Irish Soda Bread By Annie Copps

Monday, March 14, 2011
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sliced irish soda bread

Any leprechaun of note will tell you that the key to good soda bread is not to get yourself or the dough overworked in the process. Kind of like a giant biscuit, soda bread is easy and quick to make, but if not made properly it can be dry and tough, or undercooked in the middle. The line between a pleasant pastry fit for a smear of butter and jam and a leaden block of cooked flour fit for the garbage bin, can be a fine one.

Like any dough or batter, gluten, the protein in flour (activated by water) gives baked goods their structure. In the case of traditional bread, the gluten needs to be worked into long strands, via kneading, so that hot air can get in between those strands and puff it up. In the case of cakes, muffins, and “quick” breads it is important to mix the ingredients together, just until they are combined and holding together so things don’t get too tough inside.

Traditional Irish soda bread is made from only four ingredients: flour, baking soda, salt, and milk, for this recipe I added some baking powder, to really keep things light. Whisk together some flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda. Add in melted butter, caraway seeds, and some golden raisins. In a separate bowl combine some buttermilk and egg and combined JUST until incorporated—remember, don’t overwork things. Form into a round and make an “X” on top. Bake and you’ve got yourself a pot of gold waiting to come out of the oven.

Yield: One loaf
Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes; active time: 30 minutes

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick), melted
2 tablespoons caraway seeds, optional
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a standing mixer with a paddle attachment, bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, soda, and salt. Add butter, caraway (if using) and raisins; combine just until incorporated.

In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk and egg; add to dough and mix just until incorporated. Turn dough onto a lightly floured work surface and fold it over onto itself 2 or 3 times, shaping it into a round, 8-inch loaf. Transfer loaf to a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet. Score an “X” on the top of the dough. Bake 45 minutes until well-browned and a toothpick plunged into the center emerges clean.

Remove to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing. Serve with butter and your favorite jam or preserves.

Baking Soda and Baking Powder
Both baking soda and baking powder are variations on sodium bicarbonate which produces carbon dioxide, which gives baked goods a bit of rise.

Baking Soda
Baking soda is pure sodium bicarbonate. And is a quick to cause bubbles when combined with moisture, especially when heated.

Baking Powder
Baking powder contains sodium bicarbonate, as well as cream of tartar (an acidic) and cornstarch (which keeps things dry). Baking powder has a bit more staying power without as much acidity.

(Courtesy: Yankee Magazine)

annie coppsAnnie B. Copps is a senior editor at Yankee Magazine. Annie oversees the magazine's food coverage, both as an editor and as a contributor of feature stories and columns.

Baked Eggs with Chives and Cream

By Susie Middleton   |   Friday, March 16, 2012
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Roasted Shrimp with Rosemary and Thyme

These eggs are surprisingly easy: Just four ingredients, and they’re ready in about 10 minutes

Serves: 2


2 tsp. unsalted butter, softened
4 large eggs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1-1/2 tsp. chopped fresh chives
2 Tbs. heavy cream


Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 425°F. Butter 2 oven-safe 6-inch gratin dishes with 1 tsp. butter each.

Crack 2 eggs into each gratin dish. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper, and sprinkle with the chives. Drizzle 1 Tbs. cream in each dish, starting over the yolks and working around the dish. Bake until the eggs are bubbly and browned on the edges but not quite set in the middle, 5 minutes. (For firmer eggs, bake an additional 1 minute .)

Heat the broiler on high. Broil the eggs, still on the center rack of the oven, until the center is just set, about 2 minutes. Remove from the oven immediately—the eggs will continue to set.

Nutrition information (per serving):

Calories (kcal): 230; Fat (g): 19; Fat Calories (kcal): 170; Saturated Fat (g): 9; Protein (g): 13; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 6; Carbohydrates (g): 1; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1.5; Sodium (mg): 290; Cholesterol (mg): 455; Fiber (g): 0;

Susie Middleton is editor at large for Fine Cooking magazine.

Doughnut Muffins

By Susie Middleton   |   Friday, March 2, 2012
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spicy red beans

They may look like muffins, but a dunk in melted butter and a roll in cinnamon-sugar makes these luscious morsels taste more like donuts, without the hassle of deep-frying. We sell out of these muffins every morning at my Downtown Bakery and Creamery.

Yields about 24 medium muffins.

For the muffins:

12 oz. (24 Tbs.) unsalted butter, warmed to room temperature
1-3/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 lb. 11 oz. (6 cups) all-purpose flour
1 Tbs. plus 2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1-3/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1-2/3 cups milk
1/4 cup buttermilk

For dipping:

8 oz. (16 Tbs.) unsalted butter; more as needed
2 cups sugar
2 Tbs. ground cinnamon
To make the muffins

Put a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. In a stand mixer or a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until just mixed in. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg. Combine the milk and buttermilk. With a wooden spoon, mix a quarter of the dry ingredients into the butter mixture. Then mix in a third of the milk mixture. Continue mixing in the remaining dry and wet ingredients alternately, ending with the dry. Mix until well combined and smooth, but don't overmix. Grease and flour a standard-size muffin tin. Scoop enough batter into each tin so that the top of the batter is even with the rim of the cup, about 1/2 cup. (A #16 ice-cream scoop gives you the perfect amount.) Bake the muffins until firm to the touch, 30 to 35 minutes.

To finish

Melt the butter for the dipping mixture. Combine the sugar and cinnamon. When the muffins are just cool enough to handle, remove them from the tin, dip them into or brush them all over with the melted butter, and then roll them in the cinnamon sugar.

Make ahead tips

You don't have to bake all the muffins right away; the batter will keep, covered and chilled, for up to three days in the refrigerator.


Nutrition information (per serving):

Size : per muffin; Calories (kcal): 430; Fat (g): 21; Fat Calories (kcal): 190; Saturated Fat (g): 13; Protein (g): 5; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 6; Carbohydrates (g): 57; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1; Sodium (mg): 270; Cholesterol (mg): 90; Fiber (g): 1;

Susie Middleton is editor at large for Fine Cooking magazine.

Spicy Red Eye Baked Beans

By Susie Middleton   |   Friday, February 24, 2012
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spicy red beans

The addition of the coffee, for which the recipe is named, deepens the other flavors in the beans.

Serves eight to ten.

Yields about 2 quarts.


1 lb. dried pinto beans
3 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbs. ancho chile powder
1 tsp. chipotle chile powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
Freshly ground black pepper
6 cups lower-salt beef broth
1 meaty smoked ham hock
1 cup brewed coffee
1/3 cup mild molasses, such as Grandma's Original.
1/3 cup ketchup
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
2 sprigs fresh oregano
1 Tbs. bourbon (optional)
Kosher salt


Don't have time to soak the beans overnight? Put them in a 4-quart saucepan. Add enough cold water to cover by 2 inches and bring just to a boil. Remove from the heat and soak for 2 hours. Drain the beans and continue with the recipe.


Sort through the beans to make sure there are no little stones and then put them in a large bowl or pot. Add enough cold water to cover the beans by 2 inches and let soak overnight. Drain the beans well, tilting the colander instead of shaking it to gently extract the water and protect the beans' skins.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 300°F.

Melt the butter in a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes.

Add the chile powders, cumin, allspice, and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Cook, stirring, until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add the broth and ham hock. Stir to combine. Add the beans and bring just to a simmer. Cover and bake until the beans are easy to bite into but still a little mealy in texture, 45 to 60 minutes.

Stir in the coffee, molasses, ketchup, Worcestershire, and oregano. Bake, uncovered, until the beans are fully tender, 30 to 60 minutes more. Cool to room temperature. Discard the oregano stems and the skin from the ham hock. Cut the meat off the bone and chop. Add the meat to the beans and discard the bone. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

To finish, bring to a simmer, uncovered, over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and continue to simmer until the sauce is reduced to the consistency of thin gravy, stirring occasionally so the bottom doesn't burn, 40 to 60 minutes. Stir in the bourbon (if using) and season the beans to taste with salt and pepper.

Nutrition information (per serving):

Calories (kcal): 410; Fat (g): 16; Fat Calories (kcal): 140; Saturated Fat (g): 6; Protein (g): 26; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 6; Carbohydrates (g): 41; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1.5; Sodium (mg): 350; Cholesterol (mg): 60; Fiber (g): 10;

Susie Middleton is editor at large for Fine Cooking magazine.

Thanksgiving Saturday

Sunday, November 13, 2011
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Thanksgiving Saturday
Saturday, Nov. 19, WGBH 2

Days before the traditional feast, WGBH 2 presents a day of programming that will help you create a delicious Thanksgiving. Guiding you from defrosting to dessert, culinary experts cover the whole table: rolls, stuffing, mashed potatoes, squash, gravy, the perfect pumpkin pie and, of course, turkey.

11:30am: Sara’s Weeknight Meals: Thanksgiving 101
How to buy, defrost, brine, and roast a turkey. Also, common Thanksgiving dinner mistakes; a one-size-fits-all stuffing; a wine-infused gravy; and how to keep and reheat mashed potatoes.

12:30pm: America's Test Kitchen: An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving
Our roast turkey technique guarantees moist, flavorful meat and bronzed skin — a true holiday table centerpiece. Finish the meal with a slice of our perfect pumpkin pie.

2:30pm: America's Test Kitchen: Thanksgiving Turkey
We read up on American cookery to rescue a rare bird from the brink of extinction: the holiday turkey that has it all. Along the way, we share some pointers about stuffing.

3pm: Cook's Country: Fail-Safe Thanksgiving
An old-fashioned roast turkey with gravy, garlic mashed potatoes, and dinner rolls are prepared.

3:30pm: Cook's Country: Autumn Desserts
Bridget reveals the secrets to the ultimate apple dumplings. Chris makes old-fashioned pecan pie.

4pm: Heirloom Meals’ Thanksgiving Special
Family recipes are shared. Included: cranberry-stuffed acorn squash; Brazilian cheese rolls; chipotle-spiced pumpkin pie; roast turkey; and wine recommendations for a Thanksgiving table. Host: Carole Murko.

Braided Brunch Loaf By Annie Copps

Monday, March 14, 2011
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braided brunch loaf

Yes, you will have me to thank for this semi-genius breakfast or brunch dish. I"ll call it a braided brunch loaf because I don"t know how else to describe it, but my inability to properly name it doesn"t take away from the considerable wow factor of it"s presentation. And yes... it is very easy and forgiving to prepare.

Basically what we are talking about here is puff pastry stuffed with scrambled eggs and whatever else tastes good to you. I like to go with a bit of everything, so I start with cooking some potato with onions and red bell pepper. Then I add in some bacon or chopped ham, a dozen eggs, some scallions, and cheese. Cook until just set—don"t fully cook.

Lay down a sheet of puff pastry—yes, defrosted store bought, you and I are not making that from scratch. Cut horizontal strips 1/3 of the way down the length of both sides of the pastry. Lay the scrambled egg down the center, then fold in the sides of the dough like braid to cover the eggs. Bake until the pastry is browned and puffed. Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy the ohs and ahs.

braided brunch loaf, step 1

braided brunch loaf, step 2

braided brunch loaf, step 3

braided brunch loaf, step 4

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 russet potato, peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced into ¼ inch
4 strips cooked bacon, chopped (or ham)
1 dozen eggs
2 scallions finely chopped
8 ounces cream cheese, cut into small pieces
½ cup shredded mild cheddar or Monterey jack cheese
1 egg white
1 teaspoon water
2 sheets frozen puff pastry, defrosted

In a large saute pan, over medium high heat, melt butter and sauté potatoes for 5 minutes, or until they begin to soften. Add onion and pepper and cook 8 to 10 minutes, or until onion is cooked, flipping ingredients with a spatula every so often, being careful not to break up potato. Add bacon. Lower heat to medium.

In medium bowl, whisk together eggs and scallion. Add to sauté pan. Fold in cream cheese and cheddar and gently scramble until just set. Remove to a separate bowl and cool to room temperature (or refrigerate).

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

In a small bowl, whisk together egg white and water.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll one sheet of puff pastry into a 10-by-12-inch rectangle.

Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment or Silpat.

Trim pastry (see photo 1).

Place half of egg mixture into center of pastry and braid (see photos 2 and 3, for folding pattern).

Brush with egg wash (see photo 4).

Repeat with other pastry sheet.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until browned.

(Courtesy: Yankee Magazine)

Photos courtesy of Keller + Keller

annie coppsAnnie B. Copps is a senior editor at Yankee Magazine. Annie oversees the magazine's food coverage, both as an editor and as a contributor of feature stories and columns.

About the Author
Susie Middleton Susie Middleton
Susie Middleton is editor at large for Fine Cooking magazine and the author of veggie cookbooks Fast, Fresh & Green and The Fresh & Green Table.

Follow her on Twitter at @sixburnersue


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