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

Creamy Colcannon 005

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 Creamy Colcannon 011

 

A Baking Powder Chronicle: Heavenly Biscuits

Every young girl growing up in the South is expected to master the first kitchen sacrament: making biscuits.  I think I was 12 when I decided to make my first batch of biscuits.  I dug out my mom’s Victory Cookbook and gathered the ingredients.  As luck would have it my Uncle Charlie was visiting and when he heard that I was making biscuits for the first time, he eagerly volunteered to eat them.  It was an act of bravery on his part and a pivotal moment in my life as a cook.  I was an enthusiastic, but not very experienced, baker and I worked that biscuit dough for all it was worth.  The biscuits came out of the oven looking like rocks.  When I set the plate down in front of my uncle, he picked one up, smeared some butter on it and popped it in his mouth.  As he crunched up the biscuit, my mom started to laugh.  Uncle Charlie responded, with a mouthful of stone biscuit, “if any little girl wants to learn to make biscuits, by God, somebody should eat them”.  He finished the whole plate.  Sometimes love is eating a bad biscuit.

I knew the biscuits were awful but I was encouraged enough to keep trying. Today, I’m happy to say, I make a great biscuit.  My recipe has evolved over the years; but here’s the result of my uncle’s act of love all those years ago.

Heavenly Biscuits

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Ingredients
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (this is the secret ingredient)
  • 3/4 cup milk
Directions

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients.

Biscuit Ingredients

With a pastry blender, a fork or your fingers cut in the coconut oil until the mixture looks like fine crumbs.  Biscuits 10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stir in the milk until blended and the dough no longer sticks to the side of the bowl.

Biscuits 12

 

 

 

 

Biscuit dough should be wet and sticky.

Mixing Biscuits 2

 

 

 

 

 In the same bowl (I hate flour covered countertops) sprinkle the dough with a little extra flour and dust your hands with flour.  Gently knead the dough (biscuit dough is sensitive, don’t beat it up).  Knead about 10 times, just until you can form a ball of dough.

Mixing Biscuits 4Place the ball of dough on a silpat mat. Parchment paper or wax paper will also work.   With your hands, gently flatten the ball until it is about 2 inches thick.  Yes, this is thicker than the recipe books say, but trust me, you’ll like it.

 

 

With a 3-inch biscuit cutter, (I used a beer glass) cut out the big thick biscuits.  This recipe will make about 6 big, fluffy biscuits.

Cutting Biscuits

 

I just arrange them on the silpat mat, slide it onto my baking sheet and put them in the oven.  Or, place the biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet.

Baking Biscuits

 

 

 

 

 

Bake for a good 12-15 minutes, or until the biscuits are a beautiful golden brown.

Biscuits 14

I guarantee you’ll never eat rolled package biscuits again.       Ε

 

 

Fresh Bread and First Fruits

Well, summer did finally arrive and in the garden the squash vines have stopped shivering and the eggplants are growing almost as fast as the weeds.  It’s been a while since I posted mostly because we’ve been trying to focus on the garden.

August

This week we harvested some of the first vegetables: turnips, zucchini, some beans, and one fat little cucumber.  The collards and chard are ready for the first picking and there are a few blushing little tomatoes.  It’s the first gathering, lughnasa (or lammas if you prefer).

Photo by E. Broughton

Photo by E. Broughton

In honor of that tradition I’m baking a special ancient grain bread using spelt and quinoa.  I’ve been experimenting with spelt because it’s higher in protein than modern wheat and lower in gluten, for those of you who have a problem with gluten sensitivity.  It’s also very tasty with a warm nuttiness but not too dense.  I used my basic recipe as follows:

Easiest Bread in the World

In a large bowl start your yeast.

  • 1 cup warm water (110-115 degrees)
  • ½ cup applesauce (you could use strained prunes in a pinch or honey)
  • 1 tablespoon yeast (or just throw in the whole package – I hate leftovers)

Mix and let stand for 10 minutes.  Then add:

  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2  cups spelt flour
  • 1 cup all purpose flour

Stir together.  In the same bowl you mixed it in, knead well (8-10 minutes), add all purpose flour if needed, until the dough is smooth and elastic.  Put the dough in a greased loaf pan, cover with a sheet of oiled plastic wrap and let rise to double in size.  Brush with milk or half and half, sprinkle quinoa over the top and bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes.

 

Photo by E. Broughton

Photo by E. Broughton

No messy floured boards, no extra rising time, and I’ve never had it turn out less than perfect.  I know you’re going to hold me to that.

While the bread is baking, it’s time for first fruits.  The little zucchini is just perfectly creamy so I’m making a mixed salad with vinaigrette.

Zucchini, Apple and Green Pepper Salad

Photo by E. Broughton

Photo by E. Broughton

Chop about 4 small zucchini, add 1 chopped apples, a small green pepper, chopped, and a handful of diced red onion.  The secret with red onion is to drop the diced pieces into a bowl of ice water and let it soak for about 10 minutes before you add it to the salad.  The vinaigrette is very simple:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar or honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh chopped basil (dried works too).
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Combine in a glass jar and shake well.  Pour over the salad, toss and refrigerate.

But, there more bounty to enjoy.  The turnips were great and came early even with the rain.  I planted a variety called White Lady and they are beautiful.

Creamed Turnips with Dill

Peel and cube the turnips and in a saucepan in just enough water to cover.  Simmer until the turnips are just fork tender (don’t overcook).   Drain.  Add enough vegetable stock to cover and add teaspoon chopped fresh dill and a tablespoon of butter.  Stir a tablespoon of flour into a cup of cold milk until smooth.  Add to the stock and turnips and simmer until well blended and creamy.   Yum.

Photo by E. Broughton

Photo by E. Broughton