January 7, 2009

Soda Bread and Carmelized Onions

Due to a shocking lack of bread in our house this evening (seriously, we were down to one heel until Briton decided to make himself toast, and then there was none...) I decided to bake our favorite soda bread for dinner tonight. The recipe for this most Irish of breads is based on one out of the Avoca Cafe Cookbook, one of my favorite of all time cookbooks. And since tonight's dinner would be a strange mix of Italian and UK/Irish food with the main course being Nigella's Rapid Ragu I decided to italianize my bread with some fresh rosemary.

Usually Briton helps makes soda bread but tonight he and Evelyn were busy building a mammoth snaking train track across the kitchen (and under my feet, despite the fact that their playroom is in the breakfast nook attached to the kitchen!!) So I was on my own.

Beside the bread and the ragu, I also started a pot of caramelized onions, the secret ingredient in Nigella's recipe for which I had just used up the last of my previous batch.

The onions are so simple and so good it's hard to believe I've only been making them for a few weeks. Once I'd tried them in a few recipes I was hooked. Chop and onion or two, toss them in your brand new for Christmas Le Creuset Pot (or another heavy pot if your husband didn't finally cave to years of begging for a ridiculously expensive but oh so lovely cooking vessel) and cook them on low until they are soft and brown and sweet. I keep mine in a jar in the fridge, have no idea how long they last since I keep using them up almost immediately.

Avoca-ish Soda Bread

450 g flour
1 level tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
14 fl oz milk with 1 T vinegar (experiment with this, garlic or tarragon vinegars can be very nice, I usually just use white wine vinegar)
1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary

Preheat the oven to 450 and grease a loaf pan. Mix all dry ingredients while the vinegar curdles the milk (this replicates buttermilk, if you have buttermilk, use that) then slowly add the milk and mix till combined. Pour into the loaf pan and bake 30 minutes.