Sunday, April 3, 2011
St Patrick's Day Dinner
I don't think I have ever celebrated St Patrick's day. Maybe with my husband as a day to have friends over for dinner and not really to cook Irish. But just to gather for food. So having Denise and Caroline for dinner the following Sunday was different and as usual, most enjoyable. They are extremely great company. Denise prepared dinner in her pressure cooker, Caroline made the Irish soda bread, I, as I have done for decades, made dessert, and also the appetizer.
This appetizer was not what I had originally planned. What was I thinking? I was going for Italian. I gave my list of ingredients to Denise as this was a last minute thought. So it was little surprise when D- arrived, she had something totally different to present.
Irish Cheese Bites with Chutney
Ricotta, Parmesan, and Goat cheese all mixed together spooned onto rounds of pre-cooked puff pastry. I didn't have a little pastry cutter. Back in New Hampshire I would have had a dozen to choose from. Then Caroline points to this lovely little hand made ceramic dish that my sister Suzanne sent me that was perfect for the job. I lifted this lovely little orange round cup and twisted it in the pastry dough and it cut like butter. So sweet - a work of art. Twice baked, this little pastry, then topped with a chutney and served immediately. It was so delicate. I could eat this every day.
So beautiful a presentation. I think there were 18. I ate two. Hmmm. Who ate the rest? There was a small discussion on who had the most.
Denise loves cooking with a pressure cooker. A lot of our meals were cooked in this fashion when we were children. I never cooked this way as I was rarely a meat eater. D- was working on a new recipe. The pressure cooker was making it all easy I think. At least I didn't see her slaving away in the kitchen. That was the point on this Sunday. No one was to slave away in the kitchen.
Just look at that corned beef. The color was remarkable. This was to be the first time I ate meat in front of other people. I am still very self conscious about my new teeth.
This is the cabbage, the potatoes and carrots. Caroline brought two loaves of soda bread straight from her oven. It does not get any fresher. I was in heaven. Each taste was perfect. The corned beef just melted in my mouth. I was weepy from culinary ecstasy. I was given the left overs and was able to enjoy the delights of the corned beef all week. In my little sewing room at work I just moaned. I could only hope no one heard me because I can't imagine what they would have thought. I have not eaten meat since before Thanksgiving. Almost four months. Eggs, oatmeal, pasta, mashed root vegetables, rice and soup. So you can just imagine what an impact corned beef and cabbage can have.
Ah dessert. I made a lemon poppy seed cake. I made a lemon infusion using four lemons, cooking down the peels, juice, and wedges, into sugar on the stove until it was very concentrated, very intense. From this infusion I made this cake and an ice cream.
Lemon basil. I have gotten to the point where my ice cream is very creamy. So much that it lingers in your mouth like a good cream should. When I take it out of the freezer I microwave it for a few seconds to take away the freeze.
We didn't want a big desert. So I cut slices of the cake 3/8ths of an inch thick and, not having and ice cream scoop, I used a tiny measuring scoop heated in water that yielded a scoop of cream just a tiny bit larger than an inch. This desert may look big, but it is served in a very tiny bowl. Just a taste. The perfect taste after a big dinner. An intense taste with all its components.
I am really loving making ice creams.
I next made a cream from Ceylon Cinnamon. I cooked the cinnamon in milk for about 15 minutes to completely infuse the cinnamon into the cream. Julie Olds, my great inspiration at the store, requested the cream and even provided the cinnamon. I used almost the entire jar and still, she said it could have even been a little stronger. Imagine. But everyone in the office loved it of course, not knowing cinnamon ice cream like Julie apparently knows it. She got the cinnamon from Penzey's. I will have to get more and make it again, make it better.
Everything can be made better.