St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner. Many people dress in green and think everything Irish for a day on St. Patrick’s Day. The Shamrock called the “seamroy” by the Celts, was a sacred plant in Ireland symbolizing the rebirth of spring. By the 17th century, the shamrock had become a symbol of emerging Irish nationalism. I read somewhere recently that here in America we also think of the shamrock as emerging into spring, which does come at a time when spring is also soon to arrive. There are probably as many myths as there are truths about St. Patrick’s Day. Each year, thousands of Irish Americans gather with their loved ones on St. Pat’s Day to share a “traditional” meal of corned beef and cabbage. Although cabbage has been an Irish food for a long, long time, corned beef only began to be associated with St. Patrick’s Day at the turn of the 19th century. Irish immigrants who were living in New York’s lower east side started substituting corned beef for their traditional dish of Irish bacon to save money. They got this idea from their Jewish neighbors. Since I’m not a history buff and this isn’t a column to read up on history anyway, we aren’t going to go into anymore history than that. I enjoy recipe books and I hope you will enjoy the recipes I’ve looked up for this Irish holiday.Irish Soda Bread with Raisins2 cups flour5 tablespoons sugar, divided1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder1 teaspoon salt3/4 teaspoon soda3 tablespoons butter, chilled, cut into cubes1 cup buttermilk2/3 cup raisins Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray an 8 inch diameter cake pan with nonstick spray. Whisk flour, 4 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, salt and soda in a large bowl to blend. Add butter. Using fingertips, rub in until coarse meal forms. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add buttermilk. Gradually stir dry ingredients into milk to blend. Mix in raisins. Using floured hands, shape dough into a ball. Transfer to prepared pan and flatten slightly (dough will not come to edges of pan). Sprinkle dough with remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar. Bake bread until brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool bread in pan for 10 minutes. Transfer to rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. DID YOU KNOW? Irish soda bread gets its name and distinctive texture from the use of baking soda rather than yeast as a leavening agent. Irish Brown Bread2 cups whole wheat flour2 cups white flour plus additional for kneading1/2 cup toasted wheat germ2 teaspoons salt2 teaspoons sugar1 teaspoon soda1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes2 cups well-shaken buttermilk Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter a 9 inch by 2 inch round cake pan. Whisk together flours, wheat germ, salt, sugar, soda and cream of tartar in a large bowl until combined well. Blend in butter with a pastry blender or your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Make a well in center and add buttermilk, stirring until a dough forms. Gently knead on a floured surface, adding just enough flour to keep dough from sticking, until smooth, about 3 minutes. Transfer dough to cake pan and flatten to fill pan. With a sharp knife, cut an X (1/2 inch deep) across the top of dough (5 inches long). Bake until loaf is lightly browned and sounds hollow when bottom is tapped, 30 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then turn out onto rack and cool, right side up about 1 hour. COOK’S NOTES: Bread can be served the day it is made, but it slices more easily if kept, wrapped in plastic wrap, at room temperature one day. Leftover bread keeps, wrapped in plastic wrap, at room temperature for four days.Corned Beef And Cabbage5 pounds corned beef brisket6 peppercorns, or the packaged pickling spices3 carrots, peeled and quartered3 onions peeled and quartered1 medium sized green cabbage, quartered or cut into wedgesabout 4 tablespoons melted butter Place the corned beef in water to cover with the peppercorns or mixed pickling spices (in supermarkets, these often come packaged with the corned beef). Cover the pot or kettle, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 5 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. (The stock can be saved to add to a pot roast or stew instead of other liquid.)Boiled Parsley Potatoes Peel 8 small potatoes. Cover with water. Add 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil. Simmer until tender, 20 to 25 minutes to a half hour. Drain well. Keep warm. At serving time add:salt, pepper, Accent1 stick butterpinch parsleyChamp Another way to enjoy potatoes.2 pounds Russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1 inch pieces1/2 cup whipping cream1/4 (1/2 stick) butter1 bunch green onions, sliced (about 1-1/3 cups) Cook potatoes in pot of boiling salted water until very tender, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, bring cream and butter to simmer in heavy small saucepan over medium heat, stirring often. Mix in the green onions. Remove from heat. Cover and let steep while potatoes cook. Drain potatoes thoroughly. Return potatoes to same pot and mash. Add cream mixture and stir until blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 2 hours ahead. Cover; let stand at room temperature. Rewarm over low heat, stirring often). Beef and Guinness Pie2 pounds boneless beef chuck, cut into 1 inch pieces2 tablespoons flour1 teaspoon salt1/2 teaspoon pepper2 tablespoons vegetable oil1 large onion coarsely chopped2 garlic cloves, chopped3 tablespoons water1-1/2 tablespoons tomato paste1 cup beef broth1 cup Guinness or other Irish stout1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce2 teaspoons drained brined green peppercorns, coarsely chopped2 fresh thyme springsrough puff pastry dough1 large egg, lightly beaten1 tablespoon water Special equipment: 4 (14 oz.) deep bowls or ramekins (4 to 5 inches wide) or similar capacity ovenproof dishes (I’m thinking oven proof soup bowls). Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pat beef dry. Stir together flour, salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Add beef, turning to coat, then shake off excess and transfer to a plate. Heat oil in a wide 5 or 6 quart ovenproof heavy pot over moderately high heat until just smoking, then brown meat in 3 batches, turning occasionally, about 5 minutes per batch, transferring to a bowl. Add onion, garlic and water to pot and cook, scraping up any brown bits from bottom of pot and stirring frequently, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in beef with any juice accumulated in bowl, broth, beer, Worcestershire sauce, peppercorns and thyme and bring to a simmer, then cover and transfer to oven. Braise until beef is very tender and sauce is thickened, about 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours. Discard thyme and cool stew completely, uncovered, about 30 minutes. (If stew is warm while assembling pies, it will melt uncooked pastry top.) Put a shallow baking pan on middle rack of oven and increase oven temperature to 425 degrees. Divide cooled stew among bowls (they won’t be completely full). Roll out pastry dough on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 13 inch square, about 1/8 inch thick. Trim edges and cut dough into quarters. Stir together egg and water and brush a 1 inch border of egg wash around each square. Invert one square over each bowl and drape, pressing sides lightly to help adhere. Brush pastry tops with some of the remaining egg wash and freeze for 15 minutes to thoroughly chill dough. Bake pies in preheated shallow baking pan until pastry is puffed and golden brown, about 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees and bake 5 minutes more to fully cook dough. COOK’S NOTE: Stew (without pastry) can be made 2 days ahead, cooled completely, chilled, and covered. Bring to room temperature before using.Non-Bogus Baileys Mousse Pie Please be clear on one point: though the amounts of alcohol in the pie as a whole are not huge, you probably should not eat this pie and then drive. Other than that, all you need to know is that it's rich, it’s yummy, and it freezes nicely if you have any extra left over. (Not very likely.)1 pre-made or homemade 9 inch graham cracker crust1 envelope powdered gelatin1 cup heavy whipping cream3 egg whites1/4 cup sugar6 fluid ounces milk3 fluid ounces Baileys3 fluid ounces Irish whiskey2 teaspoons coffee crystals2 teaspoons cocoa Prepare the crust and set it aside. Blend the Baileys, whiskey and half the milk in a small bowl and set them aside as well. In a small microwave-resistant bowl or saucepan, mix the remaining milk with the coffee crystals and cocoa; whisk until completely blended. Whisk the egg whites until the soft-peak stage. Add the sugar tablespoon by tablespoon until stiff peaks form. Set the egg whites aside. In another small bowl, whip the cream until firm. Set aside. Heat the milk/coffee/cocoa mixture until just about to scald or microwave until steaming hot. When hot, sprinkle the gelatin over the surface of the mixture and whisk in until completely blended. Transfer into a larger bowl and continue whisking until the mixture cools a little. Then add the Baileys/whiskey/milk mixture and continue to whisk together until completely blended. Add the whipped cream to the egg whites and fold together a little. Then add this mixture to the liquid in the large bowl and fold in gently until completely combined with the liquid ingredients. Pour the mixture into the prepared pie crust and chill for at least several hours. Overnight would be better. The next day, about an hour before you're ready to serve the pie, stick it in the freezer. At serving time, cut the pie into as many serving portions as desired, whip fresh cream, and top each serving of the mousse pie with it. If you like, grate a little chocolate over the top. Stick the rest of the pie (if any...) back in the freezer. It will keep there for a week to 10 days before the cream starts losing its flavor to the freezing process. The COOK OF THE WEEK 3rd Edition Cookbook is available. Cost per copy is $10.70, plus $4.80 shipping/handling. Order a copy today by sending a check or money order, along with name and shipping address, to: Humboldt Independent, 512 Sumner Ave., Humboldt, IA 50548.

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