St. Patrick’s Day recipes

Soda Bread

Soda Bread

It’s that time of year. Irish food in on the mind. This soda bread is a classic. Simple and fast to make, it can be served with breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Soda bread is  like a big scone or biscuit. It has a crisp, outer crust, with a crumbly, soft center. The name refers to how the loaf is leavened. Baking soda and baking powder are used to make this bread rise, not yeast.

I like to serve soda bread with butter and jam. A friend tells me she likes to make toasted cheese sandwiches with hers, using a good Irish cheddar, of course.

I used golden raisins, but you can substitute currants, dark raisins, dried cherries, or just leave them out, if you prefer.

I make soda bread all through the year, not just for St. Patrick’s Day.


 Soda Bread

2 c. flour

½ t. each baking powder and baking soda

¼ t. salt

2 T. butter

¾ c. raisins, currants or golden raisins

2 t. caraway seeds

1 egg, beaten

1 c. buttermilk

melted butter, optional

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Dust a baking sheet with a little flour. Combine dry ingredients in bowl and cut in butter to resemble coarse crumbs. Add raisins and caraway seeds. Combine egg and milk and set 2 tablespoons of this mixture aside. Add remaining milk mixture to flour mixture and combine just until dough forms into a ball. Place on baking sheet, brush with reserved egg mixture and cut a crisscross on top of loaf. Bake about 25 minutes or until bread sounds hollow.  Place on rack to cool. You can brush the loaf with a little melted butter, if you like. Makes 1.

Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd’s Pie

If you are looking for a traditional dish for St. Patrick’s Day, you might want to make a Shepherd’s Pie. Shepherd’s pie is a mix of ground lamb and veggies, in a gravy, that are topped with mashed potatoes. Then it is baked until the mixture is heated through and potatoes brown a little.

It’s a lovely dish anytime, not just for a holiday. There are a lot of variations for  shepherd’s pie, but is most often made with ground lamb. You can use other ground meat. It will still be tasty, just less traditional.

The potatoes are mashed, then spread over the meat mixture. You can pipe the potatoes on top, for a pretty presentation. I used a small ice cream scoop to place my potatoes on top. It looked pretty good.

I brushed the potatoes with some beaten egg, to give them a nice shine. You can sprinkle with some Parmesan cheese, if you like. For even more color on the potatoes, you can place under the broiler for a few minutes.

I used sherry in my gravy. Red wine would also be nice.  I also added some parsley to my mashed potatoes.


Shepherd’s Pie


2 T. oil

2 onions, chopped

2 carrots, peeled and diced

2 lbs. ground lamb

2 c. peas

5 T. flour

1 c. chicken stock- or a bit more

½ c. sherry

2 t. thyme

Salt and pepper to taste

2-3 lbs. potatoes

1 c. sour cream

3 T. butter

Salt and pepper to taste

¼ c. chopped parsley

1 egg


Heat oil in large skillet. Sauté onions until tender. Add carrots and cook until carrots are tender. Add lamb and cook until lamb is no longer pink. Add peas and flour, then stir until flour is mixed in. Add stock, sherry and thyme. Cook until thickened and bubbly. Season to taste with salt and pepper. While cooking the meat mixture, peel, dice and boil potatoes until tender. Drain potatoes and mash until smooth. Add sour cream, butter and seasonings.  Place meat mixture in a 9×13 inch baking dish. Top with the mashed potatoes. You can spread them, pipe them on or, as I did, use an ice cream scoop. Beat the egg and brush the potatoes with the egg. Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes, or until potatoes start to brown and mixture is heated through. You can place under the broiler, if you like, for more color. Serves 6-8.