Since I am not interested in being struck by a lightening bolt for sacrilege, I will not say I made this as well or better than my grammy, but it was very good. The recipe calls for serving it cold and it is traditionally served cold with butter, but I served it hot and it was well received by my friends Sam, Yele, their parents and their neighbors we had over to play.
In my family, the language we have spoken to express how we love each other has taken on many forms, many without words. My grammy is known for not mincing her words, but she speaks the language of love with her food. Hurt feelings have been known to dissipate from cakes baked from scratch and using family recipes, she seemed to make magic from the ingredients she could afford with her meager budget while raising her many children. Today she can afford jams, jellies, condiments and spices to heart’s content, but her sensibilities about cooking have remained the same. Her lesson, when dressing to cooking, is always splurge when it will make the most difference, and in this recipe, the big splurge purchase is real buttermilk. This recipe was actually passed down from her Mamma and in the dairy rich “North Country” of New York where my Grammy was raised, buttermilk was something which was actually affordable for her parents during her childhood. When she moved away from the area, she budgeted to afford this key ingredient for her own children to make this very special recipe.
This bread is traditionally baked during the season of St. Patrick’s Day, where people of Irish descent celebrate the good and bad they associate with being descendants of the Emerald Isle. It’s a. season which is filled with bagpipes, parades and step dancing, and the occasional wink beer. This season has always been so special to my family, and so I baked this recipe with some children who are very special to me who had no knowledge of the cultural celebrations around this holiday. I did this in an effort to educate them about a culture which was so important to me at their age and in which I recently celebrated this holiday in, with strangers and family. While making this recipe, with these children I consider family, I was reminded of how sometimes breaking bread with people, can sometimes seamlessly make us family.
This bread is rich, moist, and buttery, and despite what people say about Irish cooking, it is enjoyable for people from every walk of life. Traditional Irish soda bread has been made with whatever liquid was affordable and on hand for the bakers,, water, milk, butterfly and beer- but the buttermilk makes this recipe. Economic woes have hit the island of Ireland over and over again throughout the centuries, so the ability to make the most decadent version of this bread has not always been possible for Irish, but today it was luckily possible for me! The key to making sure it remains moist is to know your oven and not to overcook it. The egg wash step at the end is key to creating the decadent feeling crust, so don’t skimp on this part. My commitment to finding places for controlled moments of decadence in cooking motivated me to add 2 tbls more of butter to recipe and sprinkle sugar on top of egg washed loaf before I put it in the oven. Don’t tell my Grammy!
Plan of Attack
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
Mix the flour, and remaining dry ingredients in your medium mixing bowl
Put the butter in your pastry blender and mix until it resembles crumbled butter pieces. Complete disclosure - Since I don’t have a pastry blender, I cut the butter (with my buddies Sam and Yelenia with a knife in a larger diced pieces and added them to the flour mixture. Use your hands to mix the butter pieces and flour together until they resemble crumbs. The crumbs will resemble streusel topping.
Beat your eggs with a fork until whipped and add almost all eggs to the mixture. Reserve about a tbls of eggs to use as as egg wash for the top of the loaf.
Add the buttermilk and raisins to the mixture and mix throughly. The dough will be sticky and in order to remove it from your bowl you will have to cover your hands with flour.
Cover your pastry board (or counter) with flour and knead the wet dough it with flour covered hands gently 9-11 times until it resembles a big boule of dough. This was the part my elementary school helpers thought was the most fun, aside from cracking the eggs.
Place the dough in a buttered casserole dish (the dish I used was 9x9) and and using a pastry brush, coat the top with the remaining egg mixture. Sprinkle with a little bit of granulated sugar and then use your knife to make 3-5 cross lines on the top of the loaf. Bake for in the oven for 80-90 minutes, and check midway to determine the heat of your oven. I took this loaf out at 81 minutes because the oven I was using runs hot, so use your best judgment when to remove from the oven. When I bake things with this level of history, I call my oven, the “loven.”
2 cups of broccoli
tsp of cumin
2 tables of olive oil
tsp of kosher salt
11- 13 oz of pasta
0.5 cup of grated parmesan chees
lb of ricotta cheese
0.36 cup of bank bread crumbs
tables of grated lemon peel
tsp of ground pepper
Plan of Attack
Preheat the oven to 390 degrees
Toss the broccoli, olive oil, salt and pepper and place on the baking sheet. Put your baking sheet into the oven and roast until tender and browning on the edges.
Combine the lemon zest, parmesan, and bread crumbs in your medium mixing bowl. *This is the place where you also could add more spices, as I did, like powdered garlic, or heat. I was cooking for some people with particular palates so I did not add to much crushed red pepper, but your could add more than I did.
Remove the pan from the oven, and distribute the ricotta. Cover the entire mixture with parmesan cheese mixture and return to the pan and broil the pan until the cheese melts and develops a beautiful crust.
My comments: I should have broiled the pan for more minutes because it did not get as crunchy as I would have preferred and I would also, heading forward use whole milk ricotta and more parmesan cheese, because I thought this pasta lacked salt.
*this recipe was originally from the NY Times Cooking section but it was adjusted to reflect what I had in my pantry. A photo will be added today- I am working on this from Ascend so I don’t have access to my photos from this computer
lb of asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into pieces
0.5 lb of snow peas
3-5 pieces of turkey bacon
3-5 medium cloves of garlci
2 tbls of olive oil
medium pat of butter
9 oz (or so) of whole wheat fettucine
0.5 cup of skim milk
0.5 cup of shredded parmesan
cup of part skim ricotta
Plan of Attack
Cut the turkey bacon into sm pieces (big dice) and do the same for the garlic and shallot
Pour a tables of olive oil into your medium skillet and when hot, add the garlic and shallot. After about a minute, add the diced turkey bacon. Cook until the shallots are clear and the bacon starts browning.
Put a pot of salted water on to boil and turn on high.
Add the remaining oil and butter, and then add the asparagus and snow peas.
While the vegetables are cooking, add your fettuccine to the boiling salt water.
If the vegetables are tender before the pasta is done, cover and turn on medium low heat.
When the pasta is done, drain it and reserve some pasta water.
Add the pasta, pasta water, skim milk, ricotta and parmesan cheese to the pan with the vegetables, stirring vigorously over medium heat to allow for the ingredients form their own creamy sauce. Add salt, pepper and powdered garlic as needed and serve hot.
My comments: I had ricotta in my fridge and the original recipe called for heavy cream and pecorino romano cheese, but what I made was flavorful so I recommend it. I would also in the future try the original recipe, but I am trying to incorporate this ricotta in everything before it goes bad!
On a subzero day, I discovered this and oh man, what a comfort food!
I have always loved their sauce and this is my attempt at making my own!
My comments: I plan on using for pizza so it was important the whole tomatoes cooked down. I was gonna make stuffed shells, but I didn’t