Friday, February 26, 2010

Éireann Go Brách

In college I always wanted to have an Erin Go Bra-less party, girls got in free if they weren't wearing a bra, with proof of course. Sadly, never happened.

On Monday we cooked once again for the local travel club. We had no idea what they were meeting about but it was close enough to March we decided to have St. Patrick's Day as our theme. If I had known ahead of time I would have brought my Irish cookbook, if I could find it. I said we should do a beef stew, shepherds pie, fish and chips and shortbread cookies. All of that got nixed except for the shortbread. Thanks TOM. Chef wanted more ideas. I said bangers and mash which isn't really Irish but close enough to count I think, I've had it at several authentic Irish Pubs. TOM pushed for a dish called Toad in the Hole. TOM explained that it is an Australian dish of a bed of mashed potatoes with the sausages sticking up so they look like toad heads poking out of a hole. While I realize that as a penal colony many Irish were shipped off to Australia, that doesn't make it an Irish dish. Turns out it's and English dish though I suppose it is popular in Ireland, made with Yorkshire pudding batter not mashed potatoes and the sausages lay down instead of poke out. I'm not surprised I am learning that TOM is all bluster, though I think the sausages sticking out would have been a clever touch.

So in the end we had corned beef and cabbage. Even though my heritage is Irish and German I do not eat corned beef and cabbage or sauerkraut for that matter. Blech! Chef did override TOM and added back the shepherds pie. Pizza Girl and The Kid made roasted vegetables, turnips, beets, potatoes, rutabagas and carrots. Slo Mo wore himself out making roasted potatoes. Chico and RK made soda bread. Hotties #2 and #3 made the shortbread. Tennessee, who was in our class as a make up day, I think worked on the potatoes, I'm not sure. New Girl and Sushi Boy 1 made apple cake. MILF chose me to be her partner to make bread pudding.

Except she didn't show up so I was on my own. We had a recipe for New Orleans bourbon bread pudding but we wanted to substitute the bourbon with Bailey's. But Chef did not get any Bailey's so I used a coffee extract. We were supposed to cook for 120 people. They had me sharing a chafing dish with the apple cake but that made no sense because the apple cake was going to be plated, so I got to use full pans. That was excellent because we have a shortage of half pans. What I did not know was that we were doing a double buffet line so I needed a full pan on both sides. This is the downside to things that are decided on Thursday when I am not there. Good thing I made three pans.

Pizza Girl had given the recipe to MILF so I asked PG if she could get me a copy. "Sure, after I finish with this butter." Tennessee wa standing next to me watching her pack a round tablespoon with butter and then scoop in out into a tub. His eyes nearly popped out of his head. I just shook my head and gave him a big Cheshire Cat grin. It's one thing if you scale a recipe for something like cookies and it requires 17 tablespoons of butter; baking is pretty exact with little forgiveness and you need to measure it out. It's another thing if the butter is for roasting vegetables, just round to three sticks! And she's done with school this quarter, she should know better!

I checked in on Sushi 2 and the toads. He was working with Igor and they were wrapping kielbasa in bacon and baking them. The sausages came out of the oven black. They so screwed up this recipe because they never thought about how they were going to serve the dish. They had baked the toad in the hole in full pans but were serving in a round chafer. So they spooned it all out into a round dish. Then they decided the sausages were too big so they cut them in half. In my opinion they were still three times too big. The batter/pudding stuff was nasty. The whole dish looked more like a pile of black dildos in vanilla cake than anything else.

Back on my side Chico and RK are arguing about their soda bread. Neither of these cats ever wash their hands so I wasn't eating any of this. Chico used a wooden skewer to test to see if the bread was done and pulled the pans out. RK had a fit because the recipe said it needed to bake for an hour and needed 25 more minutes of cooking. Back and forth. Chico walked off and RK cut a few slices of bread and then put them all back into the oven. They're both idiots. Later when Chico and Tennessee were slicing up the bread for service I told Chico that next time he could use his thermometer to check to see if his bread was done. HUH? He looked at me like I he was stoned and I had just flipped on the lights. When your thermometer reads 200°F, your bread is done. Like I'm the stupid one.

Earlier I had helped The Kid peel carrots for their roast vegetables. I use my petty knife. It is crazy sharp and I can peel a carrot faster than they can with a peeler. I just have to be careful to not go too deep or I'm hacking up the carrot. I can do it with potatoes too but it isn't as easy with the round shape. I was waiting for the HUGE mixing bowl that we usually use for salads. They were using it to toss their vegetables together before roasting and they were taking their sweet old time. I NEEDED that bowl because it is the only one big enough to do three pans of bread pudding. The Kid tells me that as soon as they finish these carrots I can have the bowl. I grab my knife and take over the cutting board. I asked how he wanted the carrots cut. Half rounds. It's funny that even though they seem to have learned that even sized pieces cook evenly they have not learned that as the carrot tapers down the piece has to be cut larger in order to maintain the same mass. I start in on the carrots and I'm cutting three to four carrots for every one that The Kid is cutting. Come on man, I might be twice your age but you only have one quarter of school left. You've got to have better knife skills than that!

After I get my three pans into the oven I see New Girl and Sushi 1 looking worried; their cake is not complete. Apparently after they had it in the oven a few minutes and were cleaning up they found their baking soda and realized they had forgot to put it in. So they pulled out the cake which was flowing over onto the oven deck and dumped it into a bowl to try to start over and salvage it. They weren't using an extender rack which was also a mistake. We don't use cake pans like you would at home, we have a rack that fits in the full sheet to make the cake sides. This is how the pros do it. They got everything mixed together and back in the oven, this time with the extender, but it was too late the cake just never cooked right. There was some discussion that they had also forgotten the milk. I would have scrapped the whole thing but they spooned the cake into a bowl and served it anyway. We had Toad in the Hole and Cake in a Bowl. Actually it tasted a lot like bread pudding and would have been good with ice cream on top.

I saw Mayfield's and TOM's shepherds pie. I am somewhat of a shepherds pie connoisseur. If I go to an Irish restaurant/pub I'm getting either shepherds pie or fish and chips or both. This was not shepherds pie. They made a bed of seasoned ground beef and onions and topped it with mashed potatoes and cheese. No peas. No carrots. And the meat should be in a sauce, almost like a beef stew. This was not right. Since I gave up beef for lent I did not try it but the mashed potatoes were awesome.

I had two pans of bread pudding out and ready to serve at 11:59. I still don't understand why the rest of them can't do that. Because we had two of each I said I needed a partner to help serve since MILF was not there. Hottie #2 asked why. Because I can't serve both sides at the same time by myself. Duh! She was serving the green shortbread cookies next to me. They were nasty. Remember we were supposed to serve for 120? About half way through all the people we ran out of cabbage, then corned beef and then shepherds pie. We did not run out of vegetables, potatoes, the nasty cookies and of course my bread pudding, because I had three pans, not just one. Dumb asses. Part of the reason is portion sizes. We are supposed to serve about a three ounce portion. My classmates have not learned that yet. People were getting half plates of cabbage, three 3 inch pieces of sausage, etc.

I am pleased to say that my bread pudding was a hit. I had many rave reviews and some people broke the rules and came back for seconds. I was even getting positive comments the next day with the left overs.

Sláinte mhaith!


Brook said...

I love reading your adventures. This time I especially enjoyed your observations of the Toad in the hole" and could only wish that some one had suggested "spotted dick". I have to tell you, I HATE BREAD PUDDING! I love French toast and I recognize the similarities but there you go. Have a good week, it's been fun "watching" the Olympics with you.
wv coullcat
As in, you are one coullcat my friend!

Huff Daddy said...

I'm not really a fan of bread pudding. I had it once and it was awesome, but I never order it and only make it when told to at school. This was amazingly good though. My wife also hates it, but we used to go to a restaurant that served an apple and sage bread pudding with their pork chops, so it was a savory bread pudding not a dessert. She LOVED that one.

Brook said...

A savory bread pudding sounds interesting.