Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Irish Potato Bread

 I bought my first bread machine in 1992. I've always been into carby things, but I soon discovered that bread was more than flour and yeast. It appeals to our senses and evokes comfort. The scent of sourdough always pulled my guests into the kitchen. 

I adored that old bread machine. I even took it with me on a vacation to Perdido Key, Florida. Then I developed high blood pressure and went on a diet. I gave my beloved machine to an elderly friend who could no longer knead bread, then I embraced a breadless life (well, almost).

Twenty years later, my friend, author Shirley Hailstock, renewed my interest in breadmaking. She told me how she wakes up to the aroma of freshly baked cinnamon bread--she assembles the ingredients the night before and sets the timer function on her machine. 

With Shirley's lush descriptions firmly in my mind, I bought another machine. Now, after two decades of denying my olfactory cravings, I am "making" bread every day. I'm especially fond of potato bread. It has that just-right flavor. It's dense enough to stand up to a juicy BLT, yet it's soft enough to melt on the tongue. I use the leftovers for croutons and bread crumbs.

Bread Machine Potato Bread

                                                   Yield: 1 loaf

3 1/2 c. bread flour

1 c. mashed potatoes

2 tablespoons sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled to 80 degrees

1/4 c. whole milk, room temperature

1/3 c. warm water (80 degrees)

2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast

. . .

Use a cooking thermometer to check the temperature of the water and butter. Place ingredients in the bread machine pan. The order will depend on your machine's instructions. I start with wet ingredients, then I add the dry. The yeast goes on top (the very last ingredient). Start the machine.

When the baking cycle ends, remove the bread from the pan and cool on a rack. Brush rosemary butter over the top and sides of the bread. Sprinkle with sea salt.

Rosemary Butter:

1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened

fresh rosemary

sea salt

Into a bowl add chopped rosemary and a pinch of sea salt to butter. Blend. Slather on warm potato bread.

 If you're an olfactory-oriented person like myself, then you know the smell of browning bread sends a message to anyone who enters your kitchen.
"You're home," the aroma says. "Come on inside and get cozy."

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Monday, February 27, 2012

An Irish Breakfast

One Easter we flew to Ireland. We arrived in Dublin on a rainy morning, and our first meal at the hotel was a traditional Irish breakfast: black pudding, fried ham, grilled tomatoes, sunny side up eggs, soda bread, and tea.
After we ventured into the countryside, scones and oatmeal began to appear on the menu. The combination created a filling breakfast, and for once I didn't think about food as I traipsed through valleys and rolling hills. The land was a thousand shades of green--far brighter than Tennessee--
and the air was spiced with peat . . . yet it reminded me of home.
To this day, when I am lonesome for Ireland, I make oatmeal and scones.

This morning, while I listened to music by The Frames, I prepared a Tennessee version of an Irish breakfast. I laced the oatmeal with granola and heavy cream.
Then I "dressed" a scone with whiskey jam.

The first time I saw Rattlebridge, I thought of Ireland. True, the farm is a world away, and very different from the Emerald Isle. The day we saw Rattlebridge, I was entranced by the sky--a wash of blue, clouds like spilled cream. I remember thinking that those clouds might eventually wing their way to Ireland. When you love a place, it becomes a part of you. One day you might walk on a Tennessee farm, and your thoughts are like those clouds, rushing to the places you love while your feet never leave the ground.

Today, renovation began at the farm. Past remodelings have been filled with angst and second guessing, but Will and I feel excited. While I ate my Irish-Tennessee breakfast, I made notes.
I have inherited a cottage garden, wild turkeys, a pond full of bull frogs, a small cemetery,
and fields of daffodils.
I'm hoping for many Irish breakfasts and blessings.

Rattlebridge Farm's Berry Scones

A dazzle of morning sun fills my kitchen this morning.
The coffee pot is burbling, and the air smells sweetly of vanilla beans.
I can't wait to make a batch of berry scones. 

I didn't develop scone madness until I was 40 years old. I was traveling in England, and I stopped at a charming market in Stow-on-the-Wold. I bought a cranberry scone and scarfed it down
without a drop of clotted cream. I came home to Tennessee with five extra pounds
and ten more pounds of British cookbooks.

Today I am missing the green, rolling hills of England. I don't know if I will ever return. But that's fine, because food is an excellent tool for armchair travellers. Whenever I make scones, 
I am transported back to the Cotswolds.

Rattlebridge Farm's Berry Scones

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into tiny pieces
1 egg, beaten
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup dried berries
Baileys Irish Cream
Egg wash (with a pinch of salt)
Place dried berries into a bowl. Pour Baileys Irish Cream over berries and set aside. Preheat oven to 375-400 degrees (depending on your oven's temperament). Sift dry ingredients. Use a pastry blender to work in the butter. When the mixture is crumbly, add buttermilk and egg. Blend.
Drain berries and work them into the dough. Knead gently. The dough will be sticky, and you might want to spray Pam onto your hands. Turn the dough onto a floured board. Run a rolling pin over the dough (you'll want the dough to be about 2" high). Cut out the scones. I use a small mug. Place scones on a greased baking pan. Brush tops with egg wash.
Bake in a pre-heated oven for 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

I love this recipe because it's forgiving to a slob like myself. The result is like a biscuit on steroids--cakey, dense, and faintly sweet. The scone lends itself to variations: you can add nuts, herbs, chocolate, lemon or orange zest, and berries.

In return, the scone asks one thing: don't overwork the dough.
And it's tempting--because scone dough is sticky. I always have to remind myself to use a light touch.

Sometimes I'm in the mood for a bite-sized, round scone. Other times I will shape the dough into a fat circle, roughly the size of a small, one-layer cake, and serve it in wedges.  

The "dressing" of a scone is a serious matter across the pond. Check out Baking for Britain for a primer on how folks in the West Country position their cream and jam.
I'll take mine hot or cold, with or without cream, any time of the day: breakfast, afternoon tea, or a midnight snack. 

A Metamorphosis Monday contribution.

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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Foodie Friday Cafe

Welcome to the second Foodie Friday Cafe, where great food is always on the menu. Dr. Big (see above photo) will be breaking his diet to join us. He can't resist the scrumptious offerings y'all have cooked up today.

Let's check out the weekly specials on the chalkboard. I don't know about you, but I can't decide what to order. Everything looks delicious.

The Foodie Friday Cafe Chalkboard

Crab Cakes by Our Southern Table
Cajun Chicken Pasta by The Little Round Table
Slow cooked rosemary pork roast by Miz Helen's Country Cottage
Spicy Pulled Pork Sandwiches by Mrs. Happy Home Maker.
Spicy Bean Burritos by Little Mommy, Big Appetite
Homemade Pizza by Nancy's Daily Dish.
Jambalaya by At Nan's Table
Slow Cooker Blanquette de Veau by 21st Century Housewife
Liver and onions by Gray Cardigan.
Quiche by Sweetology 101
Beet Gnochi by Lost Past Remembered
Chicken salad sandwich by No Ideas
Prosciutto Haloumi Fennel-Apple Salad by Beyond the Peel
Parmesan Garlic Potatoes by Frugal Homekeeping
Ombre Rose Cake by Purple Chocolate Home
Old Fashioned Buttermilk Pound Cake at A Walk in the Countryside
Shamrock milkshake by Debbie's Sweets.

While you're looking at the menu, let's check out some other fabulous offerings.
I can't wait to try Pattie Tierney's Mongolian Beef. It's fresh and heartwarming, just the thing when you're pining for spring.

We eat pork every week, and sometimes I fall into a "roast rut."
But that's over! A Pinch of Joy shares her recipe for pork roast with sweet potatoes and fried apples.

Girlichef wrote a fabulous post around a recipe--Braised Beef Short Ribs with rutabaga.
Smells wonderful, and it's hearty fare.

Our family loves chili, but cornbread is king--we think of it an entree. We were thrilled to find a recipe for chili and cornbread in a cup at Purple Chocolate Home.
Be sure to check out Purple Chocolate Home's gorgeous cake, too.

Knit One Pearl Onion has the ultimate recipe for coq au vin.

These entrees will be perfect with Whole Wheat Honey and Goat Cheese Drop biscuits, created by Wives With Knives.

I grew up eating hot bacon salad, but I didn't have a sure-fire recipe until I saw one at Filet on a Bologna Budget. I'm making this for Sunday supper.

Good food comes out of Libby's kitchen at Twirl and Taste. These hearty ham and gruyere sandwiches will be on my menu next week--if I can wait that long.

I have a love/hate relationship with icing--love to eat it, hate to make it. Just when I thought it was hopeless, here comes Pat's Pink Apron's outstanding tutorial on how to make fondant roses.

Artfully Graced shares her recipe for baked Arizona chocolate chip cookies. I'd love a basket filled with these goodies.

This morning, I made two types of scones--one with dried berries, one with white chocolate. I didn't think to mix chocolate and fruit until I read the recipe by Cozy Home Kitchen. Her chocolate chip and cherry scones look scrumptious.

An Oregon Cottage offers a tutorial for quick and easy lava cakes.

Can you imagine biting into a Seven Layer Magic Bar?
The Vegetarian Casserole Queen has the recipe.

Happier Than a Pig in Mud is celebrating Mardi Gras with orange sugar beignets. I remember going to the French Market in New Orleans with my father, and we'd stand in line for beignets.

Are you ready for St. Patrick's Day? Susannah's Kitchen shows us how to make
an easy  Irish cream frosting for cupcakes. Don't they look heavenly?

Mountain Breaths is getting ready for Mardi Gras with Purple Velvet cupcakes.
You'll love reading about this delightful spin on a favorite dessert.

If you love red velvet cake, and I do, then it doesn't get any better than this--Home Is Where the Boat Is shows us how to make a red velvet trifle. Hint: the dessert is served in a darling Mason jar.

If you're looking for breakfast ideas, Sweet Natured Treats has a recipe
for whole wheat blueberry-lemon yogurt pancakes.

The other day I wondered if anyone had made a blue velvet cake. Guess what? Cupcake Apothecary has the recipe, and it's a keeper.

I love how Foodie Friday teaches me new things. I'd never heard of Lorax until Peter and Madeline took us to a virtual party. Fun!

Wellness Shammock explains 14 ways to use salt, Domesblissity ponders buying vs. growing your own vegetables, and A Green Earth takes us on a tour of an Australian community garden.

Have you ever wondered what you'd cook in a dream kitchen? Tassles and Twigs cooks imaginary food in dreamy environments. You'll love Tour de Kitchen.

Komalinumma is always a joy to visit. This week she has created an indispensable guide
to pantry and refrigerator staples

Thanks for joining us today! I hope you've enjoyed this week's sampling from the 2/24/12 contributions to Foodie Friday. Wouldn't you like to see what else is on the menu? It's fabulous!
Check out February 24th Foodie Friday linky party, where over 100 recipes await you.

See you next Sunday at the Foodie Friday Cafe.

The link for Foodie Friday will be available at 7 p.m. Thursday,

March 1st. Until then, Happy Recipe Hunting.

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