Our family has strong Irish roots. My grandmother was born in Cork, my father-in-law is from Achill Island, and my mother-in-law, Nana, is a County Down native.
So when St Patrick’s Day rolls around, we always make a fuss. Apparently, this is not the case in Ireland. But it’s a great excuse for a family get-together and celebration anyway. And we like to celebrate with food!
My husband loves his mom’s boxty (or potato cake), which Nana makes using leftover mashed potato, and serves up at breakfast as a kind of Irish hash brown. Here’s a recipe that uses grated potato, courtesy of Farmette, a great blog about modern family life on a centuries-old Irish farm.
Aah, the food of my childhood. Irish stew is like a ragu or chicken soup – everyone has their own way of making it, and everyone’s nan makes it best. This version, from Feasting At Home, has a broth-like sauce, so it’s a lot thinner than I’m used to, and includes fresh tarragon, which gives it a brilliantly herby kick.
Nana’s Soda Bread
Nana, now 85 years old, has been baking this soda bread for ages, and I always ask her to make it for me when we visit. I like to have it warm out of the oven, with lashings of farm-fresh Kerry butter.
Nana has graciously shared her recipe with us, but for me, it’s never as good as when she makes it.
4 cups plain flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sugar (optional)
2 cups buttermilk or sour milk
- Sieve dry ingredients into large bowl.
- Scoop up handfuls and allow to drop back into the bowl to aerate the mixture.
- Add enough buttermilk to make a soft dough.
- Now work quickly as the buttermilk and soda are already reacting. Knead the dough lightly – too much handling will toughen it, while too little means it won’t rise properly.
- Form a round loaf about as thick as your fist. Place it on a lightly-floured baking sheet and cut a cross in the top with a floured knife.
- Bake at once near the top of a pre-heated oven, gas mark 8, 450 degrees F, 230 degrees C, for 30-45 minutes. When baked, the loaf will sound hollow when rapped on the bottom with your knuckles.
- Wrap immediately in a clean tea-towel to prevent the crust hardening too much.
Note: Wheaten bread or brown soda bread is made exactly the same way but with wholemeal flour replacing all or some of the white flour; this mixture will probably require less buttermilk.
Another variation is to add half a cup of sultanas to the white bread – this loaf is known as spotted dick.
Guinness Chocolate Cake
What sweet heaven is this?! Who woulda thunk that chocolate and Guinness would be as perfect a pairing as peanut butter and jelly, Diane Court and Lloyd Dobler? This “melt in your mouth sensation” is courtesy of Foodness Gracious, a blog run by a Scotsman transplanted to the US for the past 15 years, and is absolutely scrumptious. Warning: the frosting is dangerously good.
Check out our Pinterest board, OGG: St Paddy’s Day!, for more Irish food recipes, as well as easy St Patrick’s Day kiddie crafts and activities.
(Image credits: Farmette, Feasting At Home, and Foodness Gracious)