HOW DO YOU CELEBRATE ST. PATRICK'S?
Is St. Patrick's Day a holiday you celebrate? If so, how? At home? At a friend's home? In a restaurant or bar?
You can leave a response at Eat This Now, Seasonal Pantry's companion blog, at pantry.blogs.pressdemocrat.com, where you'll also find links to some of my favorite Irish recipes, including for corned beef, from this column's archives.
I asked this question on Facebook last week and was both surprised and charmed by the responses. Among the expected answers -- corned beef and cabbage, green beer, Jameson Irish Whisky -- were unfamiliar tales of family traditions, such as setting Leprechaun traps and leaving tiny green footprints everywhere so that little boys and girls would realize the Leprechauns had been around over night.
I had no idea.
Although I am Irish, I did not grow up eating or even understanding the foods of Ireland, as my Irish father died when I was an infant and my mostly Russian mother wasn't much interested. As soon as I was living on my own, at age 16, I quickly found my way around corned beef, cabbage, lamb stew, soda bread and such and today look forward to the holiday so that I can indulge in a taste of the childhood I might have had, had my father lived.
Who can resist a good potato pancake? No one I know. This Irish version, known as boxty, is as close to the classic version as possible, but with several serving suggestions following the recipe that are not. All are, however, absolutely delicious.
Traditional Irish Boxty
Makes 4 to 6 servings
8 ounces boiling potatoes, peeled and grated on the largest holes of a box grater
8 ounces boiling potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
-- Kosher salt
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup buttermilk
-- Butter, for frying
Line a medium strainer with cheesecloth and set it over a small bowl; put the grated potatoes into the strainer and set aside.
Put the other potatoes into a small saucepan, cover with water, season generously with salt and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes thoroughly, transfer to a mixing bowl and mash with a fork.
Lift the cheesecloth holding the grated potatoes and twist it tightly so that the starchy liquid flows into the bowl. Set aside.
Fold the grated potatoes into the mashed potatoes.
Stir or sift together the flour, baking soda and 1 teaspoon salt and scatter over the potatoes. Pour the reserved starchy liquid over all, followed by the buttermilk. Mix thoroughly.
Melt about 3 tablespoons of butter in a heavy saute pan set over medium heat. When the butter is foamy, drop in the batter, 2 tablespoons at a time, leaving plenty of room between each addition. Use the back of a metal spatula to flatten each cake. Cook until the cakes rise slightly and are golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes. Turn and cook 3 to 4 minutes more. Transfer the cooked boxty to a baking sheet or serving platter and continue until all have been cooked.