Irish Soda Bread

Photo-12

By Meghan Gourley

Like corned beef and cabbage, soda bread is worthy of more than its annual day on the plate. There are plenty of recipes, but my favorite is from James Beard who spent several weeks in Ireland and recreated the famous bread as he experienced it there. Unlike most recipes, his calls for whole wheat flour and baking powder, but no eggs.

The trick to a good Irish soda bread is the right amount of moisture in the dough—too much buttermilk and the top will burn before the inside cooks; not enough and the bread will turn out dry. Control the texture of the dough by adding the buttermilk one splash at a time—you want it to come together in one very sticky ball.

You should wind up with bread that is smooth, slightly dense, and perfectly salty. It’s great with a slab of butter or slice of cheddar. You can use it as sandwich bread, like James Beard, or cut it thinly and toast it.  I like it griddled—the way I had it in Ireland.

Ireland’s Famous Bread from Beard on Food

Time: About 45 minutes
Makes: One round loaf

3 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 “very level” teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 to 2 cups buttermilk
Butter for greasing
Optional: 1/2 cup raisins or currants and 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds

  1. Heat the oven to 375 dgF.
  2. Combine all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Stir in the buttermilk, one half cup at a time, until the dough is soft but sticky. (I used the entire 2 cups.)
  4. Lightly flour a work surface and knead the dough for a minute or two.
  5. Shape the dough into a round ball and place it on a buttered baking sheet; cut a large cross in the top with a sharp knife.
  6. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the outside is brown and the loaf sounds hollow when you tap it. Serve immediately or store for up to a few days.

 

Posted in Baking, Recipes

No Chicken Breast Left Behind

Photo-9

By Meghan Gourley

Occasionally, we test a recipe that doesn’t make it to print. Here’s one that we loved and thought people should see: chicken breast with cumin and honey. We understand the fear of undercooking chicken, but if you learn how to gauge doneness correctly you will end up with perfectly juicy, moist chicken breast every time. 

About four to six minutes per side is all it takes, depending on the quirks of your oven or grill. You’ll know it’s done when you cut the breast with a knife and clear juices run out. (Or if a meat thermometer registers 155 dgF.)  It’s easy to get distracted by the sizzle of honey and olive oil and the tang of cumin wafting through the air but try to resist. The last thing you want to do is overcook the chicken.

North-African Spiced Chicken Breast

4 chicken breast halves (or 2 whole chicken breasts)

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon dry sherry

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon minced garlic

salt and freshly ground pepper

lemon wedges

fresh parsley

yogurt (optional)

Heat a broiler or grill to medium heat and put the rack 4 inches from the heat source. If you’re broiling, put the chicken in the pan in which you’ll cook it. Combine the olive oil, honey, dry sherry, cumin, garlic, and some salt and pepper in a bowl. Spoon the mixture over both sides of the chicken. Grill or broil chicken breast halves for 4 to 6 minutes per side (a tad longer if you’re cooking two whole breasts), until browned and just cooked through. Sprinkle with lemon juice and garnish with fresh parsley and lemon wedge. Optional: serve with a dollop of yogurt.

Here are 9 more ways to sauté, poach and roast chicken breasts.

 

Posted in Recipes