Today is St. Patrick's Day and being Irish, it's a big holiday for our family to celebrate. My mother always cooked corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes (or colcannon) and there were loaves of soda bread baking in the oven. I've never been big on corned beef, but the cabbage, potatoes and soda bread could sure sustain me and put a smile on my Irish face :-D.
It's also a day I've come to dread because two years ago on, March 17th, I flew to Kentucky to be with Kelly when she was going to have a surgery to remove the expanders that had been put in place after her mastectomy. She had decided that it wasn't worth the uncomfortableness and since her latest scans and blood work had come out good, the doctors felt she could go through this ambulatory surgery with no problems. I was there to help with Ari since she was once again restricted from lifting anything over five pounds. When I left on the 25th, she said to me, "Mom, this is the best I've felt in over a year." We had hope that she had finally gotten a break with this awful cancer, but sadly less than two months later, she passed away.
I have baked a shortbread from another favorite cookbook--Tartine by Elizabeth M. Prueitt and Chad Robertson as something to keep my mind off this memory. Baking does that for me and puts me in a happy place.
1 cup (2 sticks) + 2 T unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar (I used Maple Sugar)
1 3/4 cups + 2 T King Arthur all-purpose flour
1/3 cup + 2 T cornstarch
1/4 tsp. Irish Cream flavoring
Preheat oven to 325F-degrees. Butter a 6" x 10" glass dish. I didn't have that size, but did have a 5" x 12" biscotti pan that I used.
In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and salt until the consistency of whipped cream. Sift the flour and cornstarch together into the bowl. Add the sugar and mix just until a smooth dough forms.
Pat the dough evenly into the prepared dish. The dough should be no more than 2/3-inch deep. Bake until the top and bottom are lightly browned, about 30 minutes. The middle of the shortbread should remain light. Let cool on a rack about 5 to 7 minutes, until warm to the touch.
Sprinkle the shortbread with superfine sugar (you can also use confectioners' sugar). With a sharp knife, cut the shortbread into rectangular fingers about 1/2-inch wide and 2 inches long.
Now, in case you're wondering the meaning of Saol fada chugat...
May the road rise up to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
And, until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
Happy St. Patrick's Day to all. We're having more snow and it seems Winter just doesn't want to let go.