St. Patrick’s Day is the holiday celebrated annually on March 17th. It is the date on which the most commonly recognized Irish patron saint, St. Patrick died in the fourth century. In the early seventeenth century, this day was made an official Christian feast day and commemorates St. Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. It also celebrates, in general, the heritage and culture of the Irish with parades, festivals, church services and “wearing of the green” (legend has it that St. Patrick used shamrocks to explain the Holy Trinity to the pagan Irish). I often wonder where the alcohol consumption fits in to this celebration. Apparently, Christians lifted the Lenten restrictions of fasting and drinking alcohol on this day and therefore, encouraged the holiday’s tradition of imbibing.
Eating corned beef on St. Patrick’s Day originated as part of the Irish-American culture in the United States and Canada. While corned beef is available mostly for tourists in Ireland, it is not considered a native cuisine. Some of the friends that I celebrated with this year actually have very little (myself included) Irish ancestry or none at all. BUT, who doesn’t love good corned beef and cabbage?! The Irish holiday gathering of dear friends at Midge and Jon Ingersoll’s home proved we know how to eat and drink in Irish fashion.
Both of Midge’s parents’ families were Irish ~ Flanagan and Smyth don’t ye know! So Midge put on a party with flair and fantastic food as usual. Now, like me, Midge always makes a recipe her own. However, unlike me, she does not collect cookbooks nor rarely uses a recipe. The dishes that I will share live mostly in her head. Amazing.
The party started with our usual long happy hour in Thomas’ Tavern (the Ingersoll’s very quaint gathering room/bar in their home) with green martinis, Scottish eggs, sweet pea stuffed potatoes and shamrock chips. Eventually we moved on to the beautifully set and decorated dining room where we feasted and toasted St. Patrick even more. The menu included corned beef that was slow cooked for hours to perfection, cabbage and root vegetables (potatoes, carrots, turnips, celery and onion) cooked in the meat’s broth, Irish soda bread and completed with the sinfully rich and delicious Irish whiskey cake that Midge just ‘whipped up’! Following dessert we staggered back to the tavern for a wee bit of whiskey. As I told my friends the next morning, I needed a greasy cheeseburger and a lot of water to cleanse my polluted soul. Jon just went back to bed.
Midge asked me to dedicate this post to her pure Irish maternal great-grandmother Margaret Flanagan. On the bar was situated a beautiful old photograph of her great-grandmother holding her grandmother, Margaret Smith (the spelling of her name was Americanized). I happily do so, as well as share some of the traditional foods we had at the feast.
Scottish eggs are hard-cooked eggs wrapped in sausage and baked. Simply delicious and make a heavy appetizer. They are not of Scottish origin; a London department store claims their creation in the early 18th century. Some sources say they may actually be of Persian origin. Who cares ~ they are a pure culinary delight!
Midge’s Scottish Eggs
- 8 large eggs plus 2 for an egg wash
- 1 lb. bulk regular breakfast sausage without casing, such as Jimmy Dean
- Plain bread crumbs
- Dollop of mustard and mayonnaise
- Green food coloring
- Fresh flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
- Boil eggs for 10 minutes. Whisk remaining 2 eggs in a bowl.
- Allow hard-cooked eggs to cool.
- In your hand, flatten an oblong patty of sausage, place egg in center and gently shape the form over the egg, pinch closed to seal.
- Roll the ball in flour first then in whisked egg then in bread crumbs.
- Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.
- Allow to slightly cool then cut in half.
- Mix a dollop of mustard and mayonnaise with a drop of green food coloring.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- Place parsley on a white platter for garnish and serve eggs on top.
Ali’s Stuffed Potatoes
- 10 small Yukon gold potatoes
- 3 T. olive oil, divided
- Kosher salt
- 1 – 9 oz. package frozen sweet peas, thawed, drained
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 2 T. fresh lemon juice
- 1 heaping t. green curry paste*
- 1 oz. plain goat cheese
*Curry paste is for heat and does not impart a curry taste, may substitute red pepper flakes if desired.
- Cut potatoes in half after washing/drying.
- Coat potatoes with a small amount of oil on baking sheet, sprinkle kosher salt over potatoes.
- Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, just until slightly soft.
- Remove from oven, slightly cool.
- In a food processor, mix peas, garlic, lemon juice, curry paste, goat cheese and salt/pepper to taste.
- Add remaining olive oil through chute.
- With a melon scoop, remove a small circle in potatoes.
- Place pea mixture in a pastry bag and fill potatoes.*
- Serve immediately while warm.
*May fill small plastic bag and snip a small hole in corner to pipe out pea mixture into potatoes in place of a pastry bag.
Ali’s Shamrock Chips
- 1 package wonton wrappers
- Prepared pesto (I use my own homemade but you can purchase pesto in the store)
- Parmesan cheese, grated
- Using a shamrock cookie cutter, cut out as many shapes as desired.
- Brush pesto over top of each shape.
- Bake for 5-8 minutes on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper at 350 degrees until edges are slightly browned.
- Remove from oven, place each shape on a cooling rack and immediately sprinkle with parmesan cheese.*
*Parmesan cheese was recently added to this recipe at Midge’s suggestion! Delicious!
I am not a baker, especially of bread (c’mon Miriam) but this bread was lovely with the dinner and seems quite simple to prepare so I plan to give it a whirl.
Midge’s Irish Soda Bread
Ingredients: makes 2 loaves
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ t. baking soda
- 2 t. baking powder
- 3 T. sugar
- ½ t. salt
- 3 T. butter
- ½ cup raisins
- 2 T. caraway seeds
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 t. vanilla
- Sift together the first 5 ingredients.
- Work in the butter with a cutter until crumbly.
- Fold in the raisins and caraway.
- Add buttermilk and vanilla to dry mixture with large spoon.
- Grease a pie pan and place dough in pan.
- Flip pan over so that greased side of dough is up.
- Cut dough into 2 mounds and bake at 355 (yes, that temperature!) for 30 minutes.
Midge’s Irish Whiskey Cake
Ingredients for cake:
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 – ½ cups brewed coffee
- ½ cup Irish whiskey
- 2 sticks unsalted butter
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 – ¼ t. baking soda
- ½ t. salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 t. vanilla
Ingredients for ganache frosting:
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I prefer Ghirardelli)
- ½ cup buttermilk
- Green nonpareil balls
- Walnuts, chopped
Preparation for cake:
- Place first 4 ingredients in a saucepan and heat on low, whisking frequently.
- Remove pan from heat and add sugar; allow to cool.
- In a bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, eggs.
- Add vanilla to dry mixture.
- Add dry ingredients to whiskey mixture.
- Grease and dust with cocoa powder 2 cake pans
- Evenly pour cake mixture into pans and bake at 325 degrees for 30-35 minutes (use the toothpick test).
- Remove from oven and cool on baking rack.
- Once cooled, remove cake from pans and place bottom half in refrigerator for 15 minutes.
Preparation for ganache:
- Combine chocolate chips and buttermilk in a tightly fitting bowl over a saucepan of boiling water.
- Cook until melted. Carefully remove bowl from saucepan.
- Remove cake from refrigerator and place on cake stand. Pour some ganache over top and spread evenly. Do not be concerned if ganache drips over sides.
- Place second layer of cake on top and pour ganache evenly over top, allowing chocolate to drip down the sides.
- Garnish with nonpareil balls and walnuts if desired.
St. Patty’s Day is only 363 days away so file this post and you’ll be ready for next year. Thanks Midgey!
Bon Appétit (or shall I say bainigí sult as bhur mbéile)!