Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Irish Soda Bread Muffin Recipe

I am a huge fan of both Irish Soda Bread and all kinds of quick breads and muffins, so this recipe for Irish Soda Bread muffins has been on my list to try since I first came across it last summer.
I finally gave them a try, although I needed to make several changes to accommodate the ingredients that were readily available here in Florida at my Mom & Dad's house.

I used all all-purpose flour instead of the combination of white and wheat, a combination of chopped dried fruit bits instead of all currents or raisins, and skipped the caraway seeds and sparkling white sugar on top.

These muffins were a big hit with both my mom, who prefers not-too-sweet muffins and her longtime friend, Mary. They are definitely going into my "make again" file. Next time I will be sure to use white wheat flour, currants and a bit of orange zest.

Irish Soda Bread Muffins Recipe
Prep Time: 10-15 minutes
Baking Time: 20 minutes
Yield: 12 muffins
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups currants, raisins or other chopped dried fruit
1/2 to 2 teaspoons caraway seeds, to taste (optional)
1 large egg
1 cup buttermilk, yogurt, or sour cream
6 tablespoons butter, melted or 1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease the cups of a standard 12-cup muffin pan or line the cups with paper cupcake liners, and then grease the paper liners.

2 In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, currants or raisins, and caraway seeds (if using) until well blended.

3 In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk and melted butter. Quickly and gently stir together the dry and wet ingredients, just until the mixture is combined. (Stirring more will cause the muffins to be tough.)

4 Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin pan, filling the cups about 3/4 full. The stiff batter will look mounded in the cups.

5 Bake the muffins until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Remove them from the oven. 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. Serve these muffins plain or with butter and/or your favorite jam.

Jam Butter Cookies

The older I get, the more drawn I am to simple foods and recipes, like these old-fashioned simple buttery jam cookies. They are plain and kinda homely; but I couldn't care less, because they are delicious, especially if you're a fan of biscuits, scones, and soft cookies.

This simple cookie recipe makes a buttery jam drop cookie that is more like a cross between a cookie and a scone. It's the kind of cookie my Nana would have enjoyed as a tea time treat.
You can use any flavor jam you like as long as it's nice and thick. The first time I made these I used a luscious fig jam from the farmer's market. I'm planning to try them again real soon with raspberry jam and orange marmalade.

Simple Jam Butter Cookies
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes per batch
Yield: Makes about 4 1/2 dozen cookies

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup the jam of your choice (you want a nice thick jam)


Position an oven rack in the center and preheat to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium size bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, ginger, and salt until well blended and set aside.

In a large bowl beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer on medium high speed until creamy and smooth. Add the egg and beat until the mixture becomes satiny, about 2 more minutes. Add the milk and vanilla and beat just to combine. (At this point the mixture may look curdled which is fine.) Add the jam with the mixer on low and beat for another minute. Add the flour mixture with the mixer on low, and beat just until everything is combined. (The dough will be very thick.) Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula to make sure all the ingredients are blended together.

Spoon the dough by rounded teaspoonfuls onto the baking sheets, leaving at least an inch between mounds of dough.

Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time on the center rack, for 10 to 12 minutes until just firm and lightly browned around the edges. (The cookies will be on the pale side.)
Remove from the oven and let the cookies rest on the cookie sheet for about a minute and then transfer them to wire racks to cool completely.

Repeat with the remaining dough, being sure to allow cookie sheets to cool completely before using them again. (I often rinse the backsides under cool water to speed up the process.)
Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Cheeseburger Salad

I think it's a great easy recipe that will satisfy the whole family, young and old alike. And it's a tasty way for cheeseburger fans to get more vegetables. When you eat this salad instead of a cheeseburger you won't even miss the french fries!

Deluxe Cheeseburger Salad Recipe
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 6 servings

The original recipe uses 4 sesame seed hamburger bun tops, which I thought was kinda wasteful, so I used 2 whole buns (tops and bottoms) instead. It also calls for a small red onion, which can be hard to find, so if your onion is larger, be sure to use less.

2 sesame seed hamburger buns
1 small red onion, divided
2 plum tomatoes
3/4 pound (350 g) 95% lean ground beef
1/2 cup (125 mL) sliced dill pickles
3/4 cup (175 mL) ketchup
1 tablespoon (15 mL) yellow mustard
8 cups (2 L) thinly sliced romaine lettuce
1 cup (250 mL) shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C). Slice bun tops and bottoms into 1/4-in. (6-mm) strips. Arrange in a single layer on baking sheet and bake 8-10 minutes or until lightly toasted. Remove to a cooling rack; cool completely.
Cut onion in half crosswise. Slice half of the onion crosswise into thin rings using a sharp knife or mandolin. Cut tomatoes lengthwise into quarters and slice crosswise. Set onion and tomatoes aside.
Put beef in saute pan over medium-high heat and cook 5-7 minutes or until no longer pink, breaking beef into crumbles. Meanwhile, finely chop the remaining half onion. Finely dice pickles. In a large bowl, combine chopped onion, pickles, ketchup and mustard. Add cooked beef and mix well.
To serve, arrange lettuce on large serving platter. Spoon beef mixture over lettuce. Top with cheese, tomatoes and sliced onion. Arrange hamburger bun croutons around edge of platter. Serve immediately.