Bacon and Guinness Beef Pie

bacon and guinness beef pie for St. Patrick's Day

Irish food. Corned beef and cabbage and Irish Soda Bread of course, are the first thing that comes to mind – served with a deep, dark beer. Beer. Of several different styles and depths of color. Can I write a food column on beer? Well, it seemed that it would be a stretch without including some kind of recipe. But Irish dishes made with beer and served with beer? Now we’re talking. Beef Pie, hmmm, one of my favorites.

Whenever I encounter beef pie on a menu, I have to order it. It’s like a hot fudge sundae to me, 90% of the time, I just can’t get past it. I want to order something more exciting, my inner voice (the one that begins with “you should” and whom I occasionally need to tell, “Yes, well, thank you for your opinion, you may now sit down and be quiet.”) tells me I should order something different. But I just love beef pies.

bacon and guinness beef pie for St. Patrick's Day

They come with all sorts of cheeses – blue cheese in the stew, cheddar cheese in the crust, Irish cheddar sprinkled on top. Different beers change the flavor of the stew, but each is wonderful in its own way. Some prefer to make this pie with ale or a lighter beer but I like the deep flavors that a dark beer like Guinness brings. Beef pies topped with mashed potatoes and chives or cheddar have also seen their way into my belly. They’ve all been wonderful and this is my latest, favorite version.

A while ago I did a post on another one of my favorite Irish meals, the afore-mentioned Corned Beef and Cabbage, which we call New England Boiled Dinner. So you can have your cake and eat it too, so to speak, by having two wonderfully Irish meals with which to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

bacon and Guinness beef pie for St. Patrick's Day

 

Bacon and Guinness Beef Pie
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1/2- to 3/4-inch pieces
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup diced onions, about 1/2 large onion
6 strips of bacon, cut into small slices
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons minced garlic; about 2 cloves
1 bottle Guinness beer or other stout beer
3 cups beef stock
1 fresh sage sprig, tied with a string
1/2 pound carrots cut into short sticks; about 4 medium carrots
1/2 pound frozen pearl onions; about 2 cups
1 pie crust (see recipe below)

Heat olive in large stockpot over medium-high heat. Carefully add meat and brown, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, in a separate small pan, render bacon and remove from fat. Set the bacon aside and discard the fat. When beef stew meat is browned, add onions, paprika, salt, and pepper and sauté for another 10 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add bacon and the flour and stir until the flour is incorporated. Add the beer, beef stock, and sage sprig and stir well. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for at least 1 1/2 hours or until the beef is tender. Add the carrots and pearl onions and simmer until also tender, about another 10 to15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Transfer beef to a deep dish pie plate, a 9- x 13-inch casserole, or a soufflé dish. Roll out the pie crust to the shape of the pan you are using and pinch the sides over the edges.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Serve immediately.

Serves 6 to 8

Pie Crust
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup ice cold water (or more)
leaves from sage and parsley

Pulse the flour, salt, and butter in a food processor. Add water and mix by hand until dough pulls away from the bowl and forms a ball. Add more water if necessary.

Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces and reserve one piece for another dish.  Roll out to 1/4- to 1/8-inch thick in the shape of the pan you are using and place fresh sage and parsley leaves on top. Roll out a bit more to press the herbs into the dough and then transfer to the top of the prepared dish.

Makes 2 crusts (freeze one for another dish)

Prep Work in the Galley and/or Kitchen

Organization is about the single most important skill to have as a cook.  Sure, making food taste good is critical.  Safety and cleanliness are imperative.  Life is made even better when beautiful, interesting ingredients become part of a repertoire.  If, however, you can’t put it all on the table at the same time?  Not good.  Being safe and clean are inextricably linked to being organized.  And a beautiful ingredient doesn’t do much good if the whole package doesn’t come together into one moment.

To this mix, lets sprinkle a range of outdoor temperature from 35 degrees to 90 degrees peppered with a tilt that can get things sliding off counter tops and stove tops, topped with some wave action which sets the whole galley in motion.  Garnish this with the fluctuation of a super dry and sunny environment to sopping wet.  Under these circumstances, organization becomes imperative to any successful sailing cook.

mise en place, getting organized in the kitchen, prep work, strategies for working ahead in the kitchen, maine windjammer
This was an especially good morning with lots of prep help. That row of zippies makes a girl’s heart happy.
mise en place, getting organized in the kitchen, prep work, strategies for working ahead in the kitchen, maine windjammer
My throwback prep crew from a couple of years ago. xoxo

Part of being organized is working ahead and having the prep work done before begining to heat up a pan or add flour to a bowl.  That’s where our morning team comes into action.  The first cups of coffee are awarded to those early morning risers who come to spend their time waking up with us by peeling carrots and chopping onions among a myriad of other tasks.  The more we can prep before breakfast, the smoother our day goes.  Every day.  Because much of our produce comes from either my garden or our CSA, more prep work is required.  Just think about the difference between de-ribbing a pound of spinach, washing, and then drying it OR zipping open a box of spinach.  Now times that by 20 and you have the difference in prep time between farm-grown and store-bought.

Annie
Thank you to all those who come to share our quiet mornings.

Sailing in Maine – Life is Good!

Yup, well the photo says it all for me…

homemade chicken noodle soup, leftover ravioli, chicken soup recipe, sailing in maine, sailing on the bay, maine windjammer

Sailing.  In Maine.  On the Riggin.  Eating Chicken and Homemade Ravioli Soup.  Done.

homemade chicken noodle soup, leftover ravioli, chicken soup recipe, sailing in maine, sailing on the bay, maine windjammer

And as for the recipe…

homemade chicken noodle soup, leftover ravioli, chicken soup recipe, sailing in maine, sailing on the bay, maine windjammer

Chicken and Homemade Ravioli Soup
Make your own chicken stock
Saute diced onions, carrots, and celery in butter
Add some white wine, sea salt, and fresh black pepper
Add stock, then chicken picked from the bones
Add the fresh ravioli just before serving along with fresh herbs
Serve with grated Parmesan if you like

homemade chicken noodle soup, leftover ravioli, chicken soup recipe, sailing in maine, sailing on the bay, maine windjammer

Annie
Life IS good!

Make Memories – Enjoy Experiences

In the end, is it stuff or experiences that create a sense of fun, satisfaction, or contentment?  When I read this article about Why You Should Spend Your Money On Experiences, Not Things, it caused me to ponder for a minute some of the choices we’ve made as a family and why. While I will admit, a new car or pair of jeans is fun for a while, the lasting moments in my life come from time spent with friends and family, learning something new, or exploring a new place.

We live in a small house and while there are times when I’m riffling through a magazine, that I covet large living areas, personal crafting studios, and spacious kitchens, in the end I’d rather live in a small space and have fewer things so that I can ride horses or travel.  I’d rather learn something new than have something new.  I’d rather buy time rather than buy things.

making memories through adventure travel
Photo by Ben Krebs

And that’s good news, if we liked buying things our little house would be busting at the seams.  As it is, we still find ourselves needing to be intentional about anything new that comes in to our house.  As if when one thing comes in, another thing must go out.

Even more so when we are sailing on the Riggin for the summer.  If we think our house is small, our cabin is a fraction of that size.  And as it turns out, we find that all four of us can live for 4 days or a week out of one or two tote bags without any feeling of deprivation or lack.

All this to say that I’m not sure our stuff defines us, but I am sure our experiences do.  There is some serious satisfaction that comes from knowing that we provide an experience for our guests that they can carry with them forever.  You make it what it needs to be for you, but we provide the opportunity.

So create experiences for yourself and your family.  We’ve got the perfect idea for you – on the Riggin.  And, just saying, tomorrow is the last day to take advantage of our Early Booking Special.

Annie
Come make some memories with us!

Easy and Healthy Appetizers for Super Bowl Sunday

Sunday will surely see me on the couch with a wide perimeter given by my family (football viewing is an active sport for some).  Before the big day, though, I’ll do some prep work so that we can all snack and graze while I watch.  May the best team win!

Appetizer Menu for Super Bowl Sunday
Rosemary Cheese with Apricot Preserves
Baked Brie variations
Homemade Crackers
Tomato, Dill, and Fontina Tartlet
Potato Skins with Artichokes and Fontina
Steamed Artichokes with Honey and Curry Yogurt Dip
Endive with Green Pea Hummus

healthy appetizers by Elizabeth Poisson

Steamed Artichokes with Honey and Curry Yogurt Dip
When you trim artichokes immediately rubbing them with lemon juice can help keep them from turning brown.For those new to artichoke eating, break the leaves off of the artichoke and use your teeth to gently scrape the meat on the inside of the leaf. Discard the leaf. Once the leaves are gone, use a spoon to remove the choke (the fuzzy part) and enjoy the artichoke bottom.

2 artichokes, leaves and stems trimmed
1/2 lemon (plus extra for rubbing)
1 tablespoon kosher salt

Cover 2 artichokes with water in a small saucepan or stockpot large enough to accommodate. Add the lemon and salt. Bring the water to a boil with the cover on and reduce heat to a simmer for 30 to 40 minutes. Drain upside down. Serve warm or chilled with the Honey and Curry Yogurt Dip.

Serves 4

Honey and Curry Yogurt Dip
The curry flavor will increase the longer you let it sit.

1 cup plain Greek yogurt
4 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon curry powder (or less)
several pinches of kosher salt

Combine all ingredients. Refrigerate for up to 24 hours.

Makes 1 cup

Artichokes with Honey and Curry Yogurt Dip by Elizabeth Poisson

Annie
Let’s have some fun rooting for our teams!  Go Pats!

Music and Dancing with Edith & Bennett and The Gawler Family Band – It’s a Trip of a Lifetime!

Introducing our newest specialty trip – Music and Dancing with Edith & Bennett and The Gawler Family Band!  This trip is the first of its kind and we are excited to break the Maine windjamming mold just ever so slightly.  The deck of the Riggin will be filled with music and song and our evenings ashore will be packed with concerts and contra dancing.  Performed by Edith Gawler, our own former crew member, Bennett Konesni, and The Gawler Family Band, this trip will be filled with music from these diverse, talented musicians.  Who knows, maybe we’ll even have a few special guests as well.

maine windjammer music and dancing cruise with Edith Gawler and Bennett Konesni

Our 4-day/4-night adventure will take us to Belfast and Rockport and an uninhabited island where we’ll feast on lobster and dance on the beach to tunes from fiddle, drum, flute and who knows what else!?  (Here’s a sneak peek of fiddle tunes on the beach.)  What better way to launch a summer than with the happiness of harmony and the delight of dancing?  Here’s a link to a short and sweet video of Edith and Bennett playing in the galley together.

The Gawler Family Band

Remember to book your trip before February 1st to take advantage of our Early Bird special.  We are so looking forward to singing and dancing with you!

maine windjammer music and dancing cruise with Edith Gawler and Bennett Konesni

For more information about Edith & Bennett, the Gawler Family Band, or specific details about this special music and dancing cruise, go to the Riggin site.  We are happy to answer any questions you might have over the phone or by email. Or if you know what an amazing trip this will be and want to book your space now, here is the link!

Annie
Kinda dancing in my seat right now!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to All!

Iron Point by Capt. Jon P Finger

It was one of the best seasons in our 21 years of owning the Riggin, filled with moments that we want to absorb deeply so that as winter settles in, we can unpack and relive them one by one.

Many of our evenings are spent under the darkening sky scattered with millions of twinkling stars and singing harmony with the girls to Jon’s guitar. One night, after music, someone pointed to this strange color in the night sky. It took us but a second to realize that it was aurora borealis, a phenomenon of electrons and light, which magically lit up the night sky.

So many beautiful lobster bakes were shared while sitting on the beach looking out at pine-studded islands, digging feet into the sand, splashing toes in the chilly briny Maine water and feasting on the freshest Maine lobster ever.

Whales! For the first time in over a decade, we saw whales in Penobscot Bay. For some time, we’ve yearned for sightings like we used to have and were blessed this summer. It gives us hope that the bay is changing for the good….

Every Race Week is special, but this year’s was one for the books. Even as we started the race, we were at the head of the pack. After a full day of tacking and strategizing, we were in the last leg and just under the hills of Rockport off Indian Head Light. The wind had died at this point to a whiff, and we were all yearning for the forecast 15 knots. With only two vessels in front of us, we saw wind begin to skim the surface of the water. Seconds later, they began to heal and then heal hard. And the wind was upon us. The Riggin gently healed over and when the physics of the sails began to dominate, she started to move forward and pick up speed. The wind drove her with such purpose as we went from a relaxed, everyday sail to a thrilling chase that had us pulling ahead of one of the two vessels. The Riggin finished 2nd in her class and overall! What a moment!

 

As always, it is a blessing to spend our summers with you all. We hope that this letter finds you all in the peak of health, in the throes of happy, and surrounded by the love of your family (chosen or given).

Annie
Full of blessings