(The Best) Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread

For something so simple as Irish Soda Bread, there certainly are a lot of recipes out there for making it.   Luckily for me, I have a recipe for the best ISB I’ve ever tasted and so it’s the one I keep returning to time after time.

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Generally speaking, Irish Soda Bread recipes seem to fall into two categories; those with raisins and those without.  Most all of them call for caraway seeds.  Since I am not fond of caraway seeds, I always leave them out, but we love the bread with raisins.  They add just a touch of sweetness.

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This recipe was submitted by a church member when we were putting together a recipe book of favorite recipes by women of our church.  It contains raisins and NO caraway seeds.  Besides the usual baking soda and buttermilk combination, this version has three eggs in it also, so it raises up nice and tall.  It will fill a 9-inch round pan to the top, with a nice high crown.  The eggs also make the texture of this bread more cake-like.

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When I have this bread around I want to keep having a piece, with coffee, with tea, with just about anything.  I especially like it in the morning with some fruit for breakfast.   Making this bread only once a year for St. Patrick’s Day is way too long to wait to enjoy this wonderful bread.  Once you taste it you will want to make it much more frequently than that.  I promise you’ll be craving it all year ’round.

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Butter spread on warm bread makes it just a little better!!

 

BEST EVER IRISH SODA BREAD

Yield:  1  9-inch round loaf, approximately 12 servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour (I used white whole-wheat flour)IMG_9406
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, chilled
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, chilled
  • 1 1/2 cups raisins

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350*F.  Grease a 9-inch round cake pan.

2.  Whisk together all the dry ingredients, flour through sugar.

3.  Using a pastry cutter, cut in the butter until well combined.

4.  In another bowl, whisk the eggs, then add the buttermilk and combine well.

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Lightly beat into the flour mixture.  Stir in the raisins.

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Place dough into the prepared pan.

5.  Bake in 350* oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the bread has risen and the top is golden brown.  A knife inserted into the center of the bread should come out clean.

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Cool the bread in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes before removing.  Serve warm.

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SOURCE:  Feeding the Flock

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Candied Orange and Golden Raisin Scones

Candied Orange and Golden Raisin Scones

Candied Orange and Golden Raisin Scones

As I’m sure you know by now I really love scones. I’ve never eaten a scone I didn’t like, but if they include dried fruits or ginger that scone and I will be friends for life. So this particular recipe had me at “candied orange” and when you add golden raisins and then soak all that in orange liqueur overnight before baking, then let me tell you these are the best scones imaginable.

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They become crisp and golden with a light, flaky interior. The fruit offers a slightly chewy contrast. Orange zest and Grand Marnier, or any orange flavor liqueur, flavor the scones. Slather them with butter and enjoy with a cup of coffee or tea for breakfast. But really they could be dessert. The other aspect of this recipe that got me was the total yield is around 15 or 16 scones. So you can bake once, and freeze half of them to enjoy at a later date. These scones keep for 2-3 days in an air-tight container at room temperature.

Flaky and tender inside.

Flaky and tender inside.

CANDIED ORANGE AND GOLDEN RAISIN SCONES

Yield: about 16 2-inch round scones

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup diced candied orange peel
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zestIMG_6578
  • 1/4 cup Grand Marnier or other orange-flavored liqueur
  • 2 cups cake flour (not self-rising), sifted
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • coarse salt
  • 1 cup cold heavy cream
  • 1 large whole egg plus 1 large egg, separated
  • fine sanding sugar, for sprinkling

Directions:

1. Stir together candied orange peel, raisins, orange zest and liqueur in a small bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 day.

2. Preheat oven to 350*F. Whisk flours together in a large bowl. Transfer half to a processor and add butter. Pulse to cut in butter (the largest pieces should be the size of small peas.) Add granulated sugar, baking powder, and 1 teaspoon salt to remaining flour in bowl; whisk to combine. With pastry blender or your fingertips, work in the flour-butter mixture until mixture resembles coarse meal.

3. Whisk together cream, whole egg, and egg yolk. Make a well in the center of flour mixture, and pour in half of cream mixture. Draw dry ingredients over wet ingredients with a rubber spatula, scraping bottom of bowl to incorporate all dry crumbs. Add remaining cream mixture, and gently mix just until incorporated–do not overwork dough.

4. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured work surface, and press dough into a 6-by-9-inch rectangle. Sprinkle dried fruit mixture evenly over dough. With a short side facing you, fold rectangle into thirds, as you would a letter. Rotate dough a quarter-turn clockwise. Roll out dough to a 6-by-9-inch rectangle, folding and rotating once more.

5. Pat dough into a 1 1/4-inch-thick rectangle with floured hands, and cut out as many rounds as possible with a floured 2-inch round biscuit cutter. Gather scraps, reroll once, and cut out more rounds ( you should have a total of 16).

Note: In order to avoid rerolling scraps and cutting twice, I rolled my dough out to approximately 6-inch-by-10-inch rectangle, then with a sharp knife cut out 2″ squares, getting a total of 15.

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6. Place scones 2 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Lightly beat egg white and brush tops; sprinkle with sanding sugar. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Let cool on sheets. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Fresh from the oven and smelling delicious.

Fresh from the oven and smelling delicious.

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SOURCE: Martha Stewart Living

Broccoli Salad

Broccoli Salad

Broccoli Salad

This is one of my favorite salads to bring to a pot-luck meal.  I always come home with an empty bowl, and get lots of requests for the recipe.  I have been making this salad for a long time and don’t remember where I learned to make it. These days I pretty much make it from memory.  It’s that easy.

Basically it consists of raw broccoli and sliced celery combined with green grapes, and golden raisins.  I also like to add some salted sunflower seeds for additional texture.  The dressing is made up of mayonnaise and yogurt, or sour cream, with some sugar added and white vinegar.  As you can imagine there’s lots of “crunch” to it provided by the broccoli and celery, and that is off-set by the sweetness and juiciness of grapes and raisins.

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Everyone seems to love it, even children.  Probably because of the sweetness.  So for anyone needing a way to introduce more vegetables into their diet, this salad, I believe, is a good place to start.

In my experience I find that the flavors blend better if you make the salad and refrigerate it at least an hour before you want to serve it.  It keeps well for a few days in the refrigerator if you should happen to have any left over. The amount of the individual ingredients is flexible, so  you can put in as much  of any ingredient as suits your taste.

BROCCOLI SALAD

Yield:   Servings:  8

All the ingredients you need.

All the ingredients you need.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups small broccoli florets
  • 1  1/2 cups seedless green grapes, halved
  • 1 cup sliced celery
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup salted sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt (or sour cream)
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon white vinegar

Directions:

1.  Combine the first 5 ingredients  in a large bowl.

2.  Combine mayonnaise, and remaining ingredients, stirring with a whisk.  Pour dressing over broccoli mixture, and toss well.  Chill for at least an hour before serving.

Mixing up the dressing.

Mixing up the dressing.

Toss salad and dressing and chill for at least an hour.

Toss salad and dressing and chill for at least an hour.

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P.S.  If I’m really feeling “devil-ish”,  I cook up 3 – 4 slices of bacon, and crumble it into the salad as well.    Oh, Yeah!!

Rum Raisin Cranberry Muffins

You know something?  I’m not happy  when certain behaviors (on my part) become expectations.  You do something say, twice, and suddenly it becomes your job and other people now expect it from you.  Does this happen to you?  What I do to try to prevent this is to change things up frequently.  For instance just the other morning Mr. D. asked me “got any scones?”  Now, why would he expect me to have scones available—because in the past few weeks I made two or three different kinds of scones, and now he wants them all the time.  See what I mean?   BUT this week, there are no scones!   No, we are taking a break for a while, because I am off in a new direction.  This week it’s muffins.

Rum Raisin Cranberry Muffin

Rum Raisin Cranberry Muffin

Muffins are the replacement for scones.  Not just any muffins.  Ones in which the raisins and cranberries have been soaked in rum for a while before adding to the batter.  And there’s orange peel and spices in there, too.  After one of these with your morning coffee, you’ll be whistling a new tune as you leave for work.   ” Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it’s off to work I go.”  or “whistle a happy tune, whenever you’re feelin blue”, or, “whistle while you work, Tra-la-la-la-la-la.”   OH, my,  I think I’m getting into my happy Christmas Spirit a little early here.  But seriously, these muffins are way good, and  healthy too, so its OK to have one and not have feelings of guilt..

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When I decided to make these I did not have a recipe, just an idea of what I wanted to create.  So I turned to my King Arthur Baking Sheet for a basic cranberry  muffin recipe and then did some major modifications to come up with this combination of flavors. Heating the rum mixture causes the alcohol content to evaporate, leaving behind a faint rum flavor, but also plumps up the raisins and cranberries.  However, if you would prefer not to use rum, you may substitute either apple cider or apple juice, or even orange juice.

RUM RAISIN CRANBERRY MUFFINS

YIELD:   1 dozen muffins

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup dark rum
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1  1/2 cups regular or white 100% whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk powder or non-fat dry milk powder
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts, optional
  • 1 Tablespoon finely grated orange zest (orange peel)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil or melted butter

1.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Grease the wells of a muffin pan, or line with papers.

2.  Combine the rum, raisins and cranberries in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium-low heat.  Remove from heat.  Cover and let cool for 10 minutes or so while you continue with the recipe.

3.  In a large bowl whisk together the dry ingredients.  In another bowl whisk together the  eggs, orange zest, milk, and oil or melted butter.

4.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring just until barely blended, add in the cranberry/raisin mixture with their juice, and continue to blend them into the batter without over mixing.   Fill the muffin cups about 3/4 full.   Divide all the batter evenly among the cups–they will be almost full.

5.  Bake for 18 – 20 minutes until they’re golden brown, and test done with a toothpick.  Remove from the oven, leave in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire cooling rack to finish cooling.

Rum Raisin Muffins after baking

Rum Raisin Muffins after baking

GLAZE     Not necessary, but it really puts the finishing touch on these muffins. (It’s the frosting on the cake! )

  • 2 Tablespoons orange juice, apple juice or apple cider
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

In a small saucepan (or use the microwave), stir together the glaze ingredients.  Bring just to a boil to dissolve the sugar.  Dip the tops of the warm muffins into the glaze.  As it cools is becomes a sweet, crunchy little cap on the muffins.   Cute!

Muffins with Glaze

Muffins with Glaze

So good with coffee!

So good with coffee!

SOURCE:  based on a recipe from King Arthur Flour

Grab ‘N Go: Granola and Yogurt

Over the course of the last few years I’ve been moving away from buying ready made foods like cereals, soups, sauces, etc. and making more and more of these items myself.  My reasons are  threefold;  environmental:  less packaging to dispose of;  health:  I can eliminate all those unpronounceable ingredients, and have better control over what we are eating; and emotional:  I feel really good knowing I can make it as good or better than what’s in a package.  Granola is one of those packaged items that I have ceased buying and now make at home.

Granola is very versatile.  It can be added to foods, as in a crumbly topping on a fruit cobbler, put on foods to add crunch, like over fruits, or ice-cream, or eaten out-of-hand as a snack.  So with that said, I have been making homemade granola and  spreading it around  rather liberally.  My lunches consist, for the most part, of fruit smoothies, or yogurt with granola on top; and for my husband, I send him off to work with a nutritious salad for lunch, and a bag of granola for a mid-afternoon snack.  Each time I make it I vary the fruits and nuts I put in it, so it does not become boring.

For anyone who needs a quick “grab and go” breakfast, or who brings lunch to work, yogurt and granola is a delicious, good-for-you duo.  I like Greek style yogurt because it’s thicker than regular styles, and because it packs almost twice the protein, so you’re not as likely to get the mid-morning munchies.  You can also stretch your budget by purchasing the large size yogurt and putting it into smaller 8 0z. containers.  Likewise package your granola in baggies, so when you’re ready to leave the house, just grab one of each and  you will be on your way with a breakfast or lunch that is economical, delicious, and good for you.

Trail Mix Granola

Makes about 5 cups

  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats


    Have all your ingredients ready before starting to assemble.

  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups add-ins, like dried cranberries, cherries, apricots, figs, raisins; coconut, nuts such as almonds, pistachios, walnuts.

1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

2.  Whisk together oil, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and salt in a glass measuring cup.  Heat briefly in microwave ( 1 minute at 50% power) to blend  and melt any sugar lumps.  Stir well,  then pour over oats in a  large bowl and toss to coat.

3.  Spread mixture on prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown, stirring every 5 minutes.

4.   Let cool slightly, then transfer back into large bowl and stir in add-ins.  Let cool completely before packaging, or store in air-tight container for up to 2 weeks.

SOURCE:  Quick Vegetarian Pleasures