This is a simple and delicious wheat-free Irish Soda Bread.

Because I try to minimize my wheat consumption, I used half spelt flour and half oats (some of which are whirred in a blender to create a fine oat flour) in place of white/wheat flour in this recipe. You are welcome to make this with regular flour if that’s what you’ve got, though. I baked this soda bread in a pie dish and sliced it “scone-style”, but you can bake it into another shape if you like.

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This recipe is only slightly sweet (a small amount of organic sugar and raisins do the trick), so it’s nice with any kind of high quality (preferably homemade) jam or marmalade. I like it for breakfast with some organic cottage cheese on the side.

Spelt and Oat Irish Soda Bread
adapted from the Classic Irish Soda Bread Recipe in A Taste of Old Ireland by Andy Gerald Gravette
Serves 8

Ingredients:

*2 cups sifted organic spelt flour
*2 cups organic rolled oats (1 cup of which you should whir in the blender for 1-2 minutes until it’s finely ground)
*1 teaspoon baking soda
*1 teaspoon fine sea salt
*2 tablespoons organic sugar
* 2 tablespoons very cold unsalted organic butter
*1 1/2 cups buttermilk, organic if possible (or 1 1/2 cups organic milk mixed with 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice or apple cider vinegar and allowed to stand for 10 minutes)
*1/2 cup organic raisins

Preparation:

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Mix spelt flour with the rolled oats (both ground and regular) in a medium bowl. Add the baking soda and salt and mix well. Using clean fingers, “rub” the butter into the flour.

2. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the buttermilk. Mix well; the batter may still be pretty “wet”, but don’t worry.

3. Butter a 8-9 inch deep dish pie plate (or other similar round baking dish). Sprinkle some rolled oats into the pan and then spread the batter out over the oats. Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden and fragrant. Allow to cool slightly before cutting into wedges. Serve with additional butter, if desired.

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This post is linked to the March 19th edition of Fight Back Friday over at Food Renegade!

The 2010 March Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Eleanor of MelbournefoodGeek and Jess of Jessthebaker. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make risotto. The various components of their challenge recipe are based on input from the Australian Masterchef cookbook and the cookbook Moorish by Greg Malouf.

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I’ve always been intimidated by risotto. This is because the idea of constantly “fussing over” my food while it’s cooking does not really appeal to me. This challenge proved that the whole idea of the fussing involved with risotto is a bit overblown, however. Yes, you do need to hang around the stove to add the stock and stir periodically. But the whole process doesn’t take longer than 30 minutes. No big deal.

Since Spring is just around the corner here in New York and I’m getting excited about the upcoming gardening season, I’ve been trying to eat up all the veggies I froze from my garden last year. So I defrosted my last container of these slow roasted organic tomatoes for my risotto, and it was wonderful.

Part of the challenge was to make our own chicken stock. I make stock all the time, so I was all set in that department. If you’ve got stock, Arborio rice, a little wine and just a few other ingredients, a delicious risotto can be yours, too.

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Note that if you don’t have any homemade roasted tomatoes on hand (and let’s face it, there is a very good chance you don’t), just make the plain risotto base and then you can flavor it as you like. Mushrooms are classic, so are artichokes and peas, but other vegetables can certainly be used, too. I think it would be great with some cooked greens and/or roasted red peppers. Or you can keep it simple but decadent and just use your favorite fresh herbs, a little less stock, a little more cheese and finish it with a little organic cream…it’s very versatile!

Many recipes tell you to add the stock in 1/2 cup increments and to keep the stock hot during the entire process. I did neither of these, but my risotto worked out just fine.

One thing I realized while doing this challenge is that I do not own one single Italian cookbook (it would have been nice to have one for risotto reference). Not one! I already asked for recommendations on Facebook, but I’d love to hear about your favorites, too. I’d like to get at least 1-2 Italian cookbooks in the very near future. So whose do you like? Lidia’s? Marcella’s? Giada’s? Rose Gray’s? Another one? I’d love to hear what book(s) you think I should add to my collection!

Roasted Tomato Risotto

adapted from Think Like a Chef by Tom Collichio

Ingredients:

*2 tablespoons olive oil
*1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
*1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
*pinch of sea salt and fresh pepper
*1/2 cup white wine
*8 cups chicken stock
*1 cup roasted tomato halves (plus any herbs, garlic, etc. they were roasted with)
*1 tablespoon butter
*1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Directions:

1. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a medium saucepan. Add the onion and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft. Add the rice, salt and pepper, and stir around in the pan for about a minute, until the grains are coated in oil and slightly translucent.

2. Add the wine and about 2 cups of stock so that the rice is just about covered. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook until the wine and stock are absorbed, stirring occasionally; this will take 5-10 minutes.

3. Add another cup of the stock along with the tomatoes and garlic. Cook until the stock is absorbed, and then add another cup. Keep adding stock approximately 1 cup at a time, cooking and stirring for another 25-30 minutes. Taste after 25 minutes or so to see if the rice is tender and creamy. When it is, stir in the butter and cheese. Adjust the seasonings, if necessary, and serve with additional grated cheese.

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I love homemade chicken stock (also known as bone broth) because it’s an essential ingredient in great soups and sauces. I also love it because it’s incredibly good for you.

Homemade Chicken Stock | Healthy Green Kitchen

Because it is made from bones, stock contains natural gelatin (which is great for the digestive system) and lots of minerals, as well. Adding an acid (the apple cider vinegar I’ve used here) helps to draw the calcium out of the bones and into the stock…so the broth is particularly good for bone health.

The recipe below is my “go to” chicken stock, the one I make when I accumulate 2-3 chicken carcasses from roasting chickens (I keep each carcass in a bag in the freezer, so when I have a few, I go ahead and make stock). Feel free to add additional vegetable scraps, too- sometimes I throw in chopped broccoli stalks, green onion tops, and the like that will otherwise end up in the compost.

Adding parsley at the end makes the broth even more mineral-rich, a trick I learned from Sally Fallon, author of the wonderful book Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats.
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You can also use this recipe to make turkey stock: just increase the amounts of everything due to the larger size of the turkey carcass and know that you’ll end up with 10-15 quarts of stock so make sure you have enough room to store it.

For a delicious vegetable broth, feel free to load up your pot with any additional veggies that you have on hand, omit the chicken and the vinegar, and decrease the water accordingly (you’ll want it just covering all the vegetables). Cook as long as you like- the longer, the better!

Recipe for Homemade Chicken Stock

Yield: 3-4 quarts

Ingredients:

* 2-3 chicken carcasses (from free-range birds)
* 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
* 2-3 large carrots, scrubbed clean and chopped
* 3 stalks celery with leafy tops, chopped
* 6 garlic cloves, peeled and cut in half
* 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
* Water to cover (about 15-20 cups)
* 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar (helps to draw the minerals out of the bones and into the stock)
* 1 bunch parsley, rinsed
* sea salt to taste

Directions:

Directions:

1.Put all your ingredients (except for the parsley) into a large stock pot and bring to a boil. Skim off all of the the foam that has risen to the top.

2. Reduce heat to simmer and continue to periodically skim off the foam, if necessary.

3. Simmer for at least two hours or as long as overnight (I usually simmer mine for about 8 hours). The longer you simmer it, the more flavorful it will be, but keep in mind that it will reduce and you will end up with less.

4. Ten minutes before it has finished cooking, add the parsley (you can leave it in the bundle, rubber band and all).

5. When it has finished cooking, allow to cool a bit and then sample your broth. Add sea salt to taste. Strain the broth and refrigerate for a few hours. Any fat in the broth will congeal at the top and can be easily strained off, if you like.

Your stock is now ready for use or you can package it up and put it in the the freezer (I store mine in quart sized plastic containers).

Making Chicken Stock | Healthy Green Kitchen

This post is linked to Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday!