Kitchen Shrink: 17 food/drink ideas to celebrate St. Patrick's Day

KITCHEN SHRINK:

On the heels of St. Patrick's Day, an old Jewish girlfriend from Canada called me excitedly, and hinted at her news with a melodic greeting: "The top of the morning to you!"

After receiving the results from one of those DNA ancestry tests she just discovered that she was part Irish. Along with her newfound heritage that's shared by close to 80 million folks around the globe, my lassie now wanted a repertoire of Irish recipes to help pay tribute to her patron saint on March 17 and throughout the year. So, for my Irish friend and the rest of the world's hibernophiles, here's a primer with 17 savory dishes, sweet treats along with hot and cold sips inspired from the Emerald Isle. Sláinte agut!

1. Wake up to a hearty Irish breakfast of Guinness griddle cakes, an omelet with plenty of green vegetables including asparagus, arugula, peppers and broccoli, a rasher of back bacon, and a thick slice of brown buttermilk bread slathered with pure Irish butter.

2. Corned beef and cabbage is the iconic celebratory dish. Comfort food with a kick, you can prepare the beef brisket from scratch, curing for three days in a brine of spring water, pink salt, and sugar, then boiling in a slow cooker with a medley of pickling spices, such as, allspice berries, coriander and mustard seeds, red pepper flakes, ginger, and cardamom pods until fork tender. Add cabbage chunks during the last hour of cooking. Cut corned beef against the grain and serve family-style with roasted roots, rye bread and spicy mustard.

3. Colcannon, a traditional vegetarian dish has many regional variations, but is basically mashed potatoes blended with chopped kale or cabbage, scallions, milk, butter and seasonings.

4. An Irish stew — whether prepared vegan-style with russet potatoes, carrots, turnips, and rutabagas; or with beef or lamb, and potato dumplings in a rich Guinness sauce — is sure to please the palate of the most discriminating lad or lassie.

5. Shepherd's pie — a homey baked casserole of minced lamb, carrots and onions topped with a thick blanket of mashed potatoes — is similar to cottage pie made with minced beef. The "shepherdless" pie is the vegetarian version with lentils and sweet potatoes.

6. Crispy, cheesy, chivey potato pancakes or boxty (the Irish version of Chanukah's latkes) are nicely fried to a golden brown in either butter or bacon fat.

7. Bangers and mash are grilled sausages over mounds of mashed potatoes and gravy.

8. Golden fish and chips (fries) with firm white fish like cod or halibut coated in a light and crispy Guinness batter, sprinkled with malt vinegar and served with a heap of green slaw is a nice change-up for pescavores.

Other creative comfort foods with an Irish twist might include:

9. Grilled cheese rarebit slathered in Guinness gravy

10. Steak and stout pie

11. Wild mushroom risotto with Dubliner cheese

12. Dark chocolate and Guinness chili

13. Wild-caught salmon or seafood, like black mussels or deep-sea scallops in a citrusy Guinness broth.

14. Indulge in popular desserts like orange custard with rhubarb compote, chocolate potato cake, caramelized burnt oranges, Irish whiskey cake, shortbread biscuits, and Bailey's cheesecake.

15. Irish Soda bread is in a class by itself.

16. Now, wet your whistle with some heady libations — like a pint of Guinness, the Emerald Isle's beloved brew, ruby red with delicate bubbles, a creamy foam, and a tangy, toasty flavor. Chug down a green-tinted stein, or use this iconic stout as the base for a pomegranate punch, margaritas, or Bloody Marys.

17. Or warm the cockles of your heart with a glass of authentic Irish coffee. In 1942 a flight bound for New York City returned to Foyne airport near Shannon, Ireland due to severe storms. Chef Joe Sheridan at the terminal restaurant offered weary passengers his enlivening concoction of hot coffee with Irish whiskey that he dubbed "Irish coffee." A decade later this coffee percolated its way to the United States via restaurateur Jack Koeppler, owner of the famed Buena Vista Café in San Francisco. See the original recipe for Joe's joe!

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Recipe: Irish Coffee

One spoon of brown sugar, as sweet as the voice of an Irish tenor;

One cup of coffee, as strong as an Irish brogue;

One jigger of Irish whiskey, as smooth as a colleen's complexion;

One dollop of fresh whipped cream, as rich as a pot o' gold at the end of the rainbow;

Pour whiskey into a goblet. Add brown sugar and fill one inch below the rim with coffee. Stir to dissolve, and top with cream.

'May you live as long as you want, and never want as long as you live.'

Erin go bragh!

Catharine Kaufman can be reached at kitchenshrink@san.rr.com

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