My Irish Soda Bread

Everybody’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.¬†Whether that’s true or not, I’ll bet eating this great round loaf is a good start.¬† It’s a simple, purist’s loaf – the way I like it; no fanfare, just enjoy with hot tea.

4 cups all purpose flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. baking soda
4 Tbsp. butter (do not use margarine)
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 cups buttermilk

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Sift the flour, sugar, salt and baking soda together in a large bowl. Using the tips of your fingers work the butter into the mixture until it looks like coarse meal.

Make a well in the center and add the beaten egg and buttermilk into this well; mix it in with a wooden spoon until the dough is too stiff to stir anymore. Dust your hands with a bit of flour then gently knead the dough right in the bowl just long enough for it to form a rough ball. Transfer it to a surface that you’ve lightly floured and shape it into a round loaf.

Transfer loaf to a large lightly greased baking sheet or even a cast iron skillet is good – grease that too. Make an X shape about 1/2″ deep with a serrated knife on top of the dough. Place into the oven and bake until it’s golden brown – about 45 minutes. Let it cool briefly and serve warm or room temp. This recipe makes fantastic leftovers!

Corned Beef & Cabbage

cabbage.jpgHappy St. Patrick’s Day! I hope you and your loved ones eat well from my version of the Irish classic. Put the Celtic Women CD or perhaps the soundtrack from The Brothers McMullen in your disc player while you prepare this. Remember, if you don’t care for the cabbage, just skip that step. Enjoy!

2 medium onions, peeled
6 whole cloves
3 1/2 lb. piece corned beef
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into big chunks
2 bay leaves
8 peppercorns

1 medium head green cabbage
5 russet potatoes, peeled & halved
Kosher salt & ground black pepper

Hot mustard on the side – optional, but really, really good!

a-celtic-woman.jpg

Stud the onions with the cloves and set aside. Rinse the beef in cold water to remove the brine. Place beef in a large pot and add the onions, carrots, bay leaves, peppercorns, and enough water to cover. Bring this to a boil over high heat, cover, then reduce heat to low. Simmer for 2 full hours, skimming it occasionally.

Wash cabbage and remove core and any torn leaves, then cut it into about 6 wedges. Add this and the potatoes to the beef and cover and simmer for 25 minutes – until potatoes are tender.

Transfer the beef to a cutting board and cover with a plate that has been weighted down with heavy cans. (Doing this ensures the meat is much, much easier to slice). Transfer the veggies to a platter. Remove the cloves from the onions. Strain the liquid, toss out the bay leaves and peppercorns. Return the strained liquid to the pot and cook it over high heat for about 30 minutes – it’ll reduce by about 1/3. Season it with kosher salt & pepper.

Return the veggies to the stock and heat through – this takes about 5 minutes or so. Remove the cans & plate from the beef and cut it across the grain, into 1/4″ thick slices. Arrange it on a plate with the veggies surrounding it. Moisten it with the stock. serve with the hot mustard if you’re using it.