Tag Archives: St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day Menu Ideas – Colcannon Cakes with Fried Quail’s Egg & Irish Bacon Crisp

Colcannon Cake w Back Bacon & Quail EggColcannon Cakes with Fried Quail’s Egg & Irish Bacon Crisp

With the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations kicking off this weekend, I wanted to share this recipe that I created for my culinary school menu project.  When we were assigned this task to design a dinner party, of no fewer than four courses to serve eight guests, I decided to explore the culinary traditions of the Emerald Isle.  You see, unlike other folks, I don’t have any traditional, cultural family recipes handed down through the generations that tug at the ethnic heartstrings.  This project gave me a chance to research the cuisine of Ireland and to pair it with some of the beverages for which that country is perhaps better known.

Colcannon cakes cooling on a rack

No menu featuring Irish cooking would be complete without at least one potato dish like this one. Colcannon, meaning “white-headed cabbage” in Gaelic, is a mix of mashed up potatoes (sometimes leftover from a previous meal) combined with cabbage, kale, leeks, and/or scallions. I found several different versions of this recipe in my menu research and was told about others from friends and contacts of mine, all of which included potatoes mixed with one or several of those vegetables. The main differences in these recipes tend to be regional or familial and dependent upon individual taste preferences.

Irish back bacon

Traditionally, this dish is served for Halloween, originally celebrated as the Celtic feast of Samhain (then it was co-opted by Christianity as were many previously pagan celebrations), which signaled the end of the Celtic year and of the harvest season. According to superstition, a young, single woman who found a ring hidden in the dish could expect to be married before springtime while the young, single woman who found the thimble faced spinsterhood.  (I’m not necessarily recommending that you continue that tradition!)  Colcannon is also considered to be a quintessential Irish comfort food.  For my menu project, I paired this with Harp Lager, but you could serve it with the beverage of your choice.

Ingredients for Colcannon cakes with Fried Quail’s Egg & Irish Bacon Crisp

Prep Time: about 1 1/2 hours

Serving Size: 8 portions (1 Colcannon cake, 1 slice back bacon, 1 quail’s egg per person)


For the Colcannon Cakes:
3 large Russet or Idaho Potatoes
4 large Kale leaves
4 large White Cabbage leaves
4 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, plus 3 Tablespoons to cook the Colcannon cakes (I used Kerrygold.*)
3/4 cup Whole Milk
2 teaspoons Salt
1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper, freshly ground
1/4 cup Flour

To serve:
8 slices of thick-cut Irish back bacon
2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter for frying eggs (I used Kerrygold.*)
8 Quail Eggs
1 Tablespoon Scallions, finely minced, for garnish


Steaming hot potatoes

To prepare the Colcannon Cakes, first cook the potatoes in their skins. Place the potatoes in a large saucepan or pot filled with cold water that just covers the potatoes. Bring the water up to a boil, turn down the heat and let the water simmer. The potatoes are finished when a knife can be easily inserted into the thickest point. Set aside to cool for a moment. (If you have leftover mashed potatoes, you can re-purposed those instead for this recipe.)

Steamed kale

Clean kale leaves of any dirt or grit and strip the leaves from the tough stems. Chop up the kale into thin strips. In a pan of boiling water fitted with a steamer basket. Steam the kale for about four minutes until just tender. Remove the steamer basket from the pan and let the kale drain in a colander.

Cooked cabbage

Peel off ragged, damaged outer leaves of the cabbage to get at the more tender inner ones. Clean cabbage leaves of any dirt or grit. Chop the cabbage up up into small chunks. Melt one tablespoon of the butter in saucepan. Put cabbage in pan and cover with a lid. Cook the cabbage until it becomes tender and translucent. Take the pan off the heat and allow the cabbage to cool down a bit.

Fluffy mashed potatoes

By this time, the potatoes will have cooled off enough to be handled. Peel the potatoes by using a paring knife to remove the skins gently. The skins should come off easily. Mash up potatoes using a fork or a potato ricer. Heat the milk until it just reaches the boiling point. Pour the milk into the potatoes and stir it into the potatoes together with the remaining three tablespoons of the butter, salt, and pepper. Mix together until the potato mixture is smooth. It can still contain some lumps, but it should be mostly smooth and fluffy. Add the steamed kale and cooked cabbage to the potatoes.

Colcannon mixed together

Mix together the kale and cabbage with the mashed potatoes. Taste the mixture and adjust it for seasoning, as necessary. Form potato-kale-cabbage mixture (Colcannon) into eight rounds. Pour flour onto plate. Dust Colcannon cakes with a little bit of flour to aid them developing a brown crust when cooked.  While Colcannon cakes are cooking, finely mince scallions. Set aside to be used when assembling the final dish.

Frying up Colcannon cakes

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Melt two teaspoons of butter in a large skillet.  Place four of the Colcannon cakes in the pan and cook on one side until golden brown and crispy.  Flip over and cook them on the second side in the same manner, adding extra butter, if needed.  Remove the Colcannon cakes from the pan after they have become brown and crispy on both sides. Place on a rack until ready to serve.

To serve:

Reheating Colcannon cakes and bacon

Heat an oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Wipe the skillet clean after cooking the Colcannon cakes. Place the bacon in the skillet. Cook bacon on both sides until the edges become slightly crisp. It will not become completely crunchy-chewy like American-style bacon, as it has less fat overall. Remove the bacon from the pan and place on a rack.  Place the Colcannon cakes and the bacon on a baking sheet to keep warm while preparing the quail’s eggs. You could also make the Colcannon cakes in advance, refrigerate them, and then reheat them in the oven prior to serving them.

Frying up quail eggs

Melt two tablespoons of butter in a large skillet. Crack three to four of the quail’s eggs in the skillet (depending upon the size of the skillet), taking care not to let their whites overlap. Cook until the white is firmly set, the edges are a bit crispy, and the yolk is still mostly runny. Set aside on a warm plate. Repeat with the additional eggs, adding more butter as necessary.

Colcannon Cake with Quail’s Egg & Irish Bacon Crisp paired with Harp Lager

Place one of the warmed Colcannon cakes on each of eight plates. Top each with a fried quail’s egg. Place one piece of the bacon alongside the Colcannon cake. Sprinkle with a bit of the chopped scallion. Serve while everything is still warm, alongside a beverage of your choice.

Buon appetito!

*A few months back, Kerrygold invited me to be a part of their blogger network.  As a long-time fan of cooking and baking with their butters for its taste and texture and ability to deliver consistent results, I accepted their offer.  I had designed and tested these recipes (as well as many others on this website) using Kerrygold well before they reached out to me.  You can use whatever butter you wish.

We Have a “Clodagh’s Kitchen Diaries” Cookbook Giveaway Winner!!!

Book CoverClodagh’s Kitchen Diaries

Congratulations to Debbie whom the Randomizer selected as the winner for this prize!!!  A big “Thank You” to everyone who entered this giveaway!  Thank you, too, to Kerrygold USA for sending me this cookbook and for allowing me to offer it to one of my readers in this giveaway.

Smoked Trout-Horseradish Pâté

Irish Soda Bread seemed to be the winner of your favorite Irish foods, with Colcannon being second.  When I was creating appetizers for my St. Patrick’s Day Feast menu for culinary school, I debated making something using that classic recipe, but it turned out that Irish Brown Bread was a better fit for the Smoked Trout-Horseradish Pâté that my friends enjoyed during our recipe testing get-togethers.  I hope that you have some terrific plans to celebrate the day and to explore the world of Irish cooking!

Buon appetito!

St. Patrick’s Day Menu Ideas – Smoked Trout-Horseradish Pâté on Irish Brown Bread

Smoked Trout-Horseradish Pâté on Irish Brown Bread

In my last post with the giveaway for “Clodagh’s Kitchen Diaries,” I mentioned that for my culinary school menu project that was due last month I had created a menu for a St. Patrick’s Day dinner party.  My family emigrated from Ireland on both sides, but long enough ago that there’s no culinary heritage that has been passed down to my generation, unless you count a fondness for potatoes and pork products.  My goal was to explore the tastes and dishes usually associated with this country and to create an alterna-dinner party for this holiday: one that does not revolve around Corned Beef and Cabbage, which is not the Irish national dish.

Irish Brown Bread

Fortunately, I have many friends who were willing to come over during the recent showing of Downton Abbey‘s third season here in the U.S. to sample my recipe experiments so that I could get my project done.  This is an appetizer that I created that seemed to be a huge hit with everyone.  Hearty, nutty Irish Brown Bread is a staple in many household kitchens. Here, it is served with a smoky, creamy trout pâté, a nod to the resources of Ireland’s rivers, with a bite from the heat of the horseradish and lift of freshness from the lemon zest and the parsley.  It’s the perfect nibble to go with a glass of good cheer!

Smoked Trout-Horseradish Pâté

Smoked Trout-Horseradish Pâté on Irish Brown Bread

Prep Time: 1 1/2 hours, including baking time for bread

Serving Size: Makes approximately 24 portions (3 pieces per person for 8 people)


For the Irish Brown Bread:
(Recipe adapted from http://kissmyspatula.com/2010/03/17/irish-brown-bread/)
1 3/4 cups Whole Wheat Flour, preferably stone ground (the coarser, the better – I used Bob’s Red Mill)
1 1/4 teaspoons Kosher Salt
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
2 tablespoons cold Unsalted Butter, cut into small cubes
1/4 cup Old Fashioned Oats, finely ground
3/4 cup Buttermilk

For the Smoked Trout-Horseradish Pâté:
4 ounces Cream Cheese, softened
2 Tablespoons Crème Fraîche
4 teaspoons prepared Horseradish
2 teaspoons Fresh Parsley, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/8 teaspoon Black Pepper, freshly ground
Grated zest of one Lemon
1/4-1/3 pound Smoked Trout


Irish Brown Bread:

To make the Irish Brown Bread, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter bottom and sides of a mini loaf pan (5 1/2 x 3 inches).  Mix together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a bowl.  Add the butter into the flour mixture by using a fork or a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles small pebbles, and the butter is blended in thoroughly.  Add the ground oatmeal and toss to combine completely. Stir in the buttermilk. The mixture will be sticky but all the dry ingredients should come together.

Dough mixed together

Turn dough out onto a lightly-floured surface and knead it several times. Shape dough into a small loaf and place in the loaf pan. Bake bread for about 30 minutes, until knife inserted in the center of the bread comes out cleanly. Cool on a wire rack. (The bread can be made a day ahead, but should be toasted the day it is being served.)

Bread baked and cooling

About 30 minutes prior to serving the appetizers, preheat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the loaf of bread into 12 slices. Then, cut those slices in half diagonally to make triangle-shaped pieces.  Place bread triangles on an ungreased baking sheet on parchment paper and put them in the oven to toast. Do not allow the bread to take on any color. When the first side is lightly toasted, turn over and toast the second side. Remove toasted bread triangles from the oven when done and allow them to cool while making the Smoked Trout-Horseradish Pâté.

Toasted Irish Brown Bread

Smoked Trout-Horseradish Pâté:

To make the Smoked Trout-Horseradish Pâté, mix together the cream cheese, crème fraîche, and prepared horseradish until smooth with no lumps of cream cheese. Fold in parsley, salt, pepper, and lemon zest. Hold back about 1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest and 1/2 teaspoon of parsley for garnish.

Mixing in everything but the trout

Break the smoked trout into pieces, some large and some smaller. Go through the trout to make sure that there are no bones.  Gently fold in the smoked trout. There should still be some small and large pieces of fish visible in the mixture. This is a rough, chunky spread rather than a smooth one.

Break up Smoked Trout into pieces

To serve:

Place toasted bread pieces on a serving platter. Top each triangle with a spoonful of the smoked trout mixture. Sprinkle each piece with a little bit of chopped parsley and the reserved lemon zest. Serve immediately.

Smoked Trout-Horseradish Pâté on Irish Brown Bread


“Clodagh’s Kitchen Diaries” Cookbook Giveaway

Surprise gift box

One busy night after school, I came home to find a package waiting for me.  I knew I hadn’t ordered anything, so I was kind of surprised to see the big yellow box from Kerrygold.  I wondered if this was a butter delivery, which would have been terrific.  It was, instead, a St. Patrick’s Day party pack from them.  I’d recently completed my culinary school menu project, in which I’d created a menu for a St. Patrick’s Day dinner party, and had used a quite few pounds of their butter to test recipes, so it was especially interesting timing to receive this package.

Cookbook by Clodagh McKenna

Inside the box was a special treat – a cookbook by Clodagh McKenna.  For my project, I had featured the wide array of delicious products and produce that come from the Emerald Isle, so I really enjoyed leafing through the pages and seeing the dishes that she has created that match up with the seasons of the year.  I’m just sad that her show “Clodagh McKenna’s Irish Food Trails” didn’t seem to air in the NYC PBS market.  I realized, however, that I’d learned so much about Irish food and history in my research for my project that this book would find a better home on one of your bookshelves, so, thanks to the folks at Kerrygold, I’m offering it here to one of my readers.

The Rules (There have to be some of these, you know.)

Eligibility: U.S. mainland residents only

To Enter: Write a comment on this post with the answer to the following question: What is your favorite Irish food?  (and see why corned beef and cabbage is not the national dish)

You must also have a valid screen name (NOT “Anonymous”) with a corresponding email address to enter this giveaway. I’ll need to be able to click on it in order to contact the winner. If you list “Anonymous” or do not have a valid email address with your comment, you will be disqualified. I do not share these addresses with anyone, and they are only for the purpose of entering this giveaway.

Deadline: Is Friday, March 8, 2013 at 12:00 p.m. EST, based upon the date/time stamp on the comments. (I’m going to be very strict about this and make no exceptions.)

The Outcome: Only one winner will be chosen for this cookbook giveaway. I’m going to put all the entries into an online Randomizer (like this one) to come up with the winner.

Buon appetito!

St. Patrick’s Day Menu Ideas – Leek & Potato Soup with Cheddar Cheese-Chive Tuiles

Leek & Potato Soup with Cheddar Cheese-Chive Tuiles

With folks getting ready to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day tomorrow, it seemed only fitting to develop a Lent-friendly, vegetarian version of an Irish staple Leek & Potato Soup.  While I can’t confirm that any of my relatives ever ate this dish, and my mother never fixed it for us, as it is such a basic soup using just a few simple ingredients, I could see where it might have been on the table of my ancestors.  They left Fair Erin more than 150 years ago on one side of the family and longer ago than that on the other side, so I can’t really ask anyone about it to be sure.  As I mentioned in my previous post, I dressed up this recipe a wee bit with a Cheddar Cheese-Chive Tuile, but had it not been a meat-free day, I would have been tempted to add a mound of the smoked bacon that I’d discovered at Gourmet Guild last weekend.

Leek & Potato Soup

Serving Size: at least 8 portions as a starter

Prep Time: 45 minutes to 1 hour


1 c. Yellow Onion, chopped

3 medium Yukon Gold Potatoes, cubed

3 large Leeks, cleaned and chopped

4 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter

4 c. Water

1 tsp. Salt

1/4 tsp. Black Pepper

1 tsp. Fresh Chives, chopped


Take one medium onion and chop it into about 1/4-inch sized pieces, making about 1 cup.  For a tutorial on an easy, quick method for chopping onions, please click here.

Peel potatoes.

Cut the potatoes into about 1-inch cubes and put them in a saucepan along with cold water.  Set them aside while cleaning and cutting the leeks.  Keeping them in water will stop them turning brown (oxidizing) before you are ready to cook them.

Potato slice

Nibble on end of potato that you didn’t add to the others.  What?  You didn’t cut off a bit of potato to have as a snack?  My dad always did that for me when I was little, so I keep the tradition today.  Raw, starchy, crunchy, and a bit teeth-coating, it’s a root vegetable textural thing.

Dirty Leeks

I love leeks, but they are a mess to clean and prepare.  My suggestion is to fix them last, after the onions and the potatoes, so the dirt is contained and it doesn’t travel to the other ingredients.

Cut off the root end of the leek.

Cut off and discard the tough, dark green ends of the leek.

Cut leek in half down the middle.

Eewww, see how dirty that is inside?  That is stuff we don’t want in the soup.

Angle the darker ends of the leeks away from you, so that the grit or dirt doesn’t wash back down to the cleaner part of the leek.  Roll around in your hands to make sure that you’ve cleaned them thoroughly.

Chop leeks into about 1-inch pieces.  They might even squeak at you when you chop the, as they are so clean!

Melt butter in large pot or Dutch oven over low heat until it gets frothy.

Add onions.

Add leeks.

Stir leeks and onions so that they are coated in the butter.  Let them cook for 2-3 minutes until glossy and the onions are translucent.

This is what they should look like – moisture sweated out and all glossy and shiny.  For the record, yes, I did remove that rogue speck of dirt that somehow made it in there.

Drain potatoes, keeping the water in which they were sitting as that will be added to the soup pot, too.  Put potatoes into pot along with the leeks and onions.

Stir potatoes to make sure that they get coated in a some of the sweated fat mixture.

Pour in 4 cups of the water that was drained from the saucepan in which they were sitting.  If there isn’t enough water leftover from that, just add all of the potato water and top it up with regular water to make 4 cups of liquid.

Bring mixture to a boil.  Turn the heat down and let it simmer for 20-25 minutes.  [If you are thinking about making the Cheddar Cheese-Chive Tuiles to go along with the soup, this would be a good point at which to start that, as the tuiles can set while you are working on the puréeing part of the recipe.

Test to make sure that the potatoes are cooked all the way through and that the leeks are very soft.  The potatoes should basically be on the verge of breaking apart when a knife is inserted all the way through them.

Turn off the heat.  With an immersion blender (one of my favorite pieces of kitchen equipment), purée the potato-leek-onion mixture until it is smooth and creamy.

Add salt and pepper and stir blend into the soup.  Taste.  Adjust the seasoning as necessary.

Serve warm with the tuile draped lovingly over the side.  The warmth of the soup will allow it to melt lusciously into the dish so that you get a nutty, tangy bite of the cheese with each creamy spoonful of the soup.

Buon appetito and Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Cheddar Cheese-Chive Tuiles

Today’s post is actually going to be a 2-fer, as my mom used to say.  The Cheddar Cheese-Chive Tuiles (or lace, if you prefer) are the garnish for the next post: Leek & Potato Soup.  The soup is creamy, soothing, and has an onion-y perfume to it, but I felt it needed a bit of umph.  With it being a Friday during Lent, I couldn’t really just chop up some ham or cook up some bacon to toss on top of it, so I drummed up these cheesy, chewy creations.  They melt lovingly into the warm soup giving it a hit of tanginess.  Chives sprinkled on the dish along with some in the tuiles provide a bit of contrasting color as well as herbal grassiness.

Leek & Potato Soup with Cheddar Cheese-Chive Tuile

Cheddar Cheese-Chive Tuiles

Serving Size: makes 4

Prep time: 20 minutes


1 c. Cheddar Cheese, shredded or grated (good-quality, not pre-shredded)

2 tsp. Chives, finely chopped (use fresh, not dried)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Grate the cheddar cheese.

Chop the chives.

Toss together the cheese and the chives.

Place four mounds of cheese and chives on the baking sheet.

Place in the oven to cook for about 5 minutes, checking them after 3 minutes to make sure that they aren’t getting brown around the edges just yet.

Here’s how they should look when they are ready to be taken out of the oven.  Let them cool for about 2 minutes.

Carefully peel the tuile off of the paper and drape it over a curved surface, such as a rolling pin so that it gets that curved shape.  You can use a beer or wine bottle, too, but these do have a lot of grease on them (see wet spots on the parchment paper) due to the cheese, so that could get kind of messy.

Let the tuiles rest on the rolling pin for about 5 minutes, until they have taken shape.  Carefully remove from the rolling pin, keeping their curves.  These are great with the soup, but could be lovely with a salad or even as a garnish for roast beef.

Cheddar Cheese-Chive Tuiles

Buon appetito!