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I’m thinking green these days for two reasons; I am anxious for this color to appear in our lawns and gardens and I’m ready to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day. My current seasonal decor features shamrocks, leprechauns and all things green.

I’m glad Saint Patrick’s Day falls in March. The transition between winter and spring can be dreary and a little celebration in the middle of Lent is always welcomed. A shamrock plant as a table centerpiece assures me that growing things will soon be everywhere I look and the promise of resurrection will once again be fulfilled in my garden’s green rebirth.

Since Saint Patrick’s Day falls on Saturday, I suspect there may be some serious celebrating going on in restaurants and pubs throughout our fair city and the surrounding area. Even if you will be out and about looking for a pint or two of green beer or a lovely plate of Corned Beef and Cabbage that evening, it doesn’t mean you can’t cook for the holiday as well.

How about hosting a St. Patrick’s Day breakfast or brunch? Since the good saint’s feast day doesn’t fall on Saturday again until 2029, this is your opportunity to cook up a storm and host a great event for family and friends. I decided to do a bit of research into Irish-themed morning meals and I turned to one of my favorite publications that deal with Irish foods – Irish Country Cooking – Delicious Country Classics. This beautiful volume published by the folks at Publications International Ltd. is a treasured volume that features authentic Celtic fare.

Traditional Irish breakfasts feature potatoes, bacon or corned beef and oatmeal. The following recipes turn those common ingredients into an uncommon breakfast dish or two or three for your dining pleasure. Wake up your family this Saturday with the aroma of any one of the three wafting through the air for a top of the morning start to your day.

Bacon and Potato Quiche

1 pie crust

12 ounces thick cut bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2 inch pieces

1/2 medium onion, chopped

1/2 pound Yukon potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch cubes

1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme (I’ll use dried from last year’s garden)

1 and 1/2 cups half-and-half

4 eggs

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded Dubliner cheese

2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives (substitute dried chives or green onions)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line baking sheet with foil. Roll out pie crust into a 12-inch circle on a floured surface. Line a 9-inch pie plate with crust, pressing firmly against bottom and up side of pie plate. Trim crust to leave a 1-inch overhang; fold under and flute edge. Prick bottom of crust with a fork. Bake about 8 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire rack to cool slightly. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees. Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat about 10 minutes or until crisp, stirring occasionally. Drain on paper towel lined plate. Drain all but 1 tablespoon drippings from the skillet. Add onion, potatoes and thyme to skillet; cook about 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Place pie plate on prepared baking sheet. Whisk half and half, eggs, salt and pepper in medium bowl until well blended. Sprinkle cheese evenly over bottom of crust; top with vegetable mixture. Pour in egg mixture; sprinkle with chives. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until quiche is set and knife inserted into center comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing. Recipe Note: You will find Dubliner cheese on your favorite cheese monger’s counter. If you don’t want to look for it just substitute Cheddar.

Irish Porridge with Berry Compote

4 cups plus 1 tablespoon water, divided

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup steel-cut oats

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/3 cup half-and-half

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 cup fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered

1 container (6 ounces) fresh blackberries

1 container (6 ounces) fresh blueberries

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3 tablespoons sugar

Bring 4 cups water and salt to a boil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk in oats and cinnamon. Reduce heat to medium; simmer, uncovered, about 40 minutes or until water is absorbed and oats are tender. Remove from heat; stir in half-and-half and brown sugar. Meanwhile, combine strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, granulated sugar and remaining 1 tablespoon water in a small saucepan; bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook 8 to 9 minutes or until berries are tender but still hold their shape, stirring occasionally. Divide porridge among four bowls; top with berry compote.

Corned Beef Hash

2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 cup butter

1 cup chopped onion

1/2 pound corned beef, finely chopped

1 tablespoon horseradish

4 eggs

Place potatoes in large skillet; add water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, simmer 6 minutes. Potatoes will still be firm. Remove potatoes from skillet; drain well. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Melt butter in same skillet over medium heat. Add onion; cook and stir 5 minutes. Stir in corned beef, horseradish and potatoes; mix well. Press mixture with spatula to flatten. Reduce heat to low; cook 10 to 15 minutes. Turn hash in large pieces; pat down and cook 10 to 15 minutes or until bottom is well browned. Meanwhile, bring 1 inch of water to a simmer in small saucepan. Break 1 egg into shallow dish; carefully slide into water. Cook 5 minutes or until white is opaque. Remove with slotted spoon to plate; keep warm. Repeat with remaining eggs. Top each serving with 1 egg. Serve immediately. Recipe Note: I cook all the eggs at once even though I’m sure the reason they are telling you to do it separately is to make sure the water is hot when you slip the egg into it. I just make sure the water comes to a gentle simmer in between adding each egg.

Quote of the Week: Saint Patrick’s Day is an enchanted time – a day to begin transforming winter’s dreams into summer’s magic. -- Adrienne Cook

Ellen Lund

of Fremont is a freelance food columnist.



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