Bless Your Spoon: Spring forward with Irish memories
Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 17, 2022
By Stephanie Williams Dean
Customarily, we commemorate holidays or special occasions with special food and drink. But, on St. Patrick’s Day, if you ask a bartender to mix you a Singapore Sling, he probably will appear perplexed. More than likely, he’s never heard of the cocktail. And while I know the libation is typically not served on this holiday, the concoction does evoke other festive “Irish” memories.
However, my memories are not partaking of either Irish drink or food but that of an Irish “themed” restaurant I frequented as a teen in the ‘70s. Ireland’s Restaurant was “home to the original steak and biscuits” and a favorite establishment founded in Nashville. Later, franchises were opened throughout the South.
Back in those days, my first cousin, Sonny, was the treasurer for Irelands. So needless to say, my family often dined there. For countless teens, including myself, Ireland’s was the hot spot for weekend dinner dates, pre-prom meals, and late-night dining following sorority and fraternity formals. You were a lucky girl when your date treated you to a meal at Ireland’s. The restaurant’s Shamrock Room was advertised as the newest and smartest of dining rooms in the South.
We never considered ordering anything else but a plate of five steak and biscuits advertised as “stake an’ biskits” that were served with a mound of sizzling hot, skerry (skinny) fries heaped over top. Tender morsels of beef filet were tucked into warm, homemade, buttermilk biscuits that oozed in butter and practically melted in your mouth.
The petite biscuits were washed down with mixed drinks of iconic Singapore Slings, a pink, gin-based cocktail, or Zombies. Now, that’s another blast from the past — a cocktail request that nowadays will stir up baffled stares from bartenders. But these drinks were all the rage back then.
The slings were served in tall, hurricane-style glasses garnished with a red cocktail cherry, a slice of orange or pineapple citrus, and sometimes, a small paper umbrella cocktail pick. I think we liked the fancy glass and garnish that adorned as much as anything. Zombies were served in a tall and skinny, Collin’s type glasses. Just like a big glass of thirst-quenching fruit punch, right? Not quite. With the addition of three or more rums, Zombies were just that — Zombies. Recipes for the two cocktails will vary according to sources, but I prefer the older ones.
As if we had any room left in our tummies for another bite, the finale to our meal arrived. The after-dinner dessert was always a generous slice of warm Killarney Fudge Pie and scoop of vanilla ice cream melting over top.
Those were the days my friends — we thought they’d never end. I do enjoy looking back and remembering earlier years. But as much as the recollection of good times makes me smile, Biblical scripture instructs me not to dwell on the past, good or bad. In Isaiah 43:18-19, the Lord says, “Forget the former things; Do not dwell on the past, See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”
Ireland’s Original Steak and Biscuits
• Beef tenderloin
• Salt, black/white pepper/garlic powder
• All-purpose flour for light dredging
• 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
• ½ cup Wesson oil or ex. virgin olive oil
• Black/white pepper, garlic powder, to taste
• Dash sugar
• 3 chopped garlic cloves
In a plastic bag, combine Worcestershire sauce, olive oil, sugar, and garlic. Slice tenderloin in 3/8-inch medallions. Add the sliced steak and marinate overnight 6-4 hours. The longer the better. Drain marinade and pat steak dry. Salt and pepper meat and lightly dredge in flour. In a skillet or flat-top griddle, add just enough vegetable oil to cover bottom of surface and grill steak in batches. Place small slices of steak in a buttered, buttermilk biscuit. Store-bought biscuits can be used. The original meat recipe called for “cow tenders” or the ends of a tenderloin. Flank steak or sirloin will work but marinate it longer.
Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits
• 5 cups all-purpose flour
• ½ cup sugar
• 1 cup Crisco shortening
• 1 tsp. soda
• 1¾ cup buttermilk
• 1 pkg. yeast, dissolved
• ¼ cup lukewarm water
• 3 tsp. baking powder
• 1 tsp. salt
In a mixer bowl, mix flour and sugar. Cut in shortening until consistency is of coarse meal. In a bowl, dissolve soda in buttermilk. In another bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Combine the buttermilk and yeast water. Mix liquids with dry ingredients in mixer bowl with bread hook. Process or knead by hand until right consistency. Roll out on a floured board. Add more flour if necessary. Roll ¼-inch thick and cut for 50-cent sized biscuits. Brush with melted butter. You can set out in a warm place for 2 hours before baking or bake in a 200-degree oven for 10-15 minutes. Then bake in a 400-degree oven until golden brown.
Ireland’s Shrimp Salad
• 2 lbs. cooked baby shrimp
• 2/3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
• ½ Tbsp. white pepper
• 2/3 Tbsp. salt
• 2/3 cup mayonnaise
• 3 chopped, hard-boiled eggs
• 2/3 chopped bunch of celery
In a bowl, combine baby shrimp, lemon juice, pepper, salt, mayonnaise, egg, and celery. Refrigerate 3 hours. Serve on lettuce leaf.
Rustic Irish Cottage Pie
• 1 Tbsp. olive oil
• 1¼ lb. ground beef
• 1 chopped onion
• 3 minced cloves garlic
• ½ tsp. salt and pepper
• 1 pkg. instant onion soup mix
• 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
• ¼ cup beef broth
• 4 lg. peeled baking potatoes
• ½ cup whole milk
• ½ stick salted butter
• ½ cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
• 10 oz. thawed, frozen peas, beans, carrots, corn,
In a skillet, brown ground beef in olive oil with onion, garlic, salt and pepper. Add soup mix, Worcestershire sauce, and beef broth. Mix well. Stir in thawed vegetables and cook 2 minutes. In a pot, boil potatoes until tender. Add milk, butter, and cheese and mash until smooth. In the bottom of a 2-quart casserole dish, place beef/vegetable mixture and smooth with a spoon. Spread top with mashed potatoes and make a pattern. Bake in a 375-degree oven for 25 minutes or until top is browned. Garnish with parsley and pepper.
Ireland’s Killarney Fudge Pie
• 3 eggs
• 1 stick melted salted butter
• 2 oz. unsweetened bakers chocolate
• 3 beaten eggs
• 1 tsp. vanilla extract
• 1 cup sugar
• 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
In a saucepan, melt butter and chocolate. In a mixer bowl, lightly beat eggs. Add sugar and mix well. Add flour to mixture and mix well. Add melted chocolate/butter mixture and vanilla and continue to mix until fairly smooth. A wire whisk works best. Pour into greased 9-inch regular pie pan, and bake in a 350-degree oven for 20-25 minutes. Allow to stand. Serve slightly warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Make it’s on crust. Enjoy!
Slice of Luck Pie
• 1 cup whipped cream
• ½ cup lime juice
• 1 can sweetened condensed milk
• Few drops green food coloring
• Graham cracker crust
In a mixer bowl, whip cream until fluffy. Fold in remaining ingredients. Mix well. Pour into crust. Chill in refrigerator for at least 2 hours. A refreshing lime cream pie.
Saint Clement’s Cake
• 4 beaten eggs
• ½ cup sugar
• ½ cup sifted, self-rising flour
• 4 Tbsp. melted, salted butter
• Lemon curd
• ½ lb. salted butter
• ½ lb. sugar
• 4 beaten eggs
• 3 juiced lemons
• 1¼ cup confectioners sugar
• ½ juiced lemon
• Slices of orange and lemon
• Crystallized candy
For the cake, beat eggs and add sugar. Mix well. Fold sifted flour and melted butter. Bake in a greased, 8-inch deep cake pan in a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes. Turn out on rack to cool. Cut into three horizontal layers. Spread each layer with lemon curd. For the lemon curd, in a saucepan, melt butter and add sugar. Heat until sugar dissolves. Stir in beaten eggs and lemon juice. Heat and continually stir until mixture thickens. Allow to cool and store in refrigerator. For the icing, mix sifted powdered sugar with lemon juice and a little water to make icing stiff enough to coat back of spoon. Pour over cake so that top and sides are coated. Don’t spread. Allow to set and decorate top with fruit and candy slices.
• 1 oz. lightly whipped heavy whip cream
• 4 oz. freshly brewed black coffee
• 2 tsp. brown sugar
• 1.5 oz. Irish whiskey
In a bowl, lightly whisk the cream until of consistency to pour. In a warm mug, combine coffee and brown sugar. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Add the whiskey and stir. Pour whisked cream over the back of a spoon and into the mug to float on top. Don’t stir. Decorate with three coffee beans and serve immediately.
The Irish Slalom
• 3 cups hot freshly brewed coffee
• ¼ cup Irish whiskey
• 3 Tbsp. Bailey’s Original Irish Cream
• Sweetened whipped cream
Mix coffee, whisky, and Irish cream in a 4-cup measuring cup. Divide mixture among 4 mugs. Top with whipped cream and serve. This is a creamy take on Irish coffee.
• 3 Tbsp. gin
• 1 Tbsp. Cointreau
• Juice of 1 lemon or 2 oz. sweet/sour mix
• 1 tsp. superfine/confectioners sugar
• 4½ Tbsp. soda water
• 1 Tbsp. cherry brandy
• Citrus and cherry garnish
In a shaker, shake gin, Cointreau, lemon and sugar with ¼ shaker filled with ice. Strain into a tall, Hurricane style glass filled with ice. Fill with soda water. Float cherry-flavored brandy over top. Garnish with a twist of citrus and cherry pierced with cocktail stick and serve with straw. A dash or ½ oz. of grenadine deepens the pink color but the drink should be no more than a delicate blush. One of the all-time greats.
• 1 oz. dark rum
• 1 oz. light rum
• 1 oz. gold rum
• 1 oz. apricot brandy
• 1 oz. pineapple juice
• 1 oz. papaya juice
• 1 oz. lime juice
• 1 tsp. superfine sugar
• dash of grenadine
• dash of bitters
• ½ oz. of rum 151 proof
• sprig of mint
• pineapple, maraschino cherries, garnish
In a shaker filled with ice, combine all rums, juices, brandy, bitters, sugar, and grenadine and shake. Fill hurricane style glass with fresh ice and strain cocktail into the glass. Float 151 proof rum on top. Garnish with fruits and mint.