Monday, March 17, 2008

Top o'' to Ye!

I trust that everyone had their fill of green beer and such shenanigans today? Being that I'm trapped in Obers' Corners without transportation this week, I didn't go anywhere or do anything special today--unless you count walking with Prunelle up to the mini-mart this afternoon to get some brown sugar. (Yippee.) But staying home was fine by me, truth to tell. I had grand plans for a most excellent meal in celebration of St. Pat's, and I worked on it (off and on) all day. But DANG if everything didn't turn out fabulously delicious!

Basically, I made the same dinner as last year (more of a roasted than boiled dinner, but with all the traditional elements). In addition to roasting parts of the "boiled dinner," the other key to success that I have learned is to not skimp on the quality of the corned beef! Now I am a budget shopper and can pinch pennies with the best of them, but I implore you: do yourself a favor and pony up for a better quality (yes, more expensive) corned beef. It makes all the difference--it really does. And if you don't know which one to choose, ask your butcher. The fine fellow at Hannaford (grocery store) led us to a really great one this year.

Then to go along with the corned beef and cabbage and roasted root veggies, I made another version of beer bread, this one with the savory additions of sharp cheddar, mustard and dill. Yum! Thanks to Zabby over at GardenWeb's Harvest Forum who alerted me to the recipe. It came from a recent issue of Toronto's Globe and Mail, so please blame them for the cultural stereotyping, not me. But I got another great beer-laden recipe from the same article, a Chocolate Guinness Cake via Nigella Lawson. It's a real winner--crisp on the outside, incredibly moist on the inside and with a bit of a tang from the beer and from a good amount of sour cream. You don't need a mixer to make this cake, so it's easy. And it's so moist, it doesn't even require frosting, just a sprinkling of powdered sugar, a dollop of whipped cream, or a sidecar of ice cream. I opted for the latter, and I spied the perfect recipe on Smitten Kitchen for homemade butterscotch ice cream, which was the ideal companion for this lush, chocolate cake. (Okay, I suppose my theme is ruined because it's butterSCOTCH not Irish, but then again, if it's no' Scottish, it's crrrrappp!)

Cheesy Beer Bread
(Source: Toronto Globe and Mail, March 15, 2008)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon salt (sounds like a lot, but you need it)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 cup chopped dill (I used one tablespoon of dried)
1 cup grated aged/sharp Cheddar cheese
12 ounces wheat beer or lager (avoid a dark beer--use something mild in flavor)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 350 F. Generously butter a loaf pan and line the bottom with parchment paper (I used a glass pan and didn't need the paper).

Combine all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Add the dill and cheese and stir to coat with flour. Stir in beer and mustard until mixture forms a dough. You may need to knead dough with your hands to bring it together.

Turn the dough into a buttered loaf pan and use a damp hand to smooth the top. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until light golden and firm to touch (more like 50-55 minutes!). Makes 1 loaf. This is great toasted!

Chocolate Guinness Cake
Toronto Globe and Mail, March 15, 2008, adapted from Nigella Lawson's Feast)

1 cup Guinness beer (actually, I used a local caramel porter that was perfect for this)
1 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I swapped out 1/4 cup of dark/black cocoa here)
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Garnish: icing sugar or whipped cream

Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter a 9-inch spring-form pan and line bottom with parchment paper. Pour Guinness into a large saucepan over medium heat. Add butter and heat until melted. Remove from heat, whisk in cocoa powder and sugar and reserve.

Combine sour cream, eggs and vanilla in a separate bowl and beat until uniform. Add sour cream mixture to Guinness mixture and whisk to combine. Whisk in flour and baking soda. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until a cake tester comes out with crumbs clinging to it.

Place tin on a rack and leave to cool completely. Before serving, dust with icing sugar or lightly sweetened whipped cream, or serve with ice cream.

Serves 8 to 10

Butterscotch Ice Cream
(Source: Smitten Kitchen, adapted from Sunset Magazine)
Makes one quart

1 cup firmly-packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 teaspoons bourbon (optional)
pinch of salt (optional)
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
2 cups half-and-half
6 large egg yolks

1. In a 1- to 2-quart pan over medium heat, stir brown sugar and butter until butter is melted, sugar is dissolved, and mixture is bubbly, 3 to 4 minutes. Whisk in 1/2 cup whipping cream until smooth; remove butterscotch mixture from heat. Add vanilla and bourbon, if using. Also, add a pinch of salt (optional).
2. In a 3- to 4-quart pan over medium-high heat, combine remaining 1 cup whipping cream and the half-and-half; bring to a simmer.
3. Meanwhile, in a bowl, beat egg yolks to blend. Whisk 1/2 cup of the warm cream mixture into egg yolks, then pour egg yolk mixture into pan with cream. Stir constantly over low heat just until mixture is slightly thickened, 2 to 4 minutes. Immediately remove from heat.
4. Pour through a fine strainer into a clean bowl and whisk in butterscotch mixture. Chill until cold, stirring occasionally, about 2 hours; or cover and chill up to 1 day. (To fast-track the chilling, use an ice bath for about 20 minutes.)
5. Freeze mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Serve softly frozen, or transfer ice cream to an airtight container and freeze until firm, at least 6 hours or up to 1 week.


JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

This sounds totally great! Yummy! I'll have some please!

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Just the Right Size said...

Ooooh, that cheese bread sounds devine. I'm making corned beef this weekend (w/cabbage and potatoes), so it would go wonderfully. And that ice cream! Yum!!!

I make a version of the Guiness cake last year and I wasn't impressed. Of course, mine called for a boxed cake mix, soooooo. It had a cream cheese icing that included 1/4 cup of Guiness too! The icing was actually really good!

Oh, and I'm coveting your new copper preserving pot. BEAUTIFUL! Does it really make a difference? I've always wanted to know.

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