Friday, February 25, 2011

Irish Blessings

Wishing you a rainbow
For sunlight after showers,
Miles and miles of Irish smiles
For golden happy hours
Shamrocks at your doorway
for luck and laughter too,
And a host of friends that never ends
Each day your whole life through!

I love the month of March with the anticipation of spring and most importantly, the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, where everyone is Irish for the day! March is our quietest month here at the B&B so why not take advantage of our Irish hospitality and join us for a “cup of tea and a bun” or a tall glass of Killian’s Irish Red or Guinness. Stay two nights or longer anytime this month and receive a 20% discount. While you’re here plan a visit to local brewpubs including Wachusett Brew Pub, home of the famous Quinn’s Ale; Gardner Ale House, and Elm City Brew Pub. The Ale House and Elm City both serve delicious food as well. If you’re in the area on March 13 don’t miss Shamus Pender (Shamus the famous) Irish balladeer and storyteller playing at McNally’s Grille from 2-6 p.m.
Looking for a great substitute for the traditional corned beef and cabbage dinner? Try our Beef and Guinness Pie. Just make sure you save enough Guinness to sample…
Beef and Guinness Pie
Irish stouts produce a thick head when poured, so chill the can or bottle well before measuring to reduce the foam.
Pie crust for 2 pies, rolled into a 10” x 14” rectangle
4 lb boneless beef chuck, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour (more if necessary)
2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoon dried thyme
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
6 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cup beef broth
2 cup Guinness or other Irish stout
2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
3 large carrots chopped
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.
Pat beef dry. Stir together flour, salt, thyme and pepper in a shallow dish. Add beef, turning to coat, then shake off excess and transfer to a plate. Heat oil in a wide 5- to 6-quart ovenproof heavy pot over moderately high heat until just smoking, then brown meat in 3 batches, turning occasionally, about 5 minutes per batch, transferring to a bowl.
Add onion, garlic, and water to pot and cook, scraping up any brown bits from bottom of pot and stirring frequently, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in beef with any juices accumulated in bowl, broth, beer, and Worcestershire sauce and bring to a simmer, then cover and transfer to oven. Braise until beef is very tender and sauce is thickened, about 1 hour.
Remove from oven and add chopped carrots. Pour into a 9” x 13” pan. Cover with pie crust (make sure you add slits in crust to let heat escape) and bake for 1 more hour.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Valentine's Month

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength; while loving someone deeply gives you courage.

~ Lao Tse

February is one of my favorite months. Not just because of Valentine’s Day, but that’s part of it. I first “fell in love” with love in 1972, at the tender age of twelve. My brother took me to see Camelot. Shortly after that I saw Romeo and Juliet. Oh, the heartache! The agony of bearing witness to such ill-fateful love was almost more than I could stand. But, I was hooked. Then came Love Story, The Way We Were, and Ghost. The list goes on.
Perhaps the best love story I have ever seen is Shadowlands (watch trailer below) with Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger. It is based on the real-life story of C.S. Lewis and Joy Gresham. I watched it with one of my sisters 15 years ago. When it was over we both agreed to never watch it again. We just couldn’t take the sorrow. Beautiful, poignant, gut wrenching. Years later at the mere mention of that movie, my sister and I would just look at each other and shake our heads.
So, I’m a hopeless (hopeful) romantic. Paul and I have been in love since we were 14 and 15 and will celebrate our 27th wedding anniversary in June. But Valentine’s Day is not just about romantic love. Celebrate universal love this month! Tell someone special in your life how much they mean to you. Tell your parents, your children, your partner, your friends, your neighbors, and your co-workers. Write a love letter, call an old friend, invite someone who’s alone over for dinner, bake some chocolate truffles to share, take that special someone to a romantic B&B for the weekend (hint, hint) but especially be good to yourself.
Happy Valentine’s Month!
Chocolate Truffles
¼ cup heavy cream
2 Tb. Grand Marnier (see note below)
6 oz. German sweet chocolate
4 TB. Softened butter
Powdered unsweetened cocoa
1. Boil cream in a small heavy pan until reduced to 2 Tb. Remove from heat; stir in Grand Marnier and chocolate and return to low heat. Stir until chocolate melts.
2. Whisk in softened butter. When mixture is smooth, pour into a shallow bowl and refrigerate until firm, about 40 minutes.
3. Scoop chocolate up with a teaspoon and shape into 1” balls. Roll the truffles in unsweetened cocoa.
4. Store truffles, covered, in the refrigerator. Let truffles stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving. Makes 24 truffles.
Note: Substitute dark rum, Cognac, Kahlua, Framboise, Amaretto or other liqueur for the Grand Marnier.