Archive for March, 2010

Irish Soda Bread…and some memories on the side

March 15, 2010 3 comments

My grandmother was a woman I wish my daughters could meet today…and meet again when they are 13, 22, 30 and my undisclosed age of not yet a cougar, but too old to know most of the bands on Saturday Night Live.  She made her own rules and broke the norm when she did not get married until she was 30 years old.  A die-hard Cubs fan, Gramma would yell at the TV and enjoyed family parties.  She embodied the joie de vivre that most women and even men in our family admired and respected.  She lived to be 97 years old and loved sharing laughs with friends and family.

I will bake the bread on Weds, so this is in lieu of a photo

One part of my grandmother that still lives on today is her food.  She didn’t cook anything spectacular and any sibling or cousin of mine can attest to her shake-n-bake chicken and her “cucs” that she always brought to Easter dinners.  On St. Patrick’s Day,  my family always had corned beef and cabbage and Gramma came and brought her Irish Soda Bread.  As a kid I would drool over her bread and still do to this day.  A few years before she passed, I called her up one day to get her recipe.  Every year I make it for St. Patrick’s Day and only make it on that day.  It’s too special of a memory to be shared on any other day.  Not that she would understand my blog, if she were still alive today, but part of me thinks she would smile upon my sharing of her recipe to friends and strangers.  But she would do the same…that’s my Gramma.

Irish Soda Bread
Serves 10

3 cups flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups raisins
2 beaten eggs
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
2 Tbs melted butter

Grease a 9 inch springform pan and preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix all dry ingredients together in a medium bowl.  Combine all the wet ingredients in a large bowl.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix in raisins.  Bake for 50 minutes.


Where do you get a great sandwich? Try your local library.

Who doesn’t like a sandwich?  It’s one of the most popular meals around. Gauging how many sandwich places line our streets, it’s a popular choice for many folks. And for convenience, well you can find sandwich shops in Wal-Mart, shopping malls, airports and your local library.  Yes, I did say library.  Last week I was doing some work for a client in another city and had a few hours to jam out some work.  I hit the local library and was ready to pull out my laptop when I walked past a sandwich shop.  In the library.  After working for a while, I was getting hungry so I thought I would pop downstairs and grab a bite to eat.  I ordered a veggie sandwich that is honestly one of the best I have ever eaten.  So I guess the next time I am in Schaumburg and needing a bite to eat, I will bypass Panera and Potbelly and head on over to the library.

Have you ever  had a great sandwich in an unlikely place?  Tell me about it.

In honor of the sandy, here is an awesome recipe for a roasted veggie sandwich, adapted from Moosewood.  I made this minus the cheese, basil and tomato and added some arugula.  Divine.


Roasted Veggie Sandwich
makes 2 sandwiches


  • 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced or pressed
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon minced dried rosemary
  • pinch of ground black pepper

Sandwich Fixings:

  • 1 tiny eggplant, peeled and sliced
  • 3/4 cup thinly sliced red bell peppers
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onions
  • 20-inch baguette
  • 1 1/2 cup grated smoked mozzarella, feta, or Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup thinly sliced tomatoes (only if in season)
  • 8 fresh basil leaves, whole or chopped (I substituted arugula)

Preheat the oven to 400°F.  In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, garlic, salt, the herb of your choice, and the black pepper and set aside. Spread the eggplant rounds in the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch or larger baking dish. Add the bell peppers and onions, keeping the vegetables in a single layer, if possible. Reserve 1 Tablespoon of the vinaigrette and pour the rest over the vegetables.

Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, until the eggplant is very tender.

When the vegetables are roasted, cut the baguette in half lengthwise. Brush the cut surfaces of each half with the reserved vinaigrette. Layer one half of the baguette with the greens, place the roasted eggplant rounds along the length of the loaf, and cover with the bell peppers and onions. Top with cheese, tomato slices, and the basil leaves. Cover with the other baguette half and slice in half to make two sandwiches.

Pasta la Vista, Winter Weather

March 1, 2010 4 comments

It’s been a busy few weeks at the Rocks’ household, as you can see with my minimal blogging.  And honestly, I have been cooking meals I have already blogged about, so you weren’t missing out on anything.  I, like most Chicago area residents am in a winter weather funk.  I am so close to taking all my winter sweaters, coats and any apparel that covers up my neck, put them in a pile and douse with kerosene and up watch them go up in flames.  Too bad I would have no idea where to get kerosene.

My cooking has suffered from this malaise  as well.  I’m in a rut.  I am THIS close to jumping in the Hot Tub Time Machine and going back to at least earlier in the season when all the tastes were fresh and new.  If I eat another soup, stew or roast, I will have to turn in my Wagner ware and check into Le Creuset rehab.

Every week when planning out the week’s meals, I ask my husband what sounds good.  This  past week I got a new response…Pasta Carbonara.  Apparently he heard someone discussing it on NPR and touted how it was fast and easy.  The way our weeks have been, fast and easy when cooking a meal are the two words that worked for me.

Pasta Carbonara  adapted from the Frugal Gourmet
Serves 2 adults, 3 kids

1/4 Pound  Pancetta — chopped
1 lb Penne pasta 
1 Tbs butter
1 medium onion, sliced

4 Eggs — beaten
1/3  Cup  Parmesan cheese — grated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Saute pancetta until crispy. Remove pancetta from pan and add butter to fat in pan.  Add onions cover and cook on low heat until carmelized, about 15 minutes, stirring every now and then.  While onion is cooking, boil water and cook pasta per package directions.  When pasta and onion are done, drain the pasta  and add  pancetta, onions, eggs, cheese, and pepper. Cook over very low heat for 1 minute, stirring constantly.   Serve immediately.