Saturday, March 28, 2015

St Patrick's Day, Our Way

Corned Beef and Cabbage, without the corned beef. We didn't miss the meat in our vegetarian St Paddy's Day meal at Cafe Drake HRV, a sort of homage to the New England Boiled Supper so dear to the hearts of northeastern Irish immigrants.

Carrots, potatoes, celery, rutabaga, cabbage and onions, typically braised with corned beef, excelled as the stars of the meal, served with Irish wholemeal bread, horseradish and dill sauce and a wedge of Ireland's renowned Cashel Blue cheese.

Snipped pea shoots and sprigs of kitchen window thyme brought Spring green flavors to the plate.


Our Irish boiled supper was as simple as simmering root veggies and cabbage, covered in a shallow pan, in a rich veggie broth spiked with a splash of Bass ale. There were plenty of leftovers so the following night we whipped together a classic white sauce, combined it with the lingering veggies and their reduced broth and baked it beneath blue cheese biscuits for a Spring Vegetable Cobbler.

Guess what? We STILL had leftovers, even after sharing with Lloyd and Arabella. Our Vegetable Cobbler reheats beautifully in a conventional oven at 350 degrees.

VEGETABLE COBBLER

You'll need, to begin, about 4 cups of vegetable stew, any sort, fresh or leftover. It's important that the stew not have too much liquid; we started with a very brothy stew and reduced it over low heat, then thickened with the addition of a whipped together bechamel sauce.

Pour your stew in a medium size casserole or gratin dish. Re-season if needed to obtain a highly flavored base for the cobbler.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl combine 1 cup self-rising flour with a large pinch of salt. Mix. Rub in to the flour with your fingers 2 T. cold butter which has been cut in to small cubes. You'll end up shortly with a crumb-like texture. Now stir in 2 t. chopped fresh oregano (or 1 t. dried) and 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese.

In a small bowl beat 1 free-range egg with 1/3 cup whole milk. Add just enough of this to the flour mixture to create a soft dough. Sprinkle plenty of all-purpose flour on a clean work surface and knead the dough until it's soft and pliable. The dough will be very sticky at first so add small amounts of flour as needed and work with floured hands. Roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/2" and then cut in to 2-inch wide circles.

Place the dough pieces (biscuits) on top of the stew, in a single layer as much as possible. It's fine if a few overlap at the edges. Brush the tops with any of the remaining egg and milk and sprinkle lightly with grated Parmesan.

Bake for 15 minutes or until the topping is golden brown and the stew is bubbling underneath. Serve hot or warm with a garden salad.


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