Tag Archives: dinner

St. Patrick’s Day Dinner

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…

The mushrooms, leeks, and garlic all starting to cook together...

The entire shepherds pie, fully assembled and ready!!

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Pizza from Scratch

Saturday night, with no plans for dinner, SC and I decided to make a pizza. We had done it once recently, but with a pre-made pizza dough from Trader Joe’s. Without another handy, and discovering that the neighborhood Giant had none but Pillsbury in a cardboard tube (unroll onto cookie sheet… no thanks?), we used a handy dandy smartphone to confirm that even if we made dough from scratch, we could probably eat within the hour and thus began our adventure!

As it happened, that very day I had read Metrocurean’s post on pizza dough and bread-baking, which had already motivated me to break open the jar of yeast I bought a few weeks ago (probably bracing myself for some snowstorm baking that didn’t happen), so I was actually excited to try pizza dough from scratch. I thought I had some all-purpose flour, but upon arriving home, I discovered only an abundance of whole wheat, but I was not deterred!

So to get started, SC consulted How to Cook Everything (Thanks, Roommate, for making such a terrific investment!) and we followed Mark Bittman‘s instructions for making pizza dough with a wooden spoon, as opposed to a food processor. I sneakily added a full teaspoon of dried rosemary to the dry ingredients. Then I used warm water, which I don’t think he specified, but a woman who once shared a table with me at Whole Foods had offered me that unsolicited advice, and I conveniently remembered. (Warm enough to activate the yeast, but not so hot that it kills it–that’s key) The kneading took a long time, and by the end, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to work in all the flour called for in the recipe (3 cups!), but I did eventually.

So once that part was done, we let it rise for a little while, and prepared our toppings. SC browned a sausage or two and then sliced it thinly. We also used half of a large red pepper, a yellow onion, and olive oil. We didn’t let the dough rise for longer than half an hour, because the recipe in Bittman’s book said it made 1 large or 2 small crusts, and we only intended to make one pizza. So we tossed it around and then pressed it into a round cast iron pan (neither of us has a pizza stone, and between us there are two kitchens, and we were in the one without a pizza pan or a baking sheet). So we sauced it and topped it and baked it at 550 degrees for about 12 minutes.

When it came out, SC topped with some fresh basil and it was completely delicious! The crust ended up being extremely thick–more like a bread– and very hearty. The rosemary really did add so much, and altogether, it was really tasty, but I guess ultimately, that crust should have been two pies.

So in the end, it was pretty tasty! But most of all, the crust was so… big and bready, that it’s ultimately inspired me to try baking bread! The rosemary was so satisfying that I really really want to try again with the whole wheat and rosemary in a loaf, instead of under a pizza.

This is all the left over crust that just ended up being excess (but still tasty!).

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Leftovers for lunch

On Sunday, I made a chicken pot pie for dinner, and I’ve been enjoying the leftovers. SC says it was my best yet, and I think I agree. I’ve never baked my own crust for one before– and I didn’t this time either– but it turned out really well.

Pie before baking

I used this recipe, but replaced about a third of the chicken called for with 1 1/2 medium yukon potatoes. I cooked all the makings of the pie filling for longer than instructed because the potatoes took longer than the other vegetables to get soft, and the gravy stuff took longer to thicken up. I also used a lot more freshly ground pepper than the recipe calls for and it made it spicy in the best possible way.

Often when I make something like this, or a lasagna or a casserole… any kind of dish that “covers all the bases” of a balanced meal, I have a hard time coming up with accompaniments other than salad or something. It’s hard because with pasta or pie, bread makes the whole meal too bread-y. This time with the pot pie, we had asparagus. We just put it in the oven with the pie. SC didn’t know how much pepper I put in the pie, and he peppered the asparagus a lot too and drizzled with olive oil, and it ended up being delicious–on its own and with the pie.

after baking

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