You don’t have to be Irish to celebrate St Patrick’s Day (March 17). It’s a great excuse for a party. You can get together with friends, knock up a green-themed meal and lay on lashings of Guinness for a good time.
Did you know St Patrick himself wasn’t even Irish? He was born in Britain to Roman citizens, was captured by Irish raiders at the age of 16 and spent six years in slavery in Ireland.
He escaped to France, where he trained as a priest. He returned to Ireland and spent three decades preaching and founding churches.
He won converts to Christianity by combining pagan customs with Christian ones. For instance, he used the shamrock, the three-leaf clover, to illustrate the concept of the Holy Trinity.
You may have heard of a connection between St Patrick and snakes. This story probably arose because snakes are a pagan symbol and St Patrick supposedly drove paganism from Ireland.
St Patrick’s Day is actually more of an American holiday than an Irish one. Irish emigrants remembered their homeland on the day St Patrick died, March 17, and today parades, festivals and gatherings are held in major US cities to celebrate all things green and Irish.
We asked chef Jade Sullaphen, the executive chef at the Punchinello’s Food & Dreams Restaurant at the Southern Sun Montecasino, to devise a green-themed menu for this celebration.
CHILLED AVOCADO SOUP WITH FETA
4 ripe avocado, peeled and chopped
600ml plain yoghurt
500-600ml cold water
juice of 1 lemon
salt to taste
black pepper taste
150g Danish feta cheese, cubed
finely chopped Italian parsley
olive oil for drizzling
Place the flesh of the avocado in a blender.
Add the yoghurt, water, lemon juice and seasoning
Blend until smooth. Divide into the serving bowls.
Add feta to each, sprinkle with parsley and drizzle very lightly with olive oil.
HERB CRUSTED FISH
olive oil for cooking
4 fresh hake fillets
salt and pepper
60ml Italian parsley, finely chopped
60ml rocket shoots, sliced finely
2-3 potatoes, cubed and fried until crisp
45ml chopped parsley
80g butter, melted
300g green asparagus
30g capers, drained and chopped
30g chopped gherkins
150ml cream pouring
juice of 2 whole lemons
ground black pepper to taste
Heat a little olive oil in a pan and brown the hake on both sides. Season with salt and pepper.
Combine the parsley and rocket shoots. Place the fish into the herbs and coat both sides. Bake in the oven at 180°C until cooked – about 10 minutes.
Place the potato cubes into the parsley and add 45ml of the melted butter. Season and set aside.
Blanche the asparagus, season and drizzle with the remaining melted butter. Set aside.
SAUCE: Place the chopped capers and gherkins into a pot. Add the cream and lemon juice. Bring up to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer until thickened. Season to taste.
Place the asparagus on the serving plate. Top with the cooked fish.
Place the potatoes around the fish.
Drizzle the sauce on to the plate between the potatoes.
Garnish with rocket and serve.
PASTA WITH PESTO CHICKEN
300g spinach, cleaned and roughly chopped
250g tagliatelle pasta
30ml olive oil
500g chicken breast fillets, cubed
150ml basil pesto
Parmesan cheese shavings
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add the spinach and cook until wilted. Remove with a draining spoon and set aside.
Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain, reserving a little of the cooking liquid.
Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the chicken over a high heat until cooked. Take care not to overcook.
Add the basil pesto and a little of the pasta cooking water to thin it down slightly. Add the drained spinach and the pasta and toss together. Season.
Place in a serving plate bowl and top with Parmesan cheese shavings.
PEPPERMINT CRISP ICE CREAM SUNDAE
3 peppermint crisp chocolate bars
100ml pouring cream
peppermint ice cream
250ml cream, whipped
green apple for garnish
Melt one chocolate bar with the pouring cream to make a chocolate sauce.
Crumble the remaining bars into rough bits and set aside.
In a sundae glass, place a scoop of ice cream. Then add some whipped cream.
Sprinkle the chocolate and nuts on to the cream.
Add some of the chocolate sauce.
Repeat the process until the glass is filled.
Top with some fresh mint and thinly sliced green apple.
180ml mojito syrup
6 sprigs of mint leaves
60ml lemon juice
600ml soda water
mint leaves for garnish
Mix all ingredients together and pour into long chilled glasses and garnish with the mint leaves.
Pictures: Independent Newspapers