Sunday night, some really lovely friends and I had an Irish dinner to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
I made a vegetarian shepherd’s pie (using epicurious’s recipe here) and it was very well received! I ended up being really late because the grocery store was mobbed, being a Sunday afternoon, and then the process is a pretty long one, but it was well worth it. I made the stew and mashed potato top separately, and brought them to my friend’s house and baked them in a dish together when I arrived.
It was pretty thrilling to start with such a beautiful array of delicious fresh vegetables and herbs. I rarely have such a variety! I had never cooked with Seitan before, but that was the meat substitute used in the recipe. If I had it to do over again, I think I might try just throwing in even more vegetables instead, maybe brussels sprouts, which I always love, and I can’t think of many more that would fit in. I only think of brussels sprouts because cabbage suits a lot of Irish dishes, and they are just really precious tiny heads of cabbage. They’d look completely delightful in a stew so full of pearl onions. Anyway, I went light on seitan, heavy on pearl onions and parsnips, and it was really tasty. I added a lot of fresh ground pepper to the potatoes and it was so very tasty.
The rest of the dinner was so delicious. There was a sausage and stuffed cabbage rolls (both vegetarian and meaty varieties… I only had the pleasure of tasting the veggie ones). We had a few drink choices – hard cider, Guinness, Bailey’s, (Irish car bombs…) I had the cider and it was great. The whole thing was delicious, but the best was yet to come! A surprisingly decadent dessert of baked lemon custard with blueberry topping from a book of Irish dessert recipes caught us all off-guard. It was intensely good.
As for the company, I have really been sorely lacking in great lady time and this really hit the spot! More of that is definitely in order. And maybe another experiment with a recipe from that Irish dessert cookbook…