The North East will be taking on a green tinge this week as we dig out our feign our Irish roots to celebrate St Patrick's Day.
And while the festival, on March 17, is more commonly associated with drinking - especially a pint of the black stuff - those wishing for a quieter night can bring the taste of the Irish to their dinner table with some of these recipes.
Colcannon (Serves four)
freshly ground black pepper
200g savoy cabbage, trimmed
50g bacon lardons (optional)
1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
100ml milk (or dairy-free equivalent)
freshly grated nutmeg
75g butter (or dairy-free spread)
8 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced
1 tsp chopped parsley
Peel and quarter the potatoes, then boil in salted water until tender. Drain well. Meanwhile, shred the cabbage finely.
Heat a heavy-based sauté pan over a medium heat and add a drizzle of olive oil. Add the lardons and sweat for three to four minutes, then add the cabbage and cook over a medium-low heat for another two or three minutes. Add the garlic and half a cupful of water, then cover and cook for five to six minutes, until the cabbage is tender.
When the potatoes are nearly cooked, bring the milk to the boil and grate in a little nutmeg. Mash the potatoes in a pan, then slowly incorporate the milk and butter. Season to taste.
Drain the cabbage, then fold through the mashed potato with the spring onions, parsley and a twist of pepper. Serve at once.
Beef and Guinness Pie (Serves four)
1kg stewing steak, cut into 2-3cm pieces (or try using meat substitute or extra mushrooms)
freshly ground black pepper
1 onion, peeled and diced
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
250g button mushrooms, cleaned
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
250ml red wine
500ml can Guinness or stout
250g ready-rolled puff pastry
eggwash (1 egg yolk, beaten with ½ tsp water and pinch of salt) Or use your own method for glazing
Heat the oven to 150°C, then dust the pieces of stewing steak all over with flour and season with salt and pepper.
Heat a heavy-based ovenproof sauté pan over a medium-high heat and add a good drizzle of olive oil. Brown the beef in two batches for four to five minutes, until well caramelised. Remove the meat with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Return the pan to the heat and add another drizzle of oil. Add the onion, carrots and mushrooms, lower the heat and sweat gently for four to five minutes. Then add the garlic and bouquet garni.
Pour in the red wine and reduce by half, then add the Guinness or stout. Bring back to the boil and then return the beef to the pan. Put a lid on the pan and place in the oven. Cook for three hours or until the beef is tender and the liquor has reduced and thickened.
Raise the oven setting to 180°C. Transfer the beef stew to a pie dish, discarding the bouquet garni. Cut out a disc of pastry large enough to cover the pie dish generously (allow about 3cm extra all round). Dampen the rim of the dish with water, then lift the pastry over the top of the stew. Press the edges of the pastry on to the rim of the dish and trim away the excess.
Brush the pastry lid with eggwash and bake the pie in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until the pastry has turned golden brown and crisp.
Serve immediately with seasonal vegetables.
(The previous two recipes were provided by chef Tom Kitchin to our sister paper, The Scotsman)
Guinness Cake recipe (Makes about 12 slices)
Based on Nigella Lawson's recipe from Feast: Food that Celebrates Life by Nigella Lawson (Chatto & Windus, RRP £20)
For the cake
Guinness (or other stout) 250 ml
unsalted butter 250g (or dairy-free spread)
caster sugar 400g
sour cream 1 x 142ml pot
eggs 2 (or equivalent egg replacer)
real vanilla extract 1 tbsp
plain flour 275g
bicarbonate of soda 2 ½ tsp
For the topping
Cream cheese 300g (or dairy-free substitute)
icing sugar 150g
double or whipping cream 125ml (or dairy-free substitute)
Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4, and grease and line a 23cm tin.
Pour the Guinness into a large wide saucepan, add the butter and heat until the melted. Whisk in the cocoa and sugar.
Beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla and then pour into the pan with the Guinness mix, and finally whisk in the flour and bicarb.
Pour the cake batter into the greased and lined tin and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, checking often after the first half an hour. Leave to cool completely in the tin on a cooling rack, as it is quite a damp cake.
When the cake is cold, sit it on a flat platter or cake stand and make the icing: Lightly whip the cream cheese until smooth, sieve over the icing sugar and then beat them both together. Or do this in a processor, putting the unsieved icing sugar in first and blitz to remove lumps before adding the cheese.
Add the cream and beat again until it makes a spreadable consistency. Ice the top of the black cake so that it resembles the frothy top of the famous pint.
From Feast: Food that Celebrates Life by Nigella Lawson (Chatto & Windus, RRP £20). Click here to buy it from Guardian Bookshop for £16