Written by Trisha Ries
Saint Patrick’s Day holds a special place in my heart. While the holiday was never really celebrated in my house, I have always had a sense of pride. Saint Patrick’s Day is more than a day of drinking until you see leprechauns, but a day of fellowship, pride, and heritage. I am a Heinz 57 when it comes to my ancestry, Native American and Scot-Irish, and I love to celebrate what makes me who I am. A celebration isn’t a celebration without some delicious food. While many of us may go out and about on St Patty’s, some of us might want to celebrate at home. Throw your own feast with your family with some of my favorite Irish delectables, and let the celebrations begin!
Cheese and herb Irish soda bread
Irish soda bread is soft, with a dense crust. I prefer my bread served warm with traditional Irish butter (Kerrygold is my favorite).
4 cups flour
1½ tsp baking soda/bicarbonate of soda
1 t salt
2 cups (500ml) buttermilk
1 cup grated mild cheddar cheese
½ cup fresh herbs, chopped (Parsley, sage, and chives compliment well)
Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC/360ºF and line a Dutch oven/cast iron pot with baking/parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
Whisk an egg into the buttermilk and pour into the dry ingredients.
Mix the dough until it just starts to come together (there will be large lumps) then add the cheese and herbs.
Continue mixing until the dough just comes together. The dough will be sticky and jagged looking (not too smooth or else it will be over-mixed).
Transfer to the prepared pot or bread pan, then score a cross onto the top with a sharp knife. Cover with a lid or aluminum foil and place in the pre-heated oven.
Bake for 30-45 minutes or until the bread is cooked through. I uncover my bread for the last 5 minutes or so.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before slicing and serving with butter.
Shepherd’s pie is the best all-in-one dinner; protein, starch, vegetable. You can easily sub fresh vegetables and herbs for a real “out of this world” delight.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 lb. 90% lean ground beef or ground lamb
2 teaspoons dried parsley leaves
1 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 garlic cloves minced
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup beef broth
1 cup frozen mixed peas and carrots
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels
1 1/2 – 2 lb. russet potatoes – about 2 large potatoes peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
8 tablespoons unsalted butter -1 stick
1/3 cup half & half or heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Make the meat filling.
Add the oil to a large skillet and place it over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add the onions. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the ground beef (or ground lamb) to the skillet and break it apart with a wooden spoon. Add the parsley, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper. Stir well. Cook for 6-8 minutes, until the meat is browned, stirring occasionally.
Add the Worcestershire sauce and garlic. Stir to combine. Cook for 1 minute.
Add the flour and tomato paste. Stir until well incorporated and no clumps of tomato paste remain.
Add the broth, frozen peas and carrots, and frozen corn. Bring the liquid to a boil then reduce to simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Set the meat mixture aside. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Make the potato topping.
Place the potatoes in a large pot. Cover the potatoes with water. Bring the water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Cook until potatoes are fork tender, 10-15 minutes.
Drain the potatoes in a colander. Return the potatoes to the hot pot. Let the potatoes rest in the hot pot for 1 minute to evaporate any remaining liquid.
Add butter, half and half, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Mash the potatoes and stir until all the ingredients are mixed together.
Add the Parmesan cheese to the potatoes. Stir until well combined.
Assemble the casserole.
Pour the meat mixture into a 9×9 (or 7×11) inch baking dish. Spread it out into an even layer. Spoon the mashed potatoes on top of the meat. Carefully spread into an even layer.
If the baking dish looks very full, place it on a rimmed baking sheet so that the filling doesn’t bubble over into your oven. Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.
Apple Irish Cake
Dinner isn’t dinner without a to-die-for dessert. Apple Irish Cake is moist, flavorful, and sweet. Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.
3 cups plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoons Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. (1 stick) cold butter, cut into small cubes
3 large eggs
3/4 c. heavy cream
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 lb. (3 large) Granny Smith apples, thinly sliced into 1/4-inch pieces
3 tbsp. demerara sugar, for topping
1/3 cup granulated sugar
4 large egg yolks
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, halved (or 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract)
Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter a 9” spring form pan and line the sides and bottom with parchment.
In a medium bowl, whisk together 3 cups of flour, baking powder, salt, spices, and sugar. Add cubed butter and incorporate with your hands until you have no large pieces left and the mixture resembles sand. Whisk in eggs, heavy cream, and vanilla.
Toss sliced apples with remaining 3 tablespoons flour until evenly coated, then fold into batter. Transfer cake batter to the prepared pan and sprinkle evenly all over with demerara sugar. Bake until the apples are very tender and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan before removing.
Make the Custard Sauce:
In a heatproof bowl, whisk sugar and yolks until lightened in color, about 6 minutes. In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat, add vanilla bean seeds and pod and heavy cream. (If using vanilla extract, add once custard is removed from heat.) Cook mixture, watching carefully, until just boiling. Remove from heat, and whisk a few tablespoons of hot cream into the sugar-yolk mixture. Gradually add in remaining cream, whisking constantly.
Return custard to pot and continue to cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until just thickened (do not boil!) — check consistency by dipping a wooden spoon in, then running a finger along back; the streak should stay intact.
Immediately remove from heat and pour through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl. Let cool.
Once cool, serve over slices of apple cake.
There is nothing better than an Irish Coffee at the end of any meal. I prefer Tullamore Dew or Jameson, but any Irish Whiskey will do. I also prefer a darker roast, but any coffee will do.
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 jigger Irish whiskey (1 1/2 ounces or 3 tablespoons)
Heavy cream, slightly whipped
Fill a footed mug or a mug with hot water to preheat it, then empty.
Pour piping hot coffee into warmed glass until it is about 3/4 full.
Add the brown sugar and stir until completely dissolved.
Blend in Irish whiskey.
Top with a collar of the whipped heavy cream by pouring gently over the back of the spoon.
So let the celebrations begin. Eat, drink, and be merry. Slainte!
“Laughter is brightest where food is best.” – Irish Proverb