The Luck of the Irish
When I was a child, I use to wonder why corned beef wasn’t green and why March 17th didn’t include a green food. After all, I dressed in green and received green carnations, so what about the food?
Now that I am 61 years old and a recipe developer, I decided it is about time to remedy that childhood dilemma. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love traditional Irish food, especially Irish Soda Bread! The scone-like texture of this yeast-free bread, combined with orange zest and currants or raisins is a secret food obsession that I have this time of year. A local church I go to actually makes loaves to purchase after the service, as a fundraiser. I secretly purchase two or three loaves and hide them from the rest of the family for late night mom snacking!
This March, I decided to try my hand at making traditional Irish Soda Bread but add in my favorite “green” veggie to the dough. I selected a Frost-Kissed Ocean Mist Farms artichoke. This is a winter artichoke that is as equally yummy as its spring sister. I selected to steam this large artichoke, and I never throw away the stem since it is an extension of the much revered heart and crown of the artichoke.
Once my artichoke is nice and tender, I remove it from the pot to cool so I might handle the artichoke easily. I save the cooked petals for healthy snacking and then mince the cooked artichoke stem, crown and heart and set it aside for my recipe.
You really can’t make easier bread than this Artichoke Irish Soda Bread. It has no rise time, and the dough making takes place in the bowl of an electric mixer. I use the paddle attachment, which makes all the ingredients come together quickly. After the ingredients are well combined, I remove the dough from the bowl and give it a quick little knead on a well-floured board, and you are now good to bake this tasty loaf.
I traditionally serve Irish Soda Bread with my corned beef dinner. I don’t know if this is a traditional Irish condiment, but at my home, I make a fresh orange and Meyer lemon marmalade from lemons from my home harvest!
The only problem with this bread is if you make it a few days before St. Patrick’s Day, you may not have any to serve at your “green” meal. So “lucky” for me I baked two loaves and hid the second one from myself!
Another secret to great bread is to use flour that has no preservative or additives. I find that when I use the best grade flour I can find it makes for a much more digestible bread, even if you do eat the entire loaf!
Unfortunately, I only have one small slice left from loaf number one and I can’t wait until late this evening when the day is over and I can put up my feet and pour a cup of hot tea to go with that last piece of toasted Artichoke Irish Soda Bread. I just hope that the second loaf doesn’t start calling to my taste buds or I will have to bake another couple of loaves before the 17th! Good thing this bread is considered a “quick bread” because it is quick to make and quicker for it to be gone!
Happy St. Patrick's Day to you and yours!