Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Traditional British Food, Part 11: Version 2.0

For today's post, I've made different recipes than ones I've already posted for soda bread and cock-a-leekie soup. I think both new recipes turned out really well. The new soda bread is made with both white flour and whole wheat flour, which adds to the depth of flavor. It turned out really well, but it is a little more work than the first soda bread recipe. I adapted the recipe from the one on Rachel Allen's website (original recipe here). Rachel Allen has a television show called Bake. You can watch clips at this website.

Brown Soda Bread

Makes 1 loaf

2 cups whole wheat flour (King Arthur Traditional 100% Whole Wheat Flour)
4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons cold butter, cut in small cubes
1 egg
1 1/2 - 2 1/2 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

Sift dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl then rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Make a well in the center.

In another bowl, whisk together the egg and 1 1/2 cups buttermilk. Pour into the well in the flour mixture. Combine, adding more buttermilk, as needed. You'll want just enough buttermilk so the mixture comes together and is soft, not moist.

On a lightly floured surface, shape dough into a round 1 1/2" tall. Cut an "X" in the top with a razor blade or very sharp knife and place dough on a baking sheet.

Bake bread in the middle of the oven for 15 minutes, then turn the heat down to 400 and cook for another 30 minutes. The bottom of the loaf should sound hollow when tapped. Cool on a cooling rack.


My final version 2.0 recipe for today is a lazy version of "Cockaleekie" (don't know why hyphens are sometimes used and sometimes not) from The Cooking of the British Isles. This variation of the soup is lighter than the previous one. It is also lacking in prunes and beef stock. But it does have barley.

Quick Cock-a-Leekie II

Serves 8

2 quarts chicken stock
2 large leeks, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced and soaked
4 cups cooked chicken, shredded
1/2 cup pearl barley
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons parsley, minced

In a large stock pot, bring the stock and leeks to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, add the chicken and barley. Cook, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in the salt. Divide into bowls and top with the parsley.

This is easily refrigerated or frozen. Leave out the parsley to store and then add it just before serving.
"...Sir John's satisfaction in society was much more real...He was a blessing to all the juvenile part of the neighborhood, for in summer he was forever forming parties to eat cold ham and chicken out of doors..."
- Sense and Sensibility, Volume I, Chapter VII

Paul and I put together a nice cold dinner of chicken, the potato salad from last post, and kidney bean salad (just kidney beans in a garlicky vinaigrette). The soda bread, however, wasn't cold. (It had just come out of the oven.) I have to say, it was really nice just pulling things out of the fridge and putting them on a plate and calling it dinner!

Finally, since Rebecca has bought a copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, I just wanted to offer some of my own wisdom on the subject. First tip: the vegetables don't usually need as much time to cook as the recipes state, so just check them every so often until they're fork-tender (in the cast of root vegetables) or with a bit of snap left in them (green vegetables). Second tip: there are a lot of steps in the recipes. I probably skip at least one step in almost every recipe. For example, I skip the buttered parchment paper on the chicken escalopes and just put the lid on the pan. Chances are, if it seems extraneous, it probably is. That being said, I have enjoyed many successful meals thanks to Julia Child. Just remember it's not absolute! Rebecca- best of luck and I hope you'll let me know how it goes.

P.S. Here's a list of the recipes I've blogged about from Mastering the Art of French Cooking:

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