Tuesday, March 15, 2011

St. Patty's Day and Irish Cuisine

"It's been said that God created whiskey to keep the Irish from taking over the world. If so, then He also created haggis to keep the Scots from going into the restaurant business." ~ W. Caterson

I sometimes write restaurant reviews for Urbanspoon and TripAdvisor when an establishment warrants my two cents worth.

Or if I have way too much time on my hands.

On a recent evening when I had so much time on my hands I had to use a Brillo Pad to get it all off, I decided to write a review for one of my favorite Irish pubs. But before doing so, I scanned some reviews for this particular pub as well as some others just to see what folks were saying. I was amazed that several reviewers of Irish pubs had the néatóg to complain about the cuisine.

Listen. Going to an Irish pub for "the cuisine" is like going to Mardi Gras because you want to stock up on some great jewelry.

Nope, folks go to Irish pubs for the great atmosphere, the great company (even a stranger is welcomed), the great beer, and the great music. The food? If it’s not moving and it’s warm, you’ll find it adequate and it will surely stick to your ribs. If it were served in any other setting it would probably be forgettable.

But make no mistake, when the waitress sets that bowl of Irish stew or a plate of fish and chips on your table, and the Guinness begins to flow, and the fellah with the guitar up front explains the 'origin of this next song', and the whole room bursts into a rousing rendition of 'Whiskey in a Jar'...well, then you know you've entered another realm where the work-a-day world falls to the floor like tattered rags and joy reigns triumphant. This is especially true every St. Patrick's Day.

But if you want to stay in this St. Patty’s Day, you’ll find lots of recipes on-line for Irish Stew, Colcannon, Corned Beef and other Irish staples. Let me add to the canon this delicious recipe for Irish Cabbage Soup.

Now let's all pour a pint and be thankful that Scottish eating establishments are few and far between.


Warren (whose family made their way here from Counties Tyrone & Donegal, and the Isle of Skye)


PREP: 5 minutes        COOK: 1-1/2 hours


1/2 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup diced celery
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1/2 pound cabbage
1-1/2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups chicken stock
4 red potatoes, cubed
6 thinly slice mushrooms
4 ounces frozen peas, defrosted
1/4 pound kielbasa, sliced 1/4 diagonal slice
Salt and pepper to taste


1. Melt the 2 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Sauté the onions and celery until tender and translucent, about 10 minutes.

2. Cut the cabbage lengthwise and remove the core. Slice into 3/8 inch shreds. Add the cabbage and parsley to the saucepan and cook for 10 minutes until the cabbage wilts.

3. Stir in the flour and cook for 3 minutes. Add the stock and potatoes and bring to a simmer. Stir well and cook for 30 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, melt remaining butter in a small skillet and sauté mushrooms until their moisture is released. Add the peas and heat through.

5. After the soup has cooked for 20 minutes, add the kielbasa, peas and mushrooms. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.


  1. Happy St Pat's Day! Tho' we don't celebrate here in Singapore, it's interesting reading posts on it. Thks for the lovely recipe!

  2. Thanks for your add! Can't wait to keep up with your own blog!

  3. What about the new gastropubs? You don't think any of those might be Irish?

    While we're on the topic of Irish -- do you know of any lean recipes that include beer? (Doesn't have to be green.) I have some crummy beer that Steve isn't going to drink, sitting (unopened) in the fridge. Didn't see anything in Table for Two that called for beer but I need to cook with it. Use it in a recipe. Know what I mean?

    If it was Guinness (yum!) or some other "wicked stout" it would be gone-gone. ;)

    Tapadh leibh agus slainte' mhath! :)

  4. The Mardi Gras reference was hilarious! Do you have copies of your cookbook available? I'd love to get one! I share your wisdom with my guy on occasion when he's home and he thinks you are so witty. Gotta love guys with a great sense of humor! Email me back if you get a moment at bisqwik2@aol.com

  5. @blackswan. No St. Patty's Day Celebration in Singapore? Hmmm. Sounds like you need to start one! lol. At least you have one recipe to run with. Thanks for stopping by!

  6. @Jill. Lean recipes with beer? Hmmm. Let me get back to you on that. I do have a wonderful cheddar cheese soup recipe that calls for beer, but it is far from lean. :-)

  7. @Pretend Chef. Thanks, Rochelle. Glad the Mardi Gras reference brought a smile! My book is available on Amazon.com, Target.com, Walmart.com, BarnesandNoble.com etc. But you can order it from my website (and personalized as well!) by clicking on the book icon to the right.

  8. @TheAddictedBaker. Thanks for dropping in! I try to post weekly so feel free to stop by often. Take care!

  9. I might consider the cheese soup, Warren. Is it in the book?

  10. @Jill. No. I will have to e-mail it to you.

  11. I just happen to have an extra cabbage laying around asking to be turned into soup. No joke. Great post by the way!

  12. Hope you had a wonderful St. Patrick's Day!
    The soup sounds wonderful!

    Have a great weekend,

  13. @Tammy. Thanks - we had a wonderful day. Here's hoping you have a great weekend as well. Take care!

  14. As my great grandmother used to say, "We ate that food because we didn't have a choice!". I took some friends who were visiting from Ireland to a restaurant some years back and they were amazed by the array of choices and that when I placed my "special" order, the waitress didn't throw me out. Apparently in Ireland that would have got me tossed. =)

    That being said, there is nothing lovelier than a friendly Irish Pub.

  15. @Christine. LOL about your visiting friends!

    And I think most of us would concur: there *is* nothing lovelier than a friendly Irish pub. Thanks for stopping by!

  16. I'll follow your recipe to the last detail and hopefully i can have it done perfectly. 'll try it and share with my family.

  17. @Kathy. E-mail me and let me know what you think!

  18. Enjoyed reading this. Love your sense of humor. Hmm, I thought I was following you through Google too, but noticed I wasn't there. Oh, well, I am now. Have a great day!

  19. I wish knew this recipe before St. Patrick's Day but I could make anytime I guess. It still chilly at night here so I love to have warm soup to cozy up with my part Irish husband. Congratulations on your book.