Sunday, March 25, 2012

Irish soda... cake?

While I was revisiting UVA this past weekend, I had plenty of time during those somewhat tedious but necessary question-and-answer sessions to think about the prospect of going back to school. It's hard for me to be more excited, but I will definitely miss certain things about my time now. For instance, these past two years have made me realize the extent of my affinity for domesticity. I organize and clean when I'm stressed, shop for groceries when I'm bored, and cook pretty much around the clock. And today, I got back to my apartment early just so I could have more time to bake bread and read the Sunday newspaper. Going back to student-mode will certainly be a transition from these carefree days with nothing hanging over my head.

Anyway, about this bread. I'm still working on a yeast bread with a sponge starter recipe, which happens to require an entire weekend of babying. Since I haven't had a free weekend in a while I thought I would try out some faster soda breads in the mean time. I got this particular recipe from Melissa Clark, and frankly, I don't know what to make of it, because it's definitely not bread. If I were to serve it as dessert, no one would object. The recipe calls for only a third of the butter and sugar I usually put in my cakes, making it a little less tender and moist. But the upside is that the tangy buttermilk flavor and the hearty texture really come through, and it's nice to have a lighter cake once in a while. But what will I eat with my soups and salads this week? No, not cake, of course not.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Roasted mushrooms

I've been working at a stand at the Dupont farmers market on Sundays in exchange for minimum wage and vegetables (more on that later), and sometimes I get to take home some mushrooms from the vendor next door.

Having only really had packaged supermarket mushrooms (except for this one time!), I was blown away by the taste and texture of these fresh and organic ones. First of all, I've always thought that I don't like raw mushrooms because they taste like styrofoam, but these mushrooms, even when raw, taste incredibly tender and flavorful.

Aside from using them in risottos, my new favorite way to eat mushrooms is definitely roasting them in garlic and butter. It's quick, relies mostly on pantry ingredients, and tastes phenomenal. The mushrooms soak up all the flavors from the butter, garlic, lemon juice, and briny capers to acquire a wonderfully juicy and meaty texture.

The mushrooms make a great side dish with bread to sop up the sauce, and if you feel a bit guilty about all that butter, the dish also makes a great salad-topper. After all, it has all the components of a great dressing, and a little butter never hurt a salad.