Margaret M. Johnson Shares St. Patrick’s Day Recipes from Her Cookbook

Lamb cutlets with fresh herb dressing
Lamb cutlets with fresh herb dressing, Photo: Margaret Johnson

Westhampton Beach cookbook author Margaret M. Johnson shares some choice recipes from her latest tome Favorite Flavors of Ireland for your festive St. Patrick’s Day meal plans.

-Serves 4-

For the lamb
12 lamb cutlets or loin lamb chops
1 tablespoon olive oil
juice and zest of 1 lemon
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

For the dressing
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
boiled new potatoes, for serving

1. Make lamb. Place cutlets or chops in a shallow dish. Whisk together oil, lemon juice, zest, salt, and pepper. Drizzle over lamb and marinate at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes, turning once.

2. Make dressing. Whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.

Light a charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill. Grill lamb for 3 minutes on each side (for rare), and up to 8 minutes for well done.

3. To serve, arrange cutlets on a plate and drizzle with dressing. Serve potatoes alongside.

Dressing variation: Apricot-Tarragon Sauce
1 cup chopped dried apricots
2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
3 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon hot curry paste
2 tablespoons olive oil

1. In large bowl, the dried apricots, chicken broth and tarragon. Marinate for 3 to 4 hours.

2. Stir in the lemon juice, salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon of honeyto taste. Transfer mixture to a food processor and process for about 1 minute, or until smooth. Transfer mixture to a small saucepan over medium heat, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until heated through.

3. Combine the hot curry paste, olive oil and 2 tablespoons of honey in a small bowl. Brush the mixture over both sides of lamb cutlets and season again with salt and pepper. Grill lamb as above.

Blue cheese potato cakes
Cashel blue cheese potato cakes, Photo: Margaret Johnson

-Makes 12 cakes-

4 large baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 cup crumbled Cashel Blue cheese
1 egg yolk
flour for coating
2 eggs beaten with 1/2 cup milk
seasoned breadcrumbs for dredging
canola oil for frying
sour cream or crème fraîche for topping

1. Cook potatoes in boiling salted water for 15 to 18 minutes, or until tender; drain and mash.

2. In a small skillet over low heat, melt butter. Sauté chives and garlic for 1 to 2 minutes, or
until soft; stir into mashed potatoes. Stir in nutmeg, salt, pepper, dill, and parsley. Remove from heat and cool completely.

3. Stir in blue cheese and egg yolk. (The cheese should remain in lumps scattered through potatoes). Shape potato mixture into 12 cakes and refrigerate for 20 minutes to firm.

4. Lightly dredge each cake in flour, coat with egg-milk mixture, and dredge in breadcrumbs.

5. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil. Working in batches, add potato cakes and cook for 3 to 5 minutes on each side, or until browned. (The cakes can be prepared ahead up to this point and kept warm in a 250° F oven). Serve cakes with a dollop of sour cream or crème fraîche.

Chocolate biscuit cake
Chocolate biscuit cake, Photo: Margaret Johnson

-Serves 7-

8 ounces milk chocolate, roughly chopped
4 ounces dark chocolate, roughly chopped
8 tablespoons butter, diced
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
8 ounces (1/2 package) digestive biscuits, such as McVitie’s brand, each broken into 2 to 3 pieces

1. Line a 9-inch loaf tin with plastic wrap; set aside.

2. Microwave chocolate and butter in a large glass bowl on HIGH for 1 minute. Stir once, and then return to microwave for 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Let cool, and then stir in salt and condensed milk until smooth; stir in crumbled biscuits.

3. Pour chocolate mixture into the prepared pan, pressing down evenly and firmly with a spatula. Smooth top with a spatula and then refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to 24 hours, or until set.

4. To serve, cut into thin slices or small cubes. Wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

See more of Johnson’s recipes at

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