Celebrating St. Patrick's Day

March 4, 2013

St. Patrick's Day is coming--only 13 more days! Americans seem to love St. Patrick’s day – dressing in green, watching parades, and drinking green beer. However, few actually know the reason behind the annual March 17th holiday. St. Patrick’s Day has been celebrated in Ireland for over 1,000 years, originally as a religious feast day to commemorate the death of St. Patrick – the patron saint of Ireland. No one is sure of the exact date of the first St. Patrick’s Day celebration in America, but the tradition began when Irish soldiers serving in America introduced the country to the holiday during the revolutionary war. As more and more Irish people immigrated to America over the centuries following the Revolutionary War, the popularity of St. Patrick’s Day grew.  Today, St. Patrick’s Day has become an opportunity not only to celebrate St. Patrick himself, but also to promote and remember the very unique culture of Ireland throughout the world.

One of the very important traditions of St. Patrick’s Day is eating and drinking! Irish cuisine is very distinct and reflective of the natural resources of the Irish landscape and the customs of the people that live there. If you are planning to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this year, why not do it properly? Your menu can help celebrate Ireland as much as your green decorations and Celtic music. Below are five different recipes that offer a fresh look at traditional, authentic Irish cuisine. They are perfect for a St. Patrick’s Day party -- easy to make and easy to eat!

Soda Bread Grilled Cheese BitesIrish Soda Bread | CHEFS Mix

This recipe uses traditional Irish soda bread and Irish cheddar cheese. Soda bread became a staple in many Irish homes in the 19th century. When baking soda was invented, Irish people began to use it instead of yeast to leaven their bread, because it was cheaper and easier to come by than yeast. What resulted was a slightly sour, dense and crusty bread. Below is a recipe for grilled cheese using this delicious Irish bread.
Serves 10-12

Soda Bread

3 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

¾ teaspoon salt

1.5 cups buttermilk

2 tablespoons unsalted butter/ melted

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Create a well in the center of the dry mixture.
  3. Add buttermilk. Mix well with hands, until the dough is soft, but not too wet.
  4. Remove dough from bowl and place on flat, floured surface. Knead for one minute.
  5. Shape dough into an oval, about 1.5 inches deep.
  6. With a serrated knife, cut an  “X” across the top.
  7. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet, and bake in the oven for 45 minutes.
  8. Remove bread from baking sheet to cool.

Grilled Cheese

8 slices Irish Cheddar Cheese

½ cup butter, divided

  1. Using serrated bread knife, cut slightly cooled soda bread into 8 slices.
  2. Spread slices out onto flat counter or table, into 2 rows of 4 slices.
  3. Top one row of bread slices with two slices of Irish cheddar cheese, covering as much of bread surface as possible.
  4. Top the bread and cheese stack with another slice of bread. Lightly butter the top of the top slice of bread.
  5. Heat 1 tablespoon of butter in large skillet.
  6. Place two sandwiches, buttered side up in skillet. Sear until golden brown (approximately 3 minutes).
  7. Using spatula, flip sandwich so buttered side is face down. Allow second side to sear (approximately 3 minutes).
  8. Remove from heat, and add 1 more tablespoon of butter to skillet.
  9. Repeat with remaining to sandwiches.
  10. Cut 4 sandwiches into quarters. Serve immediately.

Colcannon Potato SkinsColcannon Potato Skins | CHEFS Mix

Colcannon is a traditional Irish dish made from Potatoes and Kale – two of Ireland’s most plentiful crops. It is warm and hearty, perfect for Ireland’s cold climate. Historically, Colcannon was made on Halloween, and adults would hide a coin inside the mash for children to find. This recipe is a play on the traditional party snack – potato skins – using Colcannon for the stuffing.

Serves 12-14

7 russet potatoes

1 bunch curly kale, stemmed and cut in chiffonade

1 leek, light green and white parts only, diced

1 cup of milk

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

¼ tablespoon nutmeg

6 ounces bacon, fried crisp and crumbled

Salt, to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Roast potatoes on a banking sheet until tender (approximately 1 hour).
  3. When the potatoes are cool enough to touch, cut in half with serrated knife.
  4. Using a melon baller, carefully remove potato guts. Run guts through a ricer and place into a mixing bowl. Place skins on a lightly greased baking sheet.
  5. Preheat the broiler.
  6. In saucepan, combine kale, leek, 2 tablespoons butter, nutmeg and bacon. Add pinch salt. Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring every 3 minutes, until leek and kale is soft (about 15 minutes).
  7. Add milk to potatoes and mix well.
  8. Add potato mixture to saucepan and combine with leek and kale.
  9. Using spoon, fill potato skins with mashed potatoes and kale.
  10. Place filled potato skins on baking sheet under the broiler until the tops begin to brown.
  11. Remove from oven and serve warm.

 Stuffed Cabbage BitesStuffed Cabbage Bites | CHEFS Mix

Corned beef and cabbage became an extremely popular dish with Irish immigrants in America during the mid-19th century. Many found that fresh meat was too expensive to buy and eat on a regular basis; therefore, Irish families bought meat when they could afford it and brined it into corned beef, so it could be fresh to eat alongside a green vegetable (usually cabbage) on special occasions (the most important being – St. Patrick’s Day!). This recipe is an updated take on that traditionally Irish-American combination.

Serves 10-12

 12 Savoy Cabbage Leaves, washed

½ cup Mayonnaise

2 teaspoons prepared horseradish

¼ cup parsley

4 slices rye bread

1 pound corned beef

2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard

2 carrots, julienned

  1. Boil large pot of water. Place cabbage leaves in water and cook until tender (about 2 minutes).
  2. Remove from boiling water and rinse with cold water. Pat dry.
  3. Mix mayonnaise with horseradish and parsley.
  4. Spread mixture onto cabbage leaves.
  5. Cut rye bread into thin strips.
  6. Slice corned beef into strips and toss with whole-grain mustard.
  7. Top each cabbage leaf with a few slices of bread and a few sliced of corned beef.
  8. Sprinkle each leaf with julienned carrots.
  9. Roll up leaves with ingredients inside and slice in half.
  10. Serve cold.

 Chocolate Stout BrowniesChocolate Stout Brownies | CHEFS Mix

If there is one food or drink that comes to mind when people think of Ireland, it is Guinness! Guinness is a dark stout beer that has been brewed in Dublin since the mid-18th century.  It is a warm and hearty beer, perfect for Ireland’s cold climate, and it fits well into the day-to-day culture of Ireland – where the drinking age is 18 and pubs are a staple of the social scene. This recipe uses the famous Irish beer in a sweet treat.

Serves 14-16

1 cup flour

¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

¼ teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons butter

8 ounces dark bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1 ¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided

4 large eggs

1 cup granulated sugar

1 ¼ cups stout (Guinness) at room temperature (do not use foam)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In mixing bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder and salt, and stir until combined well. Set aside.
  3. In small saucepan, melt butter, chocolate and ¾ cup chocolate chips over very low heat, stirring constantly. Once combined well, remove from heat.
  4. In large bowl, beat eggs and sugar until airy. Add chocolate and butter mixture and stir.
  5. Pour flour mixture into chocolate mixture. Stir well.
  6. Using whisk, stir in stout beer.
  7. Pour remaining chocolate chips into batter.
  8. In 9x 13 inch baking pan lined with aluminum foil, pour batter.
  9. Place in oven and bake about 35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  10. Allow brownies to cool before cutting, then serve.

 Iced Irish CoffeeIced Irish Coffee | CHEFS Mix

Beer is not the only traditional Irish alcoholic drink – Ireland is also famous for its whiskey. Whiskey has been produced in Ireland since before the 1500s. Whiskey is a staple at pubs and at social gatherings throughout Ireland, and it is beloved for its mild flavor and warming qualities. Below is a recipe for a whiskey-coffee beverage – perfect to quench your thirst or for dessert after a St. Patrick’s Day meal.
Serves 8-10

8 cups of ice cubes

1 cup sugar

1 cup hot water

8 cups of fresh brewed coffee, chilled

3 cups Irish Whiskey

1 cup chocolate syrup

Whipped cream

  1. Several hours before you are going to make iced coffees, prepare 8 cups of fresh brewed coffee and place in refrigerator to chill.
  2. In large pitcher combine 1 cup sugar and hot water and stir well.
  3. Once combined, pour chilled coffee into pitcher.
  4. Add Irish whiskey and stir.
  5. Add chocolate syrup and stir to blend.
  6. Fill serving glasses with ice and pour coffee and whiskey mixture over ice.
  7. Top with whipped cream and serve.

Your Turn: What's your favorite way to celebrate St. Patrick's Day?

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Tags: soda bread, cabbage, Brownies, coffee, St. Patrick's Day

Categories: Food & Recipes