Janet's Notebook
A Taste of Ireland

Chocolate Irish Coffee

St. Patrick's Day is almost here. It's a fun day, but not one you would typically think of for food.

One of the young ladies in the Test Kitchen took a trip to Ireland last summer. She came back with stories about the beauty of the countryside, the family she got to catch up and the food! I quickly learned some of the best food in Ireland can be found in local pubs rather than a fancy restaurant.

Nancy Patrykus (Spokane, WA) shared a recipe for Irish Boxty she received from an old Irish friend Coleen. "She left Ireland in 1940, but has given me some really great authentic [recipes]," reveals Nancy.

A boxty is basically an Irish potato pancake. And they're delicious! Mashed potatoes are combined with grated potatoes and onion, then lightly seasoned and fried. Serve with sour cream or applesauce and you have a great, quick and easy appetizer. Pairs nicely with a pint.

I love the mix of Guinness and Merlot in Racquel Sweeney's An Irish Guinness Beef Stew. "This is a handy dinner you can prepare the night before," shares Racquel. "When I'm on nights, I have this pre-made for the next day and all I have to do is heat and serve."

This Ireland native knows her stew. Cook this on a cold day and you have one hearty and delicious dinner. The Guinness and Merlot, along with thyme, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce and bay leaves, creates the most amazing base for the veggies and beef. Serve with some crusty bread and you have one comforting dinner.

Corned beef and cabbage is a staple meal, especially around St. Patrick's Day. Janette Suber's (Sale City, GA) Fried Cabbage and Corned Beef recipe is a quick and easy way to enjoy corned beef. "The recipe is a good stick to your ribs meal," jokes Janette. "The cook time on this recipe is more of a long-term simmer over a long period of time."

The cabbage is fried in butter and a bit of sugar that helps with caramelization and makes the cabbage oh so good. This is pretty much the perfect meal for St. Patrick's Day... or any day!

"This Irish Banoffee Pie is a traditional popular pie in Ireland and England," explains Nor M. "A great dessert for St. Patrick's Day or any special day of the year [and] it is fairly easy to make."

Honorary Kitchen Crew member Bonnie (St. George, UT) tested this delicious dessert and raved about it. "This pie is rich, sweet and topped with the most decadent coffee flavored whipped cream and shaved chocolate," thought Bonnie. "I usually make a cake for special occasions and this pie is a welcome change and looks just as good as any fancy cake." This pie sounds delightful and decadent!

Oh, how I loved the buttery taste of Laura Broyles' (Canton, MI) Real Deal Irish Shortbread Cookies. "I was given this recipe many years ago by a little old Irish woman I know," says Laura. "It far surpasses any other shortbread I have ever eaten, even after a trip to Ireland!"

These shortbread cookies are a real treat for a mid afternoon pick me up with a cup of tea or after dinner with a nice Irish coffee (more on that in a minute...). Four simple ingredients create one decadent cookie. Laura is right, they are "melt in your mouth delicious."

Cap off the day with a lovely cup of Vickie Park's Chocolate Irish Coffee. With the addition of Creme de Menthe, it's not the traditional Irish coffee, but I love the hint of minty flavor it adds.

"I adjusted this to suit our taste preferences and to boost the chocolate flavoring a bit," shares Vickie. This coffee is strong and not for the faint of heart. I liked adding chocolate - it adds a slight sweetness. When making, be sure to use a good, smooth Irish whiskey. It's a grand way to end the day.

While I can't travel to Ireland for St. Patrick's Day this year, I thought I'd bring a bit of Irish cuisine to the States. Slainte and happy Pinching!

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