By Request

Betty Shimabukuro

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

A healthy pour of Guinness Stout adds depth of flavor to beef stew.

Explore Irish cuisine
for St. Patrick’s Day

Best place for researching Irish cooking is the public library. Contemporary cookbooks such as you'd find in a bookstore are few. The Internet is also a possibility, but with cookbooks you get stories and cultural history, a good way to prepare mind as well as stomach for St. Patrick's Day next Wednesday.

And now that I've returned the stack of books I borrowed, the Hawaii State Library is well-supplied (head for call number 641.59415; second floor, way in the back).

These recipes (for photos of all the dishes, see D1), are designed to carry you through your St. Patrick's Day without having to rely on corned beef and cabbage. Not that there's anything wrong with corned beef and cabbage, which some consider Ireland's national dish, but there's so much more to explore.

These recipes were tested and adapted from a number of online and ink-on-paper sources, primarily "An Irish Farmhouse Cookbook" by Mary Kinsella (Appletree Press, 1983).

Guinness Stew

3 slices bacon, cut in 1-inch pieces
3 pounds beef stew meat, fat trimmed, in 1-inch cubes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2-1/2 cups Guinness Stout
10 pearl onions, peeled
2 carrots, sliced
1 large stalk celery, thinly sliced
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut in large wedges
Bouquet garni (see note)
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped parsley, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook bacon in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until brown but not crispy. Drain bacon on paper towel, leaving fat in pot.

Brown meat on all sides in bacon fat, in 2 batches if necessary. Remove meat and juices.

Add olive oil to pan. Sauté onions until soft, then sprinkle with flour. Cook, stirring, about 2 minutes. Do not let flour burn. Stir in brown sugar. Gradually add Guinness. Top with pearl onions, carrots, celery and potatoes. Bring to a boil, then turn off heat.

Stir gently to mix vegetables in with meat. Sprinkle with bacon. Add bouquet garni and cover pot. Place in oven 1-1/2 to 2 hours, until meat is tender.

Remove bouquet garni. Skim fat. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with parsley just before serving. Serves 8 to 10.

Note: Bouquet garni is a bundle of fresh herbs, usually parsley, thyme and bay leaves. Tie together so they are easy to remove, or wrap loosely in cheesecloth.

Approximate nutritional analysis, per serving (not including salt to taste): 360 calories, 38 g total fat, 15 g saturated fat, 120 mg cholesterol, 180 mg sodium, 22 g carbohydrate, 34 g protein.

This recipe was developed as a way to turn leftover fish and potatoes into something new. If you're starting with fresh fish, mahimahi or snapper are good choices. Cook as simply as possible -- bake wrapped in foil, poach or even microwave.

Serve these cakes hot or cold, for lunch, dinner or in between.

Savoury Fish Cakes

8 ounces cooked white fish, flaked (about 1 cup)
1 cup mashed potatoes (plain, without milk or butter added)
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1-1/2 tablespoons melted butter
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup milk
1 cup fine bread crumbs
2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil

Combine fish, potatoes and onion. Drizzle with butter and mix to combine evenly. Season with salt and pepper. Form into 8 circular cakes, about 2 inches wide. Coat with milk, then bread crumbs.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat and fry cakes until golden brown. Serves 4.

Approximate nutritional analysis, per serving (not including salt to taste): 165 calories, 8 g total fat, 2.5 g saturated fat, 25 mg cholesterol, 230 mg sodium, 15 g carbohydrate, 8 g protein.

Traditional recipes for whiskey cake call for grating a whole lemon and soaking the peel in whiskey, along with a handful of raisins -- a version of a fruitcake. This lighter bundt cake using a cake mix is more practical for weeknight baking. Be sure to use real Irish whiskey, though, and you're in keeping with the spirit.

One hint for appearances' sake: Normally you'd grease and flour the pan for easy unmolding, but that can leave a dark cake covered with dots of white flour. Using cocoa powder instead of flour solves that problem.

Irish Whiskey Cake

3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1 box chocolate cake mix
1 4-ounce package instant chocolate pudding mix
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk
4 eggs
1/2 cup Irish whiskey
>> Glaze:
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup Irish whiskey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a bundt or tube pan. Sift flour or cocoa powder into pan and shake to distribute evenly. Pour out excess. Sprinkle nuts over bottom of pan.

Combine cake and pudding mix in a large mixing bowl. Stir in oil and milk to moisten. Add eggs and beat. Slowly add whiskey and beat until smooth. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 40 to 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, make glaze: Combine sugar and water in saucepan; bring to a boil. Add butter and stir to melt. Boil 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in whiskey. Cool slightly, then pour into squeeze bottle.

Remove cake from oven. While cake is still hot, insert nozzle of squeeze bottle into the bottom of cake and inject glaze. Repeat at several points around cake, using up half the glaze. (If you don't have a squeeze bottle, poke holes into bottom of cake and pour glaze over holes). Let cake rest 5 minutes, then unmold.

Pour remaining glaze over top of cake.

Variations: If you prefer a non-chocolate cake, use yellow cake mix and vanilla pudding instead of chocolate. For a nuttier cake, add 1/4 cup chopped nuts into batter.

Nutritional information unavailable.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Send queries along with name and phone number to:
"By Request," Honolulu Star-Bulletin,
500 Ala Moana, No. 7-210, Honolulu 96813.
Or send e-mail to

Asterisk (*) after nutritional analyses in the
Body & Soul section indicates calculations by Joannie Dobbs of Exploring New Concepts,
a nutritional consulting firm.

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