Wednesday, March 18, 2009

póg mo práta...s'il vous plait

I'm actually Irish so I am entitled to be extravagant, with food that is. I'm still too young to drink, nor do I have the so called "contacts" and I don't much like beer. So I'll stick with the green tinted lemonades. When I was younger St. Patrick's day was almost a bigger event than, say, Christmas! More food, more lounging, more festivities, and sometimes ridiculous amounts of time at a plant/music/book store. The night before we would leave the windows open so as to obtain that chilled floor effect that we thought synonymous with Irish homes. Upon waking I would pop in my Irish bagpipes tape, yes tape, and wake the family. We would have hot tea and biscuits, but then again biscuits are a norm in the Hysizzle family. Green was worn, sometimes including undergarments, Irish themed movies were watched, or our medley of Drop Kick Murphys, the Pogues, Sinead O'Connor and "the Guinness Song" would be played. We might work in our garden, since we also found that a particularly Irish hobby. We lived in a sort Celtic liberation for the day, which included Irish stout for Da and brown bottled root beers for Garrett and me. One year, who knows why exactly, Garrett and I came up with this ridiculous song called "Old Tad MacFaddie" which was sung to the tune of "Molly Malone". Each year another randomly concocted verse would be added and then bellowed all day long. We also had another song about King Lear but that had nothing to do with St. Patrick's Day. But one year, something magically delicious happened...

After the family had drifted off to bed, two little leprechauns left a glittering trail throughout the house and porch. Little green footprints dusted with gold glittering flecks and folded up bits of tanned paper with clues. When the boys woke up they followed the trail from their bed to the porch, to our English neighbor's flag pole, to nearby Thomas park, back to the house, curiously under the toilet seat and various other places. Finally, back where they had begun, underneath their bed sat a little dutch oven stuffed with fresh potatoes, bottles of brew(Guinness and otherwise of the root recipe), books, gold coins and bright green head of cabbage. They ran with their pot of gold back to the living room to examine their find properly. When one of them decided it was too hot in the room and decided to turn on the ceiling fan they were surprised yet again. From each blade poured cupfuls of gold glitter that stuck to every surface and every inch of skin or hair exposed.

Needless to say, the surprise scavenger hunt was much appreciated but the fan-attack not. Those two little leprechauns had glitter duty the rest of the afternoon.

But, no worries, colcannon was in the making!

So that is what I made this St. Patrick's Day: Colcannon, oatmeal coated flounder and fresh ginger honey carrots.

The fish and the colcannon are undoubtedly Irish, although my ancestors would not have had ginger in their cabinets, carrots or any root such as parsnips, would have been staple.

Colcannon is sauteed cabbage and a few cloves of garlic mixed with mashed potatoes. Make the two separately, mash the potatoes add bit of cream, salt and pepper (I used spicy white pepper) and butter. Hand stir in the wilted cabbage. Top with pool of melted butter.

For the flounder I simply cut the filets into strips and then patted them into an oatmeal and flour (salt and pepper) coating. Bake at 350 degrees. Dab with a bit of butter or oil at the end, let the outsides golden, then flip and repeat. Serve with lemon.

I used a peeler to make the carrots into long ribbons, I felt fancy and they took almost no time to cook. You could roast them in a glass dish in the oven with a bit of oil, salt, pepper, and freshly sliced ginger, or on the stove top in a skillet. Mix in a tablespoon or two of honey just before serving.

I tried to sing Old Tad MacFaddie again, but I couldn't remember the lyrics, I'll try again next year Garrett.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Pink Lemonade Miniature Cupcukes

It was First Friday Around the Cookie Jar again, a monthly occurrence in the Plan II office on campus, though last time my peers proved inadequate and shamed themselves by not showing up or empty handed! This week our theme was Spring Break, since all the students are buzzing about it.

I don't normally use cookbooks or recipes but this time I borrowed my roommate's Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book. The simplest, and quite possibly smallest, recipe I've ever used can be found on page 174 and it is aptly called "Busy-Day Cake". I dressed the recipe up with the zest of a lemon and some pink lemonade icing and cute little lemon heads. Although the seemingly lemon of a cookbook proved fruitful in the end, and although life did not hand me lemons, I had to run to the store for lemons, butter, milk and eggs, I was able to make some damn fine lemonade (cupcakes).

Cake: makes 1 1/2 dozen MINIATURE cupcakes/ this recipe should make 6-10 normal sized
1 1/3 cups flour
2/3 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup milk
1/4 cup unsalted butter (softened)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
zest of one whole lemon
yellow food colouring (optional)
1/4 cup unsalted butter (softened)
3 tbs shortening (if you would rather exclude this ingredient just substitute more butter or some other solid oil like coconut!)
juice of one lemon
1-2 cups powdered sugar
red food colouring (optional)

Depending on how big/juicy the lemon is the amount of sugar will vary.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Mix sugar, butter, vanilla, zest till creamy. Slowly add egg and milk. In increments, add flour and baking powder till complete mixed. Add desired amount of yellow food colouring. I really wanted people to know these were LEMON cupcakes so the colouring was a necessity.

Pour consistent amounts of batter into baking cups (about 1/3 full) bake for 5-12 minutes. Stay close to the oven, these little lemonades don't take long to cook.

While the lemon babies are cooling mix all icing ingredients together until desired consistency, I was trying for lemonade-butter cream. I piped out little swirls of pink lemonade icing with a ziploc baggie snipped at one end and topped each little gout with a lemon head.

Zesty, Indeed!