Rosemary Cheddar Soda Bread

I’m only a 1/4 Irish, but I’m pretty sure my Irish Nana, Kathleen O’Doherty, would have been pretty happy with this Irish Soda Bread.  It takes about 5 minutes to put together, and your house will smell heavenly while it bakes.

Irish Soda Bread 4

Tender inside, crusty outside – it’s perfect.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped rosemary
  • 2 cups grated sharp cheddar
  • 1 cups buttermilk (if you don’t have buttermilk, use 2 tsp lemon juice and fill to 1 cup milk)
  • 1 whole large egg

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly flour a non stick baking tray or spray with a non stick spray.

  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt, pepper, rosemary and cheese.

  3. Add the egg to the buttermilk and beat until mixed.
  4. Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour and lightly mix through until it becomes sticky and a ball forms.

  5. Dump the dough out onto a flour dusted work surface and roughly knead the dough into an ball shape. It may be on the wet side so have some extra flour on hand for dusting.

  6. Place the dough onto your prepared baking tray. Take a sharp serrated knife and cut an X on top of the soda bread.

  7. Season the top with some more salt and pepper and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes and the top is golden brown.

  8. Let cool for 20 minutes before slicing and serving with butter.
Irish Soda Bread 1

Combine all the dry ingredients together, and lightly toss.

Irish Soda Bread 2

Once you’ve mixed the dry ingredients together, very lightly combine with the wet, don’t over mix or the dough will get a bit tough.  You want a lightly handled dough.

Irish Soda Bread 3

Gently form the dough into a ball, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Irish Soda Bread 5

Allow the dough to rest before slicing into it …. I know, it’s hard to resist!

Irish Soda Bread 6

Just waiting for some soft butter to spread ….

I reviewed a few recipes looking for the perfect bread to serve with my Irish Guinness stew for St. Patrick’s day, and this is a sure fire winner, it will be on repeat around here!

Check out “foodnessgracious” …. the food is fantastic.

Perfect Medium Rare Steak

Oh … winter… not a season we are ever going to taste a perfect grill marked steak.  I’ve been working on achieving the perfect steak during the “off” season.  Nailed it!

Perfect steak 5

PERFECT.  Pink inside, crusty outside, and drizzled with Cafe de Paris Beurre.  I’m in heaven.

First step is to make your dry rub:

1 lemon – zested, and zest set aside to dry

Perfect steak 1

Zest your lemon, and allow it to sit a bit, just to dry it out so it helps create the perfect crust.  Do you buy lemon pepper dry rub?  Stop!  Just try this instead …

Combine:

  • freshly cracked pepper
  • sea salt
  • onion powder
  • garlic powder
  • mustard powder
  • paprika
  • raw sugar

I use all equal amounts of all these ingredients.  You can certainly adjust to your own preference!

Stir to bring it all together, and once the lemon zest has dried out a bit, add it in there too.

Perfect steak 2

We are lucky.  I’d be the first to admit that.  We dry our garlic and onion in the fall, and create our own powder.  Yep, we even do paprika, this one is grilled poblano peppers.  No, sorry, we didn’t create either the mustard powder or the salt and pepper.  (But, does it give us extra points because we bring the sea salt home from a favourite region in Mexico??)

Pat the steaks dry – VERY important.  Drizzle over a little neutral oil, and then press in the seasoning.  Make sure to get the seasoning rubbed into the sides as well as top and bottom.

Perfect steak 3

Got everything ready??  Just look at that marbling on the steak … that is what you are hoping for.

While the steak is coming to room temperature, heat up a pan that can handle the heat of a 400 degree oven.  (this would be a great time to preheat your oven!)

Sear the steak on all sides – get it good and crusty!  Pop it into a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes. . . . check it carefully, you want to pull it out of the oven once the steak hits 120 degrees.  Tent it with tin foil, and allow it to rest for 10 minutes.

I couldn’t help myself, needed to top the steak with my Cafe de Paris Beurre ….. it makes everything better.  I’ve eaten …. but want to eat it again.  I think that says it all.

perfect steak 4

Served with baked potato and a simple iceberg wedge salad and I’m totally satisfied.  You will be too! Give it a try.  If you are able to grill all year ….. well good for you!  Maybe you want to try it anyway, and see what you think??

 

Prosciutto wrapped stone fruit

Prosciutto & peaches grilled

I prefer nectarines, or slightly underripe peaches. Make sure your fruit is not overly ripe or it will become mushy on the grill.

These little gems are one of my most requested appetizers …. and looking at all that snow outside makes me think fondly of summer days.  The only time I make this is when stone fruit is in season, and we can grill.

Prosciutto & peaches

Ready for the grill

Ingredients

  • stone fruit, pitted & quartered (you can cut them into 6 pieces if they are large)
  • goats cheese
  • prosciutto
  • apricot jam (optional)
  • pepper (freshly cracked)

Once fruit is prepared, place a tablespoon or so of goat cheese on a section, and wrap with a piece of prosciutto.

If you want to use the apricot jam, brush over pieces right before they hit the grill.  I’ve used it, or olive oil, or nothing and we love them anyway they are done.  Grill just until the prosciutto crisps up a bit and has grill marks.  Sprinkle with cracked pepper and enjoy.

Mexico City bites

We arrive in Mexico City late, and won’t even be there for 24 hours before flying out to Tuxtla ….. this presents a real dilemma for us, requiring us to narrow down the places we eat.  We’ve eaten our way through CDMX more than a few times, and on a restricted time frame, but this will be the shortest eating walking, walking in order to eat stop.  EEK.  I’m already dreaming of the places to quickly stop for a bite.

cdmx churro

Churros are a natural start for us!  This place, El Morro, is one of the oldest Churreria spots in the city, and they are delicious.  It is usually easy to get a table early in the day, but you should see the lineups late afternoon and into the night!

cdmx el morro churro

Next head to a mercado – the food is always amazing in the markets, and once we’ve had our coffee and churro it is time for a savoury bite ….. how about carnitas?  These tacos are mouth watering pork goodness.

cdmx carnitas 2

Every bit of the pork is waiting to be chopped up and served in a taco.  We loved the tortillas they made at this stand, they have fresh herbs in the tortilla masa and added so much flavour.

cdmx carnitas 1

No shortage of amazing toppings for your taco.

cdmx carnitas

It’s hard to only eat a couple of tacos at this place, but so many more steps and bites to come …

cdmx fruit

Time to lighten things up a bit …. how about some fruit?  These cups of fruit and vegetables are available everywhere and bursting with freshness.

cdmx fruit 2

Look for these vendors on the streets – you can choose whatever you want in your cup!

cdmx mango

Don’t miss the mango!

cdmx peruvian ceviche

How about a little ceviche next?  So refreshing and absolutely delicious.

cdmx walk

When you walk this much, your little 5 year old legs need a boost from big sister …..

cdmx la docena

La Docena – our favourite oyster bar.  These blue crab tostada’s with habanero foam are the bomb!  Served with a crisp white from the Baja region its a perfect bite.

cdmx la docena 1

cdmx la docena 2

Crunchy oyster croutons served with fresh greens and creamy avocado – love this salad.

cdmx dessert

Save room for dessert – these pastries are a great way to finish off a day.

Less than a day to eat, so many bites waiting …… we will get off that plane with an appetite and start walking!

 

Gram’s Shortbread Cookies

shortbread 4

Sprinkle with a little coloured sugar, or mini decorations, to fit the season, but don’t overload these delicate little gems.  They really don’t need much of anything.

This is an age old recipe, probably handed down for generations, and all from a box of cornstarch.  I started looking for this recipe as a way to honour Gram Shirley Goldie, and posting it today, on the first anniversary of her passing, seems fitting.  What I didn’t expect in my search through recipes to find her special recipe, is that it was also my mom’s recipe, another much loved and very much missed Gram.  Our very dear Auntie Elsie used the same recipe.  This year when I made the cookies, I felt the need to work the dough by hand, no mixer needed here.  As I watched my hands in the dough, I saw the hands of my mother.  I saw the hands of my mother in law Shirley, and I saw Auntie Elsie’s hands.  I’m posting the recipe to honour them all, and in the hopes that for generations to come, this will be the “go to” Christmas shortbread recipe.

  • 1 cup Canada corn starch (really, you can use any corn starch)
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 2 cups sifted all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups butter (softened)

Sift cornstarch, flour & icing sugar together.  Use your fingers and work in the butter until a soft dough is formed.

shortbread

Maybe it was the Christmas season, but I found myself lost in watching my hands and thinking of the hands that taught me so much in the kitchen.

shortbread 2

Once the dough is held together nicely it should be soft and supple.  Either put in the fridge to rest at this point, or carry on with simple dough balls.

Shape into 1 inch balls and place on an uncreased cookie sheet.  Flatten lightly with a fork in a crosshatch pattern.

shortbread 3

Bake the cookies at 325 for 10 min or so – watch them, every oven is different.  Remove them the minute they show any colour.  They are very soft when they come out, so I recommend allowing them to cool on the pan so they don’t break.

It is possible to allow the dough to set up in the fridge after forming it into a ball, and use it to roll out and cut shapes.  This is a pretty delicate dough though, so don’t expect it to be as easy as sugar cookie dough.

How easy is this?

Sticky Thai Chicken Wings

Thai Chicken Wings

Not my first Thai chicken recipe, and I’m sure it won’t be the last, but loved the tart, slightly sweet and hint of spice these wings provided.  Get out the napkins!

3 pounds chicken wings, drums and tips separated

1/2 tbsp sea salt flakes

MARINADE

  • 3/4 cup Thai sweet chili sauce
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 4 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp minced or grated garlic
  • 1 tbsp minced or grated ginger
  • 1 tbsp minced lemongrass
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil

GARNISH

  • fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • sesame seeds
  • green onions, sliced

Mix all marinade ingredients together and pour half over chicken wings.  Allow to marinate for 30 minutes, up to overnight.  Put the rest of the marinade in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Reduce by about half and set aside.

Preheat oven to 400

Lightly grease, or line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Put wings on baking sheet in a single layer.

Roast for 20 minutes, then remove and toss in a bit of reduced marinade.  Sprinkle sesame seeds & sea salt over and roast for a further 20 minutes until shiny and crispy.

Garnish with cilantro, green onion and more sesame seeds.

Tonkatsu Sauce

Who knew tonkatsu sauce was so easy to make?  We were lucky enough to get some Japanese chow mein from the Japanese bazaar, and it seemed a perfect time to cook up a pork cutlet with tonkatsu sauce.

Pork cutlet with Tonkatsu

Japanese chow mein is such a treat, I love the way it tastes crunchy with the lightest of seasonings.  It goes so well with many dishes.  Tonight we served it alongside the pork cutlet with tonkatsu and bok choy with peppers and lemon tahini sauce.

  • 1 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp oyster sauce
  • 1/2 tsp hot chili oil

Whisk together and adjust to your liking.  Traditionalists will use 1 tsp sugar instead of the chili oil but we really like the additional bite of heat.