Since my boys decided we should celebrate our heritage, we did an Irish dinner last night. I’ve traveled to Ireland several times, and I love being caught up in the beauty and culture of the Emerald Isle. I decided to forego the corned beef and cabbage – I don’t like either. Instead, I made a traditional Shepherd’s Pie.
The Irish version often calls for lamb or mutton, and again I don’t like either. So, I opted for a beef version. It’s a pretty quick meal, and I like that. I asked my husband to chop a medium onion and some celery stalks. His hand was bothering him, so he decided to use the Cuisinart mini-processor. I bought that little gadget for just such chopping, but you need to just pulse it, not grind it. My husband did the later and I had near-pureed onion instead of dices. It worked, though. I browned the ground meat as he pulverized. The onions and celery got added to the browned meat and I sautéed it until tender. Then I added a tablespoon of ketchup, salt and pepper, and a dash of dried thyme. I stirred in a half-cup of water and ten ounces of frozen mixed veggies. Then the lid went on and I let it simmer for seven minutes. You’re supposed to put it into a round, two-quart casserole, but I broke mine and haven’t replaced it yet. So it went into the square casserole instead. Then, you plop (that’s a culinary term,) three cups of mashed potatoes on top. Swirl into peaks or make designs with a fork on the top. Put into a 425° oven for twenty minutes, and that’s it!
Ahead of time, I made some Irish soda bread which I served with the entrée. Unfortunately, I tried a new recipe and I didn’t like it as much. I know – if it ain’t broken, yadda, yadda… and next time, it’s back to the old tried and true. The problem was that the dough was too liquidy (another cooking term – learn them; there may be a test!) I usually have a dense dough which I could knead, but there was no way I could knead this one. So, I put into a baking dish instead of mounding it on a tray. Then it rose too much and began to escape the dish. It did taste yummy, but I won’t use that recipe again.
I made some “Irish” cookies, too. One was simply my chocolate chip recipe, but I used green M and M’s. The other was a simple sugar cookie that I frosted with green royal icing. I served them with the Irish Syllabub, which was another easy, but delicious, treat. You just put a cup of Bailey’s in a bowl with ¾ cup of sugar, a teaspoon of lime zest, 3 teaspoons of lime juice, and a dash of nutmeg. You leave it sit at room temperature for two hours, stirring occasionally. Then whip a cup of heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Fold in the Bailey’s mixture and spoon into glasses. Keep refrigerated until you’re ready to serve it. It was heavenly!
So, that was our trip to Erin, and a lovely one it was! Next week, we may go back to Italy or stay planted in the U.S. Sunday is birthday dinner number one – so next Wednesday will be simpler.