Friday, October 29, 2010

Soul Cakes and Charles Addams for All Hallows Eve

I fell in love with Chas Addams books the first time I saw them in a bookstore. I was 8. This might be considered odd since the original cartoons came from the sophisticated pages of The New Yorker and were decidedly not for children but I loved them and my dear mother indulged me. Because of these books, I was never afraid of the dark, never ridiculed people who were ‘different’ and developed a very active imagination.

Halloween was THE holiday for Charles Addams. His best cartoons always took center stage on the front cover of The New Yorker’s Halloween-week edition.

Cemetery in the Snow 1817

What’s not to love about Halloween? The universal archetype exists across many centuries, religions and cultures. It marks the seasonal death and transfiguration of lush, ripe fields and the resplendent flame of fall leaves to barren stubble and naked spidery limbs.

In England, the Christian tradition came from the pagan celebration of Samhain (from the old Irish meaning summer’s end) where fires were lit to protect against the creeping dark and the waning of the sun god’s power but also to light the way for the dead to visit the earth. It was believed, in these days between the light and dark halves of the year, the membrane between the living and the dead was at its thinnest –– thin enough that the dead could reach out to the living.

Gozan no okuribi
At the Irish court of Tara in the Middle Ages, a colossal blazing fire was lit to celebrate Samhain and to serve as a beacon for the departed. I remember watching a similar ceremony in Kyoto, Japan called Gozan no Okuribi (meaning send-off fire) better known as the ceremony of The Lighting of the Daimonji (meaning large or great) –- an extraordinary torchlight procession by hundreds of participants climbing up Kyoto’s mountains and creating giant fiery characters to lead the dead that had returned to visit the week before during O-bon (where they snacked on their favorite foods that their loved ones had left at their graves) back to the spirit world  –– it was astonishing.

Golden cakes came into the Celtic tradition as a way to share the sun and perhaps to warm and nourish departed souls on their passage back to the spirit world.

Christianity absorbed the Celtic festival on the last day of October and first days of November and transformed them to All Hallows Eve, All Souls and All Saints Days while retaining some Samhain traditions -- albeit with new meanings attached. 

The golden cakes became ‘soul cakes’ and were given to traveling beggars or entertainers called Mummers who were given a treat in exchange for praying for a soul. Some would sing:

“Soul, a soul, a soul cake,
Please good missus a soul cake.
An apple, a pear, a plum, a cherry,

Any good thing to make us all merry,

One for Peter, two for Paul, three for Him who made us all.”

I decided this was what I wanted to make for my Halloween treat. In searching for a recipe, I came upon a lovely one from Goode Cookery based on a 1604 recipe from Elinor Fettiplace's personal cookbook (that I wrote about HERE) called Elinor Fettiplace's Receipt Book: Elizabethan Country House Cooking:

I made a few alterations to Gode Cookery’s interpretation, changing the proportions (after I checked with other recipes of the period that had amounts listed) and adding more butter to the mix (1 T of butter wasn’t enough).  I include the cross variety and the currant ‘face'.  Although not in the original recipe, rose sugar is a lovely addition.  Note the rose scent dissipates once you leave the cookies out so plan your sprinkling accordingly.  In the old days, they were sprinkled then put back into the oven for a moment so that the sugar “will shew like ice”. They are delicious with cider.

Soul Cakes based on a recipe from Elinor Fettiplace

1/2 cup ale
1 tsp. yeast
2 ½ - 3  cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. each nutmeg, clove, & mace (taste the dough, you may want more)
1/2 tsp. saffron
¼ c currants, soaked in warm water or sherry for 1 hour (optional)
6 T sweet butter, softened
½ t salt
1/2 cup dry sherry (sack)
1 egg yolk mixed with 1 T water

a few drops of Aftelier Rose essence or Rosewater (optional)

Dissolve the yeast in the ale (this makes the "ale barme" of the original recipe); set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the flour and sugar (start with 2 ½ and add the rest if needed. Make a well (a depression, or hollow area in the center of the dry ingredients) in the flour/sugar mixture and pour in the “ale barme”. Leave these ingredients unmixed so that the ale barme may proof.

In a separate bowl, cream the butter and the spices. Warm the sherry (you can use some of the sherry from plumping the currants) and let the saffron steep for a few minutes.

In the large bowl, cover the ale barm with some of the flour/sugar mixture, then add the creamed butter, spices, & sack, and with a large spoon, begin gently blending until the mixture resembles coarse, wet sand. Finish the blending process with your hands, kneading in the bowl until it forms a ball of dough. The finished product needs to be smooth & elastic, and soft but not sticky. Add more flour if the dough is too wet; add more sack if too dry.  You can add all the currants to the dough and just make crosses or leave a few tablespoons out of the dough and make your ‘faces’ or skip the currants entirely.

Roll this dough out onto a floured surface till about 1/4-1/3” thick.  Use a lightly floured cutter to make the cakes. (The earliest references to Soul Cakes describe them as flat & oval—I have seen them round as well). Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Let them rest for 5-10 minutes in a warm spot (if you want them puffier, let them rise, covered, for 1 hour). 

Bake at 375º F for 15 minutes. Remove and brush with egg yolk and return to oven for 10-15 more minutes until cooked through.  Remove from oven and when still hot, sprinkle a little Demerara sugar on the top of each cake (you can toss the sugar with the rose 1st, if you would like -- as it would have been done in the 16th century).  Let cool on a wire rack; serve. Makes approx. 2 dozen small cakes.  They have a texture somewhere between a pizza crust and an animal cracker.

From The Closet of Kenhelm Digby of 1669 (he was the father of the modern wine bottle):

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Friday, October 22, 2010

The Bialy and Pletzel

Have you ever heard of a bialy (or pletzel for that matter)???  Everyone knows bagels, but bialys… not so much (aside from Mel Brooks hanging the name on his naughty Max Bialystock in the Producers) and that is a crying shame.  The bialy is the ‘other’ NYC roll -- flatter but with attitude since it’s got a savory onion poppy-seed filling that is just too delicious for words.  The bialy has such a great back-story that Mimi Sheraton wrote an entire book about it called The Bialy EatersFor 8 years (1975-83) Mimi Sheraton was the food critic for the NY Times and if anyone knows NYC food, this is the lady.

The book is a great read, and opens with a sage observation: “few aspects of life inspire such persistent nostalgia as the foods of one’s childhood, reminders of the joyful security of home and family.”  This nostalgia (could it be saudade?) was acknowledged by the Chinese poet-statesman, Lin Yutang, when he wrote “What is patriotism but the longing for the foods of one’s homeland.”  The book covers the history of the bialy or bialystok kucken from their birth in the Jewish Quarter of the small Polish town of Bialystok (decimated by WWII) to the lower east side of NYC where they became a favorite in NY delicatessens (always eclipsed by the more popular bagel). This may have been because they have a very short shelf life and must be eaten or frozen within 6 hours of baking (old timers would pass up rolls that were less than an hour old for those just out of the oven).  They are easy to make however and a minute (or less) in the microwave and they are thawed and ready to toast for a perfect breakfast.

Sheraton actually went to Poland to separate fact from legend.  Bialys were hard to track down even with rock-hard samples brought from NYC, but many people had small glimmers of recognition and a 1939 film showed local children eating them… they were from Bialystok!

Although they may have been related to the Polish tsibele pletzel  (the sheet version is called an “onion board” in America and the name of the Jewish ghetto in Paris— with a texture like crisped pizza), it had none of the earmarks of the flatbread save the onion poppy seed topping.

The extra dusting of the dough with flour may have had something to do with the name since bialy means white in Slavic languages and the coat of arms of Poland is the Orzel Bialy or white eagle (chosen by Lech, the founder of Poland) so white is a popular appellation in Poland… but that is pushing it.  I think it’s just named for the place that invented it. 

The bialy is soft and chewy when fresh.  Delicious split, toasted and shmeared with butter or cream cheese and/or stuffed with smoked salmon (from Russ & Daughters if you can manage it), it is a rough tough little guy from the old neighborhood that makes the well-upholstered bagel seem so… bourgeois.  Pletzels were a huge hit in my household. Try bialys and pletzels for your next NY style brunch, oy, you’ll thank me!

Bialys (based on Mimi Sheraton’s Bialy’s with a little help from Kossar’s Bialys in NYC) 
Makes 12 - 3 ½ to 4” bialys

1 ½ to 2 Lbs (5-6 cups) bread flour
3 cups cold water
2 T kosher salt
1 package yeast

1 m onion, finely chopped (do not process)
2 T coarse toasted breadcrumbs
salt to taste
2 t oil
3 T poppy seeds

Mix the crumbs into the onion and set aside for a few hours till there is no liquid… add more crumbs if this doesn’t happen.  Add the salt and oil and the poppy seeds.  Some people sauté the onion first… your call.

Put the yeast in a bowl with ½ c of the water and blend, then add the rest of the water.  Put the flour and salt in a mixer and blend for 8 minutes… it should be sticky.  Put in a clean bowl and allow it to rise till double in volume 3 to 3 ½ hours.   Then knead the dough with a dough hook for 10 minutes and by hand 5 – 10 minutes.  Allow it to rise for 1½ hours till it springs back when touched lightly (I let mine rise overnight).

Preheat oven to 450º with pizza stone or sheet pan upside down. Make 4 ropes of dough and cut each into 3 rounds.  Make a circle out of these and make an impression using your thumbs… make the bottom thin, if it isn’t it will blow up and you will lose the filling.   Sprinkle the filling on each bialy and put them on the preheated baking surface.  I put mine on parchment and slid them on the baking sheet on the parchment… if well floured on the bottom you can just use a spatula to move them.

Bake for 15 – 20 minutes.  Cook and freeze or eat.

The recipe for the Pletzel, comes from George Greenstein's Secrets of a Jewish Baker: Recipes for 125 Breads from Around the World


3/4 cup yellow onions, chopped
1-2 tsp. poppy seeds (more to sprinkle on pletzel
1-2 tsp. olive or canola oil
salt to taste (about 3/4 tsp.)

Mix all topping ingredients in a bowl and set aside.  Some people like to sauté the onions in oil before putting them on the top… the French like them soft and cooked and sliced in rings or half rings
1 1/2 T. dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup ice water
2 large eggs
4 cups bread flour
2 1/4 tsp. salt
2 T. canola oil
2 T. sugar
2 T. malt syrup

Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water, stir. Add remaining ingredients and mix until dough forms a ball in the mixer. Add additional flour if needed. Knead for 5 minutes in a mixer. Let the dough rest for 15-30 minutes.

Oil two large cookie sheets. Divide dough in two, and roll as thin as possible, letting dough rest if it is hard to roll. Place dough on the cookie sheets. Brush with canola oil. Stipple all over with a fork, spread with onion topping, sprinkle with additional poppy seeds, and bake at 400° (with a pan of water for steam in the oven) for 20-30 minutes until brown. The texture will be somewhere between pizza and a cracker.  It is addictive!  You could also put some whole wheat in them if you want them a little healthier.  I might add, since they do not raise really, I am not sure why all that yeast is needed.... see what you think.

Thanks to Gollum for hosting Foodie Friday

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Penny Lick and Pomegranate Rose Ice Cream

Happy accidents often occur to Antique browsers like myself.  Whilst looking for something else, a new item will cross my path and bid me to bid and learn more about it.

 One such item was the penny lick glass.  Fascinated by its Ebay description,  I discovered they came in 3 sizes: the halfpenny lick, the penny lick, and the two-penny lick, with the Penny lick being the most popular. In an article from The Victoria & Albert Museum of Childhood (a very cool museum) on Edwardian Lives they wrote:  “The ice cream still often came as a 'Penny Lick'… a tiny portion to be licked out of a small serving glass which was (at best) wiped between customers. This was recognized as being notoriously unhygienic even then, and because of the thickness of the glass, often gave the customer disappointingly less than it appeared to. Then from the vendor's point of view the glasses were also liable to break or be stolen. No wonder that edible ice cream cones were such a success.” 

A pastry alternative to the Penny lick glass (penny licks were banned in London in 1899) was patented by Italo Marciony in New York in 1903, but this was a cup and not a cone. Many sources said the ice cream cone was invented by Syrian pastry makers based on the grid-patterned zalabia  (usually soaked in an orange-flower honey syrup) around the turn of the century at an American World's Fair… myth has it an ice cream vendor ran out of containers.  There are many who claim to have been the first to invent it but there are no clear winners for that title. To make it even more confusing, the field is very murky indeed with a difference between the restaurant or homemade cone with a long history and the street vender cone that appeared at the turn of the 20th century.

On the Historic Food website, Robin Weir (who has spent years trying to get to the bottom of all things ice cream) said that Mrs. Marshall mentions an edible cone or cornet made with almonds that were “filled with any cream or water ice or set custard or fruits” in her 1888 Mrs A.B. Marshall’s Cookery Book.

Charles Elme Francatelli (Queen Victoria’s chef) in The Modern Cook: A Practical Guide to the Culinary Art in All Its Branches had a recipe for ice cream stuffed almond gauffres or cornets (very much like the tuilles of today) in 1859 in a dish called Pudding, A La Cerito: “cornets or cornucopia, each being filled with a little of the vanilla-cream ice and a strawberry placed on the top…” although these were part of a larger confection, the recipe for the gauffres mentions ‘garnishing’ the cornets with vanilla cream-ice.

A few years earlier, Weir has an engraving of Frascati’s restaurant in Paris from 1807 that he believes shows a woman with an ice cream cone… who can say?  His book,  Frozen Desserts: The Definitive Guide to Making Ice Creams, Ices, Sorbets, Gelati, and Other Frozen Delights is a killer.

Robin Weir also mentions that cornets have been made since at least 1776 when they are mentioned in The Professed Cook  by Bernard Clermont (this is an amazing book, btw, and  I learned ice cream as we know it was still called  iced cheese or fromage glacé in 1776) but there was no instruction to use the gaufrettes for ice cream that I could find in the book.

What's Cooking in America says there were paper and metal cones in France, England and Germany in the 19th Century and my favorite Charles Ranhofer was using "rolled waffle cornets" at Delmonicos in New York in the 19th century!

It does appear that the cone came before the glass, doesn’t it? These are, however,  restaurants and cookbooks by professional chefs and not  street vendors. The glasses were only around for 50 years or so at best… the cone, well at least a few years before the glass!

I got my little penny lick glass from England (although they were made in the US) but think it may be a two-penny, since it has a deeper bowl than many I’ve seen. It is a little under 3” tall, so quite small but still heavy.  When I made my orange ice cream flowers I was inspired by a Taste of Beirut post to combine pomegranate and rose for an ice cream flavor and thought it would be perfect for my penny lick glass.

The pomegranate juice came from the lovely people at POM Wonderful  who sent me a box of 8 oz bottles.  The first I used for one of my favorite guilty pleasures, brown buttered popcorn washed down with pomegranate juice, it’s just insanely good and arrived at purely by accident so many years ago (salty popcorn, nothing to drink but pomegranate juice = heaven).  Three of my bottles went into the ice cream.  It is sweet and tangy and terribly delicious… I can imagine it with brown-butter salted almonds or shortbread cookies.  Although delicious, it is a muddy color on its own (all those lovely eggs took the red out!) so I did add a bit of red food coloring to give it the rosy glow that it deserved.  Grass-fed cow’s milk and pasture-raised eggs make all the difference in taste and are better for you, the animals, the farmer and the planet, FYI!

May I recommend a use for your rosy ice cream?  Try a Pomegranate Champagne Float.
It’s a float for grown-ups and very very tasty.

Pomegranate-Rose Ice Cream

3 c POM Wonderful pomegranate juice
1 ½ c milk (milk and cream from Milk Thistle Farm)
1 ½ c cream
½ c sugar
1 t vanilla
4 egg yolks (mine come from Grazin Angus Acres)
2 T maple syrup
juice of ½ lime
1-2 T Pama pomegranate liqueur (optional)
a few drops of red food coloring
2-3 drops Aftelier Rose essence (or 2 T rosewater)

Reduce 2 ½ c pomegranate juice to 1 c.  Toss in the remaining pomegranate juice and reserve. 

Combine yolks and sugar and whip together till a lemon yellow.  Warm the milk and cream and add to the yolk and sugar mixture, blend and return to the pan.  Bring slowly to 170º (about 5 minutes) stirring all the time. Remove from heat and strain.

Add the pomegranate, vanilla, maple syrup and limejuice.  Add rose to taste.  Chill and freeze in an ice cream maker.

Pomegranate-Rose Champagne Float, for 1

1 scoop pomegranate rose ice cream
1 glass sparkling wine (I used the Donati Malvesia)

Put a scoop of ice cream in a glass and pour the wine over it.  Serve with a spoon

 Get rose essence here: Aftelier Products

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Cimmerian Shade Cocktail


Classical Mythology of, pertaining to, or suggestive of a western people believed to dwell in perpetual darkness.
very dark; gloomy: deep, Cimmerian caverns.

One of the coolest things about creating a drink is naming it. My favorite cocktail book, ‘Professor’ Jerry Thomas’s The Bartender's Guide from 1863 has some real masterpieces like “The Blue Blazer” (nothing to do with clothing… it’s the artful toss of blue Scotch fire from one glass to the other - an arm’s length away!), the Black Stripe (rum & molasses), Rumfustian (a hot drink to warm after a cold hunt made of egg yolks, beer, gin and sherry with lemon rind and sugar) and Pousse l’Amour (egg yolk, maraschino, vanilla cordial and cognac).

Channeling my inner Jerry Thomas, I wanted to make a drink of my own after I read an article recently in the NYT’s  about the ‘spritz’.

“Goodbye beer, it’s spritz time,” read one Italian newspaper headline this summer, gushing over the newfound popularity of the drink in Germany”, said the article.

I love adding things to sparkling wine, probably a leftover of the kir royales and spritzers of my youth. It brightens up wine and although it is not wise to use great vintages for the job, neither should it be used to make lousy wines palatable by masking the flavors. It is an additional flavor…an enhancement.

Bao Ong, who wrote the article said: “Venice, Padua and Trieste all claim paternity rights to the spritz, but its origins probably lie in the Austrian Empire, which took over Veneto in the early 19th century. Hapsburg soldiers, local legend has it, would water down the strong local wine with a squirt (spritzen) of sparkling water.” In Italy, bitter additions are the norm, things like Campari, Aperol or Cynar are combined with wine and soda or sparkling wine. Closer to home in Brooklyn, rhubarb and strawberry are added to the drink at The Clover Club (go to the website… it is very cool) while still keeping the bitter component for contrast.

The idea for the spritz is not original. Professor Thomas has many recipes for wine and champagne punches – a style that goes well back into the 19th century. Even though the term spritz may be German in origin, the concept is universal.

And what of the name, Cimmerian Shade? I loved the sound of it and the sense of it!  Obviously Robert E Howard thought so too when he named Conan the Barbarian’s homeland Cimmeria. There were Cimmerians (from the Greek, Κιμμέριοι) listed in the Odyssey (Ὀδύσσεια) where Homer said they lived “in a land of fog and darkness, at the edge of the world and the entrance to Hades” according to Wikipedia and it was this myth that caused the definition of Cimmerian to be coined. In reality, they were equestrian nomads from what is now Russia who may have been related to the Welsh and Bretons. The dark murky purple of the drink seemed to ask to be named after the mythic race of men.

For my new drink, my new addiction, a rich, dark Concord grape syrup with a hit of Cremé de Violette  and Aftelier’s rose essence  . I had made a wonderful (if grayish) ice cream with it… then topped it with more of the grape syrup and a few toasted almonds. Divine. I noticed Concord grape is appearing all over town this fall in drinks and sauces, after you taste this, you will know why. When I made the drink, I used a favorite sparkling wine, Donati Malvesia (organic too!). This gives it an unusual zing and is perfect for this drink (and delicious on its own).

Cimmerian Shade

2 T Violet Rose Grape Syrup
½ c Sparkling wine (Donati Malvesia )

Put the syrup in a glass, pour the sparkling wine over all and stir to blend or leave as it is for an ombré appearance (very popular in fashion this year!).

You can add more crème de violette and rose should you desire.

Violet Rose Grape Syrup based on All Our Fingers in the Pie’s Recipe

1 pound Concord grapes
1 c sugar
1 T lemon Juice
3 T Crème de Violette
1-2 drops Aftelier Rose Essence

Remove the skins from the grapes. Process the skins with the sugar till a puree. Cook the grapes and the puree till the pulp dissolves. Put this through a food mill or strainer to remove the seeds and cook this mixture till thickened to a thick syrup. Add the Crème de Violette and rose essence when cooled and store in the fridge.

1810 English Rummer Glass

Friday, October 8, 2010

Ireland's Corned and Spiced Beef

Whenever I think of Ireland, I think of the Book of Kells (an illuminated Irish manuscript) that captivated me when I was a kid...

 green, green grass that made me ask  if the plane windows were tinted the first time I flew there…

Irish Countryside

and corned beef!

The theme for Oxford Food Symposium  in 2010 was “Cured, Fermented and Smoked” and this theme is right up the old Irish alley. A great treat was the rich and varied Irish Food spread cooked by Padraic Og Gallagher of Gallagher's Boxty House  in Dublin that showed off the best of Irish cooking and products (in case you are wondering, boxty is a traditional Irish potato pancake). In keeping with the theme, there was smoked fish (ooh, salmon doused with Connemara Peated Single malt whiskey… say hello to heaven!) as well as smoked and dried lamb, venison and even Irish Chorizo and revelatory Irish potatoes. Kathryn McGowan who has the gorgeous website Comestibles  did a wonderful post about
it with gorgeous pictures of the food (I was having too much fun talking and forgot about taking pictures, so bless her for recording it so well). 

The other item on the meat menu was Guinness and Cider Spiced Beef. This is where I am going to linger for a while.  You notice it is called spiced beef and not corned beef.  To Americans, this is our corned beef. To the Irish, corned beef is only made with salt and no spices.  The word corn originally comes from the “corns” or salt grains, used to cure the meat. It has nothing to do with the grain (that was probably so called because corn means grain and the name stuck for the Indian maize). I know this because of a wonderful lecture I attended given my Mr. Og Gallagher (the chef for our feast) and Mairtin Mac Con Iomaire from the Dublin Institute of Technology. Boy can they tell a story! In it they explored the history of the much-maligned corned beef, and a fascinating history it is… most of it has nothing to do with St. Patrick’s Day!

They tell us that an ever so sprightfully humorous twelfth century Irish poem, Aislinge Meic Con Glinne jests about corned beef in the lines:

Lard, my wife
Sweetly smiles
Across the kale top
Cheese-curds, my daughter,
Goes round the spit
Fair is her fame.
Corned beef, my son,
Whose mantle shines
Over a big tail.

The Irish rarely ate their cattle in their early history, eating mostly grains (until the introduction of the potato) and pork and milk products.  They had a reverence for the animals and wanted them for their milk rather than their meat.   In Darina Allen’s Irish Country Cooking (she is the doyenne of Irish cuisine) I read that in 1625 Fynes Moryson described: “They feed mostly on white meats and …they watchfully keep their cows and fight for them as for their religion and life; and when they are almost starved, yet they will not kill a cow, except it be old and yield no milk.” The exceptions were male calves and the herds of beef cattle of the aristocracy that were eaten or imported to England.

This all changed when the English outlawed the importation of live Irish cattle (1667). After the passage of the law, traditional Irish corned beef became an important commodity. You see, preservation began early in Irish history -- beef and butter were salted and buried in bog holes from early times, often using sea ash (salty burnt seaweed) and later imported salt to keep their food.  One of the reasons for the international success of their corned beef was the Irish had a light tax on imported salt that made it more affordable than in other countries.  The Irish used only top quality imported white salt and their salted beef was the best because of it.  Their beef went all over the world but most especially to troops scattered over the globe.

In Ireland, corned beef was considered a luxury and it is because of this that it became popular to the  Irish immigrants in America where it was no longer expensive and probably because it reminded them of home.  It was thought of so highly that Abraham Lincoln served it for his inauguration dinner with parsley potatoes, cabbage, mock turtle soup and blackberry pie for dessert on March 4, 1861.

I had always bought corned beef in plastic packages, pre-brined and spiced. Honestly, I didn’t know another way.  This time, I decided to change that policy and do it myself after the urging of some of my blogging pals who told me how easy it was (and then no mystery meat!). 

I got lean pieces of grass-fed brisket from my friends at Grazin Angus Acres  and used a combination of recipes from Darina Allen and English writer Eliza Acton for inspiration for my brining spice blend and my dry rub blend and the result was delicious.  The dry rub is especially fine with the addition of juniper.  Acton warns that pink salt will toughen meat.  The dry rub did not soak in the way the brine had and that caused a less red center.   Cooked slowly, they did not shrink as much as corned beef usually does.  I finished them in the oven with a mixture I’ve been using for years that I love and hope you will too.

Corned Spiced Beef (dry cure)

3 T  black peppercorns (I used 2 T black peppercorns and 1 T grains of paradise)
3 T allspice berries (I used 1 T ground allspice and 1 t cassia buds)
3 T juniper berries
2 t. mace
½ t nutmeg
¼ t ground cloves
¼ t cayenne

¼ c light brown sugar
¼ c salt
1 T smoked salt
½ t saltpeter (pink salt)

4 lb brisket, flank steak or rump roast
1 T spice mix
6 potatoes, halved
½ head of cabbage, quartered

¼ c brown sugar
¼ cup grainy mustard
1 T caraway seeds
1 T of Irish whiskey, optional

Grind the first 7 ingredients together and remove 1 T.  Add the rest to the sugar and salts and rub well into the meat ( if you have a fat layer, score it and rub in the spice, otherwise it will not penetrate as well) and refrigerate for 3-7 days (the longer, the spicier) you don’t need to use it all! 

Preheat the oven to 200º.  Rinse off the rub and rub it with the 1 T reserved spice mix. Place the meat in a dutch oven, fat side down. Cover the dish and bake for 4-5 hours or until tender.  Remove from the liquid that has collected and cover the top with the mustard, brown sugar caraway and whiskey mix.  Cover and put back in the oven for 20 minutes to glaze the beef.  Remove the cover and bake 10 minutes more.  Boil the potatoes and cabbage separately till tender.

If you would like to try the wet method for the beef here is the 2nd recipe:

Corned (Spiced) Beef (wet)

Brining Spice:
2 T peppercorns
2 T coriander seeds
1 T mace
1 t nutmeg
2 T allspice
2 T juniper berries
2 t cloves
4 bay leaves

3 T brining spice
2 c kosher salt
½ c light brown sugar
2 t pink salt (optional)

3- 5 lb brisket, flank or rump roast
2 T brining spice
2 carrots,
1 onion
2 stalks celery

6 potatoes, halved
½ head of cabbage, quartered

¼ c brown sugar
¼ cup grainy mustard
1 T caraway seeds
1 T of Irish Whiskey, optional

Take the spices and grind them.  Take 1 gallon of water and add salt, sugar, pink salt and 3 T of pickling spice and bring the water to a boil.  Allow to cool then refrigerate. Add beef brisket and weight it in the brine. Refrigerate for 3-5 days (if you have a smaller brisket, go to as little as 3 days)

Rinse the beef and add enough water to cover.  Add the vegetables, spices and cook at a very low heat (Serious Eats recommended 180º for 10 hours) on top of the stove for 3-5 hours until tender.  A low heat stops the shrinkage. The last hour, add the potatoes.  The last half hour, add the cabbage.

Preheat the oven to 240º.  Remove the meat and vegetables from the brine. Pat the meat dry and make a paste with the brown sugar, mustard and caraway seed and whiskey if desired.  Rub this over the top of the meat.  Place the meat in a baking dish, fat side down surrounded with the potatoes and cabbage.  Cover the dish and bake for 20 minutes to glaze the beef.  Remove the cover and bake 10 minutes more.

Thanks to Gollum for hosting Foodie Friday

Hey guys, Barbara caught the extra directions for the dry rub.. it only cooks for 3 hours... recipe is correct now!