Monday, March 22, 2010

A Mother, A Memory- More Irish Tator Talk

This month has a lot of green memory in all directions for me- with my daughters birthday to begin it off, St. Patrick's Day Parade over at our friend Spudsy- AKA The Daily Spud, my mom's birthday today, and spring popping up green everywhere we look!

This was not my favorite color, but was my favorite month, because green does mean 'new life', but I have to say most of us in New Jersey were happy to see some sunshine!

Growing up in my Irish house in Texas, we ate a lot of potato dishes. I am not sure why, but maybe (yes, an Irish storyteller/chef is about to go crazy) because my mom did not know how to cook well when she met my father, she cooked like she was feeding an army. Well, maybe a navy crew to be exact. My father was a cook in the navy, and between he and his mom, Virginia (mom) got by. Boy, could she make mashed potatoes. One of my favorites. Why? Because I was thin as a rail and a bottomless pit eater. Potatoes were filling, and abundant in our kitchen. What she did with them afterward was another story. You also did not complain when you peeled potatoes in my house- if you did you had to listen to my father tell stories of peeling hundreds each day on his ship!

She would make pancakes, desserts, yes ewww, and make croquettes, fritters, whatever you may call them. I might have liked them, but they were like (sorry Mom, I loved your goulash) most of her cooking, bland. Why? My dad was to blame. I always found it odd that he loved spicy Tex-Mex, and chilies of all kinds, but she would say he like his food prepared the same way. No creativity was allowed, not even me in the kitchen to cook. Later I discovered, or uncovered the real truth. She was insecure when it came to making recipes out side of the box, so she stuck with what she had been taught. She was an awesome baker however, thanks to Betty Crocker! No complaints there.

I also may gross some of you out, but I ate ketchup on my mashed potatoes. Yes, everyone who ever ate with me in my adolescent days, were also grossed out. I am happy to say that today no condiments but mustard, and few Asian bottles of this and that for cooking line the side door of my fridge.

Many uses of potatoes strand across the world as they were introduced into kitchens a century ago...

One dish my mom did not made, and I am only sure that it was due to the dislike of my dad (he is not here to rebut my complaining, sorry pop!) was Shepherds Pie. I first had this dish in Ireland. I am not really sure why it took me thirty three years to have this tasty dish, but alas my taste buds were finally introduced in the proper country. Caven Ireland in a local pub (up north from Dublin to be exact). A ground lamb, gravy, peas, and topped off with mashed potatoes.

Now this dish was lacking in presentation, as it was brought out basically slopped on a plate with bread, and a beverage of choice. Shepherds Pie is one of those not so pretty recipes that actually to me taste better the next day. Like soups and chili, after having a chance for the flavors to meld it becomes a flavorful leftovers dream.

My dish contained a base of meats- ground lamb, pork, and veal cooked in a gravy; along with spinach, seasoned creamed potatoes, and an extra touch of two Irish cheeses grated on top- (Kerry Gold) Aged Cheddar, and Irish Stout. I heated heavy cream with an addition of butter, parsley, garlic powder, New Zealand Flake Sea Salt (salt give away details) pepper to taste.

My mother never had a chance to taste this great dish with its use of potatoes, but she would have approved- No ketchup Maw!

Happy Birthday Virginia! I love you...

Upon the suggestion off twitter from YNChick AKA Jaclyn Stuart, Certified Sommelier & WSET-Certified, Author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Wine & Food Pairing, WineVentures Consulting- I opened a bottle of Cotes du Rhone.

Every savvy wine and food fan should put the Côtes du Rhône Villages appellation in their repertoire, and I will discuss a few in upcoming post, and on my 'Partners In Wine Club' site...

Perrin & Fils, Côtes du Rhône Villages, France, 07 $14.99: The Perrin family, owners of the famous Château de Beaucastel in Châteauneuf du Pape, leases and manages two favorably located vineyards to produce the grapes for this tasty wine. Made from a blend of Grenache (50 %) and Syrah (50 %), the dark ruby color offers ripe black cherry and violet aromas with smoky notes. Firm black cherry flavors with lively acidity and smooth tannins carry through the dry finish that well matched the meat and potatoes of this dish!

PS- I have recently found posts written on both of my sites on other various sites, disregarding my 'Contents are owned by CookAppeal...', but with out usage of my photos. This is why I watermark many of my photos, even the one with the ugly white lines of my light box, so be careful. Complaints were made, and they removed our content; unless they track back to your site, then we allow this.