Monday 16 March 2020

St Patrick's Day

This year I’ll be in Ireland instead of New York for St Patrick's Day, 17th March, and I’m all set to celebrate, right here in Shanagarry. Remember St Patrick banished the snakes from Ireland so we’ll have our annual snake hunt around the garden!

We’ve got students from all over the world here at present and they too are all determined to enter into the spirit. They’re planning to rummage around in their wardrobes and cases to bedeck themselves in forty shades of green.

To celebrate Lá Fhéile Padraig, both Ballymaloe House and Ballymaloe Cookery School will be illuminated in green as they have been for the past four years to participate in Tourism Ireland's Global Greening Project, a brilliant initiative where iconic buildings around the world are lit up in green to focus attention on Ireland on St Patrick's Day, which in turn promotes tourism and raises awareness of Ireland and all things Irish.

Image result for ballymaloe st patricks day

Sadly there'll be no St Patrick’s Day parades this year because of coronavirus. But staying home we can still celebrate with our loved ones by cooking a feast of our traditional Irish dishes. 
Songs have been sung and poems have been written about champ and colcannon…

Last year, we enjoyed parsley sauce with bacon and cabbage but this time I’m looking forward to a big pot of Irish stew. It’s a wonderfully comforting meal in a pot, beloved by all the family. I often serve it when friends come round for supper and they just love to tuck into a big bowl of stew and have a nostalgic trip down memory lane.

We’d hoped to have the first rhubarb tart of the year on St Patrick’s Day but I was over optimistic, our rhubarb is barely above the ground and it feels like cheating to use the pale pink forced rhubarb from the Yorkshire triangle in the UK where one can literally hear the rhubarb leaves unfurling in the forcing tunnels. Instead, we’ll make our special St Patrick's Day cake, decorated with orange kumquats and tart green wood sorrel leaves (oxalis) which resemble shamrock but are edible. It’s a super cake, really fast to make and fun to share with friends on St Patrick's Day. 

St Patrick’s Day Cake
This cake is very special, it’s super easy to make and is decorated with a lemony icing, kumquats and wood sorrel leaves – green, white and gold, to celebrate our national day!
Serves 8
175g (6oz) soft butter
150g (5oz) castor sugar
3 eggs, preferably free range
175g (6oz) self-raising flour

Lemon Glacé Icing
110g (4oz) icing sugar
finely grated rind of 1/2 lemon
1-2 tablespoons) freshly squeezed lemon juice

8 pieces of kumquat compote - drained
8 wood sorrel leaves
1 x 20.5cm (8 inch) sandwich tin, buttered and floured.  Line the base of the tin with parchment paper.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.
Put the soft butter, castor sugar, eggs and self-raising flour into the bowl of a food processor. Whizz for a few seconds to amalgamate and turn into the prepared tin – make a dip in the centre so it rises evenly. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes approx. or until golden brown and well risen.
Cool in the tin for a few minutes, remove and cool on a wire rack.

Make the Lemon Glacé Icing.
Sieve the icing sugar into a bowl.   Add the lemon rind and enough lemon juice to make a softish icing.
Once the cake is cool, pour the icing over the cake and spread gently over the sides with a palette knife.

To decorate:
Decorate with the candied kumquats and wood sorrel leaves.
Serve on a pretty plate.