Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Dublin Coddle- An Emerald Isle Treat


     Dublin Coddle? What is that?  Well it is one of the best and easiest Irish dishes anyone can make.  The dish is said to have originated in the capitol city of Dublin.  Because people living in the city were poorer than those of the farmlands and country they had to make a version of the Irish Stew that was more affordable.  So they combined the cheap bangers, (sausages), and rashers, (bacon), along with the other ingredients in a traditional stew such as potato and onion and cooked them down in a liquid until you had a very different, but amazing in its own right, stew. 

     I love this soup.  Being part Irish I am proud of this soup. It is really very simple.  Clean up was a snap.  The flavor of this soup is amazing.  I first discovered it in Dublin of course.  Since having it there one night I ordered it again another, then another, until my cousin said I had to stop and try something else. “Enough sausages!” she announced. I added a bit of ale and cream to add even more depth to this soup.  Don't be afraid to have the bacon and sausage links in the soup. Trust me you will love this.  Dublin Coddle

  • 1/2 lb bacon cut into bite size
  • 8 sausage links halved
  • 1 cup carrots chopped
  • 1/2 white onion rough chopped
  • 1 cup yellow potatoes chopped bite size
  • 32 oz chicken stock
  • 1/2 pint ale
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • Parsley
  • Salt/pepper

     In a stock pot begin to brown the bacon.  Once the bacon is halfway cooked pour in the ale and simmer until half reduced. Toss in the sausage, carrots, onion, potatoes, and pour in the chicken stock.  Bring pot to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer for about 1 hour until all vegetables are cooked through.  Stir in the thyme and salt and pepper to taste.  Stir in the cream.  Serve in bowls with parsley sprinkled on top and with a nice piece of bread. Serves 2-4.  This dish will shortly become a favorite of yours and renew your faith in good Irish food.


Monday, January 27, 2014

Something So Simple: A Pasta In Memoriam

     This post is going to be a quick one.  Not so much about what specific ingredients go into this dish, but what this dish means to me.  One of these days I will give a recipe for a good marinara for pasta, but this post is strictly about what goes on top and what this simple pasta dish means to me.  Just recently my family lost one of our own, my great aunt/Godmother.  She was my grandmother’s sister and just so happened to be married to my grandfather’s cousin.  (Happens a lot throughout the small immigrant families). Anyways, as the years passed on, I only got to see her maybe once a year.  I sent her and my Godfather Christmas cards and even sent them one of our first attempts at wine making. 

      As a kid we would go to visit them at least once a year in the summer.  Every time my aunt would have a big dinner of homemade pasta.  Just like my grandmother and mother it was typically served with marinara, fresh bread, fresh cheese, etc.  However something was always a bit different.  Everyone has his or her own way of making the exact same dish.  I remember what my Aunt Rosie had that always stuck out in my head.  She always had a nice crystal dish of fresh shredded Parmesan or Romano cheese.  It seems like such a minor thing to remember, but to me it always stuck in the back of my head.  My grandmother and mother only served finely grated cheese, albeit normally fresh as well, but seeing it shredded in long strings was to me what made Aunt Rosie just a bit different. It was exciting to have the pasta with marinara like that.

     Years after growing up some, I would convince my mother and grandmother to shred the Parmesan cheese versus grating it.  Occasionally I got my wish even thought they preferred it grated.  When asked why, I always stated it was because that was how Aunt Rosie had it and I liked it that way.

     So here's the simple part.  Take any pasta of your choice.  I used boxed rigatoni. Take left over marinara sauce and spruce it up a bit.  I used some fresh chopped mushrooms, tomatoes, basil leaves, and a pinch of oregano.  Whatever it is is fine, as long as it's marinara. After the pasta is cooked slowly mix it into the sauce. Serve in a nice bowl and top with the best part, Fresh Shredded Parmesan Cheese.  Nothing is better than having a nice fresh cheese slowly melting into your pasta dish.  Thank you Aunt Rosie for a simple memory that will always be mine and mine alone.

Salute Aunt Rosie

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Vegetable Beef Soup

Vegetable Beef Soup

     It's winter here in the wonderful mountains of WV.  By this I mean it is freaking cold.  Probably one of the worst places for winter on the east coast.  What better dish than a nice bowl of soup.  How about a bowl of vegetable beef soup?  The variety of vegetables cooked down in a warm beef broth accompanied by some chunks of tender beef.  My version of a vegetable beef soup is simple.  No clue why I chose the ingredients that I did, they just work well together. Serve it up with some nice fresh baked rolls and you have yourself a wonderful cold winter night’s meal. Here goes: Vegetable Beef Soup

  • 1 lb stew beef
  • 2 boxes beef stock
  • 1-cup potatoes
  • 1-cup carrots
  • 1/2 10oz can corn
  • 1/2 10oz can green beans
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 1 10oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1 tsp savory
  • Ditallini

     In a large Dutch oven or stockpot brown beef in a bit of olive oil.  Toss in onion and carrot and simmer until the onion has become a bit translucent.  Pour in the stock and toss in the potatoes, corn, green beans, zucchini, diced tomatoes, and the herbs.  Stir and bring to a boil.  Lower temperature and simmer for about an hour to an hour and a half.  15 minutes before ready to serve toss in the ditallini and simmer until pasta has cooked.  Serve with a nice roll or piece of bread. Enjoy!!!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Surprise Stir Fried Rice

     Surprise Stir Fried Rice is a name I came up with because I had no idea what I was going to put in this stir fry dish.  I was asked to do a dish for my google+ community utilizing rice.  I have a couple dishes on here that use rice but thought the possibilities are endless.  I had some left over beef tips that I thawed out as well as the vegetables utilized below.  My measurements are a bit different with this dish due to the fact that I really just eyeballed them. This dish was delicious.  I mean it had heat, it had sweetness, and it had spice.  It had flavors from Chinese, Thai, and other Asian cuisines. I'm not quite sure the raspberry chipotle sauce added much as I could not distinguish it from the rest so you could eliminate this step. Overall I would definitely make this dish again.  It was quick, easy, and the flavors all went well together.  Two bowls and I was satisfied. Surprise Stir Fry.
  • 1/2 lb beef tips diced thin
  • Small handful diced red onion
  • Small handful frozen green beans
  • Small handful diced green pepper
  • 1 tbs diced ginger
  • 1 tbs diced garlic
  • 2 cups cooked white rice
  • 2 tbs soy
  • 1 tbs oyster
  • 1 tbs hoisin
  • 1 tsp rice wine
  • 1 tsp chili paste
  • 1 tbs raspberry chipotle sauce
  • Small handful brown sugar
  • Salt/pepper
     In a small bowl combine the soy, oyster, hoisin, rice wine, chili paste, raspberry-chipotle sauce, and brown sugar.  Mix well.  In a large wok over high heat drizzle in a little bit of vegetable oil.  Toss in the diced beef tips and start to brown. Next toss in the onion, green beans, pepper, ginger, and garlic.  Mix and sauté until vegetables start to soften and the aromas of the garlic and ginger start to fill the air.  Pour in the sauce mixture and simmer for a minute or two.  Stir in the rice and mix around until some of the rice begins to harden up.  This dish was delicious.  It was spicy just enough and had an amazing flavor combination. Enjoy. Serves 2-4.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Spiked Punch Bowl: Reliving Teenage Years

     I thought it was time to do another post about local fun and finding other recipes to live an interesting life.  Now this is not a drink recipe for a spiked punch but rather a play on words and meaning for what I am about to discuss.  I have blogged about ways to have fun during the summer; outdoor activities, music festivals, and even menus for physical activities to enjoy life. Here is a little recipe for fun with friends reliving special events in your teenage years with an adult twist.

     A close friend was turning the dirty 30 before the Christmas holiday.  Another coworker's birthday was happening too.  These two decided to have a little fun for their big day.  Why not have a Prom for adults?  You know what they were thinking.  Prom gowns, suit and ties, a band, decorations, pictures, etc. But this time the punch bowl wouldn't contain just a fruit based Kool-Aid but a full stocked bar, a rocking band/dj, and good adult fun without the chaperones. So, what might this type of recipe entail you may be asking?  Well this is what we called our Adult Prom


     Imagine a room filled with decorations.  The theme for this was a Winter Wonderland.  Snowflakes hung from the ceiling, boards, and streamers.  An arch for prom pictures decorated with lights. A corsage for your date and maybe a boutonniere for yourself.  We all arrived at separate times but the excitement we all felt was the same.  What we were supposed to do?  As adults we can forget how a simple dance or event can be just the thing we need to put excitement into our lives.  As we all settled down with our drinks, our dates next to us, and the conversation starters, we all started to feel a bit more comfortable.  It was bizarre at first, an adult prom. How do you act? Do you go straight to the dance floor, the bar, or the food table?  Eventually you sit back relax and the fun just comes naturally.

     The drinks begin to flow, the music begins to entice us to the dance floor, and some even sneak outside to smoke a cig acting as if hiding from the teachers so not to get into trouble. The night carries on with laughter, dancing, cheersing, and even a slip or fall here and there.  The time flies as everyone is having a great time. A king and queen are even crowned to add to the hijinks of the adult fun. Reliving their youth going back to their prom but this time with the ability to have more fun without the consequences, (well with the exception of the hangover that occurs now as we are much older). So there it is the recipe for the spiked punch bowl.  What kind of prom would it be without it?



Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Gyro: The Quintessential Greek "Go to" Food


     In America we call them "jye-rows" but I have been told the right way to pronounce them is "Year-row"  (Forgive my spelling of sound).  Either way, if you have had one you know how damn good they are.  It's something simple like this quick "sandwich" which brings forth so many flavors and tastes of a wonderful culture. The hearty juicy lamb meat with tastes of the famous tzatziki sauce of cucumber, yogurt, and mint. The cold and crispness from the tomato and sometimes onion give the rest of the flavors a contrast in texture. I've had these many times, whether at a festival from a vendor or at a little Greek restaurant in my college town.  These are usually served using a spit of lamb meet that has been shaved down.  However in my small town the only lamb I could find was ground lamb or a tiny shank.  So the recipe follows my actions of using the ground lamb. The taste was the same, however it was a bit messier.  I also had trouble finding the perfect pita bread for which these sandwiches are served in. I was looking for a nice large piece of pita, however the only thing I could find in my grocery store was the little sandwich pita pockets.  So these had to suffice. Below I start by giving you my recipe for a simple tzatziki sauce that accompanies this dish.  Please enjoy my take on the classic Gyro.

Tzatziki Sauce Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tbs dill
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 cup small diced cucumber
  • Salt/pepper

Gyro Ingredients:
  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • Sliced tomato
  • Sliced purple onion
  • Pita bread
  • 1 tbs oregano

     First peel and dice up the cucumber portion.  Mix the cucumber into the yogurt.  Dice up the mint and garlic and mix into the yogurt.  Mix in the dill, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Mix until the flavors blend well together and sit aside. Slice up your onion and tomatoes and sit aside.

     Now because I had to use ground lamb I took the lamb and browned it in a medium skillet over medium high heat. Mixed in the oregano, salt, and pepper to taste. 

     Split you pita bread open.  Spread in some of the tzatziki sauce.  Then add a slice of tomato, some onion, and some of the lamb.  Viola!  You have a wonderful, simple, and delicious taste of the Greek islands.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Pork And Cabbage: A New Years Tradition

Pork and Cabbage
     Not quite sure if it is an Irish thing or an American thing.  I have done some research and in many cultures and countries people eat traditional pork and cabbage for the New Year.  Pork to many cultures represents progress, wealth, and pushing forward.  Because of this it is tradition to eat pork for the first of the year as a sign of luck towards yourself.  Cabbage has been added because it is present and easily obtainable during the winter months.  Because of its traditional green color eating this vegetable is supposed to bring good fortune and money for the coming year.  Whatever it is it has always been tradition in our household to have pork and some sort of cabbage mixture. 

     I have posted a couple times how I dislike cabbage.  I have been getting better at working with it and trying new things to build a taste for it.  This year I simply decided to have my own New Years dinner.  I usually go to my parents, however I received a crockpot for Christmas so decided to put it to use.  So here goes: Crockpot Pork and Cabbage.

  • .75-1 lb pork tenderloin
  • 1/2 can soda
  • 2 tbs Worcestershire
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tbs black pepper
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1 apple peeled and sliced

     In a crockpot place your pork tenderloin.  In a separate bowl mix brown sugar, soda, Worcestershire, garlic, soy, cayenne, and black pepper.  Pour over the pork.  Place a lid on the crockpot and turn it on high.  Cook for 2 1/2 hours.  Turn knob down to low and let cook for another 2 1/2 hours.  Toss in cabbage and apple slices.  Cook for another hour.  Serve with wild rice, potatoes, etc.  This pork was so tender that I couldn't even slice it, it fell apart.  The cabbage with the apples and the flavoring from the soda and other additives was fantastic.  Serves 1-2.