Tuesday, March 17, 2015

"Sesame Beer Bread" & "Shamrock Shimmy Drink" For St. Patrick & St. Joseph's Day

“May the Irish hills caress you. May her lakes and rivers bless you. May the luck of the Irish enfold you. May the blessings of Saint Patrick behold you.” This is a blessing for St. Patrick’s Day which is celebrated today, March 17th. This is a day that everyone is Irish, a day to be merry, and commemorate the love of St. Patrick for his followers, Irish or not. 

St. Patrick’s Day customs came to America in 1737. That was the first year St. Patrick’s Day was publicly celebrated in Boston, Massachusetts. There are many legends associated with St. Patrick. One legend among many others is said that St. Patrick used the three leafed Shamrocks to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity. Though originally a Catholic Holy Day, it now has become a holiday to celebrate Irish culture by wearing green, eating Irish food, imbibing Irish drink, and enjoying many other things Irish. Shamrocks, Blarney Stones, Rainbows, Pots of Gold, Celtic Fairies, and even dyeing rivers with green food coloring to name a few are all Irish traditions and legends.

This is also a day when stories of Leprechauns and spirits are told. In Irish mythology, a Leprechaun is a type of male faerie said to inhabit the country of Ireland. According to folklore, these “faerie folk” were to have inhabited Ireland before the arrival of the Celts. Leprechauns usually take the form of old men who enjoy partaking in mischief. In most tales and stories Leprechauns are depicted as generally harmless creatures that enjoy solitude and live in remote locations. They are said to have been cobblers or shoemakers. They are supposed to be very rich, having many treasure crocks filled with gold buried in secret locations.

Another popular belief is that you may find a Leprechaun and his pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Some say that they have mythical power and magical control over the workings of Earth, and even have the power of trickery that confuses their target allowing the Leprechaun to play tricks on his victims. In 1831 Samuel Lover describes the Leprechaun wearing a red coat that was laced with gold, a cocked hat, pointed shoes, a beard like an elf, silver buckles on his shoes, and spectacles stuck on his pointed nose. The modern image of the Leprechaun is depicted by having red hair; with a beard, wearing an emerald green frock coat, and often with a crock of gold.  He has knowledge of the many locations where more treasure is buried.

Did you know that the color associated with St. Patrick was originally blue not green? Green was the color that was most widely associated with Ireland and the Irish people. The change from blue to green began about the 1750s. St. Patrick‘s color now in modern times is green, also due to the phrase, “the wearing of the green.” The shamrock is now the symbol of Ireland. Shamrocks are considered to bring good luck. 


“St. Joseph, protect me and my family as you did with the Holy Family. Kindly keep us ever united in the love of Christ, ever strong in the virtue of the Blessed Mother, and always faithful in devotion to you. Amen” 

As much as I love to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, being an Italian American I also celebrate the feast of St. Joseph, which is on Thursday, March 19th. St. Patrick often it is expressed through the “wearing of the green,” and “wearing of the red,” is what the Italian people do for St. Joseph.  According to legend, there was a severe drought at the time and many people prayed to their patron saint to bring them rain. They promised that if he answered their prayers, they would prepare a large feast to honor him. Their prayers were answered and the rain did come. So the people of Sicily prepared a large banquet for their patron saint. 

The spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Jesus’ step father, St. Joseph has solemnity and rank in the Roman Catholic Church. St. Joseph was a carpenter by trade and is the patron Saint of not only carpenters but also, married people, family life, and workers.  In some Catholic countries, mainly Spain, Portugal, and Italy, St. Joseph’s Day is regarded as Father’s Day. Giving food to the needy is a St. Joseph’s custom. In Italy a typical St. Joseph’s Day altar would have flowers, limes, candles, wine, Fava beans, cookies, specially prepared cakes, breads, and Zeppole. (A Neapolitan pastry) Other treats are called Frittelle, Sfinci, and cream puffs filled with whipped cream or custard.  

St Joseph's Alter
This is done as a thank you to St. Joseph for surviving a famine that the Italian people went thorough. Foods that are traditionally served containing bread crumbs to represent saw dust since St. Joseph was a carpenter. The altar usually has three tiers to represent the Holy Trinity. St. Joseph’s Day is also the day when the swallows are traditionally believed to return to Mission San Juan Capistrano after having flown south for the winter. St. Joseph, is the patron saint of the family, and also the patron saint of pastry chefs. In Italy, the Feast of San Giuseppe is a national holiday. Auguri !!! 

My recipe this week is “Sesame Beer Bread.” This recipe is traditional bread for St. Patrick (Beer) and for St. Joseph (bread with sesame). A hearty bread coated in sesame seeds, with a subtle beer flavor. This bread is good along side a soup. Because it contains no fat, so it should be eaten the same day. It can also be served warm with some butter or room temperature with a cup of tea, a mug of cold beer, or a “Shamrock Shimmy Drink.” (See below for recipe) Enjoy your St. Patrick’s Day and the Feast of St. Joseph. Hope that you find the luck of the Irish and the peace of St. Joseph!

Sesame Beer Bread

3 1/4 cups of all purpose flour
1 tbsp of baking powder
1 tbsp of granulated sugar
2 teaspoons of salt
1/2 teaspoons of baking soda
12 1/2 oz of light beer
1 1/4 teaspoons of milk
2 tbsp of sesame seeds

Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Make a well in center. Add beer to well. Stir until soft, sticky dough forms. Turn out onto lightly floured surface. If too sticky to handle, just powder your hands with a little flour. Gently shape to fit greased 9x5x3 inch loaf pan. Place dough in pan. Press into corners if necessary. Brush top of loaf with milk. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake in 375°F oven for about 40 minutes until golden brown and hollow sounding when tapped. Cut into 16 slices. Should be eaten within a day, I am sure that will not be a problem.  


The Shamrock Shimmy

1 part Gin
1/2 part Crème de Menthe
2 parts Ginger Ale

Shake with ice, strain and Enjoy.

(Please Drink Responsibly)

Till Next Time……………….

Copyright © 2015 “Family Plus Food Equals Love” All Rights Reserved


  1. Your blog is amazing!! :)) You are a great writer who obviously has a passion for what they are writing about! I would appreciate it if you would check out my blog and let me know what you think in a comment on a post you like! I would love to have a talented writers input! Keep up the great work!!!
    -Wanderlust Rach <3

    1. Hi,
      Thank you for your comment. I do have a passion for writing and for food. Glad that you liked my post and recipes. That is why I do this for people who want to have memories of their own childhood and the food that surrounded them when they were growing up. Good luck on your blog and I am sure that you are a good writer as well. Just keep writing ! If you are on FB join some "Writers Groups", that helped me when I first started my blog. Have a wonderful rest of the week...
      Dottie :)

  2. Hi Dottie!
    In the UK there have been some celebrations of St. Patrick day as Ireland is so close to England and there are many Irish people living here too.
    I think the Irish and the Italians have many things in common and religion is one of them. They have a really deep faith even more than the Italians have.
    I like this bread with baking soda. It is very easy to find it over here and it is really really good! Also this gin drink seems really nice!
    Have a good week xxx

    1. Dear Alida,
      Thanks for your comment and for stopping over. That is so nice that St. Patrick is celebrated in the UK. I agree with you dear friend, the Irish and the Italians have much in common especially in religion.Remember St. Patrick was really from Italy. I love this bread, especially with the sesame seeds on top. Adds to the flavor..we always use this with soups and salads, or even with a big steak and some veggies. Kind of goes with everything, and not that hard to create. So glad that you enjoyed this post and recipes. Yes, Cin Cin with that Shamrock Shimmy Drink...You as well, have a wonderful week and enjoy your St. Joseph's Day...Enjoy!
      Dottie :)

  3. My mother was born on st. josephs day march 19, her given name was Josephina she was Spanish..we always had yummy food on that day and I never forget the date..I try to be kind and loving to all people and remember my Mother and miss her everyday, she was some cook alright..I grew up with many Irish Catholics who went nuts over st. patricks day, but others really went all out for St. Joseph's day, I like to think st. joseph watches over the workers of our world and families, the food was out of this world and shared happily with many others..ciao!

    1. Hi Anonymous,
      Thank you for your comment. I am so glad that you enjoyed this post and recipes. Your memories of your mother are a treasure for you. I know that it is hard to loose someone and memories are something that we can hold on to forever. Sounds like she was a wonderful cook. The Irish and the Italians have a lot in common like, faith, food, families, and love to have fun.I pray that your St. Joseph's Day is full of happy and loving memories of your mom. Please do come back anytime, and I am sure you will enjoy my posts with recipes. Thanks again, many blessings.
      Dottie :)

  4. Good evening Dottie ,
    As expected you did an outstanding job , there is always more to know about St. Patrick's Day .
    I knew some of this but not all , thanks so much for your in-depth research .
    I make a beer bread ... your recipe is a little different and I will try it next time , it sounds deliciously good .
    I smiled when I saw the Shamrock Shimmy drink , so unique (giggling) .

    Thanks for sharing dear friend and do so hope you are feeling better . Have a blessed week ~~Nee~~ :)

    1. Good Evening Nee,
      Thanks for always enjoying my blog posts. Your comment and stopping over is always nice to see. There is always something to learn about the Saints. I know this bread is so good and not that hard to make, plus it seems to be enjoyed with many foods. I agree Nee, when I first saw this Shamrock Shimmy drink, I giggled as well. A perfect drink for a great day of the green...Hope that your St. Joseph's Day is a blessing...Enjoy your day...
      Dottie :)

  5. Hi Dottie,
    I already know you enjoyed your St. Patrick's Day and will celebrate St. Joseph's Day with vigor:)

    That bread looks heavenly! I wouldn't mind that Sharock Shimmy about now. It's been quite the day!

    Thanks for sharing, Dottie...GREAT post!

    1. Dear Louise,
      Thanks for your comment...I hope that you and Marion had a wonderful St.Patrick's Day too. Yes, St. Joesph's Day is Thursday...that should be a fun day as well. Also a day with blessings. Yes, this bread is kind of tradition between, both days. The beer in the bread and the bread for St. Joseph's. I agree I should have one of these Shamrock Shimmy's for sure. Thank you for stopping over, and I hope that your St. Joe's day is a good one for you and Marion. Enjoy!
      Dottie :)

  6. What an informative post! So much info -- thanks for the effort I know it took to write this up. And thanks for the recipes, too -- good stuff. That Shamrock Shimmy looks like so much fun!

    1. Hi John,
      Thanks for stopping by and your comment...Yes, I know your blogs are also full of info. So you know what it takes to write and look up research. I enjoyed writing this one as it is always nice to write about fun things like St. Patrick's Day. "Sesame Beer Bread" is a nice addition to any yummy meal! I saw this drink and thought of you first. You always have such interesting drinks to share. So I thought this Shamrock Shimmy would be a wonderful drink to add to the festivities of the day! Have a wonderful rest of the week...
      Dottie :)

  7. Dear Dottie, Wonderful post.
    I hope you enjoyed the St. Patrick's and St. Joseph's Day.
    The bread looks wonderful. There really is nothing like fresh bread warm with butter.
    The drink is both pretty and perfect for the St. Patrick's Day holiday. xoxoxo Blessings dear, Catherine

    1. Dear Catherine,
      Thanks dear friend for your comment and for stopping over. Yes, I always love these days..so many good yummy things to eat...You are correct, nothing like warm bread and tasty creamy butter. That is comfort food right there...Have to drink something green...Hope you had good ones too. Have a blessed week....
      Dottie :)

  8. You never mentioned that St. Patrick was also Italian! :) Did you know that he was born in Scotland to Italian parents? Or should I say Roman parents?

    It's nice to celebrate traditions such as these two saints, but I've been so rushed and busy, that I completely forgot it was St. Josephs's Day until the day after! I didn't even share my St. Joseph's Day doughnuts on FB! I'm such a twit! You're much more on top of things, I can see! Thanks, Dottie-love this post!

    1. Dear Christina,
      Thanks for your comment. Yes, I know...l think that last year I wrote about St. Patricks life and background, this year I tried to just make the post more fun, but I guess I should have mentioned that he was Italian, thanks maybe I will go in and add that info. I understand what you mean, I have been so busy myself. Spent the weekend at my parents as my dad was not feeling too well. We always try to split ourselves into too many pieces. I love your doughnuts...you should post them again. I haven't been to your new post myself. I am thrilled you enjoyed this post, and thanks for the words, I try to stay on top of the Saints holidays. Thanks for stopping over...
      Dottie :)