WEDNESDAY NIGHT SUPPER CLUB: Irish Potluck Edition

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Exciting news: not only is today the birthday of Kathy Ireland, but it’s also the launch date of a new feature on this blog: Wednesday Night Supper Club. One part Adventures in Domesticity and one part Things I Ate, the Wednesday Night Supper Club will detail the latest meals of my Wednesday night dining crew, also known as — you guessed it — the Wednesday Night Supper Club.

A little bit of backstory:A few years ago, a friend of mine began throwing dinner parties on Wednesday nights at her house in Hollywood. These were epic potlucks drawing all sorts of random people from across the city — and in some cases, the world. The mix was eclectic, the food bountiful, and the music loud. Every week, there was a culinary theme ranging from geographical (Thai, Indian, German) to style (vegetarian, healthy, comfort) to event-related (Thanksgiving, The Oscars) to abstract (the color orange, Oprah). Despite efforts to occasionally tame the beast, The Dinner Party (as it was simply known) managed to draw 30-40 people weekly, and shockingly enough, nearly everyone churned out great dishes each and every time.

Of course the fringe benefit of having a weekly dinner party was not just the joy of cooking and eating so much varied food but meeting tons of people. And among this throng of eaters I met future Supper Club pioneers Kambra, Nnanna, and Rachel.

Well, all good things eventually come to an end (or at least simmer down). The Dinner Party has quietly disappeared, becoming something of a seasonal event rather than a weekly staple, and thus in the absence of a weekly feast, Nnanna, Kambra, Rachel and I (as well as Nnanna’s girlfriend Vanessa) have come together to form the Wednesday Night Supper Club. The goal is simple: one week we go to a restaurant, one week we make dinner. In this way, we’re able to explore all the crazy, unique eateries around Los Angeles while also getting a chance to play around in the kitchen and test out some new recipes.

So far, the Wednesday Night Supper Club has hit up some solid restaurants (which I’ll summarize in a different post), and last night, things got bananas with a belated St. Patrick’s Day-inspired Irish potluck (again, let me remind you that today is Kathy Ireland’s birthday — the timing is not lost on me).

For this festive event, I decided to make three small dishes, thanks to a random Irish cookbook I bought for $5 at TJ Maxx two years ago. I had never used the book before, and I knew now would at last be the perfect opportunity. I would indeed make great use of this impulse buy!

First up: roasted shallots with breadcrumbs and cheddar.

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Here are some shallots sliced in half. A marinade of olive oil, thyme, and apple juice concentrate (intrigued?) lies in wait.

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Everything gets tossed together, and instantly things are looking more Irish.

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The shallots then go into a roasting pan along with lots of breadcrumbs — in this case Panko. Finally: the Japanese-Irish fusion we’ve all been waiting for.

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While the shallots roast away, I start my second dish: sticky carrots with whiskey and ginger glaze.

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I slice up four carrots, toss them with some sugar, salt, and pepper, and then throw them into a frying pan with canola oil and butter. I try to avoid butter these days, but when in Dublin, do as the Dubliners do. (Full disclosure: I was NOT in Dublin.)

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Meanwhile, the shallots come out of the oven twenty-five minutes later looking nicely browned. I immediately top them with shredded Irish cheddar and put the whole thing back in the oven…

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The end results are blurry, but I think the meltiness is still conveyed.

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After the carrots have browned, I clear out the pan and sauté some ginger. No butter required.

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The ginger then heads into a bowl with the carrots, and it’s time to work on the glaze: chicken stock, whiskey, and… butter. It’s back.

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All three components are blissfully reunited, and I’m happy to report that life is good in my kitchen. It should be noted, however, that this recipe yields only enough for about two people.

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Last but not least: smoked mackerel and horseradish pâté. For tonight’s performance, the role of smoked mackerel will be played by smoked trout.

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So what exactly goes into this alabaster dip? Smoked mackerel (or trout, in this case), lemon zest, lemon juice, half a packet of cream cheese, and fresh, grated horseradish.

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Toss in some pepper, salt, and parsley, and you’ve got yourself a pâté!

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There it is, in case you couldn’t tell.

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The action now moves to Nnanna’s apartment where I slice up some brown bread for the pâté. Keen eyes will see the bread’s packaging looks quite Irish — what with the green and orange branding — but I must announce that it is in fact UKRANIAN bread, making this starter oh-so-frought with global tensions!

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Huzzah!

Before we go on, I’d like to state that anyone who appreciates a good smoked fish — whitefish, trout, whatever — should make this pâté immediately. It’s excellent. Score one for the TJ Maxx cookbook!

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A Baby Guinness shot (Kahlua topped with Bailey’s). This came not long after we all did Irish Car Bombs. We’re nothing if not respectful.

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The meal takes shape. Unfortunately Kambra was not able to join us, but we had our plucky friend Brendon around to fill the void.

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Brendon.

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A tour of the spread: in the top-left corner we have the shallots (tasty, satisfying), Nnanna’s Guinness lamb chops (juicy, full of flavor, and a great pairing with the aforementioned shallots). Next are Rachel’s green beans (really good), and Rachel’s Guinness bread (self-rising flour + Guinness = fun carbs!). Rounding the corner we have the carrots (turned out very nicely) and Brendon’s excellent Shepherd’s pie.

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Here it all is, sloppily arranged and on a blurry plate.

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And for dessert, Rachel made insane hot chocolate with real melted chocolate, whiskey, Bailey’s, and a Guinness REDUCTION. Amazing. I have a new outlook on Irish food.

Recipe links:

Roasted shallots with breadcrumbs.

Carrots & Smoked Mackerel Pâté: at end of post.

Green beans & shallots

Beer bread – From Rachel: “I put 1/2 the butter in the bread and poured the other half over the top. I think the recipe suggested doing either or.”

Guinness-glazed lamb chops.

Shepherd’s pie.

Guinness, whiskey & baileys hot chocolate

Next week: we’re heading out for Ethiopian!

SMOKED MACKEREL & HORSERADISH PATE adapted from The Irish Pub: Fabulous Food from the Emerald Isle

8 oz smoke mackerel fillets (or one tin of smoked trout, available at Trader Joe’s, works great)
finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup cream cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated horseradish or good-quality horseradish sauce (try for the former)
2 tbs chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp sea salt flakes
whole wheat toast, to serve

  1. Remove the skin and any bones from the mackerel fillets and flake the flesh.
  2. Mix the fish with the lemon zest and juice, the cream cheese, and horseradish. Mash to a spreadable consistency, then add the parsley, pepper, and sea salt. Chill until ready to serve.
  3. Serve with hot whole wheat toast.

STICKY CARROTS WITH WHISKEY & GINGER GLAZE adapted from The Irish Pub: Fabulous Food from the Emerald Isle

1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp black pepper
good pinch of sea salt
1/4 cup neutral oil
3 tbs unsalted butter, divided
4 large carrots (about 1 pound), diagonally sliced into 1/2 inch circles
3/4 inch piece fresh ginger, sliced into matchstick strips
2 tbs Irish whiskey (I used Jack Daniels though)
1/2 cup chicken stock or vegetable stock

  1. Combine the sugar, pepper, and salt. Toss with the carrots.
  2. Heat the oil and half of the butter in a large skillet. Add the carrots (in their sugar mixture) in a single layer. Cook over medium-high heat for three minutes, then start turning the slices with tongs and reduce the heat if necessary. When slightly browned on both sides and starting to blacked at the edges, transfer the carrots to a plate.
  3. Clean the skillet with paper towels. Add the ginger and cook over medium-high heat for 1-2 minutes, until golden. Add to the carrots.
  4. Add the remaining butter, the whiskey, and stock. Bring to a boil, then simmer for a few minutes or until syrupy. Return the carrots and ginger to the skillet and swirl with the syrup for 1 minute. Serve immediately.