A Sweet + A Savory Irish Soda Bread – One Recipe, Two Loaves

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“You are the bread and the knife….You are the white apron of the baker…..” Billy Collins “Litany” (excerpt)

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There is little more satisfying than making my own bread….warm, crusty loaves brought forth by my own hands.  The ingredients readied, measured and mixed appeals to the organized part of me. The physical contact of floured hands to soft dough is uniquely seductive as any baker of bread will tell you.

For St. Patrick’s Day week I share two recipes for breads that are simple and quick and delicious. I enjoy making yeast breads, but Irish Soda Breads are my fall-back when time is limited and my attention span runs short whilst the desire for making a good crusty loaf is all that will suffice.

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A bit of sifting and mixing….

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 …….just a few ingredients with little prep time and a beautiful dough is achieved.

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Gently formed into a round loaf with an “X” cut into the top, this sweet loaf is ready for the oven within about 10 to 15 minutes!

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One loaf baked and smeared with marmalade and one without…one sweet and one savory, both warm and ready for a slathering of Irish butter within an hour.

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A Sweet + A Savory Irish Soda Bread - One Recipe, Two Loaves

  • Servings: 2 loaves
  • Print

Ingredients for Loaf #1 – Plain and Simple

  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups buttermilk

Ingredients for Loaf #2 – Marmalade Loaf

  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cups plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup orange marmalade, divided in half

Directions for Loaf #1 –

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray or cover with parchment paper.
  2. Sift the flour, salt & soda together into a large mixing bowl.
  3. Make a “well” in the center and pour in 1 1/2 cup buttermilk and mix gently. Add more buttermilk if dough seems too dry. This dough should be soft and somewhat wet. Using your hands scrape dough out onto a lightly floured work surface.
  4. Knead dough until smooth and shape into an 8 inch round, slightly flattened disk. Place dough on prepared baking sheet and using a sharp knife dipped in water, make an “X” in the top. Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until bread is golden brown and crusty. When you remove loaf from the oven and tap on the bottom it should sound hollow. Serve warm in slices with some softened Irish butter.

Directions for Loaf #2 – The process is exactly the same as the above loaf. This one uses yogurt and cream and marmalade.

  1. Preheat oven to 425 and prepared baking sheet.
  2. Sift flour, salt and soda together…make a well in the center….add yogurt, cream and half the marmalade. Stir together quickly. Scrape dough onto a floured work surface and knead a few times.
  3. Shape into a disk & place on a baking sheet. Smear outside of dough with remaining marmalade and cut an “X” in the top.
  4. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and crusty.

These breads keep well for a few days and are fantastic toasted.

Teresa Blackburn      www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com      www.foodonfifth.com

A Smashing Pumpkin & Pear Pangrattato

I adore the taste of pumpkin in all it’s transformations into pies, breads, roasted, toasted & baked. Pumpkins conjure up images of bonfires & baking, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” & a lifetime of Jack O’Lanterns.

Sunday morning at the Nashville Downtown Farmer’s Market I found myself in the midst of thousands of pumpkins, winter squash & gourds of every color tone, size & shape…from perfectly perfect to the fantastically gnarly…spread out & piled high, all beautiful. I purchased what is marketed as a “pie pumpkin”, about 2 lbs, for $1.00.

 I went to my current favorite cookbook , “Tender/Vol 1” by Nigel Slater (4th Estate London, publisher), which is full of some of the best, most accessible recipes & cozy meanderings throughout his garden life. The photos are so yummy and real. I found a very simple, intriguing recipe entitled “A pumpkin pangrattato with rosemary and orange”.

Pangrattato is Italian for breadcrumbs

My version of this recipe comes with a few changes due to using what I had on hand which did not include parsley and did include a couple of fresh pears picked from my neighbors tree which is still heavy with fruit. Pumpkin, crispy pears, breadcrumbs..a very nice trio.

“A Smashing Pumpkin Pangrattato”

(very much based on Nigel Slater’s version with a few changes & additions)

For this version you will need the following:

2 lb pumpkin

3 cloves garlic

1/4 to 1/3 cup good olive oil

a finger size mild red chili

1 tbsp finely chopped rosemary leaves

the zest of half an orange

1  cup roughly chopped arugula leaves

3 cups fresh white breadcrumbs (I used a gluten-free sandwich bread)

Kerrygold butter (or any very good butter)

Directions:

1. Using a sharp knife cut pumpkin in half, clean out seeds & membrane. Cut pumpkin into bite size chunks and cut away the peel.

2. Place chunks of pumpkin in a steamer basket over boiling water. Steam for about 10 minutes or just until pumpkin is slightly softened. Meanwhile…..

3. Prep other ingredients..mince garlic, thinly slice red chili, finely chop rosemary….

……peel & chop 2 hard crispy pears into bite-size chunks, roughly chop arugula, zest half an orange & toss bread into the food processor to make fresh breadcrumbs.

4. Pour half of the olive oil into a large heavy skillet & turn heat to medium. Add garlic & chili to skillet & cook for a few minutes until garlic just begins to turn golden.

5. Check steaming pumpkin with a knife. When it is barely softened remove from heat. Set aside.

6. Into skillet with garlic & chili add the chopped rosemary, orange zest, chopped arugula & bread crumbs.

7. The goal here to create the perfect “pangrattato/breadcrumbs” is to turn the soft breadcrumbs into beautiful golden brown crispy breadcrumbs without burning them. So leave on medium heat stirring often until ingredients are browned & crispy throughout. This might take about 10 minutes.Remove from heat

8.  To assemble & bake turn the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a casserole dish & add in steamed pumpkin. Scatter chopped pear over the pumpkin.

9. Lastly scatter top of pumpkin-pears with a few pieces of Kerrygold butter. Sprinkle pangrattato/breadcrumbs over top evenly. Drizzle with a bit more of the olive oil & bake for about 30-40 minutes. Top will be very golden brown & the pumpkin & pears will be softened but still holding their shape.

10. This dish can be eaten as a main course or side dish, but for our dinner I cooked up some Quinoa pasta & tossed it with a few tablespoons of olive oil &  black pepper & salt. The serving of pasta was then topped with Pumpkin Pangrattato, a few shreds of freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano along side a glass of slightly chilled Pinot Noir which was one perfect Sunday dinner for a warm October evening in Nashville.

Some Music for October evenings:

“October” (Song & Album, U2) Universal Island Records 2008

“Red Hot Chili Peppers Snow ((Hey OH))”  Warner Bros 2006

“Farm Fresh Onions” (song & album, Robert Earl Keen) 2003 Koch Records

“October Song” (Song/Album”Frank”, Amy Winehouse)

“1979” (Smashing Pumpkins, Smashing Pumpkins Greatest Hits) 2001

“Parsley Sage Rosemary & Thyme” (Album Simon & Garfunkel)1966

A Little Gallery

 

 

boo!

“A Late August Four-Letter “F” Word To Savor!”

My favorite four letter “f” word in late August is “Figs”. Finally we have some figs to play with. I have been watching the trees in the neighborhood, snooping around the farmer’s markets, just waiting, thinking on simple recipes using tree ripened figs.

“Brown Turkey Figs”

Sitting with a group of food friends the other day we started talking about foods we really were not aware of when we were younger, foods that we now know and love. For most of us Southerners it seems fresh figs just didn’t make it onto our radars until adulthood. I am not sure why. Fig trees thrive around here so it seems that figs would have been a summer staple just like peaches & late summer pears. I think I will do a bit of research to figure out why I never ate fresh figs as a child. As an adult I relish the arrival of this little, lush four-letter word.

“Fresh Figs-Pine Nuts Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake” 

 The corn meal gives it a bit of a crunch as do the pine nuts. The caramelized fig topping drizzled with maple syrup is luscious.

Ingredients: 5 to 6 fresh figs, 2 to 3 cups self-rising white or yellow cornmeal (I used gluten-free); 1 tsp ground cardamom; 1 stick good butter (Kerry gold of course!); 1 cup brown sugar; (divided into two 1/2 cups; 1/4 cups toasted pine nuts; 2 eggs; milk; real maple syrup

Directions:  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt butter in a cast iron skillet, preferably, over medium high heat. Add in 1/2 cup brown sugar stirring until melted.

2. Wash & dry figs. Cut each one in half lengthwise. Place cut-side down in skillet in a circular pattern. Sprinkle toasted pine nuts over figs. Turn heat to low allowing the figs to caramelize somewhat for about 5-8 minutes.

3. Meanwhile in a mixing bowl whisk together the dry ingredients..cornmeal, second 1/2 cup brown sugar & cardamom. Add eggs & enough milk to make a batter.

                                                                   

4. Pour/scrape batter into the hot skillet with the figs on top of the stove. Transfer skillet to the pre-heated oven. Bake for about 20-30 minutes until cake is golden brown and set in the middle. Remove skillet from oven and let rest for about 5 minutes.

5. Place a plate over the top of the skillet and “flip” plate & skillet upside-down. Scrape any caramel left in the pan over the top of the cake. While cake is still hot drizzle generously with real maple syrup. Cool cake for at least 10 minutes before cutting. Serve slices with additional maple syrup on side if desired.


Bonus Recipe: “Figgy Pancakes”

Ingredients: Same as for the cake recipe with a few extra figs quartered.

It was morning when I was baking the cake and had a bit of batter left over after filling the skillet. While the cake was baking I whipped up some pancakes for breakfast!

Directions: 1. Heat some butter in a small non-stick pan or griddle over high heat. Add a few quartered figs.

2. Pour in batter. When batter is set on bottom and bubbly on top flip pancake and  finish cooking til golden brown.

        

3. Serve immediately with real maple syrup. This was one good pancake recipe!

EXTRA, EXTRA BONUS RECIPE…SEE BELOW…THE EASIEST MOST DELICIOUS WAY TO EAT FRESH FIGS…….DON’T MISS THIS ONE!

“Sea Salt & Raw Sugar Dipped Figs”

Take some wonderful fresh figs. Cut them into quarters. Sprinkle some great sea salt & raw sugar on a saucer. Dip cut edges of figs in salt-sugar mixture and eat.

A sublime treat.

Doesn’t the word “fig” conjure up an image of Adam romping around in the Garden of Eden wearing a fig leaf?

I wondered what figs would be like after they were frozen?

 FYI. Mushy, but aren’t they pretty frozen?

Some “f” word music I like. A little bit different, fun and peppy to help you get figgy.

Album, “The Figs”,  The Figs, 2007 Valcour Records

Album, “What Keeps Me Up At Night”, The Figs 2008

Songs, “Jumbo” & “The Long Goodbye”, Marseille Figs, 2009 Figs of London

Eat good stuff.

“Sunday Morning Spring Strawberries, Butter & Sugar on Bread…Breakfast”

It is so fine to have a special seasonal treat on a lazy Spring Sunday morning while working on the New York Times Crossword puzzle with a friend. This was one such morning and Wouter made us a favorite treat that his mother made for him using sweet, small strawberries as they come into season.

At first I thought “how fattening”, “how decadent”, but I, in my infinite quest to try new combinations of familiar foods, succumbed and had one of the most deliciously indulgent breakfasts. My crossword working buddy Terry Martin and I gobbled up these little treats on bread as it might be our last meal.


Wouter’s Quick and Easy Recipe for “SMSSBSB” Breakfast

1. Cut up fresh, small strawberries into thick slices. (Don’t even try this with the strawberries from the supermarket with the white centers! It will not taste the same.)

2. Take slices of a good whole grain or white bread and smear each slice lavishly with softened butter such as Kerrygold.

3. Cover butter with slices of berries and then using a fork slightly mash to gently release juices.

4. Sprinkle teaspoons of raw or turbinado sugar over berries and eat.

During local strawberry season, wherever you live, treat yourself and try this regardless of any diet or food issues you might have. This is Dutch Soul Food and should be enjoyed at least once by all.

As an afterthought I do think next time I will have a glass of chilled Prosecco, Cava or Champagne while gobbling these little open-faced berry sandwiches.

  

Yum!

“t(wo) for Thanksgiving, t for Tennessee”

We all know the phrase “t for Texas, t for Tennessee, right? This year we added “t(wo) for Thanksgiving”.  That’s right, this year was the year we had to share our children with all their other extended, far-away families. We do this every other year. If your family is like ours it is a combination of birth family, married-into families, step-families, long-time & new-friends-families. So Wouter & I had great day cooking a simple meal, a meal of not-too-much, a meal of local bounty and international recipes. We spent the day together cooking, talking, laughing and telling stories.

“t(wo) for Thanksgiving” Menu


Asian Roasted Hen & Gravy


Hutspot (A Dutch dish of Onion, Carrots, Potatoes & Meat Juices)

A simple salad of shredded spinach, julienned pears & plums (photo on finished plate image)

An Australian Malbec

Jill’s Fresh Citrus Granita with Limoncello Drizzle

For an afternoon tea time snack:

Boterkoek (Dutch Butter Cookie)

Yazoo Stout & Barista Pinotage (both great with a piece of butter cookie!)

First things first…………..

“Asian Roast Hen with Au Jus-Gravy”

For recipe: Go to relishmag.com. In search enter: “Asian Roast Turkey with Sticky Rice Stuffing” This is the cover story for the November 2010 Issue.  I wanted to cook a roasting hen using the same ingredients so I just cut everything in half for the basting glaze. Also I wanted the have Hutspot, so I did not make the Sticky Rice Stuffing, although I highly recommend it. The original recipe is by cookbook author Corinne Trang and is one of the most delicious bird recipes I have ever tasted.

1. Rinse and dry bird. Make basting glaze according to the recipe. Following original recipe, loosen skin of the bird, add glaze under skin and on top. Roast following recipe based on the size of the bird you are cooking. Roast bird until the skin is very brown and crispy. Use the pan juices to make an au jus-gravy by whisking in a bit of flour & black pepper.

“Hutspot”

1. For this you will need: 2.2 lbs (1 kilo) each carrots, onions & potatoes. 1/2 lb beef sirloin (or similar cut) sliced into 2 equal pieces, 8 ozs butter, salt & pepper, 1 cup water. A large dutch oven or stock pot.

2. Brown butter in a pan over medium-high heat, add meat seasoned with salt & pepper. Meat will sizzle & turn brown, lower temp and continue to cook for about 1/2 hr. until meat is tender.

3. While meat is cooking, wash & cut carrots into thick “coins”.

4. Place carrots in the bottom of pan and top with slices of cooked beef.

5. Chop onions into large chunks and add to pot on top of carrots & meat. Add 1 cup water. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and simmer for about 1.5 hours. Carrots & onions should be very “mashable” soft.

6. About 1/2 hour before carrots & onions are cooked, peel potatoes, cut up and put into a pan of water. Cook for about 20 minutes until very soft.

7. When soft remove potatoes from heat, drain and mash-up.

8. Remove meat from the pot of carrots & onions. Set aside for later use. Drain liquid from pot. Add mashed potatoes to pot of drained carrots & onions.With a potato masher or large fork “stomp” all the vegetables together until they are well incorporated. Add salt & pepper to taste. This dish has everything you like about mashed potatoes with the added sweetness of carrots with a hint of onion added it. Wouter used Yukon Gold potatoes which are very “mashable”. Cover and keep warm until ready to eat.

(Note: If we were just having Hutspot as our main dish we would serve it with the pieces of cooked meat thinly sliced. Since we are having it with our “bird” we saved the meat for another meal.)

“Boterkoek”

For this you will need: 150 g all-purpose flour, 125 g butter, 125 g basterdsuiker (more about this later) or castor sugar.

Basterdsuiker – Wouter brings this back from Amsterdam and is what all his dessert recipes  call for. I have investigated and found there is no comparable sugar sold in our supermarkets. You can substitute Caster Sugar, or in a pinch regular sugar I suppose. Basterdsuiker has the wonderful consistency of our light brown sugars but is a very white, moist sugar that incorporates into your recipe more readily than our regular granulated sugar. You can order this online just by Googling it. After using it for desserts I really love it and wish we could buy locally.  I like that Wouter used Irish Kerrygold butter, Dutch sugar and Tennessee White Lily flour in this recipe!

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using your fingers or a pastry cutter, mix all ingredients together in a bowl until you can form a pastry ball. Add a bit of flour to your fingers if necessary.

2. Press soft dough into a buttered & floured pan.

3. Bake for about 25 minutes or until dough is a light golden brown. Remove from oven to cool. Dough will still be a bit soft, but as the sugar & butter cool the dough will set up like a cookie.

4. To serve, turn out on a cutting board and then invert onto a serving plate.

Serving suggestion: We had originally planned to have this in the afternoon with hot tea, but as the day got darker and windier and it got cozier inside we decided the boterkoek would be fabulous with a glass of Nashville’s Yazoo Brewery Onward Stout for Wouter and a glass of Barista Pinotage from South Africa for me, both very dark wintry tastes. As we thought….the perfect tea time!

Salad Note: At the last minute I rummaged through the fridge and came up with a simple salad by shredding fresh Spinach leaves, cutting some baby Pears & ripe Plums into julienne strips and drizzling with a bit of a Feta Vinaigrette. This is a non-recipe dish and you could substitute any greens or fruits that you have for the ones I used. I always like to have something a bit crunchy, green and fruity with my Thanksgiving dinner.

“Jill’s Extremely Fresh Citrus Granita with Limoncello Drizzle”

Recently the Relish Magazine folks were shooting some video at our house and Jill made this great Citrus Granita. I did not get the actual recipe but it is so easy that anyone can do it without a recipe. Jill made this on camera, put it in my freezer and there is has been for a couple of weeks. Yesterday I wanted something really easy & fresh tasting for after dinner. This fit all my requirements. When I showed it to Wouter and let him taste it he loved it and said that it would be really great with a drizzle of my Limoncello. This is how recipes are born I think.

For this recipe you will need:

6 cups of freshly squeezed Citrus Juice – Jill used a combination of blood oranges, ruby-red grapefruit, navel oranges & lemons. Try clementines, tangerines or any of the wonderful citrus that is available all year-long.

A simple syrup made using granulated sugar & water.  About 1 cup.

1. Mix together the cooled down simple syrup and the 6 cups juice. Taste and adjust sweetness if necessary. Pour mixture into a freezer container. Freeze until hard.

2. When ready to serve, use a sturdy fork to “scrape” frozen juice into “granita”

The color is so absolutely lovely. As I scraped I could actually see all the different colors of each citrus used.

3. Put Granita into a short glass & drizzle with very cold Limoncello. Very elegant, very easy and the perfect after dinner dessert-nightcap.

The table was set……

…night fell, we filled out plates, poured some wine……

….and toasted our day….bon apetit.