There’s an old saying that “Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day,” but when I was growin up, all the holiday meant to me was paper shamrocks and cupcakes with green icing. Most of my formative years were spent in Washington D.C., which because it had no manufacturing, never attracted the immigrants that settled in other East Coast cities. I didn’t know anyone of Irish lineage until I got to college in Connecticut — a WASP-y school where my classmates included a number of Boston Irish Catholics.
I never encountered corned beef and cabbage (I know, it’s not really Irish …) until I moved to New York City after graduation, and I avoided it because of its similarity to New England Boiled Dinner, which my mother served occasionally and as a kid, I hated.
Now, I quite like it, especially slathered with plenty of good mustard and I’m a fan of other Irish dishes, too, especially shepherd’s pie (the real kind, made with ground lamb), champ — buttery mashed potatoes with green onions, and of course Irish soda bread and scones.
Ted, who grew up in central New Jersey and is Jewish, remembers his mother picking him and his siblings up from school on St. Patrick’s Day to get Shamrock Shakes at McDonald’s. For us non-Irish, it is apparently all about the color, although we will both draw the line at green bagels and green beer.
The St. Patrick’s Day tradition in our household is not even remotely Irish, but it is green. When my son was a little lad, I thought it would be fun to make Grasshopper Pie, that 60s throw-back inspired by a cocktail with the same silly name. (He’s 20 now and just asked me for the recipe.) Although I have dabbled in more authentic St. Pat’s Day baked goods like Irish whiskey cake and tea brack, I keep coming back to this ridiculous pie. It’s super easy to make, refreshing and decadent at the same time, and who doesn’t love a good green dessert?
1 pkg. chocolate wafter cookies
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup hot milk
25 large marshmallows
1/4 cup creme de menthe
2 tablespoons white creme de cacao
1 cup heavy cream
green food coloring if desired
Preheat oven to 425.
Put cookies in the bowl of a food processor and process until they are fine crumbs. Add the melted butter and process for a minute or two until combined. Press the crumb mixture evenly into a 9-inch glass or ceramic pie plate. Set aside to cool while you make the filling.
In a medium heavy saucepan, heat the milk (do not allow to boil) and stir in the marshmallows until completely melted. Remove from heat and stir in creme de menthe and creme de cacao. Cool until room temperature.
Whip cream until stiff and fold into marshmallow mixture. If filling is not green enough, add some food coloring.
Spread filling in crust and freeze for 3-4 hours before serving.