St. Paddy’s Day food traditions revisited |

St. Paddy’s Day food traditions revisited

Susan Hart
For the Nevada Appeal
Zac Mathewson/Brooks Institute photographer

“To all the days, here and after. May they be filled with fond memories,

happiness and laughter.” – Irish Toast

Faith and begorrah! As it turns out, persons with Irish heritage have one of the highest incidences of celiac disease on the planet, as many as 1 in 100. This means those of us who have Irish ancestors are more likely to have an auto-immune reaction to the protein gluten, which is found in wheat, rye and barley.

Apprised of that information, my friend and colleague Pegge or Peggeen – as she shall be called this month – researched recipes for Irish soda bread that I could adapt for gluten-free flours. The resulting loaf was very tasty, thanks especially to the currants and caraway seed flavoring it.

Irish Soda Bread

11⁄4 cups brown rice flour

11⁄4 cups potato starch

1⁄2 cup tapioca flour

11⁄2 teaspoon xanthan gum

2 tablespoon packed brown sugar

2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2⁄3 cup dried currants

1 teaspoon caraway seed

11⁄2 cups buttermilk, or milk substitute mixed with 1⁄2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 x 11⁄2-round pan (I used a deeper, 6-inch pan which gave the bread more loft.)

In a large bowl, mix together the flours, potato starch, xanthan gum, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the currants and caraway seeds and stir. Add the buttermilk and stir until all the dry ingredients are moistened.

Turn the batter into the prepared pan and bake until browned, about 40 minutes. For a browner loaf, brush the top of the dough with melted butter or margarine before baking.

The bread is wonderful with morning coffee or tea, and not bad at tea-time, either. It’s good by itself, or with butter and jam. It toasts well and also softens nicely when warmed in a microwave for 30 seconds. It would, of course, be stellar with corned beef and cabbage, too.

If you are looking for a traditional Irish entree that is gluten-free, you might like this salmon and leek pie, which is topped with mashed potatoes and baked to a golden brown.

Salmon and Leek Pie

Serves 4

4 cups mashed potatoes, seasoned to your liking and set aside

4 cups fish stock

1 pound salmon filets, skinned

1⁄2 stick unsalted butter

1⁄3 cup brown rice flour

2 medium leeks, washed, halved and cut into squares

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1⁄2 cup frozen green peas, thawed

2 tablespoons mascarpone cheese

2 tablespoons grated Romano cheese


Boil the stock. Turn down the heat and cook the salmon in the stock at a simmer for 2 minutes. Place the salmon, drained through a slotted spoon, on a plate to cool.

Cook the leeks in the stock for 4-5 minutes, drain through a slotted spoon and place on the plate with the salmon to cool. Reserve the stock.

Melt the butter in a saucepan, stir in the rice flour, and whisk together until well-mixed. Stir in the reserved stock and whisk continuously until the sauce is thickened.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Flake the salmon and mix the salmon, leeks, parsley and peas into the sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste and place the mixture in a 9-inch pie plate or a souffle dish. Cover with dollops of mashed potatoes. Season the potatoes with the Romano cheese and paprika and bake in an oven for 30-40 minutes until the potatoes are browned.

Now, not being able to eat foods with gluten is tragedy enough, although there is always the noble potato for comfort. However, there are those that would give us to understand that, for the Irish, foregoing liquids containing gluten, like beer, malt liquor, ales and single malt or rye whiskeys, is the height of doom.

The jury is still out on whether liquors distilled from gluten-bearing grains can harm a person with celiac disease. Some researchers claim there’s no gluten content, and some with celiac disease say first-hand that there is a reaction.

The consensus seems to be that liquors distilled from other substances, such as tequila, rum and potato vodka, are potable for persons with celiac disease.

So, on St. Patrick’s Day, raise your margarita, mojito, or potato-vodka martini (with green olives, to be sure) to the celebrated spirit of the Irish, and enjoy the day when we are all of us sons and daughters of the Auld Sod.


• Susan Hart has been cooking gluten-free for 15 years. She teaches classes in gluten-free baking at Truckee Meadows Community College and can be reached at