Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

I think St. Patrick’s Day is the perfect comfort food holiday.  Spring is almost here but there are still those chilly, rainy days that remind you that Old Man Winter isn’t quite ready to be finished.  The random changes in weather wreak havoc on my sinuses and cause awful headaches.  My allergies start flaring up.  Spring is the busiest,  most stressful time for me at work.  All these things combined call for Shepherd’s Pie, bread pudding and a tall cold pint of Guinness!

Shepherd’s Pie

For the potatoes:

  • 1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 egg yolk

For the meat filling:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 4 carrots, peeled and diced small
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas


Peel the potatoes and cut into 1/2-inch dice. Place in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Set over high heat, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, uncover, decrease the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until tender and easily crushed with tongs, approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Place the milk and butter into a microwave-safe container and heat in the microwave until warmed through, about 35 seconds. Drain the potatoes in a colander and then return to the saucepan. Mash the potatoes and then add the half and half, butter, sour cream, salt and pepper and continue to mash until smooth. Stir in the cheese and egg yolk until well combined.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the filling. Place the olive oil into a 12-inch saute pan and set over medium high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the onion and carrots and saute just until they begin to take on color, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and stir to combine. Add the beef, salt and pepper and cook until browned and cooked through, approximately 3 minutes. Sprinkle the meat with the flour and toss to coat, continuing to cook for another minute. Add the tomato paste, beef broth, Worcestershire, oregano, thyme, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer slowly 10 to 12 minutes or until the sauce is thickened slightly.

Add the peas to the beef mixture and spread evenly into an 13 by 9-inch glass baking dish. Top with the mashed potatoes, starting around the edges to create a seal to prevent the mixture from bubbling up and smooth with a rubber spatula. Place on a parchment lined half sheet pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 25 minutes or just until the potatoes begin to brown. Remove to a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Source: adapted from Alton Brown http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/shepherds-pie-recipe2/index.html


No St. Patty’s day meal would be complete without dessert and beer!  I’m killing two birds with one stone on this one!!!

Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding with Guinness Syrup


For the bread pudding

  • 4 cups French baguette or Italian bread, cubed
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt

For syrup

  • 1 bottle Guinness
  • 3/4 cup sugar


Preheat oven to 350º.

In a large mixing bowl, combine bread chocolate chips and walnuts.  In another mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt.  Pour over bread and let soak for 30 minutes.

While bread is soaking, bring Guinness and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan.  Reduce heat to medium low and let simmer for 45 minutes.  Remove from heat and cool.  Mixture will become more syrupy as it cools.

Put bread mixture in a greased baking dish and bake for 30 minutes or until top is brown and custard is set.

Let cool for 10 minutes and then serve with syrup.

Source: Ruth’s Table


May the Irish hills caress you.
May her lakes and rivers bless you.
May the luck of the Irish enfold you.
May the blessings of Saint Patrick behold you.
~Irish Blessing

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