Thursday, March 18, 2010

Irish Soda Bread

5 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into cubes, room temperature
2 1/2 cups raisins
3 tablespoons caraway seeds
2 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously butter heavy ovenproof 10- to 12-inch-diameter skillet with 2- to 2 1/2-inch-high sides. Whisk first 5 ingredients in large bowl to blend. Add butter; using fingertips, rub in until coarse crumbs form. Stir in raisins and caraway seeds. Whisk buttermilk and egg in medium bowl to blend. Add to dough; using wooden spoon, stir just until well incorporated (dough will be very sticky).

Transfer dough to prepared skillet; smooth top, mounding slightly in center. Using small sharp knife dipped into flour, cut 1-inch-deep X in top center of dough. Bake until bread is cooked through and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Cool bread in skillet 10 minutes. Turn out onto rack and cool completely. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap tightly in foil; store at room temperature.)


Notes: I made 1/2 batch (still a fair-sized loaf!) in an 8-in cast iron skillet, and baked for 1 hour.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Monday, March 8, 2010

Grant's Birthday Cake

The cake recipe is from Smitten Kitchen.

3 ounces fine-quality semisweet chocolate such as Callebaut
1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee
3 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla

  • 9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Nutella, an entire Costco jar

Cake Instructions
Preheat oven to 300°F. and grease pans. Finely chop chocolate and in a bowl combine with hot coffee. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

Into a large bowl sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl with an electric mixer beat eggs until thickened slightly and lemon colored (about 3 minutes with a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a hand-held mixer). Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until combined well. Add sugar mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined well.

Divide batter between pans and bake in middle of oven until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Cool layers completely in pans on racks. Run a thin knife around edges of pans and invert layers onto racks. Carefully remove wax paper and cool layers completely. Cake layers may be made 1 day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature.

Divide each of the cakes into two layers, spread each layer with Nutella.

Ganache Instructions
Chop chocolate and place in a heat proof bowl. Bring cream just to a boil, pour over chocolate and stir until the chocolate has melted, let cool slightly. Pour the ganache over the top of the cake starting at the center, let run down the sides.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Spaghetti and Meatballs

I got these pretty much perfect recipes from Pioneer Woman.

¾ pounds Ground Beef
¾ pounds Ground Pork
3 cloves Garlic, Minced
¾ cups Fine Bread Crumbs
2 whole Eggs
¾ cups Freshly Grated Parmesan
¼ cups Flat-leaf Parsley, Minced
¼ teaspoons Salt
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Splash Of Milk
½ cups Olive Oil

1 whole Yellow Onion, Diced
3 cloves Garlic, Minced
1 whole (28-ounce) Can Whole Tomatoes
1 whole 28 Ounce Can Crushed Tomatoes
½ cups White Or Red Wine (optional)
¼ teaspoons Salt
1 teaspoon Sugar
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
¼ cups Flat-leaf Parsley, Minced
8 whole Fresh Basil Leaves, Chiffonade (optional)

2 pounds Spaghetti, Cooked To Al Dente

Preparation Instructions
To make the meatballs, combine meat, garlic, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, eggs, salt, pepper, parsley, and a splash of milk in a mixing bowl. Mix together well with hands. Roll into 25 1 1/2-inch balls and place on a cookie sheet. Place cookie sheet into the freezer for 5 to 10 minutes to firm up.

To brown the meatballs, heat olive oil in a heavy pot or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add meatballs 8 at a time, turning to brown. Remove and drain on a paper towel after each batch. Set meatballs aside.
In the same pot, add the onions and garlic and cook for a few minutes, or until translucent. Pour in whole tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, and wine, if using. Add salt, pepper, sugar, and parsley. Stir to combine and cook over medium heat for 20 minutes.

Add meatballs to pot and stir in gently. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, stirring very gently a couple of times during the simmer.

Just before serving, stir in basil if using.
Serve over cooked spaghetti. Sprinkle with extra Parmesan.

  • Extra parsley in the meatballs would've been good. (But they were also nice as is.)
  • The recipe made 44 meatballs formed with my smaller #60 food scoop.
  • I didn't use wine in the sauce.
  • I used two cans of crushed tomatoes because of *someone's* aversion to visible tomato parts. >:-(

Sunday Brunch Casserole

1/2 lb. sliced bacon (or breakfast sausage)
1/2 c chopped onion
1/2 c green pepper
12 eggs
1 c milk
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 16 ounce package frozen hash browns, thawed
1 c shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 tsp dill weed

In a skillet, cook bacon until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon, crumble and set aside. In the drippings, saute onion and green pepper until tender; remove with a slotted spoon. Beat eggs and milk. Stir in hash browns, cheese, salt, pepper, dill, onion, peppers and bacon. Transfer to a greased 13X9" pan. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Makes 6-8 generous servings.

  • Sausage is a good substitution for the bacon.
  • Onion and peppers are optional (but recommended)
  • This could easily be assembled the night before and baked for breakfast or brunch.
  • I just halved all the ingredients and baked it in a 9x9" pan and it worked well for 4 of us.
  • We tried it as a freeze-ahead meal by freezing before the baking step. Someone will comment on whether this worked or not.