Irish Soda Bread

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One of my daughter’s friends recently asked me for a recipe for Soda Bread and it reminded me that it I been a long time since I’d made it myself.  It’s a very simple, rustic bread.  No yeast.  No proofing.  No rising.  Very little kneading.  Easy to pull together.  I think I got this recipe years ago from a newspaper article on traditional St. Patrick’s day dishes and I tweeked it a bit.   I love adding citrus zest, preferably orange but even grapefruit zest brightens it up.  It tastes best warm from the oven but then most breads do.

Ingredients:

4 cups AP flour

4 T granulated sugar

1 tsp baking soda

1 T baking powder

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup cold butter cubed

1 1/4 cups buttermilk

1 egg

1 tsp citrus zest (I used orange)

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Preheat the oven to 375.  Whisk together dry ingredients.  Cube the butter.  In an electric mixer with a paddle attachment add the butter to the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until the butter is mixed in.

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Whisk together the buttermilk, egg, and zest.  With the mixer running on low add the buttermilk egg mixture and beat until incorporated.  The dough will be moist and a little sticky.  Remove the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead a few times sprinkling with a little additional flour if necessary.  Shape into a round loaf and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment.

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Mix together:

1/4 cup melted butter

1/4 cup buttermilk

Generously brush the loaf with the butter-buttermilk mixture.  I also brush the mixture on a couple additional times during the baking process.  Bake for 45-55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

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Cool on a wire rack.  Slice and enjoy!  Great with a little drizzle of honey or homemade preserves.

Buttermilk Pancakes

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Pancakes are one of the ultimate comfort foods.  Everyone loves pancakes.  Crepes.  Swedish pancakes.  Blintzes.  Latkes.  Pannukakku.  Kropsu.  My grandmother made the best oven pancakes (pannukakku).  Sometimes with egg, sometimes potato.  Potato were my favorites.  She made them in metal pans with a design in the bottom.  The pancake would puff way up in the oven.  We would eat them warm with butter and sprinkle a little granulated sugar on top.  We would eat them cold.  My mother made us pancakes with left over mashed potatoes.  She made a regular egg, flour, milk batter and added any leftover mashed potatoes we had.  Sometimes she would make my little brothers pancakes shaped like Mickey Mouse.  We ate her pancakes with maple syrup.  For years I made my mother’s “mashed potato pancakes.”  They were my daughters favorite.  She loved to make  pancake sandwiches with any leftovers.

A couple years ago I got this recipe for buttermilk pancakes from one of my daughter’s friends.  He was making them for his family so I decided to try them.  I’ve been making them ever since.  Occasionally when I have left over mashed potatoes I revert to my mom’s concoction.  But otherwise, these buttermilk cakes are my go to recipe.

Ingredients:

1 cup AP flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 egg

2 T melted butter plus more for the griddle

1 1/8 cup buttermilk

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Combine and whisk the dry ingredients together.  Whisk the egg,  Combine the wet ingredients.

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Combine the wet and dry ingredients.  Do not over mix.  The batter will look a little thick and lumpy.

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Heat the griddle and brush with butter.  Use a 1/3 cup measure and scoop batter onto the griddle.  Cook 1-2 minutes per side.

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Add fresh or frozen blueberries, chopped pecans, grated Apple, or chocolate chips if you’d like.

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Serve with warm maple syrup, sliced banana or strawberries, meat of your choosing, or an egg.

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NOTE:  This recipe makes approximately 8 pancakes.  If you have guests and want to double or triple the recipe that works.  Keep pancakes warm in the oven until you’re done flipping and you can all enjoy eating together.  I’m sure that this batter can be made into Mickey Mouse cakes as well!  Make a memory with your pancakes!

Cabbage and Potato Gratin

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Interestingly, I know several people who don’t like potatoes. It’s hard for me to imagine that.  I love potatoes.  I grew up in a meat and potatoes family. I like potatoes prepared every which way. Au gratin, scalloped, mashed, French fries, baked, chips, boiled, pancakes, American fries, hash browns…is there a more versatile carb??  I learned something new about potatoes while perusing Facebook…I had no idea there was a whole site featuring “funeral potatoes.”  Dishes traditionally made for funeral dinners (of course) and for pot lucks. Apparently these funeral potato dishes originated with the Mormons. I’ll have to do a little more research to find out about the Mormon connection. During the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City one of the souvenir food pins featured a depiction of funeral potatoes. I bet very few readers knew that!

But we’ve all eaten funeral potatoes. Most of us have made them. They consist of frozen hash browns or tater tots, cream soups, maybe some onion, sour cream, butter, cheese, and corn flakes or crushed potato chips for crunch. Ringing any bells??  They are delicious!!  Most of us know them as Cheesy Potatoes.

Tonight I decided to make a cabbage and potato bake. Apparently another name for this potato cabbage combo is Rumbledethumps. It’s a Scottish dish. What I made tonight is a variation of traditional Rumbledethumps.

Ingredients:

1 medium head of green cabbage

2 pounds of potatoes

1/2 cup of buttermilk

4 T butter

chives

1 cup gruyere cheese

salt and pepper to taste

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Preheat the oven to 450. Core the cabbage and slice it into thin strips. Add the cabbage to a pot of boiling salted water and cook for about 5 minutes.

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Drain the cabbage and set aside.

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I used redskin potatoes and did not peel them. Boil the potatoes until they are tender enough to mash.

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Once they’re done, mash the potatoes using the buttermilk and butter. If you need more buttermilk to make a nice creamy potato add a little more.

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Mix the cabbage, potatoes and chives together. Stir in the shredded cheese.

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Put the mixture into a casserole dish and bake for 20 minutes or until the top is browned.

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I served this tonight with chicken Marsala and green beans but this would make a great side dish for a beef roast or pork loin. This could also be served as a main dish with a side salad. If there is another cheese you prefer like cheddar or Swiss that would be good as well.

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Another new potato dish!  Tasted great.

Blueberry Buttermilk Pound Cake

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It has been a couple weeks since my last post. We’ve been doing some traveling and most recently I spent a week in Chicago with my daughter. A perfectly wonderful celebration of Mother’s Day and my birthday. As they age a lot of people stop celebrating birthdays or lie a little about their age. My theory is, the older we get the longer we should celebrate. This year the two middle weeks of May are my birthday and next year it may be the entire month!  Birthday lunches and dinners with family and friends, toasts, presents, cards, FB greetings…embrace your age, embrace the attention, wear a tiara, eat cake. If no one bakes you a cake, bake your own. That’s what I did!  While I was in Chicago my daughter and I made this cake. A new experiment. And a successful one. I decided to replicate this delicious cake for my birthday.

Ingredients:

1 cup butter at room temperature

2 cups sugar

4 eggs

3 cups flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup buttermilk

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp almond extract

2 cups blueberries

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Preheat your oven to 325 and grease a bundt pan.

In a mixing bowl cream the butter until light and fluffy.

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Gradually add the sugar and beat until well blended. Add the eggs, beating after each addition.

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Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add to the creamed mixture alternating with the buttermilk. Begin and end with the dry ingredients.

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Stir in the extracts. Stir in the blueberries.

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Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour. Allow the cake to cool for 10-15 minutes, invert the pan and plate the cake.

Now sometimes the things I bake are works of art and sometimes they’re not. Today this cake was not a work of art!!

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This is the cake I baked last week with my daughter.

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This was the birthday cake I baked myself. Oh my. I really should be embarrassed to post this picture. I’ve had problems with things sticking in this pan before but this was ridiculous. We are eating the cake and it tastes SO much better than it looks. But the pan is in the trash!  I need to buy myself a new bundt pan. Maybe a birthday gift to myself.

This cake is great with a scoop of vanilla or butter pecan ice cream or a generous dollop of whipped cream. Happy birthday to me!