Hot Cross Buns And Snow

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My snowy backyard.

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I was at the book store one day last week and to my delight my eyes came upon a new magazine: SIFT, a King Arthur Publication. As I thumbed my way through I saw beautiful pictures of bread, muffins, cakes, biscuits, pizza, sandwiches, gluten free baked goods, and a section on a Mediterranean feast. The photos all looked so appealing, but one picture really had my attention: hot cross buns. I was hoping to make hot cross buns for the upcoming Easter season this year to share with my Mother-In-Law Helen. She just loves hot cross buns and buys them every year. I read over the ingredients and method for preparing the dough and the baking. I happily purchased my new magazine and couldn’t wait to bake the buns. Later that week we had a snow storm and I knew it was the perfect day for baking. The recipe called for either apple juice or rum, and I had rum on hand so I used that. It also called for mixed dried fruit, and I used a mixture of golden raisins and California raisins. I chose to mix the dough by hand instead of the mixer. When baking bread at home in such a small batch I love to get my hands in it. The dough was easy to mix and the process was relaxing. I did some reading during the rise times. It was so hard waiting for those buns to cool, but I wanted to enjoy the little taste of icing piped on the top to get the whole experience of the tasting. It was worth the wait! The bun was soft and tender. The fruit was tasty with the infusion of the rum, and who doesn’t love the taste of icing? I love the buns and the magazine. I will be patiently awaiting the next issue, but ‘till then there’s lots more great recipes in this issue to try.

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Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread
Irish Soda Bread

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I have been making Irish soda bread for many years. I love the smell of this quick bread in my oven. There are not too many bread recipes that produce such quick and delicious results. This recipe is a result of many years of trying different recipes. I believe it has the right amount of moisture, sweetness, and tang from the buttermilk. I also love the mixture of the currents and golden raisins. I have always added the butter cold to the flour mixture and approached this as a scone. By testing my recipe with melted butter I feel the end result may be just as good and a little easier. To add flavor I use pure vanilla extract it has always been my favorite. You could also add the zest of citrus fruit which gives a unique flavor. I love the sweetness of the golden raisins, the currents are more traditional and I love them as well. You could also just use raisins, and some years I add the caraway seed which really gives a depth of flavor. Irish soda bread is basic dough. Your imagination with adding the flavor you love makes it special. I only bake Irish soda bread right on or before St. Patrick’s Day. It is always something special to look forward to and I only serve it with Kerrygold Irish butter. It’s the best!

DSCF5160Ingredients.

DSCF5163Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients. Add the wet.

DSCF5166Stir with a wooden spoon just to combine. Turn out onto lightly floured surface and shape into a ball.

DSCF5168Place in you baking pan and cut an X in the top.

DSCF5171Bake 375 degrees 45-55 minutes.

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DSCF5189Cool just a little serve warm with butter.

Irish Soda Bread

4 cups all-purpose flour

¼ cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 extra large egg, lightly beaten

1 2/3 cup buttermilk

¾ teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

½ cup dried currents

½ cup golden raisins

1 tablespoon caraway seeds (optional)

Sift the dry ingredients in a large bowl. You could also use a wire whisk to combine the dry ingredients. Make a whole in the center of the flour mixture and add the wet ingredients. Stir to combine with a wooden spoon. Add the currents and golden raisins. Turn out onto a lightly floured board knead just a few times to form a ball. Don’t over mix!! Lightly butter a cast iron skillet or line a baking sheet with parchment. Lightly press the ball of dough. Using a knife make an X in the top of the dough. Bake 375 for 45-55 minutes. Bread should be 205 degrees on an instant read thermometer. Cool on a wire rack serve with softened Kerrygold butter.

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Cream of Chicken and Potato soup

Cream of Chicken and Potato Soup
Cream of Chicken and Potato Soup

It’s a beautiful, chilly fall day here in South Jersey. My boys stopped by to visit today, so I thought I’d treat them to a comforting homemade soup. This soup reminds me of my chicken potpie filling, just a lot easier. I stopped at the food store after church and picked up a fresh rotisserie chicken to make the task a little easier. I want to cook them a homemade soup but have time to enjoy their company as well. Will call this semi homemade! The soup couldn’t be easier to put together. I peeled and chopped the veggies and put them in the pot, covered them with the stock cooked them till they were tender, and then added the prepared chicken.  While the veggies are cooking I made the white sauce then combined the two and our soup was ready. It’s rich and hearty, and tastes like it took hours to make. We all enjoyed the soup and spending some time together. Having my boys for a visit made my Sunday an extra special day.

Base of the soup.
Base of the soup.
White Sauce.
White Sauce.
Base of soup and white sauce combine.
Base of soup and white sauce combine.
Cream of Chicken and Potato Soup.
Cream of Chicken and Potato Soup.

Cream of Chicken and Potato Soup

Soup Base

5 Cups russet potatoes, peeled, washed and cut into 1 inch chunks

1 small onion, chopped

3-4 Carrots, peeled wash a cut into ½ inch rounds

2 Bay leaves

4 Sprigs of thyme remove the leaves and discard the stems

2 Boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked and cut into bite sized pieces, or the breast of one rotisserie chicken cut into bite sized pieces.

3-4 Cups chicken stock

½ Teaspoon kosher salt and ¼ teaspoon fresh cracked pepper to taste

Fresh parsley to garnish

White Sauce

5 Tablespoons butter

5 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 cups milk, whole or 2 percent

In a large pot add the potatoes, onion, fresh thyme, bay leaves, salt, pepper, and chicken stock. The stock should just cover the vegetables. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Lower to medium heat to simmer the vegetables until they are fork tender. About 12-15 minutes. Add the cooked chicken. Remove the bay leaves. To make the white sauce, melt the butter in a large fry pan over medium low heat. Add the flour to the butter and stir with a whisk. Cook while stirring for 1-2 minutes to cook out the flour taste from the butter. Turn the gas up to a medium high heat and add the milk slowly while whisking into the butter and flour mixture. Whisk till the mixture becomes thick and bubbly. With a wooden spoon add the white sauce to the vegetable mixture over medium heat slowly to combine. Taste for the seasoning you may want more salt or pepper at this point. Garnish with fresh parsley before serving. Cook 5-10 minutes more and serve or simmer on a very low flame till you are ready to serve.

If you would like to make this soup vegetarian use vegetable stock and omit the chicken. You could add celery and more carrots to make it a little heartier.

Listen! the wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves, we have had our Summer evenings, now for October eves!

Humbert Wolfe

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Creamy Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie
Pumpkin Pie

I work with a really sweet lady named Joyce. We have become really good friends over the last seven years; her birthday was a little over a week ago. Joyce had passed a comment at work that she didn’t want birthday cake this year she just wanted a pumpkin pie. I instantly was dreaming of that yummy creamy, spicy pumpkin pie I love to bake for Thanksgiving. Joyce and our dear friend Danny, and I always get together and celebrate each others birthdays. I would have no problem surprising our birthday girl with the pie. While I’m at it I thought I’ll make two, I have to have one to taste to make sure it’s just right!  I met Joyce in the parking lot before we went in and surprised her with the pie. I loved seeing the smile on her face. It’s so fun to surprise people! I’m sure she never thought her wish for pie instead of cake would come true. We all had a lovely dinner and gave Joyce gifts to celebrate her birthday. When I saw Joyce at work that week she told me she really loved the pie. Well so did my husband, son, and I. Our pie was gone in 24 hours I guess we love pumpkin pie! This will be one of the creamiest pumpkin pies you’ve ever had and the spices put it over the top.

Assemble the pie crust ingredients.
Assemble the pie crust ingredients.
Whisk the flour,and salt together.
Whisk the flour,and salt together.
Add the butter and shortening. Cut in with a pastry blender.
Add the butter and shortening. Cut in with a pastry blender.
It should look like this. Now with a fork slowly add water and the dough will start to stick together and form a ball. You may not need all the water.
It should look like this. Now with a fork slowly add water and the dough will start to stick together and form a ball. You may not need all the water.
Wrap the dough and refrigerate 1-1 1/2 hours.
Wrap the dough and refrigerate 1-1 1/2 hours.
Roll out the dough on a floured board.
Roll out the dough on a floured board.
Put the crust in the pie plate and crimp the edges.
Put the crust in the pie plate and crimp the edges.

Pie crust

Yields double crust

12 oz. Flour, 1 ½ cups

½ Teaspoon salt

4oz. Ice cold butter in cubes, 1 stick butter

4oz. Ice cold solid shortening, ½ cup, I use Crisco

2-4oz. Ice cold water

In a medium size bowl add the flour and the salt. Whisk together with a wire whisk to incorporate the flour and the salt. Add the ice cold butter, and shortening. Cut in with a pastry blender till pea size pieces appear. Add 1 tablespoon of the water at a time into the flour butter mixture. Only use enough water to bring the dough together into a ball. Shape the dough into 2 discs. I used the entire dough for my pie. I have a large pie plate and I like to have lots of dough to work with. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-1 1/2hours. Remove from plastic, flour a large cutting board or your counter top. Dust the rolling pin and roll out the dough it should fit your pie pan with at least 2 inches hanging over. Trim up the dough around the pie plate tuck it under all the way around and crimp the edges. Place the pie crust in the refrigerator for 20 minutes to get it cold again. This will help you get a flaky crust. Add your filling.

 

Assemble your ingredients for the filling.
Assemble your ingredients for the filling.
Beat egg with a whisk.
Beat egg with a whisk.
Add the evaporated milk, milk or cream which ever your using. Whisk together.
Add the evaporated milk, milk or cream which ever your using. Whisk together.
Add the spices and salt. whisk again.
Add the spices and salt. whisk again.
Add the pumpkin puree and whisk to combine all ingredients.
Add the pumpkin puree and whisk to combine all ingredients.
Pour filling into prepared crust. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes. Then lower the temperature to 350 degrees and bake 50-55 minutes longer.
Pour filling into prepared crust. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes. Then lower the temperature to 350 degrees and bake 50-55 minutes longer.
Serve the pie with fresh whipped cream and just a little sifting of ground cinnamon.
Serve the pie with fresh whipped cream and just a little sifting of ground cinnamon.

Pumpkin Pie filling

2 Extra-large eggs

1 1/3 Evaporated milk, 1  12 oz can

½ Cup whole milk, or heavy cream

2/3 Cup granulated sugar

1/3 Cup light brown sugar, lightly packed

1 ½ Teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 Teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 Teaspoon ground cloves

1/8 Teaspoon ground nutmeg

 1/8 Teaspoon ground cardamom

½ Teaspoon salt

2 Cups solid packed pumpkin, I use Libby’s

In a large bowl beat eggs with a wire whisk. Add the evaporated milk and the milk, or heavy cream whisk gently together. Add the sugar, spices, and salt whisk gently. Add the pumpkin and whisk again to combine all ingredients together. Pour into your prepared pie crust. Bake at 425 degrees for the first 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake for 40-55 minutes. Cool on a wire rack completely. Refrigerate the pie for 3-4 hours before serving. I serve the pie with whipped cream with a sprinkle of sifted cinnamon.

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