Guinness Stout-Braised Beef with Irish Soda Bread Buns

Guinness Stout-Braised BeefHappy St. Patrick’s Day!

Here in the Twin Cities we have a bright blue sky, and the sun is shining brilliantly, so you know it’s a lovely day.  In related news, we’re also under a winter weather advisory and, while the predicted blizzard looks like it’s going to bypass us, we are still expecting something like 4-6 inches of snow.  Probably during my morning commute.

So why am I feeling so cheerful?  Who has time to be grumpy on St. Patrick’s Day?  In days long gone we might have been out celebrating with a pint or two of green beer.  That doesn’t happen much anymore, so instead we turn our energy to celebrating with Irish-themed creations in the kitchen.  Usually I try to make my Irish Bread Pudding with Whiskey-Caramel Sauce, but this year we’re doing something different.

In the past we’ve enjoyed corned beef in all its variations, but today we’re having a more authentically Irish dinner:  a beef roast braised in Guinness Stout beer and beef stock.  The idea came from Esquire Magazine, in an interesting article on the Americanization of various cultural holidays across the world.  I have to admit, we have a certain influence on the way these things are celebrated!Irish Soda Bread Buns

In addition to the braised beef, I was reading my Sunday New York Times, as I love to do, and I happened to see a great little article on making Irish Soda Bread Buns.  I’ve never tried them before, but they certainly seemed very straightforward, so I knew I had to give them a try.  In a word, they were fantastic!  My girls love when I bake loaves of artisan bread, and this was definitely a hit with them.  They were no trouble at all to make, and we happened to have the ingredients on hand, so I’m very glad I was able to add them to this meal.

The best part of making this meal?  Every time someone walked in the door on this busy day, I got to hear them exclaim, “Oh my gosh, that smells so good!”  Makes me glad we opted for a tender, pull apart beef roast that required a 4-hour braise in the oven.  Yum!

Guinness Stout-Braised Beef

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 lb. boneless beef chuck roast
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 carrot, coarsely chopped
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 leek, white part only, washed and cut into 4 piece
  • 4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 10 oz Guinness Stout beer
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • About 1.5 liters veal or beef stock
  • Kosher salt

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. Remove any skin or fat surrounding the beef roast, dry it with paper towels, and season it generously with salt. Heat half of the olive oil in a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven (or other heavy-bottomed, oven-proof pot) over medium-high heat and add half of the butter. Once the butter is hot and bubbling, sear the meat in until it reaches deep golden brown on all sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side, then transfer it to a tray along with any liquid. Heat the rest of the olive oil and butter in the pot and add the chopped vegetables, cooking them until browned. Pour in the stout and stir with a wooden spoon, scraping up any brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Add the stock and the herbs and bring the mixture to a boil. Add the beef — which should sit covered about 2/3 of the way up by liquid — and cover with a lid. Place into the oven for 4 1/2 to 5 hours, until the meat is very tender.
  3. Once the mixture has cooled slightly, transfer the beef to a serving platter and tent it with foil to keep it warm. Strain the sauce through a fine mesh sieve and return it to the pan, boiling it over medium heat until it reaches a saucey consistency, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve the beef with your desired sides.

Irish Soda Bread Buns

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cubed, more for greasing pan
  • 155 grams all-purpose flour (1 1/4 cups), more as needed
  • 95 grams whole wheat pastry flour ( 3/4 cup)
  • 55 grams sugar ( 1/4 cup)
  • 7 grams baking powder (1 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 5 grams salt (1 teaspoon)
  • 5 grams baking soda ( 3/4 teaspoon)
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk, more for brushing
  • 1 large egg
  • 90 grams dried currants (about 2/3 cup)
  • 8 grams caraway seeds (about1 1/2 teaspoons)

Preparation:

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Lightly grease a large rimmed baking sheet.  In a large bowl, whisk together flours, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Using a pastry cutter or your fingers, work in butter until mixture forms coarse crumbs. In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk and egg. Stir wet mixture into dry one until they just form a moist dough. Stir in currants and caraway seeds.
  3. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Shape into a 7-inch round about 1-inch thick. Cut into 8 wedges. Using lightly floured hands, roll each wedge into a ball and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Using kitchen shears, snip a small “x” into the top of each bun. (You can also use a knife.) Brush tops with a little buttermilk, and dust lightly with flour.
  4. Transfer baking sheet to oven. Bake until buns are golden brown and firm, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before serving.
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Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls

Warning – This is not your diet friendly cinnamon roll! (Is there such a thing? Should there be such a thing?)  This recipe from RecipeZaar is a proposed recreation of the Cinnabon shop recipe, and I think they’ve done an amazing job of it. My girls have been after me for the longest time to make them cinnamon rolls, and when I came across this recipe I knew I had to give it a try. This is better than anything I’ve tried in the past, and with the amount of butter and sugar I’m not surprised. This is a no-holds-barred shot across the bow of diets everywhere, and it succeeds with creamy, buttery flair. My suggestion? Have lots of cold milk on reserve!

Ingredients:

Dough

  • 1 (1/4 ounce) package dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup margarine
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 cups flour

Filling

  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup margarine, softened
  • 2 tablespoons flour

Icing

  • 8 tablespoons margarine
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Preparation:

For the rolls, dissolve the yeast in the warm milk in a large bowl. Add sugar, margarine salt, eggs, and flour, mix well. Knead the dough into a large ball, using your hands dusted lightly with flour. Place dough in a bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place about 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size.

Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface, until it is approx 21 inches long by 16 inches wide. It should be approx 1/4 thick.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

To make filling, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon and 2 tbsp flour in a bowl. Spread the softened margarine over the surface of the dough, then sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon evenly over the surface.

Working carefully, from the long edge, roll the dough down to the bottom edge. Cut the dough into 1 3/4 inch slices, and place in a lightly greased baking pan.   (NOTE: I learned long ago that slicing this rolled up dough can be difficult. A better plan is to use a piece of dental floss, 12-15 inches long. Wrap the floss around the roll at the point you wish to make the cut, then pull the ends. The floss will cut through the dough easily, and you’ll be much happier with the results!)

Bake for 10 minutes or until light golden brown.

While the rolls are baking combine the icing ingredients. Beat well with an electric mixer until fluffy. When the rolls are done, spread generously with icing.

Irish Bread Pudding with Caramel Whiskey Sauce

irish-bread-pudding-with-whiskey-caramel-sauce

Do you stay true to your holiday traditions?  In our house, our St. Patrick’s Day tradition is Irish Bread Pudding with Whiskey Caramel Sauce.  We might play with the menu somewhat, a new variation on a corned beef reuben, perhaps an alternative like salmon.  But never the dessert.  For years now, I’m thinking seven, we’ve made this recipe to celebrate St. Pat’s.  We may have even made it one time on another occasion, but after that we decided that if it were to be special we could only do it on a special day.  And thus, our tradition was born.

Another tradition was that I’d need to attempt to make the sauce at least twice before I’d get it to work.  The recipe is fairly straightforward , as you’ll see below.  And yet, every year I’d make one wrong step and end up with a pan of solid, crystallized sugar.  And part of my tradition was to get red in the face and loudly utter a string of words to embarrass any Irishman within earshot.  But for whatever reason, this year I got it right.  I took it slow, and I was relaxed, and in a single try I made the best batch of sauce that I ever have.  It was a delight, and everyone in the house raved at how wonderful it was.  St. Pat’s only comes once a year, and with it comes this fantastic bread pudding.  Give it a try!

Ingredients:

Bread Pudding

  • 1/4  cup  light butter, melted
  • 1  (10-ounce) French bread baguette, cut into 1-inch-thick slices
  • 1/2  cup  raisins
  • 1/4  cup  Irish whiskey (Note: Substitute 1/4 cup apple juice for the Irish whiskey, if desired.)
  • 1 3/4  cups  1% low-fat milk
  • 1  cup  sugar
  • 1  tablespoon  vanilla extract
  • 1  (12-ounce) can evaporated skim milk
  • 2  large eggs, lightly beaten
  • Cooking spray
  • 1  tablespoon  sugar
  • 1  teaspoon  ground cinnamon

Caramel Whiskey Sauce

  • 1 1/2  cups  sugar
  • 2/3  cup  water
  • 1/4  cup  light butter
  • 2  ounces  1/3-less-fat cream cheese (Neufchâtel) (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1/4  cup  Irish whiskey (Note: Substitute 1 tablespoon imitation rum extract and 3 tablespoons water for the Irish whiskey, if desired.)
  • 1/4  cup  1% low-fat milk

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350°.

Brush melted butter on one side of French bread slices, and place bread, buttered sides up, on a baking sheet. Bake bread at 350° for 10 minutes or until lightly toasted. Cut bread into 1/2-inch cubes, and set aside.

Combine raisins and whiskey in a small bowl; cover and let stand 10 minutes or until soft (do not drain).

Combine 1% milk and next 4 ingredients (1% milk through eggs) in a large bowl; stir well with a whisk. Add bread cubes and raisin mixture, pressing gently to moisten; let stand 15 minutes. Spoon bread mixture into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Combine 1 tablespoon sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over pudding. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes or until set.

For sauce, combine sugar and water in a small heavy saucepan over medium-high heat; cook until sugar dissolves, stirring constantly. Cook an additional 15 minutes or until golden (do not stir). Remove from heat. Carefully add butter and cream cheese, stirring constantly with a whisk (mixture will be hot and bubble vigorously). Cool slightly, and stir in whiskey and milk.

 Serve bread pudding warm with Caramel-Whiskey Sauce.

Rustic Peasant Bread

rustic-peasant-bread

The main course for our dinner was to be a Tuscan Pork Stew with Polenta, with an Italian Panzanella, or bread salad, for an opening course.  For that, of course, we were going to need bread!  The solution?  This meal cried out for a rustic peasant bread, and we found the perfect recipe on a blog called Pete Bakes!  Pete took this from a book called “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day“, and it was good enough that I’ve since purchased the book as well.  I have to laugh at the irony:  I went to a blog written by a fellow in Washington D.C. to find a recipe from a book written by two authors in Minneapolis.  It’s so often true that we have to travel the world over to find something that’s right in our own back yard!  I’m glad I did, though.  Pete has a nice blog, and it was a fun read.  As for the bread, it’s easy to prepare, and the results were just terrific.  Now that I have the book you can expect a number of bread-related postings.  For tonight, enjoy a crusty, brown loaf of rustic peasant bread!

Makes 4 1-lb. loaves (so this recipe can be easily halved).

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups lukewarm water
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp salt
  • 1/2 cup rye flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 5 1/2 cups flour

Preparation:

Mix the salt and yeast with the water in a large bowl.  Mix in the remaining dry ingredients without kneading.  The dough will be very wet.  Cover with a towel and allow to rest at room temperature for about 2 hours.

At this point you can use the dough or refrigerate (it will keep for about 2 weeks).  If you are going to make the bread right away, it’s still a good idea to refrigerate the dough for an hour or two so it is easier to handle.

Cut off a section of the dough (1/4 if you make enough for 4 loaves), and dust it with flour.  Quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go.  Allow to rest and rise on a cornmeal-covered baking sheet.  While the dough is rising, heat the oven to 450 F and place an empty broiler tray on the lowest rack in the oven.  If you are baking on a baking stone, place it in the oven to heat up with the oven.

When the oven is ready and the dough has risen, sprinkle the loaf liberally with flour and make a few 1/4 inch deep slashes on the top using a serrated bread knife (a cross or tic-tac-toe pattern both work).  Leave the flour on top of the loaf during baking.

Place the baking sheet into the oven (or slide the dough onto your baking stone).  Pour 1 cup of hot tap water into the broiler tray, quickly close the oven and bake for about 35 minutes.  The top should get a good hard crust and will be deeply browned.  Allow to cool on a cooling rack and brush off excess flour from the top of the loaf before slicing.

Cranberry Scones

 cranberry-scones

One of Cath’s coworkers surprised her with a holiday treat of organic, dried cranberries, and they were the inspiration for this simple, delicious treat.  It was less than 30 minutes of preparation and baking, and we enjoyed a tasty scone as the ending treat for a delicious meal.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 6 tbsp chilled butter
  • 1/4 cup dried, organic cranberries
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half (as always, we used our in-house stache of fat free half-and-half)
  • 1 tbsp half-and-half
  • 2 tsp sugar

Preparation:

Place dried cranberries in a small bowl, and add very hot water, just to cover.  Allow berries to plump for 10-15 minutes.

Combine flour, the 3 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt.  Cut in butter.  Stir in plumped cranberries.  Combine egg and 1/2 cup half-and-half; add to dry mixture.  Stir just until moistened.

Turn dough onto a floured surface.  Knead 12 to 15 strokes, or till nearly smooth.  Pat or lightly roll into a circle approximately 12 inches in diameter and 1/2 inch in thickness.  (When in doubt, the thickness is most important.)  Cut into 12 wedges using knife or pizza cutter.

Place scones 1 inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet.  Brush tops with 1 tablespoon half-and-half; sprinkle with 2 teaspoons sugar.  Bake in a 400 degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes or till golden.  Remove from baking sheet and cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes; serve warm.

Honey-Buttermilk Bread

Honey Buttermilk Bread

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 packet yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups buttermilk, slightly warmed
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup honey
  • 6 cups flour, separated
  • egg wash (1 beaten egg, with 2 tablespoons water)
  • sesame seeds (optional)

Preparation

Pour the warm water into the bottom of a large bowl, add yeast.  Sprinkle in the sugar to activate the yeast.  Whisk together and allow to sit undisturbed for 10 minutes.  At the end of this time you’ll have a frothy liquid, with that wonderful yeasty smell.

When yeast is proofed, add buttermilk, butter and honey.  Whisk these ingredients together briskly.  Add 2 cups of the flour and mix with a wooden spoon until they are incorporated.  Add two more cups of the flour, and mix well.  Once the dough is pulling away from the sides of the bowl, add one more cup of flour to soak up the remainder of the liquid.

Scatter the remaining 1 cup of flour on your work surface, and place the dough mixture in the middle.  Knead the dough for 10 minutes, until the ball is flexible, yet silky and smooth.  Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled, approximately 90 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

While oven is preheating, I suggest you toast the sesame seeds over medium heat in a small pan.  The nutty flavor of the seeds is heightened greatly when you toast, adding one more level of sensation to this loaf.

Gently punch down the risen dough, and form into round shape for baking.  Gently brush egg wash over the entire surface of the loaf, and then sprinkle sesame seeds on top.  This will give the loaf a glossy sheen.  I enjoy using plain water for the wash as well, just for something different.  With a sharp knife, cut a cross with two slits, each about 1/4 inch deep.  Allow the loaf to sit for approximately 15 minutes, then place in preheated oven.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, then allow to cool completely on cooling rack.