Recipes that are delicious and that always work!

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Saturday, 8 March 2014

A Saint Patrick's Day Feast for Four

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Saint Patrick's Day is coming up just a week from Monday, and I was recently challenged by Ocado's Irish Shop to take the  Saint Patrick's Day Feast Challenge, by coming up with a celebratory 3 course feast for four, for £50 or less.  Something which was not only a bit innovative, but also simple and easy enough for loyal Ocado fans to replicate at home.

Initially I had the idea in mind to do a simple vegetable broth soup, with colcannon filled steamed dumplings as a starter, followed by a Boiled Bacon and Cabbage Lasagne for the main,  and a dessert using Bailey's Irish Cream.   I did test recipes of both the starter and main, but in all truth, I felt they were a bit too stodgy and . . . yes, a bit time consuming and fiddly.  So I went back to the drawing board and this is what I came up with.  I think my feast embraces some Irish ingredients which are unique  to Ireland and delicious, and yet at the same time the menu maintains the simple integrity of what makes a St Patrick's Day Feast  . . . well . . . a St Patrick's Day Feast!! (Somehow I don't think Saint Patrick would have quite embraced a Boiled Bacon and Cabbage Lasagne. )


♣♣STARTER♣♣
A St. Patrick's Day Salad of Apple Dressed Pears
with Cashel Blue Toasties

♣♣MAIN COURSE♣♣
 An Irish Stew of Beef and Guinness
 Irish Colcannon
Whole Wheat Soda Bread and Butter
(Using the bread you didn't need for the starter)

♣♣DESSERT♣♣
Flourless Chocolate Cake
Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
 Bailey's Irish Cream Chocolate Sauce


Of course there will be lots of Bailey's leftover for your guests to enjoy over ice after dinner while you just sit around and play the fiddle, sing Irish Songs, Step Dance and talk about Leprechauns and Pots of Gold.



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*A St Patrick's Day Salad of
Apple Dressed Pears with Cashel Blue Toasties*


This lovely salad makes the perfect first course with it's lovely green colours for St Patrick's Day. The tart flavour of the cooking apple shines through in the dressing without being overpowering and goes very well with the savoury crunch of the toasted walnuts and the sweetness of the pears. The lovely Cashel blue cheese toasts are it's crowning glory, and add just that extra special touch.  

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4 baby gem heads, washed and leaves separated, the larger ones torn into smaller pieces
4 thin slices of Irish Brown Soda Bread
75g of mild cheddar cheese, cut into small cubes (3/4 cup)
75g of Irish cashel blue cheese, cut into small cubes
2 ripe dessert pears
dash of lemon juice
100g of whole walnuts (A scant cup)

DRESSING:
1 cooking apple, peeled, cored and cut into small chunks
1 shallot, peeled and finely chopped
150ml of canola or sunflower oil (scant 3/4 cup)
1 tsp liquid honey
1 TBS cider vinegar
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1.  Heat a TBS of the oil in a small skillet and cook the shallot and apple in it, stirring, until golden. Remove from the heat and put into a blender along with the other dressing ingredients. Blitz until smooth. Check for seasoning, adjust if necessary, and set aside.

2.  Cut each slice of soda bread in half and toast under the grill on one side only. Mix the cubes of cheese together and then divide amongst the slices of bread and toast under the grill until the cheese is all melted and bubbling and starting to brown just the slightest. Take out and set aside.

3.  Toast the walnuts in a dry pan for about 30 seconds.

4.  Peel, core and slice the pears. Toss the sliced pears with a dash of lemon juice to help keep them from turning brown.   Toss the pears with the lettuce leaves, toasted walnuts and apple dressing. Divide amongst four chilled plates, garnishing the top of each with two slices of the cheese toasts.

Serves:  4 people
Prep Time:   15 minutes
Cooking Times:  10 minutes

Printable Recipe

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*An Irish Stew of Beef and Guinness* 

 A hearty stew made with lean cubes of stewing steak, carrots, parnips, turnips and onions, cooked in a delicious Guinness gravy until delciously fork tender.   Plan ahead as this takes a good 2 1/2 to 3 hours to cook, but then again the best things in life are worth waiting for.   This is delicious served with steamed baby new potatoes, or for St. Patrick's Day delicious mounds of buttery Colcannon.

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2 TBS canola or sunflower oil
4 TBS plain flour
1 1/2 pounds of lean stewing steak, trimmed and cut into 1 inch cubes
3 medium onions, peeled and chopped
1 TBS tomato puree
450ml of beef stock (2 cups)
225ml of Guinness (1 cup)
1 TBS raisins, chopped
1/2 tsp caraway seeds
salt and black pepper to taste
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch slices on the diagonal (about 1 cup)
2 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch slices on the diagonal (about 1 cup)
2 small to medium turnips, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes (about 1/2 cup)
a small handful of coarsely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley.

1.  Season the cubes of beef with some salt and pepper and toss with the flour.  Heat half the oil in a heavy based stove top casserole, over medium high heat.  Add half of the beef.    Brown well on all sides and then scoop out to a bowl.   Add the remaining oil and the remaining cubes of beef.   Repeat until all of the beef is browned.

2.  Return the beef to the pan along with the onions, turn down the heat to medium.   Cook, stirring occasionally, for about five minutes, or until beginning to soften without browning.  Stir in the tomato paste, stock and Guinness, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen any browned bits.    Stir in the raisins, caraway seeds and season with salt and pepper.

3.   Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Cover tightly and simmer for one hour, stirring occasionally.

4.  At the end of that time, remove the lid, bring to the boil and then cook for about 45 to 50 minutes at a fast simmer, again stirring occasionally.

5.  Add the vegetables, cover tightly, reduce the heat to low and cook for half an hour.   Remove the lid and bring to the boil.  Cook for 5 to 10 minutes until the vegetables are fork tender.  Sprinkle with parsley and serve.  Pass the soda bread for sopping up all of that delicious gravy!

Serves: 4
Prep Time:  30 minutes
Cook Time:  3 hours, approximately

Printable Recipe

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*Colcannon*

I can remember reading a story once about a big rough and ready Irish family.  They had this for supper and it was set in a big bowl in the middle of the table, a large crater scooped into the middle and filled with melting butter.  They all sat around and scooped into it, eating it together with scraps of freshly baked crusty bread.  It sounded so delicious.  It is delicious, truly and so very easy to make.  We might not sit around scooping it up with chunks of bread now, but a dip in the middle filled with melting butter is still a pretty tasty thing to do.


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1 pound cabbage, finely chopped
7 to 8 fluid ounces of milk or cream
2 small leeks or green spring onion tops, chopped
2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
salt and freshly ground black pepper
a pinch of ground mace
4 TBS melted butter

1.  Cook the cabbage in a large pan of boiling salted water until very tender.  Drain well and keep warm.

2.  Put the milk or cream in a small pan with the leek or spring onion and simmer until soft.  Set aside and keep warm.

3.  Put the potatoes in a saucepan and cover with salted water.  Bring to the boil and then simmer until cooked through and they can be pierced easily with the tip of a knife or the tines of a fork.  Drain well and then place back on the warm burner, giving them a good shake to dry them out.  Mash well.  Mix in the leeks and enough of the milk or cream  to give it a creamy consistency.  Add the cabbage and season with salt, pepper and mace.  Drizzle with the melted butter and serve.

Serves:  4
Prep Time:  15 minutes
Cook Time:  30 minutes

Printable Recipe  

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*Flourless Chocolate Cake*
served with Vanilla Ice Cream and a Bailey's Chocolate Sauce

You will want to make the cake for this the day before.  It needs several hours in the refrigerator to set up properly for cutting. (I like to leave it overnight.)  It's rich and delicious.  Top with a scoop of really good Vanilla ice cream and a spoonful of Bailey's Chocolate sauce for the perfect finish.  

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For the cake:
225g of semi sweet chocolate, chopped (8 ounces)
113g of dark chocolate, chopped (4 ounces)
225g of butter (1 cup)
255g of caster sugar (1 1/4 cups)
6 large free range eggs, separated

For the Sauce:
60ml of heavy cream
60ml of Bailey's Irish Cream
113g of semi sweet chocolate, chopped
You will also need a tub of good Vanilla Bean Ice cream


1.  Preheat your oven to 170*C/325*F/ gas mark 3.  You will need a 9 inch springform pan.  Remove the bottom and then place a large square of parchment paper over this bit.  Replace the ring around the bottom and clamp on, making sure that the parchment paper is clamped in place.  Butter the paper lined bottom of the pan and the sides.  Set aside on a baking tray.

2.  Melt the chocolate and butter in a glass bowl placed over a pan simmering water, without allowing the water to touch the bottom of the bowl.  Stir as it melts, until the mixture is completely melted and smooth.  Remove from the pan and whisk in the sugar.  Pour into a larger bowl and beat in the egg yolks one at a time, beating constantly. 

3.  Beat the egg whites until stiff using a scrupulously clean beaters.  Fold these into the chocolate mixture, carefully to combine, working gently and not whisking.  (You want to keep the mixture airy.)  Pour into the prepared pan.

4.  Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour.  The cake will rise dramatically and fall drastically when it is removed from the oven.  That is ok.  It's supposed to happen.  Allow to cool to room temperature on the countertop then place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours before removing the sides of the springform pan. 

5.  Make the chocolate sauce just prior to serving the cake.  To make the chocolate sauce, gently heat the cream, Bailey's and chopped chocolate together in a small saucepan over low heat, until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture has thoroughly amalgamated.

6.  Dust the cake with icing sugar and cut into wedges to serve.  Top each serving with a scoop of the vanilla bean ice cream.  Spoon a portion of the warm chocolate sauce over top of each and serve immediately.

Prep Time:  20 minutes
Cook Time:  60 minutes, plus 4 hours for chilling

Printable Recipe


As with any challenge, there is a prize involved,  a trip to Ireland.  (It's on my bucket list of things to do before I die.)  All of the Feasts entered in the challenge will be judged by a a panel of esteemed Judges:

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Orla Broderick

Orla Broderick is a freelance food writer who lives in Dublin.  After a degree in HOme Economics, she worked as a writer for BBC Good Food magazine for five years before deciding to specialize in creating recipes and preparing food for television.  Orla has worked on many highly regarded productions, mainly for the BBC, but also for the first series of Masterchef Ireland.  She is also the author of several cookbooks, as well as working with a number of high profile chef's on their own publications.  She is also a contributing editor to the Bridgestone Irish Food Guides.

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Andy McFadden

Andy McFadden was born in Ireland and from a young age was very passionate about great food.  He endeavoured to make a career out of this passion.  Working his way through some of the best restaurants in Ireland and on the continent, he gained a wealth of knowledge and skills that are still with him to this day, a culinary trail which inevitably took him to London, where he took up the position of chef de partie at the two Michelin starred, Pied a Terre.  Andy now holds the top position at sister restaurant, L'Autre Pied, where he is showcasing his star quality and preparing creative, innovative and delicious dishes.

Wish me luck, and a Very Happy Saint Patrick's Day to you all!!

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3 comments:

  1. A feast indeed!
    I hope you win!
    Just made a different Colcannon last night:)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ohh, Looking forward to seeing yours Monique! I am sure it is gorgeous!

    ReplyDelete
  3. ooh what a superb recipe * I was part of this as well

    ReplyDelete

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