Happy St Patrick’s Day

Hello and welcome to one of my Family’s favorite holidays; St Patrick’s Day. With the last name of O’Brien I’m often told, “That’s a pretty Irish last name”. Yes, well you should hear my sister’s name, her Gaelic translation literally means “Irish Girl of Brien”. So yes, I have some Irish in me, along with Scottish, English, and about one quarter who-knows-what. Although we don’t know too much about our Irish or Scottish heritage,  my dad was always very proud to be Irish and Scottish, and passed that down to us. When I was little our parents would take us to the Irish and Scottish fairs every year and I always wished I could dance like the little Irish girl dancers.

St Patrick’s Day was the day we’d look forward to every year where my mom would cook a big Irish-American feast, we’d play Irish music all day, and my dad would make us laugh with his old Irish prayer, “Eat plenty, pocket none, thank God, Amen”.  I loved growing up in a big family (2 sisters and a brother), and always having friends or family over. As we got older we’d invite friends or boyfriends to spend St. Patrick’s day with us. I don’t think there were ever less than six people at the dinner table for this special meal. It was like Thanksgiving, but with corned beef instead of Turkey.

Now with me having just recently moved up to the Bay area, this is my first St. Patrick’s Day away from my family, and the first time I decided to make the grandiose feast all on my own. I’d say it was actually a huge success! My fiance and I actually celebrated last night as I’m going back to L.A. tomorrow morning for the weekend and I wanted to be able to enjoy leftovers. I started with slow cooking the corned beef in the crock pot at 10 AM, then I started the rest of the dinner around 2:30. I will share all the recipes I made with you which include:  Corned Beef, Colcannon, whiskey glazed carrots, Irish soda bread, and Irish Lemon pudding. Make sure to enjoy your Irish dinner with some Guinness, or other Irish stout, and some sharp Celtic Cheddar.

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Corned Beef

This one will probably be the easiest recipe I will ever post. Here it is: buy corned beef brisket with seasoning packet, I got mine at Sprouts. Portion about 1/2 lb per serving. Dump corned beef and juices into slow cooker along with seasoning packet. Cover with water. Cook corned beef in a slow cooker on low for 6-8 hours. Optional: Once corned beef is done, remove 2 cups of the liquid to a saucepan. Whisk a small amount of water and about 2 tbsp flour and add to saucepan. Boil and stir until thickened. Serve over corned beef as a gravy.

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Irish Soda Bread

Adapted from Taste of Home Magazine

  • 2 cups Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar (or substitute coconut sugar)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 salt
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 375 F. Combine dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Cut butter into mix using two butter knives until crumbly. In a separate cup, mix together 1 egg and buttermilk. Gently stir into flour mixture just until moistened. Fold in raisins. Kneed dough onto a floured surface for about 1 minute. Shape into a round loaf. Cut a 1/4 deep cut all the way across the loaf in a cross. Beat remaining egg and brush over loaf. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until light golden brown.

Colcannon

Colcannon is a traditional Irish dish made with mashed potatoes, cabbage, and bacon. This recipe was absolutely delicious and I made no alterations. You can get the recipe here.

Whiskey Glazed Carrots

The Whiskey Glazed Carrots were inspired by my “The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from my Frontier” cookbook. I significantly reduced the whiskey because we didn’t have any cheep stuff. But I have made this recipe before verbatim with Jack Daniels, and I’d highly recommend it. You can find the original recipe on The Pioneer’s Woman’s blog, here.

Irish Lemon Pudding

My fiance asked me, “Do they have lemons in Ireland?”. Ya know, I’m really not sure. But they must, because there an abundance of Irish Lemon Pudding recipes out there on Google. Anyway, This is more like a pudding cake, with a cake layer and a pudding layer. It is super simple to whip together, and makes for a beautiful presentation when served with my homemade whipped cream, sifted powdered sugar, and sliced fresh strawberries. I used this recipe from The Baker Upstairs Blog.

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Serve with Homemade Whip Cream

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together using a hand mixer for about 3-4 minutes, until cream has thickened to desired consistency.

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Hope this St Patrick’s Day brings you some good luck, and good food. I’ll leave you with my favorite Irish blessing:

May the roads rise with you,

May the wind be always at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face;

the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,

And may the Lord hold you in the hollow of his hand.

 

Let me know what you think of my recipes, and as always; Live love, Cook. Cheers!

 

 

 

 

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Happy Pi Day!

Today is 3.14, and in honor of National Pi day, I’ve decided to post this very simple, very delicious quiche. Okay let’s be honest, I am not that coordinated with my recipe planning. I made this quiche because I bought way too much arugula at the farmer’s market Sunday morning. Couldn’t I have just made a salad with it? Yes, but that would be too easy. Plus, I wanted to end this 10 day rainy day streak with some good comfort food.

After day 3 of this rainy day streak, the road leading to the winery I work at closed due to flooding and nobody could make it up there. That was over a week ago. Yesterday was the last day of rain on the forecast and were hoping the road will be open tomorrow. Of course, any moment the rain took a break, and sometimes when it didn’t, I took full advantage with trips to the dog park, wineries, farmer’s market. I’ve got to do something to keep myself sane so as not to be totally entrapped with cabin fever.

We’ll, back to Pi day. Here are 3.14159265359…. things I’ve learned from this storm.

  1. Be thankful for everything you have. I have a fiance and family who loves me. I have a puppy to keep me company when my fiance is gone and I’m feeling lonely.
  2. You could be alone in Kingman. One of my best friend’s reminded me of this during our Skype date Friday night. I was feeling lonely since my fiance was gone for the weekend on a ski trip. “You could be stuck in Kingman, AZ like me”.
  3. Rain or shine, there’s always wine.

.14159265359…. Be thankful for the rain, California’s in a drought!

Arugula, Goat Cheese, & Parmesan Quiche

I wish I could take full credit for this perfection-of-a-quiche. Especially the crust, oh the crust! Flaky, buttery goodness! Now I did do a couple modifications, but it all began with this Baker’s Royale recipe.

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Perfect Savory Pie Crust:

  • 2 cups Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour
  • 2 tbsp finely shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup butter)

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Directions:

Pulse all dry ingredients in a food processor about 3 pulses. Cut butter into cubes and add one at a time. Pulse until combined. Slowly add in the ice water and pulse until dough has come together. Scrape onto a sheet of wax paper. Kneed dough with the palm of your hand several times and form into a ball. Wrap wax paper around your dough, secure with a piece of scotch tape, and place in the fridge for at 1-3 hours. Remove from fridge and roll dough into a 12″ round. Lightly grease pie dish and form the dough around bottom and sides of dish. (Optional) use a fork to create a pattern on the top of the sides of the pie. Cover the sides with foil and place in a preheated oven at 375 F for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking another 10 minutes.

Quiche Filling:

  • 2 tbsp butter (or oil)
  • 1 large shallot plus 1/2 yellow onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 4 oz goat cheese broken into small bits
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cup arugula

Directions:

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and shallot and cook about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook another minute. Remove from heat and let cool. In a large bowl, mix together eggs, spices, half and half, and cheeses. Add onions, tomatoes, and arugula and fold until combined. Sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese. Pour into pie dish and bake another 15-20 minutes, or until top is slightly golden and middle is firm.

Paired with…

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We paired this with a Viano Vineyards Chardonnay. This is a nice, mildly butter Chardonnay from Martinez, CA. Actually about a mile and a half from my apartment. A Chardonnay was an excellent pairing to the flaky buttery crust on the quiche.

 

 

 

 

Curry Cravings

Is it possible to crave something you’ve never tried? Oh yes, very possible! In fact, I think it’s in our nature. We crave love, sometimes from someone we barely know. We crave travel to some exotic place we’ve only read about. Right now I’m craving rum punch while lying on a beach in St Lucia on my honeymoon. At least that last one will become a reality in about 60 days! Earlier this week I was craving curry pizza. I love curry, and I love pizza, but I can’t say I’ve ever tried combining the two.

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This little craving all started when I was Yelping places to eat in Pleasanton where I planned to meet a friend for lunch. I was surprised to find several Curry-Pizza fusion joints in the area. Our lunch ended up being canceled so I never did make it to Bombay Pizza House, or the like. However the idea of topping a pizza with one of my favorite sauces, genius! I could do that! I never really consulted a recipe before doing my shopping, so my pizza ended up taking a Thai-Indian approach.

I put my craving into action by making my curry sauce, which I adapted from Pinch of Yum and thickened to give it that nice pizza sauce consistency. The pizza dough came from my “Primal Cravings” cookbook by Megan Keatley and Brandon Keatley, 2013. The toppings for the pizza came from me!

Curry Cravings Pizza:

Note to readers; make extra for leftovers or you’ll be sorry. Beware the curry cravings!

For the Curry Sauce:

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 shallots finely diced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1″ fresh ginger grated
  • 2 tbsp curry paste
  • 1 can coconut milk (do not use lite!)
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar or maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp chili sauce (I use Trader Joe’s Chili Pepper Sauce)
  • 1-2 tbsp fish sauce (the original recipe used 2 but I like to use less so I used about 1-1/2)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp flour (use Bob’s Red Mill for GF)
  • 1 tsp arrowroot

Directions:

Drizzle olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat and saute garlic, shallots and ginger until soft, about 2-3 minutes. Add in curry paste and stir. Add coconut milk, sugar, chili sauce, fish sauce, and soy sauce. Mix well and let simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. In a liquid measuring cup, whisk your flour with about 1-2 tbsp water. Pour this into your sauce and bring to a boil. Continue to stir, and simmer until the sauce reaches your desired consistency. If it is still not thick enough for you, add the arrowroot in the same manner you did the flour. Arrowroot does wonders to thicken sauces. Be patient with your sauce, it may take 5-10 minutes to reach that pizza sauce consistency” it should coat and roll off the back of your wooden spoon.

For the pizza crust:

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 F and grease cookie sheet. In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients and beat with a hand mixer. Sprinkle cornmeal onto cookie sheet, this helps the crust lift nicely, and gives it a nice touch. Dump dough onto cookie sheet and spread out with a rubber spatula. Bake for about 10 minutes, until crust feels firm and is slightly golden. Remove from oven and top with desired toppings. return to oven until cheese and and crust are golden brown, about another 5-7 minutes.

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Toppings and Assembling Curry Craving Pizza:

  • 1/4 cup carrots grated
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup red cabbage, shredded
  • 2 heads of broccoli, florets only
  • 1/2 red onion
  • tbsp sesame seeds
  • 4 oz plain goat cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/8 cup chopped peanuts
  • Drizzle Sirracha
  • salt and pepper to taste

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In a medium sauce pan, toast sesame seeds 1-2 minutes. Add broccoli, red onion, salt and pepper and saute about 5 minutes. Spread curry sauce on pizza crust at least 1″ away from the edges. Top with broccoli, onion, grated carrot, red cabbage, and peanuts. Evenly top with small blots of goat cheese. Finish with Parmesan to seal everything in, and drizzle with Sirracha. Bake in a 400 F oven until cheese is bubbly and crust is golden.

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Enjoy with a an acidic or slightly sweet white wine. Normally I’d say go with a Gewurztraminer for a dish like this, but we went with what we had in our wine fridge; a 2013 Koehler Chardonnay. I didn’t have tasting notes on this wine but worried a buttery Chardonnay would overpower the meal. However, it actually turned out to pair quite nicely. Now, I’m not sure but this Chardonnay did not taste oaked, or if it was it may have been neutral oak. My tasting notes: Green apple and crisp acidity upfront, with a smooth, slightly buttery finish.

As always; Live, Love, cook. Cheers!

 

Lemon & Sauvignon Blanc

Last night’s dinner plan came about thanks to my scattered mind jumping from one idea to another. Hum, it’s cold and raining outside, I want some comfort food. Mac and cheese! No, that’s boring, I want some fancy mac. Ummm, goat cheese! Thus began the “Mac and Goat Cheese” Pinterest hunt. I found several recipes ranging from “Mac and Cheese with Roasted Chicken, Goat Cheese, and Rosemary” to “Pumpkin and Goat Cheese Macaroni”.  However, the one that really caught my eye for the particular mood I was in was this “Blackened Broccoli Pasta with Charred Lemon and Goat Cheese“. (My recipe was adapted, but highly modified from this recipe).

You see, I have also been on the hunt for a good citrus dish to pair with a Sauvignon Blanc. I’m trying to work on my food and wine pairings, and Sauvignon Blanc is a wonderful medium-bodied white wine, with tantalizing acidity and characteristics of lemon, grapefruit, and grass. They pair very nicely with a lot of foods including seafood, grilled vegetables, or a light chicken dish. You can also find some very drinkable Sauvignon Blancs under $10. I paired this dish with BV (Beaulieu Vineyards) Coastal Estates Sauvignon Blanc, which I found at Lucky for $6.

Okay, now for the recipe you all have been waiting for.

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Mac and Goat Cheese in a Lemon, Butter, White Wine Sauce

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz macaroni or shell pasta (I use this one for GF)
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 shallots, finely diced
  • 3/4 cup white wine
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • zest and juice of 1 medium lemon
  • 4-6 large fresh basil, leaves finely chopped (or 1 tbsp dried basil)
  • 1/4 cup flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Baking Flour for GF)
  • 8 oz can sundried tomatoes in olive oil
  • 1 bunch fresh spinach, chopped
  • 2 heads of broccoli
  • 1 tbs of the following: Paprika, garlic powder, salt pepper
  • 8 oz goat cheese
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese to top (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with foil. Chop your broccoli off the head into nice little florets. toss with about 2 tbsp olive oil, paprika, garlic, salt, and pepper. Set aside. In a medium saucepan, bring water and salt to a boil and cook you macaroni al dente.

In a cast iron skillet or saucepan, saute butter and 1 tbsp olive oil until butter has melted. Add minced garlic and diced shallots and cook until soft (about 2-3 minutes)

By this time, your oven should be done preheating. Cook your broccoli on the foil lined baking sheet for 10-15 minutes, or until slightly charred.

Back to the skillet: Slowly pour in the white wine, lemon juice and zest. let reduce 1-2 minutes. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, mix your flour and vegetable broth with a whisk. This prevents clumps from forming. Now add this to the skillet. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring continuously. Mixture will thicken quickly. Add spinach, reduce heat and cover. Once spinach has wilted, add about half your goat cheese and stir until goat cheese has melted. Carefully fold macaroni and broccoli into sauce until thoroughly coated. Garnish the pasta with the remainder of the goat cheese and Parmesan and serve with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. Cheers!

Recommendations and Optional Variations:

  • Other optional garnishes: fresh basil, lemon slices.
  • This dish would also pair very nicely with some shrimp mixed in.
  • Liquid may be adjusted to the level of thickness you like your sauce.
  • When heating leftovers on the stove, add some liquid back in. You can add what ever you have left over of: white wine, vegetable broth, etc.

Please let me know if you try out my recipe, or what variations you took. Feedback is always appreciated. As always; Live, love cook. Cheers!

 

 

Home is Where Your Love Is

Valentine’s Day was February 14th, which fell on a Sunday this year. It was a big day at the winery where I bar tend. So no long bike rides from winery to winery in Ventura for us this year. Which was fine, we’re now up in the Bay Area, and we discovered long ago never to go out to eat for Valentine’s Day unless you want to overpay for slow service at an overcrowded restaurant. 1189

So this year, I made a cheesecake after work Saturday night, which has been my Valentine’s tradition the last 3 years. This year, I made a marbled cheesecake with a gluten-free walnut chocolate crust. The chocolate portion of the cheesecake was made even more decadent with Larson Family Winery’s Three Lab Cab Chocolate Sauce! My fiance insisted on surprising me with dinner, so when I got home from work Sunday evening, I was greeted with the first course; a Cucumber, tomato, and spinach salad with taziki dressing. He then poured me a glass of 2012 Koehler Cabernet Sauvignon, and proceeded to make the next course. Filet Minon and scallops with garlic mashed potatoes, and balsamic glazed carrots. Oh…My…Tastebuds! Honestly, amazing. Wine drenched caramelized onions topped a tender cut of beef. And this is coming from a former vegetarian!

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Like our classy place mats?

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The surprises didn’t end there, he pulled out the cheesecake from the fridge and added a dollop of raspberry sauce he’d made, followed by a drizzle of the Three Lab Cab Chocolate Sauce (Did I mention this sauce is 4.8% alcohol and oh, so decadent?)

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Filet Minon and Scallops for 2:

  • Mashed potatoes:
    • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled then chopped
    • 2 Tablespoons butter
    • 1 Tablespoon heavy cream
    • 1 Sprig rosemary
    • 2 clove garlic
  • Balsamic Glazed Roasted Carrots
    • 2 Bags organic multicolored carrots
    • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
    • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoomn pepper
  • Filet Minon and pan sauce:
    • 2, 8oz filet mignon steaks, cut 2″ thick
    • 3/4 Tablespoon rock salt
    • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
    • 1/2 teaspoon dried minced garlic
    • drizzle extra virgin olive oil
    • 2 Tablespoons butter, divided
    •  1 large minced shallot
    • 1 garlic clove, crushed and peeled
    • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
    • 1/2 cup cheap red wine
  • Scallops
    • 6 large scallops
    • salt and pepper
    • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 Tablespoon butter

Directions

  1. Place steak on a plate on the counter to warm up for about 20 minutes before starting to cook. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Add potatoes to a large pot filled with cold water then bring to a boil and cook until tender. Drain then mash potatoes. Add butter, cream, and salt, and set aside.
  2. For the carrots: Mix carrots with olive oil, balsamic, salt and pepper in an oven safe baking dish. Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes, or until tender and easily pierced with a fork.
  3. For the steak: Rub salt, pepper, and extra virgin olive oil on the meat.
  4. Heat an oven safe cast iron skillet with butter and sear the steaks 2 minutes on each side. Move cast iron to the preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer steaks to a plate. Cove with foil and set aside.
  5. Place skillet back over medium-high heat then add shallots and saute for 30 seconds. Add rosemary, garlic, and wine then simmer until wine is reduced by half,  simmer until sauce is thickened and reduced, 7-9 minutes. Add remaining Tablespoon butter, taste and add salt and pepper if necessary, and then set sauce aside.
  6. For the scallops: Melt butter and extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Pat scallops dry between layers of paper towel, season with salt and pepper, and then place seasoned side down in hot skillet and sear for 90 seconds. Season tops with salt and pepper then flip and sear for 90 more seconds.
  7. Scoop mashed potatoes and carrots onto plates then add steaks and scallops. Drizzle with pan sauce.