March 17, 2009


Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Well, although we are deep in the midst of potty training we are still managing to do a few special things for St. Paddy's day. Briton requested that we make Top Hats for his class today and took in a book he had from his days in an Irish School, all in totally incomprehensible Gaelic. Wish I could be there to hear the kids trying to sound those words out! Compared to the intricacies of the Irish Language, Tops Hats are a breeze. These little treats appeared at nearly every childhood festivity that we attended in Ireland. It was a particular favorite for birthdays and Briton loves them. Actually, Will loves them too so I had to make extras for him so that Briton didn't show up to school short a few.

Making them couldn't be easier. Melt some chocolate in a double boiler (or the microwave, but then set it over a pot of hot water to keep it nice and melty) drop a generous teaspoon of the chocolate on parchment or a sil-pat mat and then use a large marshmallow to spread it into a circle about 2 inches in diameter then flip the marshmallow over (there will be a thin coat of chocolate on it's top now) and plop it in the center of the chocolate. I like to set the tray in the fridge so they harden before little finger have a chance to taste the gooey chocolate but they will harden on the counter after a while. Once they are hard they peel off easily and are ready for eating.

My other St. Patrick's Day treat is Tea Brack. Brack is a traditional quick bread in Ireland and isn't' that different from our banana bread. It's also fairly healthy and is made from ingredients that most people will have sitting around anyway so it's a great recipe to know.

Tea Brack
makes one large loaf
225 g brown sugar
1 1/2 cup of STRONG tea ( I make it with two bags)
1/4 cup whiskey (run is good too. If you don't have any of this just use a little more tea
400 g raisin (if you have currents or other dried fruits you could throw some in as well but it should be mainly raisins. I do like to add golden raisins with the brown if I have them)
2 eggs
225 g flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice ( you can also just mix cloves and cardamon here or what ever "sweet" baking spices you have, it's fun to play around with the spices a little)

Dissolve the sugar in the tea and whiskey and add to fruit. Leave this as long as you can, overnight it best. The longer you leave it the more tender the bread is but I have made it after just an hour or so of soaking and it's still good. When your ready to bake. Preheat the oven to 335 and grease your loaf pan with butter. Mix eggs, flour, baking powder and spices with the fruit/liquid mixture. It will be pretty runny. Pour into the loaf pan and bake for one hour. Test with a skewer which should come out clean when it's done. Remove it from the pan and let it cool for a few minutes before slicing. Slather with butter and serve with tea.

Have a happy St Paddy's everyone!