Irish Pub Party

Irish Pub CookbookEveryone claims to be Irish on St Patrick’s Day but I actually am an Irish descendent. My mother let everyone she knew of her heritage and she was quite proud.  Char gave me this great cookbook awhile back and it was time to crack it open. We tried many of the dishes inside and a few others to make up our early St. Patrick’s Day party.

The menu was Guinness Beef Stew, Corned Beef and Cabbage, Potatoes and Carrots, Brown Soda Bread, Irish Soda Bread, Molasses Bread, Traditional Colcannon, Colcannon with Kale, Buttered Kale with chives & lemon, Buttered Vegetables, Apple Cake, Chocolate Stout Cake, Homemade Irish Cream, Irish Coffee, Smithwick beer, Jameson’s whiskey, Kerry butter and Irish cheese.

Since time was of the essence most items were made in advance before the cooking club members gathered. The group project was a soda bread throw down. Before we started working we had to loosen up and make Irish Cream.  Remember when I made it last Christmas? Same recipe. It was a treat to see everyone marvel at how much whiskey and cream went into it!

Now that we were relaxed, we dove into the soda bread. Traditional soda bread has four ingredients. That’s it. The other  had nine.

Irish Soda Bread from The Complete Irish Pub Cookbook  Parragon Books 2012

  • 1 lb  (450 g) plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 400 ml (14 oz) buttermilk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Place parchment paper atop or prepare an oiled baking sheet.

Sift the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl.  Make a well in the centre and pour in most of the buttermilk . Mix well with hands. The dough should be soft but not too wet. Reserve then add, if necessary the remaining buttermilk.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly. Shape into an 8 inch (20 cm) round. Place the loaf atop the making tray. With a serrated knife cut a cross into the top. Bake for 25-30 mintes under golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack. Serve warm.

two soda breads

Brown on the left, Traditional on the right.

Brown Soda Bread from Cook’s Country February/March 2013

  • 2 C flour
  • 1 1/2 C whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 C toasted wheat germ
  • 3 TBSP sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 3/4 C buttermilk
  • 3 TBSP melted butter

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, wheat germ, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda together in large bowl. Combine buttermilk and 2 tablespoons melted butter in 2-cup liquid measuring cup.

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir with rubber spatula until dough just comes together. Turn out dough onto lightly floured counter and knead until cohesive mass forms, about 8 turns. Pat dough into 7-inch round and transfer to prepared sheet. Using sharp serrated knife, make ¼-inch-deep cross about 5 inches long on top of loaf. Bake until skewer inserted in center comes out clean and loaf registers 195 degrees, 45 to 50 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking.

Remove bread from oven. Brush with remaining 1 tablespoon melted butter. Transfer loaf to wire rack and let cool for at least 1 hour.

IMG_3928

Traditional on the left, Brown on the right

Guiness Beef Stew

corned beef

Dessert table\ Irish Coffee

Patty’s Points:

1. General consensus of the party guests were that both breads were good, just different. The brown bread was very hearty. The traditional was lighter. Both were great slathered in butter! I favored the traditional myself.

2. The day before, a couple of members were at another potluck and tasted other soda bread versions. Some with currents or raisins and some with caraway. Soda bread is how your family made it special and traditional for you.

3.  I used bread flour. I think it helps the texture of any bread you make at home.

4. I had never made soda bread before this challenge. Hard to believe? It could have been because my mother’s father was Irish and the traditional foods didn’t get passed down through him. She loved Bailey’s Irish Cream though 🙂

5. This was an European cookbook, so many of the ingredients are in metric. It is always good to have a scale for dry ingredients. I’m a nurse so the liquids are easy for me to convert.

Mary B

Happy St Patrick's Day

How joyful that spring is nearly here. On St Patrick’s Day we Think Green. But as my mother used to say Think Irish!

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How do you spell spelt?

Spelt is an ancient grain that is a distant cousin to wheat but existed centuries before. Hmmm…How did I stumble onto spelt?

Well I have experimented with my diet of late. My hairdresser told me about the Fast Metabolism Diet (FMD) and how she, her sister and mother had lost weight. She said it was quite healthy, so I had to check it out.

The FMD rotates in three phases by which to eat certain foods that will speed up your metabolism. My summary is this: you eat every 2-3 hours, no dairy, no flour, no soy, no corn products, no alcohol, and no sugar. You eat a lot of veggies, protein, drink lots of water and eat moderate amounts of fruit, oils, healthy grains like steel-cut oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, or spelt.

spelt flour

I’ve lost 5 lb. I’d like to lose 15 more, but I’m still working at. It is hard to go from semi-healthy eating to completely healthy habits in a month.

Anyhoo… I had to try a spelt recipe since I had never heard of it nor made a recipe out of it as yet. I was looking on Pinterest.com and came across Homemade Spelt Tortillas from fellow WordPress bloggers The Adventures of Z and K.

Spelt Flatbread

2 C spelt flour

3 TBSP olive oil

3/4 tsp salt

2/3 C water

Mix oil,salt and spelt flour together then mix in water a little at a time until incorporated, but not too sticky. Knead for 1-2 minutes, Rest for 20 minutes.

Cut the dough into 8 pieces with a pizza cutter. Roll out, flour the board or pastry cloth if it is sticky.

rolling tortillas

Heat a non-stick pan and brown for 1-2 minutes on each side.

spelt flatbread

Yummy flat bread!

Patty’s Points:

1. Spelt is not gluten-free. It is a cousin of wheat but people with wheat allergies do not have the same problem with spelt.

2. I found it easy to work with just like regular flour.

3. I heated up my pan initially really on high but had to turn it down to med-low, so as not to burn the bread. I found that 1 1/2 minutes on each side was perfect.

4. The hubby and dog loved the flatbread.

waiting for bread

Oktoberfest 2011- Homemade Soft Pretzels


The Fearless Cooking Club’s Adventure into Oktoberfest ends with the pretzel: soft, homemade, chewy and great with mustard and beer!

This author had the privilege to meet Alton Brown at a book signing several weeks ago and this recipe came from his new book Good Eats 3. He spoke to a crowd of 250 people for thirty minutes and signed books and posed for pictures for two hours. Very gracious!

My family loves soft pretzels so they were excited to see these roll out. I was intimidated because the recipe in the book didn’t give me the full picture of putting it together. So I watched the Good Eats Pretzel Logic Yeasts on YouTube. It helped quite a bit to visualize the entire process. The sock puppets posing as fungi were LOL entertaining as well.

After two batches of pretzels the keys points of the trial and error process were as follows:

1) Rolling the pretzels took some practice. The book and video indicated to wear gloves on an oiled surface. That didn’t work for me. I oiled the dough after the rising process but rolled it on a dry cutting board.

2) The dough was divided into eight parts. Each portion of dough was rolled from the inside outward to 24 inches in length.

3)  The pretzels were formed into a “U” shape, then folded over like arms crossing.

4) The pretzel dough was boiled for 30 seconds in a water and baking soda bath. The mixture provided a positive ion ph base, coating the dough to enable the browning process when baked.

5) Scooped from the water and back onto the parchment-lined baking sheet, they were brushed with an egg wash and sprinkled with a coarse salt.  Baked to a golden brown for 16 minutes at 450 degrees.

I also made homemade mustard to go with the pretzels. The homemade mustard is in the Part 2 of Good Eats Pretzel Logic Yeasts episode.

The Fearless Cooking Club met today to eat the bratwurst, sauerkraut, pretzels and homemade mustard. It is hard to believe that this was a seven week process of food preparation!  On my next entry I will post that celebration and report on the sauerkraut, sausage tasting and member updates. Cheers to the end of Oktoberfest!