One of the nicest things about cooking, or baking, is sharing with others. As Thanksgiving approaches, share your favorite recipes with fellow Milford Patch readers by emailing them to me at Mary.MacDonald@patch.com.
I'll start us off:
I grew up in an Irish family with a mother who didn't like to cook, and who viewed most herbs and seasonings with suspicion. Beyond salt, pepper, and butter, what more do we need? But she loved cooking at the holidays, when scattered family members came home.
And usually, for us, her holiday baking meant Irish soda bread. I didn't like it as a kid. But it grew on me. About 10 years ago, I wrote a feature story for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Irish soda bread, and other Irish recipes, and used my mother's kitchen to test out the best recipes. She collected them from neighbors, and her own tin recipe box.
It's a nice memory. I took a photo of her holding one of the breads in her hands, for the camera, and another of my nephew tasting it for the first time. For my mother, this bread was a connection to her parents, who were Irish immigrants, and her aunt Abby, who worked as a cook and used to bring the bread over to her family all the time. It was the bread they served when people stopped by, and at holidays. When I was in high school, my mother and I went to a small apartment in Brighton, to visit a woman from my grandmother's village in Kerry. After we walked in, she pulled a loaf of Irish bread from the oven. I still remember the way that tiny kitchen looked and smelled.
The recipe my mother followed for Irish bread dates to the 1960s and came from The Boston Globe. I still have the newspaper clipping, with its rough edges. She never transferred it to paper. I know my mother didn't use a glass casserole, and instead used cake or loaf pans:
Irish Soda Bread
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup butter or margarine, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
1 cup raisins
2 tsp. caraway seed
Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Set aside. Cream the butter and sugar, add the beaten egg, and buttermilk. Blend well. Add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients and mix by hand until well moistened.
Fold in the raisins and the caraway seeds. Pour into a greased 1 1/2 quart glass casserole. Brush top with melted butter, sprinkle with sugar.
Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 30 minutes. Then reduce temperature to 325 degrees and bake an additional 30 minutes. Bread is cooked when a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
1 16-oz can Pumpkin
1 12-oz can condensed milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
3 eggs beaten
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup melted butter
1 box yellow cake mix
Combine first six ingredients, mix well. Pour into greased 9 x 13-inch pan, sprinke cake mix on top, then sprinkle pecans on top. Drizzle all of the melted butter over all of it. Bake in 350 degree oven for 40 to 45 minutes.
-- Recipe courtesy "Chilimaker"