St. Paddy’s Day with a French Twist

This past weekend was St. Patrick’s Day.  I’m not Irish, not even a drop, but I love celebrating holidays.  St. Paddy’s Day is about eating corned beef,  wearing green and pinching someone who’s not, it’s about dying a river green in a major city and listening to bagpipes.  I KNOW that St. Patrick’s Day is about celebrating the Irish saint Patrick and his work in Christianizing the island (and the snakes, don’t forget about the snakes) but in America I think we’ve forgotten the religious and holy roots of the holiday and it is now a strange conglomeration of traditions.  You never know what you’re going to get; like when I was driving past the one Irish pub in town and heard a band loudly playing…..Pearl Jam?  I asked my friend Wendy what St. Patrick’s Day was like in London, where she now calls home.  She said that despite having a quite a large population of actual Irish people it wasn’t a big deal.  She has an Irish colleague and mentioned that when she asked her about St. Patrick’s Day the woman kind of shrugged it off because there was a rugby tournament in town, but hey, there was a parade the day after.  Wendy then proceeded to tell me that most Europeans think that our celebration of St. Patrick’s Day is just a little overblown and odd.

In light of all this incongruity it seemed totally appropriate to have a wacky kind of feast ourselves for St. Patrick’s Day.  Traditional corned beef and cabbage and then French Yogurt Cake for dessert. I love corned beef and can live with cabbage and usually I just throw the whole mess in the crockpot and leave it alone.  This year I decided to actually do it differently.  I looked up different recipes and found one on Food Network that I liked.  I got my ingredients together and was ready to cook.  And then it turned out to be a gor-ge-ous spring day with temperatures in the 70s and we jumped on the chance to work in the yard.  I did not feel like cooking or eating hot comfort food!  But it was St. Patrick’s Day and I had bought all these ingredients so I made it anyway.    The recipe calls for braising the corned beef in liquid for about 3 hours and then adding the potatoes and cabbages during the last hour.  On the recommendation of one of the reviewers I also added carrots and agree, you must have carrots.  The star of the recipe really was the horseradish sauce.  Typically, I only use horseradish with roast beef, but this was a delicious spicy addition.  I loved adding lemon to the horseradish which made it tangy and spicy.

For dessert I had planned to use one of my Chocolate Stout recipes.  I had gotten a new one for Chocolate Stout Brownies and I have a tried and true Chocolate-Guinness Cake that is amazingly good. But again, the weather was so nice and we were outside working in the yard so I decided to go the quick route and let my kids try making Gateau au Yaourt or Yogurt Cake.  In the book “Bringing up Bebe” author Pamela Druckerman mentions this simple cake that is designed to help kids learn how to cook.  All the ingredients can be measured out in the single serving size yogurt cups.  She mentions this is a really common cake that even young children can make.  Homeschool opportunity!  I bought the ingredients (single serving size full fat yogurt is hard to find!) and on Saturday let the kids go at it while teaching them some new French words.  They loved making the cake and then we topped it with a chocolate-butter glaze and sprinkles, dinosaur sprinkles to be precise.   My daughter said to my son “And you know what’s even better?  When we learn how to read we can make this all on our own!”

Dinner time was an exhausted affair. We had accomplished so much in our yard that I didn’t care anymore that it was 70 degrees and we were hot.  We were just hungry and the Corned Beef & Cabbage was delicious.  The Yogurt Cake, not so much.  The kids loved their “kids cake” and continued to have it for dessert for a few days, but  my husband and I thought it was really dry.  It tasted kind of like a scone.  Not bad, but when you are expecting light and springy cake it really wasn’t yummy.  I think the yogurt cake would benefit from something to make it softer, a yogurt cup of applesauce perhaps?  The recipe is below and I would love to hear other bakers thoughts on it.

Gateau au Yaourt (Yogurt Cake)

  • 2 (6 oz) containers plain whole milk yogurt
  • 2 eggs (note other recipes call for 3 eggs)
  • 2 containers sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Just under one container of vegetable oil
  • 4 containers flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 375 F and grease a 9-inch round cake pan. Place the yogurt in a bowl and using the empty containers to measure out the rest of the ingredients. Gently combine the yogurt with eggs, sugar, vanilla, and oil.  Add the flour and baking power together in a separate bowl and then combine the dry mix to the wet mix.  Mix gently until all are combined.  You can add berries or choclate chips or any flavor you like to the mix.  Bake for 30-35 minutes.  It should be almost crispy on the outside and springy on the inside.  Let cool and top with creme fraiche or other icing.

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