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St. Patrick’s Day cooking and Irish festivities

Posted: March 16, 2010 9:46 p.m.
Updated: March 17, 2010 12:50 p.m.

Chocolate Mint Brownies These delicious Chocolate Mint Brownies can be decorated with green gumdrops formed into shamrocks or other holiday candies. Use a shamrock-shaped cookie cutter to make these treats even more festive. Prep Time: 25 minutes Start to Finish: 3 hours 25 minutes Makes: 32 brownies Brownie Base <...

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St. Patrick’s Day celebrations are filled with dancing, green decorations, and Irish food and beer. This year, try something new and save a pint for the kitchen.

Traditional St. Paddy’s Day favorites, like Irish stout and corned beef and cabbage, can be combined to make a delicious dish even better. Because beer pairs so well with beef, it’s only natural to cook with beer.  

“Beer adds great flavor to the corned beef brisket, and can be used in other slow-cooked or braised dishes also,” says Dave Zino, executive chef for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.  

Braising and stewing are excellent cooking methods when preparing beef such as pot roast, brisket and beef for stew.

Typically, you’ll want to start by browning the meat in a bit of oil to caramelize and bring out rich beef flavors. However, corned beef brisket does not require browning.

Braising is used with large cuts of beef that are cooked whole, like corned beef brisket. When braising, the meat is simmered slowly in 1/2 to 2 cups of liquid such as beer or water to ensure moist and fork-tender results, for about 3 to 3 1/2 hours, depending on the size of the roast.

Stewing works best with cubes of beef.

When stewing, the cubed meat is simmered for about 1 3/4 hours to 2 1/4 hours in enough liquid to cover the meat and other ingredients such as vegetables, resulting in fork-tender meat and a delicious broth.

Chef Dave also notes beer can serve as a substitute in many recipes.

“Beer can also be used in place of wine in recipes and is especially good in beef stews and chilies,” he says.

To make St. Patrick’s Day fun for the whole family, there are several ways to entertain your little leprechauns with delicious treats and fun activities that will lead them to their pot of gold.

Every year in March, families celebrate the annual Irish tradition of St. Patrick’s Day with a variety of celebrations.

Whether it’s attending a parade or preparing and enjoying an elaborate Irish meal, everyone has their own favorite ways to celebrate the holiday. Set your own unique traditions and rituals with the following ideas.

Pass Along the Luck
Have kids put together lucky treat bags to pass along to neighbors.

These treat bags could include cut-out, decorated and customized four-leaf clovers, chocolate coins and other goodies. Then, on St. Patrick’s Day, walk around as a family and surprise neighbors with these bags.

Treasure Hunt
Set up a treasure hunt for family and friends by placing chocolate gold coins around the house.

Give them a series of clues and riddles to help them figure out where to look for the coins. Equip “hunters” with their own pot or basket for collecting the gold coins. At the end of the hunt, reward them for their hard work with a delicious dinner of corned beef and cabbage, followed by some festive brownies.

Going green the Irish Way
It’s true — the kitchen is the heart of the home. Ever notice how people always gather there? Whether baking treats, making dinner or spending time with family and friends, the kitchen is my favorite place to be.

Since my day job is Consumer Test Kitchen Project Manager  for the Nestlé Test Kitchens, you can bet I love to stir things up. This column lets me pass along to you some of my best recipes, tips and baking secrets.

I don’t know about you, but after a long winter, I’m ready to celebrate spring!

So St. Patrick’s Day comes at just the right time – plenty of good cheer, good food and bright green to perk things up.

If you want to add some green to your table, try dying cut flowers.

* Take white flowers, such as daisies or carnations, and trim a little bit off their stems.

* Add a few drops of green food coloring to a vase filled with water. (The water should be medium to dark green.)

* Put your flowers in the vase and let them sit in direct sunlight for a day or two. The flowers will absorb the colored water through the stems, giving you a St. Patrick’s Day bouquet to be proud of.

If you’re looking for a sweet way to finish off your St. Patrick’s Day, try an Irish twist on bread pudding.

This Chocolate Shamrock Bread Pudding has a touch of Irish cream liqueur for a fun, yet sophisticated, flavor.

You can always leave out the liqueur – it’s still delicious!

No St. Patrick’s Day is complete without an Irish toast or blessing. So here’s one just for you:

May your day be touched by a bit of Irish luck, brightened by a song in your heart, and warmed by the smiles of the people you love.

For more ways to enjoy St. Patrick’s Day, visit www.VeryBestBaking.com.

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