Northwest NEWS

March 11, 2002

Home & Garden

Irish classics for St. Patrick's Day

from American Institute for Cancer Research
   The Irish writer, James Joyce, once called his homeland "an outcast from life's feast."
   But recent prosperity has brought Ireland to the table, and new sophistication in the kitchen has made it a contributor to the feast.
   Irish chefs have gained the respect of world food connoisseurs, but they have not forgotten their roots. So although pub food has been joined by haute cuisine, homely traditional dishes still hold their place.
   One of the most beloved is colcannon, a country dish of mashed potatoes, onions and cabbage. It came to the U. S. in the 1800s with the huge wave of Irish immigration, and it would be a perfectly appropriate dish for a St. Patrick's Day meal.
   In Ireland, colcannon was traditionally associated with predicting marriages. Charms hidden in the mash were supposed to mean a marriage proposal. Unmarried women also hung socks filled with colcannon on the front door, believing they would marry the next man to enter their homes.
   The Irish make colcannon with kale or cabbage. Both are members of the cruciferous family of vegetables, which included broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower.
   Cruciferous vegetables are full of nutrients like calcium, beta carotene and vitamin C, as well as the phytochemicals that health experts have found play a vital role in lowering cancer risk. And potatoes are rich in fiber, low in fat and sodium, and full of potassium.
   St. Patrick's Day honors the missionary credited with converting the Irish to Christianity.
   Green is associated with Saint Patrick's Day because it is the color of spring, Ireland and the shamrock, so a dish made with green cabbage is just the thing.
   As Irish writer Oscar Wilde once wrote, "After a good dinner, one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations."
   2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
   4 medium onions, halved and sliced
   1 small green cabbage, about 1-3/4 lbs., quartered, cored and cut in 1/2-inch strips (about 12 cups)
   4 medium yellow-fleshed or white potatoes, halved
   1/4 tsp. dried thyme
   Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
   In a large Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Stirring to coat with oil, add onions, then cabbage, first letting some onions wilt to make room for the rest.
   When all vegetables are wilted, about 10 to 12 minutes, reduce heat to medium-low and cook about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft and moist.
   Increase heat back to medium-high and cook until mixture is golden and very soft, 12 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
   Meanwhile, place potatoes in large saucepan, cover with cold water and set over high heat. Bring to boil, lower to simmer and cook until potatoes are soft when pierced with a knife, about 20 minutes. Drain, peel, set aside in serving bowl and keep warm.
   When cabbage-onion mixture is finished cooking, add to potatoes. Coarsely mash potatoes together with cabbage. Add thyme, season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.
   Makes 4 servings
   Per serving: 366 calories, 7 g. total fat (1 g. saturated fat), 69 g. carbohydrate, 8 g. protein, 12. g dietary fiber, 66 mg. sodium.
   Murphy's Irish Stew
   2 lbs. stew beef
   2 large onions, chopped
   2 lbs. potatoes, pealed, sliced
   1 garlic clove, crushed
   1/2 Tbsp. chopped parsley
   1/2 Tbsp. fresh thyme (optional)
   1 3/4 cup Irish stout
   1 cup water; salt and black pepper.
   In a large stock pot or casserole dish, layer beef, potatoes, onions and garlic, parsley and thyme. Add water and Irish stout. Cover with aluminum foil and lid. Simmer for 2-3 hours, occasionally stirring gently. Salt and pepper to taste.
   Irish Stout Ice Cream and Bread
   3 eggs
   6 oz. wheat bread crumbs
   1 1/2 c. heavy cream
   1/4 c. granulated sugar
   1/2 c. light brown sugar
   1/3 c. Irish stout
   Preheat oven to 475 degrees. In a large mixing bowl combine bread crumbs with light brown sugar. Spread evenly on a cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes until sugar has caramelized.
   Whisk eggs and granulated sugar until thick. Add cooled bread crumbs. Slowly add Irish stout and heavy cream. Whisk until thick. Place mixture in a storage container with lid. Freeze overnight.
   Wild Mushroom Beef Stew
   2 lbs. beef for stew, cut into 1-inch pieces
   1/4 c. all-purpose flour
   1 tsp. salt
   1/2 tsp. pepper
   1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves, crushed
   3/4 c. ready-to-serve beef broth
   1/4 c. tomato paste
   1/4 c. dry red wine
   2 cloves garlic, minced
   1 lb. red-skinned potatoes (1 1/2-inch diameter), cut into quarters
   8 ounces assorted mushrooms, such as shiitake, cremini and oyster, cut into quarters
   1 cup baby carrots
   Fresh parsley (optional)
   Combine flour, salt, pepper, and thyme in small bowl. Place beef in 4 1/2- to 5 1/2-quart crock pot slow cooker. Sprinkle with flour mixture; toss to coat.
   Combine broth, tomato paste, wine and garlic in small bowl; mix well. Add to beef. Add potatoes, mushrooms and carrots; mix well.
   Cover and cook on high 5 to 6 hours or on low 8 to 9 hours, or until beef and vegetables are tender. (No stirring is necessary during cooking.) Stir well before serving. Garnish with parsley, if desired.
   Makes 6 servings (about 1 1/2 cups each)
   Potato Skin Chips
   4 large baking potatoes
   3 Tbsp. oil
   1 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
   1/2 tsp. salt
   1/8 tsp. pepper.
   Prick potatoes and bake at 425 degrees for 45 minutes, or until tender. Cool.
   Cut in half lengthwise and scoop out potato so that shells are 1/4-inch thick. Cut each shell into sixths.
   In a mixing bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Add chips and toss to coat well.
   Spread single layer on oiled cookie sheets.
   Bake 8 to 10 minutes at 475 degrees until crisp, turning once.