Every year on St. Patrick's Day we get together with two of our favorite couples and cook a big dinner of corned beef and cabbage, Guinness beef stew, and colcannon. Even though we take turns hosting the event, I'm always responsible for bringing the Irish soda bread and a dessert. The soda bread recipe is always the same--I use Ina Garten's recipe, because it's 1) delicious, 2) easily adaptable, and 3) even better the next day toasted with a generous smear of soft, salted butter. I make two versions of the bread--first, the recipe as written, gloriously orange-scented and studded with ruby-red currants. For the second loaf, I omit the orange zest and fruit and replace it with two tablespoons of aromatic caraway seeds. The anise flavor of the caraway pairs especially well with the pickling spices used to flavor the corned beef and cabbage. Pair a warm slice with a little nip of Linie Aquavit, (a Norwegian spirit distilled from potatoes and flavored with caraway and star anise), and you're pretty close to heaven.
I added a third loaf to the mix to this year--a simple beer bread recipe. The texture of this loaf reminded me of banana bread, which was a bit unexpected, but worked well when topped with butter and dipped into the delicious pot of Guinness Beef Stew my sister made.
For dessert, I made Veggie and the Beast's Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Whisky Buttercream and Salted Caramel. Needless to say, these were a big hit. The batter was extremely liquid, so I ended up using a tiny ladle to gently spoon it into the muffin tin. Since we had a bigger crowd this year, I doubled the recipe, and ended up with five dozen cupcakes. To flavor the caramel and buttercream, I used Jameson Caskmates (Stout Edition); the tang of the stout in the whisky really brought everything together. These dark, luscious babies took me over four hours to make from start to finish.
I ended up with two small jars of left-over salted whisky caramel, which I plan to drizzle over some good vanilla ice cream this weekend.
While everything was baking away, I snuck over to my little corner of the couch to knit rounds and rounds on my log cabin sock. Being perpetually cold, I've added these to my personal queue for the fall. I'm thinking about trying Woolfolk Luft, a 55% merino and 45% organic pima cotton blend, to keep them light and fluffy.
This week, I plan on finishing this first sock, then continue working on my secret project, which I hope to complete by the end of the month. How about you, fellow knitters? What are you working on this week?