Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Irish Soda Bread with Dried Fruit

St Paddys has come and gone with no soda bread in the oven. I visit this recipe yearly when spring looms on the horizon. A perennial family favorite, the thought of not making it saddens me. Since I have a carton of buttermilk, I shouldn't hesitate any longer. This particular soda bread has a cakier texture than most. It is also lighter and moist.   

All purpose flour, baking soda, sugar and salt are whisked in a mixer bowl. Egg, buttermilk and orange zest are whisked in another bowl. Dried fruit like cranberries, golden raisins and dried cherries are whisked in a third bowl, along with a little flour. Yes there is butter....nothing good comes out of the oven without butter. Be resigned to this fact!

Makes 1 large loaf

4 cups AP Flour

4 tablespoons Sugar
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher Salt
4 tablespoons cold Butter
1 3/4 cup Buttermilk, well shaken
1 Egg
1 teaspoon Orange Zest
1 1/2 cups mixed Dried Fruit - Dried Cranberries, Golden Raisins, Dried Cherries 
1 tablespoon Flour

Heat oven to 375F.

Line a baking sheet with a silicone sheet or parchment paper.

Put flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in the bowl of a mixer. Use the paddle blade and whisk a few seconds.

Cut butter into 1/2 inch cubes.

Run the mixer on low speed and add butter to flour.

Mix buttermilk, egg and orange zest in a bowl. Whisk well till combined.

Add 1 tablespoon of flour to dried fruit and whisk till fruit is covered.

Add buttermilk to flour, pouring it in slowly.

Add dried fruit to dough.

Let the mixer keep going on low speed till the dough clumps together. It will be wet.

Scrape the dough on to a well floured surface.

Knead it lightly till dough comes together without sticking. 

Gather dough onto a ball and place on prepared baking sheet.

Using a sharp knife make a cross on the top of the ball.

Bake in oven for 50-55 minutes.

Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes.

Slice with a serrated knife and enjoy.

St. Patrick's Day is a memory but Irish soda bread is an impression, one deeply entrenched in our minds and taste buds! Your palate has been whisked away to the Emerald Isles. 

Saturday, March 17, 2018

BLTG Sandwich

My bacon lettuce tomato sandwich has a delicious addition. G is for Guacamole that adds the right touch of spice and all things nice. Turn bacon slices crisp brown. A vine ripened tomato sliced thickly and romaine lettuce spears make composite layers. Use bread with character. Mine is an onion flecked burger bun. Layer the bun with lettuce. Top with bacon slices, followed by tomato. The second bun gets a thick swish of guacamole. Bring the two buns together and take a big bite. Pair it with a cold beer and some chips and watch the day get a tad better.

Serves 4

1 pound package thick cut Bacon
Romaine Lettuce leaves
1 large Tomato
Guacamole-  homemade or store-bought 
4-8 Onion-Topped Burger Buns or any sliced Bread of your choice

Cook bacon in a saucepan till dark brown and crisp. Drain on paper towels. You might have to fry the bacon in two batches.

Slice tomato.

Assemble sandwiches by placing lettuce leaves on the bottom half of the bun.

Top with bacon slices, broken in half. Use 3-4 slices of bacon.

Top bacon with tomato slice.

Spread guacamole on the top half of the bun and place over tomato.

Take a big bite and enjoy the sandwich.

An inordinate amount of sunshine lets me enjoy an al fresco lunch...just the right thing to do in the South!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Crepe Fettuccini

Pasta for dessert? Yes Yes Yes... Though there is a twist....a mock up of fettuccine, by way of slivered crepes. The recipe is a deconstructed Crepes Suzette. I watch this dessert performance via Lidia Bastianich. Her Italian cookery shows are in a class by itself. This episode features crespelle for dessert. Crepe Suzettes are one of my top ten desserts, so I am thrilled with this alternate version.

I make crepes with this specific recipe in mind. Rolled crepes are cut into slivers and sauteed in butter, fresh orange juice and apricot jam. Orange zest and sugar give the sauce flavor and sweetness. I fork a swirl of crepes on to my plate and anticipate my pleasure!

Adapted from Lidia Bastianich
Serves 6-8

Crepe batter
1/2 cup Flour
1/2 cup Milk
3 tablespoons Sugar
1/4 cup lukewarm Water
2 Eggs
2 tablespoons melted Butter
A pinch of Kosher salt
Melted Butter for making crepes

Orange Sauce
4 tablespoons Butter
1 1/2 cup fresh Orange Juice 
1 teaspoon Orange Zest
6 tablespoons Apricot Jam
4 tablespoons Sugar

Make the crepes by whisking flour, milk, sugar, water, eggs, melted butter and salt in a blender till smooth.

Pour crepe batter in to bowl, cover and let batter rest for 1 hour. This allows the crepes to develop that signature lacy effect when cooked.

Begin making crepes by placing a nonstick pan over medium heat. 

Brush the pan with melted butter.

Ladle about two tablespoons batter into the pan, swirling the pan as you pour, allowing the batter to coat the entire pan. Cook crepe for 2 minutes, then flip and cook the other side for 30 seconds. Place cooked crepe on a plate. 

Finish the remaining batter in the same fashion, making sure to brush the pan with melted butter before swirling each crepe. You will get 8-10 crepes.

Once crepes are done, roll each crepe tightly and cut into 1/4 inch thick slices. Pile them loosely on a platter.

Heat butter in a large saucepan.

Add orange juice and zest to butter and bring to a slow simmer.

Spoon apricot jam and sugar to sauce and stir till jam and sugar melt.

Add cut crepes to sauce and stir gently to coat. 

Simmer on a low flame for 5 minutes, stirring often.

Heap crepes onto a large plate or serve as individual portions.

This is my new favorite....it satisfies that sweet tooth with every forkful! 

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Affaf Ali's Reshmi Kababs

I belong to Sikandalous Cuisine, a food group with a platoon of professional chefs and amateur cooks. That is a distinction to some people! Spearheaded by Atul Sikand, these intrepid culinarians raise the bar with easy recipes for home cooking. Perusing through a multitude of cuisines I am often tempted to hit that Save button and experiment in my way. This is one of them. Affaf Ali posted these deliciously easy chicken kababs and has graciously allowed me to repost her stellar recipe. Instead of the traditional tandoor or grill, she allows you to cook the kababs in an oven. For some of us, winter weather is a big deterrent in outdoor grilling. 

Boneless skinless chicken thighs are cubed and marinated in cream, thick yogurt, lemon juice and spices. A fresh ground paste of cilantro, mint and green chiles is added. I have preserved the integrity of the ingredients, but increased quantity of some. Chicken is marinated overnight, threaded onto skewers and grilled in a hot oven.  The idea is to let the skewers rest over the lip of a baking sheet or ovenproof dish, not on the the sheet itself. I have a skewer set that allows me to place the contraption on a grill or baking sheet. The elevation allows the heat to envelop the entire surface of the meat, making a tastier and well browned kabab. The kababs are melt in your mouth delicacies. A spritz of lime, some sliced onion and a hearty appetite is all that is needed.

Serves 4

1 pound boneless skinless Chicken Thighs
1 tablespoon Garlic paste
1 tablespoon Ginger paste
1/3 cup Cream
1/2 cup Yogurt
3 tablespoons Lemon Juice
1 teaspoon ground Black Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg powder
3/4 teaspoon Garam Masala
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 cup Cilantro
1 cup Mint leaves
5 Green Chiles
1 tablespoon Canola Oil
Canola Oil Spray

Place a couple of paper towels or cheesecloth over a strainer. 

Spoon yogurt onto paper or cloth and let it drain for 1/2 hour.

Prepare the chicken by cutting it into 2 inch pieces. Wash and pat dry. Put chicken into a stainless steel or glass bowl.

Add cream, yogurt, garlic and ginger paste, lemon juice, black pepper, nutmeg, garam masala and salt to chicken.

Grind cilantro, mint and green chiles with oil till you have a thick paste. 

Add paste to chicken. Stir chicken  till well mixed.

Cover and refrigerate overnight for best results. If you are pressed for time, marinate chicken for 4-6 hours in the fridge. The longer it sits in the marinade the softer the chicken roasts.

Heat oven to 350F.

Thread chicken onto metal skewers. If you are using bamboo skewers, make sure to soak them for 30 minutes prior to roasting.

Arrange skewers over the sides of a  baking tray or over the lip of a baking dish. The idea is to elevate the skewers so they do not touch the bottom of the baking sheet or dish. Line the tray or dish with foil for an easier clean up. The foil catches the drips.

Coat chicken with a couple of spritzes of oil spray.

Place chicken in the oven and roast for 20-25 minutes till cooked. 

Serve chicken kababs with sliced onion and lime wedges.

It is finger food at our Oscar viewing dinner. Thanks you Affaf Ali for these mouthwatering nuggets of delight! 

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Beet And Goat Cheese Loaf

My romance with Ottolenghi continues. He inspires me with his diversity, his ability to envision combinations that flavor and titillate the palate. Beets and goat cheese are usually seen in salads. Ottolenghi incorporates them into a delicious loaf of quick bread. Slightly tangy, a slice smeared with butter or cream cheese makes a substantial nibble for hungry appetites.

The recipe has been on my to-do list for a while, but the thought of shredding raw beets proves daunting. Then I happen upon spiralized beets, next to my other favorite, spiralized zucchini. Happiness knows no bounds. I shred them with kitchen scissors, set about sifting flour, whip eggs and sour cream and soon my kitchen is suffused with olfactory promises.

Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi
Makes 1 9x4 inch loaf

1/2 cup rolled Oats (not instant)
1/2 teaspoon Fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon Nigella seeds
2 tablespoons fresh Thyme leaves, finely chopped
2 cups shredded or coarsely grated raw Beets
1 1/2 cups AP Flour
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
2 Eggs
3/4 cup Olive Oil
1/2 cup Sour Cream
1 tablespoon Honey
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan Cheese
1 cup Goat Cheese, crumbled

Mix rolled oats, fennel seeds, nigella seeds and thyme in a bowl. Keep aside 1 tablespoon of this mix.

Place flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Whisk with a fork to aerate the flour. 

Top flour with shredded beets and oat and thyme mix.

Heat oven to 345F.

Grease a 9x4 loaf pan well.

Break eggs in another bowl. Whisk eggs.

Add olive oil, sour cream, honey and parmesan cheese to eggs. Whisk again till creamy.

Pour egg batter over beets. Combine with a spatula. The batter will turn beetroot red but that is okay.

Add crumbled goat cheese to the batter. Mix carefully so the cheese remains whole.

Scrape batter into greased loaf pan.

Top with reserved oat thyme mix.

Place pan in oven for 40 minutes.

After 40 minutes remove pan from oven and cover tightly with aluminium foil.

Return pan to oven for another 40 minutes.

Take the loaf out of the oven and cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes.

Use a knife along the edges of the pan to loosen the loaf.

Tip loaf out of the pan and turn it back up so it cools seed side up. 

Let loaf cool for 15-20 minutes before slicing.

Serve slathered with butter, cream cheese or nothing at all.

The loaf looks promising and tastes delectable. The Slateplate makes an excellent canvas for the slices. Art of the genius combined with a little sweat from an amatuer, results in happy appetites.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Lavash Pinwheels

My last recipe was inspired by Geets. This one comes from her better half, John. He made these rolls eons ago, borrowing from his sisters Jeanette and Annabelle. They in turn made them by the dozens at their deli Amelia's in California. The deli is history but thankfully lavash rolls live on. 

Making them is one easy task. All you need is cream cheese, fresh spinach, roasted red peppers and artichoke hearts. And some good lavash bread. Lavash is a flatbread, soft and easy to manipulate. Mine comes from Trader Joes . I start with layering the lavash with softened cream cheese. I prefer whipped cream cheese as it has an airy quality. Use regular cream cheese if you like. Spinach leaves comprise the second layer. Red pepper slices go on next, followed by artichoke hearts. Since lavash is such a pliable bread, rolling the wrap tightly is an easy job. I let the rolls firm up in the fridge until ready to cut. Saw the rolls into half inch slices and nibble away. Delicious!

Serves 6-8 as appetizers

4 Lavash flatbread sheets
1 16 oz tub whipped Cream Cheese or regular Cream Cheese 
3 cups baby Spinach leaves
1 jar roasted Red peppers, drained well
1 jar marinated Artichoke Hearts, drained well

Bring cream cheese to room temperature. It is easier to spread when soft.

Place a lavash sheet on a flat surface.

Use a spatula to spread 2 generous tablespoons of cream cheese on lavash. Make sure you cover the entire sheet going all the way to the outer edges.

Cover the cream cheese with spinach leaves. Make one layer. If you like spinach feel free to put a second layer of spinach.

Place strips of well drained red pepper pieces at the bottom end of the lavash.

Top with artichoke hearts.

Start rolling the lavash tightly. Start at the end with the peppers and artichokes making sure to make a tight roll. Roll the lavash all the way to the top. Keep aside.

Repeat with the other 3 lavash sheets.

Refrigerate for a few hours or until you are ready to slice the rolls.

Cut them by trimming the ends off. Save these for a snack for you. Then cut the rolls into 1/2 inch slices as appetizers. 

Or cut the roll into 4 equal portions and pair with soup or salad. They make an excellent companion to either.

These pinwheels make a splash at a community brunch. Finger foods are always fun.