Monday , 21 May 2018

Kyra’s Kitchen: Luck O’ the Irish

On March 17 the Irish and the ‘Irish-for-a day’ will celebrate St Patrick’s Day {or more affectionately known St Paddy’s Day}.

I would wager most people did not know that St Patrick was NOT Irish! He was born Maewyn Succat into a very wealthy family in Britain in the 4th century. His father chose to be a Christian Deacon for tax incentive reasons [necessary even in the 4th century].

Maewyn was kidnapped at 16 and forced to work as a slave sheepherder.  He managed to escape and, after a vision, vowed to become a priest.  This is when he changed his name from to Patrick. [Can you blame him?]

In 432 Patrick went to Ireland as a missionary to try to convert the population to Christianity and remained there for 30 years, eventually becoming their Patron Saint.  The Shamrock was his teaching tool to explain the Holy Trinity.

He died on March 17, 461 and thereafter that date became St Patrick’s Day.

Today the holiday is celebrated with parades throughout the world, of which the New York City St Patrick’s Day Parade is one of the largest.

And it is GREEN all the way.  The Chicago River runs green – as do the city fountains in Savannah.  And the Irish and wannabe Irish wear green to avoid being pinched.

In the O’Hagan household, here in McKinney, Dennis will don his green Luck of the Irish button and a variety of equally thematic garb and will charm all those who cross his path. The word ‘Blarney’ will somehow make it into at least 75% of the conversations Dennis has that day.

It is said that the term originated when the Earl of Blarney – being required to give an Oath of Loyalty to her Majesty Queen Elizabeth I, used his ‘gift of eloquence’ to acknowledge but not ‘give in’.  Whereupon Her Majesty accused him of giving her a ‘lot of blarney’.  I am sure Dennis would approve!

Cheryl O’Hagan recalls that her most memorable day as a realtor was when she was able to close on a property for  ‘just off the boat ‘ Irishman David Fitzpatrick and his bride – who he had met online – on St Patrick’s Day!

Many people think Irish cuisine starts and stops at Corned Beef and Cabbage – but Irish Salmon is considered one of the best smoked-salmons in the world.  And recipes such as Cheryl’s Irish Scone Bread, handed on by her sister-in-law, and her Irish Potatoes, which have been handed down through generations, show off the best in Irish cooking.

So pinch anyone who is not wearing green on the St. Paddy’s Day – and try these recipes from the O’Hagan  family.

5 cups flour
1 cup sugar
5 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch salt
1 ½ tablespoons butter
2 ½ cup milk
1/3 cup raisins
1 egg

Pre-heat oven to 350.

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
Heat the raisins, milk and butter until milk is warm.
Add to dry Ingredients.
Add the beaten egg.  The batter will be stiff.
Place dough in two greased and floured loaf pans.
Bake about one hour.
Test for doneness after 40 minutes.

[Note: In case you are looking for the ‘potato’ – these delectable morsels are titled thus because they RESEMBLE potatoes!]

¼ cup soft butter
4 oz. softened cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups confectioner’s sugar
2 ½ cups flaked coconut
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Beat together the butter and cream cheese until smooth.
Add the vanilla and confectioner’s sugar and beat until smooth.
Blend in the coconut [using your hands if necessary].
Roll into small balls and roll in cinnamon.
Place on a cookie sheet to set.

About the Author
McKinney resident Kyra Effren is a contributing writer for’s “Food” section.  She is a retired food stylist and contributing writer for the “Food” section of Dallas Morning News. In 1975, Effren opened Cours de Cuisine Cooking School in Dallas and in 1978, she was awarded The Commanderie des Cordon Bleu in France for her contributions to French cooking.   She has edited multiple cookbooks and served as recipe tester for a number of cookbooks including both of the Mansion on Turtle Creek cookbooks by Dean Fearing and baking books by Nick Malgieri.

Kyra welcomes any and all reader comments and suggestions.  What would you like to have for dinner?

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