Friday, February 24, 2012

St. Patrick's Day

Time to get your Irish on again

Once again I'm updating an old post about St. Patrick's Day. The Irish side of my family took this holiday very seriously. We even marched in the City of Chicago St. Patrick's Day Parade for a couple of years until we had to give up our parade position to some more politicians, most of whom were not even Irish. If you've never done Chicago in the winter they dye the river green as well as the beer. If you come in March you'll want to bring a heavy coat because it gets pretty cold in the windy city. 
St. Patrick's almost always gave mom a break from cooking, so that we could enjoy a Corned Beef and Cabbage dinner away from home. There were a few restaurants where we enjoyed their corned beef and cabbage. Like most holidays, I always enjoyed cooking and eating at home. Cooking at home always meant that we would have left-over's for the next day, which almost always involved a Reuben sandwich, or corned beef on rye with Swiss cheese. In most cases there was still enough left over for corned beef hash and eggs for breakfast.
New England Boiled Dinner
I really first learned that corned beef and cabbage was not a traditional Irish meal brought over from Ireland until I was married. My wife had been cooking since the age of twelve and corned beef and cabbage was something that she made often. In her family it was called a "New England Boiled Dinner." My mother gave my wife one of the best compliments a daughter-in-law could get. Every year we would bring her a homemade corned beef and cabbage New England Boiled Dinner. My mother told her that she made it better than anyone in the family. What a compliment
Mom's Corned Beef and Cabbage to go

Other than corned beef and cabbage dinner. Mom just loved a Reuben sandwich, or a corned beef on rye.    
Corned Beef on Rye
Last year my daughter told me that a friend of hers made a corned beef brisket, using a recipe that uses Guinness Beer for the liquid.  My daughter, who normally doesn't care for corned beef loved this version better than ours. The Guinness recipe (found on the internet) was oven baked. I wanted to use a slow cooker so I combined both recipes and had a very delicious St. Pat's dinner. So grab a couple of recipes and get your Irish on.
You might even get lucky
3-5 lb. Corned beef brisket
1 whole Bay leaf
4 whole Cloves
10 whole Black peppercorns
2 Tbsp. White vinegar
2 Tbsp. Sugar
2 cloves Garlic (smashed)
2 tsp. Salt
2 stalks Celery
6 whole Carrots, peeled, quartered
6 small. Onions, outer skin removed
8 small Red potatoes, peeled and quartered
6 small Rutabaga, peeled and quartered (optional)
1 head Cabbage, cut into wedges

Depending on the size of the brisket, it should take about 45 minutes per pound to cook. Remove the brisket from the packaging and rinse it off. Place the brisket into a Dutch oven or stock pot that is large enough to accommodate the brisket and all of the vegetables. Cover with water to an inch or so above the brisket. Add the vinegar, sugar, bay leaf, peppercorns, cloves, salt, garlic, and celery. Bring the water to a boil, reduce heat, place a top on the pot and simmer for 2 hours. Occasionally check the pot to be sure it is not boiling. If there is any foam on top of the water, skim with a slotted spoon.     
At the end of 2 hours, add the onions, potatoes, rutabaga, and carrots to the water and then recover. Add boiled hot water to cover the vegetables (not from the sink). Turn up the stove and bring to boil, then lower to simmer. Add the cabbage on top of all the vegetables and cover. Watch so that the water does not boil. After about 45 minutes, check the vegetables for doneness by inserting a fork into them. When they are tender, transfer from the pot to large bowl, cover with foil and keep in a warm oven. The celery, bay leaf and garlic cloves are in the pot for their flavor and will be discarded. The corned beef is done when it can be pierced easily with a fork and fall off the fork when you pull out. Cut the brisket across the grain into thin slices. Arrange vegetables around the beef. Serve with horseradish, mustard or your favorite sauce. Enjoy!

Erin go Bragh
© TMelle 1998-2012

Friday, February 10, 2012

Valentine's Day

Be my Valentine
It happens every year, and every year I am never really ready for it. This year is no different. I decided to dust of an old post from this blog and update it a little bit. This Valentine’s Day why not treat yourself, a loved one, family member or friend to a delicious breakfast or dinner that goes the extra distance to show how much you care for them. Anyone can make a dinner reservation. How special is a breakfast or dinner that you make yourself?
Heart shaped Jello and molds
To pull this off you're going to need some heart shaped molds. You can buy them at your local gourmet cooking store. Can you guess what I'm making here?
Heart shaped French toast
Get out your favorite French toast recipe ingredients and make up some heart shaped French toast pieces, served with real butter, real vanilla extract and real maple syrup. You can try mine if you like.
Use the real ingredients... It's Valentines Day

3     large      Eggs (beaten)
1/4  cup        Milk
1     tsp.        Vanilla, add to eggs
8     slices     White Bread (slightly stale)
as needed     Butter
as needed     Pure Maple Syrup**
as needed     Powdered Sugar
as needed     Cinnamon, add to eggs
as needed     Butter, shortening, oil, or Pam (for frying)
Kiddie Cocktails for the children
Break the eggs into bowl. Add the milk, vanilla and whisk these together. If you like cinnamon, sprinkle some on the top of the egg batter. For extra cinnamon flavor use cinnamon raisin bread.
Preheat your griddle to about 325-350ºF. Spray your griddle with Pam, or use a little butter, or shortening (more or less depending on the size of your griddle) to prepare the griddle, or pan that you are using. Dunk both sides of bread into egg mixture. Remove the slices of bread from the egg mixture and place onto the hot griddle. With the tip of your spatula, lift the edge of a slice so that you can see the bottom. When the bottom is golden, flip it over and cook the other side. When they are golden on the second side, remove from the pan and place on a platter. Stack each piece on the platter overlapping each other. Dot each piece with butter and dust with powdered sugar. Serve 3 heart slices per serving. Serve warm syrup on the side.

Breakfast is served!

For the children why not whip up some Kiddie Cocktails? Fill a champagne flute with 7UP and then add a couple of drops of Maraschino Cherry juice. Serve cold and garnish with a whole Maraschino Cherry.
For the adults a Mimosa is always a good choice. Fill a champagne flute or tulip glass half way with champagne or prosecco and then the remainder of the way with Orange juice. Garnish with a fresh strawberry, or a blood orange slice on the glass rim. What a great way to say Happy Valentine’s Day.  
7UP is a registered trademark of Dr Pepper/Seven Up, Inc. ©2012 Dr Pepper/Seven Up 

© TMelle 1998-2012