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Caribbean Cooking: Toasting St. Patrick’s Day and Celebrating the Green

17th March is fast approaching and along with that date is St. Patrick’s Day and a time to celebrate in true Irish fashion.  Here are a few phrases to remember (found on the History website) when raising your glass for a toast:

As you slide down the banisters of life, may the splinters never point the wrong way.

There are many good reasons for drinking,
One has just entered my head,
If a man doesn’t drink when he’s living,
How the hell can he drink when he’s dead?

May you get all your wishes but one,
So you always have something to strive for.

May your neighbors respect you,
Troubles neglect you,
The angels protect you,
And Heaven accept you.

An old Irish recipe for longevity:
Leave the table hungry.
Leave the bed sleepy.
Leave the bar thirsty.

May you never forget what is worth remembering,
Or remember what is best forgotten.

IRISH SODA BREAD WITH RAISINS

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes
Cooling time: 10 minutes
Makes: 1 loaf

Vegetable oil spray
2 cups all purpose flour
5 Tbsp sugar, divided
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
3 Tbsp butter, chilled, cut into cubes
1 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray 8-inch-diameter cake pan with vegetable spray. In a large bowl blend together flour, 4 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Add butter. Rub in (using your fingers) until coarse meal forms. Make well in center of flour mixture. Add buttermilk. Gradually stir dry ingredients into milk to blend. Mix in raisins.

Using floured hands, shape dough into ball. Transfer to prepared pan and flatten slightly (dough will not come to edges of pan). Sprinkle dough with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.

Bake bread until brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool bread in pan 10 minutes. Transfer to rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

CORNED BEEF AND CABBAGE

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 4 hours
Serves: 8

5 pounds corned brisket of beef
6 peppercorns, or packaged pickling spices
4 cloves
1 bay leaf
1 cup Irish Stout Beer or 2 Tbsp vinegar
3 carrots, peeled and quartered
3 onions, peeled and quartered
1 medium-sized green cabbage, quartered or cut in wedges
Melted butter (about 4 tablespoons)

Place the corned beef, peppercorns, cloves, bay leaf, and Irish Stout Beer in a large heavy duty pot. Add water to cover beef. Place a lid on the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 4 hours or until tender, skimming occasionally. During the last hour, add the carrots and onions and cover again. During the last 15 minutes, add the cabbage. Transfer meat and vegetables to a platter and brush the vegetables with the melted butter. Serve with boiled parsley potatoes, cooked separately.

To serve: Cut corned beef against the grain into thin slices and accompany with the cooked vegetables. Dijon mustard and/or coarse-grained mustard complement the corned beef as optional condiments.

CHAMP

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4

8 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
Bunch of scallions (spring onions)
1/2 cup whipping cream
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)

Cook potatoes in pot of boiling salted water until very tender, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, bring cream and butter to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat, stirring often. Finely chop the scallions, both green and white parts. Mix in to cream and butter. Remove from heat; cover and let steep while potatoes finish cooking.

Drain potatoes thoroughly, then mash. Add cream mixture and stir until blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Note: Can be prepared a few hours before serving. Cover; let stand at room temperature. Re-warm over low heat, stirring often.

CHOCOLATE-MINT LEPRECHAUN PIE

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Chilling time: 2 hours
Serves: 6 to 8

1-1/2 cups cold milk
1 pkg.  (4-serving size) JELL-O Pistachio Flavor Instant Pudding
2 cups thawed whipped topping (Cool Whip), divided
6   Double Stuf Oreo Cool Mint Creme Chocolate Sandwich Cookies, chopped
1 Oreo Pie Crust (6 oz.)
1 square Baker’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate

Pour milk into large bowl. Add dry pudding mix. Beat with wire whisk until well blended, about 2 minutes. Gently stir in 1-1/2 cups of the whipped topping and the chopped cookies. Spoon into crust. Spread with remaining 1/2 cup whipped topping.

Melt chocolate as directed on package; drizzle over pie.

Note: Refrigerate 2 hours or freeze until firm. If frozen, remove pie from freezer about 15 minutes. Before serving; let stand at room temperature to soften slightly. Store leftovers in refrigerator or freezer.

GUACAMOLE IRISH FIESTA

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Serves: 6 – 8

1 large ripe avocado
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 crushed garlic clove
2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
Salt and pepper

Peel and mash avocado. Add lemon juice, chili powder, garlic, mayonnaise, salt and pepper. This may be prepared ahead and refrigerated with the seed in the mixture.

Topping:
8 oz sour cream
1 jar hot taco sauce
4 oz grated cheddar or Jack cheese
1/2 lb Tostitos or Doritos chips

To serve:  Use an attractive dish like a fluted quiche pan and flatten the avocado mound in the center leaving edges clean. Layer sour cream, then taco sauce and top with mounds of cheese. Surround the edges with chips.
Run the chips toward the center and enjoy!

COLD MINTED PEA SOUP

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time:
Chilling time: 1- 2 hours
Serves: 8

6 cups chicken stock (bouillon)
1 small onion stuck with 2 cloves
1 clove garlic
1 tsp. tarragon
3 lbs frozen peas
Salt and pepper
3 cups heavy cream or plain yogurt
Garnish: finely chopped mint

Cook the onion, garlic, tarragon and peas in the stock until peas are just tender. Remove onion and discard. Purée in blender and season to taste. Add yoghurt or cream. Chill and garnish when serving.

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