Beyond corned beef and cabbage

Every month seems to have a celebration. I like to use my turn as a food columnist to focus on those celebrations.

March celebrates St. Patrick's Day. The holiday has always been special to me because I hail from Irish ancestry. With a name like "Molly," who could believe that? My mother is of strict Irish descent, so much that my father's name for her was "Irish." Songs like "Danny Boy" or "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling" were intricately woven into my childhood and my adult life.

I feel very Irish at times, but my English husband constantly reminds me I'm an American. I guess he is right, and how great is that? Thank you. Yes, I am an American. I am so American, in fact, I created a fusion spin on the classically boring St. Patrick's Day dinner.

I do not enjoy preparing the traditional Irish fare of corned beef and cabbage with boiled red potatoes and carrots. A piece of Irish soda bread? No, thanks. (Sorry, fellow Irish descendants!) So I decided to create a different menu option for St. Paddy's Day. I think this menu is so much fun E If you're not into the traditional Irish fare, try my "fusion" Irish fare.

My menu includes an item called "St. Paddy's Pockets," asparagus, carrots and a great sauce. The pockets are a dreamy mixture of corned beef, gruyere cheese, sauerkraut and Dijon-horseradish sauce wrapped in puff pastry. They are served on top of extra sauce and framed by boiled, refreshed and seasoned asparagus and julienned carrots. This is an interesting, yummy way to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. In my opinion, it tastes much better than corned beef and cabbage.

St. Paddy's Pocket

Serves 1

3 oz. cooked corned beef

2 oz. shredded gruyere cheese

1 oz. Claussen sauerkraut

2 oz. Dijon horseradish sauce (recipe follows)

half sheet Pepperidge Farm puff pastry

Take one sheet puff pastry and cut in half lengthwise. Roll out slightly. Place half of corned beef on the middle of the pastry then put 1 ounce of gruyere on corned beef. Add the sauerkraut, followed by the rest of the corned beef and cheese. Spoon 1 ounce of the Dijon horseradish sauce over the corned beef and fillings. Fold puff pastry over fillings using the shorter ends first then folding the long ends over filling, like making a package. Seal seam of pastry with water.

Bake at 400 for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Dijon Horseradish Sauce

6 T. butter

6 T. flour

2 cups milk

1 T. sherry

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

1 tsp. Beavor extra-hot horseradish

Salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in saucepan over low heat. Take off heat, stir in flour until smooth, add milk gradually, stirring constantly. Add sherry, Dijon and horseradish. Cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil. Take off heat. Adjust seasonings.

Spoon 3 T. sauce on plate. Place "St. Paddy's Pocket" on sauce and garnish with asparagus and carrots (recipe follows).

If you are kind of a fussy eater and don't like the sauce or sauerkraut, leave them out. The pockets are still good with the corned beef and gruyere only. Hopefully, I will have these as a special in my shop for gourmet take-out.

Asparagus and Carrots

Serves 4

One bunch (20) asparagus with hard stems removed

2 peeled and julienned carrots (matchstick-size slices)

Salt, pepper, sugar and Asiago cheese to taste

To one quart boiling, salted water, add julienned carrots. Cook for 2 minutes. Add asparagus; cook for 1 minute. Drain carrots and asparagus, and blanch immediately with ice-cold water to seal the color and stop the cooking of the vegetables. When vegetables are cold, season with salt, pepper, sugar and shredded Asiago cheese to taste. Set aside.

Molly Gingell is the owner of Molly's Gourmet Catering, take-out and cooking school at 220 W. John St. in Carson City.


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