Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Irish Soda Bread

With March just around the corner I am thinking Irish.  Today's recipe is for Irish Soda Bread.  As I was researching different recipes, I noticed several common ingredients in Irish Soda bread - flour, baking soda, salt, and buttermilk.  Some recipes add raisins, caraway seeds, both raisins and caraway seeds, and some don't add anything.   Irish Soda bread is a quick and easy bread to make.  The recipe I used was from "Saveur" Magazine.  This recipe added raisins to the Irish Soda Bread which brought a nice sweetness to the loaf.  Be sure to eat the loaf quick - it is only good for a day or two.

Irish Soda Bread
from "Saveur" Magazine

4 cups flour
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
4 tbsp. butter
1 cup raisins
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 cups buttermilk
1. Preheat oven to 425°. Sift together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda into a large mixing bowl.
2. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, work butter into flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal, then stir in raisins.

3. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add beaten egg and buttermilk to well and mix in with a wooden spoon until dough is too stiff to stir. Dust hands with a little flour, then gently knead dough in the bowl just long enough to form a rough ball. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and shape into a round loaf.

4. Transfer dough to a large, lightly greased cast-iron skillet or a baking sheet. Using a serrated knife, score top of dough about 1/2'' deep in an "X" shape. Transfer to oven and bake until bread is golden and bottom sounds hollow when tapped with a knife, about 40 minutes. Transfer bread to a rack to let cool briefly. Serve bread warm, at room temperature, or sliced and toasted.

Makes 1 loaf

Irish Soda Bread  Ready For Oven

Monday, February 27, 2012

Philly Cheesesteaks

I was looking at my March-April 2012 copy of "Cook's Illustrated" magazine and I ran across this recipe for Philly Cheesesteaks.  What a  quick and easy  Saturday night dinner, I thought:-)  You start with skirt steak, add salt, pepper, two cheeses, a sub roll, and you have a great sandwich.     The meat was seasoned to perfection and the cheese was oh so good melted and mixed in with the meat.  I like the use of white American cheese in this recipe - it melted perfectly and mixed in coating the meat evenly.   The recipe states you could top the sandwiches with chopped pickled hot pepper, sauteed onion or bell peppers, sweet relish, or hot sauce.  The sandwich was so delish by itself, I opted out of the toppings.

Philly Cheesesteaks
from "Cook's Illustrated" March-April 2012

2 pound skit steak, trimmed and sliced with  grain into 3-inch wide strips
4 (8-inch) Italian sub rolls, split lengthwise
2  tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
8 slices white American cheese (8 ounces)

1. Place steak pieces on large plate or baking sheet and freeze until very firm, about 1 hour.
2. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees.  Spread split rolls on baking sheet and toast until lightly browned, 5 to 10 minutes.
3. Using sharp knife, shave steak pieces as thinly as possible against grain.  Mound meat on cutting board and chop coarsely with knife 10 to 20 times.
4. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until smoking.  Add half of meat in even layer and cook without stirring until well browned on 1 side, 4 to 5 minutes.  Stir and continue to cook until meat is no longer pink, 1 to 2 minutes.  Transfer meat to colander set in large bowl.  Wipe out skillet with paper towel.  Repeat with remaining 1 tablespoon oil and sliced meat.
5. Return now-empty skillet to medium heat.  Drain excess moisture from meat.  Return meat to skillet (discard any liquid in bowl) and add salt and pepper.  Heat, stirring constantly, until meat is warmed through, 1 to 2 minutes.  Reduce heat to low, sprinkle with Parmesan, and single slices of American cheese over meat.  Allow cheeses to melt, about 2 minutes.  Using heatproof spatula or wooden spoon, fold melted cheese into meat thoroughly.  Divide mixture evenly among toasted rolls.  Serve immediately.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Cheese-Topped Onion Soup

If French Onion soup is on the menu, I usually order it.  It is one of my favorite soups.  So, I was excited when I  read we were going to make Cheese - Topped Onion Soup this week  for  French Friday's With Dorie.
You start with lots and lots of onions which you cook until they are a deep caramel color.  It stated in the directions you needed to be patient - it could take more than an hour or more for the onions to caramelize. Dorie wasn't kidding that you needed patience.  It seemed like it took forever for my onions to get a nice caramel color.  In the end they did, and I am glad I had the patience to see it through.  The onions were then simmered in chicken broth and white wine.  The soup was ladled into oven proof bowls, topped with toasted bread and cheese then under the broiler it went.   Out came a bowl of bubbly goodness.  This recipe can be found on pages 56-57 in "Around My French Table."

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Black Forest Waffles

Waffles are great for breakfast, lunch, brunch, even dinner.  I  like making waffles because they are easy, inexpensive, and quick.  You can add a variety of different "waffle"  ingredients and toppings for a tasty meal.
Today, I made Black Forest  Waffles.   If you are a fan of Black Forest Cake,  you are going to like these waffles.     They get their rich  chocolate flavor  from the cocoa powder and semi sweet chocolate chips.  The dried cherries add a nice sweet tart flavor to the waffles. Before serving, I  garnish the waffles with confectioner's sugar, maple syrup and whipped cream.

                                                    Black Forest Waffles

Special Equipment:  Waffle Iron

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
½ cup cocoa powder
1-teaspoon baking powder
1-teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon chili powder
3 eggs, beaten
¼ cup melted unsalted butter, cooled
1-teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
½ cup  semi sweet chocolate chips
½ cup chopped dried cherries
Confectioner’s Sugar
Maple Syrup
Whipped Cream

1. Preheat the waffle iron according to manufacturer’s directions.
2. Whisk together in a medium mixing bowl, the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and chili powder.
3. Beat together in another mixing bowl the eggs, melted butter and vanilla extract.  Add the buttermilk and beat until combined.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until combined.
5.  Fold in the chocolate chips and dried cherries.
6. Rest the batter for 5 minutes.
7. Ladle the manufacturer’s recommend amount of batter onto the center of the iron.  Close the iron top and cook until the waffle is crispy and easily removed from the iron.  Repeat with remaining batter.
8. Serve immediately with confectioner’s sugar, maple syrup, and whipped cream.

Note: You can keep the waffles warm in a 200-degree oven (F) until ready to serve.

Makes approximately 9 (7-inch) round waffles

Dry Ingredients
Wet Ingredients


Monday, February 20, 2012

Homemade Soft Pretzels

It was a rainy, dreary afternoon at home so I decided to bake something.  I saved Alton Brown's recipe for "Homemade Pretzels" about a month ago and never got around to make them.  This afternoon was perfect. You start by making a yeast dough, letting it rise, rolling it into a long rope, shaping the pretzels, and plunging them in boiling water for 30 seconds. After removing the pretzels from the boiling water,  you brush the tops with a beaten egg yolk and water.  Sprinkle with some pretzel salt and bake.  The result is a fabulous tasting pretzel.  They  have the perfect pretzel texture - not too soft, not too hard.  The family ate the pretzels plain, dipped in melted cheese, or  sliced and used them as "bread" for their sandwiches.  These pretzels go great with soup, too.
Alton Brown's recipe was well written and the pretzels were not difficult to make.  Best of all, the pretzels tasted great.

Homemade Soft Pretzels
Alton Brown Food Network, 2007

1 1/2 cups warm (110-115 degrees F) water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 package active dry yeast
22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
Vegetable oil, for pan
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Pretzel salt


1. Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top.  Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam.
2. Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined.  Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes.
3. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and them oil it well with vegetable oil.
4. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
5. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.  Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil.  Set aside.
6.  Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.
7. In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces.
8. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope.
9. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel.  Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.
10. Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1 for 30 seconds.
Boiling The Pretzel
11.  Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula.
12.  Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt.
Brushed With Egg Yolk, Water and Sprinkled With Pretzel Salt
13.  Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes.  Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Makes 8 pretzels

Finished Pretzel

Friday, February 17, 2012

Roasted Broccoli

Getting my family to eat their veggies takes some doing.  I need to be creative so I tried roasting some broccoli florets for dinner.  I was not disappointed. The broccoli  had a deep green color,  was  crisp, not mushy, and had an intense but not overpowering flavor.   The spices  used in this recipe complimented the flavor of the broccoli.

Roasted Broccoli


2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
1 (12 ounce) package fresh broccoli florets
¼ cup shredded Mexican cheese


Preheat oven to 450 degrees

1. Mix the olive oil, garlic salt, chili powder, and cumin in a small bowl.
2. Place broccoli in a large bowl.  Pour olive oil mixture over the broccoli and toss to coat well.
3. Spray a 9x13 – inch-baking pan lightly with cooking spray.  Put the broccoli in the baking pan.
4. Roast the broccoli for 20 minutes or until the broccoli is tender.
5. Remove from oven and toss the broccoli with the cheese.  Serve immediately.

Serves 4
Before Roasting

After Roasting

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Amish Friendship Bread

A few years ago, my daughter introduced me to Amish Friendship bread.  She was at orchestra practice and her friend brought her a piece.  Becky, saved me a morsel so I could try it.  From that little taste, I knew I needed to make more.  It was moist and delicious.  I felt like I was eating cake instead of bread.  I got the recipe from her mother and started making my own.

The secret ingredient in Amish Friendship bread is the starter.  Over the years, I did not keep up with my starter.  Needless to say I was so glad when I found the recipe for the starter on the web and was able to start making this great bread again.

The Website "Friendship Bread Kitchen" has grown since I started making it years ago.  You can find recipes for bread, pancakes, and cakes.   I made the Amish Friendship Bread recipe.    Instead of using raisins, I used chopped dried cherries.  Also, I only used one box of pudding mix.    This recipe makes 2 loaves.

Fresh Out Of  The Oven

Can't Wait To Eat

Slice of Goodness

Take a peek at the website and you will find all sorts of yummy recipes.
Amish Friendship Bread Recipe Box

Monday, February 13, 2012

Velvety Cream Of Tomato Soup

I am a  follower of Sarabeth's Blog, "Goddess of Bakedom."  I found this  delicious recipe for tomato soup on her blog. It  is  a rich and hearty tomato soup.   Every spoonful is just as flavorful as the first.  I like the use of dill fronds in this recipe.  They compliment the other flavors of the soup - tomato, onion, and garlic.

The recipe instructions cook the soup in a double boiler.  I did not have one big enough so I just used my enameled cast iron Dutch Oven and it worked fine. I cooked the soup on low to medium-low heat and stirred it frequently.

This soup can be a meal in itself or you can serve it as a starter.   One thing is certain, this soup is Mmmmm Good:-)

Link to Recipe:Sara Beth's Velvety Cream of Tomato Soup

Friday, February 10, 2012

Nutella Tartine

Nutella is the best invention since peanut butter at my house.  I can not go wrong with Nutella.  I told my family  this week's recipe for "French Fridays With Dorie"  had Nutella in it.  They could not wait to try it.

Nutella Tartine is easy and delicious.  The recipe used Brioche or Challah bread.  This week slipped by me and I did not have time to bake so I used a loaf of Rustic Italian bread from the store.  It worked nicely.  The flavors of marmalade,  Nutella, and Fleur de Sel are a pleasant sweet and salty taste.

This recipe, "Nutella Tartine" can be found on page 415 in "Around My French Table" by Dorie Greenspan.

Bon Appetit:-)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Puff Pancake

A puff pancake is very easy to make and so delicious.  All you  need is some butter, flour, eggs, milk, spices, and sugar.  I spice my pancake with nutmeg, cinnamon and grated lemon zest.  Serve the pancake with a dusting of confectioners sugar, pour maple syrup over it or fill it with your favorite fruit.  The choice is yours.    I usually fill mine with Roasted Blackberry Sauce or pie filling I have on hand.
Roasted Blackberry Sauce


Puff Pancake With Roasted Blackberry Sauce

Puff Pancake


2 tablespoons butter
2 eggs
½ cup milk
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
½  teaspoon grated lemon zest
Dash of Salt
Dash of nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Confectioners sugar


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

1. Place the butter in a 9-inch deep dish pie pan and put it in the oven for about 3-4 minutes or until the better is melted.  Remove the pie pan from the oven.  Set aside.
2.Beat the eggs and milk together in a medium mixing bowl.  
3.Whisk together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt,  nutmeg, and lemon zest in a mixing bowl.
4.Pour the egg mixture over the flour mixture and whisk until the mixture is smooth.
5. Pour the pancake batter into the prepared pan.
6.Bake for 18 minutes or until the pancake is a golden brown.
7. Remove the pancake from the oven.  You can dust with confectioner sugar, pour maple syrup over the pancake or fill with fruit.  Serve immediately.

Make 4 servings



Monday, February 6, 2012

Roasted Blackberry Sauce

I was in Costco the other day and they had fresh blackberries.  Blackberries are very good for you.  They are high in dietary fiber, Vitamins C and K, folic acid, manganese, and potassium.  Blackberries also rank high in antioxidant strength.

I decided to make  Roasted Blackberry Sauce with the berries.  I  especially like the flavor of the fruit when it's roasted.  Roasting concentrates the flavor.   The colors are also so deep.  I think this makes the fruit look more inviting.

Roasted Blackberry Sauce is a delicious and versatile sauce I have been making for awhile.  You can pour it over ice cream or frozen yogurt, spread it on french toast, pancakes, or waffles. You can also use it as a filling for Puff Pancakes and crepes.

 Roasted Blackberry Sauce


2 cups fresh blackberries
1-tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1-teaspoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons butter

Sauce From The Oven

1. Place the blackberries, balsamic vinegar, sugar and cornstarch in a mixing bowl.  Stir gently until combined well.
2. Let  blackberry mixture sit at room temperature for 25 minutes
3.Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
4. Place the  butter in an 8x8-baking dish and put it in the oven for about 4 minutes or until butter is melted.  Remove the pan from the oven and set aside.
5.Place berries in the prepared baking dish and roast in the oven for 25 minutes.
6. Remove from the oven and let the sauce cool.
7. Refrigerate if you are not going to use the sauce right away.
8.  Sauce is best when served warm.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Gorgonzola-Apple Quiche

This week for "French Fridays With Dorie" we made quiche.  Not just any quiche, but Gorgonzola Apple Quiche.  Surprisingly, the Gorgonzola and the  apples were a tasty combination.  This is a great dish for a luncheon or a light dinner.

The crust used in this recipe was also from "Around My French Table" pages 498-499.   My crust got a little too brown.  The next time, I will need to wrap some foil over it.

The recipe for the quiche can be found on page 157.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Cheesy Jalapeno Pull Bread

I was browsing my reading list  last night and I found the most delicious looking bread.   As I was reading over the instructions for making Cheesy Jalapeno Pull Bread, I could not believe something so delicious looking could be so easy.   I could not wait to try this recipe.  So today, I went to the store and bought the ingredients and began my adventure in making this bread.  You start with a loaf of bread,

cut it in a crosshatch pattern, fill it with  the cheese mixture, wrap in foil, and bake.  It is that easy.

I served it with  dinner tonight, and all six of us agreed it was fantastic.   My kids were asking me to make it for their study groups, planning meetings for graduation, Superbowl parties, etc.     My only advice would be - make two loaves it goes fast.

Just click on the link below for the recipe from Simply Recipes.
Cheesy JalapeƱo Pull Bread

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Green Chili Dip

I like things that are easy, quick, and great tasting.  This dip fits the bill.  You just need some sour cream, spices, and of course green chili.   You mix everything together and you have a great tasting dip.  I not only use this as a dip for chips, but also for baked potatoes and as a substitute for sour cream when making Beef Stroganoff.

                                           Green Chili Dip

1- (16 ounce) container sour cream
2 (4 ounce) cans diced green chili
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1-teaspoon ground cumin
1-teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground white pepper
½ teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1 tablespoon shredded Mexican cheese

1. Mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl
2. Put the dip in an airtight container and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving
3.  Garnish dip with shredded Mexican cheese and serve with chips.

Makes approximately 2 ½ cups of dip