Irish Brown Bread

I feel like I am phoning it in a bit with a simple loaf of bread as my St. Patrick’s Day celebratory post…truth be told, I can’t believe it is March already and the mere thought of St Patrick’s day being just next week seems quite impossible to me, so this bread was mixed and baked with the intention of craving thick cut toast on a Saturday morning and wanting something where yeast was not involved  - my last package had , unbeknownest to me, expired 6 months ago and was most likely dead and had been tossed into the trash, buried below coffee grounds.

Sad.

Brown bread does not involve yeast…kind of awesome – since mine were dead and all.  Brown bread – a type of soda bread, I have done a bit of researching on the types of soda breads and it is quite the discussion and there are many opinions…so, I am going with all brown breads are soda breads, but not all soda breads are brown breads … get it, got it, good?  Any who…brown breads use the basic baking soda/acidic liquid to give rise to the bread.  No yeast!  Buttermilk is the go to here.  No buttermilk?  No worries…I didn’t either – I rarely do since I never use it all and I hate wasting food and the smell of spoiled buttermilk is more than I can bare.  But skim milk and a touch of lemon…those items are always in my fridge…since, ya know…cereal and cocktails are vital elements in my world.

Skim  milk + lemon juice + 5 minutes = instant buttermilk.  Woohoo!

We are going to use a combination of flours – wheat and white.  A combination of oats – rolled/old fashioned and steel cut. Brown sugar adds a nice/light sweetness with a that nice mellow hint of molasses…all under a layer of nuttiness that is so absolutely satisfying with a layer of salted butter and a slather of summery strawberry jam.  Or raspberry if that is your …wait for it….

Jam.

Toast not your thing?  Wait a second while I try to let that soak in…who doesn’t love/adore/crave toast on a daily basis?  Just the simple pure smell of toast makes me weak in the knees and has be wandering toward the source with my nose in the air like Yogi Bear after a picnic basket.

This Brown bread would be just the right touch of sweet/nuttiness that pairs so well  with a good hunk of sharp cheddar or KerryGold Dubliner cheese – if you wanna go all Irish, which I would highly recommend…even on non-Irish holidays.

Word of the wise … this is not sandwich bread.  No, sir.  Not even a little bit.  I don’t want to get ya thinking otherwise.  This is dense and heavy and crumbles a bit on day 2 or 3 and when it is lightly (or heavily) toasted, it really comes to life and lives out its carb-wonderful purpose…but it is not intended for turkey, tomatoes, and mayo.  Nope.  Lox, cream cheese, and capers…that seems like another story.  A story I’d like to write.


5.0 from 1 reviews
Brown Bread
 
Ingredients
  • 3 Cups All-Purpose Flour (350 grams)
  • 1 + ½ Cups Coarse Whole Wheat Flour (175 grams)
  • ½ Cup Old Fashioned Rolled Oats (60 grams)
  • ½ Cup Steel Cut Oats (60 grams)
  • 2 + ½ Teaspoons Baking Soda
  • 5 Tablespoons Light Brown Sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, cold (and diced if no cheese grater)
  • 1+1/2 Cups Buttermilk.
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425F. Lightly dust baking sheet with flour.
  2. Whisk together flour, wheat flour, old fashioned oats, steel cut oats, baking soda, and brown sugar.
  3. Grate cold butter into dry ingredients and whisk to combine. ( no cheese grater - just cut butter into dry ingredients with fingers or pastry cutter, much like you would with pie crust/biscuits). Form a well into the center of the ingredients and pour in buttermilk. Stir to combine, forming soft dough. It will seem dry and shaggy - you can add a touch more buttermilk if you find it too dry.
  4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and with lightly floured hands, knead dough for a minute or so, until a nice, slightly moist ball of dough is formed.
  5. Shape dough into a round loaf about 1+1/2 to 2 inches tall. With a lightly floured knife, cut an "X" through the center of the bread, making sure not to cut all the way through. Sprinkle with a few extra rolled old fashioned oats.
  6. Place on prepared baking sheet and bake for 30 to 35 minutes until a skewer inserted into the center of loaf comes out clean and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack for at least an hour before slicing.
  7. Slather with salted (Irish) butter and good smidgen of jam.

Adapted from ‘Flavors of  Ireland’

Notes:
* Weigh ingredients…I weighed and measured to see difference and oh what a difference!  If you have a scale, use it.  The final outcome will be more consistent.
*I did not use coarse whole wheat flour, but regular King Arthurs Whole Wheat Flour.  This changed the density of the bread, no doubt, but it was still great.  When I find coarse whole wheat flour…I will get back to the difference.
*When butter needs to be worked into dry ingredients with a pastry blender or fingers, I prefer grating.  My hands  are too darn warm and butter tends to just melt.  I find that what works best is to freeze the butter and then grate it over the dry ingredients and then with a fork or whisk, work the grated butter into the dry ingredients.  Works like a charm for pie dough, biscuits, scones, and bread.

oh, and P.S….

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

Oatmeal Raisin Pie

A snow day on a Saturday…which lets make this clear, all of my snow days are on Saturdays and Sundays.  Oh! how I was not aware of my love of snow days when I picked a profession that A) doesn’t recognize snow as a reason to not work and B)  a profession that in case of a snow emergency…I am one of the few lucky folks allowed on the roads to go to work…what was I thinking???  And I know, unless you are a teacher … you are in this snow boat with me.

I knew I liked snow days, but I was unaware of my deep love and adoration of them until they were abruptly removed from my life.  Just the mere possibility of one would be enough to appease me at this point.   I imagine a real mid-week snow day as an adult doesn’t vary far beyond that of when I was a teenager…they still require/demand pajamas until well past noon and perhaps even early evening and only after you watch NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams will you even consider a shower and fresh pajama bottoms (Disclaimer: I loved Brian Williams even when I was 15).  A day where the TV possibilities are endless and guilt free…Bravo for breakfast, Netflix for lunch, and Dirty Dancing for mid-afternoon snack.  And if something needs to be scheduled than let it be a nap…  Oh naps…don’t even get me started on the lack of naps in my life.

If I remember right, meals have no real structure on snow days…it is all about grazing and creating from tidbits gathered from within your overly stocked kitchen, because well…if you are me and have a food blog, then you generally can whip up a 5 course meal (or hot fudge and caramel for the vanilla ice cream in your freezer) without needing a trip to the grocery.   I was cracking eggs and whisking together flour and baking soda, making pancakes and chocolate chip cookies for my brothers and I on the numerous snow days we spent growing up together ….with only one bit of advise from my parents – don’t burn down the house.  That rule still stands.

I was made for enjoying snow days…Snow days are wasted on people like my brothers, both amazeball teachers, but who have no desire/need/want to whip something up besides pizza rolls as they play Call of Duty with 12 year olds on their numerous snow days each year.  I might be a bit bitter.  Because I am at work and they are still in their pajamas – however, when I talk to them later they will proclaim that they were productive about the house.  HA!  They may be able to fool my mother and perhaps their wives, but not me.  I know my brothers…they played Call of Duty all. day. long.  And tried this…which I can prove by a slew of text messages all day long about the breakneck speed at which they were running miles (they got sub 7 minute miles under the belts)…trying to beat eachother by mere seconds.  I am awaiting pictures of treadmill face burns.

Any who…a snow day, be it a Wednesday or a Saturday,  is just so darn delightful.  An excuse not to leave the house, which if you are a hermit like myself, this is a godsend…several inches of snow gives you ample reason to stay cooped up inside all day – the roads are treacherous, the air too cold for my sensitive lungs, my feet will become frozen and I will undoubtedly lose a toe…all feasible and believable reasons to remain at home…I might need to explain some day my absolute love of being at home but also my wanderlust that creeps up and unsettles my very being…it is a constant struggle and something for another time.

But for now just know…cold and snowy = Mallory is not leaving her house unless it is Monday through Friday in which I will venture out for 8 hours, just to return home and hibernate until the following morning.  I am a ball of fun in the winter.

This past Saturday, with no true plans because of a forecast full of snow, temperatures well below freezing, and whipping winds…I rose early from bed, started the coffee, put on some tunes, and put the butter in the freezer.

I had pie on the brain from the get go.

All butter crust…which calls for lots of butter.  This pie only needs one crust, but this recipe will make you two…because there are worst things than having an extra disk of pie dough in your fridge.  Keep your butter cold.   I like to stick mine in the freezer for about 15 minutes before I start cutting into the flour.  Gives me time to drink another cup of coffee.

Flour, salt, and a touch of sugar are whisked together (or pulsed a few times in a food processor) depending on your method for pie crust creation.

 

Disk of dough. Dough disks.  When this happens … talk about feeling like kitchen Queen.  Queen of the kitchen.  Then you dribble coffee down the front of your pajamas and well, back to being peasant of the kitchen.  Kitchen Peasant….with coffee on your socks.

 

An hour later…

 

5 minutes later…

 

27 minutes later and a few pounds of dried pinto beans later….

 

Wrangle together raisins, flour, cinnamon, salt,  melted butter, brown sugar, eggs, corn syrup,  and quick oats.  Staple items, people…nothing complicated needed.

Whisk together eggs, corn syrup, brown sugar, and melted butter.

Next goes in the raisins, oats, flour, cinnamon, and a touch of salt….

And then there were just dirty dishes…

 45.8 minutes later…

This is a top 5 pie in my world and with 8 slices – think of the ice cream variations that could be had.  Vanilla, butter pecan, maple something or other, rum raisin, whiskey and pecans, coffee?  peanut butter?
But trust me, you don’t need ice cream to enjoy this pie…it is delightful standing in your kitchen eating it like a slice of pizza careful not to drop any of the flaky buttery crust on the floor, because that would be disastrous.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Oatmeal Raisin Pie
 
Ingredients
  • 2+1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Sugar
  • 1 Cup Unsalted Butter (2 sticks), very cold and diced
  • ½ Cup Ice Water
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 1 Cup Light Corn Syrup
  • ½ Cup packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ Cup Butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • ¾ Cup Quick-Cooking Rolled Oats
  • ¾ Cup Raisins
  • 1 Tablespoon All Purpose Flour
  • ½ teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Combine flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Add cold diced butter and pulse until butter is pea sized. ( This can also be done by hand or with a pastry cutter.) With food processor on low, slowly add cold water just until a dough begins to come together and form a ball.
  2. Empty dough out onto a lightly floured surface - dough should be shaggy and not wet by any means.
  3. Divide dough into 2 balls and flatten slightly into disks. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour. You will only need one dough disk for pie.
  4. Preheat oven to 400F.
  5. After one hour, remove pie dough from fridge and on a lightly floured surface, roll dough out to a ⅛th inch thickness, about 12 inches in diameter, which will fit a 9 inch pie plate with a little bit hanging over the edges of pie plate. Transfer dough to pie plate and without stretching dough, tuck the dough to fit the pie plate. Trim off any excess dough around edges and then with thumb and forefinger, crimp edges.
  6. Place pie shell in freezer for 15 minutes. Remove from freezer and with a piece of tinfoil, line pie shell - tucking it along the bottom edge and sides. Let the excess tinfoil hang over the edges. Fill tinfoil lined pie shell with enough dried beans to fill pie plate.
  7. Place in preheated oven and let bake for 15 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven and slowly lift tinfoil and beans out of pie shell - set aside and let cool. (use these beans over and over for pie weights)
  9. Prick the bottom of the pie shell about 8 to 10 times with the tines of a fork and the edges of the pie in a few spots.
  10. Reduce oven temperature to 375F and let bake for an additional 12 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool while you prepare the filling.
  11. Reduce oven temperature to 350F.
  12. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, corn syrup, brown sugar, and melted butter.
  13. Stir in oats, raisins, flour, cinnamon, and salt and mix until combined.
  14. Pour filling into a cooled (at least somewhat) pie shell and with a fork, gently move raisins about to ensure even distribution. Place pie on a baking sheet and place in center of preheated oven.
  15. Bake pie until golden brown and the center is set - about 40 to 50 minutes. When you nudge the pie, the center should not jiggle. If the pie or crust is becoming overly brown, tent with a large piece of tinfoil (make sure it doesn't touch the top of the pie or it will pull the top right off)
  16. Remove from oven and let cool completely before cutting and serving.
Notes
This pie crust recipe will make 2 crusts, however you will only need one…but since it is as easy to make 2 as it is 1, I always make two crusts. Wrap and keep other crust in fridge for perhaps another pie in the coming week or wrap well and store in freezer and when in need of pie in the next month or so, you are ready to roll.

Adapted from Pie

They say it’s your birthday / It’s my birthday too, yeah

30 years.  3 decades. 1,565.32 weeks.  Even more days, hours, minutes, and seconds.   30 years of heart beats and breaths.  30 years where smiles have outnumbered frowns.  Laughter has been abundant.  Tears have been rare.  Cities have been explored and oceans have been swam.  Miles have been walked, ran, and flown.   Friendships forged and loves lost.  There have been high hopes and big dreams alongside stinging disappointments and slight blunders.

 

While the past 30 years (especially the previous 5+) have seemingly flown by with little resistance (and I am sure the next 30 will do the same)…I am honestly and wholeheartedly  looking forward to this upcoming decade.  I would be lying if there haven’t been moments in the past year where I have slightly freaked out about turning 30…they weren’t moments of comparison between my position in life and that of others.  We all lead different lives at varying paces.  However, do you ever feel like you are just tumbling along like a rogue sock in this big dryer called life?  Yeah…moments of feeling lost in the shuffle have made me apprehensive about turning 30.   I guess I always assumed 30 year olds didn’t tumble.  30 year olds knew what they wanted.  They walked confidently.  How naive my younger self was.  While I  don’t feel like I am tumbling about, but have gracefully graduated to gentle stumbling…I think learning how to confidently walk is what awaits me/us in our 30’s.  And you are silly if you can’t find the joy in that.

 

Birthdays have a tendency to be celebrated with layered cakes and multiple scoops of chocolate ice cream and rivers of hot fudge and mountains of whipped cream and showers of sprinkles.  However, after I recently had a rather heated (ha!) text message conversation with a friend over the best cake flavor (chocolate versus spice), we both realized that cake was our 4th favorite dessert.  Who argues over their 4th favorite dessert?  Pies, cookies, and brownies are favored over cake…all day, every day.  So, on this 30th birthday of mine…there will be no cake, but  a dessert I have made no less than 5 times in the past 3 weeks.  A favorite of mine?  Perhaps.

 

The simplicity that is a crisp is why I favor this dessert in the spring/summer.  A few cups of fruit that is hanging about the house, tossed with some sugar, a thickener, and perhaps a squeeze of a lemon or lime…topped with a quick crumble and in no time you have a dessert that will please everyone and anyone.  Young and old.  Friends, coworkers, and family. 

Plus, when you have a friend who supplies you with bundles of rhubarb because it grows in abundance behind her house ( I give thanks to whoever owned the house prior to her … we would have been fast friends as well) and when the strawberries are sweet and delicious … my mind can think of nothing else besides strawberry and rhubarb.  Rhubarb and strawberry.  It is the only thing I have been pumping out of my kitchen.

So, while I enjoy a bowl of warm strawberry rhubarb crisp and say adieu to my roaring twenties…I am giddy and anxiously awaiting what my 30’s will  have in store for little old(er) me.  Cheers!

5.0 from 2 reviews
Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp/Crumble
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • Crumb Topping
  • 1 Stick Unsalted Butter, melted
  • 1 Cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 Cup Old Fashioned Oats
  • ¼ Cup Granulated Sugar
  • ¼ Cup Brown Sugar, tightly packed
  • pinch of salt
  • Filling
  • 2 lbs Strawberries, hulled and sliced in half
  • 2 Cups Rhubarb, ½ inch dice.
  • ¾ Cup Granulated Sugar (less if you like it tart)
  • 3-4 Tablespoons Corn Starch
  • Juice of 1 lemon or lime (if you don't have citrus, just omit - it'll still be awesome, trust me)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Prepare topping first: In a medium bowl, combine all crumb topping ingredients and mix until well combined. Place in refrigerator for about 15 minutes. Prepare filling.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, toss together strawberries, rhubarb, sugar, corn starch, and lemon/lime juice. Carefully toss to combine.
  4. Pour filling into 9 inch deep dish pie plate (or an oven safe dish that will hold this amount of filling - casserole dishes work well).
  5. Carefully spread chilled crumb topping over fillling.
  6. Placed in preheated oven (place a baking sheet/tinfoil below baking dish to catch any drippings) and bake for about 45-50 minutes until the top becomes golden brown and the juice around the edges are bubbly.
  7. Remove from oven and let cool before serving.
  8. Store at room temperature loosely covered.

 

Oatmeal Pecan Scotchies

Food is quite the memory jogger.  A trigger of sorts.  Much like music.  Or certain smells.

I don’t know if everyone is like this, but I want to think that a warm chocolate chip cookie takes everyone back to their childhood – I think my first memory of a chocolate chip cookie and looking back, probably the first time I took comfort from food or felt love through its simple preparation, was when our first childhood dog – ‘Puppy’ – original, I know…died.

I was curled up on dad’s lap in our old gray (it wasn’t old yet) recliner and I was sobbing and mom, from the kitchen, offered to make cookies – ‘maybe that will make us feel better’.  I don’t remember the taste of the cookies or if we even ate them that night – I am sure we did, with large glasses of milk and spoons to fish out soggy lost bits and pieces. What I remember, as dad sat reassuring us that Puppy was in heaven causing ruckus up there, was that mom, while also mourning the loss of her beloved dog (even though she would holler and throw spoons in his direction from the back door when he would bark and howl), took time to bake us cookies – hoping they would ease our tears and cheer us up a bit.  Which, I am sure they did.

Cookies have that sort of power.  Especially if mom is making them.

Oatmeal Scotchies … guess what..you got it, comes with a memory.  Like any cookie, they remind me of my grandma.  As most things I bake do, but these are most definitely a Shirley memory.  On Wednesday evenings, grandma had church choir practice or perhaps it was the Women’s Society meeting…all I know, is that she was at church on Wednesday nights and the church was just 2 blocks from our house.  Therefore, Wednesday nights always guaranteed a visit from grandma and she normally brought a bake good ( and I wonder where I get this habit from).  Cookies or pie.  And if it was cookies…4 out of 5 times, they would be chewy oatmeal scotchies.

 

As grandma and mom sat and chit chatted and gossiped … we 3 kids scarfed down cookies, leaving just crumbs behind.  Sore jaws and crumbs.

I hadn’t had an oatmeal scotchie in years.  Years!  Quite devastating, seeing how the recipe for these magic little guys are on the back of the bag of Nestle butterscotch chips.  And when something is this good, there is really no need to tinker with the recipe.  Well, I kinda did…I added roasted pecans, because pecans kind of rock in cookies.  No?

Of all the cakes, cookies, and pies I have taken into work…I believe these cookies received the most hubbub.  The container was returned with a pleading of it being refilled with more.  People were hiding and stowing away cookies in lockers.  They were being eaten 2 and 3 at a time.  I wanna believe it was because these cookies were not only chewy and delicious, but because their flavor and texture and slight hint of cinnamon took them back.

Back to grandmas, school lunches, after school snacks, Wednesday nights.

Oatmeal Pecan Scotchies
 
Makes about 4 dozen cookies.
Ingredients
  • 1 Cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • ¾ Cup white sugar
  • ¾ Cup, light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1¼ Cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ Cup Roasted Pecans, roughly chopped
  • 3 Cup Old Fashioned Oats
  • One 11-oz bag butterscotch chip
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl, cream together softened butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, until incorporated. Beat in vanilla.
  4. With mixer on low, add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix until incorporated - the dough will be tacky.
  5. With a wooden spoon, stir in the oats, pecans, and butterscotch chips.
  6. Drop rounded spoonfuls of dough onto parchment lined (optional) baking sheets and bake for 7-8 minutes for chewy cookies or 9-10 minutes for crisp cookies.
  7. Remove from oven and let sit on cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool.

Adapted from Nestle TollHouse

Post Disney Funk and Carmelitas

The week following a vacation is generally just a melancholic blur of work and laundry and grocery shopping and laundry and healthier eating and memories of warmth and sunshine.  This goes for vacations lasting the usual 7 days or those extending towards two weeks and/or particularly those cut short at 3 or 4 days, the so-called long weekends.

This week was that week.  Where nothing truly gets done, but one in which I feel exhausted and sleep deprived and a tad bloated and all sorts of hungry…hungry for butter and sugar and ice cream.  Not carrot sticks and tuna salad.  Ugh…so easy to fall out of a good habit and quite the struggle to jump back in.

Disney was great.  The race was great.  The weather was great.  The food was great.  The company was great.  And the ears…I became slightly obsessed.

Proof.

I look good as Mickey.

… 

Read More »