Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Soda Bread - Not Just for St. Patrick's Day!

Because I'm on a bread-making kick, I decided to try making soda bread this past weekend.

I found a lovely recipe, courtesy of a back-issue of Bon Appetit magazine online.

It was fairly easy to assemble, I had almost all of the ingredients in the house already, and the only change I made was to add a generous handful of golden raisins (because I hate caraway seeds) ... which was unnecessary.

Now, if you like your soda bread sweet and more like a scone than like sandwich bread, this recipe isn't for you.

However, if you simply want an excuse to eat lots of Irish butter on toasted brown bread, this is a good option.

I simply want an excuse to eat lots of Irish butter on toasted brown bread, so this recipe was perfect. Just don't add raisins; they don't enhance it.

However, I'm still in the market for a sweeter, more scone-like recipe, where raisins would be more welcome. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Yeast, Dough, and Homemade Bread

I could probably make this a series, because there's a lot to be said about that staple of civilization, bread.

Among my early, very happy, childhood memories are ones spent with my mother in our dim, 1940s-relic kitchen, baking or sewing. One of my favorite times to spend with my mother was bread day, even if I couldn't stand the bread she made (it included orange zest, to which I don't object in certain applications, buuuut ... not in bread) I'd wash my hands, grab one of Mom's aprons, and we'd both knead the dough on the breadboard.

The smells of yeast blooming, dough proofing, and bread baking are so comforting!

These days, it would appear that the "in" thing to do among certain types of food people (and some kinds of diet-overhaul people) is to bake one's own bread. So there are an abundance of no-knead bread recipes in cookbooks and online.

I tried one of these the other day, because I wanted bakery rolls to go with reheated meatballs and sauce, though I departed from my normal "follow the recipe exactly the first time" procedure to try and incorporate white whole wheat flour into the mix for a bit of extra fiber and nutrition.

While the dough turned out fairly well, the resultant rolls and boule loaf were a bit more dense than either my husband or I wanted, and the kid wouldn't touch it.

I'll re-make it at some point, but I'll happily follow the recipe exactly for a lighter texture.

If I'm going to work with the whole wheat flour again, I'll simply have to look into a kneaded dough recipe.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Spring Has (Finally!) Sprung

This past Sunday was designated by the folks who decide such things as "National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day."

So, of course, it made perfect sense to serve grilled cheese.

But what kind of sides should we pair with it?

It was a lovely, warm day and I thought that something with acidity would be a great foil for the richness of the buttery, cheesy goodness that is a grilled cheese sandwich.

Naturally, my thoughts turned to tabbouleh. (Don't yours?)

Now, making this decision at 3pm and having the intention to serve dinner by 6pm doesn't allow for the use of bulgur, which needs to be soaked prior to use, so I opted for quick-cook couscous.

I also omitted the tomatoes that usually add color to an otherwise Very Green dish in favor of cucumbers, because they pair well with mint.

Parsley (1 generous bunch, finely chopped), mint (1 sprig, leaves only, finely chopped), couscous, the juice of 1 good-sized lemon, two diced Persian cucumbers (they look like seedless pickling cucumbers) and 1/4 cup of olive oil later and I had a nice couscous salad resembling tabbouleh.

And, yes, it paired very nicely with grilled cheese.