St. Patrick's Day Menu

With the last name of ONeill everyone assumes you have a deep connection with your Irish roots, even more so when they learn my name is Lisa ONeil ONeill. That's right - I added an "l". Truth is, I've always identified more with my Pennsylvania German roots, and felt the whole Irish connection foreign. However, on St. Patrick's Day everyone is Irish - and I celebrate the day with, of course, food, and beer, and whiskey.

I've received requests for my St. Patrick's Day menu so I'm posting early today so you can stock up on the ingredients. I actually made this menu Sunday night for neighbors and I can say every recipe is a keeper. Sorry - but there are few photos - I was busy enjoying my guests. The green flowers below are called Bells of Ireland.

Appetizer -
Deviled Salmon Cakes - the recipe calls of corn, I omitted. I used canned salmon from Whole Foods - their 365 store brand - it was boneless and skinless. I wanted appetizer portions so I made 16 cakes, instead of 8 the recipe is based on. For the light lemon yogurt sauce I combined the zest and juice of one lemon, 1/2 cup Greek yogurt, and 1/4 cup light mayonnaise. Everyone, young and old alike, loved them!

Dinner -
Beef and Guinness Pie with Homemade Puff Pastry - I doubled the recipe and followed it as written - now that's unusual. I made the ruff puff pastry dough given with the recipe - it was so much fun, simple and beautiful! The trick to making good puff pastry is the butter - use a good butter, and keep it cold - frozen. This recipe calls for you to freeze the butter, and then grate it into the flour with a box grater - worked like a charm! You could make the stew a day in advance and finish the pies with the puff pastry well before your friends arrive. Rave reviews from all of the guests!

Charred Brussels Sprouts with Bacon - I used the recipe from the Vetri cookbook - Il Viaggio. I've made this recipe numerous times now - just love it. The recipe calls for pancetta, but I used bacon instead - the bacon from the Classic Diner in Malvern - they actually sell it on QVC (I buy it at the restaurant) - it's "special". I love the splash of sherry vinegar you add at the end - it really lights up the flavors.

Dessert -
Chocolate Whiskey Souffle Tarts - So good, so easy!. This is a press in crust for all of you out there afraid of rolled crusts. The recipe makes 8 individual tarts but I used my rectangular tart pan instead - it required a longer baking time, about 30 minutes as opposed to the 20 minutes for the smaller individual tarts. You can make the entire recipe a week ahead of time because it needs to freeze before baking. I popped the tart into the oven when we sat down to dinner and it was ready when we finished. The filling was puffy and beautifully crackled - and the aroma of chocolate filled the house. No dinner is complete with my husband's espresso.
Hope you all have a wonderful St. Patrick's Day! Let me know how you like the recipes!