Thursday, February 3, 2011

Fight Snow Day Woes with Fresh Bread and Soup

So what do do you do when you have the day off of work unexpectedly and it is freezing cold out with even colder winds?  You dig in and make soup!  Since I had the ingredients to make fresh homemade soup and I thought a wonderful addition to it would be fresh bread.  Plus, an excuse to turn on the oven was also welcome given the cold wintery day outside.  My boyfriend said this soup only rated 3 stars in his book because everything else we have been eating has been so much better.

So today's variation of Irish Clam Chowder comes from New Covent Garden Soup Co.cookbook which was given to me years ago by a friend from Scotland.  The twist on the Irish Soda bread was found on the website.  Both recipes have been modified as that is just my way.

Irish Clam Chowder
Serves: 6
About a pound of scallops
3 leeks, sliced very finely
2 medium potatoes
About 5 slices of bacon
12-16 oz of sweetcorn
6 oz sour cream
1 cup cream
2 cups chicken stock
2 oz. butter
1 teaspoon honey
2 teaspoons flour
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh parsley to garnish

Saute leeks, potato and bacon in butter for about 20 minutes until soft.  Add 3/4 of the stock and cook for 10 minutes, then add sweetcorn. Mix flour with remaining stock and add to the saucepan and heat until warmed through.  Add the sour cream, cream and scallops.  Heat gently until the scallops are firm.  Be careful not to cook too quickly or for too long or the scallops will become tough.  Add honey just before serving and season to taste.  Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve with crusty bread.

Seeded Soda Bread
Seeds: 12 Tablespoons seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, poppy, flax etc.)
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 cup spelt flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 3/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400F.  Combine chosen seeds.  Sift flours, baking soda and salt into a large bowl.  Stir in all but 2 -3 Tablespoons of the seeds.  Make a well and pour in the buttermilk.  Stir just until combined.  Add extra buttermilk if needed.  Knead on lightly floured surface for one minute.  Place dough on a lightly floured baking sheet and mark with an X cutting 2/3 of the way through.  Brush with buttermilk and sprinkle remaining seeds.  Bake 35-40 minutes or until golden brown on top.  Cool on a wire rack.  Makes 1 loaf.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


There are so many recipes for cheesecake out there, but essentially they have the same ingredients with variations in the flavor, the different crusts you can make as well as how to actually bake them.  I used to make cheesecakes regularly, especially when I lived in Germany and had different options due to different types of cheese available.  I am lazy when it comes to actually baking the cheesecake, so I don't use a water bath, but if you decide to use one, the cheesecake will not crack like mine does and it also keeps the text more consistent.  Both methods work, but depending on time and desire, pick which you would rather do.

Being that I have made so many cheesecakes in the past, I don't really follow a recipe.  I did read about 3 recipes before I made this particular one only because I didn't want to miss an ingredient that I used to use.  I nearly did forget to add the sugar, but remembered in the nick of time.

At any rate....

For the crust:
about 1.5 to 2 cups of graham crackers crumbs
about 1/2 cup sugar
5 Tablespoons butter (note: I always use unsalted butter)

Mix together well and pat into a spring form pan.

For the filling:
4 8oz packages of cream cheese
4 eggs
2 Dessert spoons sour cream
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 to 1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup - 3/4 cup sugar
Vanilla extract (about 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon)

Mix all the filling ingredients until smooth.  All ingredients should be at room temperature to ensure maximum smoothness.  Heat the oven to 350-375 F.  Pour the filling on top of the pressed crust.  Smooth the top.  Bake for about 1 hour 20 minutes, or until center is set.  Remove from oven and cool.  When cool release from the spring form pan.  Refrigerate overnight and serve chilled.