The saints come marching in Monday, March 17, as another St. Patrick’s Day is cause for celebration. The real St. Patrick lived at the beginning of the fifth century. Born in England,
Patrick was kidnapped and taken to Ireland as a child where he worked as a slave. He eventually escaped and, after reuniting with his family, entered the priesthood. Called back to Ireland, he returned to the place of his enslavement with a mission to convert the Irish to Christianity. He worked in Ireland for the remainder of his life.
After his death on March 17, 461 A.D., myths surrounding his life evolved and his status in Ireland as its patron saint emerged. So did he actually drive snakes out of Ireland? That would be a myth. Scientists tell us that snakes never inhabited Ireland.
Although March 17th marks the Catholic Church’s feast day for St. Patrick, Americans have transformed the day into a secular holiday when everyone wears the green and drinks prodigiously. Starting in New York in Revolutionary War times, the Irish and those of Irish heritage came together on March 17th in a show of solidarity. These celebrations spread throughout the country as the Irish immigrant population exploded in the 1800s. Now, even the river runs green in Chicago for St. Paddy’s day.
Not to be outdone by the Irish, Poles and Italians wear their red on St. Joseph’s Day on March 19th, which is the Catholic feast day for St. Joseph, the foster father of Jesus. Having attended Catholic school in an ethnic Polish neighborhood, do I ever recall the playground battles on March 17th and 19th relating to which color someone wore! Now, I like the attitude that we can all be Irish for a day, and let’s say we can also be Polish or Italian for a day, too.
Here are a few featured cocktails and appetizers from the month of March in my book, “12 Happy Hours” (available in paperback and e-versions.)
Does this look familiar? It should. The Emerald, also known as the Paddy, is simply a Manhattan made with Irish whiskey instead of rye.
2 ounces Irish whiskey
1 ounce sweet vermouth
2 dashes Angostura bitter
Stir with ice and strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with maraschino cherry.
Irish Coffee Cocktail
Combine all of the decadence of Irish coffee into a cocktail for this after-dinner drink. Feel free to use instant espresso if you do not have an espresso maker.
1 ounce Irish cream liqueur
1 ounce Irish whiskey
1 ounce espresso
Shake with ice and strain into cocktail glass.
On St. Patrick’s Day, the consumption of Guinness Irish Stout is over double that of any other day of the year! Combine your stout with sparkling wine for a fancier salute to a famous beverage.
4 ounces stout beer
4 ounces sparkling wine
Pour sparkling wine into a champagne flute and top with beer.
Pepper Jelly Cheese Puffs
The savory version of a thumbprint cookie, these foolproof puffs will make you look like a pro in the kitchen. You decide whether to wear your green, red or both.
2 cups sharp cheddar, finely grated
1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
Pepper jelly (green for Irish; red for Polish)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine all ingredients, except jelly, and wrap in plastic. Chill for 30 minutes. Roll into walnut sized balls and put thumbprint in center. Fill with teaspoon of jelly. Bake for 10 minutes.
Green Goddess Dip
This version of the classic Green Goddess dip is lower in fat thanks to the yogurt. The variety of fresh greens gives it a vibrant color and powerful punch of flavor.
2 cups trimmed watercress (about 2 bunches)
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
Combine all ingredients in a food processor, and pulse 8 to 10 times or until
just combined. Chill for 8 hours or overnight. Serve with crackers or veggies.
Why settle for little hotdogs in barbeque sauce when you can have Candied K? We’re going to overlook the meatless feast part of St. Joseph’s Day. You may use a slow cooker for this recipe. Cook on low for 3 hours, uncovering for the last hour.
3 pounds kielbasa sliced into 1/4 inch pieces (like coins)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup prepared horseradish
Combine in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until mixture boils.
Lower heat and cook covered for 30 minutes, then uncover and continue cooking for another hour until the sauce reduces to a thick, sticky coating on the kielbasa, stirring often.