Sunday, August 19, 2012

Playing Catch-Up: From Irish Stew to Homemade Marshmallows

This is an incredibly random collection of recipes cooked in the winter, which I am taking advantage of a rainy afternoon to blog.

This Irish stew, adapted from the great Darina Allen, is my standard St. Patrick's Day dinner.
2 lb. shoulder lamb chops, 1" thick
Salt & pepper
2 tbsp. oil
12 oz. Guinness (or other dark beer)
1 lb. new potatoes
1 lb. baby carrots
1 pkg. frozen pearl onions, thawed
4 c. beef stock
2 tbsp. dark roux
2 tbsp. finely-chopped parsley

Salt & pepper the lamb. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven. When hot, add chops & sear 2-3 minutes per side. Set aside on a plate. Add the beer to the pot. Cook 1 minute, stirring to deglaze bottom of pot. Add lamb chops. Toss the vegetables with salt and pepper. Add to pan and cover with stock. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer about 2 hours, or until lamb falls off bone. Add roux, stirring well, and cook 10 minutes. Add parsley & serve. Serves 4.

Also good for St. Patrick's Day but traditional for Halloween is colcannon.
3 lb. cooked, peeled potatoes
2 sticks butter
1 1/4 c. hot milk
Salt & pepper
1 head cabbage, finely shredded
1 lb. bacon, cooked (ham is fine, if you prefer)
4 scallions, finely chopped

Mash the potatoes with a stick of butter. Gradually add the milk, stirring it in as you go. Salt & pepper. Boil cabbage in unsalted water until it turns a darker color. Drain & chop. Stir in 2 tbsp. butter. Mix everything gently together. Serve with more butter. I often make this without any meat and it is still delicious.

If you have Ramen noodles & you want to kick them up a little, stir in some crushed red pepper and a little lime juice. It's not exactly hot & sour soup, but it does give it a boost. You could also toss in some cooked chicken or tofu, straw mushrooms, and sliced scallions.

Jeannene & I love cheese soup. This version is awesome but very rich. I like it with chewy sourdough rolls.
Cheese Soup
2 potatoes, peeled & chopped
1 carrot, peeled & chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1/4 c. chopped onion
1 c. chicken broth (or veggie broth or water)
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. flour
1 c. milk (I use 1% because that's what I like to have on hand for's still plenty rich!)
1 c. diced ham
8 oz. Velveeta, diced (I suspect reduced-fat would be just fine, if you're so inclined)

Cook vegetables in broth, covered, 10-12 minutes, until they are fork-tender. Don't drain. Melt the butter in a small pan. Stir the flour in until it forms a smooth paste. Add milk and stir well. Cook until bubbly. Add to vegetables & broth. Add ham & Velveeta. Stir until Velveeta melts. Heat through. Serves 4.

Another really great meal, especially on a stormy, chill night, is Amish-style beef & noodles. This is not also served on mashed potatoes, but it certainly could be, if you're the double-starch sort. It seems to be the done thing in most Amish restaurants. I believe the original recipe is from Marcia Adams, who does such a lovely, lovely job with all these plain, homey foods.
3 lb. beef chuck roast
1 lg. onion, quartered
8 whole cloves
1 small green pepper, quartered
2 lg. carrots, cut in thirds
3 ribs celery, cut in thirds
1 c. parsley sprigs
2 bay leaves
1/4 c. instant beef bouillon granules
1/2 tsp. pepper
3 qt. hot water
1 lb. extra-wide egg noodles
1/2 c. parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Put everything but noodles & 1/2 c. parsley in a roasting pan. Cover and bake 3 hours. Shred meat and chop carrots. Discard the other vegetables (by the way, studding a piece of the celery with the cloves is a handy way to remove them easily at this point). Put the meat & carrots back into the broth. Add the noodles. Cover and bake 75 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Serve sprinkled with parsley.

On nights when you want something cozy, but don't have a lot of time, you can make this recipe from the September 2001 issue of "Working Mother" magazine.
Dog S'mores
4 large hot dogs
2 c. mashed potatoes (make some, use leftovers, or grab a tub of the Bob Evans ones from the refrigerator case)
4 sticks string cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Slit each hot dog open. Put on baking sheet & stuff each with 1/2 c. mashed potatoes. Put a cheese stick in the middle, securing with toothpicks, if necessary. Bake 10 minutes.

Last time it was my turn to bring a snack for my women's spirituality group, I took a crockpot of creamy sausage dip with a bag of Tostitos. I think some nice crusty bread would be tasty with it, too. It was great! Not something you'd want to eat too often, but perfect football game fare.
2 lb. sausage, browned
32 oz. cream cheese
28 oz. diced tomatoes with green chiles (I use Ro*Tel)

Toss everything together in a crockpot. Heat through, 1-2 hours on low. This recipe came from Rachael Ray magazine, February 2008, from Leigh Taylor, of China Grove, NC.

I am a big fan of chocolate malts and brownies are my favorite thing of all in the cookies & bars category, so when I saw this malted brownies recipe in the September/October 2005 issue of Weekend magazine, it was quickly pulled out & added to my recipe stash. This is my adaptation:
2 sticks butter + extra to grease pan
1 c. flour
1 c. malted milk powder (I used chocolate malted powder, because that's what I keep on hand)
1/4 c. cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
8 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1 c. dark brown sugar
1 c. granulated sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
4 eggs
1 1/2 c. malted milk balls (I have used Whoppers & Malteasers)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Brush a 13x9 baking pan with melted butter. Line the bottom with parchment. Sift the dry ingredients together. Melt the chocolate with the butter. Put into a mixing bowl and add both kinds of sugar. Stir until smooth. Add vanilla & eggs. Add flour, stirring until just incorporated. Let cool 5 minutes. Add malted candy. Put in prepared pan. Bake 30 minutes. Turn pan and bake another 15 minutes. Let cool before cutting into 20.

While I have a particular favorite recipe for garlic shrimp in a great little Cuban cookbook, I am open to trying other garlic shrimp recipes. This one, whose provenance is unknown, turned out to be very, very good. I served it with great hunks of crusty bread and a beautiful salad of butter lettuce, onion, and avocado, drizzled with lime/Spanish olive oil vinaigrette. The bread, dipped in the sauce from the shrimp, is addictive. Fair warning.
Spicy Garlic Shrimp
2 1/2-3 lb. shrimp, tails on, shells removed
Tabasco (or your favorite hot sauce)
7 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 c. cracker meal or fine dry breadcrumbs
1/2 c. light rum
Juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 stick butter
1/2 c. olive oil
1/2 tsp. cumin

Toss the shrimp with salt & Tabasco. Mix rum with lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, & cumin. Toss in shrimp & marinate 1 hour. Preheat broiler. Heat butter & oil in small pan on low heat. When butter foams, add garlic & cook 1-2 minutes. Put shrimp in baking dish. Spoon sauce onto shrimp. Sprinkle with crumbs. Broil 4" from heat for 7 minutes, until golden.

I love making marshmallows! It had never really occurred to me that it was possible to make them from scratch until I happened on this Martha Stewart recipe for them. I've been making them to enjoy in cocoa and to give as gifts ever since. Martha, of course, cuts them into fancy shapes with a cookie cutter. I love the idea, but usually just cut them into large squares. I did try the shapes last winter, but they morphed into blobs. I shall have to try again. These are utterly delicious and will make a marshmallow lover of even people who have previously actively disliked marshmallows, like my darling spouse, who cannot stop eating them when I make them. They make for a terribly decadent cup of cocoa. Here's my version, only very slightly modified from Martha's:
4 envelopes of plain gelatin
1 1/2 c. water
3 c. sugar
1 1/4 c. light Karo syrup (or other corn syrup)
1/4 tsp. salt
4 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar

Oil a 13x9 baking dish. Put gelatin in 3/4 c. water & allow to soften about 5 minutes. Put sugar, Karo, 3/4 c. water, & salt into a pan and bring to boil. Boil until it reaches soft ball stage when checked with a candy thermometer. Beat slowly with an electric mixer into the gelatin until the mixture is very stiff, about 15 minutes. Pour into prepared baking dish and smooth with a well-oiled spatula. Allow to stand, uncovered, at room temperature 10-12 hours. Sprinkle powdered sugar onto a cutting board, using a fine sieve. Turn the marshmallow mixture out onto the cutting board. Cut into squares or shapes and dip cut edges in powdered sugar. So scrumptious!

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