I’m of German and Swedish descent. But I swear, if I sat down with a psychic and she did a “past life regression” on me, you’d find that somewhere in my past, I spent a lot of time in Ireland. I’ve never been there… in my current life, but there’s just something about it that speaks to me. Maybe it’s the green rolling hills and the ruins that have stood through the centuries, maybe it’s the general “small town” feel that the country is rumored to have, maybe it’s their bone-deep love of horses and music. I don’t know. Whatever it is, I’ve caught it. So I’m passing a bit of it to you, this St. Patrick’s Day…
A little good food…. Seriously, skip the soggy cabbage and the too-salty corned beef. Try a Shepherd’s Pie instead, or perhaps a bit of Colcannon. Oh, yum. Comfort foods, for sure, but Irish to the core.
Shepherd’s Pie (this dish is traditionally made with lamb. I don’t like lamb. I like beef)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 medium chopped onion
- 2 sliced carrots
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 600ml/1 pint browning stock
- chopped parsley and thyme
- 450g/1lb cooked minced beef
- 675g/1.5lb mashed potatoes
- Kerrygold Dubliner Irish cheese (optional)
Melt the Irish butter in a saucepan and add the chopped onion cover and let sweat for a few minutes. Add the carrots. Stir in the flour and cook until it is slightly browned then add the stock and herbs.
Bring to the boil and reduce it a little by boiling for about 5 minutes.
Add the meat and bring back to the boil.
Place in a pie dish and cover with the mashed potatoes, put into a medium hot oven (350) for about 30 minutes.
for extra taste you can grate some Dubliner Irish cheese on top 10 minutes before the end of cooking
- 3 pounds potatoes, scrubbed
- 2 sticks butter
- 1 1/4 cups hot milk
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 head cabbage, cored and finely shredded
- 1 (1-pound) piece ham or bacon, cooked the day before
- 4 scallions, finely chopped
- Chopped parsley leaves, for garnish
Steam the potatoes in their skins for 30 minutes. Peel them using a knife and fork. Chop with a knife before mashing. Mash thoroughly to remove all the lumps. Add 1 stick of butter in pieces. Gradually add hot milk, stirring all the time. Season with a few grinds of black pepper.
Boil the cabbage in unsalted water until it turns a darker color. Add 2 tablespoons butter to tenderize it. Cover with lid for 2 minutes. Drain thoroughly before returning it to the pan. Chop into small pieces.
Put the ham in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 45 minutes until tender. Drain. Remove any fat and chop into small pieces.
Add cabbage, scallions, and ham to mashed potatoes, stirring them in gently.
Serve in individual soup plates. Make an indentation on the top by swirling a wooden spoon. Put 1 tablespoon of butter into each indentation. Sprinkle with parsley.
For dessert, a light bit of Shortbread. (I can eat this stuff all day and half the night. So buttery and light!) (and yes, I know that this is also popular in Scotland and Britain)
- 1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, at cool room temperature
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract, optional
- 2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1) Preheat the oven to 300°F. Lightly grease two round 9″ cake pans. If you worry about the shortbread possibly sticking in your particular pans, line them with parchment, and grease the parchment. Wilton’s Cake Release works, too.
2) In a medium-sized bowl, beat together the butter, sugar, vanilla, and almond extract, then beat in the flour. The mixture may seem a little dry at first; keep beating till it comes together. If it absolutely won’t come together, dribble in up to 1 tablespoon of water, until it does. This is a stiff dough.
3) Divide the dough in half, and press each half into one of the prepared pans, smoothing the surface with your fingers, or with a mini rolling pin.
4) Use a fork to prick the dough all over; this allows any steam to escape, and prevents the shortbread from bubbling as it bakes. Prick the dough in a random pattern, but it looks nicer pricked with some kind of symmetry.
5) Bake the shortbread until it’s a light golden brown across the top surface, and a deeper golden brown around the edges, about 35 minutes.
6) Remove it from the oven, and immediately turn each shortbread round out onto a clean work surface.
7) Using a pizza wheel or sharp knife, cut each round into 12 wedges. (Do this while the shortbread is still warm; if you wait until it’s cool, it won’t cut easily.) Transfer the shortbread wedges to a rack to cool.
8.) Serve as is, or decorate. Here are a few suggestions:
Drizzle with melted caramel; Spread with melted chocolate, and sprinkle with nuts; Set aside two shortbread cookies, and spread the remainder of the cookies with a thick layer of jam or preserves. Crumble the reserved cookies, and sprinkle the crumbs lightly over the jam.
Top it off with a bit of music….
And finally, when you can’t sit still, get out of your seats, and DANCE!!
Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone!!