Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I like to go a traditional route for St. Patrick's Day dinner. We usually have Guinness beef stew, soda bread, and I have a Guinness. I modify a couple recipes to make my stew. Here is a rough recipe, as the veggies can vary in quantity and variety. The prunes add a nice sweetness that compliments the bitterness of the Guinness. 

Guinness Beef Stew with Herbed Potatoes 

1 onion, chopped
1 large turnip, peeled and chopped
2 medium parsnips, chopped into similar size pieces (narrow end in circles, fat end halved)
6 medium carrots, chopped into circles
2 lb boneless chuck roast, cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks (don't use stew beef unless you like chewing erasers)
1 cup pitted prunes, halved
Salt and pepper
2 bay leaves
1 bottle of Guinness
2 cups water

2lb small new potatoes, halved if large
4 T unsalted butter
Salt and pepper
1t dried thyme

For stew: place all ingredients in 6 qt crock pot. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours, or until meat is tender. I like to thicken mine with a little instant potato flake. Add it by the tablespoon until desisted thickness. 

For potatoes: melt butter in a large heavy pot with lid (I use my enameled cast iron Dutch oven). Add potatoes (wet from rinsing) and salt and pepper. Cover and cook on low heat 30 minutes, until tender. Do not remove lid to stir, but shake the pot, so steam doesn't escape. Turn off heat and let sit 5 minutes. Add thyme and shake. 

Serve in bowls with stew on potatoes. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Happy Pi Day! 3.1415

Happy Pi Day! In honor, I decided we would have pie for dinner and dessert. I cheated for dessert, and bought an apple pie from my grocery bakery. But for dinner, I wanted something different. And since St. Patrick's Day in next week, I looked in my Irish cookbooks and found two similar pies, which I combined into my own. In The Frugal Gourmet on Our Immigrant Ancestors (one of my favorite cookbooks in college) I found scallop and mushroom pie. Basically a seafood shepherds pie. In In An Irish Country Kitchen by Clare Connery, I found fisherman's pie. Hers is made with white fish (with the option of smoked fish) and mushrooms.

So I mashed the two up in my head and came up with this:

Fisherman's Pie

3/4 lb cod cut into bite size pieces
1/4 lb each sea scallops and baby/salad shrimp
Nutmeg to taste
Bay leaf
1.5 c milk
3 T butter, divided
4 oz mushrooms, sliced
Salt and pepper
2 T flour
2 T chives
4-5 c prepared mashed potatoes
Melted butter or oil, to brush on top

In a small pot, bring milk, pepper, parsley, nutmeg, and bay leaf barely to a simmer. Add scallops and poach until just done. Remove to a large bowl. Add cod and poach until just done (I did that in two batches as my pot was quite small). Remove to bowl with scallops. Set milk aside. 

In a medium pot, melt 1 T butter. Add mushrooms, salt, and pepper. Cook mushrooms until tender and golden. Remove to bowl with seafood. 

Melt remaining butter in pot. Whisk in flour to make a roux. Cook a couple minutes, then whisk in hot milk. Bring to a bubble and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in shrimp, and cooked seafood. Set aside. 

Preheat broiler (mine uses temperature, so was set at 425*. Choose your temp accordingly)

In 2qt broiler safe dish, spoon seafood mixture. Make sure seafood is evenly distributed. Carefully spoon mashed potatoes around the top in small spoonfuls. Carefully spread into an even layer, completely covering the seafood. Smooth the top, then make ridges with a fork. Brush melted butter or oil on the top to help browning. 

Place in broiler and cook until brown and bubbly. Watch carefully to prevent burning!

Cool for 10 minutes and serve.