My Motto

May the muffin rise to greet you, may your friends be always at your door, and until we meet again, warm a single-malt in the palm of your hand and make something homemade for someone you love.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Dublin Coddle

"Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy."
~William Butler Yeats

I love the name of this dish.  It sounds like a snuggle with an Irish hunk, like that guy from P.S., I Love You; Gerard something-or-other.
Yah, him
I did some research and the recipe I came up with is a conglomerate of suggestions and tweaks, but was closest to one found on, even though the author lifted the description word for word from a European Cuisines post.  
Coddle is traditionally associated with Dublin and dates back at least to the eighteenth century.  It was apparently a favorite of Jonathan Swift, Sean O'Casey and is mentioned in the works of James Joyce.  Considered comfort food and a convenience dish, it is also inexpensive, easy to make, and can be left on a low stove or warming in the oven for a quite a while without suffering too much.  Sounds like the precurser to crock-pot cooking!  
It is important to use the very best pork sausage you can get your hands on.  It was suggested that good American breakfast sausage could be used, but I opted for my favorite local pork sausage, Orsini's Sweet Fennel Garlic Italian sausage.  I used hard sparkling cider (Cortland apple) from a local orchard.  The bottle has been in the fridge since the fall and this was a great excuse to pop the cork!
While researching the recipe, I noticed a remark left by a reader  suggested to add a packet of chicken noodle soup mix,  that in addition to the flavor it adds,  the noodles would help thicken the broth.  That made sense to me and since I had some handy, I tossed it in there.  Maybe not eighteenth century authentic, but we all agreed we liked the dish that way.  The broth did in fact thicken up and it plated nicely.  We loved it and I see plenty of Dublin Coddle in our future.  After all, it starts with bacon and ends with hard cider - what's not to love?  Sláinte!

Sources: A Little Irish Cookbook, Appletree, 1986
Wikipedia and European Cuisines websites.

Dublin Coddle
Adapted from a recipe on
Serves 4

1/2 pound bacon
1 pound good quality pork sausage (I used sweet Italian sausage)
2 large onions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
4 large potatoes, peeled and thickly sliced
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1 packet Lipton chicken noodle soup mix 
1 small bunch fresh herbs, tied together with string (I used thyme and parsley)
Black pepper
1 bottle hard cider (some for the pot, some for you)
Fresh parsley for garnish
Special equipment:  I large heavy pot with a tight fitting lid

Brown bacon until crisp.  Place in cooking pot.  Brown sausages in bacon fat.  Add to cooking pot.  Sprinkle packet of soup mix over meats.  Add two cups water.  Soften sliced onions in the bacon fat and a minute or two before they're done, add the garlic and stir around.  Add to cooking pot layering carrots next and then  potatoes.  Add the bundle of herbs and push down into the middle.  Add hard cider just to reach the potatoes (should only be another cup or two).  Sprinkle potatoes with freshly ground black pepper. Cover tightly and bring JUST to a simmer then turn heat down.  It should not boil.  Cook on low like this for 2-3 hours.  Half an hour before you want to eat, check and make sure the carrots are done.  If they aren't, raise the heat a bit until they are cooked through.  By now, broth should have thickened enough that you can serve this on a plate.  Taste broth right before serving and add salt or pepper, if needed.  Great served with Irish soda bread or spotted dog.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Lime Mousse Cake (No-Bake)

"Have it jest as you've a mind to, but I've proved it time on time; if you want to change her nature, you have got to give her lime."
~Rudyard Kipling
This was our dessert of choice for Valentine's Day.  Traditionally, I would make chocolate mousse or red velvet cake, but we wanted something lighter this year.  Besides, the Mister and I have Florida on the brain since we head down there next month, and I've just plain been looking for an excuse to make this dessert.  The recipe is from Epicurious 2006, and was described as having originated at a restaurant called Addie's, of Rockville, Maryland.  It's a fantastic dessert for entertaining since it should be made a day (or two!) ahead, freeing up your time to focus on the main meal during party day.  
Since then I've made changes to lighten it up a bit and tailor it to our palates.  We all prefer our citrus on the tart side with the fruit flavor really shining through, and it took doubling the lime juice to achieve that in this recipe.  The texture is light and fluffy, providing a nice treat without weighing you down. A great way to end a special meal.  It was a hit at our dinner party last night. 
Lime Mousse Cake
Serves 12

2 cups ground gingersnap cookies (about 38 small cookies)
2 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons melted butter

3/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice or key lime juice 
1 envelope unflavored gelatin (Knox)
2 cups chilled whipping cream
9 ounces good-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt), chopped or chips
2 packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons grated lime peel
2 tablespoons confectioner's sugar

For the crust
Grind cookies in a food processor.  Add sugar and melted butter and process, pulsing, until clumps form.  Press into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan.

For filling:
Place lime juice in a bowl.  Sprinkle gelatin over to soften.  Bring 1/2 cup cream to simmer in a heavy medium saucepan.  Remove from heat.  Add white chocolate and stir until melted and smooth.  Stir in gelatin mixture.  Cool slightly.  Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese, granulated sugar and lime peel in a large bowl to blend.  Slowly beat white chocolate mixture into cream cheese mixture.  Using clean, dry beaters, beat remaining 1 1/2 cups chilled heavy cream with 2 tablespoons of confectioner's sugar.  Fold into white chocolate mixture.  Pour filling into prepared crust.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.  (Can be prepared up to two days ahead.  Keep refrigerated.)  Release pan sides and transfer to a cake platter and serve.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Spotted Dog AKA Fruited Irish Soda Bread

"No matter where the name comes from, this is an old-fashioned recipe that stands the test of time."
~Serious Eats
Being two generations removed from my native Irish relatives, I can hardly call myself an expert on Irish food, but from what I gather, much of what America refers to as Irish soda bread is actually called spotted dog in Ireland.  The only difference being the fruit.  You can read more about the origin of the name here (look at last paragraph).
This is my favorite version of the beloved bread.  Very simple to throw together, it can upgrade even the most humble of meals.  Whatever you name it, you'll claim it delicious!  It is best eaten warm out of the oven and slathered with fresh butter, but even the leftovers (if you have any!) are divine toasted and buttered or spread with marmalade.
My favorite version of the bread was adapted from a recipe originally published in Better Homes and Gardens as currant-orange Irish soda bread.  

Spotted Dog
Serves 6

2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
the zested peel from two oranges (about 2 tablespoons)
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup raisins
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup buttermilk

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease a large cookie sheet and set aside.  In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and orange zest.  Cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir in raisins.  Make a well in the center of the mixture.

2.  In a small mixing bowl combine the egg and buttermilk.  Add all at once to the flour mixture.  Stir just until moistened.

3.  On a lightly floured surface, gently knead to form a dough.  A few turns, just until it comes together (only 4-5 times).  Shape into a 7-inch round loaf.  Transfer dough to prepared cookie sheet.  With a sharp knife, make two slashes across the center of the loaf to form and X, going all the way to the edge.  Bake 30 minutes or until golden.  Serve warm.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Irish Beef and Guinness Stew

"One Cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well"
~Virginia Woolf

It's that time again!  I love this time of year when I can highlight some good Irish recipes.  This wonderfully simple, yet delicious stew is a great company meal for Saint Patrick's Day if corned beef isn't your thing.  This was one of the choices at the recent wedding rehearsal dinner of my son, Curtis.  It was by far the most popular choice. 
Guinness gravy is so flavorful.  Any time I cook savory dishes with beer, I always use a bit of mustard, as I find the combination irresistible, and it does not disappoint here.  The beer contributes to tenderizing the beef and adds a depth of flavors with it's malty and tangy notes and the mustard adds a spicy sharpness that you can't quite put your finger on.  My daughter claims it is the best stew she's ever had.  As it is meant to be served over mashed potatoes or champ (mashed potatoes and scallions), there are no potatoes cooked in it.  You can if you must, but I strongly suggest you try it the traditional way first!  

Irish Beef and Guinness Stew
Adapted from a Guinness Recipe

2 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1-inch chunks
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 large onions, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 1/2 cups Guinness stout
1 cup beef stock
4 large carrots, chopped
1 sprig fresh thyme
fresh parsley for garnish

Place beef cubes in a bowl and massage on 1 tablespoon of the oil.  In another bowl, stir together the  flour, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper and paprika.    Dredge beef in this flour mixture until every side of all the beef pieces are coated and there is no loose flour in the bowl.  

Heat remaining oil in a large heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Cook the beef in a single layer.  If, due to the size of your pot, you need to do this in batches, take the time.  The beef will steam instead of brown if you pile it all on top of itself.  Browning it properly is the key to a good stew.  After all the beef is browned, make sure it is all in the pot (if you did it in batches) and add the garlic and onions.  Stir in for a minute or two (without letting the garlic brown).  Add tomato paste, beer and beef broth and thyme.  Add carrots, bay leaf, mustard and Worcestershire.  Cover and cook for 3 1/2-4  hours at 325 degrees F until beef is tender.  During second half of cooking check liquid level a couple times and add a little more beer or broth if too much has evaporated.  If you like, you can make mashed potatoes ahead of time, place in a buttered casserole dish, cover with foil and keep warm in the oven with the stew during the last 20 minutes of it's cooking.
Right before serving, remove the bay leaf, taste the gravy and add more salt and pepper, if needed.

Place a generous dollop of mashed potatoes or champ in a bowl, ladle stew over and sprinkle with parsley.  

Crock-Pot method:

Brown beef as described above, then deglaze pan with beer and broth.   Add all ingredients to your crock pot.  Cook on low for 8-10 hours.  Towards end of cooking check liquid level.  Add more if needed.