Céad míle fáilte- ‘A hundred thousand welcomes!’
Anna and I started our second March recipe test day off early and went to the annual Kansas city St. Patrick’s Day Parade! There were about a zillion people there- all pushing and listening to one another’s conversations, and generally being all up in each other’s business. Anna and I spent the first 45 minutes before the parade in this fashion- and then another hour during the parade like that until we were starving and couldn’t take standing anymore- while being even more squished with a blocked view. Other than leg cramps and a stomach that was trying to eat itself from the inside out we had a great time! The entries in the parade were great- and it was pretty neat seeing everyone else dressed in green. We were a part of the cool club.
After we decided we were starving we walked further south in Westport and *after almost getting backed into by an insane driver* we stumbled upon a hill with plenty of sitting room. Forget our stomachs, we now had a great site to watch the rest of the parade! Needless to say, we were much more comfortable, and despite an incident with almost loosing my cell phone- that hill was steep– and that sucker can slide!!- we had a much nicer time. Oh- and we could actually see the parade entries too! This lasted another hour or so when we really needed to eat. You see it was about 1ish, and my internal stomach clock is set to go off promptly at noon. Indeed. So we walked back to the Plaza- yes, you heard me correctly- all the way back to the Plaza where we had parked [for free!] and stopped at
the first place we saw The Cheesecake Factory. Yum. We survived the day – with a few sunburns and only minor exhaustion. 😉
For our St. Paddy’s Day dinner we made ‘Green Goddess Grilled Cheese Paninis’ -b/c they are green of course, and ‘Apple Amber’- a traditional Irish dessert that was labeled on the website as being at least over 100 years old. Both ended up being delicious- I think I would remake the dessert over the panini though. While I like herbs, the panini recipe called for a LOT of herbs.
Starting the Apple Amber- the apples are supposed to puree down to basically a sauce. Pretty sure that would take hours though- so chunks it is!:
Very strange interruption in the form of *Henry the squirrel who somehow had managed to fling himself onto my window, and with nowhere to go but down (to a certain and sudden squirrley demise) he managed to somehow hang on and after much scrambling, propel himself back to the gutter.
*Henry was a very worn-out squirrel:
The finished pie- topped with delicious meringue (to the slight detrement of the bottom of my oven):
Starting the ‘Green Goddess Panini’- four different kinds of herbs!:
Cream Cheese… nom nom:
Combined with shredded mozzerella and sharp cheddar… nom!:
Happy St. Paddy’s Day! I couldn’t help but get in the spirit a little! Plus it distracted me from the KU vs Purdue game. Headed to the sweet sixteen baby!
*Henry the Squirrel: Henry is my friendly neighbor squirrel. He lives on my roof and would drive me crazy if I hadn’t christened him with a name. Now everytime I hear a squirrel fight on my roof or any un-called for scampering/thumping/tapping/chewing or any inturders in the HVAC system I just say ‘Oh, that’s just Henry!’ and it’s all better.
Green Goddess Grilled Cheese Panini
Prep time: 15 min | Cook time: 15 min | Total time: 30 min
Yield: 4-6 panini
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped (I used a pre-chopped, jar version)
- 1 oil-packed anchovy, finely chopped (left out)
- 1 teaspoon lime zest (about 1 lime)
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley (I used dried)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon (I used dried)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (I used dried)
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil (I used dried)
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot (left out)
- 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard (left out- blech, mustard.)
- 2 ounces cream cheese, cut into smaller cubes
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella
- 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
- 8-12 slices sourdough bread (I used a regular white bread)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Add garlic and anchovies to a mini-prep food processor and pulse for a few seconds until it’s really finely chopped, almost like a paste (if you don’t have a food processor, you can always just chop the ingredients really well with a knife on a cutting board).
- Add in the lime zest, parsley, tarragon, cilantro, basil, shallot, mustard and cream cheese and pulse again until well blended. Transfer to a medium-sized bowl and stir in the mozzarella and cheddar cheeses.
- Preheat the panini grill to medium-high heat.
- For each sandwich: Spread a generous amount of the cheese mixture onto one slice of bread. Close the sandwich with a second slice of bread. Brush a little olive oil on top. Grill for 5 to 6 minutes until the cheese is melted and oozy and the bread is toasted. Serve immediately and enjoy!
The apple, as one of the few fruits that grows really well in the Irish climate, has been held in high regard everywhere in this island for thousands of years. Before the new religion came in from the East, apples and apple trees were considered important enough to be looked after by the mighty Celtic virgin goddess Brigit herself. And in the Brehon law-code of a millennium ago, apple trees were protected to an extraordinary extent. Whoever damaged an apple tree belonging to someone else was liable to pay a fine of several head of cattle, and a landlord whose tenant was moving on was required to compensate the tenant on departure for any apple trees the tenant had planted during his stay.
As a food and as a basis for drink, the apple remains heavily cultivated here, though naturally Ireland imports apples from many other regions when the local varieties are out of season. And it would be a rare farmyard that didn’t feature a few apple trees for cooking and cider-making purposes.
Apple Amber is one of those Irish recipes that plainly involves the cook strolling out to the tree on a whim, pulling a few green cooking apples off it, and taking them back inside to quickly turn them into something unusually nice to end the meal. But the fact that the apples are cooked before baking suggests that this method was meant to work well with storage apples as well, the fruit that had been put away in straw in the cold cellar to last until the first new fruit of the next summer and fall started coming in.
Originally, apple amber was usually constructed as a crustless pie: the grated apple was briefly cooked, seasoned and sweetened (cider vinegar was probably used when lemons were hard to get) and then baked by itself in a pie dish: then meringue was piled on top and the dish returned to the oven just long enough to brown it. More recent versions of the recipe call for the addition of a pie crust. We’ve used a crust on this version, as it does a nice job of soaking up the juices produced by the fluffy apple mousse as it bakes.
Click on “read more” for the recipe and method.
- Pastry dough for a single-crust pie
- 4 cooking apples, totaling about 1 pound, cored and peeled
- 2 tablespoons water
- Juice of one lemon, strained
- 3 large eggs, separated
- 4 ounces sugar, or to taste
First, prepare the pie crust in a suitable pie dish. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 180° C / 350° F.
Grate the apples on a coarse grater (or the grating disc of a Cuisinart or other food processor). Add the 2 tablespoons of water to a small heavy pot, heat until steaming, add the apples, and cook over medium heat until the grated apple reduces itself to a puree. (The apple bits do not have to completely disappear into the puree. It’s all right to leave some texture.) Remove from heat.
Beat the egg yolks slightly. Add the lemon and three-quarters of the sugar to the apple puree: then add the egg, and stir well. Spoon the mixture into the pie shell and bake for twenty minutes.
Meanwhile, start beating the egg whites, adding the remaining sugar gradually as you continue beating. Whip until stiff peaks form. When the pie has had its first twenty minutes in the oven, remove it and spread the meringue over the top of the pie, sealing it to the edges of the crust. Return to the oven for another 10 minutes, or until nicely browned.
Serve hot or cold.