Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Usually when we think of Saint Patrick's Day we think of shamrocks, wearing green (or risk getting pinched), parades, overindulging in green beer, and little dancing leprechauns (which could be the result of the green beer.) Officially, this annual holiday is named after Saint Patrick, a patron saint of Ireland. It started as a Catholic holiday, then became an official feast day in the early 1600's, and eventually evolved into a celebration of Ireland's culture.

Speaking of shamrocks... when my brother and I were kids my mom sometimes took us to Bingo with her. Before she went into the game hall, she'd sit us down in a patch of clovers and tell us that for every four-leafed clover we found she'd reward us with a dollar. In a kid's mind it seemed an easy enough feat, and a quick way to get rich. I remember how shocked she'd be when we brought her a carefully plucked four-leafed clover from the field of three-leafed ones (even if we had to split one leaf to make four). It was only as I got older that I realized the task which she'd made into a game was just a ploy to keep us occupied and out of her hair while she played Bingo. Oh mom... (sigh).

What's more Irish than potato? The following recipe was taken from the book "Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping" published by Buckeye Publishing Company Minneapolis, in 1877.

Boil either Irish or sweet potatoes until well done, mash and rub through a sieve; to a pint of pulp, add three pints of sweet milk, tablespoon of melted butter, teacup of sugar, three eggs, pinch of salt, and nutmeg or lemon to flavor. Use rich paste for under crust.

Or another version...

Irish Potato Pie
3 eggs
2 cups half-and-half or light cream
2 cups mashed potatoes (whipped smooth with no lumps)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp Irish Whiskey, brandy, or sherry (optional)
1 unbaked 10-inch deep-dish pie shell with high fluted edge
toasted slivered almonds
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs slightly. Stir in the half-and-half or cream, potatoes, sugar, vanilla, salt, and liquor. Beat well until smooth.
  3. Cover the fluted edge of the pie shell with aluminum foil to prevent over-browning. Pour the filling into the shell and sprinkle with nutmeg.
  4. Place on the center rack and bake 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 15-18 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick in the center comes out clean.
  5. Cool on a wire rack. Sprinkle almonds around the outer edge and dust with additional nutmeg.
  6. Serve at room temperature; store in fridge.

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