It’s hard not to start cooking with Guinness around St. Patrick’s Day. It is a very versatile brew, lending itself to sweet and savory recipes. And as the old ads say, it makes you stronger! I love this simple glaze and think thick slices of Irish bacon are the perfect vehicle for it. Irish bacon is similar to Canadian bacon and more like ham than our “streaky” bacon, so a couple of slices makes for a nice change at dinner, or breakfast. I find it at natural food and upscale markets, but sliced Canadian bacon or thickly sliced ham will work as well.
Serve this sticky bacon with a large portion of Colcannon, which is traditionally served with a large pat of butter, but a drizzle of this glaze over the top is pretty good too. Or pair it with Champ, if cabbage is not your thing.
This recipe makes more glaze than you will need, but it will keep, cooled in an airtight jar, for a week or so and can be used to glaze grilled chicken, burgers or a meatloaf, so it’s nice to have around to extend the St. Patrick’s Day celebration.
Guinness Glazed Irish Bacon
1 (12-ounce) bottle Guinness stout
1 ¼ up light brown sugar
¼ cup honey
½ teaspoon English mustard powder
8 ounces sliced Irish bacon or Canadian bacon (about 8 slices)
Pour the Guinness into a high-sided saucepan and leave until the foam settles. Stir in the brown sugar, honey and mustard powder and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Watch carefully and stir frequently as this can easily boil over. Just when it hits the boil, reduce the heat to medium -low and cook, stirring often, until the glaze is reduced by half., about 20 – 25 minutes. Remove from the heat. It will thicken a little as it cools.
Cook the bacon slices in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until just beginning to brown, flip and brown the opposite side. Spoon about 1 Tablespoon of glaze over each slice and cook a few more minutes until the bacon is nicely glazed and syrupy. Serve immediately, with a little extra glaze spooned over if you like.
Guinness Glazed Irish Bacon and Colcannon
Colcannon is a traditional Irish dish that showcases the true brilliance of that culture’s rustic cuisine. Simple, staple ingredients transformed into something all together luscious and comforting. Mashed potatoes and cabbage are combined with a touch of leek and lots of rich dairy to create a dish that will fell like a welcome home, even if, like me, you’ve never been to Ireland.
I like to use napa cabbage because I find it slightly sweeter and milder, but classic green cabbage or savoy cabbage works just as well, and give a more traditional green speckle to the dish. Colcannon is a great side dish to lamb or beef, particularly corned beef for St. Patrick’s Day.
Colcannon (Irish Mashed Potatoes and Cabbage)
2 large russet potatoes (about 2 pounds)
½ head of napa cabbage (about 2 pounds)
2 large leeks, white and light green parts
½ cup (1 stick) butter, divided
1 cup buttermilk
salt to tast
Peel the potatoes, cut into chunks and place in a large pot. Cover with well-salted water by about 1 inch and bring to a boil. Cook the potatoes until very tender and a knife slides in easily, about 20 minutes. Drain the potatoes and place in a large bowl. Heat the buttermilk to just warm in a small pan or the microwave and add ½ cup to the potatoes. Mash the potatoes with a potato masher or sturdy wooden spoon until you have a nice, creamy mash. Stir in salt to taste
While the potatoes are cooking, slice the leeks into thin half-months and rinse thoroughly in a colander. Wipe out the pot and melt ¼ cup ( ½ stick) of the butter in it. Add the leeks with some water clinging to them and cook until they begin to soften and become translucent. Stir frequently and do not le the leeks brown. Add ¼ cup of water, cover the pot and continue cooking, stirring occasionally until the leeks are completely soft and translucent. Cut out the tough core of the cabbage half and slice into thin shreds. Rinse the cabbage shreds in the colander, then add them to the pot with some water clinging. Stir to combine the leeks and cabbage and coat the cabbage with the cooking juices. Cover the pot and cook until the cabbage is completely soft and wilted, about 15 minutes. Stir a few times and add a few tablespoons more water if there is any worry of the cabbage scorching or sticking.
When the cabbage is cooked, add it to the potatoes in the bowl and fold through. Add buttermilk as needed to create a creamy, rich texture and salt as needed.
Scoop the colcannon into a large serving bowl and make a well in the center. Cut the butter into small pats and place in the well to melt. Serve scoops of colcannon with the melting butter.
Serves 4 – 6
Mardi Gras is a fun season for food. Not only can you draw from the great canon of Louisiana cooking, you can play with the bright signature colors of purple, green and gold and be a little silly. This slaw is simple but the multi-colored vegetables and the tangy dressing make it a special dish. It is beautiful served beside or on top of a po’ boy, but is also a great starter or side with other favorites like Shrimp Creole or Red Beans and Rice or Grillades and Grits. But this slaw is also beautiful at a summer barbecue or picnic, long after Mardi Gras season has passed.
Mardi Gras Slaw
For the dressing:
1/3 cup creole mustard (I use Zatarain’s)
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
a couple of dashes of hot sauce
For the slaw:
½ head purple cabbage
½ head green cabbage
2 yellow bell peppers
For the dressing:
Blend all the ingredients together in a blender or in a small bowl with a whisk until the sugar is dissolved and the dressing is creamy.
For the Slaw:
Cut out the core of each cabbage half. Slice the cabbage with the slicing blade of a food processor. You’ll need to do this in batches. Transfer the sliced cabbage to a very big bowl. Remove the ribs and seeds from the peppers and finely dice. Add to the cabbage in the bowl. Use you clean hands to toss everything around until evenly distributed. Discard any large cabbage pieces or remnants of hard core.
Give the dressing a last whisk to make sure it is creamy and pour it over the slaw. Stir and toss to coat everything well. I like to do this with clean hands as well. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours to allow the flavors to blend. This is best served soon after it is made, but will keep for up to a day.
Serve 10 – 12
I first remember having grillades and grits at brunch at Commander’s Palace in New Orleans. It was family trip, maybe an early vacation or taking my brother to look at college. My parents made us dress up – would have checked to see that we packed something appropriate, and it would have been our fancy meal of the trip. And Commander’s was fancy, particularly to a young teen with little experience. There were white-coated waiters with trolleys doing all sorts of amazing things like flaming bananas foster and café brulot. What made me order something with the unfamiliar name grillades, I can’t imagine, but I do love veal and those grillades were made with veal.
In truth, grillades and grits are a rustic dish. Slow simmered meat and vegetables served over simple grits, so it seems funny that they pair with one of my earliest fancy meal memories. And the Commander’s Palace I see in my minds eye is nothing like the Commander’s of reality that I know to day. Like how everything at your high school seems smaller and less significant when you return as an alumnae. So grillades and grits sat in my mind as a vaunted, scared New Orleans restaurant dish (I had it a various places over the years), something only served by waiters. But I finally decided to see if it was something I could conquer, and lo and behold, it is a pretty simple dish to prepare. And when you do it yourself, you end up with the dish that evokes the perfect memories and flavors. Tender veal, the trinity of creole vegetables, piquant sauce and creamy grits. Now I want to celebrate my early experiences in New Orleans with this dish of memories any time. Particularly during Mardi Gras season.
Grillades and Grits
1 ½ pounds veal scallopine (about 6 cutlets)
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons Creole seasoning
¼ cup bacon grease (plus more if needed)
1 onion, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 cups low-sodium beef broth
For the Grits:
6 cups chicken broth (plus more if needed)
1 ½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 ½ cups stone-ground grits
6 ounces cream cheese, cubed
6 Tablespoons butter
For the Grillades:
Cut the veal pieces in half or thirds, to yield 4-inch squares. Place the flour and creole seasoning in a large ziptop bag. Add the veal pieces and shake well to coat.
Heat the bacon grease in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Shake any excess flour off the veal pieces and add to the pan. Brown lightly, just a few minutes on each side, then remove to a plate. Do not crowd the pans, do this in batches. Add the chopped onion to the hot grease and cook until golden brown, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan as you go. Add a touch more bacon grease if the pan starts to dry out. When the onions are soft and brown. Add the bell pepper and celery and cook, stirring frequently, until very soft. Add the garlic and cook a few minutes more. Sprinkle 1 Tablespoon of the seasoned flour from coating the veal over the vegetables and stir until no flour is visible. Add the tomatoes and their juice and the beef broth. Stir, scraping the browned bits up from the bottom of the pan. Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce the heat to low.
Nestle the veal pieces into the sauce, cover the pan, and cook, stirring occasionally for 1 hour. If you would like a slightly thicker sauce, uncover the pan, raise the heat and bubble for a few minutes, stirring frequently, until the sauce has thickened.
For the Grits:
Season the chicken stock with salt and pepper and bring to a boil in a deep pan with high sides. Pour the grits into the water and stir thoroughly. Cook, stirring frequently to keep the grits from sticking, until most of the liquid is absorbed and the grits are tender, but with a little bite. Be careful while you are stirring, grits spit, so stand back aways. Stir in the cubes of cream cheese until smooth and melted. Stir in the butter until melted.
The grits can be kept covered for an hour or so, then slowly reheated over low, stirring in a little broth if needed.
Serve the grillades spooned over a mound of grits.
At the beginning of my path to being a serious cook, when I was a teenager, I used to make a Black Forest Cake, which seemed to me like the most sophisticated type of dessert. It was a chocolate layer cake with cherry filling and a rich frosting. I’d seen lots of pictures in which it was served on elegant cake stands with elaborate backgrounds. Very much the vogue in food magazines at the time. It was a complicated recipe and I felt like a true gourmand when I made it.
The combination of chocolate and cherries still seems very sophisticated to me, though I haven’t the time or the patience to reconstruct the complicated version. But this recipe creates that chic taste in a simple dish with as many layers of dimension as a layered cake. The top is cakey, the center is soft and pudding-like and the bottom has a syrupy cherry sauce. Serve it warm and you get all the gooey center, but the longer you let it cool, the more it firms up to a brownie-like texture. This has the deep, rich taste of dark chocolate without a cloying sweetness. The juicy cherries add a luscious contrast. You could serve this with a little whipped cream or ice cream, but I don’t find that necessary.
Chocolate Covered Cherry Baked Pudding
16 ounces frozen dark sweet cherries
7 ounces dark chocolate, 70% cocoa solids
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ cup granulated sugar
Pour the cherries in a colander and thaw completely. You don’t want the juice in the dish, but you can reserve it for another use (like a smoothie, or a cocktail).
When the cherries are thawed, preheat the oven to 375°. Spread the cherries in the bottom of a 2-quart baking dish.
Melt the chocolate and butter together. You can do this by placing it in a bowl set over a pan of just simmering water and stirring until melted, or microwaving it in 15-second bursts, stirring after each, until the mixture is smooth. Leave to cool.
Separate the eggs, placing the whites in the bowl of a mixer and the yolks into a small bowl. Beat the yolks and stir into the cooled chocolate. Stir in the vanilla.
Beat the egg whites in the mixer until frothy. Slowly drizzle in the sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Stir a big spoonful of whites into the chocolate mixture to loosen it up, then gently fold in the remaining whites a bit at a time. Pull all the chocolate from the bottom of the bowl and make sure there are no streaks of white in the mixture. Spread the chocolate mixture over cherries in the baking dish, spreading it out to the edges, completely covering the cherries.
Bake the pudding for 25 minutes until the top is firm and does not jiggle. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 10 – 15 minutes. Scoop into bowls and serve.
This is equally delicious served warm, when it will be soft and saucy or at room temperature when it will firm up a bit.
I adhere very solidly to tradition of eating black eyed peas and greens on New Year’s day for luck and prosperity. I have a wonderful New Year’s Eve tradition, so on New Year’s Day, I usually sleep in, then curl up on the couch with a book while a pot of peas and some collards stew away on the stove – minimal prep and minimal work. But this cast-iron skillet, bacon-fried version of collards is a quicker method, if you don’t get around to cooking until its almost time for dinner. If you really sleep in after a night out. Or they make an excellent accompaniment to a bowl of slow-cooked peas.
I think these are collards for people who don’t like collards. The bacon of courses helps, as does the fact that these are thin strands of greens, rather than a big leaf. And the sugar slightly caramelizes the greens and the bacon, adding an interesting touch of sweet. A big bunch of collards wilts down to a small amount – this makes about 2 cups of cooked greens, so its just enough for a small side. These are really interesting used as a garnish on a big bowl of black eyed peas or hopping john, just place a tangle of the collards on top. They could even add an extra dimension to soft, slow cooked collards. You can certainly double the recipe or make multiple batches.
Cast Iron Collards
1 large bunch collard greens
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
6 strips bacon
1 garlic clove
a pinch of red pepper flakes
1 Tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
Cut the leaves of the collards away from the hard center stems. Stack the leaves up in bunches of about 6, then roll each bunch into a cigar. Cut the collards into thin ribbons. Place the collard ribbons in a colander, shuffling them around to make sure they are well separated. Rinse the collards thoroughly and shake as much water of as possible. Lay the collard ribbons out on a tea towel, then roll them up in the towel to blot off as much water as you can. A little damp is fine, soaking wet will be a problem when you add them to the bacon grease.
Put the vegetable oil and bacon strips into a large, deep cast iron skillet and cook over medium heat until the bacon is very crispy and the fat has rendered out. Do not be tempted to raise the heat or the grease will get too hot and scorch the greens. When the bacon is crispy, remove it to paper towels to drain. Drop the garlic clove and the red pepper flakes into the pan and cook for just until the garlic starts to brown and is fragrant, about 20 seconds. Remove the garlic clove.
Carefully add the collards to the pan, standing back because the moisture on the greens will spit. Stir the collards to coat in the bacon fat and cook, stirring frequently for about 5 minutes until the greens are wilted. Add the sugar, baking soda and salt and stir well. Chop the bacon into rough pieces, add them to the greens and stir. Lower the heat, cover the pan and cook the greens for about 8 minutes, stirring frequently, until they are tender. Watch carefully so they do not burn. The greens will be dark and soft, with a few crispy edges here and there.
Serve immediately, sprinkled with a little pepper vinegar if you’d like.
Serves 4 as an accompaniment
I adapted this recipe from an old community cookbook, modernizing and stream lining it a bit, but I can’t imagine its origins. Maybe Scandinavian? Or a take on a French quatre epices? A Byzantine tradition? I don’t know, but the unusual spice combination lightly sweetened with honey really sets this bread apart. I want there to be some story that this is symbolic of the Three Kings riding in from the East, with the whiff of exotic spices. Though that is just my fanciful imagining, there is something mysterious about the flavor of this alluring loaf.
I love this bread warm with honey butter, on a cold morning, with a cup of warm tea or hot chocolate. But it is also rather intriguing beside a bowl of creamy soup. The honey butter, of course, has more uses than I can list here.
Holiday Spice Bread with Whipped Honey Butter
¼ cup warm water
1 packet active dry yeast
1 cup milk
8 Tablespoons (1 stick) Tablespoons butter, divided
½ cup honey
1 Tablespoon ground coriander
1 ½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
4 – 4 ½ cups all-purpose flour
Place the warm water in the large bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle over the yeast. Leave to become foamy and bubbling.
Pour the milk into a 2 cup glass measuring jug or small bowl and add 6 Tablespoons of the butter cut into pieces. Microwave in 20 second bursts until the milk is just warm and the butter is melted. Stir well.
When the yeast has foamed up, add the honey, milk mixture spices and salt to the yeast in the bowl. Beat with the paddle attachment on low speed until everything is just blended. Add the flour slowly, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. When you have added 2 cups of flour, beat in the egg, then continue adding the flour until you have a shaggy ball of dough, most of which clings to the paddle in a ball, but all of which you can easily scoop into a ball.
Butter a large bowl well, scoop the dough into a ball and transfer to the bowl. Turn the dough ball around in the bowl so it is buttered on all sides. Cover the bowl with a towel and place in a warm place to rise for about an hour, until doubled in size.
Punch down the dough and knead it 3 – 4 times, then place in a well butttered 9-inch round casserole dish. Cover and let rise for another hour.
Preheat the oven to 350°. Bake for 1 hour or until golden, firm and it makes a hollow sound when you knock on it. You can tent the loaf lightly with foil if it starts gets darker than you prefer.
Melt the remaining butter (after using some to grease the bowl and the casserole) and brush over the top of the hot bread. Cover with a tea towel and cook in the pan (covering the bread keeps the crust soft).
Makes on 9 – inch loaf
Whipped Honey Butter
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
¼ cup honey
¼ teaspoon vanilla bean paste, vanilla seeds or vanilla extract
Beat the butter in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment to smooth it out. Add the honey and vanilla and beat on high speed, scraping the sides of the bowl a couple of times, until the butter is light and fluffy. Scoop into a bowl, cover and refrigerate.
Makes ½ cup
Boiled custard is one of my great childhood Christmas memories. We spent a lot of Christmases at my grandparents house in Columbia, Tennessee and my grandmother always served boiled custard in Santa Claus mugs and caramel cake for dessert at Christmas lunch. Boiled Custard was something you bought. I never really thought of it as something people make. I assumed it was some mystery product that only the professional dairies could ever produce. Over time, our Christmas traditions changed and some of our gathering don’t have that nostalgic love of boiled custard, but my mom always buys a little carton, even if only a few of us drink it. But I have over the years gotten more and more interested in making things from scratch, and low and behold, I discovered that lots of Southern cookbooks have recipes for boiled custard. I am now pretty sure there are some people who think bought boiled custard is an absolute sacrilege. So, feeling nostalgic, I set out to create a fresh family recipe for an old-time favorite. And it is delicious.
After my Grandmother died, my cousin claimed the old Santa mugs. They were so chipped and cracked no one thought they could possibly be useful and every offer to buy her a new set was refused. I totally understand that. Those mugs filled with boiled custard are a part of Christmas. But I bought my own Santa mug, similar to the old ones, just for me, just for boiled custard.
Southern Boiled Custard
This is a rich drink so small servings will do. If you want to make more, I recommend making it in several batches. It is very difficult to create a larger double boiler and more liquid takes longer to cook and is likely to produce lumps.
1 quart whole milk
½ of a vanilla bean
1 cup sugar
½ cup heavy cream (If needed)
Set up a double boiler and bring the water in the bottom pot just to a low boil. If you do not have a double boiler, place a metal or glass bowl over a saucepan. The bowl should not touch the bottom of the pan or the water in it and must fit securely so steam does not escape.
Pour the milk into the top of the double boiler, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add to the milk. Heat the milk until it is hot to the touch and just bubbling. Do not boil.
Meanwhile, beat the eggs in a large bowl with an electric mixer until thoroughly combined. Add the sugar and beat until light and the sugar has dissolved. Slowly add ½ cup of the hot milk into the eggs and beat thoroughly. Repeat with another ½ cup milk. Pour the egg mixture into the milk in the pan and whisk to combine. Continue whisking as the milk cooks. Cook until the custard lightly coats the back of a metal spoon, and when you run your finger through the custard on the spoon it leaves a gap.
While the custard is cooking, wash and dry the bowl and place a wire mesh sieve over it. When the custard is ready, pour it immediately through the sieve. Leave it to cool for a few minutes, then place a piece of plastic wrap directly over the surface of the custard. This will present a skin from forming. Refrigerate the custard until cold, then pour into a pitcher. If the custard is too thick, whisk in about ½ cup heavy cream.
Serves 6 small glasses
I can’t make it through the holiday season without the flavor of eggnog. I cook and bake with eggnog in all sorts of ways, from Overnight Eggnog French Toast Caserole to Eggnog Pie and I fall for all the eggnog seasonal flavors on the grocery shelves. That perfect holiday richness with the whiff of nutmeg really puts me in the holiday spirit.
These simple bars are a perfect take-along to a party or great wrapped up as a gift. I like them with a mug of eggnog or steaming cup of hot chocolate.
½ cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
¾ cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup refrigerated dairy egg nog
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon nutmeg, plus more for sprinkling
1 cup white chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350°. Line an 8 by 8 inch pan with nonstick foil or parchment paper with some overhang on each end, which makes it easier to remove, then slice the bars.
Beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until light and creamy. Add the egg, beating well, then add the eggnog and vanilla. Beat until thoroughly combined. Don’t worry if the mixture looks a little curdled.
Add the flour, baking powder and nutmeg and beat until the batter is completely incorporated and smooth. Stir in the white chocolate chips. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread it into an even layer. Sprinkle a bit of nutmeg over the top of the batter. Bake the bars for 30 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.
Cool the bars in the pan for 10 minutes, then gently lift them out using the overhanging foil and palce on a rack to cool completely. Cut into small squares.
The bars will keep for 2 days in an airtight container between sheets of waxed paper.
Makes 16 bars
Christmas is the perfect time for red velvet. It’s the festive color of the season, and it is just so fun. I’ve made Red Velvet Polka Dot Cookies and Red Velvet Surprise Cupcakes, and experiment with even more ideas. But this may be the most practical. Pound Cake is such a holiday staple – it’s easy to make, keeps well and freezes beautifully. Serve hefty slices with whipped cream or ice cream and some festive sprinkles for a dessert, or smaller slices on a buffet. Wrap a loaf in plastic wrap with pretty ribbon and it makes a beautifully fun, festive gift. I haven’t tried it yet, but I think it would be lovely baked in those little decorated paper mini loaf pans as a gift.
I’ve added a simple glaze (skip it for freezing or wrapping) because it adds a lovely snowy top, but the cake is rich and lovely without it. I’ve even sprinkled the glaze with sparkling sanding sugar to give it a real winter wonderland effect.
Red Velvet Pound Cake
½ cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ Tablespoons red food coloring
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup cocoa powder
a pinch of salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons cider vinegar
½ cup buttermilk
For the Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon buttermilk
Preheat oven to 325°. Lightly grease and flour a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan or use baking spray like Bakers’ Joy.
Cream the butter and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and food coloring on slow speed.
Sift the flour, salt and cocoa together in a bowl. Dissolve the baking soda in the vinegar and add to the buttermilk in the measuring jug. Beat the dry ingredients into the butter and egg alternately with the buttermilk in three additions, mixing well after each and scraping down the sides of the bowl frequently.
Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth the top. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to release air bubbles. Bake for about 50 minutes or until cake is done and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool in pan about 10 minutes. Remove cake from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the Glaze:
Whisk together the powdered sugar and buttermilk until you have a runny galze (use a bit more buttermilk if needed. Pour the galze evenly over the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides.