Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with Irish cuisine

This St. Patrick’s Day, go beyond the stereotypes of the holiday and try cooking the Vegetable Shepard’s Pie and Irish Soda Bread in the kitchen. (Photos, Food Network)

St. Patrick’s Day is a popular holiday filled with rich Irish culture and history.

St. Patrick’s Day or the Feast of St. Patrick originated after the death of the foremost patron saint of Ireland on March 17, 460 A.D. In the early 17th century, St. Patrick’s Day was officially celebrated as a Christian feast day and celebrates the arrival of Christianity in Ireland.

Today, the holiday celebrates Irish culture and heritage with public parades, shamrocks and céilithe (Scottish or Irish social gathering that includes Gaelik folk music and dancing).

This year, I would like for my readers to look beyond wearing green and the drink menu at a local bar/restaurant – and try the Irish cuisine. Here are a couple of Irish dishes to try in the kitchen, courtesy of Food Network.

Vegetable Shepherd’s Pie

Total Time: 1 hour 6 minutes

4 Servings

6 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced

Kosher salt

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 large onion, diced

3 large carrots, cut into 1/2-inch chunks

2 stalks celery, cut into 1/2-inch chunks

1 bunch baby turnips, halved or quartered if large

6 cloves garlic, minced

Freshly ground pepper

1/2 bunch fresh parsley, leaves chopped (stems reserved)

1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

3/4 cup chopped veggie burgers or vegetarian protein crumbles

2/3 cup milk or half-and-half

Grated parmesan cheese, for sprinkling (optional)

Preheat the broiler. Cover the potatoes with water in a pot; season with salt, cover and boil until the potatoes are fork-tender, 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a stovetop casserole dish or shallow enamel pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, turnips and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and cook until the vegetables brown, 8 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups cooking liquid from the potatoes to the casserole dish. Lower the heat and scrape up any browned bits with a wooden spoon. Tie the parsley stems with twine and add to the casserole. Cover and simmer until the vegetables are tender, 8 minutes. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce, 2 tablespoons butter and the chopped veggie burgers and warm through, 5 minutes. Remove the parsley stems and stir in the chopped parsley. Keep warm.

Drain the potatoes and mash with the remaining 3 tablespoons butter and the milk; season with salt and pepper and spoon over the casserole. Sprinkle with parmesan, if desired. Broil until golden brown, 5 minutes.

Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread

Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

1 loaf

4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for currants

4 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice

1 3/4 cups cold buttermilk, shaken

1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon grated orange zest

1 cup dried currants

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is mixed into the flour.

With a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk, egg and orange zest together in a measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. Combine the currants with 1 tablespoon of flour and mix into the dough. It will be very wet.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and knead it a few times into a round loaf. Place the loaf on the prepared sheet pan and lightly cut an X into the top of the bread with a serrated knife. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. When you tap the loaf, it will have a hollow sound.

Cool on a baking rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

For more information, visit www.foodnetwork.com