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Irish fare

By Staff | Mar 12, 2010

Margo Sievers, who lives on a farm near Rembrandt, enjoys creative cooking and celebrating her Irish heritage.

By DARCY DOUGHERTY MAULSBY/Farm News staff writer

REMBRANDT – When Margo Sievers sets her dining table for a special meal, the spread offers a feast for the eyes, as well as the pallet.

“I’ve always enjoyed creative cooking, and I love decorating and cooking for special events and holidays,” said Sievers, who lives on a farm near Rembrandt with her husband, Ron.

St. Patrick’s Day marks a highlight for Sievers, who was raised in Belle Plaine, surrounded by an extended family of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins descended from Irish immigrants, who settled in Iowa to work for the railroad.

The kitchen became the hub of activity for the family, as Sievers’ grandmother, mother and aunts all cooked together. “Food, family and fun have always been connected in my life,” said Sievers, a retired elementary school teacher who still relies on favorite Irish recipes that have been handed down through the generations.

From soda bread to corned beef, Irish cooking is based on simple, hearty dishes that are easy to prepare. While many of these foods have now become St. Patrick’s Day specialties, they were common, year-round fare when Sievers was growing up.

“Corned beef and cabbage wasn’t a special meal for us. In fact, it was often served for Sunday dinner.”

To share her love of creative cooking with others, Sievers has launched a series of food demonstration/cooking classes at the Lily Pad in Sioux Rapids.

She will prepare her Irish recipes during her next “Not Quite Julia” food demonstration and cooking class on Tuesday at the Lily Pad in Sioux Rapids.

(For more information contact (712) 283-2083.)

“In addition to the recipes, I mix in a little history, poetry, jokes and tips on how to put together a theme event,” said Sievers, who started the “Not Quite Julia” series in February. “It’s just one more outlet where I can share my interest in creative cooking.”

Corned beef and cabbage

3 pounds, pre-packaged corned beef with spice packet

1 head of cabbage

Put beef into a large cooking pot fat side up. Add half an inch of water. Sprinkle spices from the packet on top of meat. Cover and bake at 300 degrees for six hours. Cook low and slow for best tenderness.

Cut cabbage into 16 small wedges and add to the cooking pot, placing the cabbage on top of the meat.

Cook for about three more hours, or until cabbage is tender. Remove from oven and serve with boiled potatoes.

(NOTE: To make corned beef and cabbage hash, dice the meat and cabbage after baking and stew together.)

Irish soda bread

2 cups white flour

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 and 1/4 cups buttermilk

1/4 cup grains, optional

Mix dry ingredients, and make a “well” in the center. Add buttermilk. Mix thoroughly. Roll dough out onto a floured surface. Pat and roll into a round shape. Put dough on a greased cookie sheet, and mark the top with a deep cross, using a serrated knife, and prick each of the four quadrants.

Bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes; then reduce temperature to 400 degrees and bake 30 minutes more. Bread will be brown and will sound hollow if tapped on top.

Honey Butter

1 stick of butter or margarine

2 tablespoons honey

Let butter or margarine soften. Add 2 tablespoons of honey. Stir and serve.

(Note: As a variation, you can also sprinkle in cinnamon to taste. Stir and serve.)

Herbed butter

1/2 teaspoon each of parsley, chives and dill

Let butter or margarine soften. Add herbs. Stir and serve.

(Note: For another variation, omit the herbs, and stir in 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder and 1/4 teaspoon of onion powder.)

Scones

1 cup sour cream

4 cups flour

1 cup white sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 cup butter

1 egg

1 cup raisins

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix all ingredients together. Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead the dough for a couple of minutes. Divide the dough into 5 equal amounts.

Round each piece and place on a cookie sheet, dusting the scones’ tips with cinnamon and sugar.

Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes. Cool, and then frost with powdered sugar frosting.

Shamrock sugar cookies

1 cup butter or margarine

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

3 drops green food coloring

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/4 teaspoon salt

Cream butter and powdered sugar. Add food coloring. Add egg and vanilla, and mix in dry ingredients. Chill dough 1 hour. Roll dough out on a floured surface, cut out cookies, and bake at 350 degrees for 5 to 10 minutes.

Irish coffee

1 cup hot coffee

1.5 ounces Irish whiskey

1 teaspoon brown sugar

Whipped cream for garnish

Put brown sugar in the cup, then pour in hot coffee. Pour hot whiskey into cup over an upside-down spoon so that the liquid flows in gently.

Top it off with whipped cream.

Blarney stones

4 eggs, separated

2 cups sugar

1 cup warm water

2 cups flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

For frosting:

1 cup softened butter

Beat egg yolks and add sugar gradually. Add water and vanilla. Then add dry ingredients. Beat egg whites until they are stiff and add them to the mixture.

Grease a cookie sheet and pour mixture onto it. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Cool. Cut, frost and cover with nuts. (Use crushed Spanish peanuts.)

Contact Darcy Dougherty Maulsby by e-mail at yettergirl@yahoo.com.

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