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St. Patrick’s Day is Saturday, March 17, and that usually calls for some type of Irish-themed celebration. You will find a good supply of corned beef, cabbage and potatoes in the grocery stores, along with soda bread. Whether you are of Irish heritage or not, get into the Irish spirit with one of the following recipes.

Barm Brack

Barm Brack (also called Barin Breac in Ireland) is a yeast bread with added raisins and golden raisins for flavor and texture. It is sweeter than standard bread but not as rich as cake. The bread is traditionally eaten around Halloween when charms are baked into the dough as part of an ancient fortune-telling ritual. It is also often served toasted with a cup of tea in the afternoon. Try this hearty bread rather than the traditional soda bread this year with your corned beef and cabbage.

Makes 1 loaf


5-5 1/2 cups white bread flour, plus extra for dusting

1 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon salt

1 package active dry yeast

1 tablespoon sugar

1 1/4 cups lukewarm milk

2/3 cup lukewarm water

Oil, for oiling the bowl

4 tablespoons butter, softened

2 cups mixed dried fruit (golden raisins, raisins and currants)

Milk, for glazing


If desired, soak the raisins in hot brewed tea for 2 hours to plump them. Sift 5 cups of the flour, allspice and salt into a warm bowl. Stir in the yeast and sugar. Make a well in the center and pour in the milk and water. Mix well to make a sticky dough. Add the additional flour if needed. Turn the dough out onto a floured counter and knead until no longer sticky. Put the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until doubled in size. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured counter and knead lightly for 1 minute. Add the butter and mixed fruits to the dough and work them in until completely incorporated. Return the dough to the bowl, replace the plastic wrap, and let it rise for 30 minutes. Oil a 9-to-10-inch round cake pan. Pat the dough into a neat round and fit into the pan. Cover and let rise in a warm place until it has risen to the top of the pan. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Brush the top of the loaf lightly with milk and bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Cover the loaf with foil, reduce the oven temperature to 350 and bake for an additional 40-45 minutes, until the bread is golden and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool. Serve warm or cold with butter.

Source: “Irish Pub Cooking,” Paragon Books.

Irish eggs

Corned beef hash is an old staple. Enjoy a weekend brunch with this simple-to-make dish, which gives you the eggs cooked into the hash. Try serving it along with Barm Brack.

Makes 2-3 servings


1 can corned beef hash

1 cup ketchup

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 small diced onion

1/2 cup water

4 eggs


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Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl except for the eggs. Coat a medium skillet with non-stick spray and place the corned beef mixture in it. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Make four hollows in the surface of the hash and break an egg into each. Return the cover to the skillet and simmer until the eggs are done.

Source: Favorite Recipes of Home Economics Teachers — Foreign Foods.


Colcannon is a traditional Irish dish often served at Halloween. In some families, the cook will hide lucky charms or coins in the mixture — these are said to bring the recipients good luck or fortune. There are many variations of Colcannon, and this version uses cabbage and scallions, but you can use kale and leeks instead if you prefer. Garlic also can be added.

Makes 4 servings


1 pound starchy potatoes

4 tablespoons butter

2/3 cup light cream or milk

1/2 small head green or white cabbage

6 scallions cut into 1/4-inch thick slices

Salt and pepper


Cook the potatoes in a large pan of boiling salted water for 15 to 20 minutes. Drain well and mash with a potato masher or immersion blender until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper, add the butter and cream, and stir well. While the potatoes are cooking, cut the cabbage in half, remove and discard the central stalk, and shred finely. Cook the cabbage in a large pan of boiling salted water for 1 to 2 minutes, until it is soft; drain thoroughly. Mix the cabbage and mashed potatoes together; stir in the scallions. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately in individual bowls.

Source: “Irish Pub Cooking,” Paragon Books.

Bernie Mason has written the Local Flavor column for the Billings Gazette for three years or so. She was Yellowstone County extension agent for 24 years. Mason grew up in Sidney in a family of German and Danish ancestry.


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