As promised, a quick look at my Aunt B style tree--I made due with what I had on hand (which in my case is boat loads of ribbons and kitchen type stuff, thus kitchen towel as a tree skirt and cookie cutter as a tree topper...hey, whatever works right!)I started out brainstorming what I would do for St. Patty's day and Dan requested chocolate cupcakes with vanilla frosting (plain jane); working at a cupcake shop has forever ruined me, because now no cupcake is finished without a little something on top.
I really loathe fondant so I decided to make little St. Patty's day hats out of marzipan. No, this is not traditional St. Patrick's fare, not even close, it is more the bastardized version that the day has become, but I thought the hats would be cute atop a cupcake none-the-less.
The photos are mostly for my mom (she called while I was making these and it's hard to describe them without a photo(; so, mom, this is what I was talking about...St. Patty's Day top hats!
I thought they turned out well, but I didn't take and pictures of them actually on cake...whoops!
I also made some shamrock cookies (though these are technically four leaf clover.....so still not traditional Irish fare...this seems to be a theme with me here.) These are just your straight up sugar cookies with royal frosting, and yes I used the cookie cutter that was on top of my tree for these; don't worry, I gave it a good wash first!
For dinner Dan requested Shepherd's pie, which, go figure, actually is traditional Irish fare (according to my Irish boss...corned beef and cabbage is not actually Irish...it started here in the states and was exported back to Ireland).
I've been making this for Dan for close to three years now; this is a perfect Dan (i.e. meat and potatoes) kind of meal best when consumed with a Guinness of course.
D&P's Shepherd's Pie
1 1/2 pds peeled & quartered Yukon Gold Potatoes (I also like Carola potatoes)
1 medium onion diced
1 medium carrot diced
1 stalk of celery diced
1 cup of frozen peas
2 Tblsps olive oil
1 Tblsp salted butter
1 pd ground lamb
3/4 cup lamb, beef, chicken or veggie stock
1 Tblsp thyme (or 1 tsp. dried)
1 Tblsp rosemary (or 1 tsp. dried)
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 Tblsps. red wine vinegar
Salt & Pepper
1. Boil potatoes in salted water until fork tender (about 20 minutes); drain and mash with 3 to 4 Tblsps salted butter, 3/4 cup milk, 1/2 cup sharp cheddar, maldon salt and fresh cracked pepper (or however you normally do mashed potatoes...chives would be good too but I didn't have any on hand!)
2. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400F. Saute onions, carrots & celery in a dutch oven until tender (7-10 minutes), season w/ a bit of S&P; add lamb and cook until browned. I add a pinch of rosemary and thyme along with a bit more S&P at this point to add flavor to the meat.
3. Sprinkle flour in and cook 2-3 minutes to get rid of that "flour" taste; pour in stock slowly stirring constantly to reduce clumps. (I use homemade chicken stock because I keep lots of this in our freezer but use what you have; I've made this with a bouillon cube before, don't stress about it if you don't have stock.)
4. Add the rest of your herbs along with the nutmeg and the vinegar. Simmer about 5 minutes or until it reaches a thickness you like.; Add frozen peas. (Sometimes I add a slurry of corn starch using 1 Tblsp of corn starch and a bit of the liquid from the pot if the flour doesn't thicken it enough.)
5. Spoon the meat into individual gratin dishes and top with mashed potato and a sprinkle of cheddar. Heat in the oven for 20 minutes (or until the potatoes are nicely browned on top.)
6. Let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving
NOTE: I've also just used the dutch oven that I used for the meat, plopped the potatoes on top and popped that baby in the oven; a one pot wonder, but the gratin dishes are nice for individual portions or for serving to company.
Also, the only reason there are peas in this dish is because Dan loves peas; my original recipe excludes these. Add them if you like, forget them if you don't.