About twelve percent of the U.S. population traces its ancestry to Ireland.  On St. Patrick’s Day, that number seemingly swells to seventy-five percent or more.  On this day, most everyone is wearing the green, spreading the blarney, or drinking green beer or an Irish brew of some kind—usually to excess.  For those not ensconced in a bar with an Irish moniker, the task is to bring a bit of the “Old Country” to your home table.

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The luck of the Irish is with you this year when it comes to planning the perfect St. Patrick’s Day celebration.  Fancy Girl Table has graciously offered a fantastic menu to treat your friends and family to a Pub Style St. Patrick’s Day repast.   Fancy Girl Table’s owner Jeanette Maier says, “To me, ‘fancy’ means elegance that draws inspiration from the heritage of simpler times.  A ‘fancy’ menu doesn’t have to be expensive, just well-crafted.”  We couldn’t agree more.

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Planning a St. Patrick’s Day party, or any party for that matter, is not difficult if one plans early and does most of the work ahead of time.  Fancy Girl Table has crafted a menu filled with items you can prepare in advance so you can enjoy your own party.  The menu includes some great dishes that will satisfy everyone, even those who are vegan or gluten-free!  Anyone who entertains knows how hard it is these days to please guests with food issues.  Another thing I love about the Fancy Girl Table approach to food and entertaining is that the items are unique, have great flavor profiles, and yet are approachable to all levels of gourmand expertise or lack thereof.

Pub Style St. Patrick’s Day Menu

Courtesy of Fancy Girl Table

Emerald Arugula Salad with Pickled Berries, Caramelized Lady Apples, Irish Cheese & Smoked Mustard Vinaigrette (recipe below)

Upside Down Smoked Lentil Shepherd’s Pie – Vegan & Gluten Free (recipe below)

Beer Braised Chicken Stew with Potatoes & Onion (recipe below)

Sugar Hill Farm Corned Beef with Mustard Roasted Cabbage

Sweet Potato Mac and Cheese with Farm House Bacon (recipe below)

Chocolate Stout Bread Pudding

Now that the menu is set, it is time to work on grocery shopping and planning your party décor.  Most everything on the menu can be made three days in advance.  Since St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Monday in 2014, Saturday is the perfect day to go to the market and start preparing the items that need to or can be made ahead of time.  Bring along a photo copy of the recipe(s) so you don’t overlook an essential ingredient.

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Setting the proper ambiance for a party is a detail that should not be overlooked.   Fancy Girl Table likes subtle rather than in-your-face decorations.  Instead of plastering shamrocks all over the place, try incorporating the colors of Ireland’s landscape, muted browns and bright greens, which work beautifully and naturally with organic food.  And flowers add a wonderful decorative touch.  For your table use big white flowers, such as white hydrangea, filled in with deep greens and herbs like mint.  Herbs are wonderful in floral arrangements as they add as bit of surprise and fragrance!

Mac & Cheese

 Another great tip from Fancy Girl Table is to line your food platters with brown parchment paper, whose color is reminiscent of Ireland’s peat when it dries.  This gives a nice rustic look and also makes clean-up a cinch since all you do is pick up the paper and throw it away.  They prefer the parchment rolls by Beyond Gourmet  or If You Care .  Just cut a piece of parchment from the roll that is about 3 inches longer than your platter on both ends.

Lastly, the table will need candles.  For a nice finishing touch, fill glass votive candle holders with green peppercorns and put a white tea light on top of each.  Organic Irish!

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 If you are doing a formal, assigned seating arrangement at the table, consider mixing up the guests so they are able to meet new people.  And give some thought to clever place cards and place card holders.  I like to use small items as place card holders that can be taken home by the guests as a souvenir of what promises to be a most festive occasion.

A special thanks to Fancy Girl Table for providing the recipes, menu and great photos of the food.   Check out their website for further entertaining ideas, menus, or if you need a caterer.

Emerald Salad with Pickled Berries, Caramelized Apples, Irish Cheese & Smoked Mustard Vinaigrette
 
Prep time

Cook time

Total time

 

Author:
Recipe type: Salad, Appetizer or Entree
Serves: 4

Ingredients
  • 1 piece of sliced ginger, ½ inch thick
  • 8 pink peppercorns
  • 3 allspice berries
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt
  • 1 ½ cups red wine vinegar
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 1-pint blackberries
  • 1-tablespoon butter
  • 4 medium red- or pink-skinned lady apples (such as Pink Lady) cut in half and seeds removed
  • 1-teaspoon sugar
  • ½-cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ¾ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ¼-teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 4 cups dark green arugula
  • ¼ cup toasted pecans
  • 4 ounces Irish cheese, such as Cashel Blue

Instructions
  1. In a saucepan, add the ginger, spices, bay leaf, sugar, salt, vinegar & water. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to simmer until the sugar has dissolved. Cool the brine. Pour over the black berries that have been placed in a large jar. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 days, but one week is best.
  2. Cook the lady apples: in a skillet heat the butter. When hot, add the lady apples and sprinkle with the sugar.
  3. Cooked the lady apples over medium heat, turning them occasionally. Cook until softened and lightly browned.
  4. Make the dressing: Place oil, vinegar, shallot, mustard, paprika, salt and pepper in a blender; blend until well combined. You will have dressing leftover for more salads.
  5. Assemble the salad by tossing the arugula, apples, and pickled berries with ¼ cup of the dressing. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add more dressing if necessary. Top with crumbled cheese and pecans.
  6. Yields 4 servings

Vegan Upside Down Shepherd’s Pie
 
Vegan and Gluten Free
Author:
Recipe type: Entree

Ingredients
  • 4 Large Sweet Potatoes, peeled & cut into 6 pieces
  • 4 Large Russet Potatoes, peeled & cut into 6 pieces
  • ½ tablespoon each chopped fresh oregano, rosemary & thyme
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-¼ cup green or red lentils
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1-teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon ground fennel
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 1 ¼ cup sliced shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 red pepper, chopped small
  • 1 cup chopped kale
  • 1 ¼ cup bread crumbs. We use Mary’s Gone Crackers: Just The Crumbs. They are gluten-free and have a great texture.
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Make the mashed potatoes: Place all the potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook until easily pierced with a fork. Strain the potatoes, but save 1 cup of the potato water. Put the potatoes and 1 cup of the reserved water back into the pot with the fresh herbs and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and mash. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Set aside
  3. Cook the lentils: place lentil in a pot with enough water to cover. Add bay leaves and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, add spices and partially cover. Add more water if needed during cooking. Cook until soft.
  4. In a sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil until hot. Add the onion and sauté until translucent. Add the mushrooms and peppers and cook until the mushrooms release their liquid. Add the chopped kale and sauté until just wilted. Add in the cooked lentil, add salt and pepper and mix well. Remove from heat.
  5. Assemble: In a baking dish (we use a 9 x 13 inch dish) add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 cup of the bread crumbs. Mix together then spread on the bottom of the dish. Next layer ¾ ‘s of the masked potatoes and spread evenly over the breadcrumbs. Next spoon the lentil vegetable mixture over the mashed potatoes and lightly press down to make even. Then with a scoop or spoon, scoop on the remaining potatoes, making about 12 balls. Cover the top with the remaining breadcrumbs. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for approximately 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake 15 minutes more or until browned on top.
  6. Yields 8 servings. Serve with some steamed broccoli or a big salad.

Beer Braised Chicken Stew with Potatoes & Onion
 
Author:
Recipe type: Entree

Ingredients
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 ½ lbs. skinless boneless chicken thighs
  • 1 12-ounce bottle of beer (ale or brown)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup frozen pearl onions
  • 1 lb. red fingerling potatoes cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 large carrot, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1-cup chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Instructions
  1. Mix together the garlic, smoked paprika and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to form a paste. Rub all over the chicken thighs and let marinated at least an hour.
  2. Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the remaining olive oil and when hot, add the chicken. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Brown the chicken on both sides.
  3. Add the beer, bay leaves, onions, potatoes, mustard, thyme and chicken stock. Simmer until the chicken is cooked through and the potatoes are fork tender.
  4. Add the parsley & chives and adjust salt and pepper.
  5. Note: this dish is best made the day before to allow for the flavors to further develop. Yields 6 servings

Macaroni & Cheese with Sweet Potato & Farmhouse Bacon
 
Author:
Recipe type: Side Dish, Entree

Ingredients
  • ½ pound macaroni
  • 1 cup thick cut bacon, cut into ¼ inch slices
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup sweet potato, peeled and cut into ¼ inch cubes
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3½ cups half and half
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 8 ounces gruyere, grated
  • 8 ounces smoked cheddar, grated
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Instructions
  1. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cook the pasta al dente in boiling salted. Drain and rinse the pasta in cold water. Set aside.
  3. Boil the cubed sweet potato until soft. Drain and set aside.
  4. Sauté the bacon in a small pan until crisp and
  5. golden. Remove the bacon from the pan with a slotted
  6. spoon to drain on paper towels. Pour off all but 1
  7. tablespoons of the drippings, and return the pan to
  8. low heat. Add the breadcrumbs and thyme to the bacon
  9. drippings, and toss to coat evenly. Season with a
  10. sprinkle of salt and pepper, and set the pan aside.
  11. In a saucepan with a thick bottom, melt the butter over
  12. medium-low heat. Sprinkle in the flour and stir with a wooden spoon to
  13. work the flour into the butter. Continue to
  14. cook for 3 minutes, stirring often. Whisk in the half and half
  15. in 1-cup increments, making sure to work the mixture
  16. smooth each time. Whisk in the shallots, and simmer
  17. the mixture for about 10 minutes, stirring often, until thickened.
  18. Turn off the heat and whisk in the smoked cheddar and half of the gruyere.
  19. Season the cheese sauce with salt and pepper
  20. to taste. Stir in the macaroni and bacon, then pour
  21. into a greased 2-quart baking dish and top with the
  22. remaining cheese. Sprinkle over the breadcrumb
  23. mixture and bake uncovered for 30 minutes, or until
  24. the cheese and breadcrumbs are golden.
  25. Serves 6 as an entrée, 8 as a side dish

 

Photos and Recipes Courtesy of Fancy Girl Table.