Welcome to Dining In

On the surface, the challenge is simple – prepare a meal that consists of at least three courses (appetizer, entrĂ©e and dessert) and write about it. The bigger challenge, however, is to create an eating experience at home that transcends time and place and engages all the senses. It’s a meal that includes great food and wine for the palate and the nose, a sense of anticipation for the brain, a presentation and table that is a feast for the eyes and background music to set the tone.

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Celebrating the Saints in March

St. Patrick's Day Menu
March 17
Celebrated Saturday, March 13

Even though St. Patrick's Day is March 17, we always celebrate on the Saturday before or after. I never celebrated St. Patrick's Day (at least not at home with a meal) until I met Doug, who is Irish. The menu is below. Nothing too adventurous here. It's all about tradition:

Corned Beef (bought 2 briskets at Wegman's and used the little pickling packet that comes with the corned beef.)
Mashed Potatoes

Mint Brownies

Smithwick Beer

Cook the corned beef according to the directions on the package. Don't leave out the pickling spices, it really ads a lot. When the corned beef is about an half hour to an hour from being done, add the carrots and onions. When it's about 15 min to a half hour from being done add the cabbage. To make Colcannon saute half a head of shredded cabbage (make sure it's shredded and chopped into tiny pieces) in about a half stick of butter until the cabbage is tender. Salt and pepper to taste. You can also grate a little nutmeg into it. Make mashed potatoes as you normally would -- adding butter and milk until smooth. Mix mashed potatoes and cabbage.  You can add more or less cabbage, depending on your taste. Serve hot.

St. Joseph's Day
March 19

We celebrated this day on Saturday, March 20, but St. Joseph's Day is actually March 19. St. Joseph is the patron saint of Italy and my father was his namesake, so we always celebrated this day in our house growing up. This year I made Scallops with Spaghetti Eugenie, a recipe I cut out of the New York Times magazine almost 20 years ago. It is delicious. It calls for a pint of Bay Scallops, but I use sea scallops, which I sear and place on top of the spaghetti before serving it. The spaghetti is sprinkled with breadcrumbs instead of grated cheese, which is perfect for St. Joseph's Day when the traditional garnishment for pasta is breadcrumbs. The breadcrumbs are to remind you of sawdust because St. Joseph was a carpenter. Some red flowers. Some red wine. A Frank Sinatra playlist. That's all you need. A great meal.

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