St. Patrick’s Day is all about family, friends, fun, and food. March 17 means a day filled with corned beef and beer, and the one day a year when everyone is Irish. This year instead of heading out to your local green beer – filled bar, why not throw your own unique St. Patrick’s Day soiree? This is something all your family and friends are sure to get into!
Here are my tips for the perfect St. Patrick’s Day soiree:
Everyone knows the classic décor for St. Patty’s Day is shamrocks and the color green, and your party should be no exception. I like to spread my decorations all around, and include green lights and candles, gold candy coins (from the leprechaun of course) scattered about and Irish music playing in the background. Most importantly I always decorate the main door and entrance to the party. Because that is the first thing my guests will see, it is guaranteed to get them in the mood.
Also known as the next pit-stop for your guests, your bar should feature nothing but fabulous Irish-American creations like cocktails and Irish coffees. I even like to create my own Irish drink names such as ‘Irish Eyes’ or ‘The Emerald Isle’. Be creative and feel free to put your own touch them. And don’t forget the Irish beers and whiskeys.
*My only rule for the bar is: unless you live in a fraternity, ditch the green beer.
This is where you can begin to introduce all your soirée’s Irish fare. My absolute favorite St. Patty’s Day dish is Beer Cheese Soup. I like to serve the soup in mini beer mugs to give it an added festive touch. My other favorite, and a twist on a classic, are Reuben sliders. Simply follow the recipe for Reuben on Rye, but make mini versions of each sandwich. I tend to serve appetizers placed on an appetizer buffet, simply for the convenience factor.
The Main Course
The great thing about Irish food is it tends to go a long way. I would choose one main dish and prepare enough for everyone to have seconds. Simple and versatile, Corned Beef and Cabbage is a must on any St. Patrick’s Day menu. Other recipes to choose from include: Irish Soda Bread, Irish Lamb Stew, and Sheppard’s Pie.
*A little know fact: Berghoff Restaurant has been known to go through 10,000 pounds of corned beef in a month, so clearly this is a crowd-pleaser!
Anything goes when it comes to serving desserts. If you wish to stay on the simpler side for your soiree, I recommend serving shamrock sugar cookies and lime sherbet. If you’re more adventurous, then indulge your guests with Irish Whisky Crème Brule or Pistachio Cheesecake. If you are somewhere in the middle like me, Guinness Cupcakes is my favorite. And don’t forget to finish the meal with a nice mug of Irish coffee.
Most importantly this St. Patrick’s Day, enjoy yourself! It’s the one day a year you can eat, drink, dance and act like your Irish. Happy St. Patty’s Day from my family to yours. Cheers!
Beer-cheese soup is traditionally very German but also popular in the Midwest, where fall and winter weather makes it a welcome bowl of warmth. You can use any Berghoff beer with this, but my favorite is Berghoff Original Amber. The only tricks to making this recipe are using freshly grated cheese (packaged pregrated cheese from the supermarket doesn’t melt well) and not letting the soup boil during or after adding the cheese. I like to serve it with a plain or caraway pretzel, or with freshly popped popcorn. Put the bowl of popcorn on the table and let everyone add it to the soup as they eat.
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 1 ½ cup finely chopped leeks, white and pale green parts only (about 2 medium-size) (see Note)
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 3 cups whole milk, at room temperature
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 (12-ounce) bottle Berghoff amber beer
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon mustard powder
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups freshly shredded mild Cheddar cheese
- 2 cups freshly shredded Swiss cheese
- Fresh Baked Pretzels or freshly popped popcorn, for serving
Heat the butter in an 8- to 10-quart stockpot over medium heat. Add the leeks, garlic, and bay leaf, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are tender, about 6 minutes. Decrease the heat to medium-low, sprinkle the flour over the leek mixture, and cook for 3 minutes, stirring often. Slowly whisk in the milk, 1 cup at a time, and cook, whisking, until smooth and fully thickened. (This takes some time, so don’t try to rush this step.) Slowly add the broth and beer, whisking constantly until fully incorporated. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, whisking occasionally from the bottom to prevent sticking and burning. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Stir in the Worcestershire, mustard, salt, and pepper.
Add the cheese by handfuls, stirring constantly. Cook over medium heat without boiling until the cheese is melted, 3 to 4 minutes. Keep warm until ready to serve. Stir well before serving with fresh pretzels or a big bowl of fresh popcorn.
The soup may be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 4 days. Reheat in the microwave on medium power or on the stovetop, in a hot-water bath, until hot.
Variations: Instead of grating cheese at home, have the deli slice the cheese thinly. Then add to the soup slice by slice. Use half sharp and half mild Cheddar.