Archive for the ‘Food and Recipes’ Category

Irish Apple Cake

April 3, 2009

Ok, I’m a couple weeks late on this, but for St Patrick’s Day we had the American tradition, corned beef and cabbage.  We also had something I found out about a couple years ago, Irish Apple Cake.  I bought a cookbook a couple years ago with some “authentic” Irish recipes and one I tried was an Irish Apple Cake.  It’s different, but we like it.

2 cups flour

1/3 tspbaking powder

8 T butter (one stick)

2/3 C superfine granulated sugar

2 eggs, beaten; one in the cake and one to brush the top

1/2 to 2/3 cup milk (approximately)

1 or 2 apples

2 or 3 cloves (optional)


Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl.  Rub in the butter with your fingertips until you get the texture of breadcrumbs (I don’t know if you can over mix it doing it by hand).  Add 1/2 cup of sugar and make a well in the center.  Mix in the beaten egg and enough milk to form a soft dough.  Divide in two and pat one half into a 9 inch plate.  Peel, core and chop the apples and place them on the dough with the cloves if used.  Roll out the other half of the pastry and place it on top.  The dough is very soft and difficult to work with so you’ll be using your fingers to “fix” where it tears.  That’s part of the fun.  Press the sides together and make a slit in the top of the crust.  Brush it with beaten egg.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for approximately 40 minutes.  You can sprinkle the top of the cake with superfine sugar, and top with softly whipped cream.

This sounds like an apple pie, but the dough is more like a coffee cake consistency.  The apples are baked into the dough and it’s just different than a cake or a pie.  We like it!




Pork and Rice

February 13, 2009



2 pork chops (bone-in or otherwise; although bone-in seems to end up more tender and juicy)

1 – 2 cloves minced/crushed garlic

1 cup of rice (doesn’t matter what kind, whatever you like)

1 onion, minced or chopped

2 cups water, chicken stock or broth



Heat a heavy bottom skillet or pot, on low-medium heat (hot enough to brown the pork chops).  Spray the pan with non-stick cooking spray, or a use a small amount of oil and add the chops.  Brown the chops, approximately 3 – 4 minutes per side.  You are not trying to cook them through, just brown them.  Also, you do not want the pan so hot that the bottom of the pan starts to scorch.  If that begins to happen turn down the heat.


After the chops have browned on both sides, remove them to a plate and pour the rice into the bottom of the pan.  Add the crushed or minced garlic, onion, and rice.  Stir this to incorporate the ingredients.


Brown the rice with the garlic and onion.  You probably don’t have to do the browning of the rice, I do, but don’t know why, it’s just the way I do it.  You’re trying to get the onions to sweat a bit and start to caramelize or brown as well.  You don’t have to use any particular rice, so use what you like, but not instant, as it will have to cook for approximately 20 minutes (or as long as your rice is supposed to cook). 


When the rice is browned, turn down the heat, and pour in your liquid.  Bring the rice to a boil (which it will likely immediate do because the pan is already hot, so watch out adding the liquid, it might boil and splash up on you).


Place the pork chops on/in the rice and put on the lid.  Immediately turn the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 15 – 20 minutes.  It’s important that the heat be low so it’s only at the point of simmering.


After 15 – 20 minutes, remove the pan from the heat, with the lid on and let rest for 15 minutes.  This allows the pork and rice to rest and the flavors to “meld” even more.


You can add any spices you like to the pork prior to browning, salt, pepper, whatever.  You can also add any herbs to the pot prior to putting on the lid (i.e., cayenne, paprika, red pepper flakes, parsley, cumin, cilantro).  Depending on the herbs you use, it’ll change the character of the dish and seem a little different every time you make it.  You can make it a Latin dish, an Italian dish, or an American dish depending on what you add.


If you like vegetables, like celery, or broccoli, you can also add those as well.  Changing the amount of water you use may be necessary, depending on additional ingredients or what type of rice you use.  Letting the pot rest seems to help a lot with it not being too “mushy” or too dry, but experiment.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

February 12, 2009



1 – 2 chicken breasts, cut in 3/4″ cubes

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 large onion, diced

1 bunch of celery, chopped

1 7 oz can of diced green chiles

1 12.5 oz can of diced tomatoes; or chop/dice fresh (peeled)

   or stewed tomatoes

2 cups of chicken stock

3 – 4 cups of water

jalapeno to taste, I start with about half a 4 oz can

1 – 2 pinches of fresh cilantro (optional)

1 – 2 handfuls of crushed corn chips


Over low heat begin warming a medium to large heavy pan (i.e., a five or six quart French/Dutch oven, stock pot), for a few minutes.  You don’t want the pan sitting on the flame too long without anything in it, but you want to warm it before adding the oil or ingredients.


Coat the bottom of the pan with a small amount of oil or non-stick cooking spray, over medium heat, brown the chicken.  As the chicken begins to lose it’s pink color add the crushed garlic and allow the garlic to brown as the chicken finishes browning.


Add the diced onion and chopped celery.  This should add moisture and any “carmelization” on the bottom of the pan will begin to loosen.  Allow the celery and onion to cook for ten minutes, or until the onion starts to become soft and translucent, stirring as needed to keep them from sticking to the bottom of the pan.  If your heat is not too high you can cook them even longer this way, fifteen or twenty minutes.


Add the can of diced tomatoes, diced chiles and jalapenos (I start with half a can of jalapenos).  Stir in these additional ingredients to incorporate, and add liquid.


Bring to a boil and then turn down the heat, to low, and allow to simmer for at least one hour.  I typically will allow it to simmer for at least 2, and closer to 3 – 4 hours. 


Approximately 30 minutes prior to serving add a handful or two of crushed corn chips.  I typically put the corn chips in a sandwich bag, or freezer bag and then crush them rather small.  The crushed corn chips will thicken the soup and add additional flavor.




I serve this soup topped with corn chips, cheese and sliced avocado.  You can add cilantro to the soup at the last minute, stir it in, or put a pinch of cilantro on top as a garnish.  Experiment with the amount of crushed corn chips, jalapenos, and other toppings to get it the way you like it.