Guinness chocolate cake

Guinness

For the March issue of Grow Northwest, I offered to write a cooking piece on Irish food. I cleverly sidestepped corned beef and cabbage and soda bread, and instead used it as an excuse to make a really fabulous Guinness-braised pot roast and a lovely batch of buttermilk colcannon. I also made cake.

Guinness chocolate cake

From my research (and my parents’ experience), the real Irish version of Guinness cake is a fruity, spiced teatime sort of thing, rather than a sweet dessert. I remembered Jon making a chocolate Guinness ice cream from David Lebovitz’s ice cream book, and wanted to find a good recipe for chocolate stout cake – I eventually found it in Nigella Lawson’s Feast. And what a cake! We’ve made it twice now, and I think it’ll be in regular rotation in our house. It’s chocolatey but not too sweet, dense and moist, and keeps perfectly, wrapped on the counter, for up to a week. I think it might freeze well but so far we haven’t had enough leftover to try it. It’s very good eaten plain, but a dollop of cream cheese frosting is extremely nice. Continue reading

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beer borsch

borsch

I tend to make pretty chunky borsch – I like the smooth kind served cold with a bit of vinegar stirred in, but I also like a big hearty soup with pieces of beet and potato and beef and plenty of cabbage, and that’s the sort we usually have at home. I usually use beef or lamb broth for the base, if I have any, and dill as the main seasoning. And sour cream on top, of course.

borsch

This particular batch had a slightly different flavor than usual, as I braised the beef in beer before assembling the rest of the soup, instead of using broth. A friend brought a growler of excellent locally-brewed stout to our holiday party this weekend, and I wanted to use some of it up. I seared the beef stew meat with onions, added a cup of stout, and let it simmer covered for an hour and a half while I roasted the beets and sliced the cabbage. I topped up the soup pot with a little water and added everything else, then let it cook another half hour or so. It was a really good borsch, and the beer made it less sweet and a bit earthier. A slice of buttered rye bread would have been the only thing to make it better.