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Erin go bragh: Enjoy a taste of the Emerald Isle with colcannon and cupcakes

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    Colcannon Shepherd’s Pie is a mash-up of two traditional Irish dishes.

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    Enjoy a sweet treat after dinner with an Irish Thin Mint Cupcake topped with a Tint of Green Swiss Meringue Buttercream. SARAH SCHWEITZER/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS

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Published March 13. 2019 11:40AM


Potatoes, meat, fresh cabbage and butter served in a bowl topped with a bit of fresh parsley. What do all of these delicious ingredients have in common? They go so well together!

Colcannon is a wonderful dish to serve around St. Patrick’s Day. This month, I’ve re-created this hearty dish into one of our family’s favorite meals: Shepherd’s Pie.

With a sprig or sprinkle of green garnish, this meal will make a showing whether you serve it to guests or to your family. It’s a great anytime dish.

Follow dinner with my chocolaty mint cupcakes, and you’ll be ready for an Irish jig.

Colcannon Shepherd’s Pie

Meat filling

4 ounces of diced bacon

2 pounds of ground beef

3 pounds of potatoes

½ pound of cabbage, chopped

1 small onion, diced

4 scallions, thinly sliced

2 cloves of garlic cloves, minced

2 stocks of celery, small dice

2 cups of beef stock, low sodium

½ cup dry red wine

1 stick of unsalted butter

1 cup of whole milk

2 teaspoons of chopped fresh thyme

1 teaspoon of chopped fresh rosemary leaves

2 tablespoons of tomato paste

1 tablespoon of flour

Canola or a seed oil, for pan

Salt and pepper to taste

Chopped parsley for garnish (optional)

Drizzle oil into a large skillet over medium high heat. Add meat and brown. Transfer meat to a colander to drain. Add bacon to the pan with a bit of the meat drippings. Brown your bacon and set aside with the cooked ground beef. Leave two tablespoons of bacon drippings in the pan and add all of the vegetables. Cook vegetables until slightly softened. Add garlic and herbs; sauté a moment or so, until garlic becomes fragrant. Next, add the tomato paste and cook for a few minutes. Add the flour and cook until the raw flour taste is cooked out. Add the wine and let the mixture reduce for a few minutes. Gently scrape the bottom of your pan, to loosen the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Next add the beef stock, beef and bacon to the pan. Stir to combine. Bring the filling up to a simmer, then reduce it to low and cover. Cook for about 30-35 minutes, until the mixture is slightly thickened. Place the mixture in a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking dish and cover until ready to go into oven. This mixture can be made a few days ahead, to prep for your dinner or party.


Potato topping:

Prepare the mashed potatoes, using the milk and 6 tablespoons of the butter. Sauté the cabbage, scallions and 2 tablespoons of butter in a small skillet for about 5 minutes on medium high heat. Reduce the heat and cover, so the cabbage can steam through. Once the cabbage is cooked through, add it to the mashed potatoes and combine.

Assemble your casserole, by placing the beef mixture into your casserole dish, topping that with your mashed potatoes. Bake at 375 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until heated through in the middle and bubbling on the sides.

Garnish with some chopped fresh parsley, if you wish. Serve with a side of a green vegetable such as fresh spring peas or steamed broccoli with butter, lemon and salt. The hearty dish is flavorful, yet light. A sourdough or your favorite bread topped with fresh butter can accompany this meal. You can add your bacon to the mashed potatoes instead, if you wish. Once you try this casserole, you will want to make it and often. You have the best of both dishes in one: Colcannon and Shepherd’s Pie. Enjoy.


And for dessert

What better way to finish your St. Paddy’s Day dinner or party with some decadent cupcakes with creamy smooth icing? These cupcakes are foolproof and so chocolaty, everyone will want a second!

Invite your kids into the kitchen with you, as these basic chocolate cupcakes can be topped with a variety of buttercream flavors, tints and garnishes. Enjoy these tasty holiday cupcakes.

Irish Thin Mint Cupcakes with a Tint of Green Swiss Meringue Frosting

Chocolate Cookie Bottoms

1½ cups of chocolate wafer crumbs

5 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted

2 tablespoons of refined sugar

Mix ingredients together in a bowl. Spoon one tablespoon into your cupcake papers. Press the mixture flat into the papers. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 6-8 minutes. Set aside to cool.


Rich Chocolate Cupcake Batter

1 ¾ cup of all-purpose flour

¾ cup of a good quality cocoa powder (I use Valrhona most times.)

1 teaspoon of baking powder

1½ teaspoons of baking soda

½ teaspoon of kosher salt

2 cups sugar

2 large eggs (room temperature)

1½ teaspoons vanilla

½ cup of canola or a seed oil

1 cup buttermilk (room temperature)

1 cup of hot water

Sift dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. Add sugar and whisk together. In a separate large measuring cup or bowl, whisk eggs, vanilla, oil and buttermilk together. Have hot water ready on the side. With the mixer on the lowest speed, slowly add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Once the ingredients are incorporated, scrape the bowl to make sure every ingredient is moistened. On medium speed, mix for about a minute or until the batter looks smooth. On the same medium speed, slowly pour in the hot water. Once all the hot water is incorporated, scrape the bowl. Mix again, on medium speed. Use rubber spatula, and scrape from the bottom to make sure all is mixed well. Pour and distribute the batter evenly into each cookie-filled cupcake paper. (I use an ice cream scooper to make the batter more even.) Bake for about 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Put your cupcakes on a cooling rack. Cool completely, about 1-2 hours. (You can cover with plastic wrap overnight.)


Mint Swiss Meringue Buttercream

5 egg whites, room temperature

3 sticks of unsalted Kerrygold butter, room temperature

Green food coloring, making tint to preference

A few drops of peppermint oil

1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

1¼ cups of refined sugar

Mix together egg whites, sugar, and salt over a double boiler in your mixing bowl. Whisk over simmering water, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is hot to the touch. Put on your stand mixer. With the whisk attachment, mix on medium high until the mixture is light, fluffy and marshmallow like. Cool to room temperature. Add butter, a tablespoon at a time, while the mixture is on medium-high speed. The mixture will look curdled or broken. Keep mixing until it comes together. Add vanilla, peppermint oil and food coloring. Beat to combine all ingredients until color is uniform. Remove whisk attachment, and use paddle attachment. Whisk on medium to low speed to get all the air bubbles out. This will make your frosting more even in texture.

Adorn your cupcakes with the Swiss meringue frosting and garnish as desired.

These cupcakes are a great ending to your St. Patrick’s Day festivities.




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