Nordic Nut Bread

Thanksgiving is over and I survived the mashed potatoes, the dressing and the gravy along with all the pies and sweet potato side dishes.  However, for those of us who appreciate the savory side of life here is an idea for  an addition to your next appetizer selection, traditional holiday smorgasbord, or just as a healthy late night snack while you binge on Vikings and wait for the next season to start.  This Nordic style nut bread would have been a familiar menu item on Ragnar Lothbrok’s table.

This is not bread in any ordinary sense, and it certainly isn’t the familiar sweet fruit and nut bread that we’re used to seeing on holiday tables, but it is an excellent delivery vehicle for a whole array of tasty toppings like paté, lingonberry jelly, a smear of brie cheese, onion jam or even peanut or almond butter.  Plain cream cheese is great too.  You could, of course, throw in some dried apricots, or raisins if you crave something sweeter, but my personal favorites are red onion jam and mushroom paté.  I’ll include quick versions of those condiments in this post.  This recipe is just unbelievably easy and very, very healthy.

NORDIC NUT BREAD

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Ingredients

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  • 3.5 oz  pumpkin seeds
  • 3.5 oz sunflower seeds
  • 3.5 oz almonds
  • 3.5 oz walnuts or pecans
  • 3.5 oz flax seeds
  • 3.5 oz sesame seeds
  • 3.5 oz poppy or chia  seeds or substitute 1/2 cup of chopped dried fruit (optional)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 5 eggs
  • 3.4 oz  oil (I use grapeseed or avocado)
  • 3.5 oz water (optional)

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Combine all ingredients in a large bowl until it forms a thick mixture.

 

 

 

 

 

Press into generously oiled loaf pans (will make 3 small or 1 large).  Bake in a preheated 320 degree oven for 1 hour.   The look of the loaves will not change very much in appearance, just slightly brown around the edges.  Let the loaves cool completely before slicing.  The bread keeps for a week in the refrigerator, and freezes very well.

This is a perfect delivery system for all kinds of yummy toppings.  Here are some of my favorites.

DSCF2975You can use any combination of nuts or seeds that you prefer.  However, for every 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of additional seeds or nuts remember to add 1-2 extra eggs and water and oil as needed.

A good suggestion is to make a large batch of nuts/seeds, divide them into bags with enough to make the above recipe.  Store them in the freezer and take out a bag when you want to make the bread.

 

 

 

 

 

Red Onion Jam

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Ingredients

1/4 cup olive oil

6 cups thinly sliced red onions (about 3 1/4 pounds)

1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

2 cups apples, peeled and chopped

1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar

3/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup Ruby Port

1/4 cup red wine

1 1/2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger

1/2 cup dried cherries

Directions

Heat the oil in a heavy pot over a medium heat. Add the onions and dried red pepper. Cover, stirring occasionally, until the onions are tender.  Add brown sugar, vinegar, port, red wine and ginger. Cook uncovered over medium low heat until onions are very tender and mixture has a thick, jam like consistency.  Add the dried cherries and cook until mixture is very thick and dark, stirring frequently, about 20-25 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cool completely. Put in jars and refrigerate.  This stores very well and can be made well ahead.  I put this on all kinds of things and almost always have a jar on hand.

Mushroom Paté

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Ingredients

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1 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup finely chopped shallots

1/2 cup unsalted butter

¼ pound shitake mushrooms, chopped

¼ cup crimini mushrooms, chopped

¼ pound white button mushrooms, chopped

1/4 lb dried woodear mushrooms, rehydrated and chopped

1 tablespoon roasted garlic puree

¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

1 tablespoon fresh thyme

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon white pepper

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Directions

Toast the walnuts either in the oven for 10 minutes at 350° or in a dry frying pan on the stove top until fragrant and slightly browned.

In a large skillet or sauté pan cook the shallots in butter until translucent.  Add the chopped mushrooms, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring often until most of the liquid is evaporated.

Process the walnuts and olive oil in a blender or food processor until mixtures form a thick paste.  Spoon in the cooked mushroom mixture and process until the desired texture.  I like mine smooth and creamy.

Press the mixture into oiled ramekins or bowls.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.     ♥

Farinata (Chickpea Flatbread)

I love bread, all kinds of bread, wheat, corn, barley, rye and that’s just the beginning because as I discovered recently, bread isn’t just made from grain.  Lately, I’ve been sampling flatbread in a search for the perfect pizza delivery system.  That’s how I discovered bean flours, specifically garbanzo or chickpea flour and a beautiful, crispy, delectable Mediterranean flatbread called farinata or socca in Sicily.  Practically every country in that part of the world has some version of it.  At this point, we’re no longer discussing pizza crust, so stay with me.

I’m still trying to figure out how I could not have known about something this yummy, but better late than never.  Farinata is one of those comfort food dishes that disappears from the plate before it’s even had time to cool off and I understand that some cafes and restaurants in Italy post the time that their farinata will be coming out of the oven and people line up to get it while it’s hot.  I’ve been known to bake it in the morning and eat every crumb before anyone else gets home.  The best part is that it is so easy to make.  Get out the cast iron and warm up the oven.

Farinata

Farinata

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Makes one serving for me, or two if I’m feeling generous.

  • 1 cup garbanzo or chickpea flour
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon rosemary (or other herb of your choice), chopped fine
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions

Combine chickpea flour and water in a bowl; whisk until the batter is smooth.

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Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature overnight to ferment.

Cover with wrap

 

This adds a lovely nutty flavor to the bread.

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The following morning (or later if you’re sharing), heat the oven to 450 degrees and place your cast iron pan (I used an 8-inch skillet) in the oven, heating it until it’s smoking hot.

In the meantime, remove the plastic wrap from the batter and stir in the salt, chopped herbs and 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

Batter with rosemary and oil

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remove the pan from the oven, pour in 3 tablespoons of olive oil and swirl around to coat the bottom and sides of the pan and to heat the oil.

Pour the batter into the pan and swirl to cover the bottom like a pancake.  The batter should sizzle.

Place in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until the edges are brown and crispy.

Farinata in the oven

Remove from the oven and turn out upside down onto a plate (you want the pretty crispy side to show).

Farinata in the Pan

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Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper and serve immediately.

Then…..

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And…..

Thats All FolksThat’s all folks.   ♦

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scones and Roses

Photo by E Broughton

Photo by E Broughton

Second breakfast is known and practiced in our house, especially around 10 ‘clock on a lazy weekend morning with the sun shining and the birds singing and the temperature edging toward 60.  Now I’m not talking about healthy, good for you, oatmeal with fruit kind of stuff.  Second breakfast on a morning like this calls for tea or coffee served in your best tea cup, some homemade rose petal jelly, and fresh baked buttermilk scones on the pretty china plate that doesn’t match any of the other dishes.  It all starts with the scones.  The recipe I used is based on a recipe by Marion Cunningham that I saw on Julia Child’s TV show, but of course I had to make a couple of adjustments because I’m like that and I was out of buttermilk.  I think I like my version better but judge for yourself.

Buttermilk Scones

Ingredients:

  •  3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 ounces unsalted butter, cut into small cubes (1 1/2 sticks of butter)
  • 1 cup of buttermilk (I substituted 3/4 cup plain whole fat yogurt mixed with 1/4 cup milk – allow to sit for 5 minutes before using)

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Photo by E Broughton

Photo by E Broughton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Add in the butter cubes and using a fork or our fingers, work the butter into the dry mixture until it looks like lumpy sand.  Don’t over work.

 

Photo by E Broughton

Photo by E Broughton

Then add the buttermilk or yogurt/milk mixture.  Stir until thoroughly mixed and turn the dough onto a clean, floured surface.

Photo by E Broughton

Photo by E Broughton

Pat the dough into a 1/2 inch thick circle and cut into triangles.  You could also roll out the dough and use a biscuit cutter to make round scones.

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Photo by E Broughton

 

 

  Place the scones on an ungreased baking sheet and brush generously with melted butter.

  Sprinkle lightly with sugar.  Bake for 10 minutes or until the scones are lightly golden.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a rack.  Before you remove them from the pan, drizzle a glaze (mix powdered sugar and water) over the top and let cool until the glaze firms.

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Photo by E Broughton

 

Serve on a pretty plate with tea or coffee and homemade rose petal jelly.

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Enjoy!

St. Patrick’s Day Dinner

Okay, so in honor of the promise of spring and St. Patrick’s Day I made a special dinner for the Irish-at-heart.  Since I’m not eating red meat, I decided to go with the next most Irish protein, salmon.  Perhaps it will make me wise and I’m certain it will be tasty.  The menu is simple and economical: salmon croquettes, (basically canned salmon with onion, red sweet pepper and dill).  If you’re offended by the can, just remember it’s wild caught, canned fresh and it’s cheap, Irish mothers rejoice.  It’s served alongside a big bowl of colcannon, with Irish soda bread, and for dessert I’ve got bread pudding slathered in Bailey’s Irish Cream sauce, so let’s get to it.

Irish Rosemary Soda Bread

Irish Rosemary Soda Bread

Irish Rosemary Soda Bread

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients

  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped rosemary (or other herb of choice)
  • 2 cups buttermilk

Grease an 8-inch pie plate or baking sheet and set aside.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl combine flour, baking soda, salt and finely chopped rosemary.

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Make a little well in the center and add the buttermilk.   Stir until a dough forms (feel free to use your fingers if you want).  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently until the dough is smooth and not sticky.

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Place the dough on the greased pie plate and cut a half inch deep X across the top of the dough.

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Bake for 50 minutes or until a dark golden brown.  Transfer to a rack to cool.

Irish Rosemary Soda Bread

Irish Rosemary Soda Bread

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do not slice until the bread has cooled.  Wrap in a moist towel until ready to serve.  I usually bake the bread the day before and store in a bread bag until the next day before slicing.

Creamy Colcannon

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My version of colcannon has a couple of extra ingredients but I think you’ll like it, unless of course you hate peas in which case just leave them out.

Ingredients

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  • 2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 1 small or half of a large cabbage, cored and chopped
  • 2 small or 1 large leek (white part only) sliced into rings
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • 1 cup of fat free milk
  • 4 ounces softened cream cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper (use black if you don’t have white pepper)

In a large pot of water, boil the potatoes until tender (about 20-25 minutes).

Steam the cabbage for about 10 minutes or until tender.  Drain, cover and set aside.

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In a small saucepan, simmer the leeks in milk just until soft (about 5-7 minutes).  Then remove the leeks with a slotted spoon, set aside, and reserve the milk.

021Drain the potatoes and add about half the milk used to simmer the leeks.  Mash the potatoes to desired consistency (I like mine a little lumpy).   Add the cream cheese and pepper and mash until blended.  Use the remaining milk if needed.  Stir in the cabbage, leeks and peas.  Serve immediately, or refrigerate and reheat in the microwave for serving later.

 Salmon Croquettes (Patties)

Ingredients

  • 1 15-oz can wild caught salmon
  • 3 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 small sweet red pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon dried or fresh dill
  • Salt and pepper

Salmon Patties

 

 

 

Combine all ingredients and form into patties.  In a skillet, sauté the patties until crisp and browned.

Really Easy Bailey’s Irish Cream Bread Pudding

Ingredients

  • 1 1-lb loaf cinnamon raisin bread
  • 3 cups half and half or whole milk
  • 1 cup Bailey’s Irish Cream (Brady’s also works)
  • 3 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 3 Tablespoons melted butter

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Bailey's Bread Pudding

 

 

 

 

Tear bread into small pieces and place in a large bowl.  Add the milk and Bailey’s and let soak for about 10 minutes.  Work the mixture in with your hands until the milk is absorbed.

In another bowl combine eggs, sugar, vanilla, spice and butter.  Add to the bread mixture and pour into buttered baking dish.  Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean.  Let rest on cooling rack until fully set.  The smell was making me irrational and I forgot to take pictures.

To create a quick sauce, combine 1 can of sweetened condensed milk with 1/2 cup Bailey’s Irish Cream.  Warm in the microwave (very carefully).  Pour over the bread pudding and serve.

So there it is.  My culinary homage to St. Patrick’s Day and if you want green beer you’ll have supply your own.  Enjoy!

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