I have a very slim Irish line in my ancestry, but I married a man who was was fiercely proud of his Irish lineage.  Frank used to take off work on St. Patrick’s Day so he could grab his green derby and head for the nearest pub to spend the day.  One St. Patrick’s Day, he showed up on the evening news coverage at Hap’s Irish Pub with his derby slightly askew,  surrounded by his cronies, waving a big mug of beer and bellowing out, “When Irish Eyes are Smiling”.  His mother said, “Jesus, Joseph and Mary, I’m mortified to death” that her friends saw him in such a state, but this is the woman who was doing the Irish jig for her grandchildren well into her 80s and who said her grandmother washed her clothes on the banks of the river Shannon.

So, I raised four mostly-Irish children and celebrate St. Pat each year with some Irish food.  My oldest daughter was in an Irish dance group and I loved going to the competitions and the annual Feis.  In 1990, they had a food competition and I entered the Scone, Soda Bread and Brown Soda Bread contests.  I won a first-place gold medal in each of the divisions.  I was particularly pleased because the judges were some visitors from Ireland.

IRISH BROWN SODA BREAD

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 Tblsp. dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 Tblsp. softened butter
  • 3/4  cup raisins
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

Lightly grease a flat baking pan

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Cut in the softened butter until mixture looks like fine crumbs.  Add raisins.

Add buttermilk, mixing with a fork until dry ingredients are absorbed.  Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead gently until smooth, adding flour as needed (about 1/2 cup).  Dough will still be slightly sticky.  Shape into a ball and place on the greased baking pan, forming  into a 7 x 1-1/2 inch circle.  Press a large floured knife into the center of the loaf almost through to the bottom.  Repeat at right angles to divide the loaf into quarters.

Bake @ 375 degrees F for 30-40 minutes until top is golden and loaf sounds hollow when tapped.  Remove to wire rack to cool.  Brush top with melted butter. 

Makes one loaf.  From a cookbook published by the Cincinnati Hoxworth Center called Adventures in a Culinary Vein.

The recipe for Colcannon comes from a cookbook my daughter brought back from Ireland, A Taste of Ireland by Theodora Fitzgibbon.  I adapted the recipe by using half of the butter and cream it called for.  Having tasted Ireland’s wonderful butter and cream, I can only imagine how rich the original dish is.  My family likes this version with a little less fat.

COLCANNON

  • Servings: 4-6 servings
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  • 4 cups shredded cabbage
  • 6 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 2 green onions with tops
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1 tsp. salt, divided
  • Grindings of black pepper
  • Pinch of mace
  • 1/4 cup butter, divided

Cook cabbage until tender.  I like to steam it for approximately 20 minutes.

Cover potatoes with cold water and cook on medium high heat for 20-30 minutes until potatoes are done, then drain.

While potatoes are cooking, cut up the green onions in small pieces.

Place in a small saucepan and cover with cream (about 1/4 cup).   Simmer on low until onion is soft.

Beat drained potatoes with 1/2 tsp. salt, grating of black pepper, mace, 2 Tblsp. butter and green onions with cream.  Add additional cream to get desired consistency (about 1/4 cup).

Place cooked cabbage in a large pot, add 1/2 tsp salt, grating of black pepper.   Add the mashed, seasoned potatoes.

Mix well and turn into a large serving bowl.  Make a well in the center and place 2 Tblsp. butter in the cavity. 

Serve piping hot.

I started making this dish in 1993.  The cookbook suggests frying leftovers like potato pancakes in bacon fat or butter.  I haven’t tried this because we never seem to have leftovers.

HAPPY ST PATRICK’S DAY.

P.S.  I came out to the kitchen this morning to find two handmade gifts from my daughter.