Yesterday was St. Patrick's Day, and even though neither one of us has any connection to Ireland I couldn't resist trying out two recipes with an Irish feel. Both had Guinness stout in them, but since the store didn't have any Guinness I went with Murphy's instead - it's basically the same thing (if any Irish people are reading this you are welcome to disagree in comments).
Let's get to the sweet stuff first - Guinness chocolate cupcakes with Bailey's cream cheese frosting, found over at Nook & Pantry. That I just had to make - I mean, cakes with chocolate and Guinness (or, in my case, Murphy's) covered with a mixture of Bailey's, cream cheese and butter?! I will tell you that they are as good as they sound, even though my cupcakes became very low because I misread the recipe and used baking powder instead of baking soda. D'oh! Apart from that non-intentional alteration, I followed the recipe without changes, so head on over to Nook & Pantry to get all the details. My little mistake didn't seem to impact the taste though because, yum! I can also imagine the frosting would be good with Grand Marnier or some other kind of citrus liqueur. Or with Jameson's. Yeah, maybe an Irish coffee frosting, with coffee and whisky and brown sugar. Good thing I ended up with quite a few cupcakes in the freezer - that means I get to try those out!
Now, the maincourse, a beef and Guinness pie that I found at Epicurious. For this I made a few changes, the biggest one being covering the stew with mashed potatoes in shepherd's pie style rather than with puff pastry. The original had brined green peppercorns in it, but that was impossible for me to find. I meant to pop in a few regular green peppercorns instead but I forgot about it. If you have green peppercorns, brined or not, do add them because I think that would give a little punch that this dish was lacking. If you like cooked carrots that would also work with this, either in the stew or on the side, boiled and with some butter and parsley on top. I'm tucking the photo of this down at the bottom because this dish is not too pretty. We ran out of mashed potatoes so that's why there's a hole in the middle, in case you are wondering. Anyhoo, here's the recipe:
Beef and Guinness pie, Shepherd's style
(adopted from Epicurious.com)
Makes enough for a dish 30*25 cm
1 kg beef, cut in 2*2 cm pieces
3 tbsp flour
Salt and black pepper
2-3 tbsp butter
1 large onion, coarsly chopped
3 tbsp water
½ tbsp concentrated game stock dissolved in 1 cup water
1½ cup Guinness or other stout
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
5 fresh thyme sprigs
100 g forest mushrooms, quartered
Mashed potatoes for topping (use your favorite recipe, mine has potatoes, butter, cream, nutmeg, salt and pepper).
Set the oven to 175 degrees C. Mix flour, salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Pat the beef dry. Turn the pieces around in the flour to coat them, shaking off excess flour. Heat most of the butter in a large pan, preferably oven-proof. Brown the beef in batches, and transfer the done pieces to a bowl. When all the beef is browned, add the rest of the butter to the pan and then the onions and water. Cook until the onions are soft. Then return the beef to the pan (make sure to get all the juices that may have accumulated in the bowl), and also add dissolved stock, beer, Worcestershire sauce and thyme. Bring to a simmer. If your pot isn't oven-proof, transfer all the meat and liquid to a large oven-poof pan (I used a rectangular Le Creuset dish, about 30*25 cm.). Cover with a lid or with foil and braise in the oven for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the beef is tender. Take the pan out, add the quartered mushrooms and braise for another 15-20 minutes, now without lid/foil. You can prepare this far (it would hold up well in the fridge overnight).
Increase the oven temperature to 225 degrees C. Make your mashed potatoes, and place them on top of the dish. If you want a pretty look, you could pipe them out (we didn't). Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes until the mashed potatoes are turning golden brown.