Soda Bread

A Favorite St. Patrick’s Day Dish

March 17, 2018

It’s that time of year again, in America, when the beer turns green and the aroma of corned beef and cabbage fills the air. The dish is so comforting, but just what is corned beef? The term has nothing to do with corn, but was the English term for a small granule, such as a grain of salt. In days before modern refrigeration, salting meat was a way to preserve it and keep it from spoiling.

Corned beef is an Americanized addition to the traditional Irish diet. While colcannon (boiled potatoes, cabbage, and leeks in buttermilk flavored with wild garlic) was a common Irish dish, as was brown soda bread, corned beef was produced primarily for export to England. Upon arriving in America, however, it’s thought the Irish chose to celebrate their holiday with food that was typically not available to them in their home country, so corned beef was added to the menu, as was white soda bread studded with currants and caraway.

Corned beef is typically made from beef brisket, which is a cut of meat from the breast or lower chest, but the rump, bottom round, and even tongue, can be used. In America, the term “corned beef” is used to describe both the cured meat and the canned stuff found on grocery store shelves. In Britain, they call the canned stuff “salt beef.”

To make corned beef the meat is simmered in a blend of corned beef spices that usually include peppercorns, garlic, mustard, tarragon, thyme, parsley, cloves, and nutmeg.

In New England, you most often see corned beef served as a St. Patrick’s Day main dish or in a sandwich. As the main ingredient in New England Boiled Dinner, corned beef often pairs with potatoes, carrots, turnips, and cabbage in a hearty, savory, brothy bowl of goodness. When used in a sandwich, the most popular corned beef sandwich is the Reuben. Considered the quintessential Jewish deli sandwich, a Reuben is toasted rye bread stuffed with hot slices of corned beef, usually piled high, and topped with sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and either Russian or Thousand Island dressing.

In New England, a frequent point of interest is also whether you prefer red vs. gray corned beef. The difference is “Red” brisket is cured with nitrite, which gives the meat its signature color. “Gray” corned beef, which is considered the authentic New England variety, is not cured with nitrate, so color forms naturally as it brines.

If you have corned beef leftovers a New England favorite is corned beef hash, which is typically served for breakfast.

“Work With What You Got!”

©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2018 All Rights Reserved

Quick Breads

September 9, 2016

Quick Breads

For mouth-watering breads that don’t require a lot of time, turn to quick breads. By using baking powder, baking soda, steam, or air instead of yeast to leaven dough. An advantage of quick breads is their ability to be prepared quickly and reliably, without requiring time-consuming skilled labor and the climate control needed for traditional yeast breads. Quick breads include banana bread, beer bread, biscuits, cornbread, cookies, muffins, cakes, pancakes, brownies, scones, and soda bread.

Almost all quick breads have the same basic ingredients: Flour, leavening, eggs, fat (butter, margarine, shortening, or oil) and a liquid such as milk. Ingredients beyond these basics are added for variations of flavor and texture. The type of bread produced varies based predominantly on the method of mixing, the major flavoring, and the ratio of liquid in the batter. Some batters are thin enough to pour and others are thick enough to mold into lumps.

There are four main types of quick bread batter:
Pour Batters: Such as pancake batter, have a liquid to dry ration of about 1:1 and so pours in a steady stream – also called a “low-ratio” baked good.

Drop Batters: Such as cornbread and muffin batters, have a liquid to dry ratio of about 1:2.

Soft Doughs: Such as many chocolate chip cookie doughs, have a liquid to dry ratio of about 1:3. Soft doughs stick significantly to work surfaces.

Stiff Doughs: Such as pie crust and sugar cookie doughs, have a liquid to dry ratio of 1:8. Stiff doughs are easy to work in that they only minimally stick to work surfaces, including tools and hands – also called “high-ratio” baked goods.

Preparing a quick bread generally involves two mixing containers. On contains all dry ingredients (including chemical leavening agents or agent) and one contains all wet ingredients (possibly including liquid ingredients that are slightly acidic in order to initiate the leavening process). In some variations, the dry ingredients are in a bowl and the wet ingredients are heated sauces in a saucepan off-heat and cooled.

During the chemical leavening process, agents (one or more food-grade chemicals – usually a weak acid and a weak base) are added into the dough during mixing. These agents undergo a chemical reaction to produce carbon dioxide, which increases the baked good’s volume and produces a porous structure and lighter texture. Yeast breads often take hours to rise, and the resulting baked good’s texture can vary greatly based on external factors such as temperature and humidity. By contrast, breads made with chemical leavening agents are relatively uniform, reliable, and quick. Usually, the resulting baked good is softer and lighter than traditional yeast breads.

Chemical leavening agents include a weak base, such as baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) plus a weak acid, such as cream of tartar, lemon juice, or cultured buttermilk, to create an acid-base reaction that releases carbon dioxide. Quick bread leavened specifically with baking soda is often called “soda bread.” Baking powder contains both an acid and a base in dry powdered form, and simply needs a liquid medium in which to react. Other alternative leavening agents are egg whites mechanically beaten to form stiff peaks, as in the case of many waffle recipes, or steam, in the case of cream puffs.

There are three basic methods for making quick breads, which may combine the “rise” of the chemical leavener with advantageous “lift” from other ingredients.

The Stirring Method: Also known as the quick-bread method, blending method, or muffin method is used for pancakes, muffins, corn bread, dumplings, and fritters. This method calls for measurement of dry and wet ingredients separately, then quickly mixing the two. Often the wet ingredients include beaten eggs, which have trapped air that helps the product to rise. In these recipes, the fats are liquid, such as cooking oil. Using mixing is done using a tool with a wide head such as a spoon or spatula to prevent the dough from becoming over-beaten, which would break down the egg’s lift.

The Creaming Method: Frequently used for cake batters. The butter and sugar are “creamed” or beaten together until smooth and fluffy. Eggs and liquid flavorings are mixed in, and finally dry and liquid ingredients are added in. The creaming method combines rise gained from air bubbles in the creamed butter with the rise from the chemical leaveners. Gentle folding in of the final ingredients avoids destroying these air pockets.

The Shortening Method: Also known as the biscuit method, is used for biscuits and scones. This method cuts solid fat (whether lard, butter, or vegetable shortening) into flour and other dry ingredients using a food processor, pastry blender, or two hand-held forks. The layering from this process gives rise and adds flakiness as the fold of fat melts during baking. This technique is said to produce “shortened” cakes and breads, regardless of whether or not the chosen fat is vegetable shortening.

Quick bread originated in the United States at the end of the 18th century. Before the creation of quick bread, baked goods were leavened with either yeast or by mixing dough with eggs. The discovery of chemical leavening agents and their widespread military, commercial, and home utilization in the United States dates back to 1846 with the introduction of commercial baking soda in New York by Church and Dwight of “Arm & Hammer” fame. This development was extended in 1956 by the introduction of commercial baking powder in Massachusetts, although the best known form of baking powder is “Calumet”, which was first introduced in West Hammond and Hammond, Indiana (later Calumet City, Illinois) in 1889. Both forms of food-grade chemical leaveners are still being produced under their original names.

During the American Civil War (1861-1865) the demand for portable and quickly made food was high, while skilled labor for traditional bread making was scarce. This encouraged the adoption of bread, which was rapidly made and leavened with baking soda, instead of yeast. The shortage of chemical leaveners in the American South during the Civil War contributed to a food crisis.

As the Industrial Revolution accelerated, the marketing of mass-produced prepackaged foods was eased by the use of chemical leaveners, which could produce consistent products regardless of variations in source ingredients, time of year, geographical location, weather conditions, and many other factors that could cause problems with environmentally sensitive, temperamental yeast formulations. These factors were traded off against the loss of traditional yeast flavor, nutrition, and texture.

www.tinynewyorkkitchen.com

“Work With What You Got!”

© Victoria Hart Glavin Tiny New York Kitchen © 2016 All Rights Reserved

Saint Patrick’s Day Breakfast

March 16, 2013

Saint Patrick’s Day Breakfast

How lucky we are this year that Saint Patrick’s Day falls on the weekend so how about having a traditional full Irish breakfast.

Start with traditional bangers and then choose either Canadian bacon or double hickory smoked bacon.  Add Eggs, grilled tomatoes, soda bread, baked beans and coffee or Irish breakfast tea.   You can top your grilled tomatoes with grated cheese and herbs or have them just grilled.  Your eggs can be fried, poached or scrambled. 

Bangers are the cornerstone of the traditional full Irish breakfast.  Irish loin bacon is very similar to Canadian bacon as both are cut from the pork loin and are fairly lean meats.  They are cured and not smoked.  Irish bacon also has a small bit of tail meat connected to the eye of the loin.  Double hickory smoked bacon is very similar to American bacon or what is called streaky bacon in the British Isles.  This type of bacon comes from the pork belly and is easily distinguished by the stripes of lean and fat that run through it.  Double hickory smoked bacon is a fine substitute if you decide not to use Canadian bacon. 

Irish breakfasts vary from cook to cook and region to region by incorporating local specialties. Some regional favorites include mashed potatoes that are fried with leftover vegetables, blood sausage or sautéed mushrooms. 

Latest Recipes

Standing Rib Roast With Jus

Standing Rib Roast With Jus

Lighter Pasta Alfredo

Lighter Pasta Alfredo

Sheet Pan Eggnog Pancakes

Sheet Pan Eggnog Pancakes

Sweet Potato Casserole With Marshmallows

Sweet Potato Casserole With Marshmallows

Bacon Wrapped Turkey Breast

Bacon Wrapped Turkey Breast