Facebook Twitter

Eatin’ of the green

SHARE Eatin’ of the green

Top o' the morning!

It's a rare occasion when St. Patrick's Day lands on a Tuesday. But it's here . . . sure and begorra, so let's lean on some green. We're all temporarily Irish for 24 hours anyhow.Talking about greens - you've got your collard, beet, putting, village or salad. You might know a colorful man named Mr. Green. Today and every day, baby boomers spend hours wondering why Mr. Green Jeans was so stern.

It's obvious that some businesses tailor their foods to show up green on grocery shelves near St. Patrick's Day. Thankfully, we're clever, discerning shoppers and know that the festive item isn't moldy - just tinted green.

The "wearin' of the green" is actually a red-letter day for bagel stores. Business booms while ersatz Irish noshers flock to buy green bagels. Bagelry owners fill their cash registers with green. Everybody's dancing a jig - especially consumers who have over-in-dulged food filled with Green Dye No. 98.

Einstein Bros., the nation's leading bagel retailer, features a "Lucky Green Bagel," made with "rare magical Irish green flour." The bilious bun is said to "impart the "Luck O' the Irish" on anyone who eats it. Also available are Celtic sandwiches. The "Full O' Blarney" - a turkey pastrami on a Lucky Green Bagel with a side of coleslaw is a hit. The concoction is Einstein's take on the usual corned beef and cabbage.

Then there's McDonald's, unleashing its green dream ice cream to commemorate St. Patrick himself. Its Shamrock Shake is a harbinger of spring for families with small kids and adults with questionable taste.

Bakeries roll out shamrock-shaped snickerdoodles; spiggots spew green bubbly, and Seussed-up moms serve Green Eggs and Ham to delighted kiddies. Emerald pancakes shock sleepy breakfast-eaters.

It's truly amazing - the green stuff that people will consume in the name of a St. Patrick's Day feast. Despite the partylike partaking, there is a group of die-hard Irish traditionalists who insist that delicacies like Irish soda bread and anything with potatoes are the only fitting foods for the holiday.

Green cookies, green bread, green biscuits, green cake and an array of green beverages aren't true leprechaun fare, they lament. To these Blarney Stone smoochers, green food just doesn't seem normal. Things that turn green usually end up in the bag o' trash . . . eh?

NOT SO! There are approximately 3 tablespoons of Irish blood flowing through this body - and my sentiments are just as valid as those unchangeable Irish. TO ME, A WEE BIT O' HEAVEN IS SAVORING A GREEN HOSTESS SNOW-BALL WHILE CELTICALLY CLOGGING TO RIVERDANCE TUNES.

Before you grab the green apron and dive into the recipes we've included in today's food tale, here's the answer to a seasonal burning question . . . IS CORNED BEEF AND CABBAGE THE IRISH NATIONAL DISH?

The answer . . . NOT REALLY.

In fact, we Americans eat more of it than the folks in Ireland. Historians say that from early times, the Irish didn't consume much beef - pork was their favorite meat. Cattle were eaten only when they were old and useless. Otherwise, they were prized as a common medium used for barter.

The size of one's herd of cattle was an indication of status, power and wealth. Eating beef, except for that of a cow past its milking days or accidentally killed, was the cultural equivalent of lighting a cigar with hundred-dollar bills.

Later, centuries down the road, the expense of beef still kept the majority of Irish from eating it often. It's astounding that during the worst years of the Great Famine, Irish tenant farmers were forced to export hundreds of thousands of barrels of salt beef (it came to be called "corned beef" because of the corn-sized grains of salt used in the preservation process) to Britain and Canada. Since they weren't owners of the farms, they couldn't eat the beef - the expense was prohibitive.

Many poor Irish immigrants came to America and were finally able to afford beef, since it was much cheaper here. When they got beef, however, they treated it the same way they had in Ireland; they soaked it to draw off excess salt, then braised or boiled it with cabbage and served in its own juices with minimal spicing (a bay leaf or some pepper).

Corned beef and cabbage has become a mainstream American meal - especially around St. Patrick's Day. But according to some of those died-in-the-wool Irish cooks, "the basic understanding of the dish has suffered over time."

They say that in the United States, corned beef and cabbage is NEVER done right - that the cabbage is usually way overdone.

Not to worry! Celebrate the holiday any way that's comfortable. Give the following recipes a try. They beat pouring the family a bowl of Lucky Charms!




5 pounds corned beef brisket

1 large onion, stuck with 6 whole cloves

6 carrots, peeled and sliced

8 potatoes, peeled and cubed

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 small bunch parsley

1 head cabbage (about 2 pounds), cut in quarters

For Horseradish Sauce:

1/2 pint whipping cream

2 to 3 tablespoons prepared horseradish

Prepare Corned Beef:

Put beef in a large pot and cover with cold water. Add all other ingredients except cabbage and bring to a boil with the lid off the pot. Turn to simmer and cook for 3 hours. Skim fat from top as it rises. Remove the thyme, parsley and onion. Add cabbage. Simmer for 20 minutes until cabbage is cooked. Remove the meat and cut into pieces. Place on center of a large platter. Strain the cabbage and season it heavily with black pepper. Surround the beef with the cabbage, carrot and potatoes. Serve with horseradish sauce. Serves 8.

To Prepare Horseradish Sauce:

Whip the cream until it stands in peaks. Fold in horseradish.

- Each serving contains 1058 calories, 65g fat, 60g carb, 3424mg sodium, 316mg cholesterol.

- From Pastry Wiz


2 tablespoons butter

2 teaspoons chopped onions

2 teaspoons chopped celery

3 potatoes, cut small

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 quart boiling water

1 tablespoon flour

2 teaspoons parsley, chopped fine

1/8 teaspoon white pepper


Heat 1 tablespoon butter. Add onions and celery. Let simmer 10 minutes. Add potatoes, cover and cook 2 minutes. Add salt and water. Boil 1 hour. Add more boiling water as it evaporates. Combine the remaining flour and butter, add some potato liquid and cook. Combine with potato mixture, parsley and white pepper. Serve not with croutons. Serves 4.

- Each serving contains 147 calories, 6g fat, 22g carb, 331mg sodium, 15mg cholesterol.

- From The Tampa Tribune


2 1/2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 cup raisins

7/8 cup milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Sift flour and salt into a bowl. Rub in the butter with your fingers or a pastry blender. Add the sugar, baking powder and raisins and mix together well. Add the milk and mix into a loose dough. Turn onto a floured board and knead until smooth (about 10 times). Roll out; cut the dough in half; then into quarters and then into eighths. Place on a lightly floured baking sheet, then brush the top of each scone with milk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. When done, transfer to a wire rack to cool. Makes 12.

- Each serving contains 134 calories, 2g fat, 26g carb, 181mg sodium, 6mg cholesterol.

- From Becky & Michael O' Connor


4 medium baking potatoes

4 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup finely diced onion

1/4 cup finely diced green pepper

2 tablespoons cream

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

1 teaspoon minced parsley

2 cups shredded corned beef

8 poached eggs (optional)

Bake the potatoes in the oven. Let cool. Cut into halves and scrape out the potato, leaving about 1/4 inch of potato all around the skin for a bowl effect. Mash the potatoes with the cream; set aside. Melt the butter in a saute pan and cook the onions and green pepper until the onions are translucent. Add these to the potato mixture with the corned beef and the rest of the seasonings. Mix well. Stuff the skins (shells) with the potato mixture and bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Serves 6-8.

Each serving contains 352 calories, 18g fat, 34g carb, 658mg sodium, 244mg cholesterol.

From The Sterling Inn


4 large kiwis, peeled and sliced (11/3 cups)

2 Granny Smith apples, cored and sliced but not peeled (2 cups)

1 cup seedless green grapes (1/4 pound)

1 cup honeydew melon balls (1/4 medium)

Green leaf lettuce

Honey-Lime Dressing:

1 16-ounce container plain yogurt

2 tablespoons honey

2 teaspoons grated lime zest

Arrange the kiwi slices, apple slices, grapes and melon balls on the lettuce leaves. To make the dressing, combine the yogurt, honey and lime zest. Refrigerate for 60 minutes. Drizzle dressing over the fruit and serve cold. Serves 6.

- Each serving contains 141 calories, 1g fat, 30g carb, 61mg sodium, 2mg cholesterol.

- From "Breakfast at Nine, Tea at Four" by Sue Carroll