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Potatoes and cabbages to celebrate St. Paddy’s

Eileen JoyceSome cabbage, potatoes, mushrooms, carrots and peppers - aye! It's the Irish colors!
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Every St. Patrick’s Day I remember my nanny, Maggie Flannigan, the red-haired beauty my parents brought from Ireland. She sailed from Dublin with hundreds of other maidens who sought both fortune and husband in New York’s suburbs. Aside from Maggie, our neighborhood also harbored three Kathleens, two Marys and one Theresa. My street began to sound like the Irish lanes.

We lived in suburbia, but the flavor of my household was à la Austro-Hungarian Empire. My parents enforced a rigid dress code and scorned certain American food habits. Naturally, I hungered to be a liberated Corn Flakes-eating American kid.



This appetite was sated on the afternoons when Maggie took me to visit the neighborhood charges of other Irish nannies. While the freckled lasses gabbed, I raspberried European decorum by munching iced cupcakes from the bottom up, slurping Pepsi through a straw until I burped, and gulping milk while chewing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I was sage enough never to perform these new tricks at home.




Fervently anti-Hungarian, I also delighted in acting the paddyphile. The occasional Sunday I was invited to accompany the Irish gang to morning Mass, I tied a blue kerchief under my chin like Maggie and lilted “amens” that rivaled the broadest brogue of any O’Malley or McGee.

Although Maggie left our family long before I became a cooking addict, I can hear her lullabies whenever I make potato and cabbage dishes.

Stuffed Potatoes

(4-6 servings)

Even couch potatoes will rise for these. Here are two lures that should get them to the table.

Basics:

4 potatoes, sliced in half lengthwise

1/4 to 1 cup non-fat evaporated milk

Salt and pepper

Bake the potatoes cut side down on an ungreased sheet in a 400 degree oven for about 45 minutes or until soft. Set aside to cool. When they can be handled, scoop out the centers and mash the pulp with the amount of milk that feeds your particular whim.

Enticement 1:

2 cups broccoli florets, cut small and steamed until tender

2 garlic cloves, pressed

1/2 cup onion, diced

Salt and pepper

Enticement 2:

8 ounces mushrooms, thinly sliced and sauteed until tender

1 scallion, greens included, thinly sliced

1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated

1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced

Salt and pepper

Stir the potato mixture together with the ingredients from either temptation. If you’re adventurous, I know you’ll probably combine the ingredients from both. Re-stuff the potatoes and bake in a 400 degree oven for another 30 minutes. Be prepared to make these again soon.

Loaded Potato Salad

(Serves 6)

Never eat basic beige potato salad again! This dish makes an artist’s palette look drab.

2 medium potatoes, cut in bite-sized wedges and boiled until tender

1 stalk celery, sliced

1 red pepper, chopped

1 6-ounce can small black olives

1 6.5-ounce jar marinated artichokes, drained, rinsed and cut in bite-sized pieces

1/2 cup frozen peas with my usual don’t thaw advice

1/2 cup cooked garbanzos

1/4 cup red onion, chopped

1/2 cup parsley, minced

Whisk together:

1/2 cup light mayonnaise (non-fat yogurt is always an option)

2 teaspoons Dijon

Mix everything together and serve. I’m a room temperature epicure, but chill out if you must.

Cabbage and Noodles

(Serves 4-6)

Although I try to shake off my Hungarian beginnings, sometimes I automatically lean in that direction.

8 ounces egg noodles, cooked according to directions and drained

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cups green cabbage, thinly sliced

8 ounces mushrooms, sliced

1/2 cup onion, thinly sliced

1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika

1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

Salt and pepper

Saute the cabbage, onions, mushrooms and paprika in the olive oil until soft, adding a little water if the pan gets too dry. In a bowl, mix together the noodles, veggies, poppy seeds, walnuts and salt and pepper. Turn up the gypsy music and serve hot.

Asian Slaw

(Serves 6-8)

I admit that this one isn’t exactly luck o’ the Irish material, but humor me and try it.

3 cups red cabbage, thinly sliced

2 cups carrots, grated

1 green pepper, thinly sliced

1 cup radishes, thinly sliced

1 8-ounce can water chestnuts, sliced

1/2 pound edible pod peas, lightly steamed and rinsed under cold water (as a frugal substitute, use 1 cup thawed frozen peas instead)

2 scallions, thinly sliced

2/3 cup sesame seeds, toasted

Dressing:

6 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoon sesame oil

1/3 cup rice vinegar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

3 tablespoons sugar

3/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Whisk the dressing ingredients together and add them to the veggies. If you eat this on St. Patrick’s Day, why not be radical and use chopsticks?

No need for shamrocks or shillelaghs. When you try these recipes, you’ll probably hear leprechauns singing sweetly as you stir.

Ronnie Paul is a cookbook reviewer, free-lance writer, vegetarian chef and teacher at Wild Mountain Yoga Center. She can be reached at


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