MAKE IRISH SODA BREAD FOR ST. PATRICK’S DAY

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Being an Irish woman from an area with a dense Irish population, I have a love for soda bread ❤

This delectable treat would surface in every store around St. Patrick’s Day back home. And I always made my way through a loaf or two before it disappeared from the store shelves. I told myself every year that I would get a good recipe and make my own so that I could always be guaranteed the best loaf ever! But it seems that never really happened. Until now. That is. Until now!

I finally tried my hand at baking this Irish staple. And it turned out pretty great! Like really pretty great! I’m impressed with myself, for sure 😉

Soda bread became popular in Ireland in the 1840’s. It was then that baking soda became affordably available to the general population of this amazing country. This was a game-changer. And soda bread found its way to the table at most every meal.

As is so often the case with traditional foods, soda bread recipes vary by region in Ireland. But the 4 main ingredients are always the same; coarse wholemeal flour, salt, baking soda, and buttermilk.

I’m shooting to duplicate this recipe as closely as possible. With the unfortunate exception of coarse wholemeal flour. I would prefer to have this flour. AND I fully intend to order some for my next go around with this recipe, as I’ve never had the opportunity to try it. I LOVE whole grains! But I don’t have it for this time around. And that’s okay. White flour is always often used by Irish elders who live here in the states to make this tasty treat. And it will get the job done in my kitchen this time, for sure!

There are many recipes out there with added sugar and butter. Some also toss in raisins. And others caraway seeds. My beloved bread had butter and sugar in it, but I left that out today. I wanted to keep the recipe as authentic as possible. And the end result proved that I did the right thing! Those ingredients are absolutely unnecessary. The buttermilk adds plenty of fat and sweetness without them.

A crusty, golden brown top is a key signature for this bread. The cross cut in it has many back stories to its origin. But the most reasonable explanation I’ve found for it is that it was meant to ‘score’ the bread into 4 individual portions. Allowing it to easily be cut into a single portion to be served at mealtime.

IRISH SODA BREAD


4 c. all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

2 c. buttermilk

3/4 c. raisins

1 tbls caraway seeds

Preheat your oven to 375°

In a large bowl blend the all-purpose flour, salt, baking soda, raisins, and caraway seeds.

Create a well in the center of the flour mix and pour in the buttermilk.

Mix the dough together with your hands. You want to firmly mix it together. Do not knead the dough as you would for many bread recipes. Be more gentle than that.

It will stick to your hands. It’s a bit messy.

When you see it separating from the bowl and forming a ball, it’s ready.

Flour your counter top and roll the ball of dough out of the bowl onto it. Shape your dough into a round loaf. And flour the top. You want a nice layer of flour on your dough ball.

Place your dough in a lightly greased baking dish. Do not allow the dough to touch the sides of the dish. If you have a baking stone it is even better. No need to grease the stone (obviously), simply lay your dough ball out on it.

Take a sharp knife and cut a cross in the top of your dough ball.

Bake for 40-45 minutes.

You’ll know it’s done when the top is golden and crisp. And the bottom has a hollow sound when you knock on it. To do this, simply place an oven mitt on your hand, flip the dough over onto your covered hand and knock on the bottom with your free hand.

After you remove your bread from the oven, place it directly on a plate. Allow it to rest for 15 minutes. And then wrap it in a clean tea towel. Wrapping it when it is still warm like this causes it to retain optimal moisture. It will keep the inside moist, and slightly soften the crisp outer crust.



I’m really pleased with how this recipe turned out. I will, without a doubt, be making my own for St. Pat’s Day from now on. It’s soooooooo delicious!

But I may have to shelf the recipe for the rest of the year. Because I can’t stop eating it once it’s made. I just devoured the loaf I made in 3 days flat! That’s a lot of bread!

However, if you have more self-control than I do you can make it all throughout the year. It’s a great recipe to have up your sleeve to impress guests, for sure. And … FYI … It makes an amazing accompaniment to coffee or tea. So it’s great for between meal visits with friends. Or served with hot chocolate to hold the little ones over when dinner is running late 😉

If you have any tips or tricks for making Irish soda bread you’d like to share, please pop them in the comments. And let me know if you try this recipe. I’d love to hear how it worked out for you 😉

And … connect with me on facebook and pinterest to stay abreast of any other happenings here at Bohemian Apothecarist.

As always, your presence is greatly appreciated. I adore that you are here. And I just know that we are going to have great fun together ❤

HANDMADE HOLIDAY ‘AFTER DINNER MINTS’

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I’ve always had a thing for after dinner mints. Dessert is too much after a meal. BUT a little mint to tease the taste buds is just right!

Mint is known to settle the stomach. As are many herbs. The original idea behind having a bit of candy made with this tasty herb after a meal arose from that tenet.

Sipping on a cup of peppermint tea, after an evening meal, is a pretty common occurrence in my household. It’s just plain good for you. This Apothecarist highly recommends it 😉

However, for Christmas this year I wanted to make the after dinner mint experience a little more special than that. Like peppermint patty special.

Yet, the thought of all of the bad for you ingredients that are usually in a peppermint patty being the grand finale to my holiday feast didn’t sit quite right with me. So I got to work on creating a healthy version of this gas station staple.

And the results of my efforts are pretty damn phenomenal, if I do say so myself! So, I thought that I would share them with all of you. This way we can all enjoy the fruits of my labor!

I made the filling first (obviously, LOL).

I used unsweetened finely shredded coconut …

And a little melted coconut oil, honey, almond milk, and peppermint extract …

I mixed it all together with a fork. It took a little time and effort to blend it well. Honey can be a tough cookie to distribute through dry goods. But half the fun is in the making, as they say. So I took my time and it paid off big in the end.

I didn’t have a mold. And where I live there aren’t many places to shop. Most things have to be ordered online. Not like my hometown where I would just run up to Commerce Boulevard (the name says it all) and grab whatever I needed.

But there’s a whole lot of good to the laid back lifestyle folks live in my new home, so I’m not complaining. And since necessity definitely is the mother of invention, I simply pressed my coconut mixture into a tablespoon and then popped the balls out with my finger.

It worked great. I ended up with gorgeous little balls of coconut yumminess! Perfect. I popped them in the freezer. And set the timer for an hour to firm them up.

This step is paramount as otherwise they will simply fall apart in your chocolate coating and you’ll end up eating your peppermint patties with a spoon!

While you’re waiting for your coconut ‘balls’ to freeze you can get your other ingredients ready to go. Don’t mix them until you’re ready to use them though. They might harden up on you. Depending on the temperature in your kitchen.

The coating is made with cocoa. I think that probably goes without saying, right? Chocolate = cocoa.

When my timer went off I mixed some coconut oil and honey in with the cocoa.

And then dropped the balls in the final brew one at a time. So simple!

After I dropped them in I just used a spoon to pour coating over the top of them. And then scooped them out with a fork and slid them onto a plate.

I had to move quickly with this step because the coldness of the balls rapidly change the texture of the chocolate coating. And I didn’t want to have to reheat it.

Once I had all of them coated and placed on a plate, I tossed the plate in the freezer for a bit. I know from past experience working with chocolate coating that it only takes about 15 minutes to chill a candy like this. But I think I left them in there an hour or so before I tried them.

They came out absolutely perfect. So damn delicious!

Once I had a taste, I put the remaining balls in an airtight container and tucked them back in the freezer for Christmas. That was the plan. Wasn’t it?!?!

I could have kept them in the fridge as well. But I liked them frozen a lot. A whole lot. So frozen it is!

Here’s the recipe so you can make some for yourself and your family. It will be hard to share but you should. You really should 😉

If you find yourself feeling the generosity of the Christmas spirit, bear in mind that they make a really nice hostess gift for holiday parties/dinners.

Spread the love a little! Just sayin’!


HANDMADE HOLIDAY ‘AFTER DINNER MINTS’ RECIPE


FILLING:

1 c. Coconut, unsweetened, shredded

3 tsp. Coconut Oil, melted

2 tsp. Honey

1 tsp. Almond Milk

1 tsp. Peppermint Extract

COATING:

1/2 c. Coconut Oil, melted

6 tbls. Cocoa Powder, heaping

4 tbls. Honey


TO MAKE FILLING:

Place all ingredients in a small bowl and blend well with a fork. Shape into patties or balls and freeze for 1 hour.

TO MAKE COATING:

Place all ingredients in a small bowl and blend well with a fork.

Drop coconut patties/balls in coating one at a time and cover well. Do this quickly to prevent coating from getting too hard.

Place mints on a plate and freeze for 15 minutes.

Enjoy! Enjoy! Enjoy!


If you decide to make this tasty treat this holiday (or any other time 😉), please let me know in the comments how it works out for you!

Or just pop in the comments to share your thoughts about this recipe, about after dinner mints, or even just to say Hi!

I love hearing from all of you. I really do. Without you there is no reason for me to be here ❤️

And … connect with me on facebook if you would like to stay abreast of any other happenings going on here at Bohemian Apothecarist. We will both be glad you did ❤

PLANT BASED STUFFING FOR THANKSGIVING

Hey Everyone!

I’ve been working on a plant based stuffing recipe for a few weeks now. I’ve always had the best stuffing recipe ever. Like over-the-top frickin’ fabulous. It is my favorite dish on the Thanksgiving dinner table.

My recipe has sausage in it. And I’ve been trying to be more mindful of eating processed food. So I thought it would be fun to make a whole new recipe. A plant-based recipe. Fit for a Thanksgiving feast. Even though I won’t be making a full holiday dinner this year.

I volunteered to work for the holiday. And quite honestly I don’t cook a big dinner most years anymore anyway. Too much work for this girl. Particularly when I am the only one who really enjoys it in this house.

But I’m pretty sure that a big ‘ol scoop (or two) of crazy tasty stuffing. Topped with a really savory dressing. And a heaping serving of mashed potatoes on a plate will satisfy my desire to indulge, at least a little, in this once a year feast.

So with both, “I need the best damn stuffing ever” and “Let’s keep it plant-based” in mind I came up with the recipe below.

It’s damn tasty. I promise. Give it a try. You’re going to love it.

It will be a permanent addition to my recipe box, for sure 😉

PLANT-BASED THANKSGIVING STUFFING RECIPE


1 med onion, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tsp dried sage

1 tsp dried thyme

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1 bayleaf

salt and pepper

2 1/2 c vegetable broth

8 oz fresh mushrooms

1/2 c pecans, chopped

1/2 c dried apricots

1/2 c dried cranberries

1/8 c dried parsley

8 c dried bread cubes


Toast pecan pieces. And place aside.

Saute onion, celery, garlic, sage, thyme, oregano, bayleaf, salt (to taste), and pepper (to taste) in 1/2 cup of the vegetable broth until onion and celery are translucent. Remove bay leaf.

Chop mushrooms. Toss them in with the veggies and seasonings and cook until warmed through.

Mix in pecans, apricots, cranberries, and parsley and immediately remove from heat.

Place bread cubes in a large mixing bowl and toss with all other ingredients.

Grease a large baking pan and pour mixture into it. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes.

I made my own bread cubes for this recipe. I used a package of bakery fresh buns to make them. I don’t generally eat a lot of white bread. But I had the buns on hand and so I used them up.

In my opinion a whole grain bread would be even better. It would add another dimension to the flavor profile.

But use whatever works for you. The recipe is damn good just the way it is.

Also, if you are oil-free as many plant-based eaters are, you can skip the oil by lining your baking dish with parchment paper before you put the stuffing in it. Or, better yet, use a silicone baking dish 😉

AND …

If you decide to make this tasty dish please be sure to share your experience with me in the comments! I’d love to know how others feel about the recipe. And learn any tips or tricks you might have discovered while making it!

And … connect with me on facebook if you would like to stay abreast of any other happenings going on here at Bohemian Apothecarist. We will both be glad you did ❤