Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Irish Soda Bread - Baking with Julia

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According to the Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread, using soda or soda ash to leaven bread was used first by the American Indians. The Irish came to be known for soda bread quite simply because they continued to use soft wheat flour that the Brits stop using sometimes around the turn of the 20th century in favor of hard wheat flour. Hard wheat flour requires yeast to raise dough, whereas soft wheat flour  is best for quick breads, those leavened with baking soda or baking powder.  Many of the Irish were poor, but nearly every household had these simple ingredients-flour, baking soda, salt and soured milk. Today, we use buttermilk as it's easier to use and is readily available.

It is a fact that Irish soda bread is a poor keeper and must be eaten within a few hours or it turns into an  equivalent of the Irish Stonehenge. It's nearly impossible for us to eat an entire loaf of bread without help, so I chose to add yeast to my soda bread. I have made the bread a few times without the yeast and was not happy with the results and while caraway seed and golden raisins are not traditional, those too were added.

Thanks to Cathy of My Culinary Mission and Carla of Chocolate Moosey, hosts for this edition of Tuesdays with Dorie-Baking with Julia. You can find the original recipe from the book, Baking with Julia on their blogs.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Rocky Road Fudge-Secret Recipe Club

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Reveal Day is here! As a member of the the Secret Recipe Club, I am bound to secrecy regarding the blog I've been assigned to choose a recipe from until a date selected by the club for my group.  For nearly a month, I've been perusing every recipe from Secrets from the Cookie Princess trying to decide among all the delicious cookies, cupcakes and candies. Colleen has been blogging about baking her goodies since 2010 after receiving rave reviews about her baking expertise from family and friends who looked forward to her sweet gifts at holidays and special occasions. I kept returning to her Perfect Fudge, a family recipe well-received by all who believe it more complicated than it actually is. Three simple ingredients-chocolate melts or chips, sweetened condensed milk and marshmallow creme! Although her fudge looked wonderful and I really didn't need to change anything,  I used miniature marshmallows and added toasted walnuts to mine to make a Rocky Road fudge. I was visiting my family for the weekend, so this fudge traveled well and was a big hit!

Perfect Rocky Road Fudge

2 cups milk chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips
1-14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups miniature marshmallows
1-1/2 cups chopped walnuts, toasted

Line a 9x13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil. Lightly butter the foil. In a microwave proof bowl, combine chocolate chips and condensed milk. Microwave on high for 1 minute, stir. If needed, microwave 15 seconds more to melt chocolate. Remove from microwave, add vanilla. Fold in miniature marshmallows and toasted walnuts. Spread in prepared pan and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Lift from pan, remove foil and cut into pieces. Makes about 4 dozen. 

Colleen's Perfect Fudge

2 pounds good quality chocolate candy melts
1-14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
7-1/2 ounces marshmallow creme

In a microwave proof bowl, add chocolate candy melts. Microwave at 40% for 2-1/2 minutes, stir. Microwave a second time at 40% power for  1-1/2 minutes. Stir again. Microwave a third time at 30%, if needed. Add condensed milk to the melted chocolate, stirring constantly until smooth.  You may need a sturdy spoon for this task. Gradually add marshmallow creme until mixture is smooth and no streaks of marshmallow creme remain.

Turn fudge out into a silicone pan or disposable aluminum pan. Smooth out and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight. Remove fudge from pan and cut into pieces.

iPhone Photo

Please do not use images or text without my permission. 

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Mushroom and Mozzarella Toasts with Oregano Oil

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A quick, but elegant dish for a weeknight meal for two or a Saturday lunch-sauteed mushrooms scattered over a layer of fresh mozzarella on a thick slice of hot grilled bread. This little bit of comfort food is then drizzled with an oregano oil and a splash of fresh lemon juice. Sprinkle with sea salt, freshly ground pepper and serve with glass of crisp white wine-delightful! Leftover oregano oil can be combined with more lemon juice, garlic, and a dollop of coarse brown mustard to make a lovely vinaigrette for a salad, roasted potatoes or chicken.

Mushroom and Mozzarella Toasts with Oregano Oil
Serves 2

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 medium size portobello mushrooms, trimmed
2 baby bella mushrooms, trimmed and halved
2 white mushrooms,trimmed and halved
2 or 3 small shitake mushrooms, trimmed
2 thick slices of sourdough or country white bread, grilled
4-1/2 ounces buffalo mozzarella, sliced
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Oregano Oil
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves, washed and patted dry

First make the oregano oil-place oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium high heat. When oil is hot, turn off heat and scatter the oregano leaves over the oil. Fry for about 20 seconds. Set aside to cool.

To sauté the mushrooms, heat the two tablespoons oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add the portobello mushrooms, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook for 3 minutes, then turn and add the remaining mushrooms and cook 3-4 minutes more or until golden. Top the grilled bread with the slices of mozzarella and mushrooms. Drizzle the oregano oil over and add the splash of lemon juice.

Following in the footsteps of SimonaBrii and Haalo, I am posting this black and white photo for Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook who is taking some time off managing the Black and White Wednesday blog event to recover from an illness. Astrid of Paulchens Foodblog has set up Flickr group for posting black and white culinary photos so Susan can view them as she recuperates.
iPhone photo converted to black and white using Topaz BW Effects.

Please do not use images or text without my permission. 

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Rugelach with Quince Paste and Toasted Walnuts-Baking with Julia

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This week, Tuesdays with Dorie is baking up the very rich and delicious rugelach, a traditional Jewish pastry from contributing baker, Lauren Groveman featured in the chosen book, Baking with Julia. Dried fruits and nuts are encased in a cream cheese pastry spread with an apricot or prune paste called lekvar. One look at the recipe may give you a case of baking stage fright, but by reading through it several times, you will realize the recipe can be done in stages. The cream cheese pastry is easily made in a food processor and should be refrigerated several hours to firm up, or it can be frozen for up to a month before completing the pastry. The filled dough also benefits from a spell in the refrigerator. A good keeper, the baked rugelach will keep for a week in airtight containers, but also can be frozen for up to a month. While these rugelach are rolled and cut pinwheel style, they can also be made in a crescent shape as in the photo below. We made rugelach back when the TWD group baked from Dorie Greenspan's, Baking From My Home to Yours. The slice and bake method is less time-consuming than crescent shape, but just as delicious.

My construction of the rugelach is a much simpler version using quince paste, toasted walnuts and the sugar and cinnamon mixture for the filling and the topping. If using the dried fruit and nuts, chop them in small pieces. While baking, the rolls exude this lovely caramelized pool around the pinwheels which tastes delicious, but as the rolls cool, the caramel can be removed (and enjoyed!) for presentation.

The recipe can be found on page 325 of the Baking with Julia book, but can be also be found on this week's hosts, Jessica of My Baking Heart and Margaret from The Urban Hiker. Also, check out the TWD blogroll. 

Please do not use images or text without my permission.
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