Happy St. Patrick’s Day. It’s that time of the year when everyone has at least an Irish shamrock in their hearts. Here are some Irish recipes and a few that I’ve been making over the years. A “pint” or a glass of Irish Cream liqueur goes very well with this selection. Even an Irish coffee goes well (take a glass of strong, hot coffee, add a tablespoon of sugar, an ounce or two of Irish whisky, stir and add a topping of whipped cream and you’re ready to go!).
Nan Conroy’s Irish Soda Bread
Submitted by Helen Nicastro, Wilmington
4 cups all-purpose four
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter, softened and cut into pieces
1 15-ounce box of raisins
2 ½ tablespoons caraway seeds (Optional)
1 ½ cups buttermilk
1 large egg
1 teaspoon baking soda
In a large bowl whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add raisins and caraway seeds and mix with hands until batter forms crumbs.
In another bowl mix buttermilk, egg, and baking soda. Add to dry mixture and mix thoroughly. Knead about 5 minutes on a floured surface.
Grease and flour one large or two small loafs (or you can use cooking spray – it works really well) cut a cross in bread, almost all the way through with a knife.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 to 55 minutes.
Irish Seafood Chowder
1 stick butter
1 large leek, white and part of the green, very thinly sliced and washed
1 medium sweet onion, diced small
1 small carrot, peeled and grated
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups bottle clam juice
4 cups whole milk
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup light cream
8 ounces fish (like salmon or whitefish or a mix of the two), cut in 2-inch pieces
8 ounces cooked mussels, with out shells
8 ounces small cooked clams, without shells
4 ounces small shrimp, without shells (cooked or raw)
Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
In a large soup pot over medium heat, melt butter and stir in the leeks, onion, and grated carrot. Cover the pan and cook the vegetables until completely softened but not at all browned, bout 10 to 12 minutes, stirring once or twice.
Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and stir to combine. Slowly stir in the clam juice or fish stock, adding it gradually to avoid lumps. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently for 10 to 15 minutes, until the soup is thickened and the vegetables are tender.
Add the seafood and heat through ot cook any pieces that need it. Serve hot, with a sprinkle of parsley.
Fat free ingredients may be substituted in this recipe.
2 pounds all-purpose potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
1 medium parsnip, peeled and cut into ½ (one half) inch pieces
½ cup milk
3 tablespoons butter, melted
4 tablespoons Greek yogurt or cream cheese
1 cup grated white cheddar cheese
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 pound lean ground beef
2 large sweet onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 large carrots, cut into small pieces
2 celery stalks, cut into small pieces
½ cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, chopped
1 ½ teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 10-ounce package frozen green peas, thawed
1 10-ounce package frozen kernel corn, thawed
In a covered large saucepan, place potatoes and parsnips and enough cold water to cover, heat to boiling on high. Reduce heat to medium, uncover and simmer for about 15-20 minutes until potatoes are tender. Drain well and return to saucepan. Add milk, yogurt or cream cheese, melted butter, and salt and pepper to taste, mash until smooth. I use an electric mixer. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a skillet brown ground beef until cooked through, stirring. Transfer cooked meat to a large bowl, leaving drippings in skillet. Add onions, carrot, celery and salt and pepper to taste. Cool about 5-8 minutes until tender, stirring. Add wine and Worcestershire sauce to skillet, cook about 2-3 minutes or until reduced by half. Stir in thyme and cooked beef with any juices.
In a 3-quart shallow baking or casserole dish spread half the mashed potatoes in an even layer. Sprinkle ½ (one half) cup grated cheddar cheese. Top with cooked beef mixture, peas and corn. Spoon remaining potatoes evenly on top, spread gently to cover filling. Sprinkle remaining grated cheddar cheese over top. Bake 25 to 30 minutes in a 425 degree oven until top is a golden brown. Remove from oven and cool for about 5-10 minutes before serving.
This traditional Irish dish is a mixture of buttery potatoes and cabbage and is good any time of the year.
1 ½ (one and one half) pounds red potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 medium head of cabbage, chopped
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
4 bay leaves
1 cup milk
5 tablespoons butter
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
In a large heavy pot place potatoes and bay leaves and cover with water. Bring water to a boil, cover and cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes until potatoes are almost tender. Add the cabbage the last 5 minutes of cooking.
Meanwhile in a small saucepan add chopped onion and milk and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer uncovered for about 6-7 minutes until onions are soft.
Drain potato mixture, discarding bay leaves, and mash potatoes with butter, milk mixture, salt and pepper.
Guinness Stout Brownies with Vanilla Frosting
1 package brownie mix
½ (one half) cup pecan nuts, chopped
Prepare brownie batter according to package directions, substituting Guinness Stout for the liquid, add chopped pecans and bake according to directions.
To make the icing:
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened to room temperature
¾ to 1 cup heavy cream
1 1-pound box confectioners’ sugar
In a medium bowl with a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the heavy cream. On low speed, slowly mix in the confectioners’ sugar until incorporated and smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use. Icing can be made several hours ahead and kept covered and chilled. Top each cupcake with a tablespoon or two of frosting and dust with powdered cocoa.
Irish Cream Fudge
3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup white chocolate chips
1/4 cup butter
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 cup Irish cream liqueur
1 1/2 cups chopped pecan nuts
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
4 tablespoons Irish cream liqueur
2 tablespoons butter
16 toasted pecan halves
Butter an 8x8 inch pan.
In the top half of a double boiler melt the 3 cups semisweet chocolate chips, 1 cup white chocolate chips, and 1/4 cup butter until soft enough to stir.
Stir in the confectioner’s sugar and Irish cream until mixture is smooth. Stir in nuts. Place mixture in the prepared pan and lay a sheet of plastic wrap over top; press and smooth top down.
In the top half of a double boiler melt remaining chocolates until soft. Remove from heat and with a fork beat in the butter and Irish cream until smooth. Spread topping over cooled fudge with a knife. If a smooth top is important place plastic wrap over the top. Refrigerate until firm, 1 to 2 hours at least. This fudge can be easily frozen. Cut the fudge into 16 squares and place a toasted pecan on top of each square pushing into the candy.
Hope Cusick has won awards at the North Carolina Strawberry Festival in 2012; The North Carolina Blueberry Festival — winning first place for her Blueberry Cheese Danish Pastry in 2012; placing on her blueberry spinach salad and dressing and winning second place for her Sweet Blueberry Pepper Jelly in 2015; and winning first in 2016 for her spoon blueberry muffins with apricot sauce and second for her blueberry crisp squares — and has won various other contest awards — including three blue ribbons at the 2016 Cape Fear County Fair — for her blueberry cheesecake, muffins, breads, cookies, brownies and jams. She resides in Hampstead.