I know most of my heritage along my family tree, but for a quarter of my background, just where my sister and I come from is cloaked in mystery. My grandmother on my mom's side was adopted as a baby with her brother, and while we know that they are from somewhere in the England/Ireland/Scotland/Wales area the specifics were lost to time. Her stepmother was German, and of the "dark" stock with chestnut hair and grey eyes - but my Grandma is fair, blue eyed and from what I hear had reddish-blonde hair as a child. In fact, if you see photos of her even as a young adult (the rare few in colour that exist), she looks eerily similar to me - the only one in my immediate family with red hair and super-fair skin (though my cousin and his son do too). Because of us sporadic offspring, it's generally assumed that Grandma and Great Uncle came from Ireland.
The Irish are, like their Scottish neighbours, frugal out of necessity, and those of "pure stock" that I know personally are famous for their ability to use almost every single scrap of what they have before buying more. Leftovers are re-jigged into miraculous meals, jackets and shirts too tight or short in the arms become vests and dishcloths, and kids learn how to darn socks and sew buttons from youth. A stereotype? For sure, but there you are. And aside from my mom's, I have never had better tasting, heartier bread than the oat rounds made by my childhood friends' mom on the weekends.
This St. Patty's Day I'm privileged to be a part of a great roundup of Irish recipes from around the world. From bread to benedict, cookies to savoury cheesecake, we have quite the assortment! Check out everyone's Irish-inspired nummies below and get ready to dance a jig!
Pistachio Caramel Cookies from Jen S. (5)
Irish Cheese and Bacon Cheesecake with Walnut Crust from Carla (7)
Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes from Susan (4)
Guinness Stout Mini Bundt Cakes from Shanna (6)
Guiness Chocolate Cake from Jen (13)
Key Lime Pie Ice Cream from Renee (9)
Mini Banoffee Pie Tarts from Kelly (2)
Chocolate Bailey's Mousse Tart from Nancy (3)
Key Lime Pound Cake from Joan (1)
Bailey's Irish Cream Cheese Trifle from Anita (8)
Irish Potato-Oatmeal Bread from Sarah (14)
St. Patrick's Day Pistachio Mousse Cups from Kim (10)
Irish Eggs Benedict from Isabelle (11)
Saint Patrick's Day Cookie Stacks from Angie (12)
I adapted this crusty, tender boule from Roxanna - it uses a boatload of mashed potatoes (either leftover [which is what I did] or freshly made), thick-rolled oats and whole wheat flour to make a stick-to-your-ribs, dense loaf that's great for serving with stews, soups or your favourite St. Patty's Day dish!
Irish Potato - Oatmeal Bread
Makes 1 round, 18 slices
17 oz peeled and boiled potatoes, warm (or reheated if leftover)
1 cup rolled oats
2 tbsp melted salted butter
2 tbsp malted barley syrup or honey
1 tsp salt
3 ½ cups whole wheat bread flour
1 tbsp vital wheat gluten
½ tbsp instant yeast
½ cup warm potato-cooking water (or warm milk if using leftover potatoes)