Irish Soda Bread

Bread Irish Soda Bread IIt’s the day to celebrate the Irish, right? So let’s enjoy some Irish Soda Bread, recipe compliments of Bobby Flay…the guy credited with creating everything filled with “flayvor”. This is a simple prep and packed with good-for-you fiber. It’s a dense bread, so I prefer mine toasted crispy and spread with the wonderful orange butter in this recipe, or a dab of cream cheese. The Don likes his drizzled with honey! Any way you like it, it packs a punch. May you go out and find lots of four leafed clovers today; and drink a Guinness (or two) while you’re out there!

Here’s What You’ll Need!
Irish Soda Bread:
3/4 cup golden raisins
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cake flour
1/2 cup semolina flour
1 1/2 t baking soda
1 1/2 t cream of tartar
1/8 t fine sea salt
2 Tbs sugar
3 Tbs very cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 Tbs roasted, salted fennel seeds or regular fennel seeds
2 t finely grated orange zest
1 1/2 cups very cold buttermilk
2 Tbs butter, melted

Buttermilk-Orange Butter:
1/2 cup cold buttermilk
2 t finely grated orange zest
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
Pinch sea salt

And Here’s How You Do It!
Place the raisins in a bowl and cover with hot water.
Set aside until softened, about 30 minutes.
Drain and pat dry.
Preheat the oven to 375°.
In large bowl, sift together all-purpose flour, cake flour, semolina flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt.
Stir in sugar.
Cut the 3 Tbs butter into the flour until it resembles a coarse meal.
Stir in fennel seeds and raisins.
In a small bowl, stir orange zest into the buttermilk.
Add buttermilk/zest mixture to flour mixture.
Stir with a fork just until a dough comes together.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead briefly, until the loose flour is just moistened.
The dough will look shaggy and uneven.
Form the dough into a 6-inch round and place in a 10-inch skillet.
Using a sharp knife, score a deep cross into the top of the loaf.
Bake until nicely browned and a skewer inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes.
Remove from oven and brush with the 2 Tbs melted butter.
Cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing.

While the bread bakes, make the buttermilk-orange butter:
Whisk together buttermilk and orange zest in a small bowl.
Put butter and salt in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
Beat until smooth.
Slowly pour in buttermilk mixture and continue beating until just incorporated.
Spread into a ramekin.
Cover, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours to allow the flavors to meld.
Serve slices of warm or toasted soda bread with the orange butter.

Bread Irish Soda Bread II

Raw Dough in the Skillet, Marked with a Cross

Bread Irish Soda Bread III

Ahhh…The Finished Product!

PS…a little history lesson here; just keeping us sharp!
What About The Cross On Top?
Before baking, a cross is traditionally cut on the top of the soda bread loaf with a knife – often said to ward off the devil and to protect the household.
Legend and symbolism aside, there’s a practical reason for the cruciform shape to be cut into the top of the dough. Slashing the dough lets heat penetrate into the thickest part of the bread and allows the bread to stretch and expand as it rises.
Slashing a round loaf with a cruciform shape ends up dividing the bread into quadrants that can be easily broken apart (the breaking of the bread). But, since Ireland is a Catholic country, the symbolism of the cross can also be interpreted as blessing (crossing) the bread and giving thanks.                                                From EatOutEatWell.com

Chicken Tenders, the Homemade Way!

I scream. You scream. Children scream for chicken tenders. Homemade that is. My three grands and another darling two year old all enjoyed these for Sunday brunch at Rock Dam (affectionate name of a fun filled home and kitchen)! Yep three generations gathered strongly; the grandparents of these lucky grands have been friends since ’round about the sixth grade. Nurturing relationships of long standing and building new ones, baby. That’s what we’re doing! Good food, good fun. (I’ll have to feature Gray’s veggie/egg strata soon!) But back to the chicken tenders…Yummy. Let’s just say that I bet you will never rarely serve your child or loved one a processed chicken product again.

Entree Chicken Gurmet Chicken Tenders I

Sautéing in light olive oil. You don’t even want to see an image of my very messy breading station!

1 cup flour
3 eggs
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/2 cup fine dried breadcrumbs
Handful flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 t granulated garlic
1 t dried oregano
Olive oil or vegetable oil, for shallow frying
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks (nice culinary term)

Place flour in a shallow dish; season with salt and pepper.
In another shallow dish, whisk eggs.
In a third shallow dish, mix panko, cheese, breadcrumbs, parsley, granulated garlic and oregano.
In a large, shallow skillet, heat 1/4 inch oil over medium-high.
Coat the chicken in flour, then eggs, then breadcrumb mixture.
When oil begins to ripple, add half the chicken.
Cook until deep golden and cooked through, about 2 minutes per side.
Transfer to paper towels or wire rack to drain.
Repeat with remaining chicken.

Serve with condiments of choice. I personally like my dripping in honey!

Entree Chicken Gurmet Chicken Tenders II

LayOvers

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A pomegranate cart in Istanbul…one of my favorite sights ever.

Based on my lack of recent posts, it is obvious that my kitchen and I have been in a bit of a noncollaborative mood as of late. But as we all know, nothing changes unless you take charge and make it change. So, I’ve dug deeply searching for inspiration, innovation, and imagination. I hope I’ve once again found it. Stay tuned…here’s to taking a pause in the kitchen as in travels; let’s just call it a layover! But here’s a link to my favorite pomegranate chicken recipe, inspired by my first trip to Istanbul a few years ago!

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Our puffy travel faces with the gorgeous Blue Mosque as the main feature.

This very day last year, the don and I (and a couple of very special friends!) were on a three day layover in Istanbul on our way home from a fabulous trip to Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

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Our fantastic friend and guide Riza, bidding farewell.

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And Peg departing from the fabulous Four Seasons Sultanahmet (Old City…think Constantinople!)

Quick Fall Mushroom Soup

Soup Quick Mushroom III

It may not feel like it quite yet but the Autumn Equinox in our Northern Hemisphere is at 4:02pm TODAY! So Happy Friday to All. Yay. Here’s a little simple soup to wake up those taste buds. Why enjoy a small serving when you can have it all!

2 Tbs butter
1/2 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/2 medium sweet onion, chopped
6 Tbs all-purpose flour
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper
2 cans (14 oz each) chicken broth
1 cup Half and Half cream
1/3 cup dry sherry
4 springs fresh thyme
1 Tbs fresh chopped thyme for garnish.

In large saucepan, heat butter over medium high heat.
Sauté mushrooms and onions until tender, about 5 minutes.
In separate bowl, mix together flour, salt, pepper, and 1 can chicken broth until smooth.
Stir into mushroom mixture.
Stir in remaining broth.
Bring to boil.
Cook until thickened, about 2 minutes.
Reduce heat to low.
Stir in cream, sherry, and thyme sprigs.
Simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove thyme.
Puree with immersion blender in the pot; or transfer to blender and puree.
OR, serve with mushrooms as they are.
Garnish with chopped fresh thyme

Serves 6.

All the Way from Mexico, Black Bean Soup

GulfHola Baby! This was supposed to be coming to you last week from Cabo on the Tropic of Cancer! For a bit of geography click on this link and learn all about our tropics, latitudes, longitudes, and the likes. Exercise for the brain y’all. But the night before we were to travel, a little publicized Tropical Storm named Lydia hit the Baha Peninsula, washing out roads, closing the airport, knocking out electricity, and much more. I was ready to throw in the towel and just stay home; but not my fast thinking sister-in-law HHH. Within thirty minutes, she had us re-booked to the east coast of Mexico with stellar accommodations at The Iberostar.  PoolI was determined to do some testing of Mexican/Southwestern recipes with the Cabo Chef at Diamante. so I just switched gears and here I am sharing new knowledge with you good people from Playa del Carmen instead! Mucho to come! Yummy, Bold Flavors! Just attempting to put some well being into each and every day.

Soup Black Bean Soup I

3 Tbs olive oil
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
1 Tbs ground cumin
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 14 oz cans black beans, drained and divided
3 cups chicken broth
Juice of whole lime
1/4 t salt
1/2 t black pepper

For Garnish:
Avocado, cut into small pieces
Cilantro, chopped
Sour Cream
Lime slices

Heat oil over medium high heat in soup pot.
Add onion.
Sauté until translucent, about 4 minutes.
Add cumin, garlic, 2 cans of drained beans, and broth.
Cover and cook on low 30 minutes.
While soup is cooking, heat remaining 1 can beans in separate pot for 20 minutes, until tender.
Remove soup pot from heat.
Carefully blend with immersion blender until smooth and totally blended.*
Add lime juice, salt and pepper.

To serve:
Ladle soup into bowl.
Spoon separate beans in center.
Top with dollop of sour cream, avocado pieces, cilantro, and lime.**

*You may also use a blender to blend soup in batches. Cover top with wet paper towel instead of blender top. This allows steam to escape.

**I squeeze a bit more lime juice in to each bowl after it is served and garnish side of bowl with additional lime slice.Palm Trees

Corn Salad

As we head in to Labor Day Weekend (another excuse to celebrate) and approach the final weeks of fresh corn season, I present to you a very cool corn salad. So put some well-being into your weekend. It’s simple to throw together but packs plenty of wow factor! I grabbed this and adapted it from the August/September issue of Garden and Gun. The recipe hails from April McGregor of Farmer’s Daughter Pickles and Preserves, right here in our own North Carolina, Hillsborough to be exact. Shop there or forever hold your peace. Peace…that’s a great idea!

Salad Corn Salad

So here’s what you need:
6 ears corn
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1 small cucumber, seeds removed, and diced
1/4 cup diced jarred roasted red peppers
2 Tbs liquid from red pepper jar
1/4 cup diced Vidalia onion
2 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs mayonnaise
1/2 t kosher or Himalayan salt
1/2 t fresh black pepper
1/4 cup Julianne fresh basil

And here’s what you do:
Bring large pot of water to boil.
Season pot with salt.
Add corn and blanch 2 minutes.
Remove cobs from hot water and place on paper towel 15 minutes to cool.
Remove kernels from cobs.
Combine all remaining ingredients except basil, and mix well.
Add corn kernels and stir to combine.
Chill at least an hour.
Place salad on serving platter.
Sprinkle basil on top of salad.

Saturday is Game Day!

Son and Father, Justin and Wayne Hardee (L to R), Short Stop and Manager of the 1998 LLWS! (Pictured last week in Williamsport to cheer on the 2017 Greenville team.)

It’s Game Day Saturday, 3pm ESPN. Greenville North State will play for the United States Championship, and attempt to take their talents to the Little League World Series FINALS on Sunday. Yep. That’s what I said…a shot at THE title. That’s a lot for these young boys, their coaches, and families to take in. Well hello world…here comes Greenville, NC. So wake up early, break a few eggs in the skillet, lace up your shoes, jump in, and take heart. Our Hardee Family will be gathering in Raleigh at Gray and Marc’s home to watch together. There will be memories shared of the 1998 series when my brother-in-law Wayne and my nephew Justin (happily pictured above) were on the first ever Greenville team to play in the LL World Series.

Perfect Game Day Snack!

So grab a snack or three, and a beverage of choice, and give an illegally loud Whoop Whoop for the Greenville team!