It was off to Ireland for us last night, as our second “Culinary Travel Evening.” I don’t know exactly why I chose Ireland, since I’d never been there. But I do know that we’ve definitely had our share of Srirachi sauce, habaneros, curry and wasabi lately, and it seemed a good time to go back to some basics like hot, bland (?) meat and potatoes. I’d make the entree and Christian would make the appetizer and dessert.
As part of our “Culinary Travel Evening,” we include not only the three-course dinner, but also short-story readings from that week’s country, a movie to watch after dinner, as well as a sampler CD of music from that country. I chose some Irish horror stories (apropos since it WAS Halloween) to read, and Christian chose the music and the movie.
He decided to make cheese crisps with Dubliner Cheese spread as an appetizer (OUT OF THIS WORLD!!!) as well as apple-barley pudding for dessert. Of course NO WHERE could we find pearled barley, not even at Sun Harvest, so we substituted pearled wheat berry. I suppose not AS authentic or hearty as the barley would have been, but a very decent substitute nonetheless.
Of course Christian had to choose the sophisticated, complicated, multitude-of-ingredient recipes. I sort of went the easy way and chose Irish Stew as the entree. This is all it is, folks. Can’t be easier:
1 pound lean stew meat, round steak or london broil, cut bite sized
1 medium onion, chopped
4 medium potatoes, cut into chunks
12 baby carrots, cut in half
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 reg. can diced tomatoes, juice and all
onion powder and garlic powder
salt and pepper
small amount of oil
Spray the inside of the crock pot with the cooking spray.
Dredge the stew meat in white flour seasoned with salt, pepper, onion and garlic powder (to taste for your family). Brown the seasoned meat in large skillet in hot oil and drain well.
Put the onion, carrots and potatoes into the crock pot. Place the drained meat on top of the raw veggies Put the diced tomatoes on top of the meat. Pour the crushed tomatoes over the dices tomatoes.
Cook on high for 2 hours, stir quickly to blend, cover and cook on low for about 6 hours more, until the veggies are tender. (If your crock pot gets really hot, just cook 1 hour on high, then stir and turn it to low for 7 hours or so).
Christian RAVED about my stew, which I tweaked a little bit by adding some chile powder (really not much! Just to “color” it and to add some depth. Oh, and a little Maggi liquid seasoning. But that’s it.) And I in turn raved about his very sophisticated (think GREAT way to entertain guests for the holidays on a dime) cheese crisps and spread, and his sublime and understated apple pudding.
Since it was Halloween, of course we had to carve a Jack O’Lantern and have a little something sweet to celebrate. We live in an apartment complex, so kids simply do NOT come around to trick or treat here, but I still insisted we at least put out a pumpkin and have something chocolatey to celebrate. Alas, our Juno and Bleeker costume fell through when we realized it was impossible to find a Bleeker T-shirt in time, so we just played “Irish” last night, lol.