I'll always remember 2012 as the year I found out I was Irish. Well, 1/16 Irish, but that's enough to celebrate St. Patrick's Day, isn't it?


Growing up in New York, most of the causcasian people I knew were either Irish, Italian, Jewish or some combination of two or three of those. Being an English/Lebanese/Scottish/German/Armenian mix, I often felt left out of many of the tri-state area's festivals and holidays, which feature delicious food and drinks, great music and plenty of fun. Not that I was ever made to feel like an outsider, but as a mutt — and one that didn't include any of the predominant ethnicities in my community — I always thought it would be really cool to be able to be more officially part of the group. 


Unbeknownst to me (and thanks to Ancestry.com's searchable census records), I found out that my Scottish great-grandfather who came to NYC in the late 1800s was the son of a Scottish father — but that his mother was from Northern Ireland! It's right there in the lovely cursive handwriting on the 1920 Manhattan Census Records. My grandmother didn't know her grandparents, so I'm sure the reason she never told me is because she didn't know. 


So now I'm officially a teensy bit Irish, and the first thing I did was whip up an irish recipe — I chose Colcannon. I used Martha Stewart's recipe since she's from the area where I now live in Connecticut (plus I love how her recipes always turn out), and made it vegetarian because, well, I'm coming up on 20 years of vegetarian eating in a few months. I used all organic ingredients, because what's greener than that? And I think organic just tastes way better (especially organic potatoes, which are so much creamier — meaning you can usually use less cream or butter!) 


Happy St. Patrick's Day to you all from a newly discovered 1/16th Irishwoman :) I'd recommend a delicious Magner's pear or apple cider to go with this meal. I also added veggie sausage to my Colcannon as I noticed many recipes call for meat sausage to be baked in with the other ingredients. But when I enjoyed it later sans sausage (leftovers!) it was great too, meaning you don't need additional sausage but can add it for fun if you like.  


Colcannon (via Martha Stewart)

This traditional Irish potato dish can be assembled up to two hours ahead and browned just before serving.

It came from Martha Stewart Living, March 2003



  • 1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes
  • 1 head savoy cabbage, trimmed, pale-green leaves finely shredded (4 cups)
  • 1 leek, pale-green and white parts only, cut into 1/2-inch dice<</span>
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • Pinch Coarse salt
  1. Preheat broiler. Peel and quarter potatoes, and place in a medium saucepan; add enough cold water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until tender when pierced with a fork, about 15 minutes. Drain potatoes and return to saucepan. Mash with a potato masher or pass through a ricer; cover pan to keep warm.
  2. Meanwhile, in another saucepan, combine cabbage, leek, milk, 2 tablespoons butter, and nutmeg; season with salt. Cover, and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until cabbage and leek is soft but not browned, about 15 minutes. Stir into potatoes.
  3. Spread mixture in an 8-inch square baking dish. Make a small well in the center, and place under the broiler until lightly browned on top, about 5 minutes.
  4. Remove from broiler. Place remaining 2 tablespoons butter in well. Serve immediately, spooning melted butter from well onto each serving, if desired.


Irish Soda Biscuits (via Irish Culture and Customs.com

Soda biscuits are simple and easy. These can bake while you are boiling your potatoes; leave the oven on for the broiling of the colcannon and keep the biscuits warm until it's all ready to eat. 



  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup currants or raisins
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Lightly grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
  3. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal.
  5. Stir in currants.
  6. Blend in egg.
  7. Add buttermilk and mix to make a soft dough, use more buttermilk if needed.
  8. Knead 5 to 6 times.
  9. Roll out on a lightly floured board until 1/4" thick.
  10. Cut into triangles and place on cookie sheet 2" apart.
  11. Bake 12-14 minutes or until golden brown.
  12. Transfer to wire racks to cool.


Alton Brown's Herbed Butter Recipe (from Food Network)

I have learned so much about basic cooking technqiues from Alton Brown; my boyfriend and I are now cooking through volume 1 of his book/TV show. Herbed butter is easy, and so tasty!



  • 1 pound butter
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon thyme, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sage, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon rosemary, chopped
  • Dough scraper
  • Standing mixer
  • Parchment paper or plastic wrap
  1. Chop the butter into uniform chunks using the dough scraper.
  2. Place the oil into the food processor and add the chives. Process until the chives are finely chopped. Add the remaining herbs and blend until the herbs have colored the oil. Using the whisk attachment, whip the butter in the mixer's work bowl at medium speed until it softens and lightens in color, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Add the herb oil to the butter and beat for another 2 minutes until oil is fully incorporated. Remove butter from bowl and spoon onto parchment paper or plastic wrap. Roll into a log, using the edge of a baking sheet to form a tight log. Chill for 2 hours before serving.


Starre Vartan ( @ecochickie ) covers conscious consumption, health and science as she travels the world exploring new cultures and ideas.

Celebrate St. Patrick's Day with a vegetarian feast!
Colcannon with veggie sausage, Irish soda biscuits, herbed butter and cider is on the menu this holiday.