St. Paddy’s Day ~ it’s not all about green beer and corned beef

Four leaf clover

I love St. Patrick’s Day. He is, of course, my patron saint and I love how he is known for driving the snakes out of Ireland and I always like how everyone is Irish that one day each year.

My Welsh Irish heritage gives me a slight advantage when claiming that culture and I like to celebrate that part of me with my family. Not that any of my four boys were big fans of corned beef and cabbage (but they did latch on to the beer drinking part as they got older). In an effort to somehow “punch up” the bland menu I’ve tried adding several other dishes to the plate over the years. My one experiment with asparagus was a disaster and I believed turned all of the men in my life away from one of my favorite vegetables.

So this year the corned beef will be center at my dinner table along with a fabulous halibut dish my husband creates but I found a fabulous website from an Irish American gal in Kentucky who has a couple of great recipes I will be trying. A few green decorations placed about the house and I’m ready to go. Oh… and I’ll be asking someone else to bring the Guinness.

Ingredients for Cookbook:1-2-3-4 Cake. From le...

Ingredients for Cookbook:1-2-3-4 Cake. From left: Plain flour, eggs, milk, butter, sugar, baking powder. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

IRISH SODA BREAD – 

5 C all-purpose flour (plus extra for dusting kneading surface)

1/2 t salt

1 t baking soda

2 t baking powder

4oz butter (1 stick)

3 T white sugar

1 c cranraisins

1 egg

1 1/2 c buttermilk

1/2 c plain yogurt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Sift flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder into a large mixing bowl. Using a pastry cutter or clean fingers rub the butter into the flour until the mixture looks like coarse meal. Add the sugar and cranraisins and stir to distribute throughout the flour mixture.

Stir the beaten egg, yogurt and buttermilk together in another bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the liquid ingredients. Mix together with a wooden spoon to form a dough. Using your hand, lightly dusted with flour, gently knead the dough into a ball.

Transfer to dough to a lightly floured surface and knead gently into a round form about 9 includes in diameter. Do not over knead. This creates a tough bread.

Transfer to a lightly greased 9 inch baking pan. Score the top of the loaf with a cross shape to create four distinct quarters. Bake in a 400 degree F oven for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake for 30 minutes more. The loaf is baked when the bottom sounds hollow when tapped. If the bread starts to brown too much early in the cooking process, cover it with a tent of aluminium foil.

Remove the bread from the oven and the baking pan. Wrap the bread in a clean dish towel and allow to cool on a wire rack.

Served sliced with butter.

IRISH (SPONGE) CAKE- made easy with a touch of California 

Prepare a yellow cake according to directions on the box. Use two slightly dusted 9-inch round baking pans. Once baked, set cakes on wire rack to cool.

Whip 1 cup heavy whipping cream until thick. Add 1 T of confectioners’ sugar to sweeten if desired. Spread strawberry jam on the inner surface of each cake. Place one layer on a plate, spreading cream over the jam. Sandwich the cream with the upper cake.

Decorate by sifting a fine layer of confectioner’s sugar on top and add sliced strawberries. Slice to serve.

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