You dont even have to be a wee bit Irish to tap your inner leprechaun.
A day set aside in Ireland for spiritual renewal and prayer is an excuse for blarin o the green, eating corned beef and cabbage and raising a pint or two.
Sunday marks the death of the patron saint of Ireland. St. Patrick, who lived at the end of the fourth century, brought Christianity to Ireland and is said to have driven the snakes out of the Emerald Isle and into the ocean. We can also thank him for shamrocks and luck: He used the three-leaf clover to teach the Christian doctrine.
Irish celebrity chef Clodagh McKenna has fond memories of breakfast and then Mass, followed by a parade and a pot of beef and Guinness stew on St. Patricks Day. McKenna reminisces about her favorite holiday in her new cookbook Clodaghs Kitchen Diaries (Kyles Books).
Heres a pot of golden ideas, many from McKenna, to celebrate St. Patricks Day:
• Have leprechauns make mischief by leaving green footprints on washable surfaces. Make a fist with the right hand and dip the bottom of the fist in washable green paint. Stamp the paint on paper, the fridge or the floor and add toes. Repeat with the left hand. Repeat as necessary. Add to the magic by leaving a trail of gold glitter, and make little messes around the room. Also, leave chocolate gold coins or a crock o green beads.
• Hand out pots of gold. Place Rolo candies at the bottom of a tall, narrow plastic bag. Add layers of M&Ms in rainbow colors. Or place Rolos at the bottom of a zip-close bag, top with multicolored licorice made into an upside-down U. The card can read: Youre the pot of gold at the end of my rainbow.
• Greet guests in Gaelic with a hundred thousand welcomes: Ceadmilefailte (kayd meeluh foll-tjuh).
• Serve Irish coffee: Add 2 tablespoons of Irish whiskey to a warmed glass and stir in 1 teaspoon of brown sugar. Add 1/3 cup of strong coffee and, using the back of a spoon, pour cream onto the surface of the coffee.
• Health is the toast heard in pubs, homes and restaurants throughout Ireland. So heres to slainte, pronounced SLAHN-ch.
• Make an Irish-themed floral arrangement of different shades of green foliage and flowers and tie green ribbons around the vase.
• Share shamrock-shaped cookies frosted with green icing.
• Make McKennas smoked salmon mousse in a bowl set in the middle of a large platter. Surround the platter with crudites of celery, carrot and cucumber to replicate the Irish flag.
To make the mousse, blend together 8 ounces smoked salmon, 3 ounces softened cream cheese, 2 ounces creme fraiche, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill and the juice of 1 lemon, and then season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
For a printable copy of the recipe, click the link:
HEAT oven to 450 degrees. Put all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix together. Stir in the buttermilk to make a moist dough.
LIGHTLY grease two 2-pound loaf tins and dust them with wheat germ. Divide the dough between the tins, smooth the top and make a cross on each one with a floured knife. Sprinkle with wheat germ and sesame seeds.
PLACE the loaves in the oven for 10 minutes at 450 degrees, then reduce the temperature to 250 degrees and bake for 1 hour.
WHEN the loaves are baked, remove from the oven and leave in the tins to cool a little. Turn them out on wire racks to cool completely.
Note: For a special treat, add nuts and dried fruit to the batter. Slice the loaves thinly and toast in the oven until crisp. Take two cups of prepared batter and mix in 1/2 cup whole almonds, 1/4 cup or more raw sesame seeds, 1/4 cup or more raw sunflower seeds and a generous 1/2 cup or more of dried fruit. Bake as directed. When cool, slice and bake at 325 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes on each side until dry and crunchy. Yield: