St. Patrick’s Day is around the corner, and everyone needs to know how to make corned beef and cabbage. My mom would serve ours growing up with a parsley sauce. It’s just too good, and you must try it.

Stuart’s Corned Beef and Cabbage

Serves 6

Ingredients

3 1/2 pound uncooked brisket for corned beef, rinsed well and patted dry
1 tablespoon pickling spice
1 head garlic, halved
1/2 onion, peeled
1 cup chicken broth
12 organic carrots, peeled, stems on
12 baby red potatoes, halved
1 head cabbage, shredded
2 tablespoons olive oil

Parsley Sauce:
4 oz unsalted butter
1/2 cup flour
2 cups milk
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh black pepper

Method:

In a large dutch oven, place brisket with water, fill to about 3 inches over the brisket, add pickling spice and onion, bring to a simmer for 2 1/2 hours.

To make the sauce: While brisket is cooking, add butter to a saucepan over a medium heat until melted, whisk in flour, add milk and bring to a simmer until sauce begins to thicken, about 10 minutes. Add parsley, salt and pepper. Cover, with some wax paper pressing down on the sauce, so as not to form a skin. Reheat when ready to serve.

At about 2 hours, add the chicken stock and simmer for the final 30 minutes.

Remove brisket from water, set aside and keep warm.

Add potatoes and carrots to the brisket water and simmer for 10 minutes, or until vegetables are tender but not falling apart.

In a non stick skillet, cook the cabbage with olive oil until it is cooked but still has a crunch; about 5 minutes. Set aside.

On a plate, place cabbage in the center, top with slices of corned beef along with some carrots and potatoes to the side. Spoon parsley sauce on the meat.

Ingredients

4 ounces crumbled blue cheese
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh black pepper
1 cup Franks Hot sauce (no substitutions)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh back pepper
2 quarts vegetable oil
1 cup cornstarch
40 chicken wings
6 celery stalks, topped, tailed halved and cut lengthwise

Method

1. Mix all first 5 ingredients in a bowl, set aside in the fridge until ready to serve.

2 Preheat oven to 200°F. Take wings out of the fridge for at least 45 minutes (this will make sure they cook evenly and more crisp)

3. Place hot sauce, butter, salt, pepper in a saucepan and keep over a very low heat until ready to toss with the wings.

4. Pour oil into a heavy based saucepan to about 2-3 inches up the sides. Place a deep fry thermometer to the pan and heat oil until it reaches 370 – 375°F. (if you don’t have a thermometer, buy one)

5. Place cornstarch in a bowl, toss wings in cornstarch and fry in small batches, about 7 -9 per batch. Fry for about 10 minutes. Place on a tray fitted with a wire rack and place in oven to keep warm. Repeat until all wings are cooked.

6. In a large bowl, toss wings in batches of 10 until all coated. Serve with celery sticks and dressing and of course ENJOY THE GAME this sunday.

I do love a good leg of lamb, and this is the perfect recipe for this time of year. It’s also a great dish to make in celebration of the new year, or for your next special occasion.

Ingredients

1 leg of lamb, bone in
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
7-10 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons rosemary, chopped
3 tablespoons thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon coarse ground pepper

Sauce

4 tablespoons mixed herbs, parsley and chives, chopped
1 onion, diced
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
3/4 cup red wine, such as Cabernet

Directions

Preheat oven to 200°C

With your hands, rub the lamb with lemon juice. Sprinkle with garlic, rosemary and thyme and press onto the lamb, using your fingers to adhere to the meat.

Season the meat with the salt and pepper, place in a roasting pan.

Put the lamb in the oven for 25-30 minutes to seal the meat.

Reduce temperature to 180°C and continue to cook for a further 1 hour and 20 minutes for medium.

Remove the lamb from the pan, cover with foil and let rest for at least 15 minutes before carving.

I have tried a LOT of Macaroni and Cheese… and this one, in my opinion, is the absolute best. The Fiscalini cheddar really makes this dish pop, so try your best to find it (or use another high-end artisanal sharp cheddar).

Serves 6

Ingredients
1 lb elbow macaroni
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup sour cream
4 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 cups panko breadcrumbs, toasted
4 cups heavy cream
2 cups Fiscalini cheddar (or a another good sharp cheddar), grated
1/3 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
1 cup thick cut bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped

Directions
Cook elbow macaroni until al dente (follow package directions). Toss with extra virgin olive oil and let cool completely.

Toss the pasta with the sour cream and mustard.

Spread the panic breadcrumbs on a sheet pan and toast them at 300°F for about 8 – 10 minutes. Keep a close eye on them as they burn easily. (Keep in an airtight container if planning to use later).

Now the best part! Heat the cream in a large saucepan over medium heat until it begins to bubble. Add cheeses and stir until everything is incorporated. Add the mustard-sour cream covered pasta to the cream along with the bacon. Heat through for about 5 minutes over a medium heat. Add chives and parsley. Season with salt and pepper if desired. (I add in about 1 teaspoon kosher salt).

As a child, there was no dish I loved and hated more than candied yams. I expected it on our holiday table, even fantasized about the toasty, gooey marshmallows that covered the slimy, watery yams (which were actually sweet potatoes incorrectly named).

When I became a mother, I included the beautifully loathsome dish in every Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner and nagged my sons and husband to eat the concoction, not just the marshmallows, just as I had been told, too.

A few years ago, I finally figured out that tradition wasn’t repeating the same saccharin-sweet mistakes of our forefathers, and that I could make any food I wanted, as long as it captured the spirit of our celebration.

So – I started toying with dishes I really didn’t like as much as I thought, starting with candied yams.

One of the first big changes I made was using fresh sweet potatoes and nixing (once and for all) the syrupy canned spuds. I made some mistakes along the way (finding out the hard way you have to cook the sweet potatoes before adding marshmallows, and with great displeasure realizing there IS such a thing as too much fluff, etc.etc.) but in the end, I discovered a new appreciation for the vegetable I once loathed, and came up with a pretty fantastic recipe for the holidays that my entire family enjoys.

The following recipe also combines butternut squash into the fold because I love it and it makes the dish just a little bit healthier.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Butternut Squash with Bacon, Brown Sugar and Pecan Crumble – serves 8-10

Ingredients

4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed (about 3-4 cups)
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed (about 3-4 cups)
3 tablespoons cold butter, cubed
1/2 teaspoon salt (plus more to taste)
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

For the topping:

6 slices thick cut bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup pecan halves, roughly chopped

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400F

Combine the sweet potatoes, butternut squash, cold butter, salt, pepper and nutmeg in a large baking dish.
Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes or until the sweet potatoes and butternut squash are tender and roasted.

While the mixture cooks, fry the bacon until crisp and drain on paper towels.

In a large bowl combine the chopped pecans, brown sugar and cooked bacon pieces.

Uncover the sweet potatoes and butternut squash and test for doneness. Taste for salt, adding more if necessary.
Cover the sweet potatoes and butternut squash with the bacon brown sugar and pecan mixture evenly.

Place the pan back in the oven, uncovered, and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the brown sugar seeps into the dish and the pecans are nice and golden.

Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!

Some kids dream of being a doctor, an airline pilot, a teacher.

Me? I wanted to be a farmer.

Like a country mouse in the city, I felt out of place in our suburban neighborhood. My destiny was to live on a farm, of that I was certain. A farm with horses and cows and chickens, where I would get up at the crack of dawn to milk the cows and muck out the stalls. I would gather eggs from the hen house and bring them to my mother (Maw) who would scramble them up for a hearty breakfast with homemade biscuits and strawberry preserves to top it off.

I begged my parents to ditch the suburban nonsense and move to the country. Also? We needed to grow our family. Look at any farm family, I told them. You need a passel of kids to help with the chores. So we needed to adopt a few, and a big sister would be much appreciated. They listened patiently, but it was only cute for so long. When my beseeching disintegrated into petulant whining they either changed the subject or sent me to to my room.

A life on the farm was not in the cards.

However, my fascination with farm life has remained strong, and that’s why I enjoyed reading “Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good: A Memoir of Food & Love from an American Midwest Family.”

Author Kathleen Flinn, who has written two previous books on her fascination with the culinary world, including the New York Times bestselling memoir, “The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry,” has penned this homage to a childhood short on luxuries but long on farming, love … and home cooking.

Good cooks and food enthusiasts run in Flinn’s Swedish and Irish family, and this memoir is chock full of anecdotes related to the joy of eating. From foraging for morels to fishing for smelt and preparing Grandpa Charles’ chili, each chapter is a page of Flinn’s childhood, recounted with charm and a sense of fun.

I was amazed to learn how voluminous a family farm operation can be. From the bounty of their garden Flinn’s mother canned 80 quarts of applesauce, 120 quarts of tomatoes and 80 quarts of peaches each year. And that was just the beginning.

Apple-CrispBecause money was tight in those early years, her mother learned how to stretch a dollar while making wholesome, tasty food for her growing brood. Flinn has compiled many of the family favorites and each chapter ends with a recipe, such as this one for Apple Crisp.

If you’re wondering why the title is “Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good,” it refers to Flinn’s grandmother’s phrase used to get a picky child to eat.

I’ve already tried one recipe and can’t wait to try more. I made these rolls this week and they were a big hit with my husband. They are best hot from the oven with a dab of butter.

Aunt Myrtle’s No-Knead Yeast Rolls

Makes 2 dozen

1 package (1/4 oz.) active dry yeast
1/4 c. warm water
1/4 c. vegetable shortening
1 1/2 t. salt
2 T. sugar
1 c. boiling water
1 large egg
3 1/2 c. all purpose flour

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let sit 10 minutes.

In a different bowl, combine the shortening, salt, sugar, and boiling water. Let cool slightly. Add the dissolved yeast, egg and flour and mix well; the dough will be slightly sticky. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill the dough for at least two hours and up to 24.

Coat a muffin pan with cooking spray. Pinch off dough and fill each muffin slot about 1/3 full. Brush the tops with melted butter. Let rise for about two hours in a warm place, until doubled.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Bake the rolls for 20 minutes, or until they rise up firmly and are slightly browned. Let cool slightly before removing from the pan. Store leftovers in an airtight container.

– – –

Maybe I’ve still got some of the farm girl in me. I’m hankering for some homemade strawberry preserves to go with those rolls. I’m going to learn how to make it myself.

This post was originally featured on Helene’s blog, Books is Wonderful