Hanging out at the Dairy

Hanging out at the Dairy
Darci(far left) & the Wrights at the Creamery

Monday, March 21, 2011

Happy St. Patty's Day!

What a cheerful holiday, St. Patrick's Day! Spring is almost here and it's time for us to emerge from our wintry hibernation and celebrate with our friends the McDougalls (how Irish is that last name). True story! She's an amazing foodie (same lady who does the wine tastings at Bella Italia) and has a reputation as throwing a fabulous corned beef, cabbage and potato spread!
We were  invited to our friends' house for an Irish feast and I brought cute cocktail napkins, 2 bottles of Harbinger wines (a local, fun and artisan's winery in Port Angeles, WA) and some homemade Whiskey Nutmeg Shortbread. I got the recipe from Alice Medrich's cookbook. She is an amazing baker, cookbook author and instructor. I was lucky enough to be a chef's assistant for a few of her classes at Sur La Table kitchen store in Kirkland, WA.  As usual, I took her recipe and elevated it using Nash's Soft Winter Wheat Pastry Flour (from their store in Dungeness, WA), Farm Fresh Butter and Pure Cane Sugar from Sunny Farms, and 1 teaspoonfresh ground nutmeg and 3 tablespoon's MacNaughton's Whiskey. Her recipe's are all well tested so following them will give you the best results. I doubled the recipe and added 2 tablespoons extra of butter and the whiskey to off-set the use of the whole wheat pastry flour. I also used one 9 inch spring form pan and two ramekins as I prefer a thicker shortbread. 

Basic Shortbread recipe;  makes 16 large or 32 small pieces. 

Cut 12 T unsalted butter into chunks and melt in large saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat and stir in 6T sugar, 1t vanilla extract, 1/4t. salt. Add the flour and mix until incorporated. Pat and spread evenly in a a 9 inch round (or 8 inch square, or 9 1/2 in fluted tart pan, greased or lined w/foil). I used a 9 inch spring form (see pic above for unbaked version). Wrap well with clear plastic wrap and chill for minimum of 2 hrs or overnight. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Bake on rack in lower third of the oven for 60-75 minutes, until the edges are toasty brown. Alice then sprinkles hers with sugar and cuts into pieces while still hot with a thin sharp knife.   Her variations suggest using Walnuts, pecans, peanuts, brown sugar and cardamon. None of them disappoints! Cheers.

By the way, Mrs. McDougall's feast was so completely fantastic that we immediately invited ourselves for next St. Patrick's Day! We dined, laughed and raised a glass together with family and friends. I think that our Irish ancestors were smiling down on us that night! Thanks to Kim for the memorable feast and a new tradition for St. Patrick's Day!

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