Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Fresh Cranberry Relish - Kick the Can

When it comes to Thanksgiving my family is very traditional. The meal is always turkey, mashed potatoes, dressing, gravy, green bean casserole and cranberry sauce. 3 or 4 years ago I found this recipe for cranberry sauce and slipped it in on them. We haven't seen a can of cranberry sauce since. It is so simple and flavorful. Try it and you will kick the can to the curb. This recipe is based on Tyler Florence's Cranberry Relish. The picture above is my dog Bo (and if you look closely the nose of Zoe) giving his approval of the Thanksgiving choice of meats.

Fresh Cranberry Relish
2 12oz bags of fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup Grand Marnier
1 orange, zested and juiced

Put everything in a food processor and pulse it until finely chopped. Put in bowl and let it set in refrigerator for at least 1 hour. I usually make this the day before and let it sit in the fridge. You can reserve some of the orange zest for a garnish.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Eating Ireland

Some of you may have noticed I didn't post last week. My wife and I went on a trip to Ireland. That is the Blarney Castle above.

Being a foodie the first thing that I do when I decide to go on vacation is check out the food scene. Ireland's food scene  seem to be a bit fuzzy, I could see a lot of the stereotypical dishes stews, shepherds pies, lamb dishes. Here and there I would find an article about new chefs updating the cuisine. The seafood seemed to be the area where the revolution was taking place. What I found was if you went to a pub you found the traditional dishes, if you went to a restaurant you found an eclectic mix of food. Italian seemed to dominate, even some of the pubs served tiramisu. There were a few curry dishes, I imagine that comes from the British influence. The thing that surprised me most about the food was that you have an island with many small fishing towns on the coast and that very little fish is eaten. Our tour guide said that until the last few years fish was eaten less than once a week. With the health food movement in Ireland the Irish now average eating fish once a week. Most of the fish is frozen and imported, according to the tour guide.

Here are pictures of some of the meals we had in Ireland. Pubs and Castles built before electricity have rally poor lighting, so I will apologize for the pictures in advance.

The first night we had dinner at Bunratty Castle. At Bunratty you get an authentic medieval entertainment and a meal. The only piece of silverware you get is a dagger (knife), so be prepared to get messy fingers. We started with the best potato soup I have ever eaten, I want that recipe. I am sure it is something like 1 pound of potatoes, 1 gallon of cream and 5 pounds of butter to taste that good.
The next course was Pork Ribs. They claimed that there were no finer ribs in all of Ireland. All I will say is thank God I live in North Carolina and not Ireland then.
The next course was Capons with wine sauce and boiled vegetables.
For dessert we had a berry mousse.
Stopping at a pub a couple of nights later here is what we got. Annette got Potato Cakes. these Potato Cakes were fantastic, in fact the people that ordered them are still talking about them.
I had to try the Lamb Guinness Stew, it was very good.
On our last night we went to the Merry Ploughboy, a pub that feature authentic Irish music and dancing. My wife got the beef stew, the wedge is a slice of bread. 
I ordered the Lamb Shank. I have never had lamb shank before, I am hoping to find it locally as I wouldn't mind having it again.
My last culinary event in Ireland was a trip to the Guinness factory. After the tour you get a free pint. Most people go to a round all glass bar where you can over look the city. We opted to go to a class on how to pour a pint of Guinness correctly. My wife and I are now certified in properly pouring a pint of Guinness. Since it takes a few minutes to get your certificate we had to sample our pints, that is why they are not full.
PS. Before I went to Ireland I mentioned I tore my meniscus (cartilge in my knee). The day after we got back from Ireland I went to the doctor about my knee and I am having surgery on Tuesday. No cooking Thanksgiving dinner for me. Luckily Lynn, my oldest child, has decided she wants to make Thanksgiving dinner. Next week when I am resting my knee I will write more about the trip and try to add some recipes.