Beyond Green Beer

Have you outgrown celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with a green beer at the local Irish pub? Yes, No? Well, I have – sort of. Every March 17th The Don and I still stop by Gallagher’s, O’Connell’s or Hennessey’s, not so much for a green beer any more, but we will have a Guinness (or two) and some salty corned beef. Because, well – he IS Irish and that makes me Irish by association and marriage. And, this ain’t no blarney – everyone’s got a drop o’ the Irish in them on St. Patty’s :-)

Besides the wearing of the green and  the token beer (or two) and corned beef at the local pub,  I always cook something a little healthier  to commemorate St. Patrick, whose life and death in the 5th century has been celebrated by the Irish as a religious holiday since the 5th century.  Food factoid: Since March 17th falls in the midst of the Christian season of Lent, Irish families would traditionally attend church in the morning and celebrate in the afternoon. Lenten prohibitions against the consumption of meat are waived and people dance, drink, and feast on the traditional meal of Irish bacon and cabbage.

Last year I baked a rustic Irish Soda Bread and served it alongside Potato Leek Soup. The bread was incredibly easy to make: you didn’t have to knead it or wait for it to rise, just form it into a big (surprisingly heavy) dome on a cookie sheet and it bakes into a beautiful brown bread with a crunchy crust and heartiness of texture reminiscent of the Irish countryside. Inspired by that Irish staple : the potato – the silky potato leek soup is also super easy to make and can be served hot or cold. When served cold it’s called Vichyssoise – obviously, not an Irish name, but an American invention, according to Julia Child, in Mastering the Art of French Cooking. This year, I’m thinking Irish lamb stew. What’s your favorite dish on St. Patrick’s Day?

An ancient castle fortress on the road known as the Ring of Kerry that winds through Killarney National Park.

In 2007, we traveled to London, Edinburgh, and then to Ireland where we stayed in a lovely B&B in the town of Kenmare. It was a good decision to spend our time in the countryside because after numerous visits to museums, abbeys, and castles of London and Edinburgh, we were ready for the respite that the luscious green landscape of County Cork and County Kerry offers. Plus, we can say we survived driving in Ireland where they drive on the wrong side, i.e. left, AND the Ring of  Kerry where the road is so narrow our car brushed branches of trees and shrubs along the side and all tour busses run counter clockwise as there is no way they can pass if two were to meet – its recommended that cars drive clockwise so you’re not looking at the rear end of a bus the entire drive! Ending our trip in Dublin,  we visited the Guinness Storehouse and focused on experiencing the local flavor of countless pubs  :-) Cheers to Guinness!

This year we’re joining in on the fun at The Daily Spud’s Paddy’s Day Food Parade on March 17th – check out this great big ‘ole celebration of Irish food .

27 Responses to “Beyond Green Beer”

  1. bunkycooks March 6 at 2:58 pm #

    It all sounds so good…the Irish Soda Bread, the soup and the trip to Ireland. And of course, the Guiness! We were supposed to go to Ireland this Spring, but have had to alter plans. :( I will have to come and see your photos!

    • Priscilla March 7 at 11:32 am #

      @bunkycooks – I’d love to share my photos with you sometime! Too bad you had to change your plans :-(

  2. chefrenee March 6 at 4:30 pm #

    I love St. Patricks Day because for one day my Irish red complexion actually works with all the green. My family (both sides) are immigrants from Bal Hinch, Ireland I ‘m fifth generation American. My family brought with them the ability to cook everything to death and they made a dish called colcannon. If potatoes and cabbage are your thing colcannon is your dish!
    Cheer’s and happy St. Patricks Day!

  3. Ang March 7 at 7:35 am #

    Kind of funny you should ask for a favorite St. Patty’s day dish since I was just asked at church yesterday to bring something for our St. Patrick’s day potluck. I have no idea what I’m going to do, but this bread of yours sure looks good. My mom made something called “potato paprika” that was kind of Irish and very tasty, but will see what I manage to pull out of my Irish heritage for this gathering:)

  4. RavieNomNoms March 7 at 9:00 am #

    I would have to say the the soda bread is one of my favorites. My mom used to make it for us when I was younger with some potato soup and it was normally devoured in one sitting. As I am sure you know soda bread doesn’t last that long so we always ate the whole thing at dinner that night when it was warm out of the oven. :-)

  5. whatsfordinneracrossstatelines March 7 at 10:17 am #

    I might have outgrown it, but I still want it every year. Love that photo of the castle, I probably would have been scared driving on a road like that. I say bring on St. Patties day and the soda bread and potato soup. Nicely done.

  6. Love, love, love potato leek soup and your bread looks like a perfect compliment to it. St.Patrick’s Day or any other this is a great meal! And a beautiful castle to boot. Your post is a mini-travelogue.

  7. Amanda @ bakingwithoutabox March 7 at 12:07 pm #

    Oh my gosh. Bring on the photos of Ireland! That castle ruin is fantastic.
    I love the Irish soda bread. Totally over the green beer. But still wear the green as people love to pinch on me.

  8. rebecca March 7 at 12:31 pm #

    looks great love Ireland to be honest don’t celebrate st Patricks day think its bigger in the US :-)

  9. Pachecopatty March 7 at 5:38 pm #

    One of my favorite meals- Irish soda bread and potato leek soup, yum. Beautiful pictures of Ireland, lots of pretty green countryside there and such a fun place to visit,especially if you love history. Looks like you’re in the mood for Saint Patty’s day, I think I’m getting there;-)

  10. fooddreamer March 7 at 6:10 pm #

    My favourite food on St. Paddy’s? Corned beef and cabbage, of course. But I wouldn’t mind a slice (or five) of your soda bread to go with it!

  11. Velva March 7 at 6:26 pm #

    I have been told often that you have not experienced Guinness until you have one poured in an Irish Pub. Cheers to you!

    I need to get on board with St. Patrick’s Day. I love the idea of serving a soda bread with potato soup. A simple delicious way to enjoy the celebration-oh and a Guinness too.

    Take care.

  12. 5 Star Foodie March 7 at 7:24 pm #

    Sounds like your trip to Ireland was a lot of fun! Last year we got to live in Dublin for the summer and absolutely loved it there, it’s like my second home :) We have lots of favorites for St. Patrick’s day but 5 Star Foodie Jr. has a secret project coming up, so we’ll see if it work out :)

  13. Nancy@acommunaltable March 7 at 9:48 pm #

    Your soda bread came out beautifully as did your potato and leek soup!! We were in Ireland this past summer and I miss it – don’t miss the narrow roads though – yikes!!!

    Favorite food for St. Patrick’s day?? Well, since I am Irish (maiden name was O’Brien) it’s a toss up between a good Irish lamb stew and soda bread and Guinness or boxty – which is what I think I will be making this year!!!

  14. Angie's Recipes March 8 at 7:51 am #

    The soda boule looks so good! I love the 2nd picture with the soup aside…very delicious!

  15. sippitysup March 8 at 8:25 am #

    I am thinking Irish Lamb Stew too! Do you follow The Daily Spud. She has a yearly round up of Irish recipes for her St. Paddy’s Day Parade. You should send this in to her! GREG

    • Priscilla March 8 at 3:00 pm #

      Thanks everyone! May Irish eyes be smiling on you :-)

      @sippitysup I follow The Daily Spud now :-) I looked at last year’s roundup – how fun! Thanks for the tip – I will.

  16. Evan @swEEts March 8 at 9:29 am #

    We always do a big St. Patty’s Day meal even though neither of us are Irish- corned beef and cabbage, irish soda bread, guiness cake and beer floats :) Your soup looks delicious!

  17. Daily Spud March 8 at 3:32 pm #

    Hey Priscilla, would love to have you join in the Paddy’s Day Food Parade – just drop me a note with anything you’d like to include (and that soda bread and soup look are looking pretty good to me!)

  18. Jason Phelps March 8 at 3:41 pm #

    I am going to stay away from Americanized St. Patricks day dishes this year and instead use an Irish ingrediant (Irish Whiskey) in each course for a celebratiry meal. It ought to be interesting and different which is always fun!


    • Priscilla March 8 at 4:17 pm #

      @Jason – Sounds intriguing! Can’t wait to see what you create :-)

  19. Love St. Patrick’s Day! Your soup sounds fantastic. I visited Ireland several years ago and the Guiness factory was on our list of stops – what a fun place! I adore London and have been there several times – boy I wish I could head out for a vacation there soon!

  20. Magic of Spice March 9 at 4:15 pm #

    Gorgeous bread and the leek soup, oh my! The photos are stunning as well! Love it all…

  21. FOODESSA March 13 at 8:06 am #

    It’s been a while that travelling to Ireland has been on my list…and Bed and Breakfasts must be a great way to experience this authentic and beautiful country.

    Priscilla…I’ll be going to grab your soda bread recipe…especially since I’m lazy about the kneading part ;o) Thanks.

    Ciao for now,

  22. Sandra (@SECooking) March 10 at 5:38 pm #

    What a great post and I loveee Irish soda bread but your soup looks fantastic and of course goes perfectly with the bread! Awesome post!

  23. Rosaleen September 21 at 9:11 am #

    Fascinated to see your picture of the old building on the Ring of Kerry. My family are from the area and my father used to tell me that it was a “barracks” where police and army were stationed during the British occupation and “troubles”. I dimly recall hearing stories about it being destroyed by patriots — but I do prefer to think about it as being lived in by the little people instead!


  1. Paddy's Day Food Parade 2011 - March 17

    […] She’s Cookin’ reckons that she’s over the whole green beer thing, and gives us soda bread accompanied by potato and leek soup instead. Beats green beer every time, if you ask me. She's Cookin' presents Soda Bread and Potato […]

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