and browned on top.

Ok well I will let you guys know how it is once it gets out of the oven!!!

Here are a few updates once I started making it:

First, I did not peel my potatoes (I like the skins), however, this was not a good move---it took a really long time to make the potatoes creamy enough.

Second, I forgot to add the thyme at the right step, I ended up adding it during the reduction stage, I also added a bit of thyme & rosemary to the potato mix. I also forgot to brush to top with egg. Hopefully this will be an ok mistake. I also added cheddar cheese sprinkles to the top before I baked it---it's in the oven now...15 minutes till chow time!!!! (side note, it took around 26-27 minutes to bake & I had to use the broiler to make it brown on top---this may have been the case due to the fact, I forgot to brush egg on top....)

Ok, so the jury is back with a verdict!! Fred said he gave it a 10--then a 9 saying that it couuuuuuuld be more flavorful, but that it was good....though he did grumble about the fact I didn't have biscuits with it..and he said that it was more like a side dish....I tried to explain to him that it was an all-in-one dish--that the side dishes were included into the main dish....but you know boys!!

I personally thought it rocked!!! Though Fredric was right, it could have been more flavorful, maybe that was the result of not adding the thyme at the right stage, or maybe I could have added a little more than I did....

I am debating on getting out of bed early tom to make strawberry scones for breakfast...but we will see!!