Blarney and beer

There’s nary a drop of Irish blood running through my veins, but there is a whole lot of blarney in our clan, so I’ve been known to hoist a green pint come March 17, particularly when St. Patrick’s Day falls on a weekend as it does this year. The beer, however, is much more apt to be of a German variety than a pint of Guinness — a bit too dark for my tastes.

Although it’s not his particular favorite either, Hubby Bryan has acquired several T-shirts and sweatshirts that bear the Guinness logo. He was wearing a bright green Guinness sweatshirt recently when we stopped for a bite and a brew at an area bar and grill. The proprietress, taking note of his apparel, immediately apologized for not having Guinness on hand, and Bryan quickly assured her that he wouldn’t have ordered it if she did.

But he might concede to include a bit of the Irish brew in this chocolate cake recipe, shared by Sister Margaret fromColorado. She toted the dessert to a recent gathering and declared it “Yummy!” HB and I might have to make an exception to our diet regimen for a slice of this on Saturday.

Luck O’ the Irish Chocolate Cake

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Using a stand mixer, combine 6 eggs, 1½ cups oil, 3 cups sugar, 1 cup dark cocoa powder, 2 tablespoons vanilla, 2 teaspoons salt and 2 teaspoons baking soda. Add 4½ cups flour in three or four stages, alternating with 3 cups stout beer, until completely incorporated.

Pour batter into three eight-inch cake pans; bake for 45 to 50 minutes. Remove from oven; cool completely.

For frosting, cream 1 pound softened butter. Add 2 pounds powdered sugar, ¾ cup dark cocoa, ½ cup malted milk powder, ¼ cup Bailey’s Irish Cream liqueur and ¼ teaspoon vanilla. Spread frosting between layers and over entire outside of stacked cake.

For a St.Paddy’s Day touch, serve with whipped cream tinted with green food coloring.

 

Traditionally,St.Patrick’s Day is celebrated with a big plate of corned beef and cabbage, which I don’t find very appealing. But this stew recipe might take care of any stout leftover from the cake baking.

Irish Stout Stew

Place ¾ cup flour in a resealable plastic bag. Add 2½ pounds beef stew meat or sirloin steak, cut into cubes, a few pieces at a time, and shake the bag to coat.

Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the beef and cook until browned on all sides, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the meat to a plate lined with paper towels to drain.

In a slow cooker, combine beef, 2 large potatoes, peeled and diced; 2 carrots, peeled and diced; 2 large onions, cut into large dice; and 1 or 2 sprigs fresh thyme (or ½ teaspoon dried thyme). Pour 2 cups Irish stout beer over top of all. Cover and cook on low until meat is tender, about 8 hours. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove thyme sprig if used.

 

If stout cake or stew are too big an undertaking, how about celebrating St. Pat withIreland’s most famous vegetable, the potato. Here’s an easy baked potato treatment I’m anxious to try.

Crispy Irish Spuds

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Clean and dry 6 large russet potatoes and pierce with a fork. Rub seasoned oil liberally over the potato skins.

Put potatoes on top rack of oven, placing a baking sheet on rack underneath to catch any drippings. Bake until tender, about 50 minutes.

Slice potatoes open and top with butter and chives.

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