Thursday, March 17, 2016

St. Patrick's Day (recipes)

It's St. Patrick's Day and I have made soda bread and colcannon.  I like the simple and traditional soda bread recipe.  This makes one loaf.

Oven at 350F

2.5 cups flour
1 t soda
1t salt
1 - 1.25 cup(s) sour milk (1 cup milk to 1 T vinegar or lemon juice).  Non-dairy milk will work.  It is for richness and acidity.  It's the acidity that makes the bread rise. Yogurt or buttermilk will work, too, but sour milk seems to be the most traditional.

Mix all of this together to form a soft, smooth  -- but not sticky -- dough and knead lightly to form a round loaf.  Place on parchment paper on a baking sheet.  Cut a cross on the top.  Bake for 45 minutes and serve warm or toasted.  Traditionally, it would be served with lashes (lots) of butter, if you've got it.

Like much traditional food, this starts out simple and gets fancied up.  Just plain, it works as a regular bread, crusty and great with soup.  Add currents (traditional) or raisins, or orange zest or glaze it, or add an egg and you come up with something much fancier and either a breakfast bread or a sweet tea bread.   I've never gone further than currants.  I tend to like plain food.

Colcannon is cabbage and potatoes, together at last.  Again, it can be as simple as stirring chopped cabbage into mashed boiled potatoes, and then it starts getting fancy.  It's very good in its simplest form, but Alton Brown has taken it over the top in a good way.  Here, OTT is good.

Alton Brown's Colcannon Recipe

Potatoes and cabbage?  What could be special or wonderful about that?  Well, choose your potatoes carefully and put on to boil; put a lot of butter, browned, please, in a saute pan; saute that cabbage and deglaze the pan with Irish Whiskey, mash the drained cooked potatoes, with a little water or milk if you have it, stir in the cabbage, add salt and pepper to taste and butter to tolerance and WOW!  I honestly cannot improve on Alton's recipe in any way.

As I have often noted, if you take the butter and booze out of UK-Eire cooking, there's often very little flavor left.  But if you leave them in, those simple, plain foods are terrific.


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