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Let your Irish shine Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with your family in the kitchen and beyond

  • Modesto Bee
  • Published Wednesday, March 13, 2013, at 9:56 p.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, March 13, 2013, at 11:15 p.m.

HEALTH LOAF

This recipe is from “Clodagh’s Kitchen Diaries: Delicious Recipes Throughout the Year,” by Clodagh McKenna (Kyle Books, $27.95). McKenna serves this as the house bread in her restaurants.

The loaves are even better baked with nuts and dried fruit, sliced thin and then toasted in the oven until crisp. Take two cups of prepared batter and mix in 1/2 cup whole almonds, 1/4 cup or more raw sesame seeds, 1/4 cup or more raw sunflower seeds and a generous 1/2 or more of dried fruit. Bake as directed. When cool, slice and bake at 325 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes on each side until dry and crunchy.

Makes 2 loaves.

1 pound whole wheat flour (about 31/2 cups)

2/3 cup wheat germ, plus extra for dusting

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

11/4 cups unprocessed wheat bran

11/3 cups steel-cut oatmeal

2 teaspoons brown sugar

21/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 quart buttermilk

FOR THE TOPPING:

2 teaspoons wheat germ

2 teaspoons sesame seeds

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Put all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix together. Stir in the buttermilk to make a moist dough.

Lightly grease two 2-pound loaf tins and dust them with wheat germ. Divide the dough between the tins, smooth the top and make a cross on each one with a floured knife. Sprinkle with wheat germ and sesame seeds.

Place the loaves in the oven for 10 minutes at 450 degrees, then reduce the temperature to 250 degrees and bake for 1 hour.

When the loaves are baked, remove from the oven and leave in the tins to cool a little. Turn them out on wire racks to cool completely.

THE WICHITA EAGLE — March 14, 2013

POTATO KUGEL

Potatoes are staples in many cuisines, including in Ireland. Parsley adds flecks of green to the finished dish. For even more color, use leeks instead of onions.

This recipe is from “Jewish Traditional Cooking: Over 150 Nostalgic & Contemporary Recipes,” by Ruth Joseph and Simon Round (Kyle Books, $29.95).

Serves 8.

2 small or 1 medium onion, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided use

1 pound red or Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed and left whole

1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley

4 eggs

11/2 tablespoons lemon juice

4 pounds baking potatoes (such as russet)

4 tablespoons ground almonds

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

Ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees, and grease a 10-by-14-inch pan. Alternatively, you can line it with parchment paper.

In a small frying pan, gently cook the onion in 1 tablespoon of the oil until soft but not colored. Meanwhile, boil the red or Yukon gold potatoes in their skins for about 15 minutes until almost tender but not soft. Drain and set aside. Scrape the softened onion into a food processor, add the parsley and eggs, and puree until smooth. Scrape into a large bowl and stir in the lemon juice. (If you don’t have a processor, simply finely chop the parsley and mix with the beaten eggs and cooked onion.)

Peel the baking potatoes and grate them on the coarse side of a grater into the bowl with the lemon and egg mixture. Mix well with your hands, taking care that the potato is coated with the lemon and egg mixture. The lemon will stop the potato from oxidizing and turning black. Mix in the ground almonds, sugar, and salt and pepper, and pour into the prepared pan. Thickly slice the boiled red or Yukon gold potatoes and arrange them over the top. Brush with the remaining oil and season with more salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for about 1 hour until slightly puffed up and golden.

Variation 1: For mashed potato kugel, omit the baking potatoes and use 5 pounds red or Yukon gold potatoes instead. Peel the potatoes and boil them in water or stock until tender. Drain, season and mash until smooth. Meanwhile, slice 2 large onions and gently cook them in 1 tablespoon olive oil until soft but not colored. Set aside to cool and then beat in 4 egg yolks. Combine the onion and egg mixture with the mashed potato. Whisk 4 egg whites until stiff and fold in carefully. Spoon the mixture into a greased dish, top with grated cheese (optional-only for a milchig — or made of milk or dairy — meal), and bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour as before.

Variation 2: Potato pompons — These crisp, golden baked balls are the easiest recipe in the world. Season leftover mashed potato with plenty of salt and pepper, but do not add milk or butter. Form into large balls, about the size of a tennis ball. Arrange on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. (If you have a surplus of mashed potato, simply freeze the formed pompons on a baking sheet and transfer to a plastic bag once they are frozen so they will be ready to bake another day.)

You don’t even have to be a wee bit Irish to tap your inner leprechaun.

Come March, we’re all yearning to celebrate loud and proud. A day set aside in Ireland for spiritual renewal and prayer is an excuse for blarin’ o’ the green, eating corned beef and cabbage and raising a pint or two.

March 17 marks the death of the patron saint of Ireland. St. Patrick, who lived at the end of the fourth century, brought Christianity to Ireland and is said to have driven the snakes out of the Emerald Isle and into the ocean. We also can thank him for shamrocks and luck: He used the three-leaf clover to teach the Christian doctrine.

Irish celebrity chef Clodagh McKenna has fond memories of breakfast and then Mass, followed by a parade and a pot of beef and Guinness stew on St. Patrick’s Day.

McKenna, whom Forbes calls Ireland’s answer to Rachael Ray or Martha Stewart, reminisces about her favorite holiday in her new cookbook “Clodagh’s Kitchen Diaries” (Kyles Books, $27.95).

Here’s a pot of golden ideas, many from McKenna, to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day:

• Send St. Patrick’s Day cards.

• Go on a leprechaun hunt.

• Have leprechauns make mischief by leaving green footprints on washable surfaces: Make a fist with the right hand and dip the bottom of the fist in washable green paint. Stamp the paint on paper, the fridge or the floor and add toes. Repeat with the left hand. Repeat as necessary. Add to the magic by leaving a trail of gold glitter, and make little messes around the room. Also, leave chocolate gold coins or a crock o’ green beads.

• Hand out pots of gold: Place Rolo candies at the bottom of a tall, narrow plastic bag. Add layers of M&Ms in rainbow colors. or place Rolos at the bottom of a zip-close bag, top with multicolored licorice made into an upside-down U. The card can read: You’re the pot of gold at the end of my rainbow.

• Greet guests in Gaelic with a hundred thousand welcomes: “Ceadmilefailte” (kayd meeluh foll-tjuh).

• Serve Irish coffee: Add 2 tablespoons of Irish whiskey to a warmed glass and stir in 1 teaspoon of brown sugar. Add 1/3 cup of strong coffee and, using the back of a spoon, pour cream onto the surface of the coffee.

• “Health” is the toast heard in pubs, homes and restaurants throughout Ireland. So here’s to “slainte,” pronounced SLAHN-ch.

• Make an Irish-themed floral arrangement of different shades of green foliage and flowers and tie green ribbons around the vase.

• Share shamrock-shaped cookies frosted with green icing.

• Have a cheese party, with an Irish cheese board.

• Make McKenna’s smoked salmon mousse in a bowl set in the middle of a large platter. Surround the platter with crudites of celery, carrot and cucumber to replicate the Irish flag. To make the mousse, blend together 8 ounces smoked salmon, 3 ounces softened cream cheese, 2 ounces creme fraiche, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill and the juice of 1 lemon, and then season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

• Sing some traditional Irish songs, such as “Whiskey in the Jar” and “The Wild Rover” by the Dubliners.

• Watch Irish-themed movies: “The Quiet Man” with John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara and “Going My Way” come to mind.

• Turn food green: McCormick Kitchens suggests varying the drops of food color in three layers of white cake mix to produce a multi-colored green cake: 9 drops Green plus 3 drops Yellow produce mint green; 25 drops Neon Green plus 2 drops Neon Blue make green apple; 40 drops Blue plus 16 drops Green equal teal green; 50 drops Green plus 12 drops Yellow equal garden green; 50 drops Green plus 4 drops Blue equal shamrock green; 2 teaspoons Green creates emerald green. For green beer, add 5 to 6 drops of green food color to 12 ounces of beer. For an emerald milkshake, add pure peppermint extract in addition to green food coloring to turn a classic vanilla milkshake into a refreshingly cool treat.

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