March 17th is nearly here. Are you ready for the wearing of the green? On St. Patrick’s Day everyone is Irish — at least in spirit. So why not celebrate with more than a green t-shirt or “Kiss Me I’m Irish” button? I tend to go a little over the top: I’ve got earrings and hair accessories, buttons and suspenders, not to mention recipes galore. I always make an effort to enjoy the day, especially with some Irish (or just green) foods.
Start your day right with a green smoothie. Fresh fruits and veggies will never lead you astray. I also love Irish soda bread. It’s easy to make, only takes a few ingredients and produces a delicious and hearty loaf of bread. It pairs really well with a bit of butter, nutella, apple butter or jam.
I make my soda bread in a cast-iron skillet, but you can use just about any baking dish. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl mix 2 cups of flour (whole wheat or regular) with 1 teaspoon of baking soda and 1 teaspoon of salt. Slowly add in 1 cup of buttermilk (low fat is fine). The dough will be very sticky. You can mix it with your hands, but I find it easier to mix and manipulate it with a rubber spatula. Make a round ball of dough and place it in your baking dish. Using a sharp knife, cut an “x” shape into the top of the dough. Bake for 25-35 minutes. Finished bread should be golden brown. You can tell it’s done by flipping it over and tapping the bottom. It should sound hollow.
Soda bread is best served warm and only lasts about two days. If the bread is cold, just slice a piece and warm it in a toaster oven. You’ll be glad you did.
If you’re feeling extra traditional you can dine on corned beef and cabbage for lunch. While I like it, I know many people that aren’t big fans (or refuse to try it). If that’s not so much to your taste, try a shepherd’s pie. Fish and chips (with malt vinegar, never ketchup) also sate my taste buds when I’m feeling Irish.
I make my shepherd’s pie with a pound of ground turkey that I brown and season lightly. After the meat is brown, I add in some corn and baby peas and let the flavors come together for a few minutes and get the veggies warm.
At the same time I start the meat, I cut up and boil two large potatoes. Once the potatoes are tender enough to fall off a fork, I drain them and put them in a bowl. I add butter or margarine and non-fat milk to taste. (I know “to taste” isn’t really helpful, but I don’t measure. Start with about a heaping tablespoon of margarine and a quarter cup of milk). Using a hand mixer (unless you want to mash the old-fashion way) beat the potatoes until they are mixed with the milk and margarine and nice and creamy. If the texture isn’t smooth enough, slowly add more milk and/or margarine and keep mixing. Feel free to add some garlic salt or powder to kick the potatoes up a notch.
Once your meat and potatoes are ready, spoon the meat and veggies evenly across a square casserole dish. Cover with the potatoes and serve. Feel free to add some shredded cheddar cheese.
What’s your favorite Irish meal? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!
About the Author: Janice Carr is a freelance writer who shares her tips and recipes with readers online.