Unlike other Feasts and Festivals, where I usually prepare everything up to a week in advance so I can blog about it (sorry for spoiling the magic), Paul and I had friends over today to share in our St. Patrick's Day celebration, so we actually had our feast on the correct day. Doesn't happen often! We had such a great time--I'm looking forward to next year.
I did as much as I possibly could in advance, since there are always things that come up at the last minute. The potatoes (five pounds!) for Champ were boiled and mashed yesterday afternoon so that was finished along with the Gingerbread Bundt Cake I made Thursday. I used semisweet instead of dark chocolate (because that's what I had) and I used sifted sprouted whole-wheat flour, raw sugar and pasture butter because why not try to get some nutrition into a cake, right? You wouldn't know it to taste it, though.
Tea and Gingerbread Bundt Cake
I "corned" the beef myself, but I couldn't find any saltpetre, so it's not really corned at all. I just spread a brisket with an obscene amount of salt and then topped that with brown sugar and left it in the fridge for several days. Boiling the beef and cabbage had to be left until this morning (although it's very little work) and I still had to make Soda Bread and finish up the Champ, but all-in-all, it was low stress.
However, I did have a disaster with the cake and part of it stuck to the damned Bundt tin. The tin was non-stick plus I buttered it and floured it. I guess it was just meant to be. The cake still tastes good, though. I'll definitely bake it again--in a different pan.
"Corned" Beef and Cabbage
5 lb brisket
4 carrots, peeled
2 onions, peeled
1 teaspoon English mustard powder
a couple sprigs thyme
a couple sprigs parsley
1/2 dozen cloves and handful of peppercorns
2 cabbages, outer leaves removed, quartered
Several days in advance, coat the brisket with 1/4" of salt then top that with a layer of brown sugar. Leave in a covered container in the refrigerator.
Three hours before cooking, soak the brisket in a pot of cold water. This is so you'll be able to use the beef cooking liquid for soups.
Take the brisket out of the soaking water (discard the water) and place in a large dutch oven or stock pot with the remaining ingredients except for the cabbage. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil, skimming off any scum. Turn down heat and simmer gently, covered, for 30 minutes per pound (2 1/2 hours in this case), adding the quartered cabbages for the last hour.
Place the beef and cabbage on a serving platter. Strain the cooking liquid into containers and refrigerate (or freeze) for later use.
Adapted from "Corned Beef and Cabbage" in Theodora FitzGibbon, A Taste of Ireland (New York: Barnes and Noble Books, 1996), 101 and "Corned Beef and Cabbage" in Darina Allen, The Festive Food of Ireland (Schull: Roberts Rinehart, 1992), 13.
*I know, I know--totally not Irish. I admit it. However, Paul and I had to drive over to Ace Hardware (time to replace our air filters) and the bar across the street had a bagpiper. He was playing "Scotland the Brave." Totally Irish, right? Then, he followed it up with the Star Wars theme, so I guess it wasn't supposed to be an Irish music performance after all...