Thursday, March 12, 2020

St. Patrick's Day Week: It's Soda, But You Don't Drink It

You might call it a true taste of Ireland, and how appropriate on this St. Patrick's Day week! You've heard of it, it's called Irish Soda Bread, and it's delicious.  Darina Allen with the Ballymaloe Cookery School in Ireland stopped by Tonia's Kitchen to talk about how to make this Irish classic.  Darina starts with a pound of Odlums Flour, which she says is available in the US, and combines it with salt, bicarbonate soda, low-fat buttermilk and cream. Darina says she combines all the ingredients in a bowl and stirs it by hand. It's a true treat of Ireland, and something wonderful to enjoy.

(Reprinted from KerryGold USA)

1 pound Odlums flour (about 3 1/2 cups)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
13 to 16 ounces buttermilk (depending on the consistency of the buttermilk)
Preheat the oven to 450° F. Mix the flours in a large wide bowl, add the salt and sieved baking soda. Lift the flour up with your fingers to distribute the salt and baking soda.
Make a well in the center and pour in all the buttermilk. With your fingers stiff and outstretched, stir in a circular movement from the center to the outside of the bowl in ever increasing concentric circles. When you reach the outside of the bowl, seconds later the dough should be made.
Sprinkle a little flour on the worktop. Turn the dough out onto the floured worktop. (Fill the bowl with cold water so it will be easy to wash later.)
Sprinkle a little flour on your hands. Gently tidy the dough around the edges and transfer to oven tray. Tuck the edges underneath with your hand; gently pat the dough with your fingers into a loaf about 1 1/2-inch thick. Now wash and dry your hands.
Cut a deep cross into the bread (this is called ‘blessing the bread’ and then prick it in the center of the four sections to let the fairies out of the bread).
Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes then turn the oven down to 400°F for a further 15 or 20 minutes. Turn the bread upside down and cook for a further 5 to 10 minutes until cooked (the bottom should sound hollow when tapped). Cool on a wire rack.
Makes 1 loaf.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

St. Patrick's Day Week: What More Do We Have to Say, Guiness Cake!

As we approach St. Patrick's Day, let's turn our attention to something very appropriate, Guinness Cake!   Clodagh McKenna, who authored her new book Clodagh's Irish Kitchen told Tonia  she takes eggs, butter and flour, and combines it altogether with some delicious Guinness Beer!  She also uses lots of cocoa and buttermilk because the former's sweetness offsets the bitterness of the Guinness Beer and the latter provides a fluffy texture.  Bake it altogether and create a vanilla and cream cheese icing.  Clodagh says it's one of her very favorites!

2 1/4 sticks plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups Guinness stout beer
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
2 large eggs
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons superfine sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder

For the frosting:
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups cream cheese (don’t use low-fat for this)

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom of a 12-inch round springform pan with parchment paper. 

Make the cake: Heat the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat until melted. Stir in the Guinness, then remove from the heat and stir in the cocoa. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, vanilla extract and buttermilk. Slowly mix in the Guinness mixture. 

Sift the flour, baking soda and baking powder together into a separate large bowl. Using a handheld electric mixer, slowly mix the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and keep beating until it is well combined. Transfer the batter to the prepared cake pan and bake in the oven for about 45 minutes. Test to make sure the cake is cooked by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cake—if it comes out clean, the cake is cooked. 

Let cool in the pan then transfer from the pan onto a wire rack. While the cake is cooling, make the frosting: Using a handheld electric mixer, blend all the ingredients together until light and fluffy. Place the cooled cake on a plate and generously spread the frosting on top. The cake will keep for up to 1 week in an airtight container. 

St. Patrick's Day Week: There is no More Irish a Dinner Than This!

In honor of the most celebrated Celtic holiday, Tonia's Kitchen talked with Clodagh McKenna, the author of the new cookbook Clodagh's Irish Kitchen. Clodagh stopped by to talk about one of her favorite comfort foods…Irish Lamb Stew.  Cloudagh told Tonia it’s a fantastic mid-week supper for the whole family. It can be made the night before and reheated.

Serves 6
2 tablespoons butter
2 pounds boneless lamb for stew, cut into chunks
   sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
4 onions, peeled and cut into thin wedges
6 waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
1/2 cup pearl barley 2 sprigs of thyme
For the stock
1 lamb bone
1 carrot
1 onion
2 peppercorns
1 bouquet garni
For the roux
2 tablespoons butter 
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

First make the stock: Place all the ingredients in a saucepan with 2 quarts cold water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for as long as possible to bring out the flavor, 2 to 3 hours if you can. Strain the stock and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 300°F. 

Place a casserole dish over high heat, melt the butter, and add the lamb. Season with salt and pepper and stir until it is a nice brownish color. Transfer to a plate and repeat the process with the vegetables, before also transferring them to a plate.

Spoon all the vegetables, the lamb, and the pearl barley into the casserole dish, placing the potatoes on top (you do not want them to get mushy). Remove all the leaves from the thyme stems (discard the stalks) and add them to the dish. Cover with the hot lamb stock and place in the oven for 11/2 hours.

While the lamb stew is cooking, make a roux: Melt the butter in a saucepan and beat in the flour, until it forms a paste. Once the casserole has cooked, ladle the juices from the stew into a saucepan and slowly beat into the roux. Cook, stirring, until thickened and smooth. Then pour the thickened gravy back into the stew before serving

Friday, March 6, 2020

This Fish Dish is Crazy

It says it right in it's name; Fish In Crazy Water! Amy Riolo, who wrote the cookbook, The Ultimate Mediterranean Diet told Tonia this Italian-fish dish is called that because of the burst of flavor it gives you.  Traditionally, a very spicy dish that's made with tomatoes, Amy subs in grapes, to provide a sweet element, which balances out the spicy.  She takes halibut filets (no more than 4 oz each) and places them in a skillet with olive oil.  She then adds the grapes,chili pepper, basil, salt and pepper and water and brings it to a boil.  Amy then brings down the heat to medium low and cooks the fish for 7 minutes on each side and removes the filets, but leaves the grapes and water in the skillet.  Amy brings them back to a boil until they form a sauce.  She places that over the fish and serves.  This fish may be crazy, but your tastebuds will be insane with flavor!

cup (60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

4 boneless halibut fillets, 4 ounces each

4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

1 small red chili, finely chopped

2 cups (300 g) seedless green grapes

a handful of fresh basil leaves, roughly torn

½ teaspoon unrefined sea salt or salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Add the halibut, followed by the garlic, chili, grapes, basil and the salt. Pour in 13/4 cups (410 ml) of water, turn the heat down to medium-low, cover, and cook the fish until opaque, or for 7 minutes on each side.

Remove the fish from the pan and place on a large serving dish. Raise the heat, cook the sauce for 30 seconds to concentrate the flavors slightly. Taste and adjust salt and pepper. Pour sauce over the fish.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Excellent Escarole!

Talk about an Italian Delight! Michele Scicolone, who wrote the Italian Vegetable Cookbook stopped by Tonia's Kitchen to talk about her recipe for sautéed Escarole. Michele says her recipe is a delicious way to excel at Escarole and very easy to make as well. She notes you can serve it as a lunch with poached eggs, or whatever you wish, as it goes well with a number of items. See the recipe below in the dialog box.