A Food & Travel Blog

St. Patrick’s Day – the wearing (and eating) of the green

19/03/2012 | By

St. Patrick’s day has always been a special day to me.  Coming from bog-Irish stock on both sides, as I do, it was always celebrated in some way or other in our family when I was growing up.  We were (and still are) very proud of our Irish heritage and it was a very distinct part of our cultural fabric.  I lived with my grandmother in those far-off days of my youth and my mother was the youngest of her seven children, so it was a busy household with aunts, uncles and cousins  often popping in and out.  Family get-togethers were regular and raucous, generally involving the singing of Irish songs at some stage and, when held at my uncle Peter’s house, with the flag of Eire flying splendidly from the clothes line.

My grandmother was an old-fashioned woman and, in those pre-en suite days, a green chamber-pot was kept under her bed “for emergencies”.   On St. Pat’s day my mother would retrieve it, scrub it out with disinfectant and stand it boldly on a pedestal by the door on our front verandah – much to my absolute and prudish teenaged horror.  A special glass was always raised on the day, too, but our cultural heritage was reflected on a more daily basis in the food we ate.   Talented and skillful Irish chefs and cooks like Darina Allen, Rachel Allen and Richard Corrigan have done much to promote the riches of Irish cuisine in more recent times, but my memories of family meals like tripe in a parsley sauce and dishes of grey Irish stew were not the kind of food memories I wanted my own children to grow up with.

In an effort to maintain a link with our traditional culture we gave our children quite Irish names (without all the tricky spelling, although we did consider it).  Like myself, my sister and my mother, our daughters were encouraged to take Irish dancing lessons  and like all of the afore-mentioned, they didn’t really take to it.  A few years ago we took the children to Ireland and spent three weeks there with them, pointing out the bullet holes in the post office in Dublin’s O’Connell Street, visiting Kilmainham Gaol and eating lots of lovely potatoes.  And every St. Patrick’s day when they were smaller I would mark the occasion with green food dye in the milk for their morning cereal and make some soda bread or potato pancakes for dinner.

Of course they are well past the stage where they find green food amusing now and the older two are often not up for breakfast, nor around at dinner time.  This year on St. Patrick’s day I found myself with a lovely bunch of fresh green herbs, compliments of my produce box from Jupiter Creek Farm, which needed using up.  Thinking back to our times in Ireland and a stunning meal of wild-caught salmon that we once had there I decided that a simple green herb pancake with smoked salmon was the perfect way to celebrate the day.  I made mine in my Thermomix, but the same quantities and a similar method using a regular food processor will result in just as pleasing results.

Recipe: Green Herb Pancakes with smoked Salmon & Horseradish Cream


  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh herbs (I used parsley, rocket and basil)
  • 2 cups self raising flour
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups buttermilk (more if you prefer thinner pancakes)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • Butter for frying
  • 200 gms smoked salmon
  • 250 mls sour cream
  • 2 tsp horseradish


  1. Place herbs in Thermomix, chop 5 seconds on speed 7.
  2. Add flour, milk, eggs and salt. Whizz 10 seconds on speed 6.
  3. Heat small amount of butter in frypan until foaming, pour in batter in desired amounts depending on what size pancakes you like.
  4. Cook until bubbles form on the top surface, then carefully flip.
  5. Repeat with batches until batter all cooked, keeping cooked pancakes warm in oven.
  6. When ready to serve, arrange smoked salmon on top of pancakes.
  7. Mix horseradish with sour cream and spoon over salmon.


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  1. Lizzy (Good Things)

    Well there you go, I didn’t realise you were of Irish origins, Amanda. Love your pancake recipe… yum!

  2. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella

    I had no idea you were Irish either Amanda! I spent the day eating delicious Paddy’s soda bread 🙂

  3. Hotly Spiced

    I love how your family has hung on to its Irish roots and continue to celebrate St Pats in a grand way – but I could do without a chamber pot boldly displayed near my front door too! Love the look of these savoury pancakes – how delicious! xx

  4. Barbara | Creative Culinary

    Growing up my family was much closer to my Dad’s folks and all of their extended German/Swiss family so if asked I would tell you I was German. Even married a boy with a similar background.

    But the truth is that my mother’s father was English and her mom was from Irish stock and the last few years I’ve paid more attention to St. Patrick’s Day; I want to learn more about that side of my family and I surely love the food. I’m behind this year but brisket is cooking now that has spent the past week curing for corned beef and I’m going to make some boxty to eat with it even. I have a lot of catching up to do!

    This recipe sounds divine…it’s actually very similar to the boxty I had at a local pub when I attended a beer tasting. I’ve got a long way to go I know but Slainte to you and yours!

  5. tania@mykitchenstories

    O as its been said you just never know do you. What an amazing thing to do… take your children to Ireland ( even better you get to spend time with your sister. Great pancake idea!

  6. Moira McInerney

    Oh dear, now I am getting wicked memories of the place of that chamber pot growing up. And why oh why did you have to mention the tripe!

  7. Tracey

    I thought initially you were going on to say the chamber pot became the receptacle for the punch! As a purely decorative piece it seems OK!

  8. Barbara

    We are Irish on my fathers side but The family did not hold on to any Irish traditions. Sad really. Bryan’s family are part Portuguese and his family didn’t bring any portuguese traditions to the mix either. Doubly sad.

  9. Judy

    I’m sure the children will remember their green milk for breakfast in years to come and you never know Amanda, they may one day be serving it to their children. These family traditions run deep and resurface after the kids grow out of it and become parents themselves. Nice to read about your heritage, had no idea either of course. There was a link on the Thermomix forum the other day to 25 green food ideas for St Patrick’s Day – some interesting fare there.

  10. Johanna

    I often forget about Horseradish Cream, I don’t know why as it is so yummy with so many things, smoked salmon included! Thanks for the great recipe. I was going to do Beef and Burgundy Pies for lunch on St Pats Day, but unfortunately ran out of time!

  11. Jennifer (Delicieux)

    Happy belated St Patrick’s day Amanda. 😀 Despite my Irish heritage we don’t really celebrate St Patrick’s day in our family. I do love your green herb pancakes though, they look and sound divine. I love the sound of the horseradish cream too. I’ll have to try that.

  12. InTolerant Chef

    I would much rather celebrate with these lovelies than with green milk! We’re Irish on dads side, and he rings early in the morning every year to remind us of St Paddy’s day 🙂