Happy National Quilting Day!

Good morning, my friends! I hope you didn't drink too much green beer yesterday. If you did, then you might have a hard time enjoying National Quilting Day. The only beer we had yesterday was included in the day's menu items, and so it doesn't really count as drinking. In any case, I'm celebrating National Quilting Day by going to the farmer's market with Erik and Mae. After that, I'll do some actual quilting.

Yesterday was an all-day-in-the-kitchen day. I was having fun because I like cooking and baking. Still, I was a tired pup after being on my feet all day. When I wasn't in the kitchen, I was making progress on the week's laundry. 

So what was I cooking all day, you ask? (Or maybe you didn't, but I'm going to tell you anyway.) The morning started with this Chocolate Guinness Cake for Two. The recipe was only published in the New York Times yesterday morning. I hadn't yet decided what to do for dessert. When I realized I had all the ingredients to make it, it was as if I'd been struck with divine inspiration. The recipe was for the full-up cake, but cutting a cake recipe in half can make it a "for two" cake, although, this is actually a "for four" cake. Prior to frosting, it looked like this:

Then, it was frosted with a combination of cream cheese, confectioner's sugar, and heavy cream. It's supposed to make you think of a frothy glass of Guinness.

And let me just tell you, that was one tasty cake. It was surprisingly moist without being too dense, as chocolate cake can be sometimes. I'll definitely make this again. The recipe was from the NYTimes, but some of you won't be able to open it, and so I'll just give you my adaptation. If you want to make a full-sized cake, simply double everything and bake it in a 9-inch spring-form pan. Oh yes, and it will need to bake for about 45 minutes for a full-sized cake. Here's my "for two" version:

I should also tell you that we aren't Guinness fans, and so I used the darkest beer I had, which was Dos Equis. I would do it again the same way.

After that, I baked the ugliest loaf of Irish Soda Bread every baked in the history of baking. One of my Facebook friends quipped, "Roasted Cauliflower. Yum!" which made me laugh. I'm sorry to say it didn't taste any better than it looks. It was a dense and toothsome loaf.

It was actually a pretty good dunking bread. With so much, um, "structure" it held together nicely when dipped in our stew. Think of it as biscotti for soup. Interestingly, I almost tried a different recipe from America's Test Kitchens. They used the same ingredients, but they also added cake flour, some sugar, some butter, and some creme of tartar. Their recipe included this notation:

A loaf made with all-purpose flour produced a doughy, heavy bread with a thick crust. To soften the crumb, we added some cake flour to the mix, and this made a difference. With only the four basic ingredients of flour, buttermilk, baking soda, and salt, our soda bread recipe was lacking in flavor and still a little tough; we turned to sugar and butter. The sugar added flavor without making the bread sweet and the butter softened the dough just enough with out making it overly rich.

Okay, so every recipe can't be a winner, and I learned something. Next time around (probably next year), I'll try it the way America's Test Kitchens did it.

All was not lost, however. For our main course, I tried a recipe for Irish Beef Stew. This used what remained of my bottle of beer. Mike gave it high praise, pronouncing it the best stew I've ever made. It was pretty darned good in my estimation.

I wanted to link to the recipe from Myrecipes, but it has been removed...another Cooking Light recipe lost, I think. I'll give it to you here, and aside from substituting Dos Equis for the Guinness, I made it just like this:

Irish Beef Stew
Serves a crowd


8 ounces bacon, cut into 1-in. pieces (about 8 slices)
2 1/2 pounds boneless beef chuck roast, cut into 1 1/2- to 2-in. chunks
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 medium-sized yellow onions, cut into quarters through the root
8 ounces carrots, cut diagonally into 2-in. pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)
8 ounces celery, cut diagonally into 2-in. pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)
8 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
8 thyme sprigs
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 (11.2-oz.) bottle Guinness stout beer
2 1/2 cups beef broth
12 ounces baby red potatoes, halved (quartered, if large)
1 tablespoon country Dijon mustard
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Crusty bread, for serving
Salted Irish butter (such as Kerrygold), for serving


Preheat oven to 325°F. Place bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until bacon is browned and crisp, 12 to 13 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a plate; pour drippings into a small heat-proof bowl, and reserve.

Toss beef chunks with salt and pepper. Increase heat to medium-high. Add 2 tablespoons of the reserved drippings to Dutch oven; swirl to coat. Add half of the beef in an even layer, and cook until browned on all sides, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer beef to plate with bacon, and repeat with remaining drippings and beef.

Add onions to Dutch oven; cook, turning occasionally, until browned, about 3 minutes. Add carrots, celery, garlic, and thyme; cook, stirring often, until vegetables are lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add tomato paste; cook, stirring constantly, until vegetables are coated, 1 to 2 minutes. Add flour; cook, stirring constantly, until toasted, about 1 minute. Add Guinness; cook until reduced by half and thickened, about 3 minutes. Add beef broth, cooked beef, and bacon; bring to a boil over high.

Remove from heat. Cover with lid; cook in preheated oven until meat is mostly tender, about 1 hour and 30 minutes. Uncover, stir in potatoes, and return to oven. Cook until beef and vegetables are fork-tender, about 30 to 40 minutes more. Stir in mustard.

Stir together parsley and lemon zest; sprinkle over each serving. Serve hot with crusty bread and butter.

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Okay, so that's all I have for you today, and it's another morning when I'm writing fast. It's time to get in the shower and get ready to go. I'm looking forward to an afternoon of sewing today.


Barbara said...

Society is like a stew. If you don't stir it up every once in a while then a layer of scum floats to the top. ~ Edward Abbey

Cheryl's Teapots2Quilting said...

Looks like a yummy day, despite the bread.

Jenny said...

Mmm, a day well spent in the kitchen! I can almost smell that mouth watering stew from here, and as for the Guiness Chocolate cake, that looks divine.

piecefulwendy said...

I gotta say, that cake looks really good. I made Irish Soda Bread once years ago and had the same experience. Tasted okay, though.

Quilting Babcia said...

I only made Irish soda bread once and tossed the recipe. Your cake looked and sounded delicious. Hope you had a great day at the market with Erik and Mae. Snowing again here tonight, looking forward to seeing more sunshine and robins.

Astrid said...

A busy day in the kitchen! The cake looks delicious and so does the stew. Sorry about the bread. Hope you had a fun day at the market.

Vroomans' Quilts said...

Oh, love the stew, but you can keep the bread and cake (I don't do sweets). Being Dutch/German the Irish foods don't flow here. We are having our (hopefully) last cold snap with flurries as Winter's last harrah - then we jump right into sunny and the 50's - WHOOP!!

Magpie's Mumblings said...

Mmmm - both recipes look really good. Alas no beer in our house at the moment. The bread must have been a disappointment but I'm sure if it was dipped in that stew it would be fine. Or...a slice in the bottom of the bowl and topped with stew.