My birthday month.
I never made Irish Soda Bread until this recent St. Patrick’s Day. Susan has been asking me to make it for years. “My mother always made it,” she said. “Would you make it for me?”
I did. It was delicious.
I used a recipe from Julee Rosso’s cookbook, Great Good Food. Rosso is the co-author of the Silver Palate cookbooks and The New Basics Cookbook, which I believe total over 5 million copies in print.
She writes: “Grandma Clark taught me how she made this in the Old Country for special occasions. I know she’d like the taste of this one, even without the amount of butter she used.”
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1-½ teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ cup sugar (Next time I might cut back on the sugar; 1/2 cup perhaps.)
- Juice of two oranges (I also added the zest of the oranges.)
- 1-½ cups golden raisins
- 1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped (Rosso called for 1/4 cup applesauce; I didn’t have it.)
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1-¾ cups buttermilk
- 2 egg whites
- 1 egg, well beaten
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Lightly spray or wipe a 12 to 14 inch cast-iron skillet with vegetable oil (I used a bit of butter.) Line the buttered skillet with a circle of waxed paper. Melt 2 more tablespoons of butter and set aside.
In a small saucepan over low heat, place the raisins and orange juice and chopped apple. Macerate until the raisins are plump. About 5 minutes. Drain.
Sift dry ingredients together. Add raisins, apples, zest to dry ingredients and toss well to coat.
Whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, oil. Add to the dry ingredients and mix until just blended.
Spoon batter into the prepared skillet and smooth top. Drizzle the melted butter over the dough.
Bake until golden brown and puffed, about 1 hour. (Mine was done after 55 minutes.) Either serve warm directly from skillet, or let cool completely on a rack, and then wrap carefully and refrigerate overnight.
I served this with, what else, corned beef and cabbage!
Somebody has said that if ever a good Louisianian died, went to heaven and found no gumbo there, he’d come straight back!
I’m not from Louisiana. I am still standing. And I made gumbo a few months ago. Fat Tuesday called for Jambalaya. Homemade Hot Sausage and Shrimp Jambalaya.
I based my recipe on this:
Susan made a Maraschino Walnut Cake. So delicious!
A recipe from the following book. If you can find it, buy it. It’s a classic.
Imagine there's no heaven It's easy if you try No hell below us Above us, only sky Imagine all the people Livin' for today Ah Imagine there's no countries It isn't hard to do Nothing to kill or die for And no religion, too Imagine all the people Livin' life in peace You You may say I'm a dreamer But I'm not the only one I hope someday you'll join us And the world will be as one Imagine no possessions I wonder if you can No need for greed or hunger A brotherhood of man Imagine all the people Sharing all the world You You may say I'm a dreamer But I'm not the only one I hope someday you'll join us And the world will live as one ~John Lennon
Some images from the past week. Click on image to enlarge.
Amaryllis sunrise in our sitting room. Freddy. Cheese Tortellini Soup with Kale and Kielbasa. Mushroom Apple Pizza with Pumpkin Squash Sauce. Me. My desk. Elephants, one a gift from Julia. Moroccan Orange Cake. Pasta with Tuna, Capers, and Green Olives. Sunrise in Living Room.
Every Christmas our son and his girlfriend return to Western Massachusetts from Denver to visit family and to celebrate the holiday.
Susan and I always prepare a special dinner for the two. One year we made their favorite; Chicken Piccata. Another year Pasta Putanesca. And once, Piccadillo.
Days later Susan and I had the leftovers for lunch.
Here is recipe upon which I based my Gumbo. Note: I baked two chicken breasts and once cooled cut them into bit-size pieces. I cooked bacon first, set it aside, and used the fat instead of oil to make the roux. I also used local Polish Kielbasa. And I added a can of chopped tomatoes to the dish. I didn’t have a green pepper so I used two seeded and chopped jalapeno peppers.
I believe in using the good china. The good crystal. Drinking the champagne.
This appetizer is so delicious, and easy to prepare, it cries out to be served on a holiday: Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Valentine’s Day. But for me, every day is a holiday. So get out your good china. Your good crystal. Abd uncork that bottle of champagne!
Here’s the recipe with my changes noted:
Reading from The New York Times:
“This was the first recipe that the chef and writer Gabrielle Hamilton brought to The Times as an Eat columnist for the Sunday magazine in 2016, a snack-tray-sandwich version of a celery-and-fennel salad served at her restaurant, Prune, in the East Village. It calls for thick, white toasted Pullman bread spread wall to wall with unsalted butter, with slices of blue cheese neatly laid on top, below a mound of shaved celery and thinly sliced scallions dressed in garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and salt, and the whole shebang dusted in ground black pepper before being cut in halves or quarters. ‘The ingredients come from the grocery store,” she wrote in her column. “These toasts are not expensive or intimidating, but they are outstanding.'”
- 2 slices country white Pullman bread, 1/2-inch thick (I used Italian bread.)
- Sweet butter
- 4 ounces Cambozola triple-cream blue cheese, sliced, divided evenly between two toasts (I used Blue Cheese from Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company. So delicious!)
- 1 cup shaved celery, from the inner head, toughest outer stalks removed, thinly sliced on the bias (I also used many leaves.)
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced on bias all the way up from the white through the green
- 1 large clove garlic (I did not use any garlic.)
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Lemon juice
- Kosher salt
- Several grinds black pepper
- Toast the bread to golden. Butter generously, “wall to wall.” Lay cheese slices on top of buttered toast, neatly, evenly. (I toasted the bread in the oven.)
- In a small bowl, stir together the celery and the scallions. Microplane the garlic into the celery mixture.
- Dress with olive oil, lemon juice and salt, and stir very well, until completely dressed, almost wet with dressing.
- Mound the shaved celery salad evenly on top of the blue-cheese toasts, and grind black pepper over them very generously. Cut each in half or quarters. (I put the toasts back in the warm oven to slightly melt the cheese.)
I served this with lentil ham soup.
A few days later I made celery toasts again. This time I added a few chopped blue cheese stuffed green olives.
These served with roast chicken.