Posts Tagged 'Irish'

St. Patricks Day Recipes

I don’t really go all out for St. Patricks day anymore… those college days of hitting the bars at 6 AM (or as soon as my final was over, since Cal Poly didn’t seem to care that their finals were interrupting a crucial drinking holiday) are LONG gone (and hopefully my liver has fully recovered). I do, however, appreciate any chance to eat a good Irish meal.

My sister and me at the Guinness Storehouse in 2007

Ireland is one of my favorite countries and Guinness is one of my favorite beers (I guess I’ll have to turn in my vegetarian card now…). Since I can’t have a Guinness this year, I’ll be celebrating with lots of good food! Here are some ideas for your St. Patricks Day menu:

Buttery mashed potatoes with kale

Boxty Pancakes
Simple potato pancakes – great with sweet toppings or a hearty stew

Irish soda bread
A classic quick bread

Guinness Stew
Thick and hearty, made with beef or tempeh. (If you’re a strict vegetarian or vegan, you’ll need to find an alternative to Guinness that’s not made with isinglass)

Guinness Chocolate Cake
Rich and delicious – a perfect St. Patricks Day dessert!


It just so happens that yesterday was my 26th birthday. Judge all you want to, but I’m one of those people that still gets excited about my birthday, probably in part because my family has a knack for picking out the absolute best birthday presents ever. My parents sent me a new lens for my camera (50 mm f/1.8 yippee!) and my aunt, who always picks out the perfect cookbook for me, sent this:

I know Irish food isn’t the most vegetarian-friendly, but there are some great recipes in here, and the photography is beautiful. I also love the little stories profiling various people and places. Since Ireland is one of my favorite places on Earth, I’m really excited about adding this to my growing collection of cookbooks.

Colcannon combines two of my favorite vegetables, kale and potatoes, and it’s nice and simple comfort food. I have to argue that the pat of butter on top is a crucial component, because it melts into the potatoes and gives them an alluring, velvety texture.

(adapted from The Country Cooking of Ireland by Colman Andrews)

serves 8

5 or 6 russet potatoes
2 tbsp butter, plus additional pats for serving
3 cups chopped kale (leaves only)
1 1/3 cups whole milk
4 green onions, chopped
salt and pepper

Put the potatoes in a large pan and cover about halfway with water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about 40 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Pour out the water but keep the potatoes in the pan and let stand, covered, for about 5 minutes.

Melt the butter in a wide skillet and add the kale. Cook until wilted, about 5 minutes.

Bring the milk and green onions to a simmer in a saucepan and add a few pinches of salt and pepper. Stir in the kale, turn off the heat, and keep covered.

Peel the potatoes and put them in a large bowl. Add the milk and kale, and mash until nearly smooth, seasoning with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Divide among bowls and top each serving with a pat of butter.

Boxty Pancakes

If you’re a procrastinator like I tend to be, and you still haven’t finalized your St. Patricks Day menu, consider putting these on it. They’re great topped with jam or as a side dish for stew, and they’re not too complex to make. Apparently there are all sorts of rhymes about boxty, including this little gem (found in the cookbook this recipe came from):
Boxty on the griddle, boxty in the pan, if you don’t eat boxty, you’ll never get a man.
Uh huh.

Anyway, Happy St. Patricks Day!. Here are some other Irish-inspired recipes to help you celebrate:

Guinness Beef or Tempeh Stew
Irish Soda Bread
Guinness Chocolate Cake

(adapted from Celtic Folklore Cooking by Joanne Asala)

1/2 pound potatoes, peeled and grated
1 cup cooked mashed potatoes
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup milk
salt and pepper

Squeeze the grated potatoes in a clean dish towel to remove excess water.
Put them in a large bowl and stir in the mashed potatoes, flour, baking soda, and milk (you may need more or less depending on the moistness of your mashed potatoes…it should have a similar consistency to pancake batter). Add a few pinches of salt and pepper.
Lightly grease a griddle and cook the boxty pancakes over medium-high heat until golden brown on each side.

Guinness Chocolate Cake

It seemed only logical to follow Guinness Beef Stew up with Guinness Chocolate Cake for dessert on Christmas Eve. I couldn’t really taste the Guinness, but the cake was very rich and dense – just a sliver was perfectly satisfying!

Because the cake uses butter that’s melted and not creamed with sugar, the texture isn’t as fluffy and it seems to have more of a brownie consistency. It’s great if you’re looking for a sheet cake that won’t take too much effort (although the original recipe called for layers to be stacked, that seems like a bit much for me). This is just one of those nice easy-going cakes you can throw together whenever the need arises.

(adapted from Epicurious)

1 cup butter
1 cup Guinness stout
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350 F, grease a 13×9″ pan, and line the bottom with parchment.
Melt the butter and Guinness together in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, and bring to a simmer. Whisk in the cocoa powder until smooth, then remove from the heat to cool slightly.

Stir the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt together with a fork or wire whisk and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs and sour cream until smooth. Add the butter mixture and mix on low until combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer and add the flour, stirring gently then folding with a rubber spatula.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Place the pan on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes, then invert onto the rack to cool completely.

1 cup whipping cream
1 1/3 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Melt the chocolate chips with the whipping cream in the top of a double boiler and stir until smooth. Let cool for about 15 minutes, then beat with the whisk attachment in a stand mixer until spreadable.

Guinness Beef (or Tempeh) Stew

Two years ago we spent the two weeks before Christmas in Ireland, and pretty much everyone we met there thought we were absolutely nuts for leaving beautiful California and going to Ireland for such a cold, rainy time of the year. But lucky for us, the weather was perfect, the Guinness was plentiful, and we ate ridiculous quantities of hearty meat-and-potatoes Irish fare. One of the best things we brought home from the trip was a cookbook by Darina Allen, who is, as far as I can tell, the queen of Irish Cooking.

For Christmas Eve dinner this year, I wanted to incorporate as much Guinness as possible into the meal, and also to use up that giant bag of potatoes I seem to be writing about in every other blog post. So I turned to Darina for boxty pancake and Guinness beef stew recipes, (substituting tempeh for the beef in my portion because I no longer eat meat). It was a great dinner, but really made me wish there was a pub down the street where we could go to catch a traditional music session. Maybe next year…

Note: I made this recipe in two slow cookers. I made about 2/3 of the recipe with 1.4 pounds of beef in a large slow cooker, and 1/3 of the recipe with 4 ounces of tempeh in a small slow cooker. This was more than enough to feed myself and three meat-eaters.

Also: Christmas may be over, but if you’re still feeling that giving spirit and you’ve had a food blog for at least a year, Kristen over at <a href=";Dine and Dish is still looking for mentors for Adopt-a-Blogger. Read all about it and sign up HERE

(adapted from Irish Traditional Cooking by Darina Allen)

2 pounds lean stewing beef (or two 8-ounce packages of tempeh)
3 tbsp oil
2 tbsp flour
salt and pepper
2 large onions, chopped
3 tbsp canned tomato puree, mixed with 4 tbsp water
10 fluid ounces Guinness stout (look for the bottle with the yellow label, NOT the cans or bottles of Guinness draught)
5 large carrots, cut into chunks
a few tsp fresh chopped parsley

Cut the meat or tempeh into bite sized cubes. Toss the beef with the flour and a few pinches of salt and pepper (omit this step if using tempeh).
Heat the oil in a dutch oven or wide, heavy skillet. Brown the meat on all sides (or briefly saute the tempeh cubes).
Add the onions and tomato puree-water mixture (and salt and pepper, if using tempeh), cover, and cook for about 5 minutes.
Transfer to a slow cooker.
Pour about half the Guinness into the dutch oven or skillet and bring to a boil while stirring.
Pour that and the remaining Guinness into the slow cooker and add the carrots.
Cook on low for about 6 hours.
Taste and adjust the seasonings, then sprinkle with a little fresh parsley to serve.

Irish Soda Bread


Over the past few years, I’ve watched Mike bake loaf after loaf of perfect Irish soda bread. As soon as he pulled it from the oven, we’d tear off chunks and slather them with butter or jam, burning our hands and tongues because the bread was still steaming. I was happy to have him bake it, but eventually I wanted to try it for myself.

I’ve worked in a bakery and made dozens of different yeast and quick breads, so I figured I would have no problem with this. After all, it’s just flour, salt, baking soda, and buttermilk. No proofing yeast, punching down, complicated braiding, egg wash, or anything that would strike fear in the heart of a novice baker. And yet I failed repeatedly.


There was my first disastrous attempt, when I offered to make two loaves for Thanksgiving and the texture was all wrong. I took another shot with a different recipe when I was staying at my parents house. My mom took a bite, chewed slowly and said “well, it’s okay, but it’s not soda bread.” This continued a few more times, and each time there was something off.

When I decided to try yet again to make an edible loaf the other night, I had my usual hesitation. I briefly debated putting raisins in it, but Mike reminded me that I probably shouldn’t make it any more complicated than necessary, given my track record.


When I pulled the loaf from the oven, I started to think that this was my time. “It looks like soda bread!” I yelled (probably louder than I should have, considering the hour and the baby that lives downstairs) and Mike agreed. We got the jam and butter ready and dug in. Victory! I’m not sure why this time things finally worked out for me, but I’m never trying another recipe again!


The accompaniment for this particular loaf was this amazing jam from my aunt, who picked it up at the Blackberry Arts Festival in Coos Bay, Oregon, and sent it along with my parents when they came to visit me in Seoul. I am not being paid for this endorsement and they did not send me free samples, but I would gladly buy it myself! Unlike a lot of the jam available here, it wasn’t overly sticky or syrupy, and it really tasted like eating fresh berries! You can read more about Misty Meadows Jam at

(adapted from Baking Bites)
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 1/8 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 cups buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 350 F, and grease a baking sheet (or line with parchment).
Combine the flour, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl and wisk together with a fork.
Stir in half the butter milk, then add the remaining buttermilk 2 tbsp at a time. You want the dough to be just a little bit moist. It should hold together, but not be sticky. If you accidentally add too much milk, knead in some flour until the dough is no longer sticky.
Shape into a ball, then cut an X into the top.
Bake for about 45 minutes, or until golden brown. (If you tap on the bottom of the loaf with your knuckles, it should sound hollow).
Let cool as long as you can stand to wait, then serve with butter and jam.
Best if eaten within about 3 hours of baking.


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