St. Patrick’s Day Feast: Guinness Beef Stew

Written by Shaina Olmanson.

St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner. Tomorrow, in fact. I’ve been cooking up a few Irish-inspired meals for the family to celebrate with stews, corned beef and plenty of potatoes. You’ll find no green beer here, but a pint of Guinness may be consumed by the of-age participants.

With Chicago dyeing the river green, parades and people dressed as leprechauns, it’s hard not to get swept up in the magic of St. Patrick’s Day and embark on a treasure hunt for that pot o’ gold at the end of the rainbow. It all begs the question: What is St. Patrick’s Day really?

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Rich Pie Crust Recipe for Pi Day: A Tutorial

Today is ‘Pi Day’ or 3.14, a fun play on the date that a few of my (geek) Facebook readers pointed out last week. It just so happens that I’ve been meaning to share my fail-safe pie crust recipe, and so, propelled by a mathematical symbol and a calendar date, here it is!

Everyone needs a reliable pie dough recipe in their repertoire, for where would we be without strawberry tarts, spinach quiche, or deep dish apple pie? Store-bought crusts just don’t meet the mark in flavor or texture, not to mention they contain plenty of trans fats and preservatives. Nope, a pie crust should be made from scratch, and that’s what we’re going to take on in this post.

You already know that I’ve given you the best muffin ever, perfect roast chicken, and the best zucchini bread ever, so I hope that you find similar success with my favorite pie dough recipe.

I’ve always come back to this pure butter pie crust for a few reasons:

  • It holds up well. Whether it is supporting a jiggly quiche or runny fresh fruit pie, the bottom crust always cooks perfectly. Soggy crust is horrible; I like a nice browned bottom that holds together when a slice is transported from pan to plate. TIP: another key to a well-cooked underside is a Pyrex Pie Plate.
  • It freezes well. Raw crust can be frozen, in a well-wrapped ball, for up to five weeks. I also use this recipe for my meat pies and freeze the pies unbaked and whole. Pie crust in the freezer means an impromptu dessert is just around the corner!
  • It is rich and flavorful. Thanks to the addition of pure butter and egg yolk, this crust leaves all others behind. Forget about greasy and pale shortening-based pie crusts, this one colors beautifully, tastes buttery, and crisps just right.
  • It manages to remain flaky even after after manipulation. My boys love to get in on pie making, and goodness knows, they manhandle the dough to bits. Incredibly, it pulls through, and after a significant resting period, still comes out flaky.

If this is your first attempt at homemade pie dough, or whether you’re a seasoned baker, I’m confident that the recipe and the steps below will guide you to a perfect pie crust, suitable for a wide variety of uses including tart shells, hand pies, free-form galettes and classic pie shells.

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Weekend Links

We celebrated Mateo’s third birthday last weekend with little cousins, tall uncles, a few friends and a puzzle cake. While I don’t love the word ‘obsessed’, it certainly comes to mind concerning Mateo and puzzles. He adores puzzles. He completes at least four before breakfast, on average. And forget 24 pieces, he’s doing 100 piece puzzles!

So I knew a puzzle cake was in order. I cut the pieces out of fondant and drew a simple design on top with edible markers. He loved it.

What else is happening around here? I’m participating in Project Simplify (when I can), dreaming about spring (and cooking up some sizzling summer series!), and looking forward to our sugaring off outing next weekend!

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Lessons Learned in Substitution and How I Served Sour Soup to a Chef

During our honeymoon in Budapest, nearly nine years ago, AimΓ©e and I became smitten with Hungarian cold cherry soup. It was sweet, yet tart, and smooth, smooth, smooth in texture.

Some years later, I decided to recreate that memorable soup for my wife on a whim. I had a general concept of ingredient substitution, but no real knowledge of what worked and what didn’t work. Unfortunately, the story does not have a happy ending.

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Simple Bites in the Big Woods: A Sugaring Off Story

Today’s post is a little different than the norm, but I wanted to share one of our favorite annual outings with you. Living in Eastern Canada, sugaring off is a part of our family’s food culture.

We can smell the maple syrup as soon as we pull up to the farm house. The sun warms my face as I exit the car and glancing up, I spot a lazy column of smoke rising from the forest. Danny, Noah, Mateo and I duck inside the family home where Aunt Lynn looks up from the maple pecan pies she is taking out of the oven. She smiles as we unload about half the entire contents of our home from the car and trek everything into the guest room.

“For the month of March this isn’t my home”, she says in a resigned matter, “It’s a community center.”

We’ve all come for one thing: sugaring off. During these warm spring days and cool nights, the sap is running in Lynn and Marc’s 25 acre ‘sugar bush’. The maple trees have been tapped and the process of collecting and boiling the sap is in full swing.
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