St Patrick's Day Dinner!

I hope everyone had a Happy St Patty's Day and the Luck of the Irish brought you many green beers, good times, and great grub! I whipped up quite the festive St Patricks dinner to celebrate...I mean I am a Riley after all, its only appropriate.

It was a very cold, rainy St Patty's day this year in SoCal so a big bowl of Potato and Leek soup sounded just right. And of course you need some freshly baked crusty rolls to dip in. And most importantly, a big cold Guiness to wash it all down.

And you can't forget about dessert...Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes. You know I'm a sucker for anything boozy and cupcakey but I have to justify it by pretending its just to fit a theme hehe!!

I decided to make Potato Leek soup because when I lived in Interlaken, Switzerland there was a great little Irish Pub in town called the Three Tells that I probably went to at least once a week for a Cider and a bowl of their Potato Leek soup. Now that I'm back in the States, I crave that soup so I thought it was about time I try to recreate it myself. 

The star ingredient of this soup is the Leek. I think leeks are such a beautiful that weird?!

Many people are unfamiliar with leeks so I thought I would give a quick explanation on which parts of the leek to use and a helpful cleaning technique for those who haven't yet cooked leeks. Leeks are similar to a green onion but have a milder flavor yet need to be cooked before eating. The dark green leaves are too tough to eat so be sure to cut off those leaves and the root and only use the lighter green stem area. Once you slice up the usable section of the leek you will notice there is a lot of dirt and grit in leeks. Instead of just washing them in a colander, soak them in a bowl of cold water and the dirt will sink to the bottom; that way you can be sure you are cooking with clean leeks and no dirt will make it into your dish because no one likes that, extra protein or not ;)

To begin the soup, you are going to cook the leeks, onion, celery, and garlic in extra virgin olive oil until they are softened and fragrant. 

Next you are going to add in diced potatoes, milk, chicken or vegetable broth, and a bay leaf.

Make sure to season with LOTS of salt and pepper. This is not the time to be shy, a good pot of soup depends on a healthy dose of seasoning. 

And within about thirty minutes, you are ready to stir in some parsley and half and half and get to mixing. Its much easier if you have an immersion blender instead of having to dirty up your blender. I picked mine up at Walmart and it was super inexpensive and definitely comes in handy!

And that's all it takes to make traditional Irish soup. I like to serve mine with a dollop of sour cream and some chopped green onion...and I guess for you non-vegetarians, you can add some crumbled bacon on top, I'll let you just this one time!

And now for the star of the show.... Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes with three of my best friends: Bailey's, Whiskey, and Guinness!

There's quite a few steps for these little babies but the end result is worth the effort, I promise! First you heat up the Guinness, coco powder, and butter mixture.

Now you add that into the sinfully chocolately cake batter and fill up your cupcake liners 2/3 full.

Now for your workout of the day ;) chop up lots of bittersweet chocolate for your creamy ganache filling.

Once your ganache has cooled, fill it into a pastry bag or even a ziploc baggie will do the trick. My tip of filling up a pastry bag with sticky frosting or filling without making a mess or needing an extra set of hands is to place the bag into a large cup that way you can make sure the ganache gets to the bottom of the bag and is stable while doing so.

Next you need to core the centers of the cupcake so there's room for the delicious whiskey chocolate ganache. You can do this by using a large piping tip or I tend to just use a small paring knife because I find it to be faster.
Now fill those bad boys up.
How good do these look!? Its tempting to eat them at this point even without the icing but please restrain because it just gets even better.

Now whip up your nice and fluffy and boozy Bailey's Buttercream frosting.
And FINALLY-last step-its time to frost! I'm going to admit that it was St. Patty's Day and I may or may not have been taking some sips of the star ingredients (aka the booze) while baking these so piping a nice pretty design on the cupcake just wasn't going to happen. So I just smeared on some frosting the old fashioned way, sprinkled on some green sprinkles, and called it a day. I still think they turned out just fabulous! What about you?

adapted from smittenkitchen

For the Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes
1 cup stout (such as Guinness)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream
Ganache Filling 
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 to 2 teaspoons Irish whiskey 
Baileys Frosting
3 to 4 cups confections sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperatue
3 to 4 tablespoons Baileys 

Make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 24 cupcake cups with liners. Bring 1 cup stout and 1 cup butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.
Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in large bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined. Divide batter among cupcake liners, filling them 2/3 to 3/4 of the way. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, rotating them once front to back if your oven bakes 
unevenly, about 17 minutes. Cool cupcakes on a rack completely.

Make the filling: Chop the chocolate and transfer it to a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for one minute and then stir until smooth.  Add the butter and whiskey and stir until combined.

Fill the cupcakes: Let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped. Meanwhile, cut the centers out of the cooled cupcakes. You want to go most of the way down the cupcake but not cut through the bottom — aim for 2/3 of the way. Put the ganache into a piping bag with a wide tip and fill the holes in each cupcake to the top.

Make the frosting: Whip the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, for several minutes. You want to get it very light and fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar, a few tablespoons at a time. (*I ended up using much less sugar than the recipe quotes, about a cup less, because I don't like a very sweet frosting and I wanted the Bailey's taste to come through more but its completely up to your preference).When the frosting looks thick enough to spread, drizzle in the Baileys and whip it until combined.
Ice and decorate the cupcakes.

adapted from the chew

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Leeks (washed and sliced)

1 Onion (diced)

2 stalks Celery (chopped)

1 clove Garlic (minced)

2 cups Milk

4 cups Chicken or Vegetable Stock

 Bay Leaf

4 Yukon Gold Potatoes (peeled and cubed)

Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper

2 tablepsoons Fresh Parsley (chopped)

1/2 cup Half and Half
Garnishes: Chopped green onions, sour cream, crumbled bacon

In a large stock pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, leeks, celery, and garlic, and cook until all have softened and become fragrant, about 5 minutes. 
Add the stock, milk, bay leaf, and potatoes, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a  simmer. 
Cook until potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes. Stir in the parsley and half and half. 
Blend with an immersion blender, making sure to remove the bay leaf prior to blending. 
Serve with desired garnishes.