St. Patrick’s Day has taken on a whole new meaning for me ever since I met Mike. It definitely has nothing to do with going out to a bar, wearing green and pretending to be Irish. Over the past few years, I’ve tried to honor this day and use it to celebrate a nationality other than my own for a change. Italians can be pretty domineering when it comes to food and tradition and I guess I’m no exception. The fact that Mike loves Italian food only encourages this behavior. If you happened to read Holiday Cheer, you might remember that I promised there would be more Irish in the future of this blog. Slowly, I’m trying to incorporate some Irish tradition into our tiny kitchen. Although he doesn’t seem to have many family stories of Irish food or customs to share with me, Mike has started to do a little research. He must be eager for me to keep my promise because this is the second year in a row that he has sent me an email with Irish recipes in the weeks leading up the March 17th.

Last year Mike sent me the link to Irish Central where I found Railway Cake (aka Irish soda bread). I was hopeful that I could improve upon the botched attempt I made at this Irish bread the year before. Suffice it to say that I did not have the luck of the Irish. Instead the tiny loaf turned out dry and hard. It looked awful, and I’m a pretty good baker so it was really frustrating for me. But just like the year prior, Mike happily ate the failed bread and even pretended to like it.

Take two – Irish soda bread 2016

Luckily the dinner I made was pretty good.  I carefully followed the recipes for roasted chicken and fadge (Irish potato cakes) and both were very tasty. The blurry picture below doesn’t do it justice, but the fadge turned out amazing. How do you go wrong with light fluffy potatoes fried to crispy perfection on the exterior and topped with scallions? As for the chicken…it wasn’t my favorite. Although the article boasts that this is the only roasted chicken recipe you’ll ever need, the whole time I was preparing it, I kept thinking how delicious my trusty, go-to cornish hens would be instead. Perhaps I just need to give it another try. I noticed that because I wanted this dinner to be so exceptional and unlike the usual meals I cook, I paid extra attention to the instruction and tried to follow every detail.  I think this worked against me. As you might know by now, I believe recipes are merely a suggestion. I should have trusted my instinct more and followed direction less.  Either way Mike really appreciated the effort and it was so fun to tap into the Irish side of our life together. Take a look at this link to Irish Central to see the St. Patrick’s Day meal I prepared last year. I only made 3 out of the 5 recipes listed, but it’s a start. I will definitely give the roasted chicken another chance and I won’t wait for a holiday to do it!

About a month ago, Mike contacted his sister Anne to get her recipe for Irish soda bread. I guess he really wants me to master this elusive bread and I’m determined to do it. My menu this year consists of the New York Times lamb stew and a simple recipe I found for boxty (potato pancakes) by Christina’s Cucina.  I realize that name doesn’t sound very traditional but I’m going with it. These tasty dishes will be accompanied by some lovely Irish cheeses I picked up at one of our favorite gourmet stores, the Bedford Cheese Shop. The cheese mongers there are so friendly and helpful and the cheese is high quality so I know at least one thing will be a success. I plan on following the recipes of course, but I will remember to leave room for my own interpretation like I usually do. As I bring this post to an end, an enticing scent is wafting in from the kitchen, and my soda bread is complete. It looks pretty good and I’m really excited to cut into it. I can’t wait to make the rest of this meal and report back to all of you.  I hope you will continue to follow along to find out how everything turns out.  In the meantime, “May your troubles be less and your blessings be more and nothing but happiness come through your door.” Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

The third time’s a charm! This Irish soda bread was delicious.