St. Patrick’s Day Potato Soup and Irish Soda Bread-A Repeat Post

I had a farm in Ireland…….
——————————————————————–
Not.  I did, however, visit once.
I wish I could go back.
I can’t go today, but I can make Potato Soup and Irish Soda Bread on
St. Patrick’s Day……
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I’ve been making this meal for a long time.  I love it, but I don’t make it any other time of the year.  I don’t know why.  Perhaps it wouldn’t be special if I made it, say, in May or September.  You, however, have no holiday strings emotionally strumming over these recipes and could make them next week or next year.
Go you.  So, here’s the soup………..and then the bread–
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Potato Soup
2 slices of bacon, diced; 1/4# Canadian bacon, chopped*
2 onions (different kinds are nice), chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 leeks, chopped
3 large pototoes, peeled and cut into 1″ pieces
1 turnip, peeled and cut into 1″ pieces
1 parsnip, peeled and cut into 1″ pieces, optional
6-8 cups unsalted chicken broth
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1/2 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
parsley or dill
In an 8-10qt soup kettle, sauté bacon until about half-done; add Canadian bacon.  Cook until well browned.  Remove meats  from pot and drain on paper towel-lined plate.  Cool and  refrigerate until you’re going to serve the soup.  Pour out all but enough bacon grease to coat the bottom of the pan well.  Add onions, garlic and leeks and saute until almost golden, stirring often.  Add potatoes, turnip and parsnip and cook 2-3 minutes until hot.  Add chicken broth.  Bring to a  boil and lower the heat.  Simmer until all vegetables are soft, about 25 minutes. 
Salt and pepper to taste.    Puree in food processor, with hand-held blender or by hand using potato masher.  Serve with a dollop of sour cream, a bit of the bacon and ham and a garnish of fresh parsley or dill.  Make sure there’s fresh ground pepper at the table.
*You could choose to use all bacon.
There isn’t much better than soup and bread anywhere.  If you’re cold.  If you’re really hungry.  Can you think of anything better?  I have a friend whose husband doesn’t like soup,  Just doesn’t like it at all.  He did, however, eat soup at my house once.  And asked for the recipe later.  Such folks are few and far between.  Who doesn’t walk in a house, smell soup simmering or bread baking and go, “Wow!  It just smells so good in here.”  And, while we can’t always put our fingers on what makes us happy in life, we do know we like it when the house smells like something good to eat.  Those  “Wow”s come with big smiles and anticipatory movements that include looking around for the delighting elements.  So, here’s the bread.  More on the provenance later.
Irish Soda Bread – American Style
4 cups flour
1/4 c sugar
1 tsp salt
1tsp baking powder
1/4 c butter
1 1/2 c currants or raisins
1 1/3 c buttermilk
2 large eggs (3 if at altitude)
1 t baking soda
Grease a 2-quart  round bowl (ovenproof), casserole or  deep cake pan. (Or bake free-form on a parchment lined baking sheet.)
Preheat oven to 375F.
In food processor, or large mixing bowl, measure dry ingredients except baking soda and mix well.  Cut in with blade attachment or with knives or pastry blender, the butter.  In a large mixing cup, whisk together the buttermilk and eggs; add the currants and baking soda.  Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry and mix well to form a very wet dough.
Turn dough into the prepared baking bowl and bake for about an hour or until bread is very well-browned and firm in the center.  A wooden skewer stuck in the middle of the bread should come out clean.  You may have to test several times.
Let this bread sit 15-20 minutes before cutting or it will crumble.  Cool completely before wrapping tightly in foil and storing in the refrigerator.  Will keep 3-4 days.
 Excellent leftover just as it is, but even better for toast made under the broiler.
2012 update:  If you’d like to make whole wheat Irish Soda bread (very traditional), read my post on Darina Allen’s bread here.
  
copyright 2012 alyce morgan
 
Me and the green.
A couple of notes on the provenance of the recipes:
I began (and later changed) the potato soup years ago from a recipe called  “A Cold Winter’s Day Potato Soup” from THE EASTERN JUNIOR LEAGUE COOK BOOK, edited by Ann Serrane and published by David McKay in ??1980.
The bread recipe is one I have no idea about from whence it came.  It’s on a recipe card I’ve had for so many years.  I’d guess I copied it out of a magazine or a book at the library one day as a young wife.
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THE TWO-DOG KITCHEN IS REALLY SOMETHING ELSE AS TUCKER HITS FOUR MONTHS……

 

While we are making the potato soup, Tucker tries to figure out if he likes onions skins.   Nah….
Sing a new song,
Alyce
all photographs copyright Alyce Morgan 2003 and 2010
PLEASE NOTE:  ORIGINALLY POSTED IN MARCH OF 2010…..REPEATING BECAUSE IT’S GOOD.   Happy St. Patrick’s Day, 2011!

Root Vegetable Barley Beef Soup or Where’s the weather, Craig?

Solution for a cold winter’s day

 You know how you feel you know your weatherman?  Dave and I refer to the ones we like (Mike and Craig on channel 5 in Colorado Springs -NBC affiliate and Al Roker on TODAY) by their first names, though they wouldn’t know us from Adam.

“What’s Craig say today?”
or
“Did Mike say what the temperature would be tonight?  Should I bring the herbs in?” (cover the annuals, shut off the sprinklers, bring in the car…. oh the things governed by Mike.)

“Why is Al in another studio?”  “And what’s he wearing?” “How’d he lose all that weight?”  Answer is always, “I dunno.”

Today these intimate friends have forecast all day long for horrible weather…across the country, including Colorado Springs.  I canceled a trip to go oversee an inspection on our new house (actually quite old-built in 1915) in St. Paul:

 So the snow would come and go and disappear.  But the sky stayed gray.  Which it doesn’t in Colorado Springs.  Except once a year or so.  But bad weather?  Not happening.  Not here.  Not yet.  No how.  Maybe later or tomorrow. 

Who knew, though?  Bad weather?  I make soup.  I make bread.  And I did.

The soup is hearty enough for a Super Bowl stew; it’s a beef vegetable soup with nearly only root vegetables and  some barley.  Maybe it could be made from your pantry; I did it from mine.

The bread is a recipe from one of my favorite food writers,Mark Bittman- New York Times.  It’s the quick version of the famous 2006 No-Knead Bread.  If you haven’t yet made that bread, here’s the link to the original article about Jim Lahey (Sullivan Street Bakery) and the bread.  It’s world famous, by now.   Well, nearly.  Definitely the most famous recipe in the New York Times, at least for Bittman, in ten years.  That’s what he said in his last (boohoo) column.  That’s saying something.  ( I have made the “regular” no-knead bread, as well, and will include a pic of that below.)   And, yes, the longer version is definitely better, but the the quick one’s good and it’s short!  We don’t always have 20 hours.  Here’s how:

Root Vegetable Barley Beef Soup for a Bad Weather Day (right)

  • 3T canola oil
  • 5 # beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1″ cubes
  • 3 large onions, chopped, divided
  • 1 bunch celery, including leaves, chopped coarsely; divided
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 carrots, cut into 1″ pieces; divided
  • 3-4 parsnips, peeled and cored (if large) and cut into 1/4″-1/2″ pieces; divided
  • 1 large turnip, peeled and cut into 1/4″- 1/2″ piece; divided
  • 2 qts water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1 c fresh parsley, chopped finely; divided
  • 2 qts beef stock, low sodium (your own fresh or frozen or boxed/jarred from the store)
  • 1 28 oz can chopped tomatoes, no salt
  • 2 c shredded green cabbage
  • 2 t kosher salt
  • several drops of Tabasco
  • 2/3 c medium pearled barley
  • 1T basil or 1 t dry thyme, optional
  1. In a very large stockpot, heat oil over medium heat and add half the beef.  Let brown well and turn.  Let that side brown and remove meat to a plate.  Add rest of beef to the pot and repeat.  Add in onion, the garlic, and 1/3 of the celery, carrots, parsnips and turnips.  When meat is well-browned, add the already-cooked beef and stir well together.
  2. Pour in the water and add the bay leaf, pepper and half of the parsley.  Stir well and bring to a boil.  Cover and reduce  heat.  Simmer until beef and vegetables are tender, 1 1/2- 2 hours.
  3.   Bring back to a boil and add the rest of the vegetables (including the cabbage), parsley, stock, tomatoes, salt, Tabasco, barley and basil or thyme, if using.  Cook until barley is tender, 40-50 minutes.
  4. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  5.  Serve hot in large, warmed bowls with hefty hunks of baguette and butter if you didn’t make the bread.

Cook’s Note:  This is a one-afternoon soup in Alyce’s tradition of making the stock and the soup nearly all together.  While it’s not a perfect solution, it’s tasty and workable.  You cook the meat with a few vegetables and make a stock, adding the rest at the end and including some store-bought stock to round out the soup.  It’s definitely not original, but I worked it out myself raising a houseful of kids who needed meals every night for about twenty years.  Before adding the second round of vegetables and jarred/boxed stock, you can also remove the already cooked vegetables and puree them, if you like.  Of course, you throw them right back in the pot.  It gives you the opportunity for having only freshly-cooked veg in the final soup if that’s important to you.

Cook’s Note for the Bread: Read the recipe and instructions thoroughly before beginning.

A little gallery for you:

House so cold, I had to leave bread in the oven and take a temp; it needs to rise at 70 F.

Here’s the bread trail… If you print the recipe from the link, you’ll understand.
Simple, great crumb, lovely crust.. yummy.

Heat bowl 30 min 450F first

Smelling and tapping… Anyone remember James Beard’s bread book?

Note:  Above bread is the quick version of the No-Knead Bread.
Below is the regular version, which is NOT so quick, but still simple.  (Click on link.)

Two-Dog Kitchen and Around the ‘Hood
Cooked up the beef trimmings for the pups…
80th Birthday for Grandpa Gene–Quite a party!
Prayers for peace in Egypt….particularly for the food supply.
Thinking of friend K. preparing a difficult Bartok piece for double piano; the concert’s this week. 
Safe travel for my niece.
Thanks to folks in St. Paul putting our house through inspection.
Blessings on First Presbyterian of Champaign, Illinois, where we worshiped Sunday with family.
Warmth and safety to all those facing the weather in our country.
A great semester to daughter Emily and all her fellow-seminarians beginning the second semester of the school year.
Went to see “True Grit” with Dave, Bill, Lorna and Gene.  Come back, John Wayne?
 
Sing a new song, 
Alyce

Pumpkin-Ginger Bread–or Alyce Tweaks the Pumpkin Bread One More Time

Muffin version in front of my winter herb window

PREVIEW:  DROP IN AND DECORATE IS MONDAY, DECEMBER 20 4-8PM

COME BY ALYCE’S TO DECORATE A FEW COOKIES, SHARE A MEAL OF SOUP AND BREAD, OR TO JUST ENJOY THE SEASON.  COOKIES WILL BE HAND-DELIVERED TO THE BRIDGE, ASSISTED LIVING CENTER THE FOLLOWING DAY.  PUT IT ON YOUR CALENDAR.  SEE YOU THEN!!!! 

One or two things I make during the holiday season go from September-January.  Pumpkin bread is one of them.  If you know me well, you’ve eaten my pumpkin bread.  I have several versions and every one is different and unique and yummy and… special.  I kind of work of it from year to year.  My choirs eat it; my husband lathers cream cheese on it.  I make it into muffins; my friends husbands say to their wives, “Why don’t you make anything like this?”  (Mostly because they’re eating cake at dinner.) 

This year, I had sweet ideas. Whoa:  Candied ginger.  Black pepper.  Cayenne.  Pumpkin seeds.  I tried it out.  Twice. Increased the ginger the second time.  Passed it around at home and elsewhere.  I took some to St. Paul, where we visited for Thanksgiving, froze our butts off, made it through a job interview (me-whewgladitzovah), 13 houses,  and came home drop-in-bed sick from.  We ate it there for breakfast.  Every day. Ah.  Thanksgiving time!  So I’m keeping this version.  It seemed to go over well, even with Sue’s friend Gladys, a top-notch cook and baker at 91.  She did say, however,

“WHAT is in this?  I don’t like eating stuff when I don’t know what’s in it.” 

I think it was the candied ginger and the cranberries.  Of course the black pepper might have done it, too.  Or the cayenne.  Well.   I like pepper in bread; sue me.  And I’m gonna go right on making it. Like that. It does make super gifts and can be made as tiny loaves, muffins or big loaves.  Maybe even T-tiny muffins for a buffet.  Try it; you’ll like it.  Everyone else did.  Better make a bunch.  (Provenance:  I think the original recipe for this came from THE FANNY FARMER BAKING BOOK.)  Freezes well.  (No longer than 2-3 weeks, though)

Pumpkin seeds.  Use some in the bread.  Eat the rest.  Good for you.  Great in bread!

Alyce’s Newest Pumpkin Bread Featuring Candied Ginger and Black Pepper.  OH, and Cayenne, too.

  • 1/2 c dried cranberries
  • 1 c boiling water
  • 2/3 c butter, soft (to cut fat, use half apple-sauce–no more than that)
  • 2 c pumpkin ( a can is 15 oz now; add applesauce to complete the  2 c)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 1/4 c sugar
  • 1/3 c candied ginger, minced
  • 2/3 c evaporated milk, low-fat or fat-free  (can use regular milk instead)
  • 3 1/3 c unbleached white flour
  • 2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1 1/2 t salt  (sorry, left out of original post–corrected  11/18/11)
  • 2t Chinese or Vietnamese cinnamon
  • 1/2 t freshly-ground nutmeg
  • 1 t ground cloves
  • 1/2 t black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1/4 t ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/4-1/3 c salted or unsalted pumpkin seeds (I like salted)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F for bread or 400 for muffins. Grease and flour pans.  For muffins pans, grease only.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together cranberries and boiling water.  Set aside.
  3. With hand-held electric or standing electric mixer, beat together in a large bowl butter, pumpkin, applesauce, eggs, sugar and candied ginger until light and fluffy.  Beat in milk until well-mixed.
  4. On top of the wet ingredients, measure dry ingredients:  flour, soda, baking powder, spices.  Carefully mix just the dry ingredients with a spoon or rubber spatula, trying to avoid mixing the dry ingredients into the wet.  Using electric mixer, beat wet and dry ingredients together until just incorporated.  Don’t over beat.  Drain cranberries well and stir into batter gently.
  5. If desired, sprinkle pumpkin seeds into bottom of prepared pans (9×5) or baby loaf pans (3×5 or similar) or muffin tins.  Use ice cream scoop for muffins. 
  6. For loaves or baby loaf pans, bake at 350 for about an hour or half-hour, respectively.  Test for doneness with a toothpick or skewer; it will come out almost clean when the bread is done.  Leave in pans 5 minutes.  Bang bottoms of pans on board, floor or counter before turning out on to racks carefully to cool completely.   If sticking, use thin, sharp knife to go around edges.  When absolutely cool, wrap well in foil.  Store on counter 1-2 days, in frig for 2-3 days, and in freezer up to 2-3 weeks.
  7. If in muffin tins, bake at 400 F for maybe 15 minutes or until nicely browned and firm to the touch.  Turn out immediately onto metal cooling racks.  Follow storage instructions above, though muffins store well in large plastic containers that are freezer safe.

This is a great pumpkin bread pan loaf.  Pan available at Williams-Sonoma.  (Design changes year to year.)

Just thought you’d like to see the options….

Bake now while it’s quiet one night.  Wrap up your treasures carefully in shiny foil. You can even put ribbons on them before you put them in the freezer.  Be ready as you move through Advent into Christmas.  Or as you hit the second day of Hanukkah.  Breathe and study.  Live and love.  Don’t get crazy over what you’re supposed to do.   Or as you live through another day…
Don’t let the light go out (see and hear song, LIGHT ONE CANDLE)  and, while you’re at it, pray that I see the the path where God is undoubtedly shining it if I just could only be aware enough…
 
Alyce

Joshua Makes Bread or How I Get Fresh Rolls for Saturday Supper

After a long week of writing, cooking, baking, directing, practising and dogsindogsout/getthecatoutfrom underneath that stairway, it’s just cool to kick back and grill a few lamb chops for dinner.  Maybe steam some cauliflower and add a little gouda on top.  Open a Christom Syrah.

What’s better?  Maybe add a good friend and baker to the mix.  Enter Joshua.

Continue reading

Catch-up

Leaving Seattle.  Obviously on vacation…..
Seems like I’ve had no time at all since we got home from Alaska…  We’ve had house guests twice and Dave has traveled a lot.  I’ve played big catch-up in the yard…and have a new herb garden in on the north side.  I’ve been busy with physical therapy (regaining some upper-body strength) and added hearing aids to my wardrobe. 

Summer in the hood is hot this year.  It’s our second week of mostly 90’s and I don’t remember that ever.   I’ve spent a really lot of time watering… and watering.  Some pots have needed watering twice a day.  Who could have figured?

Meantime, I thought I’d use this blogpost for some pics so you can see what’s been up around the 2-dog kitchen and other places:

Right:  My French class came to dinner…

I’ve been trying to get a good loaf of rye bread.  Still working on it.
Another try at a leftover fish salad.  This one was with cold grilled tuna and a mustard vinaigrette. Yum.
Here are a few from the trip:
With the fish at Pike Place Market in Seattle—Veggies, too.
Going to dinner…
Someone else was cookin’
Me and the glacier….
Fishing for crab…
And eating it.
Leftovers..

This spruce pic taken during a macro-photography class in the rain forest.

Edible spruce tips…
I ate some.  Guide said she makes sorbet from them.  Hmmm.
Taken during a photography class in a small boat on the ocean…   ah, whales.
We clean up well.
More later…  2-Dog Kitchen under signature….
Be patient; I’ve got some great summer recipes. 
Tonight I grilled some wahoo on lemon slices and topped it with homemade “pickles”…
Sing a new song,
Alyce

Prune Quick Bread or Something Different for Mother’s Day Brunch

Before the quick bread post, click on the link below to send a Mother’s Day Card that will work toward ending hunger…  from THE WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME–BLOGGERS AGAINST HUNGER.  HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY, FRIENDS…
                                                NOW ON TO THE BREAD!!
My husband loves this bread.
But, when I mentioned to him (before he tasted it)  that I was working on a recipe for prune bread, he made a face, rolled his eyes and laughed.  Sometimes, we never escape third-grade humor.
I don’t cook a lot with prunes, but have remembered a couple of great recipes  lately…one was from THE SILVER PALATE.  I want to say it was Chicken Marabella and it was famous.  The other is a pork roast with prunes that’s to exhale repeatedly over. French recipe. OOOOh.  It’s lovely. So different.  So smooth.   So company friendly.  Reheats like a champ over the weekend after a Friday night dinner party.

Back to the bread.  I made this bread when I was working on an article called, “Quick Bread 101,”  in which I attempted to work out a basic quick bread recipe that let you add whatever you had on hand …say bananas, apples, blueberries, etc.  I think I got it right, but this variation is my absolute favorite.  It would be a sweet Mother’s Day gift, a great addition to brunch. 

I’ve been gone a few days to a funeral, so thought it was a good time to bring out the prune bread recipe and share it on the blog.  If you tried it from examiner, sorry.  I have re-written the recipe specifically for prunes.  It makes stuperous muffins!!  (stuperous is my word for something between stupendous and super)
Alyce’s mom and nephew Michael…..
Prune Nut Bread        
makes 1 9x5x3  loaf
                                                         
1 c prunes, chopped
1 1/2 c orange juice 
     Simmer chopped prunes in orange juice for about five minutes.   Let cool slightly.
4T melted butter, cooled, or canola oil 
1 egg (you might want to use 2 at altitude)
     Mix cooled butter/oil and egg and add to orange juice and prunes. 
     Set aside.
21/2 c unbleached flour
1 c sugar
3 1/2 t baking powder
1 t salt
1 c chopped nuts
     In a large bowl, mix well all dry ingredients.  Add wet ingredients and stir just until well-mixed.
Spoon into greased and floured 9x5x3 loaf pan.  Bake about 50 minutes until bread is firm to the touch, is pulling away from the sides of the pan, and a toothpick inserted in the middle of the bread comes out with just a few moist crumbs.  Let cool in pan 5 min.   Bang pan on counter or board and turn out onto rack to cool completely before slicing.  Keep well-wrapped on counter for 1-2 days or freeze for up to 2 months.
Can be made into muffins.  Pour into greased muffin tins and bake at 400F 15 min.  Turn out on to rack to cool.
TWO-DOG KITCHEN AND AROUND THE ‘HOOD
  As I write, Friar Tuck is over at Dr. Bill’s getting a little nip and tuck done to raise his voice.  Yes, Tucker’s getting neutered, but, you know, it had to happen.   I apologized ahead of time because he’ll be a little groggy afterward.
          ….              …..                …..                         …….
(Below:   Later this afternoon……Poor baby)
.)
Our sour-cherry tree in bloom.  Pie cherries will be ready about the fourth of July.  Come pick before the birds get them all.  If we get up early to bake before the heat comes, we can have pie for the holiday.
Sing a new song; bake a new bread;
Happy Mother’s Day!
Alyce
—–
In Memorium…Carol Curtiss..The Quintessential Lutheran Party Girl..
God, Love Her!

Salmon this and Salmon that…or How I love my Salmon Chowder

No matter how often I make salmon, I find I like it best grilled outdoors with some fresh veggies and served with a simple sauce. 
But what I like even better are the leftovers:
Salmon mixed in scrambled eggs
Grilled cheese with Salmon sandwiches
On a caesar salad
Whipped up with cream cheese, scallions, and dill to make a spread.
Soup–Hmm.
Salmon soup sounds a bit odd to the ears.
But just think of things like clam chowder, crab or lobster bisque….
Salmon Chowder is maybe even better…..
So here’s the plan for making enough salmon for a meal,
but having enough leftover to make soup.
 
Grilled Salmon, Balsamic Sauce and Grilled Vegetables
Serves 4 with leftovers
2-3 lb salmon filet, cut into serving pieces
Olive oil
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1-2# fresh asparagus
2 Large red or yellow onions
1/4 c balsamic vinegar
1/4 c honey
Preheat gas grill or stove-top grill to medium-high.
Pat salmon dry with paper towels.
Brush salmon generously with oil and shower it liberally with salt and pepper.   Set aside.
Clean and trim asparagus.  Slice onions 1/3-1/2″ thick.
Heat indoor oven to 250F and put serving plate and dinner plates in to warm.
Drizzle vegetables with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Grill, turning once, until light char marks appear- just a few minutes.   Remove from grill and set aside in oven on warmed platter.
Add salmon filet pieces to grill and grill until medium-rare, about 8-10 minutes for 1″ thick fish.  Remove to warmed platter with vegetables.
While fish is cooking, make sauce:  In a small sauce pan, warm together balsamic vinegar and honey.  You can drizzle it on the filets or serve it in a bowl at the table where people can help themselves. 
If you’d like some grilled bread, too, simply brush some sliced baguette with olive oil and grill it.  After it is browned on one side, turn it and add a little grated parmesan.  Set aside until veg and fish are done.
Salmon Chowder from Leftover Salmon
serves 4
6-8 oz leftover grilled salmon
6-8 spears grilled asparagus
1/2 grilled onion
Cut these things up and stick back in the frig while you make the rest of the soup.
1 medium onion, chopped
4 celery stalks, chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and minced
4-6 small, new red potatoes, cut in half
1T olive oil
1 c chopped fresh parsley
1 clove garlic, minced
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1 qt chicken broth, low-sodium
2T fresh tarragon or 1t dry tarragon
1 c dry white wine or water
1 c chopped fresh spinach or kale
2T heavy cream
In a medium stockpot, saute the onion, celery, carrots, and potatoes in the oil until softened.  Add the fresh parsley and the garlic.  Season with salt and pepper.  Saute 1-2 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic.  Add the broth, wine, and tarragon and stir well.  Taste.  Reseason with salt and pepper as necessary.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer, cooking until vegetables are tender–about 15 minutes, adding chopped fresh spinach during last five minutes or so of cookinbg.  Add the reserved cut-up salmon, asparagus and onion.  Stir in the heavy cream.  Warm through 2-3 minutes, and serve hot.
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There are a few tulips in bloom, and my grass has some green in it.  60 and a little wind.  Snow on the peak, of course.  Trees are budding out and will probably get clobbered with the next snow.  Such is spring at the edge of the Rockies.   If we had eaten dinner an hour earlier yesterday, we could have eaten (with a sweatshirt) on the deck, one of our favorite things to do.  Today…not.
Hey, Alyce, what about dessert?  Nope, not so much. I’m trying to abstain, but I’d love for you to look at some dessert on fellow blogger Andrew Scrivani’s site:
That’s kinda how I’m gettin’ any these days….
Lovely, huh? 
Hey, Alyce, what about wine?  Well, you know I’m cutting back, but there’s always room for a small glass of Pinot Noir (Oregon if you can) with salmon.  Though, and I feel like the Wizard of Oz scarecrow here, some people really like a great, big old California Chardonnay to break that fat.  Try both and tell me how you feel?
Two-Dog Kitchen:
Waiting for Godot
Sing a new song; sip a new soup,
Alyce

Easter Brunch or Howling Wind Precedes Mimosas

Green Bean Mustard Rosemary Salad..

Note:  This blog was begun late in Holy Week and has been added to throughout.  The last entry will be on Easter Monday  when I will hopefully have time to pull the whole shebang together.  Until then, sing a new song, friends.
.
Earlier in the week:

The wind is blowing, oh, about 50 miles an hour–no joke.  It kept me up half the night.

Hippity, hoppity, Easter’s on its way…………….

Perhaps in the south, way in the south, the weather is conducive to and making like Easter.  Maybe in Mississippi or Alabama, the grass is way green and the tulips are waving their pretty little heads, showing off their Easter bonnets.   Maybe in Mexico.

But here, up on the Mesa near the foothills of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, winter must howl its way out of existence.  There is no ushering in like a lamb.  Out here, it’s all lion.   While the air has warmed up enough to turn off the heat for one or two days (and to give up baking), every few days there is still a snow or wind storm and we’re reminded that we are not in charge here.  Snow and Easter lilies; these are my favorite sorts of (and the typical Colorado spring) combinations.  So, it’s really like this:

Baby, it’s cold outside….

There is one hopeful, tiny row of daffodils in an extremely sunny spot down the street.  Huh.

And once more, the seasons of Lent and Advent mix and murk-up life.  I once had a friend who said, “It isn’t Christmas unless you find a piece of Easter grass under the sofa when you’re cleaning.”   As I dig through the junk drawer, looking for a little Easter bauble for the table, I come across Christmas ornaments that didn’t make it into the box in the attic.  Or I see a snowman I missed at the top of a bookshelf.  Just when I think I am ready to believe grace is mine, it seems I’m thinking about waiting for the messiah to be born in my heart.  Ah, gee.

No only that, but in my faith, huge, magnificent, screaming winds are not for Easter.  The are for Pentecost, the birth of the church.  I dunno.

And, by golly, I blogged unleavened bread last week.  Ok, I’m confused for sure.  But, if you’re celebrating Passover, check out our Chinese meal and  fix the green onion pancakes, which are not really pancakes, but tasty chewy flatbreads cooked on top of the stove in a skillet.  Rolling the eyes and taking a big breath here.

Meantime, I’m believing Easter will come.  The winds will die down.  I’ll make it through Maudy Thursday and Good Friday services.  I’ll cook through the Saturday vigil.  And, like the rest of the world, I’ll wait to be saved.  Or free.  Or sinless.  Guiltless.  Clean.  Loved.  New slate.  Ready, set, go.

Again.

This year, our brunch is capital “S” Simple.  Friends are coming and bringing part of the meal.  I won’t be putting the whole thing together until Sunday after church, but will do a trial run of a quiche for grins, giggles and fotos.  I’ll gear up the table (which will be filled with grass, eggs, chocolate, etc.) a bit and get it all together for you, but will try to get more complete photos as I work on the meal over the weekend.  Perhaps I’ll be better with the camera than I was on a regular writing/photography gig today.  When I arrived at Patsy’s Candies to take pictures for an article, my battery was dead in the camera.  This from a woman who spent the $50 to have a BACKUP BATTERY and left it at home.

You see how it is this week.  This blog will be a work-in-progress.  Like all of us at Easter.

 Or anytime.

Ok-The bread- Columba de Pasqua- is first.  I couldn’t get it to work in the shape of a dove, the traditional shape.  Instead, I have a braid.  I guess we’ll eat it.  Made on Thursday afternoon-evening, I’ll freeze it and unthaw it Sun.

  Ok, it’s Saturday afternoon, April 3-Happy Birthday, Emily- (and I promised this would be a work in progress.) and next up are two of the quiches.  There were three.  One was in an old tart pan that gave way in the oven and leaked.   (Like a lot of old … oh, for goodness sake, I’m not going there, but you get the drift. ) The custard baked in the bottom of my big oven.  I’ll include a pic of that, too.  So, oven cleaning was part of the mix…  Anyway.  One quiche is bacon, ham and swiss and the other is a green chile quiche that is called “Betty White’s Mexican Quiche” and I’ve had the recipe for 30 years from Sue.  Fun.

Above:  Bacon and Ham Quiche  outdoors on the deck table. It’s now 65.
               (Read all about making quiche in my Quiche 101 article.)

Above:  Betty White’s Mexican Quiche
Above:  This is how a quiche that wants to bake on the bottom of an oven looks.
The oven was so dirty anyway that it was a blessing that this thing happened.  Right.

Above:  Lidia’s Limoncello Tiramisu.  Good thing I made it before the oven disaster because I might have stopped cooking at that point if tiramisu was still ahead.  This stuff is limonsinful.  Recipe at epicurious.com.

I still have to do the table.  No, it isn’t done yet..  Sunday morning I’ll do the beans and Sunday at 12:00 noon, I’ll put the last quiche in the oven.  The shell is chilling and the filling is cooked and in the frig.
Sunday promises to be 60 and sunny.  Thanks, God.

Sunday night:  Well, the brunch went on for 4 or 5 hours, depending on who you were.  We had four more people show up than I thought were coming.  Good thing I always cook for a crowd.  I made one more quiche (no pic–maybe tomorrow of the leftovers) that was turkey Italian sausage and veg from http://www.perfectpantry.com/ (go Lidia).  There was more than we needed and here we are at Sunday night and I’m just reading MY ANTONIA by Willa Cather for my book club.  That’s all.  More later!
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 Pftzz:  Here’s my current plan.  For food, that is. (Written Wed or Thurs? Alyce plans; God laughs.)

Menu
Starters:  Smoked salmon/ lemon, capers,  minced red onions
                 Deviled eggs (Dave will make- out of my dyed eggs.)
                 Mimosas
                Mains:   Quiches:  Lorraine, Italian sausage/veg, and seafood
                Manicotti (Jeanne brings)
               Fresh Green bean salad (blogged last year)
               Fresh Fruit Salad (Sara brings)
               Polish Easter bread (Jeanne brings)
               Alsatian Riesling or Australian Rose (Carlei)
Dessert: Limoncello Tiramisu (a Lidia recipe!)
              Colomba di Pasqua (Italian E. bread shaped like a dove) (left in freezer after all-next week?)
              Coffee
How I’ll accomplish it:
  • I planned the menu a couple of weeks in advance and located my recipes.
  • I did some of the dry-goods grocery shopping last week.
  • I went to the candy store, liquor store and grocery store today, leaving only produce for Sat.
  • Thursday I’ll make the bread and the quiche pastry.  Into the freezer they go.
  • Thursday I’ll dye eggs. 
  • Friday I’ll clean a little house, make sure my clothes are ready, teach a lesson and go to 3 hours of worship.
  • Friday night, we’ll listen to a few requiems.  Verdi is my favorite, but Mozart, Faure and Brahms will show up, as well.
  • Saturday, I’ll send Dave to the store for the produce (I won’t go near a grocery the day before Easter) and I’ll set up the buffet and drinks station and set the tables.  I’ll make the green bean salad and the dressing, only dressing it a little that day. (More dressing on Sunday.) I’ll make the Limoncello tiramisu and refrigerate it.. Oh, and I will chill sparkling wine for the mimosas.
  • Dave will make the deviled eggs, taking care not to over-salt them.  Old recipes are very salty.  One time, we couldn’t eat them.  Agh.
  • We will not cook or sit at the table Saturday night.  I don’t know what we’ll do; maybe we’ll go out or maybe we’ll eat on trays watching a movie.  Waiting, watching.
  • Sunday morning I’ll take the bread and quiche pastry out of the freezer to unthaw.  I’ll make the quiche fillings before we go to church.   When we come home, I’ll fill the quiche pans and bake them.  Hot, warm or room temp–it’s all good for quiche.  I like it cold.  I’ll set up the coffeemaker and put out cups, cream and sugar.  Maybe a little something to nip up the coffee a bit.  Bailey’s?
  • I’ll give the bathrooms a last lick and a promise.  I’ll light the candles gratefully.
  • I’ll grab a basket of eggs and hide them.
  • I will probably shovel and sweep snow.
  • I’ll be wiped clean myself…ready to begin again.
  • And try not to eat so much chocolate.  (Though, if you read my examiner articles, you’ll know it’s ok now to eat some every day!!)
  • I’ll welcome our guests, “He is risen!” (I didn’t do this….how could I have forgotten???!)

Are you glad Lent is over?

Potato Soup and Irish Soda Bread

I had a farm in Ireland…….
——————————————————————–
Not.  I did, however, visit once.
I wish I could go back.
I can’t go today, but I can make Potato Soup and Irish Soda Bread on
St. Patrick’s Day……
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I’ve been making this meal for a long time.  I love it, but I don’t make it any other time of the year.  I don’t know why.  Perhaps it wouldn’t be special if I made it, say, in May or September.  You, however, have no holiday strings emotionally strumming over these recipes and could make them next week or next year.
Go you.  So, here’s the soup………..and then the bread–
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
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Potato Soup

  • 2 slices of bacon, diced; 1/4# Canadian bacon, chopped*
  • 2 onions (different kinds are nice), chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 leeks, chopped
  • 3 large pototoes, peeled and cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 turnip, peeled and cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 parsnip, peeled and cut into 1″ pieces, optional
  • 6-8 cups unsalted chicken broth
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 c Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • parsley or dill
  1.  In an 8-10 quart soup kettle, saute bacon until about half-done; add Canadian bacon.  Cook until well browned.  Remove meats  from pot and drain on paper towel-lined plate.  Cool and  refrigerate until you’re going to serve the soup. 
  2. Pour out all but enough bacon grease to coat the bottom of the pan well.  Add onions, garlic and leeks and saute until almost golden, stirring often.  Add potatoes, turnip and parsnip and cook 2-3 minutes until hot.  Add chicken broth.  Bring to a  boil and lower the heat.  Simmer until all vegetables are soft, about 25 minutes.  Salt and pepper to taste.  
  3.   Puree in food processor, with hand-held blender or by hand using potato masher.  Serve with a dollop of sour cream, a bit of the bacon and ham and a garnish of fresh parsley or dill.  Make sure there’s fresh ground pepper at the table.
    *You could choose to use all bacon.
  4. Printable recipe for both soup and bread below the bread recipe.
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There isn’t much better than soup and bread anywhere.  If you’re cold.  If you’re really hungry.  Can you think of anything better?  I have a friend whose husband doesn’t like soup,  Just doesn’t like it at all.  He did, however, eat soup at my house once.  And asked for the recipe later.  Such folks are few and far between.  Who doesn’t walk in a house, smell soup simmering or bread baking and go, “Wow!  It just smells so good in here.”  And, while we can’t always put our fingers on what makes us happy in life, we do know we like it when the house smells like something good to eat.  Those  “Wow”s come with big smiles and anticipatory movements that include looking around for the delighting elements.  So, here’s the bread.  More on the provenance later.
Irish Soda Bread – American Style
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup butter, cold, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cup currants or raisins
  • 1 1/3 cup buttermilk (+ 2-3 T, if at altitude)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  1.  Grease a 2qt  round bowl (ovenproof), casserole or  deep cake pan. Alternately, line a baking sheet with parchment paper for a free-form loaf.
  2. Preheat oven to 375F.
  3. In food processor, or large mixing bowl, measure dry ingredients and mix well.  Cut in with blade attachment or with knives or pastry blender, the butter. 
  4. In a large mixing cup, whisk together the buttermilk and eggs; add the currants and baking soda.  Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry and mix well to form a very wet dough. 
  5. Turn dough out onto a floured board and knead briefly.  Shape into a round loaf.  Turn out into the prepared baking bowl or onto baking sheet and bake for about an hour  (or a bit more)  until bread is very well-browned and firm in the center.  A wooden skewer stuck in the middle of the bread should come out clean.  You may have to test several times.
  6. Let this bread sit 15-20 minutes before cutting or it will crumble.  Cool completely before wrapping tightly in foil and storing in the refrigerator.  Will keep 3-4 days.
  7.  Excellent leftover just as it is, but even better for toast made under the broiler. 

{printable recipe for both soup and bread}

 

Me and the green.
A couple of notes on the provenance of the recipes:
I began (and later changed) the potato soup years ago from a recipe called  “A Cold Winter’s Day Potato Soup” from THE EASTERN JUNIOR LEAGUE COOK BOOK, edited by Ann Serrane and published by David McKay in ??1980.
The bread recipe is one I have no idea about from whence it came.  It’s on a recipe card I’ve had for so many years.  I’d guess I copied it out of a magazine or a book at the library one day as a young wife.
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THE TWO-DOG KITCHEN IS REALLY SOMETHING ELSE AS TUCKER HITS FOUR MONTHS……
While we are making the potato soup, Tucker tries to figure out if he likes onions skins.   Nah….
Sing a new song,
Alyce
all photographs copyright Alyce Morgan 2003 and 2010

New Year’s Day Brunch for Eight

Do you want to just sleep away New Year’s Day?

Maybe you want coffee and coffee and coffee and coffee… and maybe a football game later. Much later.

But if you’d like a touching, warm beginning for the New Year (and, honey, it really is 2010), this sweet and savory meal is for you. You might not need anything else the rest of the day.. especially if you don’t make it until 3pm. Smile.

I’m praying your Christmas and Hanukkah were great… This is just the eighth day of Christmas; did I do the math right?

8 maids a milking……………… Whoa. Just the thought makes my hands hurt.

Our tree stays up for the 12 days of Christmas. When the wise men arrive on January 6 is when I’m comfortable beginning to take down an ornament or two. Why not give it it’s full due?

Epiphany is an incredible season of its own. I love the word

EPIPHANY

Look it up and read the definitions. You need an epiphany; I know. I do, too.

Meantime, the menu.

Pomegranate Sparkler
Fresh Fruit Salad
Balsamic Fried Tomatoes
Sweet Potato and Black Forest Ham Frittata
Whole wheat toast/butter and jam
Stollen (an easy one)
Coffee, Coffee, Coffee, Coffee

Recipes are in the order in which you should make them………
COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE
Make your coffee just how you like it. Make lots.

POMEGRANATE SPARKLER

Into each of eight flutes, pour equal amounts of pomegranate juice and champagne or cava (an inexpensive and super Spanish sparkler) or prosecco. No New Year’s Resolutions needed.
A few frozen raspberries or cranberries in the bottom of the glasses add a dash of seasonal red.

STOLLEN
2 loaves. Each serves 8-10.
Great to make ahead and freeze. This recipe makes two. Keep one for later or take one to a friend. This is an easy stollen… not to worry about a thing. If you can make banana bread, this is just a T-tiny step above. No yeast. The original recipe that I’ve changed over a couple of years and bakings at sea level and at altitude came from Susan Westmoreland @ GOOD HOUSEKEEPING, linked here.
.

2 c ricotta cheese
1 cup (2 sticks) softened butter
2 c dried tart cherries (other dried fruit works)
1 c toasted walnuts, chopped roughly
2 t vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
4 lrg eggs (use extra large at altitude)

4 2/3 c unbleached white flour
1 c white, granulated sugar
3 t baking powder
1/2 t kosher salt
Preheat oven to 325 F. Grease two large, rimmed cookie sheets or baking pans.
Mix together ricotta, cherries, nuts, vanilla, lemon peel and eggs. Set aside.
In food processor, mix (using steel blade) flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
Cut in cold butter and process until meal-like. Pour flour mixture into a large bowl. Mix in ricotta mixture by hand until the dough hangs together.
Do try this at home…………….or ask kids to help. They aren’t afraid of bread!
You’ll have a lovely dough by now and you need to turn it out onto a floured board or counter and divide it in half. With floured hands, gently knead each piece of dough about three times. With floured rolling pin, roll one piece of dough into 10” by 8” oval. Fold oval lengthwise, bringing top half over or that the bottom of dough extends by one inch. Repeat for second
piece of dough.

Pat /roll out; roll over…….Place each stollen on a prepared baking sheet. Bake about an hour until lightly browned and toothpick placed in center of bread comes out clean. Transfer bread to wire racks and cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar. Slice as desired. 1 1/2 inches is good serving.
Wrap extra stollen in double layer of foil and freeze or deliver to friend.

FRUIT SALAD

Cut up 2 cups each of four of your favorite winter fruits and mix well in large bowl. If desired, mix in 1/2 c sour cream and top with shredded coconut.

Suggestions: Apples, oranges, grapes, bananas, pineapples…….Whatever’s good at your market!

BALSAMIC FRIED TOMATOES

Slice two large tomatoes and saute them in a little oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add 2 T top-quality balsamic vinegar and cook 1-2 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Set aside and serve with frittata.
SWEET POTATO-BLACK FOREST HAM FRITTATA

2T olive oil
2 small red potatoes, chopped roughly
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
1/2 large onion, diced
1/2# asparagus, chopped (remove bottom couple of inches)
1/4# Black Forest ham, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
8 eggs, well beaten
1 c Gruyere cheese, grated
1/2 c Parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 350 F.
In a large (12-14″) skillet, measure oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add both kinds of potatoes and onions. Saute until tender, stirring frequently, about 15 minutes. Add asparagus and ham and saute until the crisp has just worn off the asparagus. Add beaten eggs and cook, stirring, for five minutes or so, stirring often. When the eggs are about half-cooked, add Gruyere cheese and place in oven. Bake until crispy and the eggs are set to your liking. Turn pan over onto large cutting board and shower with Parmesan. Cut into 8 pieces and let your friends or family serve themselves. (While frittata bakes, make your toast.)

Share with someone you love!
Happy New Year, friends………….as you sing any new or “auld” song,

Alyce–Could there be anything better leftover? Add a little butter.