Why should the food and drink served on St. Patrick’s Day be artificially green?

Think outside the box and put away the bright green food coloring.

Instead surprise guests by offering slices of a traditional Irish Apple Cake, a treat Irish mothers have been making for generations, or of a luscious, moist chocolate cake flavored with stout or dark beer. Chocolate Stout Cake isn’t traditional, but guests will love its rich flavor.

Or serve an Americanized version of Irish soda bread, Irish Soda Bread Muffins, for breakfast or a coffee break.

Darina Allen, considered the Julia Child of Ireland, teaches what she calls Forgotten Skills classes at her Ballymaloe Cookery School in County Cork, Ireland. In those classes she teaches home cooks the life skills early Irish immigrants would have practiced. She has suggested several recipes from those classes for a St. Patrick’s Day celebration, including Cottage Pie With Garlic Butter and Buttered Cabbage.

Finally, Tommy Simmons, retired Advocate food editor, sent her recipe for colcannon, a favorite of hers that she always serves on St. Patrick’s Day. The delightful dish, a combination of potatoes and cabbage, celebrates Irish frugality, she said.