Monthly Archives: March 2013

Guinness Irish Stew

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I’m going to put this out there: I’m not generally a huge celebrator of Saint Patrick’s Day. On account of my tenuous Irish heritage, my family ate corned beef and cabbage on the 17th of March and my name is Erin, after all. However, years of serving and tending bar soured me on the typical Americanized “everyone is Irish” style celebration and for a long time I have preferred to stay home and enjoy a pint in peace.

Cut to 2013: Our friend Mick was scandalized to hear that we don’t celebrate The Day at all, and sent us a Saint Patrick’s Day Survival Kit in the post to help us remedy the situation. We were treated to sweets, crisps, badges, DVDs and other sundry Irish delights. Quite an indulgence.

Guinness

Not just for drinking!

It would be a shame not to celebrate wholeheartedly, so I decided to make a full Irish dinner to go along with our snacks and desserts – Irish stew and soda bread accompanied by creamy pints of Guinness, of course. Is this authentic? I do not know. But it was wonderful!

Ingredients:

  • 400 grams beef stew meat, cut into 1-2″ chunks
  • 400 grams lamb* stew meat, cut into 1-2″ chunks
  • flour for dredging
  • pinch of salt, pepper, cayenne
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 2 leeks, white and light green parts, sliced
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 bottle of Guinness
  • 2 tsp mustard (Colman’s or dijon)
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 medium carrots, washed, peeled and cut into 2″ chunks
  • 400 grams potatoes, washed and cut into 2″ chunks
  • 3 parsnips, washed, peeled and cut into strips
  • 2 medium onions, quartered
  • Sprig of rosemary and thyme or 1 tsp dried of each
  • sea salt

*Lamb is traditional, but if you don’t care for it feel free to use just 800 g of beef.

Instructions:

stew meat

Fresh from the butcher’s: beef (l) and lamb (r) stew meat

Heat up the oil in a pressure cooker pot over medium heat. Dredge the stew meat in flour with a pinch of salt, pepper and cayenne. Shake off extra flour and brown the stew meat in the oil. You’ll probably have to brown it in two batches. Remove the meat to a bowl.

Lower the heat and sauté the leeks, shallots and garlic until translucent, scraping up any bits of meat/flour in the bottom of the pot. Add the bottle of Guinness, Worcestershire sauce, mustard and vinegar, letting it simmer for about 5 minutes. Return meat to the pot and add enough water to cover. Add the cocoa powder, bay leaf  and peppercorns and stir thoroughly.

Put the pressure cooker lid on and turn the heat to high, allowing it to come to full pressure. Turn heat down enough just so that it remains at full pressure and cook for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes take it off the heat and quick release the pressure (see your pressure cooker manual for details).

stew vegetables

Fresh is best!

Use the time while the meat is braising in the pressure cooker to wash, peel and prepare the vegetables. After quick releasing the lid, add the vegetables, rosemary, thyme and salt, to taste. Put the lid back on and return to full pressure, then cook for 5 minutes. Take the pot off the heat and allow it to depressurize using the slow release method.

Guinness Irish Stew

Hearty, delicious stew

Serve with warm bread and butter. There will be plenty for the next day as well, stew is even better the second day!

Note: If you don’t have a pressure cooker, no worries! Just braise the meat in a large pot over medium-low heat for 45 minutes to an hour before adding the vegetables, then cook for an additional 30-45 minutes over low heat, or until the veggies are tender.

Servings: Eight. 400 calories.

Adapted from Juls’ Kitchen and Irish American Mom.

Scoda Bread

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Not quite traditional soda bread, not quite a scone. You can make one big loaf  to share or cut out individual biscuits. Scone + soda = scoda! Pretty clever, huh? Okay, maybe not, but tasty nonetheless!

This is a bit of a kitchen-sink recipe, meaning as long as you follow the basic ingredients, you can add whatever sweet or savoury ingredients that you like.

Finished scoda bread

Gruyère and chives, you say?

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour*
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1-3 tsp sugar**
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup (56 grams) cold butter, cut in small pieces
  • 125 ml (one pot) natural greek yoghurt
  • 125 ml milk
  • up to 1 cup of add-ins***

* You can substitute up to one cup of whole wheat flour or oatmeal (that’s been ground up in a food processor) for regular white flour.
** Less sugar for savoury bread, more sugar for sweet bread, you get the picture.
*** The sky’s the limit! Cheddar and chives, raisins and walnuts, sunflower seeds, poppy seeds, apricots, fresh rosemary, sun-dried tomatoes, it’s up to you.

Pre-heat oven to 215ºC/420ºF. Grease  a round baking pan (or a cast-iron skillet if you have one, you lucky so-and-so) with butter or olive oil.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda and any other dry ingredients you may be using, such as cinnamon or herbs.

Add the cold butter and, using your fingers, quickly break the butter down into the dry ingredients.  Some bits of butter will be the size of small peas, others the size of oat flakes. Stir in your chunky add-ins at this point, such as chives, cubes of cheese, raisins, dried fruit, etc.

In a small bowl, beat together yoghurt and milk.

Add the wet ingredients all at once to the dry ingredients.  Stir with a wooden spoon or spatula, working to moisten every bit of flour with the milk mixture.  Dump mixture out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently knead 4 to 8 times until the dough comes together into a loose ball.  If the dough is too sticky, add a bit more flour.  The dough should be moist but still shaggy. The dough won’t be smooth, which is fine, that’s better than over-kneading the dough.

Scoda bread dough

All ready for the oven!

Transfer dough to prepared pan.  Use a serrated knife to mark an inch deep X into the dough.  Place in the oven and allow to bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the top is a deep golden color and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. If you tap the bread it will make a hollow thudding sound when it’s finished.

If you prefer scones instead of one loaf of bread, pat the kneaded ball of dough into a round about 3/4″ thick and cut it into wedges or circles using a pastry cutter. Bake the scones on a baking pan lined with parchment paper – they will be finished baking after about 20 minutes.

Quick breads like this are best enjoyed fresh out of the oven, so serve warm with a bit of butter or a nice bowl of soup!

Adapted from Simply Recipes.

Servings: Eight.  240 calories (without calorific add-ins like cheese.)

Baked oatmeal

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baked oatmeal finished product

Brunch brunch brunch, I love brunch. You can totally have brunch at any time of year, but to me March is the “start” of brunch season. It’s nearly spring and you can convince people to leave their house on a Sunday morning (ok, early afternoon) and join in on the celebration of longer days and fresh springtime food.

My mother made a baked oatmeal similar to this at Christmastime, and it was fabulous. Strawberries are back in season so I decided to try the recipe with a spring-y twist, and I was not disappointed. I think this baked oatmeal is so good because it’s like pancakes, porridge and cake had a delicious love child.

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients:

baked oatmeal ingredients

  • 2 cups (500 ml) rolled or steel-cut oats (not instant)
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) nuts (walnuts, almonds, mixed nuts & seeds, etc.) chopped up
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml or 4 TB) brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • scant 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 cups (500 ml) milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp maple extract (if you don’t have maple just use 2 tsp vanilla)
  • 2-3 bananas cut into slices about 1 cm thick
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries (or other seasonal berries)
  • butter/oil for greasing the pan

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 190ºC/375ºF  with rack in top half of oven. Generously butter a square glass or ceramic baking pan.

In a bowl mix together oats, half the nuts, sugar, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg. In another bowl, whisk together milk, egg, and vanilla/maple.

Arrange bananas in a single layer in bottom of prepared dish. Arrange half of berries over top. Cover fruit with oat mixture. Slowly drizzle milk mixture over oats. Gently give baking dish a few thwacks on the counter to make sure milk moves through oats. Scatter remaining berries and walnuts on top just before putting into oven.*

Bake 30-45 minutes until top is golden and oats have set. Remove from oven and let it cool for a few minutes.  Drizzle with melted butter if you like, and serve with brown sugar or syrup.

*This recipe is perfect for making a day ahead. After pouring milk mixture over oats cover the baking dish with plastic film and refrigerate. You’ll see that the oats soak up all the milk, it’s glorious. Sprinkle the remaining nuts and berries on top just before baking.

Servings: Six generous servings. 265 calories.

Recipe adapted from Heidi Swanson via Epicurious.