Cooking, Traditions

Irish Soda Bread with Whiskey Butter in Honor of St. Patrick’s Day

Irish Soda Bread with Whiskey Butter      www.morewinelesswhines.com

Irish Soda Bread with Whiskey Butter

Growing up, we had a little book of Irish toasts and poems sitting in our living room.  My maternal grandmother, seeing that the strength of the Irish was growing too strong, came over one day very briefly and went into the living room.  When she left, we found an Italian book sitting next to the Irish one so her grandchildren wouldn’t forget their mother’s roots.  It is with great irony and a big smile that I remember one of the Irish poems, which I read so many times that I have now have memorized it:

Soaking raisins in Whiskey for Irish Soda Bread    www.morewinelesswhines.com

Soaking raisins in Whiskey for Irish Soda Bread

St. Patrick was a gentleman
Who through strategy and stealth
Drove all the snakes from Ireland
Here’s a toasting to his health
But not too many toastings
Lest you lose yourself
And forget good St. Patrick
and see all those snakes again.

Assembling Ingredients for Irish Soda Bread    www.morewinelesswhines.com

Assembling Ingredients for Irish Soda Bread

Every year, my mother & father would host a party for St. Patrick’s Day to celebrate my father’s ancestors (and because it was a really good excuse to have a party). The party was complete with brisket, potatoes, cabbage and Irish Soda bread + spirits and beer galore. Over the years, I have tried making many different Irish Soda bread recipes because I can’t stand the imposter store-bought kind. This recipe hails from Rose Mary Beranbaum’s The Bread Bible and is the best recipe I have found so far. I hope your family likes it as much as mine!

Incorporating the butter into flour for Irish Soda Bread       www.morewinelesswhines.com

Incorporating the butter into flour for Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread dough after mixing flour and butter with fingertips      www.morewinelesswhines.com

Irish Soda Bread dough after mixing flour and butter with fingertips

Oh, and if you’re not a beer drinker, make sure you try a Whiskey, Ginger Ale and Lime this St. Patrick’s Day.  It will clear out your sinuses.

Irish Soda Bread

Original recipe from The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum

1 cup raisins
1/2 c Irish whiskey (i.e. Jameson)
4 T unsalted Kerrygold butter (or regular), cold
2 c unbleached all-purpose flour
3 T sugar
2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 c + 1 T buttermilk

1 T Demerara sugar (Optional)

1. Soak the raisins in the whiskey for 30 minutes. Drain, reserving the whiskey for the whiskey butter.
2. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
3. Cut butter into 8 slices. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Using your fingertips, incorporate the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the raisins with a silicone spatula/wooden spoon. Slowly, stir in the buttermilk until just incorporated. Be careful and don’t over mix. Empty dough out onto counter and knead, roughly 8 times, using a bench scraper to bring it together. Try not to use flour unless you have to. (Yes, your hands will be covered in the sticky dough. Big deal).
4. Shape dough into a round loaf, roughly 6″ diameter. Spray a sharp knife with cooking spray and make a 1/2″ slash from one side of dough to another, then a second to form a cross.  Optional:sprinkle with demerara sugar
5. Bake 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown and toothpick comes out clean.
6. Cool bread on a wire rack. Optional:Wrap in a clean cotton/linnen dish towel and cool on wire wrack

Irish Soda Bread Dough    www.morewinelesswhines.com

Irish Soda Bread Dough

Irish Soda Bread Dough before Baking     www.morewinelesswhines.com

Irish Soda Bread Dough before Baking

Ingredients for Irish Whiskey Butter    www.morewinelesswhines.com

Ingredients for Irish Whiskey Butter

Irish Whiskey Butter    www.morewinelesswhines.com

Irish Whiskey Butter

Irish Whiskey Butter
3 T reserved Irish whiskey from raisins
1 T Demerara or regular sugar
9 T unsalted Kerrygold butter, softened

Stir together whiskey and sugar in a microwavable bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave 20 seconds. Stir to dissolve most of the sugar. (It’s ok if the sugar does not completely dissolve.) Cover and allow to cool. Stir the softened butter until smooth. Then, slowly stir the whiskey into the butter until incorporated. Refrigerate if not using immediately.

Enjoy!

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Cooking

Roasted BLT Salad

Roasted BLT Salad   www.morewinelesswhines.com

Roasted BLT Salad

This is another recipe I found in my “paper” archives.  It hails from the January 2013 issue of Better Homes & Gardens.  I have made this meal several times the past two summers.  It is a great way to use up some extra cherry tomatoes, which are abundant in my garden right now.  It is also a great dish to make when it is not summer.  Why?  You can do everything in the oven!  You don’t need fancy or delicate lettuce – just a sturdy romaine!  You don’t need garden fresh tomatoes, as roasting intensifies and sweetens their flavor.  I just happen to have a lot of tomatoes I am trying to use up from my garden.

I hope you enjoy this meal!

Roasted Weeknight BLT Salad        www.morewinelesswhines.com

Roasted Weeknight BLT Salad

Roasted Weeknight BLT Salad

6 slices cooked center cut bacon, broken into pieces (I used Applewood Smoked Bacon)
1 c. cherry tomatoes
2 T. fresh oregano
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 baguette, cut into 1″ cubes
1 head romaine lettuce, quartered lengthwise
sea salt, garlic salt & freshly ground black pepper
olive oil

1/4 c. romano cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 400 F. Spray a large baking pan with cooking spray. Toss cherry tomatoes with garlic, 1 T olive oil, oregano, some sea salt & pepper. Spread onto pan. Roast 20 minutes. Transfer tomatoes and juices to a medium bowl.

Toss bread cubes with a 2 T. olive oil, sea salt, garlic salt & pepper. Spread on pan. Bake 5-8 minutes. Drizzle romaine with a little olive oil, move bread to edges of pan and place romaine in middle of pan. Roast 3-5 minutes.

Toss bread with tomatoes and let sit for a little bit to absorb juices.

To serve:
Place 2 “quarters” of Romaine on each plate. Spoon bread and tomatoes over romaine. Top with bacon. Drizzle with a little olive oil (optional) and sprinkle with Romano cheese.

Enjoy!

Roasted Weeknight BLT Salad      www.morewinelesswhines.com

Roasted Weeknight BLT Salad

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Cooking, Traditions

Flashback 2008: Grandma’s Holiday (Dressing) Stuffing

A plate with Grandma's Holiday (Dressing) Stuffing

A plate with Grandma’s Holiday (Dressing) Stuffing

The year was 2008.  For the first time, my grandmother let one of her 5 children host a holiday.  This meant Christmas Eve with my dad’s side of the family was being held at our house.  There were certain traditions we couldn’t let go of – including making copious amounts of my Grandma’s Holiday Stuffing.  Still, change permeated the air.  The fine china was replaced by paper plates, the mismatched silverware replaced by plastic look-alikes and the cousins brought the wine.

Butter, Celery and Onion

Butter, Celery and Onion

Growing up, the holidays were not complete without Grandma’s Stuffing, which she called ‘dressing.’  Every year I remember sitting at the “big kids table” and impatiently eyeing everyone take a big spoonful of stuffing while patiently waiting my turn…  We never had enough of this stuffing for my 10 aunts and uncles, 25+ cousins and all of their spouses, children, significant others and everyone else my Grandmother welcomed into her home.

Adding parsley to the stuffing

Adding parsley to the stuffing

Flash forward to 2013.  I am married and spent Thanksgiving with my husband’s family.  They have a passion for cooking that cannot be rivaled.  Still, for the past 2 holidays we have spent together, I have held tight to this recipe.  It has been updated with a little less butter and the addition of chicken stock.  I usually double or triple this recipe for the holidays.  As a side serving, it will serve 6 big or 9 small people.

Grandma's Holiday (Dressing) Stuffing

Grandma’s Holiday (Dressing) Stuffing

Grandma’s Holiday (Dressing) Stuffing

12-13 cups  Italian bread, cut into 1″ x 1″ pieces, left out overnight*
1 pkg. Jimmy Dean’s sausage
1 stick unsalted butter
3/4 c. onion, finely diced
1 1/2 c. celery, finely diced
2 T. assorted herbs –  dried Poultry Seasoning plus fresh thyme leaves and sage – if available
1/2 c. fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/2 c. finely chopped walnuts
4 c+ chicken broth
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
gravy (optional)

1.  Preheat oven to 350F (or whatever temperature the turkey is cooking at).

2.  Place day-old, cubed bread in a huge bowl or stockpot.

3.  Brown sausage in a large skillet over medium-high flame until cooked through, breaking up into tiny bits with a spatula.  Pour over and mix with bread.

4.  In the same skillet, melt a stick of unsalted butter.  Add onion and celery and sauté until celery is soft and onions are translucent, but not brown.  Pour over and mix with bread.

5.  Add walnuts to skillet to toast slightly, 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Pour over and mix with bread.

6.   Stir poultry seasoning, fresh herbs and parsley into the bread mix.  Add chicken broth, 1/2 cup as a time, as needed to moisten the stuffing.  Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.  (Optional: Melt some additional butter and pour over the stuffing mix to add flavor and moisten).

7.  Before placing stuffing in the oven, ladle gravy or more chicken broth over stuffing to keep it moist (but not soaked) during cooking.

8.  Bake, covered, for 30 minutes.  Uncover and bake an additional 10-15 minutes, if you like having some crispy bits on top.

9.  Serve to family, friends and loved ones.  Tell everyone it is fat free.

* Note:  If you are traveling or running short on time, you can buy thinly sliced strips of bread from a local bakery or grocery store instead of cutting your own the night before.

Stirring the (Dressing) Stuffing

Stirring the (Dressing) Stuffing

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