Friday, March 14, 2008

Saint Patrick’s Day

Hi! I have gotten a few calls today about my corned beef recipe! WOW, we are in full spring!

Being from a large Irish- Italian family we always had a family bash on St. Patrick’s Day. It was one of the few meals my dad loved to cook. We would come home from school and watch him prepare this amazing meal. The way my dad cooked was by using every bowl, spoon and gadget in the kitchen, playfully annoying my mother since he cooked and did not clean! O.K., so it is not necessarily the kind of holiday that the masses celebrate, but you can come up with fun things to do with your family. One year we had a potato hunt and the person that found the most got a gold coin. My friend Zelma started the traditional game of hiding the cabbage. Not being a fan of that vegetable she will hide it in the hopes that I will forget about it! (I did once, nobody seemed to mind!) My daughter’s kindergarten and first grade teacher had a naughty little leprechaun named Liam that appeared in her classroom starting the first of March. He left little messes and problems to solve, and told the kids that if they could catch him on St Patrick’s Day they would get the pot of gold. The kids spent so much time creating elaborate traps. But alas, Liam always managed to escape, but not without totally wreaking havoc in the classroom and leaving cupcakes. (Kind of like my daddy in the kitchen!) Some older Irish folks I know believe in reading the eyes of potatoes for fortunes. Soda bread is super easy to make and a great activity for older kids. For me the best part is hanging with friends and family and spreading a little luck of the Irish to all those I love.

Corned Beef

In college and in my first few years living in L.A., while many of my peers were chugging green beer, I was cooking a traditional Irish-American dinner. One year I did 35 pounds of Corned Beef and there was not a scrap left for sandwiches.
The best part of this meal is that it is done in one pot! Even though I am giving you a couple of recipes for bread, you can always buy some if you are pressed for time. The flavor of the beef in the boiling water gives the veggies an amazing flavor. This menu is based on 8 people. I recommend that as you add people you add pots. Do half of the beef in each so you can still cook all the veggies in the meat water. I simply serve it with assorted mustards and assorted breads.

6 pound corned beef brisket
6 garlic cloves
12 peppercorns
6 whole cloves
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoon each: thyme,sage, and oregano (Must have been added from one of my Italian relatives.)
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3 red onions, sliced
10 medium carrots cut into one-inch pieces
16 red new potatoes, scrubbed
2 small heads of green cabbage, cut into 8 wedges each

In a large soup pot cover corned beef with cold water. Add onions, garlic peppercorns, cloves, bay leaves,red pepper and seasoning. Over medium-high heat bring to a boil. Carefully remove foam without removing any spices. Reduce heat and cook covered until almost fork tender about 3 hours. Add carrots and potatoes; cook 15 minutes. Add cabbage, cook 15 minutes longer until vegetables and brisket are tender. Remove Brisket, slice and arrange on a large platter. Drain vegetables in a colander and return to pot, toss with butter and place on platter.

Irish Soda Bread

2 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon each baking soda-baking powder
1/2-teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
1-cup buttermilk
1/2-cup seedless, dark raisins

Spray a cookie sheet with baker’s joy. Preheat oven to 375. In a large bowl mix all dry ingredients. With a pastry blade cut in butter until mixture resembles a coarse crumbs. Add raisins. Add buttermilk and stir until dry ingredients are just moistened. Turn out on lightly floured board. Gently knead for about 1 minute until smooth. Shape into a ball and then press down until you get a 6-inch circle. With a sharp knife cut a quarter inch cross in the top of the bread. Bake for 40 minutes until top is golden and you hear a hollow sound when lightly tapped. Let cool on rack.

Irish soda bread with fresh dill

4 cups flour
1 teaspoon each baking powder- baking soda-salt
1/2 cup fresh dill, finely chopped
6 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Pre-heat oven to 350. In a large bowl combine all dry ingredients. Cut butter in with a pastry blade until it resembles coarse crumbs. With a fork add the dill. Add buttermilk and mix until lightly moistened. Turn out to lightly floured board and knead until smooth about 5 minutes. Divide the dough in half and make two smooth balls. Place the balls on a large increased cookie sheet. Bake for 40 minutes until top is golden and you hear a hollow sound when lightly tapped. Let cool on rack.

Onion-corn Rye Bread

2 packages yeast
2 cups warm water
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2-cup warm milk
1-teaspoon salt
2-tablespoon caraway seeds
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons corn oil
4 cups flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
2 cups rye flour
1 egg white, beaten
Kosher Salt

In the bowl of an electric mixer; soften yeast in 1/2-cup water with 1 teaspoon of sugar for about 5 minutes. Add remaining water, milk, sugar, salt, caraway seeds, oil and onion. Add three cups flour. Mix to blend, then beat at medium speed until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and a towel and let rest in a warm place for about 30 minutes. Set aside 3 tablespoons of cornmeal for topping. Mix the remaining cornmeal, the rye flour and 1/2-cup flour in to make soft dough. Turn out onto a floured board and knead until dough is elastic and smooth and small bubbles form under the surface, adding a little flour so the dough is not sticky, for about 2 minutes. Turn dough into a greased bowl and cover with plastic and a towel and let rise in a warm place for one hour. Punch dough down and let rest for 15 minutes. Divide dough into two equal parts and roll into balls. Place on two greased cookie sheets sprinkled with a little cornmeal. Brush generously with egg white and sprinkle with remaining cornmeal and some kosher salt. Bake for 40 minutes in a pre-heated 350 oven until top is golden and you hear a hollow sound when lightly tapped. Let cool on rack.

Irish Cream Cheesecake

Can you imagine the decadence of mixing cheesecake with Irish Cream? I’m usually way to stuffed from the meal so I have it the next day with my morning coffee!

2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 stick butter, melted
3 -8 ounce packages cream cheese
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup Baileys Irish Cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350. Combine melted butter and crumbs. Press into a sprayed 9-inch spring form pan. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the cream cheese. Add remaining ingredients and beat until smooth. Pour mixture into pan. Bake one hour and 15 minutes, until firm in the middle. Cool completely before removing from the pan. Chill for a few hours (overnight) before serving.

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