St. Patrick's Day is not a day I am really invested in. I am not Irish, have nothing green in all of my clothes, and don't care for Guinness. Still, I am interested in foods from all cultures, seeing how things are done, and looking for ways to be as authentic as possible, from the distance of time and from the culture itself.
I am planning to make another round of my Irish Lamb Stew, first made a couple of years ago. To serve with the stew, I had originally made Irish Brown (Soda) Bread, which came out beautifully and tasted great. It was so great, I experimented and also made Barley Flour Soda Bread, also delicious, and perhaps even more of a success than the previous version. This year, I created a new version of this Barley Flour Bread; this recipe is the Bonus Recipe (below) for this month.
This Year's Boys and Girls Club Fundraiser Event . . .
This month, almost already half over, marks the beginning prep for his year's Boys and Girls Club of Aberdeen annual fundraiser event. I have started looking into possible appetizer ideas, as the first meeting was just held yesterday. It will be an extremely busy few weeks, culminating in a wonderful event, to be held next month, April 8th at the Ward Hotel, Downtown Aberdeen. This year I have a new sponsor for the event in our local CorTrust Bank.
I base my appetizer creations on the wine they will be paired with. Since these wines are rarely available in town for a test run, I have to rely on what I can read about the wine online, from winemakers' notes, critic notes and tasting notes, then pairing the flavors I read about with the foods I create. I have just compiled a list of appetizer possibilities for this year's event. The ideas are very fluid at this stage, as most often a test run shows a flaw in my idea of either how an appetizer is made or how it can best be presented. I prefer to have the appetizers made to be the least messy (least crumbs or dribbles) and easiest to pick up with one hand and eat. Holding a glass of wine in one hand makes juggling an appetizer a precarious thing, and I endeavor to keep that in mind during the creation process. This makes it a many step process, until it comes out to fit those criteria. And of course, they must look appetizing!
Below is a recap of the appetizer foods I made especially to pair with particular wines of last year's event. Click on the links to any of the appetizers and read about how they were made.
In the process of trying and testing gluten-free options in baking, in an attempt to supply foods that a gluten-intolerant friend might be able to partake of, I looked into making a gluten free angel food cake. As it happened to fall on St. Paddy's Day, I used some ground pistachios and Matcha green tea powder to create a marbled version, green and white. It was both beautiful and delicious, and fit the "green" criteria for St. Paddy's. Though I made it gluten free, the gluten free flours can easily be replaced with cake flour to make a regular green-marbled angel food cake. Find the recipe in my blog of March 17, 2014, here.
While I am not a Guinness Stout drinker, I do love using it in foods. As a braising liquid it is amazing, giving a nice round and warm flavor. It is also great as the liquid added to chili con carne. My version of chili con carne was originally a really huge recipe, to feed up to 12 people (see that recipe here). Most days, that recipe is way too large, so I make a slightly scaled back version, and while it is missing some of the ingredients, most are still there and the flavor is still absolutely satisfying. On these chilly last days of winter, this is a most heartwarming meal. Read about it here.
Long ago, back in the late 1960s, I used to love some cookies called "Gauchos." They are no longer made, and I hadn't thought about them in ages, until just a couple of weeks ago, when they jumped into my head and wouldn't leave! I found a recipe, posted in various places online, and while it was posted on various blog sites under a particular author's name, the recipe was the same everywhere it was found. I made little bitty changes in a couple of things, but otherwise, these cookies are absolutely the best. I couldn't stop eating them, and my husband begged me for a second batch. Made with peanut butter and oats (and of course, lots of sugar!), these are a memory made real again.Read more here . . .
I cook Indian food very often. My husband and I both love it, and I am eternally curious about new spices and flavor combinations. When I first encountered Black Cumin in a recipe, I set about finding it. It is not often found in the US, and in fact is rarely used outside of India.
Unfortunately, when one searches for "black cumin," what is most often sold is Nigella seeds (Nigella sativa). Nigella. Making things more confusing, nigella is often billed as "onion seed." And on top of all this, Indian cookbooks will often call it "caraway." After sleuthing through lots of sites and terminology, and finding the Hindi name of "Shahi Jeera" or "Royal Cumin," I finally realized what they meant by caraway.
In order to find the real black cumin, you must search for bunium persicum, its scientific name, in order to have your search yield true results. It looks nothing at all like nigella seeds, nor for that matter does black cumin look like our regular cumin. Black cumin seeds are highly preferred, when an Indian recipe calls for cumin. These seeds are long and very thin, much finer than our regular cumin seeds. The color is blackish, with some brown. They are so thin and fine, that when seen in true size, they nearly look like a tangle of tiny hairs. But with far better flavor, of course. Read more here . . .
Happy St. Patrick's Day 2017. I hope you will visit all my sites and try some new (or old) recipes, learn something new about an herb or spice or other subject, or maybe just daydream. However it is accomplished, I endeavor to provide articles of interest. Not everyone cooks these days, due to time constraints. I did cook meals for my family back when I had 4 youngsters and worked 2 jobs, so I know it can be done, though it requires some real attention to detail. Many of my recipes are created now that I am retired and have extra time on my hands, yet many are easy and quick.