Being reminded by an Irish friend that March 17 is just around the corner, I decided to explore my vast cookbook collection for something new and exciting to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in all its Irish glory.

The review reminded me the Emerald Isle is no larger than Maine yet contains some 800 rivers and lakes. While cookbook chapters and proud Irish friends reminded me that many favorite Irish recipes include potatoes, I reached for Jeff Smith’s cookbook, “Mr. Food Cooks Like Mama,” to learn so much more before deciding to share some longtime favorites beginning with a recipe all children will love.

Irish Potato Candy

¼ cup (1 stick) butter, softened

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

16-ounce box confectioners’ sugar

7-ounce bag of flaked coconut (about 2½ cups)

Ground cinnamon for rolling

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In a large bowl, cream together the butter and cream cheese. Beat in the vanilla and confectioners’ sugar, then mix in the coconut. Roll mixture between hands to form walnut-sized balls. Roll balls in cinnamon and refrigerate until firm.

Note: Use good-quality, regular cream cheese, not whipped or light varieties.

Irish Waters Irish Stew

While sorting through local cookbooks, favorite Irish recipes were discovered in “Our Best Cookbook 2” published in 1995 by the Wisconsin Restaurant Association, including one shared by Irish Waters, a favorite Madison restaurant established many years ago by the late Mike Campion. Due to love and pride of his Irish heritage, he built a turn-of-the-century pub on North Whitney Way while describing it as offering “good food, good cheer, and good friends, the Irish way!”

1¼ pounds boneless lamb stew meat, cubed, uncooked

1⅛ teaspoon crushed garlic

1⅓ cups Spanish onions, coarsely chopped

¾ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

½ teaspoon ground white pepper

¾ teaspoon ground allspice

2 cups carrots, coarsely chopped

1½ baking potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 cup chopped green cabbage

1¼ tablespoons cornstarch

¼ teaspoon Kitchen Bouquet

Brown lamb stew in salt and pepper, garlic and corn oil. Add cooking sherry, chicken broth, onion and spices. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer 45 minutes. Add carrots and simmer 15 minutes. Add potatoes and simmer 10 minutes. Add cabbage and simmer 5 minutes. Dissolve flour and cornstarch in water; add to stew. Let thicken and add Kitchen Bouquet, simmering another 5 minutes. Serve hot.

Irish Brown Bread

Featured in the same cookbook, the O’Malley Farm Café was another favorite local eating establishment, serving Waunakee on West Main Street in a casual atmosphere of tastefully decorated banquet rooms changing from casual dining to romantic anniversary dinners to business meetings without interruptions. This recipe, brought from Ireland by Martha O’Malley Scanlon, was a must for all St. Patrick ‘s Day celebrations.

2½ cups Wisconsin buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix dry ingredients together. Add buttermilk gradually to make a moist dough. Pour into greased and floured 12-inch pie tin. Bake for approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes. Insert knife into center of loaf. Bread is done when knife comes out clean. Cool. Cut into 12 equal triangles. Serve warm or at room temperature with butter.

Irish Chicken Casserole

From the same “Ethnic Cooking: Wisconsin Style” compilation is another Irish recipe shared by Mary Catherine Brown of Fond du Lac.

4 ounces mushroom caps, quartered

2 medium onions, sliced ​​thinly

2 cups cooked potatoes, coarsely cubed

2 cups cooked chicken, coarsely chopped

Sauté mushrooms and onions in butter until lightly browned. Mix potatoes, chicken, mushrooms and onions; add ½ cup cream and pour into greased casserole. Add salt and pepper. Pour remaining ½ cup of cream over top and sprinkle bread crumbs over all. Bake at 350 F for 25-30 minutes.

Note: A half cup of cubed, cooked carrots can be substituted for mushrooms for a nice color.

Dublin Cake

1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

3½ cups sifted all-purpose flour

2-3 tablespoons Irish stout

½ cup candied fruit peel

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy; add lemon rind. Beat eggs one at a time with 1 teaspoon of flour, beating well between each addition. Sift flour with salt, soda, and spice and stir into batter; moisten with stout. After tossing dried fruits in flour, stir into batter. Pour batter into a greased and floured 9-inch fluted cake pan lined with waxed paper. Bake in a 350 F oven for 2½ to 3 hours or until done. Heat should be reduced for final hour of baking.

Serving suggestion: When cold, slice and butter as you would bread.

Barbecue hamburger

Having been a proud Madison Girl Scout many decades ago, now and then a request arrives for the Girl Scout cookie recipe baked by Strand Bakery on Atwood Avenue that we sold for 50 cents a bag while going door to door throughout our familiar neighborhoods. When Diana Fuhrman Taylor, who now lives in Atlanta, asked if there was a Girl Scout Sloppy Joe recipe she and former scouts enjoyed while camping many years ago at Camp Brandenburg, I reached for a tiny cookbook of favorite recipes printed in 1958 by the Blackhawk Council of Girl Scouts.

2 tablespoons brown sugar

Bring soup, ketchup, mustard, sugar and vinegar to boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Fry hamburger, onion and celery. Combine and simmer for 30 minutes until ready to serve.

Strand Bakery Girl Scout Cookies

With the very thought of Strand Bakery Girl Scout Cookies, I contacted longtime reader, great cook and good friend Dorothy Kruse to once again share her own Strand Bakery Girl Scout Cookie recipe while reminding me as before of how complicated the original recipe was that the late Strand brothers, Trygve and Reidar, baked for us so many years ago. She also reminded me that this recipe is as close to the original as there will ever be in our lifetimes.

1 cup brown sugar, packed in cup

1 cup shortening (Crisco)

3 teaspoons of baking soda

Cream together sugars and shortening, add eggs and mix well. Add molasses and mix well. Combine flour, soda, cinnamon, ginger and salt thoroughly and add gradually to rest of ingredients. Chill until easy to handle. Make balls the size of walnuts. Place on greased parchment lined cookie sheets. Press cookie dough balls down with the bottom of a small glass dipped in sugar. Bake at 375 F for about 10 minutes while watching the first batch of cookies to settle on a time.

A reader has requested a recipe for “Eggs Benedict using English muffins, Canadian bacon, and Hollandaise sauce cut into one-inch squares, layered in a baking dish, covered with bacon, chilled in the refrigerator overnight to be baked in the morning then covered with sauce and served. ” Can you help?

Contact the Cooks’ Exchange in care of the Wisconsin State Journal, PO Box 8058, Madison, WI, 53708 or by email at


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