Irish Soda Bread

March came and went too fast. I promised myself I would post once a month but that seemed nearly impossible this month. Between remote/hybrid learning, my own coursework, and recovering from COVID I didn’t have energy for much baking. I did manage to bake this Irish soda bread, a recipe straight from Jerry’s collection of goodies. This bread is super simple to make but unfortunately I couldn’t smell it as it baked or taste it when it cooled. My youngest loved it. He never lost his sense of taste or smell so I’m taking his word. It whips up in minutes and tastes especially delicious warm with a good dollop of butter on top. It also toasts really well. I plan to make it again when my sense of smell and taste are fully back. There is grief in loosing your sense of smell and taste. Foods and smells that once connected me to loved ones now gone are lost in a void. I picture them floating in a black abyss waiting to find their way back to me. Lost but looking. For now I will wait, stick my nose into a container of coffee grinds, smell my shampooed hair, inhale deeply, and wait for all the smells and tastes to make their way out of the abyss.

Irish Soda Bread

Recipe adapted from Taste of Home and Jerry’s recipe

Serves 8-10

Ingredients:

3 + ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

½ sugar

2 tablespoons caraway seeds

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon of baking soda

2 eggs

1 cup sour cream

1 cup whole milk yogurt (not Greek)

1 cup raisins

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease a 9inch springform pan and set aside.

Using a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, caraway seeds, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.  Using a small bowl, whisk together eggs, yogurt, and sour cream.  Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until just combined.  Gently fold in raisins.  Spread batter into prepared 9-inch springform pan.  Bake until golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 40 to 45 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes.  Best served warm and with salted butter.  Tastes great toasted as well.  Store any leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Baked Vodka Pasta +5 Cozy Pasta + Dessert Recipes To Get You Through The Rest of Winter

I had this recipe ready to go a couple of weeks ago but then COVID hit our house. We are all recovering now but we had a rough go of it. This baked vodka pasta is comfort in a bowl. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did…before we lost our sense of taste and smell. I’m looking forward to spring. More recipes and writing to come. Stay healthy and safe!

Baked Vodka Pasta

Recipe adapted from Alexandra Cooks

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 garlic cloves, minced

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

½ cup vodka

1 28oz can of crushed tomatoes

2 heaping tablespoons of tomato paste

Kosher salt, to taste

Fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

1lb penne pasta

Parmesan rind

1 cup parmesan

½ cup heavy cream

16 ounces of whole milk ricotta cheese

8 ounces fresh mozzarella

Fresh basil, optional but delicious

Directions:

Combine the butter, garlic and red pepper flakes in a large saucepan over medium-low heat.  Stir often until butter is melted and garlic is fragrant, about 5 minutes.  Next, add the vodka and bring to a simmer. Allow the vodka to reduce by one third so cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes.  Add the tomato paste and mix well.  Next, add the crushed tomatoes, parmesan rind, and a large pinch of kosher salt and black pepper.  Simmer over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes.

While the sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the penne and cook for 6 minutes (4 minutes under the al dente time).  Reserve 1 cup of the past liquid and set aside.  Drain the pasta and rinse with cold water.

Remove the parmesan rind from the sauce.  Add some reserved pasta liquid if the sauce seems too thick.  Place the pasta in a large bowl.  Add the sauce and parmesan.  Mix well. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 425F.  Using a medium bowl, mix together the ricotta and heavy cream.

Add half of the pasta to a 9×13 pan.  Spread ricotta mixture evenly over pasta and top with remaining pasta.  Tear the mozzarella into chunks and spread it evenly over the pasta.  Bake until the top of the cheese is golden brown, about 30 to 40 minutes.  Serve with fresh torn basil leaves and more parmesan if desired.  I highly recommend it! 

**Pasta dish can be made a few hours or up to a day ahead of time.  Cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator until ready to bake. **

**Vodka can be replaced with an equal amount of water and a squeeze of lemon juice. **

Cozy Winter Dinner and Dessert Links

Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Tortellini + Chocolate Cake

Winter Squash Lasagna + White Chocolate and Lemon Curd Pavlova

Shrimp Scampi Pasta + Red Velvet Marble Cake

Baked Ziti with Roasted Vegetables + Stewed Cherry Eton Mess

Homemade Mac n’ Cheese + Banana Cream Pie