Varmahlíð Apple Cake

August 12, 2018

 

 

P1010271

Last September the Husband and I went on an amazing trip to Iceland. It was our 7th time visiting and we just can’t get enough of the place! Indeed since this trip we have visited again in February 2018 and are planning another visit this Fall! But let me not get ahead of myself. I’m just going to tell you about the September 2017 visit right now. Believe me, there be more to come. So last September, we were mostly focused on visiting the East Fjords, but we did spend some time revisiting the South Coast. Although we had been there several times, there were still plenty of things in the area that we hadn’t experienced. I first encountered this Varmahlíð Apple Cake

IMG_7032

 

at The Garage Apartments, which are an absolutely wonderful base of operations if you are visiting that area of the country.

P1010297 (1)These lovely modern rustic apartments are found in former old garage that is located on a family farm belonging to Anna & Siggi. This picturesque homestead is nestled right up to the foot of the mountain topped by the Eyjafjallajökull glacier, under which the famous air traffic interrupting volcano resides.

P1010312

Varmahlíð actually means “warm hill”. There is another Varmahlíð in North Iceland. With all the geothermal activity on the island it is easy to see why there would be more than one place known as Varmahlíð. But here I’m referring to an area on the South Coast near the Ejyafjallajökull volcano.

P1010280

Siggi’s family has been living on this land for over 200 years. Now Anna & Siggi are operating a “gentleman’s farm” on the site as well as managing several apartments for Iceland’s ever-expanding tourist market.

P1010304

Located exactly between the two famous waterfalls Skógafoss

DCIM100GOPROGOPR1606.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR1776.JPG

and Seljalandfoss,

GOPR1203

DCIM100GOPROGOPR1790.JPG

You can walk behind Seljalandfoss for an alternate view!

these exceptional apartments are the perfect central location for taking in all the South Coast of Iceland has to offer. We of course visited the waterfalls, not our first visit but they never seem to get old. We spent some time on the black sand beach near Vik

P1000394

GOPR0866_1505178759372_high

and visited the plane wreck at Sólheimasandur.

DCIM100GOPROG0421762.JPG

Next we travelled out to the breath-taking Westman Islands (Vestmannaeyjar).

P1000233

Once there we met the adorable Tóti, Vestmannaeyjar’s famous puffin

P1000223

and saw the whole town turn out to rescue baby pufflings at night (for more info on the pufflings and Westman islands (see Iceland links below). We went on an exciting rib safari tour around Heimaey.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR1562.JPG

The Famous Elephant rock

Drank some local beer at the Brothers Brewery,

IMG_5957

visited the Eldheimar museum which documents the story of the surprise 1973 eruption of the volcano which caused the roughly 5,00 locals to flee on fishing boats in the middle of the night to the safety of the mainland. The eruption, which lasted for 5 months, buried 1/3 of the town in lava and destroyed over 400 houses and businesses. The resilient islanders did return and rebuilt the thriving community you will find today. Fascinating stuff! You really should consider visiting.

P1000385

One of the recently uncovered houses which had been buried by lava & ash during the eruption.

And if all the gorgeous scenery hasn’t convinced you, we had the best meal we have ever had in Iceland, which is saying something because the food there is fantastic. The restaurant is Slipurinn. Located in an old machinery shop this family owned eatery features seasonal local sourced dishes often including herbs and seaweed foraged right there on the island. Simply divine food in a friendly and casual environment. Don’t miss it!

GOPR0779

The Husband and I atop the newly formed volcano – Mt. Eldfell

Back on the mainland, we hiked the magnificent Fimmvörðuháls trail, a big accomplishment for us. This challenging 13 mile hike took us up over a mountain (approximately 3,600 feet elevation), past 22 waterfalls,

DCIM100GOPROGOPR1618.JPG

GOPR0812_1505125477410_high

past the still warm lava fields from the most recent eruption,

20170910_155858

between two glaciers,

Lea and Jay

over the Kattarhryggur (cat’s spine)

DCIM100GOPROG0181645.JPG

and down the other side through Goðaland (the land of the Gods),

DCIM100GOPROG0221664.JPG

 

DCIM100GOPROGOPR1653.JPG

finishing in Thorsmork (Thor’s Forest).

GOPR0850

It was just jaw dropingly gorgeous and occasionally somewhat terrifying! – Narrow paths with steep drop-offs are not for the faint of heart!

And not only was the Garage Apartments location ideal for all our explorations, but Anna was also such an amazing host, so friendly, warm and welcoming. Her spacious apartments were stylishly decorated, sparklingly clean

DCIM100GOPROGOPR1804.JPG

and filled with thoughtful little touches,

P1010309

Adorable mice on the bed side table!

and as if all of that was not enough, she served us scrumptious freshly home-baked desserts every day! This delicious Apple Cake was one of them.

P1010277

This particular Iceland trip was chock full of activities and I can not tell you how happy we were to come back to find home baked treats waiting for us. What a pleasant surprize! Moist and tender and not too sweet, it was just perfect with a nice hot mug of tea. Anna kindly shared the recipe with me, which I will now share with you.

 

P1010260

 

P1010269

I must admit, I had to do a few conversions before baking this cake. I don’t have any measuring devices marked with deciliters – but I was able to figure it out pretty quickly. I baked the cake in an 8X8″ pan, but you could also use a 9X9″ – just make sure you adjust the baking time.

IMG_7022

And if you are planning a trip to Iceland anytime in the future and want to visit the South Coast, you’ll know exactly where you should book your accommodation. As a matter of fact, the Husband and I are taking our parents to Iceland this fall. It will be their first trip so we will be playing tour guides for them. And guess where we’ll be staying…That’s right! We are very much looking forward to our upcoming stay at the cozy Garage apartments. For further Iceland recommendations, see my guide at the bottom of this post. In the meantime, try this recipe and enjoy a slice of Varmahlíð Apple Cake while you plan your upcoming adventure.

IMG_7031

 

Varmahlíð Apple Cake

  • Servings: 9 pieces
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe from: Anna, owner of the Garage Apartments

Ingredients:

  • 200 grams soft salted butter
  • 2.5 Deciliter Sugar (1 cup + 1 Tablespoon)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 Deciliter Cream (100 ml)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 -5 green apples – sliced

Directions:

Preheat oven to 355° F (180°C)

Place the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl and mix to combine. Set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

Add the cream and vanilla. Stir to combine.

Add the flour/baking powder mix to the batter. Mix until just combined.

Place the batter in a buttered deep 8X8″ baking pan and top with the apples. ( I sprinkled the top of my cake with cinnamon sugar, but this was not included in Anna’s recipe. If you love cinnamon like I do, just mix 1/4 cup sugar with 2 teaspoons of cinnamon and sprinkle over the apples before baking.)

Bake for 45 -50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean at 355°F (180°C).

Enjoy!

Varmahlíð Apple Cake brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Links for Helpful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Varmahlíð Apple Cake:

Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer

Oxo Good Grips 7 Piece Nesting Measuring Beaker Set

OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale

Links for Planning your vacation in Iceland:

I have tons of links, as well as some lovely photos, and delicious Icelandic recipes in previous blogs that I have written about our adventures in Iceland. For some inspiration take a look at:

December 2012 Visit to the South Coast & Reykjavik featuring White Chocolate Skyramisu

December 2013 Visit to the South Coast, Jökulsárlón & Reykjavik featuring Kanilsnúðar

July & December Visit to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, The Westfjords & Reykjavik featuring Ástarpungar aka Love Balls 

Here is a fun video that show you some of the beauty Iceland has to offer, which will surely get you excited for any upcoming Iceland visit. And it will teach you a few words in Icelandic as well. It is known as “The Hardest Karaoke Song in the World”! Sing along to Inspired by Iceland’s “A – Ö of Iceland”.

If you enjoyed this video, take a look at Inspired By Iceland’s site. They have great little videos showing you gorgeous scenes from each area of Iceland, while teaching you a few more Icelandic words along the way.

Westman Island links:

To Buy tickets on the Herjólfur Ferry as well as read about all the things to see and do take a look at: Visit Westman Islands.

Hotel Vestmannaeyjar – Great accommodation on the Islands.

Stofan Bakhús – Great bakery! Got the best kanilsnúðars there that I have ever had in Iceland! We also got some great sandwiches to take on a hike. Everything there looks delicious. Go be tempted!

On puffins: If you travel to the Westman Island at the end of August/beginning of September there is a good chance you will see baby puffins (pufflings) being rescued by the local children. At this time of year, the pufflings leave their nests but get confused by the lights of the town and rather than flying out to sea, they end up flying into town. The children go out at night with flashlights to find them. They take them home in cardboard boxes for the night. The next morning they take them to the Saeheimar Aquarium to be measured and weighed and the children can have their pictures taken with their little charges as well. Once done, the kids take the little birds to the shore and release them back into the wild during daylight hours so that they won’t become confused. We were lucky enough to be there when this was happening and it was unforgettable!

*On a sad note: Tóti the Puffin passed away in July. He was a great ambassador for Vestmannaeyjar and brought joy to many. The Husband and I are so glad we were able to meet him. He will be sorely missed.

P1000245

Interested in hiking the Fimmvörðuháls Trail? See here:

If you are interested in hiking the Fimmvörðuháls Trail, you can go all on your own. However, we strongly recommend going with a guide.  Weather at  the top of the mountain is very unpredictable and many tourists have ended up having to call ICE-SAR to be rescued. Don’t let this happen to you! We absolutely love the tour company Midgard Adventure and have gone out with them on many exciting adventures. They not only provided us with a knowledgeable and engaging guide but when we descended down into Thorsmork after our epic 9 – 10 hour hike, the folks from Midgard had grilled some hot dogs and were waiting for us with a cooler of beer as well as other snacks. It was just perfection! Check out their other tours as well. They are an amazing company! And they now offer cozy accommodation as well. Take a look at their basecamp where you can find a restaurant, cafe and bar as well.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Italian Easter Bread

April 3, 2018

IMG_6979

Happy Easter! Yes, I do realize that Easter was back on Sunday, but I really wanted to share this recipe for this beautiful Italian Easter Bread with you, even though I’m doing so a bit late. Truth be told, I had every intention to have this posted on Saturday morning, before Easter, but then life got in the way and it just didn’t happen. But hey, as it turns out, folks celebrate Easter every single year, so with this recipe already in hand you’ll be way ahead of the game for Easter 2019.

IMG_6992

 

This light and airy Italian Easter bread is similar to brioche. Rich and only slightly sweet, it looks amazing on your Easter brunch table. If you have a real sweet tooth, you can amp up the sugar factor by adding a sweet glaze once it comes out of the oven.  These lovely loaves are also a great way to display your brightly colored Easter Eggs.

IMG_7001

I love trying out Easter breads from around the world. Last year I baked Tsoureki (Greek Easter Bread) . Tsoureki also has an egg or eggs baked into it.

IMG_6357

I’ve also made Slovak Paska

IMG_2710

And even tried my hand with the impressive Russian Kulich (Easter bread)

IMG_2724

And of course every year I bake Apple Cinnamon Hot Cross Buns on Good Friday.

IMG_2431

But let me get back to talking about this year’s offering – Italian Easter Bread. It was really very easy to make, rose like a champ and looked so festive on the brunch table. My only disappointment was the egg. The recipe said that you should use RAW eggs that have been dyed, not hard-boiled ones. The claim was that the eggs would cook perfectly as the bread baked. I was skeptical. I thought a baked egg would have a weird rubbery texture, but I was hopeful, so I did use raw eggs. Although it looks like Sprinkle Bakes (the blog on which I found this recipe) eggs came out great, mine did not. They were just not done, very runny. And I could not have left the bread in the oven for any longer than I did as it was perfectly golden. Turns out it wasn’t a disaster, we just ate around the offending egg. In the future I think I will just use a raw egg which has not been dyed, as a place holder in the oven. Once the bread is done baking, I will carefully remove that egg and swap it out for a perfectly hardboiled dyed egg. Another advantage of doing it that was is that you won’t have to worry about any of the eggs coloring bleeding onto the loaves. And don’t forget to rub your finished eggs with a little bit of oil to really make them shine!

IMG_7016

So, once again I hope you will forgive my tardiness with this Easter post. Please keep this Italian Easter Bread at the ready for next year. Happy be-lated Easter!

IMG_6978

Italian Easter Bread

  • Servings: 6 braided loaves
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe from: Sprinkle Bakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups (301 ml.) milk or half and half
  • 1/3 cup (76 grams) unsalted butter
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • Pinch of salt (about 1/16 teaspoon)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
  • 3 to 4 cups (408 to 544 grams) bread flour (approximate)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • Rainbow nonpareils
  • 6 raw eggs, room temperature, dyed in rainbow colors *please see my above note on use of raw eggs

Directions:

Combine the milk and butter in a small saucepan and place over medium-low heat. Warm just until the butter is completely melted and remove from the heat. Let cool until just warm.
Combine the yeast, salt, eggs and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer. Add the warm milk and half of the flour. Knead with the dough hook until combined. Add more flour gradually until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the mixer. You may not have to use all of the flour (but I did!). Knead the dough about 3-5 minutes longer, or until completely smooth and elastic.
Place the dough in a greased bowl and turn it over once to coat the top. Cover with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise in a warm place, about 1 hour.

Gently deflate the dough with a fist. Turn it out onto a floured work surface and pat it down slightly so that the dough has an even thickness. Cut the dough into 12 even pieces. Roll each piece to form a 1-inch thick rope about 14 inches in length. Take two lengths and twist them together; loop the twist into a circle and pinch the ends together. Place the circle onto parchment lined baking sheets. Cover the loaves with plastic wrap and let rise again for 1 hour, or until doubled.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Combine the egg and 1 teaspoon water in a small condiment cup. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat the loaves with the mixture. Sprinkle on the nonpareils and gently place a dyed egg in the middle of each loaf. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the bread is golden and fragrant. Let cool on wire racks..

Notes:

  • For a simple milk glaze, mix 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar with 1-2 tablespoons of milk. Whisk together until smooth. A little vanilla extract couldn’t hurt, either.
  • After the dough is raised and turned out onto a work surface, 1/2 cup mixed candied fruit and 1/4 cup blanched almonds can be mixed in.  2 tablespoons of citrus zest may be added to the dough also.

Enjoy!

Italian Easter Bread brought to you by: Runcible Eats www.leaandjay.com

Links for Helpful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Italian Easter Bread:

OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale

Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer

6 Quart Dough Rising Bucket

SAF Instant Yeast

Hand Held Zester

Oxo Good Grips small silicone pastry brush

Oxo Good Grips 7 Piece Nesting Measuring Beaker Set

 


Butterfly Cakes (aka Fairy Cakes) filled with Strawberry Jam & Topped with Baileys Whipped Cream

March 17, 2018

IMG_6930

Woo-hoo! Today is St. Patrick’s Day!!! And as per usual, the last post of my St. Patrick’s Day recipe run features a cupcake. Well, not an American style cupcake, but what is known as a Butterfly Cake or also sometimes as a Fairy Cake in Ireland. Butterfly Cakes consist of a light Victoria sponge style cake that has a circle carved out that top, the resulting hollow has been filled with jam, topped with whipped cream and then had the halved top circle reinserted so as to resemble butterfly or fairy wings. Then the whole shebang is dusted with confectioners sugar. Butterfly Cakes are staples at children’s birthday parties. What I’ve got for you today is the adult version. My whipped cream is heavily laced with Baileys. Yup…these Butterflies are a wee bit tipsy!

IMG_6959

And I did say that you might see that delicious homemade Strawberry Jam that I mentioned in my very first post this St. Patrick’s Day season – Theresa’s Prize-Winning Scones with Strawberry Jam & Clotted Cream. And it has indeed made an appearance again filling these adorable little butterfly gems. The recipe for that Strawberry Jam comes from my friend Theresa’s cookbook Fruit on the Table: Seasonal Recipes from the Green Apron Kitchen.

book-cover-fruitonthetable

Theresa runs, The Green Apron, which is an artisan preserve company. She grows much of the fruit and vegetables she uses in her preserves at her family’s orchards at Derryclough and in the walled vegetable garden at her parents 18th Century castle, Glenwilliam.

img_2809-e1463570050345-683x1024

Her award-winning preserves are made in small batches by traditional methods using locally sourced, organic produce where possible and without artificial preservatives, colours or setting agents.

blas-silver-2014-pic-e1463574382426-1

Theresa definitely knows her way around a jam jar. Every single creation of hers that  I have tasted has been exquisite and her Strawberry Jam is no exception. Simply divine! So I knew that it would be the perfect filling for these Butterfly Cakes.

IMG_6927

It is strange that as popular as these lovely treats are in Ireland, they never really made it across the pond to the States. American cupcakes generally are piled high with very sweet buttercream frosting. Now don’t get me wrong. I love cupcakes, pretty much all of them. But I will say that my least favorite of all of the frostings is American Buttercream. It is often grainy and toothachingly sweet. As I’ve said in many previous posts, Swiss Meringue Buttercream is the way to go. If that is the frosting you’ve got, go ahead and pipe a mini mountain onto each cake! The Husband, who really doesn’t care much for chocolatey type sweets, but loves any fruit based dessert, thought these treats were the bees knees. Not too sweet and just bursting with jam and fresh cream. I’m sure the Baileys presence didn’t hurt either! A delight on St. Patrick’s Day but a great recipe to have in your arsenal for use the entire year through.

IMG_6954

Well it looks like I’ve gotta get going…my blogging is done for a while. I’ve got some Patrick’s Day festivities to attend to. So see you in a week or so, Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Daiobh (Happy St. Patrick’s Day)!

IMG_6928

Butterfly Cakes (aka Fairy Cakes) filled with Strawberry Jam & Topped with Baileys Whipped Cream

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

For the Cupcakes:

  • 1 3/4 Cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 3/4 Cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons, 1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (can substitute vanilla extract)

For the topping:

  • strawberry jam – I just made up a batch! See the recipe here. or use store bought if you are short on time
  • 1 cup (8 oz.) heavy whipping cream, whipped
  • 2 Tablespoons confectioners sugar
  • 1 -2  Tablespoon Baileys (optional)
  • confectioner’s sugar for dusting

Directions:

Line cupcake tin with liners. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C)

Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together. Set aside.

Whisk egg white and buttermilk together in small bowl. Set aside.

In bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment beat butter until pale and creamy. Slowly add the granulated sugar, scraping down the bowl as needed and continuing to beat until mixture is light and fluffy. Add vanilla paste and beat until combined. Add the flour mixture in 4 additions alternating with the buttermilk/egg mixture, beating only until just combined.

Using 1/4 cup scoop, divide batter evenly among cupcake wells. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted shows a few moist crumbs.

Cool cupcake tin on wire rack for 5 minutes and then remove cupcakes from pan to finishing cooling on rack.

When ready to decorate, cut out the center of each cupcake, angling the knife at a 45° angle. The piece you remove should look like a cone. Cut the cone top of the cupcake in half so as to resemble butterfly wings. Fill the hollowed out part of the cupcake with strawberry jam. Top the jam with a dollop of Baileys whipped cream, or you can pipe the cream on as I did. Place the “wings” upright at an angle in the cream.

Dust generously with confectioners sugar.

Enjoy!

Butterfly Cakes brought to you by Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Links for helpful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Butterfly Cakes filled with Strawberry Jam & Topped with Baileys Whipped Cream:

Fruit on the Table: Seasonal Recipes from the Green Apron Kitchen

Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer

Oxo Good Grips Ice Cream Scoop

Oxo Good Grips Baker’s Dusting Wand


Chef Cathal Armstrong’s Shepherd’s Pie

March 16, 2018

 

IMG_6811

Ahhh…Shepherd’s Pie. Comfort food at its finest. There are many many versions of this dish. Today I am bringing you one from Chef Cathal Armstrong’s cookbook My Irish Table: Recipes from the Homeland and Restaurant Eve. Chef Armstrong, originally from Dublin Ireland, has a culinary empire here in Northern Virginia  which includes Restaurant Eve, the Majestic Cafe, two branches of Eamonn’s – A Dublin Chipper, PX cocktail lounge and Society Fair a gourmet emporium and wine bar. He is an internationally recognized four-star chef and leader in the sustainable food movement which he attributes firmly to his Irish upbringing. Chef Armstrong has brought forth this cookbook which contains a collection of family recipes and Irish inspired dishes from Restaurant Eve.

IMG_6825

He makes his version of Shepherd’s Pie with a rich stew of diced lamb shoulder and fresh vegetables. It also has double potatoes – Potatoes in the stew and creamy mashed potatoes topping it. That is my kind of dish! I’m one of those folks that seriously considers ordering a baked potato and french fries for my two sides in a restaurant when given a choice. So of course I love the abundance of spuds in this Shepherd’s Pie.

IMG_6831

Interestingly, there is some controversy as to where this dish originated. Chef Armstrong says that it is an interpretation of a French dish called hachis parmentier. Others have claimed it has an English pedigree. No matter where it started, I think you can most assuredly find a version of this casserole in any Irish Pub you might visit. One of the great things about Shepherd’s Pie is that you can make it in stages. The stew part can be made 2 days prior to when you would like to serve it. Then on the day of your dinner all you need to do is make up the mashed potatoes, pipe them over the pie and then bake for 30 – 35 minutes.

IMG_6810

Way back when, the first year that I actually posted St. Patrick’s Day recipes on this blog, I shared Chef Gordon Ramsay’s Shepherd’s Pie, which is a very different dish, so I don’t feel guilty at all blogging about it again. The more the merrier I say. Chef Ramsay uses minced lamb rather than diced lamb shoulder and he advocates grating the carrots and onions rather than chopping them. And his version isn’t really a stew.

IMG_5629

Gordon Ramsay’s Shepherd’s Pie

Which one do I like better? Difficult to say as they are so different from one another. The Husband has weighed in and picked Chef Armstrong’s version as the victor. Me…I’m not so sure. Again, they are very different. I can say without hesitation, that I would be quite happy presented with either one at a St. Patrick’s Day feast. If you’re expecting a crowd for your festivities this year, perhaps you could make both versions and hold a little competition of your own. I’m sure your guests would be thrilled!

IMG_6841

Chef Cathal Armstrong's Shepherd's Pie

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe from: My Irish Table: Recipes from the Homeland and Restaurant Eve

Ingredients:

For the Stew:

  • 1 1/2 lbs. lamb shoulder, trimmed of all fat and sinew, cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups lamb stock or store-bought beef broth
  • 3 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes (2 cups)
  • 2 large fresh bay leaves
  • 2 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves

For the Mashed Potatoes:

  • 4 russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Directions:

Brown the lamb: Pat the lamb cubes dry on all sides with paper towels and season well with salt and pepper. In a large slope-sided sauté pan over medium-high heat, heat the oil until it shimmers. Distribute the meat evenly in the bottom of the pan without crowding it and don’t disturb it for several minutes. If you stir the cubes too soon, they will release water and the meat will boil instead of browning. After 3 or 4 minutes, turn the cubes over and brown them on the other side for another 3 or 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to a bowl and return the pan to the heat.

Sweat the vegetables: Add the onion, carrots and celery, stirring with a flat-edged wooden spatula. As the vegetables cook, water will release and deglaze the pan. Use the spatula to scrape up brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Sweat the vegetables for 4 to 5 minutes. They should be translucent but still bit firm.

Cook the stew: Stir in the flour and allow it to brown lightly for about 2 minutes. Add the lamb stock, continuing to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the potatoes, bay leaves, thyme, rosemary and oregano. Return the meat and its collected juices to the pan. Bring the liquid to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and cover the pot. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours, until the meat is fork tender. Discard the bay leaves and transfer the stew to an 8 – cup baking dish. ( 9 x 9 or 11×7 would work well).

Boil the Potatoes for mashing: Place the quartered potatoes and salt in a pot and cover them with cold water. Bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat to medium and allow the potatoes to simmer uncovered until cooked through, about 40 minutes. To tell if they are cooked, take a piece out and cut it in half to see if it’s soft in the center.

While the potatoes are cooking, preheat the oven to 450°F.

Mash the potatoes: Drain the potatoes, return them to the pot and stir them over the heat for a coupled of minutes. This ensures that they are dry. Rice the potatoes into a mixing bowl. Add the egg yolks, butter and cream, whisking until the mixture is smooth. Work quickly while the potatoes are hot so they don’t become gummy and starchy. Adjust the salt seasoning to taste and allow the potatoes to cool.

Top the pie: First a large pastry bag with a large star tip. Spoon the mashed potatoes into the bag. Moving in one direction, pipe large rosettes of potatoes over the lamb mixture, in neat rows or around the perimeter of baking dish. Go over your work and pipe rosettes wherever you see any holes-you want to create a good seal. Alternatively, you can dollop the potatoes over the stew and spread them with a spatula to seal it.

Bake the Pie: Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Set the pie on it and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the potatoes are nicely browned and filling is bubbling. Let the casserole rest for 15 minutes.

Enjoy!

Chef Cathal Armstrong’s Shepherd Pie is brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Links for helpful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Cathal Armstrong’s Shepherd Pie:

My Irish Table: Recipes from the Homeland and Restaurant Eve by Cathal Armstrong, David Hagedorn

Scanpan Evolution Sunday Pan with Lid – I absolutely love this pan! Cooked the stew in it with no problem.

Le Creuset Stoneware 10.5 x 7″ Baking Dish

Oxo Good Grips Stainless Steel Potato Ricer

 

 


Mini Baileys Chocolate Cheesecakes

March 15, 2018

IMG_6875

So today is the Ides of March, but there is nothing to fear here. I’m serving up a bunch of these Mini Baileys Chocolate Cheesecakes to anyone who might darken my doorstep!

IMG_6872

That’s right – little individual sized Baileys spiked chocolate cheesecakes topped with Baileys whipped cream and drizzled with an Irish Whiskey laced chocolate. Hmmm…on second thought, perhaps your liver should beware the Ides with all that booze!

IMG_6913

These decadent little devils are rich, creamy and just the perfect serving size. Recently I’m somewhat obsessed with canning jars. Not only are they adorable, but they also make serving folks at any gathering a breeze. No worries with slicing cakes or flimsy serving plates. These supremely portable jars are the way to go!

IMG_6887

Easy to make and even easier to eat, these Baileys Chocolate Cheesecakes are a St. Patrick’s Day delight!

IMG_6898

Mini Baileys Chocolate Cheesecakes

  • Servings: 12 - 4 oz. canning jars
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe adapted from: Irish Baking Adventures

Ingredients:

For the base:

  • 200 grams Graham Cracker crumbs (you can use Digestive Biscuit crumbs if you like)
  • 4 Tablespoons butter

For the Cheesecake filling:

  • 360 grams cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 Tablespoons cocoa
  • 200 grams caster sugar
  • 200 grams melted milk chocolate
  • 120 ml. sour cream, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 70 ml Baileys Irish Cream

For the topping:

  • 500 ml whipping cream
  • 75 gram confectioners sugar
  • 60 ml Baileys
  • 200 grams chocolate, melted – for drizzling
  • 2 – 3 Tablespoons Irish Whiskey (optional – once the chocolate is melted, stir in the Whiskey if desired).

Directions:

Preheat the 325° F (160°C). Combine the melted butter and graham cracker crumbs. Place 1 Tablespoon of the crumbs in the bottom of each jar and pat down firmly to create a crust.

Place the cream cheese, sugar and cocoa in a stand mixer and mix on a low speed until combined.

Add the sour cream, vanilla, melted chocolate and Baileys. Continue to mix on low speed until combined.

Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until completely incorporated before adding the next.

Divide the batter evenly between the jars.

Place the jars in a large roasting pan or baking dish with sides. Carefully add hot water to the pan until it reaches halfway up the sides of the jars. Bake for 45 – 50 minutes until the center is set. Remove from the water bath and cool completely on a wire rack. Once cool, cover and refrigerate until cold.

Just before serving, whip cream on high until it begins to thicken. Add powdered sugar and Baileys and continue to whip until stiff peaks form.

Pipe the whipped topping onto the mini cheesecakes and drizzle with melted chocolate and sprinkle with chocolate candies if desired.

Enjoy!

Mini Baileys Chocolate Cheesecakes brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Links for helpful kitchen tools & ingredients for Mini Baileys Chocolate Cheesecakes:

OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale

Ball Mason 4 oz quilted jelly jars

Oxo Good Grips 7 Piece Nesting Measuring Beaker Set

 


Paddy’s Day Corned Beef & Cabbage Potstickers

March 14, 2018

IMG_6852

Now here is a St. Patrick’s Day dish for you that is a bit unexpected I’ll bet – Paddy’s Day Corned Beef & Cabbage Potstickers. So I won’t try to pull the wool over your eyes and tell you that you’ll find this Asian fusion dish on every table in Ireland come St. Patrick’s Day. But I will say that if you’ve got some lovely corned beef left over from your St. Patrick’s Day celebrations here in the States, these potstickers are great for using up the leftovers in the most wonderfully tasty way.

IMG_6868

As I’ve mentioned in previous years, you won’t really find corned beef on the menu in Ireland come St. Patrick’s Day. Well, I’d say you might now, but know that they’re serving it up specifically for the tourists. It isn’t the traditional holiday meal there. To read all about the history of corned beef and how Americans became corned beef crazed see my blog on Corned Beef Hash from a couple of years ago, which by the way, is also a great dish for using up leftovers. But believe me when I say corned beef on St. Paddy’s Day is an Irish American tradition.

IMG_6861

I found this recipe on the Farmette blog. If you haven’t visited before, you should definitely take a peek. It is basically the diary of Imen McDonnell who moved from the US to an Irish dairy farm, where she now resides with her husband and son. You can find this recipe on her blog along with a story of how shocked she was on her first St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland when she discovered that she was actually in a corned beef free zone. This recipe can also be found in her cookbook: The Farmette Cookbook: Recipes and Adventures from My Life on an Irish Farm. Imen uses bacon in her version, which I’m sure is also quite delicious!

IMG_6849

The Husband absolutely went wild for these potstickers, declaring them much better than any corned beef and cabbage he had ever eaten. Now I did change a couple of things from Imen’s recipe. I was feeling a bit lazy and didn’t actually make my potsticker wrappers myself. Nope. I went right out to the store and purchased some wonton wrappers, which worked very well. I also cooked them a bit differently and have included my method along with Imen’s. And although I am advocating this recipe as a way to use up leftovers, you really can’t use any leftover cabbage in these. Previously cooked cabbage will be too wet to work well in the filling. You’ll have to reserve a bit of fresh cabbage to use on the day you make these potstickers. Definitely give this recipe a whirl for a fun twist in your St. Patrick’s Day feast.

IMG_6858

Paddy's Day Corned Beef & Cabbage Potstickers

  • Servings: 20 medium-sized dumplings / if you use wonton wrappers @40 potstickers
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe from: Farmette also featured in the cookbook: The Farmette Cookbook: Recipes and Adventures from My Life on an Irish Farm by Imen McDonnell

Ingredients:

For the Wrappers:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup cold water

*** I actually used store-bought wonton wrappers here due to my extreme slothfulness…

For the filling:

  • 6 ounces cabbage, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1/8 cup minced parsley
  • 1/3 pound shredded corned beef, smoked ham (or smoked Irish bacon)
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper (or freshly ground black pepper)
  • 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon Chinese rice wine (or dry sherry)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

For the slurry:

  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup water

***egg whites work great here as well

For the dipping sauce:

  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • ¼ cup brown rice vinegar
  • ½ cup scallions (spring onion)
  • ¼ cup soy sauce

Directions:

Make the wrappers: In a medium bowl, combine flour and salt. Gradually add the boiling water until the mixture becomes mealy. Switch to the cold water and stir until a dough is formed. Knead the dough on a floured surface until smooth. Transfer to a clean bowl, cover with a towel and let rest.

Make the filling: Put the cabbage in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Place in a large bowl and sprinkle with salt. Let it rest for 10 minutes. While it is resting place the ginger, parsley, corned beef, pepper soy sauce, rice wind and sesame oil in a food processor and pulse until it is mixed well. Squeeze the water out of the cabbage and place the dry cabbage into a bowl. Add the pulsed ham mixture and combine.

Make the dumplings: Roll out the dumpling dough and cut our wrappers with a 4-inch round cookie cutter. Sed aside. Mix together the cornstarch and water for the slurry. Take one dumpling wrapper and spoon 1 tablespoon of the ham mixture into the center. (If you are using wonton wrappers, you will likely only be able to spoon 1/2 tablespoon onto the wrapper). Dip one finger (or a small pastry brush) into the slurry and paint the edges of the dumpling wrapper. Fold the wrapper over the filling and press the edges together, forming a half-moon shape. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet, cover loosely with plastic wrap and repeat with the rest of the dumplings. Do not allow the dumplings to touch each other on the sheet. Once the dumpling are all assembled, you can cook immediately or refrigerate for up to several hours. When ready to cook, fill a large pot half way with water and bring to a boil. Gently slide 1/3 of the dumplings into the water. Once the water returns to a gently boil simmer for 6 – 8 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and repeat with remaining dumplings. Coat a frying pan with oil and place over medium heat. Once hot, fry the dumplings until they are golden on each side.

*** I cooked my potstickers using a different technique. I place a bit of oil in a 10″ skillet and heated it just shy of smoking. I arranged my potstickers in the pan and cooked them until the bottom of them was a golden brown. The I poured 1/2 cup of water into the skillet and covered it with a tightly fitting top. I continued cooking until all of the liquid was gone. The bottoms of the potstickers should be sufficiently browned at that point, but if not, you could leave them in the pan a bit longer.

Make the dipping Sauce: Heat the sesame oil in a saucepan. Add the scallions and brown rice wine vinegar and soy sauce. Mix well and then remove from heat.

Enjoy!

Paddy’s Day Corned Beef & Cabbage Potstickers brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Links for helpful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Paddy’s Day Corned Beef & Cabbage Potsickers:

The Farmette Cookbook: Recipes and Adventures from My Life on an Irish Farm by Imen McDonnell

 

 

 


Baileys Salted Caramel Pots de Crème with Baileys Whipped Cream Topping

March 13, 2018

IMG_6793

I am so excited about the recipe I have for you today…Baileys Salted Caramel Pots de Crème! Why so excited, besides that fact that I’ve got 2 days of my St. Patrick’s Day blog-a-palooza done and dusted (only 4 more days to go…)? Well, I am excited about that, but I’m also thrilled because these little treats are quite possibly a game changer for me. Not only were they delicious, and I’m talking a swoon-worthy kind of dessert, but they were so easy to make. I’m serious. No baking. Just a few whrrrr’s of the food processor, a bit of stove top warming and some chill time. And then before I knew it I had these simple yet elegant, boozy, rich, salted caramel chocolatey decadent desserts, ready to be garnished and served.

IMG_6795

Pots de Crème (pronounced Po – think how southerners might pronounce “poor”- de Krehm) are a french custard which dates back to the 17th Century. Traditionally served in little pot shaped dishes (hence their name) or demitasse cups they are usually baked at low heat in a water bath. Their consistency is similar to a chocolate mousse but more dense yet not quite as firm as a flan. But this recipe today is for the new fangled Pots de Crème. As I said…no baking is involved. I’m telling you these little dreams are so easy to make you could do it first thing in the morning, while you’re still sleeping…perhaps before you’ve even had your first sip of coffee (or tea). Well, that might not be true, but they are pretty dang easy.

IMG_6798

However that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a couple of really important things you must do to ensure the success of this recipe. First of all, those eggs need to be room temperature. I promise you it will not work if you pull the eggs straight out of the fridge. Easiest thing to do is just set them out the night before. Oh come on! They are not going to go bad sitting out over night! But if this makes you nervous, you can let them soak in a bit of warm water to bring them up to room temperature. Again, I said warm water. Not boiling hot water. You don’t want to cook them at this point. Next important thing to remember is that it needs to be HOT cream, not room temperature and definitely not cream straight out of the fridge. That cream has to melt all the chocolate as well as kill any bacteria that might be in those raw eggs, so don’t mess around. Warm it to just shy of boiling. Put it in the microwave if you must and nuke it…nuke it real good! And finally once you’ve added the very HOT cream, make sure you run the blender long enough that the chocolate is thoroughly melted and uniformly mixed. That is pretty much it. You just pour it into whatever containers you plan to serve it in, leaving plenty of room for the whipped cream and pop them into the fridge. In 3 -4 hours they will be set and ready to serve.

IMG_6787

I made a version of these a few years ago with Baileys and coffee. I was inspired to reboot it this year when I saw that Valhrona had come out with a Salted Caramel Chocolate. I love salted caramel and couldn’t resist doing this recipe over with new ingredients. Valrhona also has these Dark Chocolate Crunchy Pearls that I used for my topping. I did not see these available on amazon and it looks like Valrhona might only supply Sur la Table with this item. Valrhona also makes a Dulcey white chocolate which has toasty buttery shortbread notes to it. I can see I’ll have to give that a whirl as well. In the meantime, please enjoy these Baileys Salted Caramel Pots de Crème and don’t forget the Baileys whipped topping!

IMG_6805

Baileys Salted Caramel Pots de Crème with Baileys Whipped Cream Topping

  • Servings: 6 -10 jars - depending on the size of your jars
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz. Valrhona Lait Caramelia
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons (possibly more depending on your mood…) Bailey’s Irish Cream, separated
  • 1 cup piping HOT whipping cream
  • an additional 1/2 pint cold heavy whipping cream
  • chocolate shavings or cocoa powder or even fresh fruit, for additional garnish

Directions:

Pour 1 tablespoon (or a bit more if you’re feeling a bit saucy) of Bailey’s Irish cream into the whipping cream and stir. Place into a small saucepan over low heat. Stirring occasionally, heat until just shy of boiling.

While cream is heating, add chocolate and room temperature eggs (really – I can not stress it enough – not cold out of the fridge, but room temperature eggs) to a blender or food processor and pulse, about 5-6 times, until the chocolate is broken up into small bits. Small folks, try to make it as easy as possible for that cream to work its melting magic.

Once cream/Baileys mixture is hot, with the blender running, slowly stream in the Baileys cream and continue blending until the chocolate melts and the mixture thickens.

Pour the mixture into 6-8 small mason jars, martini glasses, ramekins or tea cups and refrigerate for 3 -4 hours or until set.

Right before serving the pots de crème, add whipping cream to the bowl of a stand mixture and beat until soft peaks form. Beat in the remaining tablespoon (and perhaps a bit more…) of Baileys until well mixed.

Dollop the Baileys whipped cream on top of the pots de creme and serve with chocolate shavings or a dusting of cocoa powder.

Enjoy!

Baileys Salted Caramel Pots de Crème brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com) 

Links for helpful kitchen tools & ingredients for Baileys Salted Caramel Pots de Crème:

Valhrona Lait Caramelia

OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale

Cuisinart Pro-Classic Food Processor

Ball Mason 4 oz quilted jelly jars

 

 


%d bloggers like this: