Patrick, who later became the patron saint of Ireland for his missionary work in the 5th century, is synonymous with Irish heritage, culture, foods and drink. Today, Ireland has much to celebrate, both old and new. The Irish have enjoyed an economic uptick and they have a rich heritage of foods, national pride and traditional laden values. Irish descendants worldwide can join these national celebrations every year by serving up a St. Patrick's Day meal that would make Patrick himself feel right at home.
Beyond the Obvious Cheesy Tart
Ireland is gaining a world-renowned reputation for its aged cheeses and salted butters. Using a good Irish cheese, such as Dubliner, which can be purchased at most delicatessens, get into the spirit and make a traditional cheese tart. Use a prepared crust. Melt 1/2 oz. butter in a saucepan. Saute 1 small finely chopped onion in the butter until soft and add 1 clove of garlic, as well as sliced mushrooms and 3 slices of bacon. Spoon the mixture into the pastry crust and add any other desired vegetables such as yellow squash and cherry tomatoes, which have been cut lengthwise. Sprinkle 6 oz. Irish cheese over the top. In a small bowl whisk together 1 c. milk, one package Mediterranean herbs, found in most grocery stores, 3 eggs, and 1 tsp. whole grain mustard. Pour the mixture over the tart and bake for approximately 30 minutes at 375 degrees F.
Make it with Mackerel
The Irish have a long tradition of relying on the sea for food, since they live in an island nation. Lobster and prawns are regularly eaten in Ireland along with cod, plaice, herring and mackerel. Since mackerel is not a commonly tried dish in the United States, introduce something new in celebration of Irish days of old. Take 15 oz. canned mackerel and break it up into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add one clove garlic finely chopped, 2 tbsp. tomato paste and 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil. Season with fresh basil, salt and pepper. Stir in fresh chopped Roma tomatoes, as well as peeled, sliced, and de-seeded cucumber and onion. Serve the mixture over a bed of spinach or seasonal greens.
Smoked to Perfection
In western Ireland, smoked salmon is regularly featured as an appetizer or alcoholic beverage accompaniment. All Recipes reports that local pubs serve smoked salmon on wheaten bread with slices of lemon and freshly ground pepper. Make this simple finger food the pub way or substitute a crusty baguette smeared with cream cheese, smoked salmon and lemon, topped off with a pungent Irish cheese.
Life is Sweet Bananas
Irish bananas are an excellent way to round out a celebratory lunch. They are warm, gooey and not excessively heavy. Melt 1/2 c. butter in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in 1/2 c. brown sugar and 1/2 c. cup Irish whiskey. Bring to a boil and stir to dissolve sugar. Add approximately 4 bananas, peeled and cut lengthwise. Allow the bananas to simmer gently until they are tender and glazed with the syrup. Serve with vanilla ice cream or drizzled with Irish cream.