Sunday, March 18, 2012

St. Paddy's Day Shenanigans

This St. Paddy's Day was my first one as a legally drinking adult in the United States.  Last year I was 21, but I was in London, in a pub called the Hobgoblin eating Thai food while listening to a fiddle band and a short Irish bloke in a football jersey curse out the bartender for not pouring his Guinness quickly enough.  It was perfect.

This year, St. Patrick's Weekend was jam-packed full of things to do with fun people and ridiculously good food. On Friday, my friends Ally and Julie came to my house for a sleepover, so I decided on an Irish-themed menu: Irish soda bread, "meat" and potato stew, and Irish Car Bomb ice cream floats.
I used Ina Garten's soda bread recipe. Since this bread doesn't call for yeast, and therefor doesn't need any time to rise, you can make and bake it in under an hour.  My Italian grandmother used to make soda bread every year, but I used to absolutely hate it.  It was always really dry and baking soda-y.  While this recipe calls for currants and only a teaspoon of orange zest, I used golden raisins and used whole orange worth of zest - the plump raisins have more sweetness than the currants, and the zest gave it a punch of flavor that my grandmother's was always lacking.  (In defense of my grandma: while her soda bread wasn't her finest work, her spaghetti sauce is killer, and I have yet to be able to replicate it on my own.)
The "meat" and potato stew came from one of my favorite vegan recipe sources: Post Punk Kitchen.  I used her Seitan Porcini Beef Stew recipe with a few minor changes.  I could not find dried porcini mushrooms anywhere, so in their place, I used a medley of fresh mushrooms - the package included oyster, shiitake, and baby protobello.  Instead of throwing them into the stew towards the end, I sauteed them with the onions and garlic on a low heat, so that they browned, but didn't shrivel and get lost in the stew.  Now I'm not big on meat replacement products, mainly because I tend to stray away from processed foods.  However, I found some un-beef strips at Trader Joe's whose ingredients list wasn't lengthy or full of unrecognizable products, so I decided to try them out instead of the vegan sausage.  They actually worked really well - they tasted like the rest of stew, but added the meaty texture that was needed.  And the stew was perfect.  It was exactly the meat and potato dish that I had been craving for the day and went extremely well with a Guinness.

I saw the recipe for the Irish Car Bomb floats about a week ago on Petite Kitchenesse and was trying to come up the perfect excuse to make them.  Thanks again to Ally and Julie for allowing themselves to act as my excuse.  Since making ice cream is a little labor intensive (especially dairy-free), I bought a pint of regular vanilla ice cream and a pint of coconut milk vanilla ice cream, put them in the stand mixer with some Baileys, and then put it back into their cartons and let it reform in the freezer.  We learned that the more ice cream the better.  Also, if you're adding the whiskey-caramel on top, know that it immediately sinks to the bottom, so give it a good stir before sipping, unless you enjoy a big mouthful of sweet whiskey deliciousness, which I do.
Saturday, I headed into the city to see Once, an incredible new musical set in Ireland, where the actors are also the orchestra, and the music is Irish and folksie - I downloaded the soundtrack as soon as I got home and have been listening to it non-stop.  We started the evening out at my aunt and uncles house in Bronxville with some wine and Irish cheeses.  Then trained into the city where we had dinner at The Glass House Tavern, a cozy little joint in the middle of the theater district.  It was surprisingly well-priced for where we were and the quality of the food.  I did the prix fix dinner and got black truffle risotto, Alaskan salmon filet over roasted corn and cous cous "risotto", and a warm chocolate cake with fresh berries for $35.  And the food was amazing.  Beyond amazing.  Not only did it taste good, but the presentation and portions of everything were wonderful.  Not to mention the little Irish soda bread rolls that came before the meal.  Between dinner and the show, it was an amazing way to spend the day.
My Sicilian grandmother(who can't make soda bread)'s birthday is St. Patrick's Day, so today we headed over her house for a little throw together celebration.  I was given the task of cake baking, and since my grandma is a huge Bailey's fan, I decided to make another recipe I've been looking for an excuse to make for a while now: Irish Car Bomb cake - do you see a theme emerging for this weekend?  I used a recipe from the Brown Eyed Baker, but made a cake instead of cupcakes.  I also ran out of time to make my own icing, but just mixed the Bailey's into some store bought icing I had in the pantry, and it worked just fine.  Before I put the chocolate whiskey ganache filling in between the cakes, I drizzled some whiskey onto the exposed cake so that it soaked in.  It ended up not being the prettiest cake, but it was wonderfully delicious and paired perfectly with a pint of Guinness.
Tonight, my mother and I had the actual Irish Car Bomb cocktail which is a Boiler Maker with Guinness and a shot of half Bailey's half whiskey.   All in all, it turned out to be an absolutely fantastic St. Paddy's weekend - even though it was lacking a tiny foul-mouthed Irishman.

1 comment:

  1. Why am I in a country that doesn't celebrate St. Patty's Day? Why, even if I were still in a country that did, would I have to be so far away from you and your mouth-watering creations? You're culinarily (my computer and its criticizing squiggly red line is telling me that's not a word, but I don't see why not) inspiring.