Wednesday, March 21, 2012

St. Patrick's Brunching . . .

Last week I posted a sneak peek of the cocktail I'm serving for a St. Patrick's brunch with friends, so I figure I might as well blog about the brunch I whipped up for the occasion too.

Starter Bites & Sips
Along with the Irish-Italian-American, I also had bottles of Killian's Irish Red Ale & Guinness Extra Stout on the ready. And to give the on-time guests something to nibble on while waiting for latecomers, I bought a loaf of Irish soda bread (which apparently has its own preservation society) and some Kerrygold tub butter. Normally I don't keep salted butter around the house, but the salted, creamy Irish butter worked well with the dense, sweet & raisiny bread (and it didn't hurt that Fresh & Easy was having a buy one, get one free promotion either.)

Along with the bread, I also put out some "crunchy greens" of pistachios and wasabi peas.
Emerald Isle Salad
After everyone arrived, I started tossing my Emerald Isle Salad. Like the "crunchy greens", its homage to Ireland is in name only, being a hodgepodge of different greenish ingredients (spinach, butter lettuce, scallions and pistachio with a wasabi-lime dressing [recipe below]) I originally wanted to throw in some avocados too, but found out the ones I had on hand weren't quite ripe enough yet. Nonetheless, it was tasty and sophisticated at the same time with a myriad of different flavors and textures building upon each other, binded with a dressing that's delightfully tart, a little sweet with just a tinge of sinus-opening pungency from the wasabi and mustard.
Irish Beef StewRoasted Potatoes

For the main course, an Irish Beef Stew (originally intended to be a lamb stew, before I discovered that my local markets sold out of the stewing cuts of lamb...) and, a slightly truer homage to Ireland, Roasted Garlic-Rosemary Potatoes. The stew recipe is pretty basic and super easy... I simply browned two pounds of beef with a little salt and pepper, then tossed that in with bite-sized pieces of celery, scallions and carrots. Then I added a cup of broth and some herbs (rosemary, thyme and oregano) and let it simmer overnight in a slow cooker on the low setting. Lastly, a sprinkle of curly parsley & scallions for a little color and fresh flavor right before serving.

For the taters, I pretty much followed this CHOW recipe with just a few minor tweaks and had fantastic results (crispy, well-seasoned exterior and fluffy starchiness within.) And since both came out piping hot, it was a much appreciated entreƩ for my friends who drove through the cold & rain for the occasion.
Beer Float
Originally I intended to make some Irish Whiskey truffles for dessert but the ganache didn't quite set in time so I went for a quick sweet fix, Guinness Stout Floats. And one seemed to mind, if the empty goblets afterwards were any indication.

So there you have it, a St. Patrick's Day brunch that provided lots of comfort, yet thrown with little effort -- in tune with my party hosting style. I'm glad to squeeze one final use out of that slow cooker before the warmer days of Spring return, and I definitely plan on remaking that dressing for future salad 

Lime-Wasabi Dressing (simply combine and whisk away!)
4 oz. extra virgin olive oil
1 oz. rice vinegar
juice & zest of 1 lime (preferably organic, since the skin is used)
1 teaspoon green wasabi powder (alternatively, 2 teaspoons wasabi paste)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon brown sugar
a few dashes of freshly-cracked pepper


Banana Wonder said...

Sounds like a fun-delicious party. I'm surprised you didn't bust out any of that awesome wasabi horseradish cheese!


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