This will be my favorite St. Patty’s Day ever. Oh yes, I’ve always celebrated with gusto and never hesitated to share the fact that Saint Patrick's Day was made an official Christian feast day in the early 17th century and is observed by the Eastern Orthodox Church (Yes, the Greeks). The day commemorates Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland! I even have a green St. Patty’s Day shirt that I wear every year; it reads, “Kiss Me, I’m Greek.” So this year I was looking for and creating unique Greek/Irish recipes and that very day, my 23andMe DNA heritage report arrived in the mail. Oh my gosh, I’m 12.2% Irish. Yes, I know, I have been telling y’all for years I’m Greek. I‘ve always said 1/2 Greek and now I know I am mostly Greek (49.3%). But after seeing the report, I need to embrace my Irishness and buy a new St Patty’s Day shirt. Maybe one that says “Kiss me, my Irish roots are Derry (Londonderry) and Belfast.” I don’t have time to track down family members and recipes exactly from Ireland, but I put a call into my aunt here in the USA to see if she has any Irish recipes. She did, so I’m sharing one with you today. Please “Join Our Table” as we embrace our Irish heritage and all foods Irish on March 17!
Bonnie Lou’s Irish Soda Bread
3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup dried currants (soaked in 1/2 cup hot water, then drained)
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup butter, melted
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a large cookie sheet. Combine flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and baking soda. Blend egg and buttermilk together and add all at once to the flour mixture. Mix just until moistened. Stir in butter. Fold currents into batter. Pour into prepared pan. Cut an X 1/4 inch deep across the tops of the loaf with a sharp knife or kitchen scissors just before baking. Bake 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the loaf comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Wrap in foil for several hours or overnight.
Boughton Family Chocolate Potato Cake
I asked my husband’s sisters if this was brought over “on the boat” in the 1600s by their great-great-great great etc. grandmother but no one knew. He was raised on a huge produce farm in northeast Ohio and the No. 1 crop was potatoes, so I bet this was a family recipe from the old country across the pond, Ireland or England. Luckily they arrived way before the great potato famine of the late 1800s.
1/2 pound butter
2 1/3 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup grated dark baking chocolate (approximately 4 squares of baking chocolate, or 4 ounces of other chocolate)
5 rounded tablespoons coarsely ground almonds
1 cup of cold, riced, cooked potatoes – about 2 medium-sized potatoes. Sometime I can find the potatoes already cooked and riced, unseasoned, in the freezer aisle at H-E-B (do not use instant mashed potatoes)
2 1/2 cups cake flour but all-purpose flour will work (cake flour is better if you have it)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup whole milk
Confectioners' sugar for the cake topping
For dusting the pan
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder
Non-stick baking spray or butter
Peel and quarter two medium-sized potatoes; boil for 15 minutes or until cooked through. Drain and dry them briefly over low heat until most of the steam has stopped rising, then remove from heat and mash well; ricing works best. Butter a bundt tube or spring-form pan. Mix the flour and cocoa powder together and dust the inside the pan with this mixture then set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use a food processor or hand grate/crush the chocolate until it has a cornmeal texture or small granules. Set aside. Sift the flour with the cinnamon, cardamom, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Separate the eggs and add the yolks, one at a time, to the creamed mixture, beating well after each one. Stir in the grated chocolate and ground almonds. Add the riced potatoes and stir again.
Add the flour alternating with the milk, beating until smooth after each addition. In a medium bowl, whip the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold the egg whites carefully into the cake mixture. Spoon into the prepared pan and tap gently once on the counter to release any bubbles. Place in oven and bake for 1 3/4 hours. Check with a toothpick to see if it is done; if not done, bake for another 10-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and rest the cake in the pan for 20 minutes before removing, then cool completely on a rack. Move it to a serving dish/platter and dust with confectioners' sugar.
*Do not add potatoes to the batter if they are even slightly warm. If you do, the cake will not rise.
Note: If using a spring-form pan, butter it then line it with a circle of buttered baking parchment for the bottom and a strip of buttered baking parchment for the sides and dust with flour cocoa mixture.