Irish Soda Bread – Bread Pudding

Irish Soda Bread- Bread Pudding

This is a great dessert for St. Patrick’s Day. Simple and not too sweet, it is a perfect way to finish your holiday meal. It is made with a traditional Irish soda bread. I used a loaf of soda bread I had baked the day before. You could just buy a loaf of soda bread, if you prefer.

The bread was cubed up and allowed to sit around for a day, to dry out a little. You can also cube the bread and toast it in a low oven for 10-15 minutes. A slightly dried bread will stand up better to the custard.

For the custard I used milks, eggs, flavorings and a little whiskey. I would have added Bailey’s, if I had it. The addition of alcohol is optional.

Store cooled bread pudding in the fridge, but take out before serving- or warm a little before serving.


Irish Soda Bread – Bread Pudding


6-8 c. cubed, day-old soda bread- recipe follows

2½  c. milk or half and half

5 eggs

½ c. sugar, plus extra for sprinkling on top

¼ c. whiskey, optional

1 T. vanilla

1 T. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 9×9-inch baking pan. Place cubed soda bread in prepared pan. Set aside. Beat together remaining ingredients and pour over the soda bread. Sprinkle top with a little extra sugar. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until bread pudding is set and a little golden on top. I used a glass pan- it might take a little longer in a metal pan. Bread pudding should be golden around the edges, too.  Cool a bit before serving. Serve as is, or with whipped cream or ice cream. Serves 6-8.

 Soda Bread

2 c. flour

½ t. each baking powder and baking soda

¼ t. salt

2 T. butter

¾ c. raisins, currants or golden raisins

2 t. caraway seeds

1 egg, beaten

1 c. buttermilk

melted butter, optional

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Dust a baking sheet with a little flour. Combine dry ingredients in bowl and cut in butter to resemble coarse crumbs. Add raisins and caraway seeds. Combine egg and milk and set 2 tablespoons of this mixture aside. Add remaining milk mixture to flour mixture and combine just until dough forms into a ball. Place on baking sheet, brush with reserved egg mixture and cut a crisscross on top of loaf. Bake about 25 minutes or until bread sounds hollow.  Place on rack to cool. You can brush the loaf with a little melted butter, if you like. Makes 1.


Pi Day Blueberry Pie

Blueberry Pie

March 14th is sometimes referred to as Pi day. It’s a math nerd kind of thing, 3.14 being the value of pi and March 14 is 3/14.

I was explaining it to a friend last night.  My friend’s response was that ANY day was Pie Day!!

I had some  blueberries in the freezer and decided maybe today was Pie Day after all.


You could certainly use fresh berries for this pie, but frozen was what I had. Also, since it is a rainy day today, baking a pie seemed like a nice way to spend the morning. My friend is home from work today. I think she will be happy when I  invite her over to have some “Pi” Day blueberry pie. It is time to put on a pot of coffee, and make a call.


Blueberry Pie

Pastry for 2 crust pie- recipe- The crust recipe I used is at the bottom of the page

2 ½ T. cornstarch

1 c. sugar

3 c. fresh or frozen blueberries

1 T. lemon juice

1 T. butter

1 T. sugar, for sprinkling

Roll out half of the crust and place in 8 or 9-inch pie pan. You can roll out the top crust ahead of time, or even cut into strips for a lattice top. Cover remaining crust to keep it from drying out. In medium bowl mix cornstarch and sugar. Toss in berries and then sprinkle in the lemon juice. Allow to stand 15 minutes. If berries were frozen be sure they are not clumped together. Spoon mixture into prepared crust and dot with the butter. Top with the second crust or place strips on in a lattice design. If using a whole crust cut in decorative slits for ventilation. I used a tiny heart-shaped cutter for my pie. Moisten then crimp edges and shape decoratively or use a fork to seal. Place pie in lower half of hot oven. Bake in a preheated 425-degree oven for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 and bake an additional 40-50 minutes or until crust is brown and juices begin to bubble through the slits. Cool a little before serving.


Flaky Pie Crust

2 c. flour

1 t. salt

3/4 c. butter, chilled – you can use coconut oil, lard or shortening

1 T. cider vinegar

4-5 T. cold water

Combine flour and salt and cut in butter. Toss in vinegar and water 1 tablespoon at a time until dough holds together. Use a fork to toss the ingredients together and as soon as the mixture holds together stop adding water. Makes 2. Chill well before using.

Soda Bread

Soda Bread

It’s that time of year. Irish food in on the mind. This soda bread is a classic. Simple and fast to make, it can be served with breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Soda bread is  like a big scone or biscuit. It has a crisp, outer crust, with a crumbly, soft center. The name refers to how the loaf is leavened. Baking soda and baking powder are used to make this bread rise, not yeast.

I like to serve soda bread with butter and jam. A friend tells me she likes to make toasted cheese sandwiches with hers, using a good Irish cheddar, of course.

I used golden raisins, but you can substitute currants, dark raisins, dried cherries, or just leave them out, if you prefer.

I make soda bread all through the year, not just for St. Patrick’s Day.


 Soda Bread

2 c. flour

½ t. each baking powder and baking soda

¼ t. salt

2 T. butter

¾ c. raisins, currants or golden raisins

2 t. caraway seeds

1 egg, beaten

1 c. buttermilk

melted butter, optional

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Dust a baking sheet with a little flour. Combine dry ingredients in bowl and cut in butter to resemble coarse crumbs. Add raisins and caraway seeds. Combine egg and milk and set 2 tablespoons of this mixture aside. Add remaining milk mixture to flour mixture and combine just until dough forms into a ball. Place on baking sheet, brush with reserved egg mixture and cut a crisscross on top of loaf. Bake about 25 minutes or until bread sounds hollow.  Place on rack to cool. You can brush the loaf with a little melted butter, if you like. Makes 1.

Reuben Calzones

Reuben Calzone

There is more than one way to enjoy corned beef. This time of year, because of the St Patrick’s Day specials, corned beef is on sale at lots of stores. These calzones are a fun way to serve corned beef.

While more often made with Italian ingredients, you can make calzones with other fillings, too. I made these for a friend a while back and we were talking about them the other day. I decided to make them again.

These are a fun way to make a Reuben, but with a twist. You can leave the sauerkraut out, if you like.  I add some thousand island dressing to the calzones, but serve extra on the side. They also freeze well, so you can make a batch, enjoy some fresh, and freeze some for later. I thought I would share the recipe with you.

Corned Beef Calzones

3 ¼ c. flour

1 c. rye flour

1 T. sugar

1 t. salt

1 package quick-rising yeast

1⅓ c. hot water

1 T. oil

1 c. Thousand Island dressing, recipe follows

1 lb. thin sliced corned beef

8 oz. shredded Swiss cheese

1 c. sauerkraut, squeezed dry

1 egg , beaten

Caraway seeds, optional

Set aside 1 cup of the all-purpose flour. Combine remaining flour with the other dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Stir in water and oil and gradually stir in enough flour to make a soft dough. Turn onto lightly floured surface and knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Cover dough and let rest 20 minutes. Divide dough into 8 pieces and roll one piece into a 6-8 -inch circle. In the middle of the dough, add a spoonful of Thousand Island dressing,  place 1 ounce of the Swiss cheese and 2 ounces of the corned beef. Add a tablespoon or two of the sauerkraut, if using. Brush the edge of the dough with water. Fold over the dough in half and press the edges to seal. Brush the edge again with water and roll the edge over again. It will give you a prettier look and seal the calzone better. Repeat with remaining dough and fillings. Place calzones on greased baking sheets- or on a baking sheet with a silicone liner or parchment paper liner. You will end up with 8 calzones in all. Only put 4 on one baking sheet. Cover and let rest 15 minutes while preheating the oven to 400 degrees. Before placing calzones in the oven brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with the caraway seeds, if you like. Also poke a few holes in the tops with a fork to help steam to escape while baking. I put both baking sheets in the oven at the same time and switch them halfway through baking. Bake in a preheated 400-degree for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. If baking both at once switch them after 10 minutes or so. Cool slightly before eating. Serve warm and refrigerate leftovers.

If you want to use regular yeast use warm, rather than hot water. Also, allow a little more time for the dough to rise the first time, about 40 minutes. Everything else will work the same.


If you want to make your own dressing, here is the recipe

Thousand Island Dressing

1/2 c. ketchup

1/2 c. mayo

1/2 c. sweet pickle relish

Mix ingredients together and serve, or chill until needed.

Irish Shortbread

Irish Shortbread

If you are looking for an Irish dessert for St. Patrick’s Day, you might want to make these shortbread cookies. They are everything a shortbread should be. They have the classic shortbread crumbly, tender texture that is buttery at the same time. I think the phrase is melt in your mouth.

These are a little different than other shortbread, though. For starters, you add cornstarch to the dough. The cornstarch helps the cookie to be extra tender. You also melt the butter before adding it to the rest of the ingredients.

It could not get any easier. I pressed the dough into a 9×9-inch pan to bake. Once in the pan, I score the dough before baking, then cut the shortbread again once baked and cooled.

I will say that shortbread aren’t the prettiest cookies on the plate- but they are wonderfully tasty.

So here is the recipe. They also call for self-rising flour. If you don’t have self-rising flour- the recipe for making your own follows the shortbread recipe.



Irish Shortbread

1 c. butter (preferably unsalted)

2 1/4 c. self- rising flour (see note)

3/4 c. cornstarch

1/3 c. sugar, plus extra for sprinkling on top


Melt butter and allow to cool slightly. In medium bowl combine remaining ingredients. Stir in butter and mix until dry ingredients are thoroughly coated. Press into 7×11-inch glass pan (8×8 or 9×9-inch pans are OK). Sprinkle with extra sugar and score with a knife into 1×1-inch pieces. Bake in a preheated 325-degree oven for 30-40 minutes, until edges begin to brown. Cool in pan and cut on score marks. Makes about 6 dozen squares, depending in pan size used.

Note: If you don’t want to buy self-rising flour here is an easy recipe to make your own. It works in any recipe that calls for self-rising flour.


Self-Rising Flour

8 c. flour

5 T. Baking powder

2 T. sugar

1 T. salt

Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container. Keeps for several months.


Right out of the oven

Mom’s Pierogi

Mom’s Pierogi

My mother taught me how to make pierogi, the way her mother taught her. They are part of my family’s food traditions.

Pierogi, if you didn’t know, are pasta, filled with different fillings, often potato based.  They are also sometimes stuffed with prune filling or sauerkraut. Today you can find pierogi filled with all sorts of fillings.

Filled with potato and cheese, they make a great meat-free meal, too. We often had pierogi on Fridays in Lent when I was a kid.

There are variations in the dough, too. Some use just eggs, flour, water and salt. Others add some dairy, in the form of milk or sour cream.

Once the pierogi are made, you can boil them and just serve them up, or brown the boiled pierogi in butter and serve with caramelized onions and sour cream. My mother used to make sweet and sour cabbage and serve it with the pierogi, or sometimes even use it as a filling. I can’t make them without remembering her.



2 c. flour
1 t. salt
½ c. water (you can also use half milk and half water)
1 egg
Mix all ingredients together and knead on floured surface until smooth. Cover and let rest at least 15 minutes. Roll out thin and cut into circles. Re-roll scraps. You should get between 20-30. Spoon filling of your choice on center of dough circle. Fold dough in half over filling and press edge with fork to seal. Wetting the edge of the dough will help the dough to stick. Don’t overfill or the pierogi will split. Test a couple first to get the hang of it. Place a few at a time into salted boiling water and cook until they float. You can eat them as is or brown cooked pierogi in butter in a skillet. Serve with grilled onions and/or sour cream. We would often make a larger batch and then freeze them, uncooked on wax paper-lined baking sheets. When frozen they would be transferred to a freezer bag or container. Place right from the freezer into boiling water when ready to use.

Potato filling:
2 lbs. Potatoes, peeled and boiled
½ onion, minced
2-3 T. cottage cheese or farmer’s cheese, optional
salt and pepper to taste
Mash potatoes with other ingredients and season to taste.
Note: you can also add cheddar cheese if you like. In class we had some with cheddar cheese and added ham, too.

Fresh made pierogi

Reuben Strata

Reuben Strata

If you need a new recipe for corned beef- I would suggest making this strata. It contains all the ingredients found in a traditional Reuben sandwich, but with a twist. These “Reubens” are baked, after being soaked in an egg custard.

The dish is assembled at least a few hours before baking, so you can make it the day before, or in the morning. Just pop in the oven about an hour before you want to serve it.

Strata just means layers. Ingredients are layered before pouring over an egg/milk mixture. These layers add flavor to the final dish. In this strata, layers include rye bread, Swiss cheese, corned beef, sauerkraut and thousand island dressing. Of course, you can play around with the ingredients you use. If you don’t like sauerkraut, you can leave it out- or only put in on some of the sandwiches. Strata can be served for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner.

I used very thinly sliced corned beef from the deli. You can also use home-cooked corned beef. Just dice it or shred it up. I also used homemade Thousand Island dressing, but use what you like. You can also serve extra dressing on the side.


Reuben Strata

12 slices rye bread

6 slices Swiss cheese

12 oz. thinned sliced corned beef- or 2 cups chopped corned beef

1 c. sauerkraut, squeezed dry

½ c. Thousand Island dressing*

3 eggs

2 c. milk

½ t. salt

½ t. hot pepper sauce, or to taste


Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking dish. Place six slices of bread on bottom of the dish. You might have to trim the bread to fit. Top each slice of bread with a slice of cheese. Top cheese with the corned beef and sauerkraut. You can use a little more or less sauerkraut, depending on your taste.  Spoon about a tablespoon of the dressing over each “sandwich”. Top with remaining six slices of bread, trimmed to fit pan, if needed. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over sandwiches. Cover dish and let stand in the fridge, several hours or overnight. Bake, uncovered, in a 350-degree oven for 40-45 minutes, or until puffed and set. Let sit a few minutes before serving. Serves 6.


*Homemade Thousand Island Dressing is just equal parts of sweet pickle relish, ketchup and mayo. You can make your own pretty easily.

Strata, before baking

Right out of the oven




Irish Soda Bread Scones

Irish Soda Bread Scones

If you are in the mood for the flavor of Irish Soda Bread- you can get the same wonderful experience in a scone. I made a batch of these scones last night. I had one with a cup of hot tea. It was the perfect breakfast.

I will admit that most mornings, breakfast is a bowl of oat bran. Scones are so much more fun. They don’t take a lot of time to make, either. These would be a great addition to your St. Patrick’s Day meal.

While traditionally served for breakfast or tea time, scones are really good any time of the day. They certainly can also be served with dinner.

I used golden raisins, but you could use regular raisins, currants, or even leave them out.




  Irish Soda Bread Scones

2 c. flour

3 T. sugar

2 t. baking powder

1 t. baking soda

½ t. salt

1/3 c. butter

½ c. golden raisins

1 t. caraway seeds

2/3 c. buttermilk

1 egg


Extra sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and lightly grease a baking sheet. Combine dry ingredients in medium bowl and cut in butter to resemble coarse crumbs. Stir in raisins and caraway seeds. Beat together buttermilk and egg and add to flour mixture, stirring with fork until mixture just coming together. Turn onto floured surface and knead 5-6 strokes or until ball of dough holds together. Dust an 8-inch round cake with  flour. Press dough into cake pan. Invert pan over onto prepared baking sheet. I find if I do this quickly the dough comes out more easily. Remove cake pan. This will give you a perfect 8-inch circle of dough. With a sharp, floured knife cut dough into 8 wedges. Brush top with milk and sprinkle with extra sugar. Bake 14-16 minutes. Makes 8.

Easy Fried Catfish

Easy Fried Catfish

I love fried fish. I don’t make it at home that often. It is more of a treat around here than an every day meal. After making this catfish, I decided I might want to fry fish more often.

This time of year, Friday night fish fries are very popular. I love them. But, you don’t have to go out to have great fish at home. I’ve been on a catfish kick lately, so I decided to make fried catfish.

I toyed with the idea of baking it, but frying won out. Nothing quite as good as fried catfish in my mind.

This is going to be one of those recipes that is more narrative that exact amounts. I really am good about writing stuff out. I just can’t seem to locate my notes for this one- so I’ll share what I did as best I can remember. It is also so easy to fry fish. Don’t be scared to try. Fresh fried fish is such a treat.

I started with catfish fillets that were cut down into smaller pieces. The smaller size made them fast and easy to cook. It also made them fun to eat. Like chicken nuggets, only made with catfish.

I made a mixture of eggs, a little buttermilk, salt, pepper, garlic powder, parsley and hot sauce. I dipped the fish in this mixture and let it soak in there while I got the breadcrumbs ready. I had some bread crumbs made from plain bread, so I added a little paprika, dry parsley flakes and lemon peel to the crumbs.

I took the fish out of the egg wash a few pieces at a time and dropped them in the bread crumbs. I had the crumbs in a good sized bowl- but only filled about a quarter of the way with crumbs. I added the fish and sort of tossed it in the crumbs by shaking and tossing the bowl. Placed fish on a baking sheet. Once the fish were all coated in bread crumbs, I put the oil on to heat up.

I was using an electric pot with a thermometer so I knew when the oil reached 350. I wanted to fry the fish between 350 and 375 degrees. If you don’t have a pot with a thermometer you can tell if your oil has reached 350 degrees with the use of popcorn. Yes, popcorn. Just put in a kernel of popcorn when you start heating up the oil. Popcorn pops at 350 degrees. When the popcorn pops, you know the oil is ready.

I had a pan, lined with paper towels ready as I started to drop the pieces of fish, several at a time, into the hot oil. They were cooked in just a few minutes. I pulled them when they were golden brown. Allowed them to drain on paper towels, in a warm oven, while I cooked the rest of the fish.

I served the fish with lemon wedges and homemade tartar sauce- which is just sweet pickle relish and mayo. I sometimes add capers and a little mustard, too.

The fish was a big hit.

As to the oil. You’ll have plenty left over. I let it cool and strained it out. Then I poured it in the bottle it came from. You can save it for your next frying project, but don’t use it again and again. Just a few times, then toss the rest. The flavor gets funky after a while.

Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan

I have been making this dish for a long time and it is always a favorite. Eggplant Parmesan is a cheesy and  satisfying vegetarian meal, even for the die-hard meat lovers among us.

The recipe has changed over time. I used to dredge the eggplant slices in flour before baking. It was very good that way. My mom used to bread eggplant slices for my father, using bread crumbs. She would serve the eggplant with a little tomato sauce on top and sprinkled with mozzarella cheese. He loved them.

That is what first inspired me to bread the eggplant slices, rather than just using the flour dredge.  I think the breaded eggplant slices stand up well to the other ingredients. They stay a little crunchier than the “flour only” version.

I also used to just use mozzarella cheese and the Parmesan. A friend said she added ricotta, like you would for a lasagna. I tried it and liked the addition of the ricotta. Now I make it that way all the time.

The biggest change might have been how I cook the eggplant before adding them to the rest of the ingredients. I used to pan fry the eggplant. Let me just say that eggplant soak up oil like a sponge. I remember making Eggplant Parmesan for a group of 250 once and went through an enormous amount of oil. Now, I just place the breaded eggplant slices on a baking sheet and drizzle oil all over them, before baking them in the oven. I use a lot less oil that way. It is also a lot simpler than pan frying.

So here is my often revised recipe for Eggplant Parmesan.  In my family, we just call it E.P.



Eggplant Parmesan

2 large eggplants



1 egg

½ c. half and half or milk


1 T. Tuscan seasoning- recipe follows

About 2 c. of bread crumbs


1 (15 oz.) container ricotta cheese

3 c. tomato sauce or marinara sauce

12 oz. mozzarella cheese

Parmesan cheese – you could also use Asiago or Romano cheese, if you prefer


Peel and slice eggplant about ¾ -inch thick. Place in a bowl and salt lightly. Allow eggplant to stand 30 minutes, then rinse and drain. Combine egg, half and half, pepper to taste, and half of the Tuscan seasoning in bowl. Whisk to combine. Set aside. Place bread crumbs in a shallow dish, set aside.  Dredge eggplant slices in flour, dip each slice in egg wash, then dip in bread crumbs, turning to coat evenly.  Place eggplant slices on a baking sheet lightly coated with oil. Once all the slices are in the pan, drizzle with a little more oil. Bake in a 400-degree oven, turning once until browned and tender, about 20 minutes. Drain. Place a small amount of sauce in the bottom of a casserole dish. Add a layer of eggplant slices. Combine ricotta with remaining Tuscan seasoning and spread over the eggplant. Top cheese with a little more sauce and another layer of eggplant. Top with mozzarella, remaining eggplant and remaining sauce. Sprinkle generously with Parmesan cheese and bake, uncovered in a 350-degree oven for about 40 minutes, or until bubbly and browned around the edges. Serves 6-8.



Tuscan Seasoning


½ c. dried basil

½ c. dried oregano

½ c. dried marjoram

3 T. dried minced onion

2 T. dried minced garlic

2 T. dried rosemary

2 T. dried parsley

1 t. crushed red pepper


Combine all. Store in a cool, dry place. Use for any number of recipes, from marinara sauce, to salad dressings.