Tuesday Dinner: Corned Beef & Cabbage

Corned Beef & Cabbage • Romaine & Brussels Sprouts with Oranges and Creamy Mustard Vinaigrette • Buttermilk Levain with Dried Fruit • Irish Coffee Cookies

We’ve got a St. Patrick’s Day menu a week early! I should have realized that March 17th falls on a Tuesday this year; if I had checked the calendar, we would have been eating corned beef and cabbage on the traditional day. But who cares if it’s early, or late, or whenever? Corned beef and cabbage is delicious no matter when you eat it. 

The beef is simmered slowly so the meat gets tender while contributing its flavor to the resulting broth. I used the broth to cook onions, cabbage, carrots, and potatoes, then put the diced beef back in with all those vegetables. It’s a hearty, filling, comforting soup, one which in my house is both nostalgic (to me) and a kid-pleaser (thank goodness). 

Today’s salad is inspired by the Irish flag. Romaine lettuce and shredded Brussels sprouts are the green that represent the Catholic majority of the country; navel oranges are the Protestant minority; and a creamy white dressing symbolizes the hope for peace between the two groups. (I make it sound like I know what I’m talking about, but I only learned the symbolic meaning of the Irish flag’s colors about three minutes ago. Thank you, Wikipedia.) 

I let myself indulge in a lot more angst than usual when figuring out what kind of rolls to make this week. I was at Trader Joe’s last week, and they were sampling their soda bread—and sampling the Kerrygold butter at the same time. (So. Much. Butter.) So I’m eating this butter-soaked, raisin-filled chunk of soda bread, and at first it is so delicious…but then, caraway. Why, why, why would they go and ruin a perfectly good loaf of bread by adding caraway seeds?? I don’t know how you guys feel about caraway, because I obviously have never made you anything that contains caraway. Because it’s disgusting! Except maybe you don’t think so. 

Anyway, I did once again think about making soda bread rolls. After some serious thinking, though, I decided that I’m much too attached to natural leavening; sourdough makes bread taste so good, as well as making it extra healthy. I came up with a hybrid solution though: I added some buttermilk and regular milk to the dough, along with lots of dried fruit—not just the traditional raisins, but also dates and dried apricots and cherries. I think it’s a good compromise, and of course if you want to spread your warm roll generously with butter, that’s a fine idea.

Cookies for dessert, even though we had them last week. I love cookies! These have ground coffee and walnuts mixed into the dough. The original recipe calls for a little bit of brandy, but I put in whiskey instead. And with the combination of coffee and whiskey, can’t we call them Irish Coffee Cookies? I sure as heck think so.

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