When I was a kid, like many kids, we celebrated holidays throughout the year in our elementary school classrooms. I remember one spring when a certain holiday was about to pop up on the calendar. It was mid-March, so early during the progress of the year and my education. For the following day, I was told by my teacher to wear green—anything and everything in green.
I went home to look into the deepest reaches of my dresser and the darkest corners of my closet. I found a few discordant separates. Green appeared to be in agreement. And so the next day I would make my appearance at school like a sickly Muppet frog whose incongruent green bands called not for festive cupcakes but immediate medical attention. I learned that when it comes to green, less is more; unless, they’re power coordinates.
I also knew that I wasn’t Irish on a day when it was a lucky day to be Irish! But on this special day, the price of inclusion was, is, and always will be, to wear something green and just be happy. I was clad in green; and, looking at the spread, I was happy. Very happy. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
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“I like the cold creaminess of Irish Coffee! I taste Jameson Irish Whiskey and vanilla too. I like this because the cream makes everything smooth. The flavors come out in waves!”
Oh, do we have a spread for you. Lisa, my mom and I wanted to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day a little early to enliven your own celebrations this and every year. Lisa and I settled on a full day’s menu: Irish Coffee to start the early afternoon; a mid-afternoon break with Mini Baileys Cheesecakes; a hearty dinner of comfort food such as Guinness and Irish Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese, and St. Patrick’s Day Fried Cabbage; and an early evening toast with St. Patrick’s Day Mint Schnapps Shakes. A few of these recipes feature Irish staples. I’m not talking about the cabbage. I’m talkin’ Jameson Irish Whiskey, Baileys Original Irish Cream, Guinness Draught, and Kerrygold Aged Irish Cheddar. This isn’t your average spread in an elementary school classroom, unless times have changed.
For a long time, I have been curious about Irish Coffee. I was wary of trying anything from a chain establishment. Instead I wanted to learn about the inspiration for this iconic drink that so strongly represents Ireland.
The exact origin of Irish Coffee is debatable. It probably originated near County Limerick, Ireland, in 1942 or 1943, when Joe Sheridan, head chef at a restaurant and cafe in Foynes Airbase terminal (near Shannon Airport), started adding whiskey to his coffee for some patrons. Fast forward to 1952 when Stanton Delaplane, a travel writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, apparently advised the Buena Vista Cafe in San Francisco to start serving this blend after he enjoyed it so much at Foynes Airbase.
Besides the origin, the exact recipe of Irish Coffee is an enigma. The following recipe is faithful to the Irish-American premiere of Irish Coffee at the Buena Vista Cafe in San Francisco. I chose Jameson Irish Whiskey for that classic Irish flavor profile. For more spice, choose Bushmills Black Bush Irish Whiskey. For a rich experience, go with Knappogue Castle 12-Year-Old Single Malt Irish Whiskey. For something fruity, try Green Spot Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey. For super smooth, use Teeling Small Batch Irish Whiskey.
The first recipe, Irish Coffee, adds 1 oz. Jameson Irish Whiskey to 6 oz. coffee. Recipe ratios can be adjusted to taste. This recipe is sourced from Food & Wine by Margaret.
- Coffee, fresh brewed and strong
- Heavy whipping cream
Ingredients for Simple Syrup:
- Vanilla extract
- Brew a pot of fresh, strong coffee.
- Make a batch of simple syrup. This will consist of equal parts sugar and water, a half cup each. Add a half teaspoon of vanilla extract. Stir until everything is well dissolved.
- Prepare the cream layer. Whip heavy whipping cream until thick but not stiff. The bubbles should be gone and peaks should not form.
- Pour 1 oz. Jameson Irish Whiskey and 6 oz. hot coffee in a tall tapered glass with a handle. Add simple syrup to taste.
- Spoon the cream onto the coffee gently in layers. It should float on top. Even out the top to achieve that perfect layer of cream.
- Serve, toast and live the dream.
This was something that we had heard of but not experienced like this until just now. Mom: “I like the cold creaminess of Irish Coffee! I taste Jameson Irish Whiskey and vanilla too. I like this because the cream makes everything smooth. The flavors come out in waves!” Lisa: “Mmm! The Irish Coffee is very interesting because it has a thick head of cream but then hot coffee is pulled through it. There’s a slight hint of vanilla. This is not overly sweet like other recipes. Jameson Irish Whiskey is very smooth!” And me: “Oh, the cold top layer of Irish Coffee is unexpected! This handmade cream is well worth it. When I draw in hot coffee through the cold cream, I taste Jameson Irish Whiskey and simple syrup with vanilla. I thought that the cream would break up, but it’s hardly even swirling. I like the contrasts of temperatures, textures and flavors. Every sip is a different experience!” For the record, Lisa and I had a couple more of these Irish Coffees the very next day. We didn’t want the heavy whipping cream to go bad.
The second recipe, Mini Baileys Cheesecakes, includes Baileys Original Irish Cream at 1/4 cup. Recipe ratios can be adjusted to taste. This recipe is sourced from Delish by Lena.
Mini Baileys Cheesecakes
Ingredients for the Crust:
- Cooking spray
- Dozen chocolate sandwich cookies, crushed
- 2 Tbsp butter, melted
- Pinch of salt
Ingredients for the Cheesecake:
- 12 oz. cream cheese, softened
- 2 large eggs
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup Baileys Original Irish Cream
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1-1/2 Tbsp all-purpose flour, divided
- 1-1/2 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
Ingredients for Topping:
- Whipped cream
- Chocolate Sauce
- Mini chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 325° and set cupcake liners in a 12-cup muffin tin. Spray the liners with cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine crushed cookies, melted butter, and a pinch of salt. Stir until everything is well mixed. Press this mixture into the liners and set aside the muffin tin.
- In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add eggs and sugar. Beat until smooth. To this add Baileys Original Irish Cream, sour cream, 1 Tbsp flour, vanilla, and pinch of salt. Beat until combined.
- In a medium bowl, toss mini chocolate chips with remaining 1/2 Tbsp flour. Fold into cheesecake batter. Spoon or pour over cookie crusts.
- Bake until centers are almost set, approximately 20 minutes. They may jiggle slightly at the middle. Allow to cool for 30 minutes at room temperature. Refrigerate until set, about 2 hours.
- Remove cheesecakes from muffin tin and discard liners. Top with whipped cream, chocolate sauce and mini chocolate chips or serve plain.
The cheesecakes looked beautiful, dressed or plain. How did they taste? Mom: “I taste the sourness of cream cheese in the Mini Baileys Cheesecakes! I like the crust—kinda crunchy and not dense. The cookie crust has a little bitterness from the cocoa. I want to try this again without all the toppings. Wow, this is even better plain. I can taste more of the Baileys Irish Cream!” Lisa: “Oh, wow! The Mini Baileys Cheesecakes are velvety. The cookie crust is very crisp. The semi-sweet mini morsels are so fun; they give that little extra bite of chocolate, but not overly sweet. I taste more Baileys Irish Cream without syrup and cream. Plain is best!” And me: “I like the flavor and texture of the Mini Baileys Cheesecakes! I taste sourness and creaminess of cream cheese. I prefer this plain best because I can taste more Baileys Irish Cream. Dressed or plain, the cheesecakes are very different!” The best part is that these cheesecakes can be upsized above mini!
“I like the flavor and texture of the Mini Baileys Cheesecakes! I taste sourness and creaminess of cream cheese. I prefer this plain best because I can taste more Baileys Irish Cream. Dressed or plain, the cheesecakes are very different!”
The third recipe, Guinness and Irish Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese, features Guinness Draught at 2/3 cup. Recipe ratios can be adjusted to taste. This recipe is sourced from Celebrating Sweets by Allison.
Guinness and Irish Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese
Ingredients for Macaroni and Cheese:
- 1 pound elbow macaroni (or your favorite pasta)
- 2 Tbsp butter (for a thicker sauce, 3 or 4 Tbsp)
- 2 Tbsp flour (for a thicker sauce, 3 or 4 Tbsp)
- 2/3 cup Guinness Draught
- 1-1/2 cups 2% milk (or other choice of milk)
- 1/2 cup half & half
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper, ground
- 1 Tbsp dijon mustard
- 2 oz. cream cheese, cut into pieces
- 3-1/2 cups grated Irish cheddar (Kerrygold Aged Irish Cheddar is excellent)
Ingredients for Topping (optional):
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 2 tsp garlic, finely minced
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- salt and/or pepper, to taste
- 2 tsp fresh parsley, minced
Instructions for Topping:
- In a medium skillet over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add garlic and panko breadcrumbs. Stir frequently until breadcrumbs are lightly toasted. The mixture should be fragrant. Remove from heat. Add salt and/or pepper to taste. Sprinkle minced parsley. Set aside.
Instructions for Macaroni and Cheese:
- Boil macaroni in well-salted water and cook until al dente. Before draining, scoop out a cup of the pasta water and set aside. (This is in case the macaroni and cheese thickens too much. A little bit can be added to make it creamy again.) While the pasta is cooking, prepare cheese sauce.
- In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Sprinkle flour. Whisk for a minute. While whisking, pour Guinness Draught, milk, half & half, salt, pepper, and dijon mustard. Bring everything to a simmer. Whisk frequently until it thickens slightly. This may take several minutes.
- Add cream cheese and 2-1/2 cups grated Irish cheddar. Stir or whisk until completely smooth. Add the drained, cooked pasta. Stir to combine everything. Add the remaining 1 cup grated Irish cheddar. Stir until melted. Let this set over low heat for a few minutes while stirring frequently. This allows the pasta to soak up some of the Irish cheddar.
- Transfer to a serving bowl or individual bowls. Sprinkle the top(s) with the toasted panko breadcrumbs. Serve immediately.
The fourth recipe, St. Patrick’s Day Fried Cabbage, can be adjusted to taste. This recipe is sourced from Food Network Kitchen.
St. Patrick’s Day Fried Cabbage
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 4 slices bacon or “bacon” (about 3 oz.), sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch strips
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, sliced
- 1/2 large head green cabbage, quartered, cored and sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch thick slices
- salt and pepper
- 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- In a large Dutch oven or pot with lid, put the butter and bacon over medium-high heat. Cook and stir occasionally until bacon is lightly browned and crisp, about 7-8 minutes or so. Using a slotted spoon, carefully transfer the bacon to a paper-towel lined plate and set aside. Do not wipe pot clean.
- Add onion, garlic, and 1/2 tsp salt to the pot. Stir frequently with a wooden spoon. Scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook until the onion is soft, approximately 8 minutes.
- With the heat setting at medium-high, add cabbage, 1 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp black pepper. Stir until the cabbage softens, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low or low, and cook covered until the cabbage is very tender with just a bit of texture remaining in the thicker pieces, about 12-15 minutes. Stir occasionally to ensure that the bottom doesn’t get too dark.
- Uncover the pot and increase the setting to high heat. Add Worcestershire sauce and stir for a minute. There should be almost no liquid leftover. Add more salt and pepper, if necessary, and transfer to a serving bowl. Top with the bacon bits that were set aside previously.
With everything plated, we felt like we were in an Irish pub. My mom started eating and talking before I picked up my fork. Fast one that. Mom: “The Guinness and Irish Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese has a hint of dijon mustard. The Guinness Draught goes well with the creaminess of Irish cheddar. The St. Patrick’s Day Fried Cabbage tastes so good with the ‘bacon.’ This is a simple but upscale St. Patrick’s Day dinner!” Lisa: “Everything is so good! I love it. The St. Patrick’s Day Fried Cabbage is fantastic. It’s still a little crispy. I taste garlic, onions and Worcestershire sauce. The ‘bacon’ gives it that smoky saltiness. This is the best cabbage I’ve ever tasted. The Guinness and Irish Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese is so velvety with Irish cheddar that’s nice and thick. I taste Guinness Draught. The panko topping adds nice texture and flavor. This is actually easy to make. Everything takes less than an hour!” And me: “I can taste the Guinness Draught in the Guinness and Irish Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese! The aged Irish cheddar has a very creamy texture. The spiral pasta is an excellent choice for this dish. The St. Patrick’s Day Fried Cabbage is tender but a little crunchy still. I really like the contrast between the saltiness of the ‘bacon’ and the sweetness of the onions. These two dishes are a great way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day!” Does this Irish pub offer dessert? Does it now!
The fifth recipe, St. Patrick’s Day Mint Schnapps Shakes, highlights your choice of peppermint schnapps at 1/4 cup. Recipe ratios can be adjusted to taste. This recipe is also sourced from Food Network Kitchen.
St. Patrick’s Day Mint Schnapps Shakes
- 1 pint vanilla ice cream (2 cups)
- 1/4 cup peppermint schnapps
- 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 3-4 drops green liquid food coloring
- 2 fresh mint sprigs
- Blend ice cream, peppermint schnapps, vanilla extract and green food coloring in a blender until smooth and rich. Pour into two serving glasses and garnish each with a fresh mint sprig.
What would St. Patrick’s Day be without something mint and green? Mom: “The St. Patrick’s Day Mint Schnapps Shake has a very nice flavor! This is so creamy and refreshing, not heavy at all. Wow, I like this!” Lisa: “Oh, the St. Patrick’s Day Mint Schnapps Shake is really smooth! I taste peppermint schnapps but it’s not nearly as sweet as I thought it would be. The green color is beautiful. This is really refreshing!” And me: “The St. Patrick’s Day Mint Schnapps Shake is smooth and refreshing. This has a nice minty taste and green color; it’s what you would expect for St. Patrick’s Day. I’m eating this with a spoon and drinking it too!” The last part almost sounds like a commercial!
“Oh, the St. Patrick’s Day Mint Schnapps Shake is really smooth! I taste peppermint schnapps but it’s not nearly as sweet as I thought it would be. The green color is beautiful. This is really refreshing!”
I asked everyone for their favorite drink and food. Mom: “My favorite drink is the St. Patrick’s Day Mint Schnapps Shake because it’s so refreshing. My favorite food is the Guinness and Irish Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese. This is for grownups!” Lisa: “My favorite drink is the Irish Coffee. I think it’s exceptional. My favorite food choice is a tough one, but I’d say the Guinness and Irish Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese, and the St. Patrick’s Day Fried Cabbage. We need them both equally!” And me: “My favorite drink is also the Irish Coffee. I thought that this would be a better idea than the actual thing but it was the opposite. It tastes so clean with every flavor discernible. I love the temperature and texture contrasts too. My favorite food is the Mini Baileys Cheesecake. I really like the texture and crust. The cheesecake flavor is rich and exactly what I have been craving!” Like extended playful banter before closing, we turned out the lights on the night and our imaginary Irish pub.
Every March, I look forward to a few occasions: Spring Forward, St. Patrick’s Day, and the first day of spring. Bad things come in threes but also good. Three is a magic number if you want it to be. 1) Chase the sun. 2) Wear something green. 3) Just be happy. You can make this day yours to celebrate with everyone. With these recipes, every day can be like St. Patrick’s Day. We should all be so lucky!
To learn more about Baileys Original Irish Cream, visit Baileys
To learn more about Guinness Draught, visit Guinness
To learn more about Jameson Irish Whiskey, visit Jameson
To learn more about Kerrygold Irish Cheddar, visit Kerrygold
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