A little more on Corned Beef and Cabbage

There was some concern here as to whether my assertion that Corned Beef and Cabbase is not traditional Irish fare, but rather and Irish-American dish. Here’s the story:

The Irish cuisine most closely related is bacon and cabbage – a traditional Irish easter meal in which a salted bacon joint would be boiled with cabbage and potatoes. In the 19th century, as Irish immigrants became numerous on the east coast of the United States, particularly in New England, they found that corned beef was a palatable alternative to bacon and was more readily available from the Jewish butchers that were common. Corned beef was (and still is) also quite a bit less expensive than bacon, which was important when food and funds were not as plentiful as one would like.

So corned beef and cabbage is not traditionally Irish, but is of decidedly Irish-American origin. There’s even more information about the dish on wikipedia and kitchenproject.

St. Paddy’s day food fest

Today is St. Patrick’s day, and I cooked a “traditional” Irish dinner. OK, not really – I cooked traditional Americanized Irish food. Still, it was very good, and our dinner guests enjoyed it as much as we did.

It was actually a bit difficult to come up with a menu of Irish-esque food for a group of teetotalers, but here’s what we ended up having:

Corned Beef and Cabbage – not really traditional Irish, but traditional American-Irish, and I like it. The trick with this, as with most boil-in-the-pot-for-3-hours dishes, is in the spices. The perfect taste is just the right mix of black peppercorns, garlic powder, bay leaves, and salt. All this stuff just gets thrown into the water with the corned beef brisket and the oils from the herbs and spices permeate the meat as it cooks. Tres magnifique!
Colcannon – An authentic Irish dish, this is basically mashed potatoes mixed with garlic and steamed kale. As a tangential side note, the English variation of colcannon is called bubbles and squeak.
Irish soda bread – A really simple flatbread that uses baking soda (often referred to as bicarbonate of soda in the Irish recipes) instead of yeast for leavening.
And since we don’t drink alchohol, all traditional Irish drinks were out, so green kool-aid would just have to do.

Finally, for desert was a really cool looking St. Paddy’s day cake that Marcia made last night (and frosted this morning, with about 4 hours of sleep in between). You can see the amazing icing work in this picture, but what you can’t see is the cake itself, a green and white marbled cake baked to absolute perfection. I’m eating my third or fourth piece as I write this.

As far as I know, there’s no Irish blood in either of our families, but in my book, any holiday that presents itself as an excuse to cook good food is a holiday worth celebrating!

All about me!

While we usually delete emails that start with FW: without giving them a second thought, for some reason Marcia actually read one today that had a “a bunch of random questions about you” in it. We decided that we’d play along, but rather than annoy people who also dislike the letters F and W in their email subject lines, we’d post our responses here, on the blog.

Here’s mine:

1. What time did you get up this morning? About 11:00

2. Diamonds or Pearls? Diamonds

3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema? Pirates of the Carribean 2

4. What is your favorite TV show? Good Eats

5. What did you have for breakfast? Cereal – Marshmallow Mateys

6. What is your middle name? Ryan

7. What is your favorite cuisine? Seafood

8. What foods do you dislike? I’m a very unpicky eater, but I’m not very fond of lima beans or caviar

9. Your favorite Potato chip? Sour cream & onion Baked Lays

10. Favorite CD you’ve been listening to lately? Mormon Tabernacle Choir – Consider the Lillies

11. What kind of car do you drive? Honda Accord

12. Favorite sandwich? Reuben

13. What characteristics do you despise? Closed mindedness and self-centeredness

14. What are your favorite clothes? Blue jeans and a simple but nice shirt

15. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go? Tuscany – for the food!

16. Favorite brand of clothing? Old Navy

17. Where would you want to retire? Anywhere where the church is strong that isn’t in Utah.

18. Favorite time of day? Very late at night

19. Where were you born? Provo, Utah

20. What is your favorite sport to watch? Marching band

21. Pepsi or Coke? Pepsi, though I don’t really care for either

22. Beavers or Ducks? Ducks

23. Are you a morning person or night owl? Night owl, definitely

24. Pedicure or Manicure? Pedicure, I suppose. I’m not that metrosexual, though.

25. Any new and exciting news you’d like to share? I’m married!

26. When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up? A pilot.

27. What is your best childhood memory? Being with my family

28. Ever been toilet papering? Yes, more than I should admit

29. Been in a car accident? Yes. Twice. Less than a month apart.

30. Favorite restaurant? T.G.I. Friday’s

31. Favorite flower? Roses. They’re pretty and smell good and taste good (really!)

33. Favorite ice cream? Homemade vanilla (not plain vanilla, I mean stuff that tastes really vanilla-ey)

34. Favorite fast food restaurant? In’n’out burger.

35. How many times did you fail your drivers test? None. Got it right the first time.

36. From whom did you get your last e-mail? My business credit card payment processor.

37. Which store would you choose to max out your credit card? The nearest
Steinway dealership

38. Last person you went to dinner with? Marcia, Fulton, Dan, and Steve

39. How many tattoos do you have? None.

40. What time did you finish this survey? I don’t know, I’m not done yet.

41. Favorite magazine? Bicycling

42. If you could meet any famous person, who would it be? I’d like to go biking
with Lance Armstrong, go to dinner with Emeril Lagasse, attend a lecture by Stephen Hawking, learn about public speaking from Steve Jobs, or do an acting workship with Johnny Depp.

43. If you could choose another first name, what would it be? Pedro. But only Marcia will know why.

44. If you could change your profession right now, what would you be doing? I’d have Curtis Stone‘s job.

More than you ever wanted to know about me. I wonder what Marcia will say!

Recipe? We don’t need no stinking recipe!

Every few weeks I get to feeling adventurous in the kitchen, and I make something completely by the seat of my pants – no recipe, no plan, just start by chopping something and see where I end up. Most of the time, this results in mediocre food. Occasionally it results in something really awful. But every once in a while, the result is absolutely fantastic – a dish you might see in a great restaurant or on one of those over-the-top shows on the food network, like (my favorite) Iron Chef America.

Sunday night was one of those adventurous nights, and one of the rare ones where the result was marvelously good. Here’s what I did:

Started with a couple of boneless skinless chicken breasts, and a couple cloves of chopped garlic. I decided to add some Jane’s Krazy Mixed-Up Seasoned Salt to the garlic, and before I knew it the worcestershire sauce was out and I mashed it all into a rub. A splash of lemon juice completed the rub, which was applied liberally to the chicken.

I started some chicken stock on the back burner, and then coated a skillet with olive oil. I seared the chicken in the skillet, then put it into a baking dish with a bath of chicken stock. I wanted something else in it, and Marcia suggested nuts. She chopped a bunch of almonds, peanuts, and cashews and I put about 3/4 of the nuts in the baking dish with the chicken and stock. Into the oven at 350 degrees.

With some more chicken stock, I started some Fettucini noodles, and once the stock was boiling I tossed in the rest of the nuts. This permeated the noodles with both chicken flavor and nuttiness.

When the chicken finally came out of the oven (of course it needed to be basted several times with the stock in the pan to keep from becoming dry), I dished the pasta onto plates, put some oregano on the pasta, and a piece of chicken on top of the pasta bed. The whole thing then got one more spoonful of the baked chicken stock, and was covered in the chopped nuts that were in the bottom of the baking dish.

Moment of truth…

Delicious! This is definitely a course to keep and use for company at some point in the future.

Oh… last but not least… this delicious pasta/chicken dish was served with the new Cranberry Sierra Mist. What is it about cranberrys and poultry that make such a great combination?