Session #1 – Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day

There is something magical about St. Patrick’s Day and here at B.R. Cohn. Those joyful Leprechauns (Anne, Darlene and Rebecca) have joined forces to concoct tales filled with four leaf clover and pots of gold.  Being the consummate entertaining trio, together they are suggesting that you consider a St. Patty’s Dinner party that is sure to bring the luck of the Irish into your home as you entertain friends and family.

All entertaining adventures begin with a plan, a theme, decorating needs, a guest list, creating a menu, preparing a shopping plan and list, actual food preparation and much more that we plan to cover in this first Session.

With the theme chosen it’s time for the plan. Because it’s March and weather is iffy, our party will be indoors and we’d like it to be a buffet.  We choose the Pub table as our main focal point in the Great Room and announce this will be our Bar and Hors d’oeuvres station.  Pub tables traditionally do not need table coverings and we choose instead a tall round large light green urn/planter to sit center on the Pub table.  This piece gives plenty of room for ice and our bottles of Guinness along with a couple bottles of B.R. Cohn Chardonnay. Next comes the addition of some green cocktail napkins and luncheon plates, 8 glass beer mugs, and the Shamrock hors d’oeuvres tray with four slots (which is also green and purchased last year at our local Dollar Store along with those gold coins.)  We decide even though we’ve used the coins for Mardi Gras events, we still will scatter them across the table.  On the wall behind the table we put up our 3 Irish Pub signs (I especially love these!).  It is best not to clutter the bar area of your party.  Less is more, and the guests appreciate being able to move around.

The Dining Room Table is next on the list of “to do’s”.  The table cloth is a treasure brought home from a trip to Cork, Ireland and it’s a large white Irish Linen which will have a green overlay and those also purchased in Ireland plaid napkins.  Our center pieces going down the table are very simple, yet festive.  We purchased 3 small tin buckets (which can easily hold a round medium candle).   A few days prior, I’d taken my can of gold spray paint and painted the outside of each bucket and had picked up a white candle to sit inside each.  A final touch will be some gold coins scattered around each bucket.  Since we are doing a buffet, the only other items to place on the table at each place setting will be a gold charger plate, a wine glass, and the holiday gold flatware consisting of a knife, dinner fork, salad fork, soup spoon and dessert spoon.  It is decided that the room will do just fine because our guests add much color with their wearing of greens and the occasional kilt; so we place the Irish Fiddlers CD’s into the Bose and place a copy of our Lads & Lassies Irish Quiz on the table for each guest and move to the Buffet table.

The Buffet table is pulled from its storage area and is 8 feet long (purchased years ago from a Rental Company and time after time has been such a life-saver.)  The table cover is banquet length and is black.  The table will hold the dinner plates, the platter of Smoked Salmon Fillets, a platter of Roasted Corned Beef and Carrots, a bowl of Colcannon and a basket for the Irish Soda Bread.  The simple yet stunning decorating items for this table will be located behind each platter or bowl and will be an 8 x 11 photo frame.  Each frame has a picture reflective of Irish life; be it farm or city.  Food to us is all about sharing and somehow these photo prints seems to connect all aspects of our party in such a familiar way.

Setting the menu was done early on and is based on tradition of all our St. Pat’s parties of the past and has always included:

A Shamrock appetizer plate (also known as the Cheater Plate): Spinach tortilla-wrap with spinach and artichoke filling, warm Pistachio’s, and, Shrimp, celery, avocado, olives and parsley Cerviche.

A soup course – always the Onion, Parsley and Irish Cheddar Soup

A light plate – Irish Smoked Salmon with chopped red onion, hard boiled eggs and creamed cheese

A perfectly roasted Corned Beef with Carrots

A smooth and tasty dish of Colcannon

A loaf of bread – Irish Soda Bread

A wine to enjoy with dinner – how about last’s years fave, the Irish Green tinted B.R. Cohn Sonoma County Chardonnay? We also can’t forget the mainstay of all Irish occasions and that is the Icy bottles of Guinness (which we also tint!)

A dessert item – this is always the obligatory hot and comforting Bushmill’s Irish coffee that we refer to as “Irish Eyes are Smiling Coffee, green cream and chocolate drizzle” presented with a mint cookie. **Confessions of the cooks; “We have been accused and found guilty of raiding our Girl Scout cookie stash for the great mint cookies when we forgot to grab the store bought versions; however we have never falsified the premise that we actually baked them, it’s called Easy and Effortless Entertaining after all!

ON HAND- (IN THE KITCHEN PANTRY, DRAWERS AND REFRIGERATOR) ITEMS:

Before making a trip to the Grocery Store be sure to check your pantry, cupboards and refrigerator for items that you can use for your menu.  We came up with these:

  • B.R. Cohn California Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • B.R. Cohn Cabernet Vinegar
  • B.R. Cohn Champagne Vinegar
  • B.R. Cohn Meyer Lemon Olive Oil
  • B.R. Cohn Golden Balsamic Vinegar
  • B.R. Cohn Balsamic and Shallot Mustard
  • B.R. Cohn Hot and Sweet Mustard
  • B.R. Cohn Pimento Stuffed Olives
  • Gray Salt
  • B.R. Cohn Chocolate Cabernet Sauce
  • Honey
  • Brown Sugar
  • White Sugar
  • Cloves
  • Capers with juice
  • All purpose flour, baking powder and baking soda
  • Butter
  • Heavy-duty aluminum foil
  • 2 boxes of Crackers
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 boxes of Organic Beef Stock
  • Green food coloring
  • Fresh (unopened) 2 lb. bag of Costco’s Costa Rica Coffee beans
  • Bushmill’s Irish Whiskey (Hallelujah – What luck!)
  • And, the Wine Cellar holding a wide array of B.R. Cohn choices, most important for this party will be  several  bottles of B.R. Cohn Sonoma County Chardonnay.

OFF TO THE GROCERY STORE WITH OUR LIST IN HAND:

Produce & Fruit:

  • 2 lemons
  • 2 bulbs of garlic
  • 1 shallot
  • Small bunch of green onions
  • 1 medium Red Onion
  • 2 bunches of Parsley
  • Packet of fresh thyme, dill and bay leaves
  • 1 large bag of peeled medium size carrots
  • 2 bags of shredded green Cabbage
  • One 5 lb bag of baking potatoes
  • At least 4 stalks of celery
  • Dairy/Eggs and Cheese:
  • Irish Cheddar Cheese (1/2 lb or more)
  • 1 gallon low fat milk
  • 2 pints buttermilk (to equal 2 cups)
  • 2 pints whipping cream
  • 1 container of whipped cream cheese

**we purposely do not pick up eggs as Darlene is our go-to gal when it comes to egg supply.  Her beautiful hens (living the good life on Darlene’s Petaluma ranch) have provided many of us at the Winery with freshly laid eggs and once you’ve enjoyed the freshness and flavor, you just won’t ever want to go back to store bought.**

Cheating Aisle is our term for already prepared items:

  • 1 container of prepared Spinach dip
  • 1 container of prepared Artichoke-Jalapeno dip
  • 1 bag (8) Spinach flavored flour tortilla/wraps
  • Meat, Fish and Poultry Department:
  • 2 packaged Smoked Salmon fillets
  • 1 lb. fresh salad shrimp
  • 1/2 lb. thick cut bacon
  • 4-5 lb. packaged Corned Beef

Bakery Aisle:

  • 1 loaf crusty (unsliced) Country Bread
  • 1 package chocolate mint cookies

Beverages and Snacks:

  • 1 large bag of Pistachio’s (in the shell)
  • 2 six bottle packs or more of Guinness!
  • B.R. Cohn 2010 Chardonnay Sonoma County or Reserved

Dinner Preparation Order: The Fun Begins!!!!!

To view all of our St. Patrick’s Day recipes click on our B.R. Cohn Recipe Page.

Irish Soda Bread: I always begin the morning of March 17th by baking the loaf of Irish Soda Bread.  This is a very easy bread to prepare and becomes tastier when after cooling you wrap it tightly in foil and hold till dinner time.

NOTE: Prepping of ingredient items:

While the bread is baking I take each recipe and prep items such as the onions, shallots, parsley, herbs, making the hard boiled eggs, frying up the bacon etc.  The time taken in the morning allows you such ease when preparing the dish but also cuts your kitchen time in half allowing you more guest time.  Be sure to store your prepped items separately in plastic zip lock bags or in plastic containers with lids or wrapped in paper towels then refrigerated.

Shrimp, Celery, Avocado, Olives & Parsley Cerviche: Putting together this easy Cerviche early will allow all the flavors to meld together.  Be sure to served chilled and with a cracker assortment.  We believe this is one of our more versatile hors d’oeuvres items.

Roasted Corned Beef with Carrots: Since the Corned Beef needs at least 2 1/2 to 3 hours of roasting time and then time to rest, I begin mine by 2 PM.   Corned Beef is delicious when oven roasted but just as amazing when grilled.  Prepare in the same way except instead of placing in the oven, heat up your Weber Gas Grill or fire up some coals and roast away.  Another thought is be sure to get a brisket large enough to have leftovers.  Just like turkey, Corned Beef makes fabulous sandwiches for the next day, that is if you can wait that long!

Onion, Parsley and Irish Cheddar Soup: We begin the soup 2 hours prior to guest arrival.  The earlier prepping helps tremendously as we meticulously begin carmelizing the onions to a perfect golden stage.  Adding in the other ingredients we are able to allow the soup plenty of simmer time.  It is only when guests arrive and our chilled mugs of Green tinted Guinness and appetizers are being enjoyed one of us sneaks into the kitchen and prepares the ramekins for the broiler.  Somehow it all works out with those bubbly vessels getting onto the buffet table just at the right moment.

Colcannon and Irish Smoked Salmon: Again, because of the earlier prep work and thanks to the grocery packaged shredded cabbage we don’t have to start the Colcannon dish until a 45 minutes before guests arrive.  At this point we peel the potatoes and keep them in salted cold water until ready to boil.  We also fix the smoked salmon platter (wrap it in plastic, refrigerate and hold,) we also prepare the vinaigrette for the salmon as well and hold with the other accompaniments that will adorn the platter just prior to setting on the buffet.

Dressing for the Occasion: There is nothing more stressful than attempting to get dressed for a party in a hurried fashion.  I prefer to get myself together in between the soup simmering and having to peel the potatoes for the Colcannon.  St. Patrick’s Day is such fun as both Darlene and I love wearing green at any time; however Anne declares she really isn’t such a fan of green and is still in decision-mode.  Our words of wisdom with regards to dressing for any party occasion would be to tell you that it’s only your comfort that matters and when comfortable the whole party is a piece of cake!

Before you head to the Recipe section, Anne, Darlene and I would like to thank you for joining us in our first Easy and Effortless Entertaining Series.  With more to come, we’d like to encourage you to gather your best friends and put together your own series.  And while you are at it, why not allow us in by documenting your adventures (just as we’ve done) so we can pass along to other B. R. Cohn Wine Club members in this same fashion.  At the end of the year, we will select our favorite entry and will reward with some great B.R. Cohn gifts.  Why not get started today by submitting your story, recipes and photos to either Rebecca@brcohn.com, Darlene@brcohn.com or Anne@brcohn.com


Easy & Effortless Entertaining Series Recipes


Each recipe is sized to serve 8.

Roasted Corned Beef with Carrots

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 lb. Corned Beef (in package)
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 1/4 cup B.R. Cohn Hot and Sweet Mustard
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 package cleaned, peeled medium size carrots

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Drain the packaged Corned Beef and discard the spice packet, rinse and pat dry.  Lay Corned Beef, fat side up on a large piece (or more) of heavy-duty aluminum foil.  The object is to encase the beef in foil using extra if needed.

Insert the cloves into the top of the slab of Corned beef, evenly spaced is best.  Spread the top of the beef with the Hot and Sweet Mustard.  Sprinkle brown sugar over the top.  Wrap Corned beef in the foil in a way that will allow some space between the beef and the foil at the top.  Place wrapped package into a shallow roasting pan and bake for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.  At the hour and 1/2 interval open the packet carefully and scatter the carrots.  Close tightly and continue baking.

At 2 1/2 hours check the tenderness of Corned Beef (again be careful of escaping steam).  If the beef is tender to your likeness, remove and spread more of the Hot and Sweet Mustard over the top and then broil for 3-4 minutes until the top is bubbly and lightly browned.  Let the Corned Beef rest for an additional 10 minutes before carving.  Be sure to slice Corned Beef diagonally with about 1/2 inch slices.

Our tradition is to enjoy our Corned Beef with Colcannon, a slice of Irish Bread and a beverage of your choice.

Leprechaun Spinach Wraps

This highlights the “effortless” portion of the party

Ingredients:

  • 1 small container of purchased spinach dip
  • 1 small container of purchased artichoke-jalapeno dip
  • 4 large spinach tortilla/wraps

Mix together the purchased spinach dip and artichoke-jalapeño dip to a smooth consistency.  Spread lightly on one side of the wrap and roll up.  I often use a little more of the dip-mix as a sort of glue to seal.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate while preparing other dishes.  Be sure to remove the wraps 5-6 minutes prior to slicing and plating. Each wrap will provide 4 wheel slices.

Shrimp, Celery, Avocado, Olives & Parsley Cerviche

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. fresh salad shrimp (cleaned)
  • 4 stalks celery (chopped in small pieces)
  • 1 ripe Hass Avocado
  • 1 cup B.R. Cohn Pimento Olives (sliced)
  • 1/2 cup chopped Parsley
  • 1/2 cup B.R. Cohn Meyer Lemon Olive Oil
  • 2 tbsp B.R. Cohn Golden Balsamic Vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Choice of Crackers (we use Parmesan & Basil Wheat Thins and Triscuit Garden Herb)

Rinse and drain well the salad shrimp.  Place in large glass bowl.  Chop the celery stalks into small pieces and add to shrimp, peel the Hass Avocado and cut in half removing the seed.  Chop or slice the avocado in small pieces and add to the bowl along with the sliced olives and chopped parsley.  In a small dish whisk with a fork the Lemon Oil and golden balsamic vinegar, be sure to taste and adjust to your preference of more Oil or more Vinegar and then salt and pepper to taste.  Cover with plastic wrap and keep in refrigerator until ready to place on the Hors d’oeuvres table with assortment of crackers.

Pistachios are the big no-brainer; but I do like to warm them in the serving bowl in the microwave for approximately 15 seconds before placing them on the table.  I also make sure to have another bowl alongside for those who shell at the table.

Onion, Parsley & Irish Cheddar Soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp B.R. Cohn California Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8-10 cups thinly sliced white onions (I always use Vidalia and 10 cups)
  • Gray Salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup B.R. Cohn Cabernet Vinegar
  • 1 cup B.R. Cohn Merlot (or other big red)
  • 8 cups Beef stock (organic preferred)
  • 8 slices crusty Country Bread, cut 1/2 inch thick and toasted
  • 1/2 lb. Irish Cheddar Cheese, cut 8 into thin slices
  • 1/2 cup chopped Parsley

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat.  Add minced garlic and stir briefly to release aroma.  Add onions and season with salt, sautéing about 5 minutes.  Reduce heat to low and continue to caramelize the onions for an additional 15 minutes.  The onions should be golden brown.  Add the thyme, vinegar, bay leaf, and wine and beef stock.  Bring to a slow boil, and then reduce heat to low and simmer for an additional 30 minutes.

Preheat the broiler.  Transfer the soup into ovenproof ramekins and place on a baking sheet.  Top each bowl with a toasted bread slice and place a slice of Irish Cheddar on top of bread.  Broil until cheese melts and starts to brown.  Remove and sprinkle the chopped parsley on top and be sure to serve piping hot!

Smoked Salmon Delight

Ingredients:

  • 2 smoked Irish Salmon fillets ** can be purchased or you could smoke your own*
  • 1 tsp shallots, minced
  • 1/4 garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp B.R. Cohn Balsamic and Shallot Mustard
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 tbsp capers, chopped and with their juice
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice, best if freshly squeezed
  • 1 tbsp B.R. Cohn Champagne Vinegar
  • B.R. Cohn California Extra Virgin Olive Oil (to taste preference)
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh dill
  • 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 hard boiled eggs (fresh, free range preferred)
  • Medium carton whipped cream cheese

Make the vinaigrette by combing the shallots, garlic, mustard, honey, capers, lemon juice, champagne vinegar and dill in a glass mixing bowl.  Whisk to combine.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  While whisking, add the extra-virgin olive oil in a thin steady stream until the vinaigrette is well combined and partially emulsified.  Pour into an attractive creamer (easy to pour from) cover with some plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to place on buffet table with the other accompaniments.

Place the fillets (with or without the skin) on a colorful platter that is large enough to hold the accompaniments as well.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until taking to the buffet table, it is then that you place the vinaigrette vessel on the platter, a mound of onions, a mound of chopped eggs and a bowl of whipped cream.

Colcannon

Ingredients:

  • 3 lbs. potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters (baking potatoes are best)
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 & 1/4 cup hot milk
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 bags shredded green cabbage
  • 6 slices bacon (fried, drained and crumbled)
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • Chopped parsley for garnish

Place peeled and quartered potatoes in pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil then lower the heat to medium, allowing potatoes to steam until fork tender, drain well and mash to your liking.  In the meantime set a smaller saucepan on the stove and add the two packages of shredded cabbage and 1 cup of water and allow cabbage to steam gently until cabbage is limp (but not soggy).  Add in 2 tbsp butter and cover with a lid for 2 minutes only.  Drain thoroughly.  Stir the cabbage and crumbled bacon into the mashed potatoes adding a little salt and pepper to taste and garnish with chopped scallions.  Serve alongside the Roasted Corned Beef and Carrots.

Irish Soda Bread

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup melted butter

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Grease a 9×5 glass loaf pan.  Combine flour, baking powder, white sugar, salt and baking soda together.  Blend lightly beaten egg and buttermilk and add all together into the flour mixture.  Mix till just moistened.  Stir in the melted butter and pour into the prepared pan.  Bake 65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the top come off clean.  Removed from oven, cool on a wire rack.  When cooled, wrap tightly in foil and allow to rest for 2 hours or more which will enhance the flavor.

Irish Eyes are Smiling Coffee with Green cream & Chocolate Drizzle

Ingredients:

  • 1 large pot of freshly made steaming coffee
  • 2 jiggers of Bushmill’s Irish Whiskey (for each mug)
  • 1/4 tsp sugar per mug
  • 2 pints whipping cream (whipped to soft peaks) and tinted with 2 drops green food coloring
  • 8 Chocolate Mint Cookies

Brew a hot pot of your favorite coffee.  While brewing pour the whipping cream into a glass bowl and beat with a mixer until soft peaks form.  Add 2 drops of green food coloring stir gently and set aside until ready to make the coffee’s.

Hint:  Warm the Irish coffee mugs for 10 seconds in the microwave; taking the chill off the mugs.  Into each mug add 1/4 tsp sugar and 2 jiggers of Bushmill’s Irish Whiskey.  Stir lightly until sugar is dissolved.  Add the hot coffee only up to about 3/4, allowing for the addition of your green cream and drizzle of B.R.  Cohn Chocolate Cabernet Sauce.  Serve with a Chocolate Mint Cookie.

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