Fri 8 Jul 2011
It was just regular-auld weekend here in Ireland but back home in Los Angeles my friends and family were barbequing and lighting fireworks and celebrating the Fourth of July – America’s birthday. My parents had a little shindig at their house where my dad made his famous smoked ribs and my mom prepared Japanese macaroni salad and my sister and her friend Miks kicked back, had a few drinks and enjoyed the grub!
Mountaineering Man and I spent the weekend doing what he loves best: climbing a mountain (duh!)! We hiked up Mount Leinster from the Ballycrystal side – meaning we opted to take the rougher, fern-covered terrain over the easier road access – and enjoyed the peace and quiet of nature. We didn’t come across a single person during our 4.5 hour trek, though we did run into a couple of mountain goats and several sheep along the way.
We had our own little July 4th celebration of sorts at the summit, where we chomped down some classic American favorites that I made in honor of the holiday: Sloppy Joe’s, which is a mixture of beef mince and a tangy, spicy tomato sauce served up on a hamburger bun; and my mom’s famous potato salad. It was the perfect fuel for our hike and quite tasty as well. We were lucky enough to get spectacular weather up there that day. Sitting atop of Mount Leinster, eating our fab American lunch and enjoying the view – honestly couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend the holiday weekend.
When we got back to Dublin, there was a very special surprise waiting for me: The Fairy Hobmother from Appliances Online had visited and left me a wonderful treat. She obviously read my wish to have a food processor, as I had to leave my beloved one behind in LA before moving here to Ireland. With one wave of her magic wand, a beautiful Kenwood FP220 series food processor was delivered to our apartment. Who says dreams don’t come true?
You, too, can win a fabulous gift from the Fairy Hobmother and Appliances Online. Just leave a comment about what you’d fancy for your kitchen, and she may just pay you a visit!
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into small dice
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 lb lean beef mince (Quorn mince works great too if you want to do a vegetarian version)
1 400 gram tin of tomato sauce (not the concentrated stuff just the sauce!)
1/4 cup water
4 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons tomato paste (the concentrated stuff!)
8 hamburger buns
Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions and carrots and cook for a few minutes or until they start to turn soft. Add the garlic and chili powder and cook for an additional 1 minute. Add the beef mince and cook for 5 minutes, breaking up the mince as you stir. The meat won’t be fully cooked at this point but that’s fine – it will cook off later.
In a small bowl, combine the tomato sauce, water, brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard and red pepper flakes. Now stir this into the mince in the pan, then add the tomato paste. Stir until combined.
Turn the heat to low and let simmer for 25-35 minutes or until the mixture becomes nice and thick. Season with salt and pepper.
To serve, simply pile on the mince mixture onto buns!
Mom’s Potato Salad
2 lbs of waxy potatoes, peeled, cubed and boiled until you can just pierce with a fork
1/2 medium onion, chopped finely
1 stalk celery, chopped finely
3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
Salt and pepper to taste
Place your cooked, cubed potatoes into a large bowl – preferably while they are still warm/hot. Now add the chopped onion; my mom says it’s important to add the onions to the warm potatoes as it kind of steams them just a bit and really creates a great flavour. Now add the celery. Place the hard-boiled eggs into a separate bowl. Using a fork, start mashing them as you would potatoes – you want to break it down into a tiny fine dice/shred. Now toss that into the bowl with the potato/onion/celery. Here’s where it’s up to you on how much of the following ingredients you want to add – it all depends on how creamy you’d like your potato salad. Add the mayo and mustard and stir until it’s the richness/consistency you prefer. Now add the pickle relish, at least 2 tablespoons but more depending on your taste. Season with salt and pepper and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Serve cold or at room temp!