Farmhouse Soda Bread

IMG_3354After having amazing Soda Bread on our vacation, thought I’d look into it a bit more. The most essential quality of good Soda Bread is its lightness. All the soda bread I’ve had in the past has been like a huge drop biscuit, and somewhat coarse.

Here’s my thought, just because something is from yesteryear, a farmhouse, or labeled rustic doesn’t automatically mean it should be something you’re not proud of! The soda bread we had was so good, that it was used in the bread pudding as well. I’ve read all my head will hold about alkaline and acids, and am figuring out a recipe that if it works, will be posted here within the next few days. From an early age I remember being told to use a teaspoon or two of lemon juice in a cup of milk to get a better result in cooking than if you were to use store bought buttermilk. I always use this soured milk because I’ll never get through a litre of buttermilk! Apparently buttermilk’s not as acid as sour milk.

Also, thinking about biscuits and that they are never at their best the next day, I looked into storage.  I’m guessing that most folks don’t have an abundance of oiled baking paper on hand (this was what used in the 1800’s), but we do have tin foil.  When the loaves are closely wrapped with an impervious covering, you’ll get an extra couple of days of goodness.

So after some tweaking and thinking and reviewing what I already know about baking soda and powder, here is what I’ve come up with.

Makes 3 – 5 ¾“ x 3” loaves – enough for 12 servings Continue reading

Warmed Olives with Citrus & Fennel

IMG_3323_2 I’ve always had a thing for olives.  When I was about eight years old, I can remember wanting big dishes of them with my birthday dinner.  The freedom to eat as many as I wanted was so exciting for me.

The texture and flavour are so appealing.  A few olives with some dry salami and crusty bread is pretty much a perfect lunch for me.

Even though there are so many varieties of olives available, this recipe brings them to a whole new level.  Whether you’re trying an imported jar of huge green olives, or are wondering what you’ll ever do with that can of pitted black olives, this works well for all.   The olives are heated in olive oil with citrus peel, fennel seeds and a pinch of chilies.  They’re served warm and the flavoured oil is fabulous soaked into bread. Continue reading

Salmon Florentine

IMG_3185For several years, my partner and I used to open up a marina during the winter for special dinners, brunches and lunches.  They became so popular that we would be sold out within a day or two of advertising the event.   We didn’t have a liquor license, but folks would bring their own if they wanted a glass of wine with dinner.

One night soon after everyone was tucking into their dinners, there was a knock on the door.  Two RCMP were standing there in the cold.  Invited in and asked if they wanted to join us, they declined, simply saying they wanted to moor overnight, but had their own dinner ready to go.  I am absolutely sure they were oblivious to all the hurried clinking as bottles went back into bags under tables.

These meals were so much fun, and somehow squeezing in seating for 36 in a small store made it more intimate.  The night would finish with folks chatting over coffee, with us wondering to ourselves how late they’d stay, so we could get on with clean up.

One early spring dinner, we toyed with the idea of serving salmon, but had no grill and limited cooking facilities, so I came up with this recipe.  It’s easier than it looks, and presents beautifully. Continue reading

Lemon Bundt Cake

IMG_3230In early March I catered for a family that gathered for a full weekend together.  Over the course of the weekend we made sure that they had a self-serve area with hot & cold beverages, fruit and assorted baking.  Every time we’d add something to the mix, they’d check out the new offerings.  We made sure that there was a range of baking to get them through their time together.  One item was this lemon cake.  We presented it on a large pedestal cake plate with a dome.  Put out just after lunch on the Saturday, it dwindled down to two slices by mid-afternoon.

I made it again this weekend in a very successful gluten free version, and once again watched as piece by piece it got eaten.  It’s very lemony, dense like a pound cake, and super moist. Continue reading