Once March rolls around I start thinking about what we'll eat on St. Patrick's Day. Yes. Beginning March 1st, I start thinking about it. Now for the past 3 years I've been making corned beef and cabbage with potatoes and carrots. Oh and soda bread. And the now infamous St. Paddy's Day Sauce- that stuff is so very good.
We started our celebrating with Pimm's Cups (Pimm's is a type of gin and you add it to Sprite with a wedge of lemon, that's OUR version and it works!) and a smattering of fruits and cheese and the soda bread spread with Kerrygold Butter.
The Corned Beef couldn't be easier to make. I buy the packaged kind and just throw it in a pot cover the beef with water and I do add that seasoning packet because why not? It's there right?
Once the beef is cooked through I remove it to a platter and cover it and then I throw in my sliced (not cored) cabbage, peeled carrots and potatoes. They need to boil and that cabbage needs to cook the longest it seems. I'm usually running late and thankfully, my mom has been nearby to help me out in the kitchen.
This year, she brought parsnips and cooked them once she got to our house. She slices them really thin, like long julienned strips, if you will. Then sautés them in butter until the edges brown a bit. OH MY. They caramelize and sweeten beyond their original sweetness and it's just a real treat.
I threw my soda bread together on St. Patrick's Day morning because I ran out of time the day before. It didn't take long at all. And I'll be posting that recipe as it was quick and really good.
Lastly, the Bread and Butter Pudding with Whiskey Sauce (and Vanilla Sauce). The creme de la creme. The icing on the cake. The perfect accompaniment to our wonderful dinner. It was a bit more time consuming than I thought but that's mainly because I hadn't really read through the recipe as well as I should have prior to the day. I suggest reading the recipe a few times before you're in the MIDST of making a recipe. Good thing to do. I made this for my full-blooded Italian father who likes to poke fun of the Irish and their food but LOVES bread pudding.
So we'll start with dessert and work our way backwards...
Bread and Butter Pudding with Whiskey Sauce (and Vanilla Sauce)
adapted from The Irish Heritage Cookbook
1/4 cup golden raisins- I used regular 'ol raisins
1/2 cup hot water
4 Tbs butter at room temp
10 slices of white bread- let's just say a loaf of bread, crusts removed
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
2 Tbs sugar
2 egg yolks
2 Tbs Irish Whiskey (or leave that out and add vanilla in it's place)
Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a casserole dish with butter (square, oblong, something pretty). Stick your cut bread in it first to see what will fit and then butter it.
In a small bowl, combine raisins and water and let soak 10 minutes. drain and set aside until ready to add to pudding
Remove the crusts from the bread and butter one side. Cut each slice in half (diagonally would be nice). Arrange half of the bread, buttered side up, in the prepared dish. Sprinkle the raisins over the bread (I tucked a few under some of the slices.
In a small saucepan, combine the milk, cream, vanilla, sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon. Cook over medium heat until the mixture begins to boil, 5-7 minutes. I stirred with a whisk in the beginning and then switched to a wooden spoon. Using the wooden spoon allows you to see when the sauce has thickened. When you can drag your finger along the back of the spoon and it leaves a line in the sauce... it's ready! Remove sauce from heat and slowly add a ladle of the cream mixture to the eggs while you whisk them. You need to temper the eggs OR you will have scrambled egg custard. No good. Keep adding the hot cream to the eggs and then pour this mixture over your arranged bread. Let sit for 10 minutes. I sprinkled the top of mine with cinnamon.
Cover the dish with aluminum foil and place in a larger pan- roasting pan worked for me. Add hot water to the pan around the covered dish. You're creating a hot water bath so the custard cooks evenly in the oven. Go to about 2/3 up the sides of the dish. This is down easily if you place the larger pan with the dish in it on the oven rack, THEN add the hot water. Bake about 50-55 minutes, until the custard is set. Let cool for a few minutes before removing from larger baking pan.
To make the sauce: In a small saucepan, combine the milk over medium heat until it just begins to boil. Remove from heat. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until light and fluffy. Slowly (just like before) add a little of the eggs to the hot milk as you whisk. It will temper the eggs and you shouldn't have scrambled eggs. Simmer over low heat, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes.** Stir in the whiskey now OR divide the sauce into two containers and add a little less whiskey to one and 2 tsp of vanilla to the other.
To serve, spoon the warm pudding onto plates and pour the sauce of your choice over the pudding.
**I actually forgot to do this part. I added the hot milk to my egg yolk mixture... slowly and still had a little scrambling occur. No worries. I simply poured the mixture through a fine mesh sieve and had perfectly smooth sauce. I then divided it into two containers, added 1 Tbs whiskey to one and the vanilla to the other.