Callie’s Cabin: Wake-up to the perks of Irish coffee (recipe)
Saint Patrick’s Day — an event from centuries ago — is a time for celebrating the 17th of March around the South Shore. Family, friends and tourists wear green, eat green foods, and savor Irish brew, including beer, whiskey and Irish coffee. It can include rum or whiskey, brown sugar, cream and/or whipped cream.
As the legend goes, the drink was created in Ireland after serving it to people on a boat one wintry evening in the mid-20th century. A chef added whiskey to the hot beverage, and he coined it Irish coffee.
As a kid, my mother (Patricia, Irish and Catholic) would dutifully make a big pot of traditional corned beef and cabbage, potatoes and a key lime pie or cupcakes with green fluffy frosting would be dessert. After dinner my parents would enjoy copper mugs filled with Irish coffee. But that wasn’t the end of java and Saint Patrick’s Day memories for me.
Several years ago, on a snowy March morning, I followed my morning routine. I brewed a cup of hot flavored coffee. I poured a cup of French vanilla roast into a 12-once mug and brought it back to bed with me.
Warm, cozy and mentally energized I started to retrieve e-mails on my laptop. I queried my editor and suggested a new book on tea. He dished out another idea — coffee. I was happy and even happier near Saint Patrick’s Day when I was assigned “The Healing Powers of Coffee,” my fifth Healing Powers Series book.
Before my late morning swim that same day, I celebrated with a Starbucks latte. Since then, I’ve learned how to whip up coffee drinks in the comfort of my cabin.
2 cups coffee, freshly brewed (I used Starbucks vanilla flavored)
1 cup organic low-fat milk or half and half
4 teaspoons brown sugar
1 cup rum or 2 teaspoons rum extract
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup coffee gelato or premium ice cream (optional)
1 cup whipped cream
A dash of unsweetened cocoa powder, cinnamon or nutmeg
Pour hot coffee into a bowl. Add milk, sugar, rum (or extract) and vanilla until mixed. Pour coffee mixture into four 8-ounce mugs. Then, add a ¼ scoop of gelato into each mug. Put a top layer of whipped cream, swirl. Dust with cocoa powder, cinnamon or nutmeg. Add a straw or cinnamon stick to each.
*Extra: Serve with store bought biscotti or butter cookies. Dip half of each one in white or dark chocolate (melt bar chunks or chips in the microwave — 30 seconds, stir, repeat and watch). Sprinkle with green colored sugar sprinkles. Serves three to four people.
I almost made scones and a pot of Irish breakfast. Instead, this time around, I wanted to share this easy but ridiculously delicious beverage complete with sugar, spice and coffee buzz. It is festive and can also be enjoyed iced in the warmer months ahead.
On a final note, after 17 years right before the day of four leaf clovers, I received the final book cover copy of my forthcoming book, “The Healing Powers of Tea.” I admit it: I am a believer. A toast to a bit of Irish luck.
Motto: Traditional foods are fun to recreate, but switching it up and combining the past and present can be both exciting and comforting.
Cal Orey, M.A. Is an author and journalist. Her books include the Healing Powers Series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, Coffee, and Tea) published by Kensington. (The collection has been featured by the Good Cook Book Club.) Her website is http://www.calorey.com.