Ultimate Glazed Corned Beef: Part III of a St. Patrick’s Day Feast!

Ain't it perty?  Good enough to make your tongue slap your brain silly.

I know I promised to deliver this recipe, but I have a good reason for pushing if off until today and it only requires one sentence of explanation.  I have five kids and they all had a 24 hour stomach bug.  Oh yeah.  I think that says it all, right? Today, however, the sun is shining, the temperature is mild for March, and the kids are all better and all playing outside.  So, let's get our corned beef on, shall we? When I said that this corned beef is the be all and end all I meant it.  I always loved corned beef and it was one of my three cheat foods when I had my many-years vegetarian stint (along with Kielbasa and HAM, oh sweet ham. What a way to go...) A good old fashioned boiled corned beef is nothing to sniff at, but a few years ago I started glazing my corned beef after reading 'The Good Stuff Cookbook'.  I had made her Golden Crunchy Pickled Onion Rings and read the directions for using the leftover syrup to glaze a corned beef.  Lo and behold, I found a semi-eaten jar of the onions in the fridge while preparing our St. Paddy's feast and decided to give it a go.  From the moment we sunk our teeth into that brisket there was no going back. Whatever alchemy this process performs turns it a vibrant pinkish red on the inside with a sweet and sour crackling crisp crust on the outside.  It is truly the ultimate corned beef. But I wax rhapsodic again and my kids are desperate for someone to fling them around the yard on a huge wagon.  Don' t ask. Just make this … {Read on...}

Colcannon Stuffed Twice Baked Potatoes: Part II of a St. Patrick’s Day Feast!

Minus the Guinness cheese spread for the little honyak who still likes the works.

I don't know what's going on with my computer today, but half of my photos are out of whack.  Please pretend they're all centered.  Thank you.   Colcannon: Mashed potatoes studded with tender cabbage or kale, onions, salt, pepper, butter and cream.  Oh my. It's the stuff of dreams.  This wondrous concotion graces our St. Patrick's Day table, but it also makes frequent dinner appearances throughout the colder months.  We love our colcannon recipe.  We adore it. And in the name of my pet theory that you can never have enough good potato recipes I messed with it. The usual way we go about preparing our colcannon is pretty straightforward.  Peel, chop and bring potatoes to the boil.  Add cabbage.  Drain, mash, add butter, salt and cream.  Stir in chopped green onions.  And occasionally add an indecent quantity of shredded Cheddar cheese then stir.  Okay, not so much occasionally.  We pretty much do that every time.  And normally, I would then add this to a buttered casserole, top with an equally indecent quantity of Cheddar cheese and pop in a hot oven until bubbly and lightly browned on top.  That makes colcannon pretty hard to beat.  Wouldn't you agree? But let me clue you in about how my brain works.  My brain is a pendulum swinging wildly between the two extremes: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" and "To boldly go where no man has gone".   (Even though that requires me to split an infinitive.  Anathema I tell you.) As I was gathering the ingredients to make … {Read on...}

Guinness and Cheddar Potted Cheese: Part I of a St. Patrick’s Day Feast!

I want to stick my face in this bowl.

Update:  Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.  I made a mistake on the quantities for the recipe.  It should've read '1 pound extra sharp cheddar'.  A friend pointed out that her cheese ended up 'pourable'.  My apologies and this recipe can be saved by adding an additional 1/2 pound of cheddar and re-processing or blending.  It should freeze jim-dandy, too, so the extra quantities shouldn't be a horrid burden.  And if they are, ship 'em to me.  I'll eat my mistakes. I am, like most people I know, a true American mutt.  I know we can account for Irish, German and Native American ancestry.  And I believe I've heard tell of some Romany and Scots heritage tossed in for good measure.  I love being the melting pot personified.  There's something romantic about knowing there are all of those wonderful cultures with me, before me, behind me, within me.* Growing up, my parents always made a very big deal of St. Patrick's Day.  I don't know if it was because our family tree is vastly dominated by Irish roots or if it was because it was just plain fun, but green was definitely the theme!  My Mom managed to make everything at the table some shade of green.  We looked forward to it for weeks ahead of time.  Around here, I save the green for the ubiquitous Shamrock Shakes but the fun continues in other ways.  We read "The Last Snake In Ireland" in our best Irish accent, play The Chieftains at top volume on the stereo, read a certain piece of historic literature*, and put on a massive … {Read on...}

Purple Cow Smoothies

My kids are clinging impatiently to my thighs while I take this picture, 'scuse the angle.

It is simply gorgeous outside here today.  And for that reason, I will not be long winded here.  (And there was much rejoicing...)  My kids are standing on the porch, pressing their faces against the window asking me when I'll be out.  They're also waiting for their smoothies so I have to make like a bird here, and fly. When I was a wee thing my favorite snacks and desserts were milk shakes, purple cows, and my Mom's version of an Orange Julius.  There is something so exciting about using the blender to whip up dessert.  It seemed like such alchemy to put all those bumpy, multi-textured ingredients into the carafe and spin it into perfectly smooth thing of beauty.  Plus I just dug anything I could drink with a straw. A couple years ago I realized -and not for the first time, I might add- that my mother is a genius.  Look at the list of ingredients that go into a Purple Cow: plain yogurt, frozen bananas, and grape juice concentrate.  That's it.  It's cheap.  It's simple.  It blows the doors off of most other snacks in terms of nutritive value.  The yogurt gives you protein, calcium, magnesium, riboflavin, vitamins B-6 and B-12, and vitamin D.  The bananas give you vitamin B6, vitamin C, potassium, dietary fiber, and manganese.  The grape juice concentrate gives you a power punch of vitamin C and antioxidants.  Not only that, but Purple Cows take 5 minutes or less, start to finish.  Thank you, Mom.   For a printer-friendly, photo-free version of this … {Read on...}

Cranberry Upside Down Cake

If you heeded my advice, you will now be grateful you made two...

May I talk to you for a moment about cake?  I have a love/hate thing going with cake.  When I was a kid I disliked cake.  My poor mother.  I asked for a pie every year for my birthday and my Mom has what borders on piecrust making phobia.  I was a selfish little child. After much contemplating over the years-which included eating many, many cakes of many, many varieties-I realized that what I really hated was frosting.  And after playing around with frosting a bit I realized that what I actually hated was bad frosting, specifically.  As in frosting made just with shortening, sugar and food coloring. What really changed my opinion of cakes was learning to think outside the pastry bag.  By chucking the ubiquitous buttercream I discovered that cakes -simple buttery cakes- weren't just merely edible.  They were sublime.   For years now I've topped my cakes with ganache, whipped cream, fruit preserves, syrups, and all sorts of other goodies.  If you haven't made the leap, give it a try.  In fact, try it with this cake. Because this cake, in particular, is my favorite cake ever.  And The Evil Genius's favorite cake ever.  And three of my five children (but not the one who doesn't like fruit and not the one who doesn't like anything that the non-fruit lover dislikes.  Please, Lord, let this be a phase.) I originally made this from the recipe that appeared in Everyday Food Magazine. I made it as written the first couple times and changed it out of necessity (was missing the … {Read on...}