Irish Soda Bread Muffins

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Soda bread is an essential start of the celebration in our house. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from King Arthur Flour. I loved the muffin adaptation- and the coarse sugar topping. I weighed the dry ingredients, reduced the baking time, and used turbinado sugar for the topping. Yummy.

  • 6 1/4 oz (177 g, 1 1/2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3 oz (85 g, , 3/4 cup) white whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/3 cup (2 5/8 oz) granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups currants (first choice) or raisins
  • 1/2 to 2 teaspoons caraway seeds, to taste
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup (8 oz, 227 g) buttermilk, yogurt, or sour cream
  • 6 tablespoons (3 oz, 85 g) butter, melted; or 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • turbinado sugar, for topping
  • butter and/or jam, for serving
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F, preferably on convection. Lightly grease a standard muffin pan with cooking oil spray; or line with papers, and grease the papers.
  2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, currants or raisins, and caraway seeds.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk (or equivalent) and melted butter (or equivalent).
  4. Quickly and gently combine the dry and wet ingredients; honestly, this won’t take more than a few stirs with a bowl scraper or large spoon. As soon as everything is evenly moistened, quit; further stirring will cause the muffins to be tough.
  5. Using a cookie scoop, distribute the batter into the prepared pan, filling the cups about 3/4 full; the stiff batter will look mounded in the cups.
  6. Top with turbinado sugar, if desired.
  7. Bake the muffins for 14-15 minutes on convection, or up to 20 minutes in a standard oven, until a cake tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove them from the oven.
  8. Tip the muffins in the pan, so their bottoms don’t get soggy. Wait 5 minutes, then transfer the muffins to a rack to cool.
  9. Serve them plain, or with butter and/or jam.

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Southern Cornbread Dressing

Okay… back to my belated Thanksgiving feast posts…

I struggle selecting a “stuffing” for our Thanksgiving Menu. This version was simple and perfect. I loved that it was a traditional Southern recipe and that it incorporated an unsweetened cast iron skillet cornbread.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Kim Severson. I used medium grind cornmeal. The cornbread is made the night before so that it can harden slightly. I let the cubed white bread sit out overnight as well. We ate it without incorporating meat, but this base recipe could easily be modified to include sausage or even nuts and/or apples. The author suggested eating leftovers mixed with shredded leftover turkey as well.

Yield: Serves 8 to 10

For the Cornbread:

  • 4 tablespoons/56 grams butter or bacon drippings
  • 2 cups/340 grams yellow cornmeal, medium grind (use the freshest, best quality you can find)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups/473 milliliters buttermilk, preferably full fat (I used low-fat)

For the Dressing:

  • 3 cups soft white bread, crusts removed and torn or cut into 1-inch pieces (do not pack)
  • ½ cup butter (1 stick), plus more for the pan
  • 2 cups chopped sweet onions
  • 1 ½ cups chopped celery (4 or 5 stalks)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ÂĽ tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • Âľ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 to 5 cups rich chicken or turkey stock, preferably homemade

Optional Additions:

  • 3/4 pound pork sausage (such as spicy Italian sausage, fresh andouille or spicy Southern-style sausage)
  • 2 1/2 cups of toasted pecans, chopped
  • chopped apples
  1. Make the cornbread: Heat oven to 450 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Put butter in an 11-inch skillet. Cast-iron is best here, but any ovenproof skillet will do. Heat butter in oven for about 5 to 7 minutes, or until butter has melted and is just starting to brown.
  3. While butter melts, whisk together cornmeal, salt and baking powder.
  4. In another small bowl, lightly beat eggs, then add buttermilk and stir until mixture is combined.
  5. Pour egg mixture into dry ingredients and stir well.
  6. Remove hot pan from oven, pour butter into batter and stir until batter looks uniform.
  7. Pour batter back into the pan and bake for 20 minutes or until the top has begun to just brown.
  8. Remove cornbread and let it cool on a rack.
  9. Tear or cut it into large pieces and place in a large bowl. Let it sit out overnight to dry out slightly.
  10. Prepare the dressing: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine cornbread and white bread in a large bowl, tossing to mix, and breaking cornbread into smaller pieces.
  11. Melt butter in a large skillet, and add onions, celery and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Sauté until vegetables have softened, about 6 minutes.
  12. Add vegetables to bread mixture and combine.
  13. Lightly beat eggs and add to bowl.
  14. Sprinkle in herbs, remaining 1 teaspoon salt and the pepper and toss together.
  15. Add 4 cups broth and stir well.
  16. Using your hands, work the mixture to get a very lumpy, thick, batter-like consistency.
  17. Add another cup of stock if needed. The mixture should be very wet and pourable but without standing liquid.
  18. Butter a 2-quart ovenproof dish. (such as an 8-by-11-inch baking dish. A deeper vessel could take longer to bake; a more shallow dish less time.)
  19. Pour the mixture into the baking dish and bake until dressing puffs slightly and has browned well around the edges, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  20. If you have drippings from a roasted turkey, spoon some over the top about 30 minutes into the baking time.

Notes:

  • To Add Sausage: Brown 3/4 pound pork sausage in a pan, crumbling it into small pieces as it cooks. Add to the bread mixture along with the vegetables.
  • To Include Nuts: Add 2 1/2 cups of toasted pecans, chopped, to the vegetable and bread mixture.

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Oatmeal Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes

It’s hard to beat a special summer breakfast loaded with fresh berries. Similar to the muffins in my last post, the whole wheat flour and oats in the batter make this special treat a substantial meal as well.

This recipe was adapted from New York Times, contributed by Martha Rose Schulman. I decreased the batter resting time and increased the amount of blueberries. Delicious!!

  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • ½ cup low-fat milk
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ÂĽ teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cups buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
  1. Combine the milk and rolled oats in a bowl, and set aside.
  2. Whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt.
  3. In another bowl, whisk the eggs, then add the buttermilk and whisk together. Then whisk in the vanilla extract and the oil.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and quickly whisk together. Do not overbeat; a few lumps are okay. Fold in the oats and milk. Let sit for one hour, or refrigerate overnight. (I let it sit for 30 minutes without a problem.)
  5. If necessary, spray the hot griddle with pan spray. Drop by 3 to 4 tablespoons onto the hot griddle. Place six or seven blueberries on each pancake. Cook until bubbles begin to break through, two to three minutes. Turn and cook for about 30 seconds to a minute on the other side, or until nicely browned. Remove from the heat, and continue until all of the batter is used up.
  6. Serve hot with a small amount of butter and maple syrup.

Note: Keep these, well wrapped, in the refrigerator for a few days, or freeze for up to a few months.

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Extra-Crispy Birthday Fried Chicken with Biscuits & Milk Gravy

Every spring, along with my husband’s special (made to order!) birthday dinner, I like to share part of the springtime experience at my house. In the past, I’ve complained about the goose families (with their beautiful goslings…) and the ducks who’ve seemed to chase them away. The new development this year is that my son (and husband) have been chasing the geese away with a drone!

  IMG_4083  IMG_4078

The house finches returned but have moved their nest from our entrance column to the top of our propane gas tank! BUT… The extraordinary event this year was that we have had frequent visits from a very special Night Heron. What fun!

IMG_4530

Well, onto the food. My husband has had little variation in his birthday dinner menu request for the past several years. Although I did repeat my caesar salad and vanilla bean cheesecake recipes (his true favorites), I spiced up the celebration by trying new fried chicken and biscuit recipes. This year, he asked for double fried chicken. After researching, I realized that this really means double battered fried chicken, not literally double fried. It had the most amazing crispy and thick crust with just the right amount of spice. The birthday boy loved it! We ate leftovers for days and never tired of it. Absolutely delicious. (He may even want it again for Father’s Day!)

The chicken recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit, contributed by Claire Saffitz. It did seem like a labor intensive recipe, and required planning in advance, but the chilling and resting times involved helped the breading adhere to the chicken meat. I doubled the recipe and pan-fried (instead of deep-frying) the chicken in Ukrainian sunflower oil. I also omitted the bourbon and used Sriracha instead of Frank’s hot sauce in the batter.

I served this indulgent meal with a side of creamy macaroni and cheese and with our new “Happy Birthday” fork! 🙂

I’m bringing this special birthday meal to share with my friends at Fiesta Friday #123 this week co-hosted by Margy @ La Petite Casserole and Linda @ La Petite Paniere. Enjoy!

Yield: Serves 8

For the Chicken:

  • 4 tsp coarse salt
  • 2 tsp light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 10 skinless, boneless chicken thighs

For the Assembly:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup cornstarch
  • 2 T garlic powder
  • 2 T onion powder
  • 2 T paprika
  • 4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 4 T coarse salt, plus more
  • 2 large eggs, beaten to blend
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 4 T bourbon (optional)(I omitted it)
  • 6 T hot sauce (such as Sriracha or Frank’s); plus more for serving (optional)
  • 2-3 cups sunflower, peanut or other vegetable oil, for frying

Prepare the Chicken:

  1. Trim chicken and dry on paper towels.
  2. Mix salt, sugar, and baking powder in a small bowl. Season chicken all over with salt mixture (you may not need all of it).
  3. Chill uncovered on a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet, at least 2 hours and up to 1 day. (I let it sit for about 12 hours.)

Assemble the Chicken:

  1. Whisk flour, cornstarch, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cayenne, and 4 T salt in a medium bowl.
  2. Whisk egg, buttermilk, bourbon (if using), and 3 T hot sauce in another medium bowl.
  3. Working with 1 piece at a time, dredge chicken in flour mixture, turning to coat and packing into crevices. Shake to remove excess; return to rack.
  4. Pour 6 T buttermilk mixture into flour mixture and work in with your fingers.
  5. Dip chicken into remaining buttermilk mixture, allow excess to drip off, then pack moistened flour mixture firmly onto chicken. Gently shake off excess; return to rack. Chill at least 30 minutes and up to 12 hours.
  6. Pour oil into a 12-inch cast iron skillet, about 1/2-inch deep. Heat over medium-high until a deep fry thermometer registers 350°. (I was diligent about maintaining the temperature throughout the cooking process.)
  7. Working in batches, fry two chicken thighs at a time, turning often and adjusting heat to maintain temperature, until deep golden brown, about 6 minutes per batch.
  8. Transfer to a wire rack set over paper towels to drain.

For the Biscuits:

This simple biscuit recipe is unlike any other I’ve made in the past. The dough is prepared and then rests at room temperature for 30 minutes. The result was wonderful! This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Sam Sifton.

Yield: Serves 8   Time: 1 hour

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2 T baking powder
  • 1 scant T sugar
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 5 T cold, unsalted butter, preferably European style
  • 1 cup whole milk
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Pulse flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor (or whisk to combine in a large bowl).
  3. Cut butter into pats and add to flour, then pulse 5 or 6 times until the mixture resembles rough crumbs. (Alternatively, cut butter into flour in the mixing bowl using a fork or a pastry cutter.)
  4. Return dough to bowl, add milk and stir with a fork until it forms a rough ball.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and pat it down into a rough rectangle, about an inch thick. Fold it over and gently pat it down again. Repeat.
  6. Cover the dough loosely with a kitchen towel and allow it to rest for 30 minutes.
  7. Gently pat out the dough some more, so that the rectangle is roughly 10 inches by 6 inches.
  8. Cut dough into biscuits using a floured glass or biscuit cutter. Do not twist cutter when cutting; this crimps the edges of the biscuit and impedes its rise.
  9. Place biscuits on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake until golden brown, approximately 10 to 15 minutes.

For the Milk Gravy (recipe adapted from The Pioneer Woman):

  • 3 T fried chicken pan drippings
  • 2-3 T all-purpose flour
  • 1-2 cups milk (I used 1 percent)
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. In a small skillet over medium-low heat, add pan drippings and flour. Whisk immediately. It should be smooth.
  2. Keep stirring until the mixture begins to brown, 2-3 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan.
  3. Whisk in 1 cup of milk. Cook until desired thickness is achieved- adding more milk if desired.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Cut biscuits in half and pour gravy over the top to serve.

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Buckwheat Crepes with Asparagus, Gruyère, & Prosciutto

This is another yummy dish that I made while visiting my mom over spring break. It was a special recipe to try during our visit because my dad made amazing breakfast crepes every Sunday morning during my childhood and also because my grandfather was from Brittany; this is a classic dish from that region. I also absolutely love using my dad’s perfectly seasoned crepe pans! 🙂

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by David Tanis. Due to technical difficulties, I substituted whole wheat flour for buckwheat flour in the crepes- they were still delicious! (I would make them with buckwheat flour, if possible, next time though.) I also substituted prosciutto for ham in the filling.

According to Tanis, these crepes are traditionally served with a glass of sparkling cider. We gobbled them up with red wine and green salad. Spring-time asparagus heaven.

Yield: Serves 6

  • 1 cup/120 grams buckwheat flour
  • ½ cup/60 grams all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 ½ cups buttermilk
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt, plus more as needed
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ pounds medium asparagus, trimmed and bottom parts peeled, if desired
  • 12 slices (about 5-6 oz) prosciutto or 6 cooked ham slices
  • 2 cups grated Gruyère or ComtĂ© cheese
  • canola or other vegetable oil, for the pan, as needed
  1. Make the batter: Whisk together flours, eggs, buttermilk and salt until well combined. Put the batter in the fridge for at least 2 hours or, preferably, overnight. Check the consistency after the batter has rested. If necessary, thin batter with a little more buttermilk or water, to the consistency of heavy cream prior to cooking.
  2. Heat a crepe pan or well-seasoned cast iron skillet, about 8 inches in diameter, over medium-high heat. (I used 2 pans.)
  3. Using a pastry brush, apply a light coating of vegetable oil to the pan(s), then quickly ladle in about 1/4 cup of batter. Swirl the pan to spread the batter all the way to the perimeter. Let crepe brown on one side for a minute or so, until crisp. Flip it over with a spatula (or carefully with your fingers) and cook one minute more. Don’t worry about browning the second side. Adjust heat if crepe browns too quickly; the pan needn’t be scorching hot. Remove from heat if crepe is cooking too quickly.
  4. Remove the crepe from the pan and set it aside while you continue to cook the remaining batter. Stack crepes on top of each other as they are finished. (Crepes may be made in advance.)
  5. Bring a medium pot of generously salted water to a boil. Cook the asparagus for 1-2 minutes, or just until it is firm-tender, then drain and spread on a clean kitchen towel to cool.
  6. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  7. On parchment-lined baking sheets, fill the crepes by laying each one top-side down (the prettier side), place a slice of prosciutto on top, sprinkle generously with cheese, and lay 3-5 asparagus spears on top, off to one side. Fold over to make a half-moon.
  8. Drizzle the folded crepes with a little melted butter, then bake until they are crisp and the cheese is melted, about 5 to 7 minutes. Serve immediately.

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Whole Grain Blueberry Muffins With Orange Streusel

I love a good, hearty muffin for a special breakfast. Especially if it’s warm from the oven. 🙂 These muffins were moist, earthy, and wholesome. The recipe made 24 muffins- so I was able to freeze a dozen of them for a busy day. Woo hoo! Nice. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from the The New York Times, contributed by Julia Moskin. I weighed the dry ingredients, omitted the nuts, baked the muffins in one large oven in a single batch, and modified the baking time for a convection oven.

Yield: 24 standard muffins

For the Muffins:

  • 2 cups/240 g all-purpose flour, more as needed
  • â…” cup/75 g whole wheat flour or wheat germ, preferably toasted
  • â…” cup/92 g fine-ground yellow cornmeal
  • â…” cup/66 g rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
  • â…” cup/142 g packed light brown sugar
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 4 tsp cinnamon (or 2 tsp cinnamon & 2 tsp nutmeg or allspice)
  • ½ tsp coarse salt
  • 1 Âľ cups/414 ml buttermilk, more as needed
  • 1 â…“ cup/315 ml coconut oil, or neutral oil like safflower or canola
  • â…” cup/158 ml maple syrup
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups/198 g grated carrots or tart apple (I grated the carrots in a food processor.)
  • 1 ½ cups/255 g blueberries (I used frozen wild blueberries.)
  • 1 cup/113 g chopped toasted walnuts or pecans (optional)

For the Streusel:

  • â…“ cup/71 grams packed light brown sugar
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ÂĽ cup/59 ml coconut oil or cold unsalted butter
  • ½ cup/60 g all-purpose flour
  • finely grated zest from 1 large orange (about 1 1/2 T)
  1. Make the muffins: In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: flours, cornmeal, oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.
  2. In a separate bowl or large measuring cup, mix the wet ingredients: buttermilk, oil, maple syrup and eggs.
  3. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and gently mix just until blended. Don’t worry about a few lumps or streaks of flour.
  4. Stir in the carrots, blueberries and nuts if using. (If you’d like, reserve a handful of blueberries for sprinkling on top of the muffins just before baking.)
  5. Set batter aside at room temperature for 15 to 30 minutes to allow flours to absorb the liquid. Check batter after 15 minutes by giving it a light stir. It should be thick, not runny (this will help the muffins rise). Thin with a little more buttermilk or thicken by adding 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour. Set aside for 5 minutes more, check and adjust texture again, and repeat until batter is thick and fluffy.
  6. Heat oven to 425 degrees, preferably on convection, and place rack in top third of oven.
  7. Butter or spray two muffin tins (regular or jumbo), or line the cups with paper liners. Make sure to also butter or spray the top surface of the tin to help the muffins release.
  8. Make the streusel if using: In a small bowl, mix and pinch all the ingredients together until blended and crumbly. (If using butter, cut into small pieces first.)
  9. Using an ice-cream scoop or small ladle, divide thick batter among muffin cups, filling almost to the top. Mound the batter slightly in the center of each cup; this will help make a domed muffin top. If you reserved blueberries for topping, press them lightly into the muffins. Top with streusel, using your fingers to divide streusel over batter and press lightly onto the surface.
  10. Place one muffin tin in oven (or both tins if using a large oven) and reduce heat to 400 degrees. Bake for 17 minutes on convection, or up to 20 minutes in a standard oven, until a tester inserted into center of muffin comes out moist but clean. Rotate the pan halfway through baking.
  11. Cool muffins in pan on rack, then remove from tin.
  12. If baking one batch at a time, repeat with remaining batter. (If there is not enough batter remaining to fill all the cups, fill every other cup with batter. Pour water into the empty cups to protect the pan in the oven.)

Note: To freeze extra muffins, wrap them individually in aluminum foil. Reheat, still wrapped, in a 300-degree oven for about 20 minutes. Or unwrap and reheat in a microwave.

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Irish Soda Bread Buns

Just when I thought that I was running out of variations of soda bread to make for St. Patrick’s Day, I found this new one in the New York Times. 🙂 The genius idea from Melissa Clark was to bake the dough in small buns to maximize the amount of the fabulously crunchy outer crust. Yum!

I weighed the dry ingredients, used raisins instead of currants, and, despite pleas from my kids, included the caraway seeds. (I love them!) Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Yield: 8 buns

  • 3 T unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
  • 155 grams all-purpose flour (1 1/4 cups), more as needed
  • 95 grams whole wheat pastry flour (3/4 cup)
  • 55 grams granulated sugar (1/4 cup)
  • 7 grams baking powder (1 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 5 grams coarse salt (1 teaspoon)
  • 5 grams baking soda (3/4 teaspoon)
  • â…” cup buttermilk, more for brushing
  • 1 large egg
  • 90 grams dried currants or raisins (about 2/3 cup)
  • 8 grams caraway seeds (about 1 1/2 teaspoons)

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees, preferably on convection. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flours, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda.
  3. Using a pastry cutter or your fingers, work in butter until mixture forms coarse crumbs.
  4. In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together buttermilk and egg. Stir wet mixture into dry one until they just form a moist dough.
  5. Stir in raisins/currants and caraway seeds.
  6. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. (I lightly floured a piece of parchment paper to minimize the mess.)
  7. Shape into a 7-inch round about 1-inch thick. Cut into 8 wedges.
  8. Using lightly floured hands, roll each wedge into a ball and transfer to the prepared baking sheet.
  9. Using kitchen shears, snip a small “x” into the top of each bun. (You can also use a knife.)
  10. Brush tops with a little buttermilk, and dust lightly with flour.
  11. Transfer baking sheet to oven. Bake until buns are golden brown and firm, 20 to 25 minutes. (I baked mine for 22 minutes on convection.)
  12. Cool 10 minutes before serving.

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