I love St Patrick’s Day. Traditionally a day of indulgence, we were allowed to eat all of the sweets we’d been storing over lent and weren’t allowed to eat (we always gave them up and *always* failed). It’s a bank holiday in Ireland and most towns hold their own parade. Filled with irish dancing floats, marching bands, local groups and often filled with adverts from local companies. Dancing nurofen anyone? I actually saw that once, and loved it when it threw me sweets. I’ve since bought a lot of nurofen. Connection?
The day always started bright and relatively early with mass, or more accurately my mother’s battle to organise us all and get us out the door to mass. It was essential to wear green to mass on Paddy’s Day. I’m not kidding. At least in my house. We’d stop at my grandmothers and she’d douse us and pin us with some fresh shamrock, gleaming and dripping on our jumpers, and competing for space with the traditional St Patrick’s Day badges and ribbons, and off we’d go, thinking all the time of the parade we’d attend later and often participate in as scouts, or brownies (not the food!), Irish dancers and even once, age 12 as a pioneer.
So, what does it mean to me when it comes to food? I was always jealous of people who got to eat green things, although I can see now that that is madness and not good for any child. When I think food for Paddy’s Day I think of Irish food. Irish food? I think of Beef Stew, Liver & Onions, Steak & Onions, Peas, Stewed Apple, Black Pudding, White Pudding even more so, Pork Sausages, Peppered Pork Chops, Crubeens, Pig Cheeks, Bacon and Cabbage, Lamb, Soda Bread, Smoked Salmon, Fried Potatoes, Spiced Beef, Boiled Ham, Apple Tart, Rhubarb… so many things. Rustic comforting food, all made with great produce.
In recent years I think of my childhood favourites and the new ones from the fantastic producers all over Ireland, the wonderful cheeses and sausages, the smokeries and their salmon and eels. A personal favourite is Frank Hederman’s salmon. He smokes and does all kinds of wonderful things with wild salmon. I’ve never tasted better. What better way to celebrate our national day, than with a green white and gold salad, which has some of his salmon and potatoes? So, that’s what I did.
I toyed with the dressing and it’s not perfect but it worked well, I may add some white wine vinegar also next time to cut through the fat in the cheese. Use a light white wine, as a stronger one dominates. Use any roast salmon in this, although I will say Frank’s is pretty special if you can get it. This recipe is a guide, use your eye and alter to taste.
Roast Chilli Smoked Salmon & Potato Salad with Cream Cheese Dressing
Ingredients (for one)
1 large potato, cooked, cooled and diced finely
2 spring onions, sliced
Fresh parsley, chopped, approx 1 tbsp
As much of the smoked salmon as you like, I used the same as the potato, half and half, flaked
1 tbsp cream cheese
2 tbsp light white wine
1/2 tsp grain mustard
Seasoning: salt & pepper
It’s pretty simple really. Prepare your dressing by mixing your ingredients. A mini whisk is very useful or whisk with a fork. After mixing all your salad ingredients, drizzle the dressing on top, and gobble it up.