As St. Patrick’s Day approaches, I cherish the many memories of a beloved family friend, a kind-hearted Dubliner who shared her Irish wit, wisdom, customs, compassion and recipes with us since my childhood. Alas, sweet Alice, an active nonagenarian recently passed away, leaving her husband of almost 70 years behind.
But she did indeed have the luck of the Irish, living a robust, healthy life, raising three successful children, and then enjoying her many grown grandchildren. She now would have been tickled over her youngest born, a laddie appointed Grand Master of this year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Toronto. It’s time to celebrate Alice’s life on March 17 with some scrumptious breakfast dishes and drinks inspired from her Emerald Isle. Sláinte agut!
1. Jump start the day with a refreshing smoothie packed with brain-boosting power greens like baby kale, arugula, or spinach; along with fresh mint leaves, potassium rich bananas, protein dense oat milk, freshly grated ginger root, and a scoop of acacia honey.
2. Green eggs and ham aren’t just for kids. Blend a batch of beaten eggs with pureed spinach leaves, fry omelet-style, then top the eye-popping egg with a heap of ham or corned beef hash, and green chile sauce.
3. A bowl of chilled overnight Irish oats with fresh berries, or a steaming bowl with brown sugar, golden raisins, and splash of almond milk gives an oomph of energy for the frolics to come.
4. Whip up a pan of light and airy crème brulee French toast made with luscious Bailey’s Irish Cream.
5. Or a batch of Guinness griddlecakes with a dollop of fresh maple-flavored Irish whipped cream.
6. For the savory palate, try cheesy, chivey potato pancakes or boxty (the Irish version of Chanukah’s latkes) nicely fried to a golden crisp in either butter or olive oil for the cholesterol-conscious.
7. A communal cast-iron skillet filled with fried eggs, home fries, a rasher of bacon, a pile of bangers (sausages), and thick slices of brown buttermilk bread slathered with pure Irish butter is a fun family feast.
8. Same with a breakfast pizza topped with creamy chevre (goat cheese), smoked salmon, capers, and vibrant scallion slices.
9. For a more elegant presentation, prepare an asparagus quiche,
10. Or broccolini and leek frittata.
11. For a lighter indulgence, try a slice of home-baked Irish soda bread — chewy on the inside and crusty on the outside with currants and caraway seeds. It’s a limerick in your mouth.
12. Irish scones are another classic made with any amalgam of pistachios and saffron, Meyer lemon and wild blueberry, or hazelnuts and tart cherries (see recipe).
13. Enjoy other traditional sweets, like orange custard with rhubarb compote, moist applesauce spice cake, or an Irish whiskey tart.
14. Wash it down with a cup of honey and lemon polyphenol-rich green tea,
15. A warm matcha green tea latte,
16. A frothy mug of hot chocolate with minty-flavored whipped cream,
17. Or warm the cockles of your heart with the iconic beverage created in 1942 at Foyne airport near Shannon. Chef Joe Sheridan at the terminal bar offered weary passengers his enlivening concoction of hot coffee blended with Irish whiskey that he dubbed “Irish coffee.” A decade later, this coffee percolated across the Atlantic via restaurateur Jack Koeppler, owner of San Francisco’s famed Buena Vista Café.
Here’s the original recipe for Joe’s cup of joe: 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 sugar and fill one inch below the rim with coffee. Stir to dissolve. Top with cream. Pair with Irish scones.
Recipe: Hazelnut Cherry Irish Scones
• Ingredients: 2 cups unbleached flour; 1 teaspoon baking powder; 4 ounces Irish butter, softened; 1/3 cup brown sugar; 1 egg, beaten; 1/2 cup buttermilk or kefir yoghurt; 1/2 teaspoon almond extract; 1/2 cup tart dried cherries or cranberries;1/2 cup toasted, chopped hazelnuts; zest from one orange; pinch of pink sea salt.
• Method: Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Crumble butter into mixture until pea-sized balls form. Add sugar and zest. Mix well. Add half the beaten egg, milk and extract. Blend in fruit and nuts until a sticky dough forms. Turn onto floured board and knead.
Make two flat circles about 3/4-inches thick. Cut into quarters. Place on parchment-lined cookie sheet. Brush with remaining beaten egg. Bake about 15 minutes until golden brown.
— Catharine Kaufman can be reached by e-mail: email@example.com and see more recipes at freerangeclub.com