Friday is my half birthday and Saturday is St. Patrick's Day, so I am celebrating 2-parties-in-1 with a pre going out dinner on Saturday night. I've invited my friends to join me for an Irish inspired meal before we head out to the bars for a wee bit of St. Patrick's Day shenanigans (I said that in my best Irish accent). Since the evening will most likely involve a lot of beer drinking, I'm serving up generously filling dishes. I'll have a corned beef and swiss appetizer just out of the oven for when my friends arrive. To see what we'll all be sitting down to eat together, read more

To get the meal started I'll have cold plates of smoked salmon and watercress salad with a lemon-caper vinaigrette for each of my guests. Next I'll dazzle them with a variation of the classic shepherd's pie, a blarney stone cottage pie. On the side I'll have slices of my dad's (the recipe is written in his own words-thanks dad!) famous irish soda bread fresh from the oven.



Smoked Salmon and Watercress Salad with a Lemon-Caper Vinaigrette
From Emeril Lagasse

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups pumpernickel bread, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked white pepper
1 teaspoon minced shallots
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
2 tablespoons chopped capers with their liquid
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, plus more for seasoning
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
12 slices thinly sliced Irish smoked salmon (about 8 ounces)
1 pound watercress, stemmed, washed and spun dry
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
2 hard-cooked eggs, finely chopped

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Heat a 10-inch saute pan over medium-high heat, and add the butter and olive oil to the pan. Once the butter is melted, add the pumpernickel cubes to the pan and toss to coat with the butter and oil. Season with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the white pepper. Continue to cook and toss the bread until all the butter and oil have been absorbed. Place the pan in the oven and continue to cook, tossing occasionally, until the bread is crisp, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the bread from the oven and allow to cool before using.
  3. Make the vinaigrette by combining the shallots, garlic, mustard, honey, capers, lemon juice, champagne vinegar, dill and parsley in a non-reactive mixing bowl. Whisk to combine. Season with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper.
  4. While whisking, add the extra-virgin olive oil in a thin, steady stream until the vinaigrette is well combined and partially emulsified. Set the vinaigrette aside while you prepare the salad.
  5. On 4 large, chilled entree plates, place three slices of the salmon in a triangular pattern along the edges of the plates.
  6. In a large non-reactive bowl, place the watercress and the red onion. Season lightly with salt and fresh cracked black pepper. Toss the salad to mix the watercress and onion, and add about 1/2 cup of the vinaigrette to the salad. Toss lightly to combine.
  7. Divide the salad among the 4 plates, and divide the croutons among the plates. Garnish the salad with the chopped eggs and serve immediately.

Serves 4.



Blarney Stone Cottage Pie
From Razzle Dazzle Recipes

4 potatoes, peeled, and diced
1/4 cup milk
black pepper, to taste
1 cup shredded Irish cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon paprika
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
1 lb. lean ground sirloin
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
3 medium carrots, chopped
1/2 cup green peas
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley
3/4 cup beef stock
1/2 teaspoon salt
salt & black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoon cold water

  1. Boil potatoes until tender. Mash together with milk, 1/2 cup cheddar cheese till smooth, season with salt and pepper; keep warm.
  2. Preheat oven to 350.
  3. Heat a heavy, nonstick skillet, at least 10 inches in diameter, over medium-high heat. Add ground beef and saute, stirring occasionally, 4 to 5 minutes, or until meat is no longer pink. Pour contents of pan into a bowl and set aside.
  4. Add onion, garlic & bell pepper and cook until veggies are limp, 4 to 5 minutes.
  5. Add drained meat, carrots, peas, tomato, parsley, beef stock, salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce.
  6. Simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes.
  7. Dissolve cornstarch in water and stir into meat mixture.
  8. Spoon into an ungreased 9x11x2-inch baking dish.
  9. Spread mashed potatoes over the surface, using a fork for texture.
  10. Sprinkle the other 1/2 cup cheddar cheese over top and sprinkle parmesan and dust with paprika.
  11. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Make Ahead: assemble this easy entree ahead of time and bake it just before serving.



Irish Soda Bread
From PartySugar's Dad

My grandmother used to make this for me. It is really good hot out of the oven topped with butter.

2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons caraway seeds (If you don't like them you can leave them out)
1/2 cup raisins
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  2. Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder & salt.
  3. Stir in seeds & raisins.
  4. Beat eggs with milk.
  5. Gradually add eggs and milk to dry ingredients & stir until mixture forms a sticky dough.
  6. Spray pan with PAM. Put a little flour on the bottom of the pan.
  7. Turn the dough into a 5 x 9 loaf pan or a round 8" pan. Sprinkle a little flour on the top.
  8. Bake for 1 hour for loaf pan or 50 minutes for round.
  9. Turn out of pan onto wire rack.

Great for St. Patrick's day. Very authentic.