This weekend at The Pink Heart Society our resident Irish editor Trish Wylie reports from the Emerald Isle on the great 2008 St. Patrick's Day debate... along with a few food and drink hints, a few Irish toasts and a couple of one liners... the complete package for whatever day you decide to celebrate it...
Ahhhhh only in Ireland could we debate the great day itself and go against the orders of the Catholic Church. Turns out St. Patrick's Day is set in stone in the eyes of the majority of the Irish. March 17th it was and apparently March 17th it shall stay. Even though in 2008 the date, according to the Catholic Church's calender is...
March the 15th.
Let it never be said that here at The Pink Heart Society we don't bring you all those little interesting snippets you might not know otherwise. Cos hey - we're writers - and writers know how to research, right?
The reason for this change of date (or not depending on where you live) is that this year Easter is early. And that makes Monday 17th Holy Monday. So Rome approved the shift of the official religious celebration two days back to March 15. The celebration apparently should have been moved to the next available day in the Church's calendar, April 1, but senior Irish clerics wanted to keep the date as close to international civic celebrations as possible, as they are planned years in advance. And I mean - April FOOLS day for St Patrick's?! There's a whole other set of jokes in that one isn't there?
The last time St Patrick's Day had to be moved was in 1940 when it coincided with Palm Sunday, the first day of Holy Week. The next date it will have to be moved again is 2160. Means we don't have to worry for a while I guess...
BUT when driving through Ireland from Dublin to home I couldn't help but notice the number of towns and villages advertising their parades for the 17th. Interesting I thought. So me being me I decided to investigate further to see if anyone else had ignored the change.
In Dublin they're no fools. Move the day to the 15th? Fine then. We'll party from the 13th TO the 17th. INCLUSIVE. But we'll still have our parade on the 17th. Belfast? They're having none of it - 17th it is for their parade. London.... playing it safe - their parade? Sunday 16th... Take your celebrations across the Atlantic and the debate continues. New York sticks with the 17th for their parade. Chicago opts for the 15th. Boston however takes London's opinion on it and goes for the 16th...And down under? Well Sydney says 16th for their parade. Brisbane goes with the 15th.
Seems we're not alone in Ireland with the great debate then are we?
But in order to make it clear for all our lovely PHS visitors I'm here to say this; If all round the world they're parading on the 15th, 16th AND 17th then go ahead and party on all THREE days. You know you want to ;)
I'm helpful that way ;)
So what to eat and drink. Of course being an Irish gal I'm gonna say thats the wrong way round to start with! And we'll be discussing GREEN BEER in a minute. But first up food. And this is where the cartoon at the top of this blog can be mentioned. Corned Beef and Cabbage??? REALLY??? I can't help but ask - WHY??? Ick. And you know corned beef isn't an Irish thing, right? So why not try something different?
Like Dublin Coddle:
Ingredients: 1lb/ 500g best sausages, 8oz/ 250g streaky bacon, 1/2pt/ 300ml/ 1 cup stock or water, 6 medium potatoes, 2 medium onions, salt and pepper (serves four)
Method: Cut the bacon into 1in/ 3cm squares. Bring the stock to the boil in a medium saucepan which has a well-fitting lid, add the sausages and the bacon and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove the sausages and bacon and save the liquid. Cut each sausage into four or five pieces. Peel the potatoes and cut into thick slices. Skin the onions and slice them. Assemble a layer of potatoes in the saucepan, followed by a layer of onions and then half the sausages and bacon. Repeat the process once more and then finish off with a layer of potatoes. Pour the reserved stock over and season lightly to taste. Cover and simmer gently for about an hour. Adjust the seasoning and serve piping hot.
Or Potato cakes:
Ingredients 250g/8oz potatoes, salt and black pepper- freshly ground, ½ head fresh garden cabbage - finely chopped, 90ml/6tbsp milk, 50g/2oz bacon dripping or butter - plus extra for frying and 125g/4oz wholemeal flour
Method 1. Boil the potatoes in salted water until cooked. Drain, mash and leave to cool. 2. Place the cabbage in boiling salted water and cook for a few minutes. Drain and leave to cool. 3. Place the milk in a saucepan, add the bacon dripping and bring to the boil. Add the cooked potato and cabbage and blend together while the mixture heats through. Fold in the flour until the mixture comes away from the side of the saucepan. 4. Turn the mixture on to a cold surface and shape into cakes of approximately 5cm/2in diameter and 1cm/½in thick.5. Cook in a little bacon dripping until brown and serve immediately.
Or a modern twist on a classic - Winter Vegetable Colcannon:
Ingredients 675g/1½lb plain mashed potato - still hot, 225g/8oz kale or savoy cabbage - cooked and chopped, 225g/8oz carrots- peeled, cooked and roughly mashed, 125ml/4fl oz double cream, 125ml/4fl oz milk, 6 spring onions - sliced and 55g/2oz butter - melted
Method 1. In a large bowl combine the hot mashed potato with the cooked kale or savoy cabbage and carrots. 2. In a medium saucepan gently heat the double cream and milk. 3. Add the spring onions and continue to cook on a low heat until the spring onions have softened and cooked. 4. Fold the creamy spring onion mixture into the mashed vegetables. 5. Place in a warmed dish. 6. Indent the surface of the mixture and pour the melted butter over the top to form a puddle of butter. 7. Serve.
And then of course for dessert you could have Kerry Apple Cake:
Ingredients: 175g/ 6oz butter, 175g/ 6oz caster sugar, 2 eggs - beaten, 225g/ 8oz self-raising flour, 2 medium cooking apples - peeled cored and chopped, 1tsp lemon rind, 2tbsp demerara sugar, pinch cinnamon and pinch nutmeg.
Method: Preheat oven to gas mark 4/ 180°C/ 350°F, and grease and line a 900g/ 2lb loaf tin. Cream butter and sugar. Gradually add eggs and flour. Stir in apples and lemon rind. Pour into the tin and sprinkle with sugar and spices. Bake for 1- 1 1/2 hours. (Now this cake doesn't keep very well, but that's not usually a problem, as you can be sure it'll disappear very quickly! It is best eaten warm with cream or Greek-style yoghurt.)
Or Bailey's And Chocolate Cheesecake! (a favourite of mine!!!)
Ingredients: 100g/3½oz butter, 250g/8¾oz digestive biscuits - crushed, 600g/1lb 5oz Philadelphia cream cheese, 1 mini shot of Bailey's, 100ml/3½oz icing sugar, 300ml/10½oz double cream - whipped, 100g/3½oz grated chocolate, and to garnish 200ml/7¼oz double cream - whipped and cocoa powder to dust
Method: 1. Melt the butter in a pan and add the crushed digestive biscuits. Mix well until the biscuits have absorbed all the butter. 2. Remove from the heat and press into the bottom of a lined 18cm/7in springform tin. Place in the refrigerator and allow to set for one hour. 3. Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Lightly whip the cream cheese then beat in the Bailey's and icing sugar. Fold in the whipped cream and grated chocolate. When smooth, spoon evenly onto the biscuits. 4. Refrigerate and allow to set for a further two hours. Once set, remove and decorate with whipped cream and cocoa powder dusted over the top. ENJOY!
Now let's discuss the important issue of drink. Green beer guys. GREEN. Why do that to the poor beer? What did it ever do to you? Now I'm all for green cordials and the like but when it comes to alcohol you'll find we Irish take it VERY seriously. You want to celebrate being Irish then stick to the Black Stuff. Of course I'm gonna tell you it tastes better in Dublin than anywhere else ;) But chilled and allowed to form that lovely creamy head? Wellll...
And then there's the joy that is Bailey's on ice. Y-U-M. Or the simplest of Irish pleasures that is an Irish Whiskey on ice. Or you can of course add that whiskey to coffee to get:
Recipe Makes 1 Drink
In order to make this recipe properly the whiskey has to be heated to a high temperature. Pour the coffee in a cup with the desired number of sugar cubes. Then use a spoon turned upside down and pour the HOT whiskey over it so it flows down gently. Top it all with the whipped cream.
When served, true Irish Coffee always has three distinct layers. And to be safe, you first use a straw and sip (a very small amount as it is HOT) a little of the Whiskey. Then stir all the ingredients together.
And for the kids: Well it should be all about the FUN shouldn't it? So if you're looking for a fun and easy recipe to do with the kids there's St. Patrick's Day Cookie Pops.
Ingredients: 20 vanilla wafer cookies, 1/2 cup peanut butter, 1 12-ounce bag white chocolate chips, green and yellow gumdrops or jelly tots, Cake decorating writer gel in green yellow red orange and black, 1 tube of green cake decorator frosting with tip, green and yellow decorator sugar, green food colouring, ice cream or lollipop sticks, wax paper or paper plates
Method: Spread peanut butter onto the flat side of the cookies. Place an ice cream stick into the peanut butter on half the cookies. Top with another cookie so the stick is sandwiched between the two cookies. Melt chocolate chips in the microwave, one minute, then in 20 second increments, stirring until smooth. Before melting, seperate the white chips into two bowls. After melting, add a few drops of green food coloring to one of the bowls of white chips to make green chocolate. Dip cookie pops in the melted chips, covering completely. Sprinkle with green and yellow sugar and lay or stand on waxed paper or paper plates. Place in refrigerator to chill.
Fun Variations: Leprechaun: After coating with white chocolate, dip top of pop into green sugar. Use yellow gumdrops or jelly tots to make beard. Allow to dry on wax paper. Use black and red decorator gel for eyes and mouth, and for trim on hat. Rainbow with Pot of Gold: After coating with white chocolate, cut green candies to make pot or ice a pot on. Before chocolate has a chance to dry them in place, place 3-5 yellow candy pieces "in" pot. Create a rainbow with various colored decroator gel. Shamrock: After coating with white chocolate, sprinkle with yellow decorator sugar, then draw on a shamrock using green cake decorator icing. Four Leaf Clover: After coating with green chocolate, use green sliced gumdrops or green jelly tots to create clover leaves. Slice a small strip out of remaining gumdrop for or ice/draw a stem. Use green candy for the center of the clover. Another variation is to use vanilla or chocolate frosting instead of peanut butter for the filling. These can also be made without sticks. Use one stick to be able to dip the cookies in chocolate and roll in sprinkles, then remove the stick and put on wax paper or paper plates, then chill.
Ingredients: You will need your usual batch of cupcakes or buns or you can cheat and buy a box mix, any flavor of chocolate icing or white icing dyed green, green decorator gel, green & white sprinkles - well you get where I'm going here!
Decorate: And this is the fun part for the kids! Just a dollop of green icing is artistic enough for them realistically. But they can go to town with Irish themed decorations and then hand them around to everyone with great pride!!!
As to toasts for the day? How about these:
"May you be in heaven a full half hour before the devil knows your dead."
"May you live as long as you want and never want as long as you live."
"May your heart be light and happy, May your smile be big and wide, And may your pockets always have a coin or two inside!"
And a couple of funnies for the day:
"What do you call an Irishman who knows how to control his wife? - A bachelor."
"Why should you never iron a 4-leaf clover? - You never want to press your luck!"
I feel my work here is done. So whatever day you decide to celebrate on and wherever in the world you may be - remember to wear something green and to have a GREAT TIME. It's what it's all about after all!
HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY!!!