Remind me when I've had more coffee to talk about a neighborhood here in Long Beach that houses a group of transplanted Irish families that have lived in California since the 1970s. Remind me to write about coveting invitations to their homes for dinners and parties because it makes me feel like I'm with my large family, and also remind me to tell you the story of how my Irish elders beat me hands down in the game of dancing, drinking and laughing into the wee hours of the morning.
Just Remind me.
Lest you think I'm generalizing (because I am), I just want to make it clear that I adore the similarities between Irish family get-togethers and those of Mexican families. There's music, tons of aunts and uncles and cousins running underfoot, plenty of food and drink, and endless boisterous laughter. We get tequila, they get whiskey and beer. Sometimes we both mix it up and act a bit crazy. Ok, a LOT crazy. To me, the one biggest thread that seems to run between both of these events is the unspoken feeling of togetherness. It's that moment in time where we all revel in a shared experience, celebrating the bonds and unions of friends, family and generations.
Can you tell I miss my family back home or what????
St. Patrick's Day may be a few weeks away, but I'm all about starting my celebrations early. And especially since I'm not the world's best baker – I'm not even a decent one – I figure I'd give myself plenty of time to
perfect my soda bread recipe.(Incidentally, the bread photographed above wasn't my own creation and contrary to some traditionalists it does contain currants, but I did take the photo and I did eat every last crumb.)
I'm not good at debating nor arguing when it comes to food; that's why you'll never* hear me fight over organic vs. conventional, vegan vs. animal products, etc. Food is a highly personal choice based on so many factors, who am I to say one way is better than another? There will be no diatribe about the authenticity of Irish Soda Bread here, heck, I'm not even Irish! With that said, here's a very basic recipe from Bon Appétit Magazine
. Caraway seeds are a nice addition here but certainly not necessary.Ingredients
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons caraway seeds
1 cup raisins
1 3/4 cups well-shaken buttermilk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted Method
Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter and flour a large baking sheet, knocking off excess flour.
Sift together 4 cups flour, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl and stir in sugar, caraway, and raisins. Add buttermilk and stir just until dough is evenly moistened but still lumpy.
Transfer dough to a well-floured surface and gently knead with floured hands about 8 times to form a soft but slightly less sticky dough. Halve dough and form into 2 balls. Pat out each ball into a domed 6-inch round on baking sheet. Cut a 1/2-inch-deep X on top of each loaf with a sharp knife, then brush loaves with butter.
Bake in middle of oven until golden brown and bottoms sound hollow when tapped, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer loaves to racks to cool completely.
Makes 2 (6-inch) loaves.
* The lone exception is BBQ. As a Texan, well, we do it best. I will hear of nothing else.