Food that brings back memories

Focaccia
I never tired of watching my brother Jim as he was cooking. Probably one of the simplest things which fascinated me the most was the way he would make soda bread.

I never tired of watching my brother Jim as he was cooking. Probably one of the simplest things which fascinated me the most was the way he would make soda bread.

For years I would wish that I could make it just like he did. He would have all the ingredients put together in an instant and while it was in the oven he would anticipate how it was going to look when it was cooked.

It always came out exactly as he described it. Some years have passed; I can now bake soda bread and experience the same anticipation when the soda bread is baking. This week’s recipe was a family favourite and is a basic recipe with a few simple herbs included. It tastes absolutely delicious.

This week’s pasta dish is a very simple dish. However if you can cook it slowly on a very low temperature it creates the most amazing flavour. If you have a lot of fresh tomatoes you can use them instead of the tinned ones. It can be served as a main dish with the bread or as a side dish with chicken, steak or salad; it is also a good lunch option which can be served hot or cold next day.

Focaccia Style Soda Bread

1lb Flour

1tsp Salt

1tsp Bread Soda

425ml Buttermilk

1 large Red Onion, sliced and fried until brown in 3tbsp Olive Oil with 2 crushed Garlic Cloves

4oz Black Olives, stoned (optional)

Sprigs of Rosemary

Twist Black Pepper

8tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Grease a Swiss Roll tin or roasting tray (11” x8”) and preheat the oven to 220°, gas mark 6. Sieve the flour, bread soda and salt into a large bowl, make a well in the centre and add in the butter milk, bring it all together with your hand, you should have a nice soft dough.

Turn out onto a floured board then shape out to the size of the Swiss roll tin pushing it out with our fingers. Spread the cooked onion all over and scatter it with the olives, push in the sprigs of rosemary all over the bread, then sprinkle the olive oil all over and a couple of twists of black pepper. Place in the oven and cook for about 30 minutes. Serve cut into squares.

Fresh Egg Pasta with Tomato & Mascarpone Sauce

1 Medium Onion, diced

2tbsp Olive Oil

1 250g tub Mascarpone Cheese

2 Cloves of Garlic, crushed

1 Small Bag of Baby Spinach Leaves

2 tins Chopped Tomatoes

500g Fresh Egg Penne Pasta

Salt & Fresh Black Pepper

Parmesan Cheese

Heat the olive oil in a deep pan and add the onion and garlic, followed by the tins of tomatoes, salt and pepper and simmer for 15 – 20 minutes, this allows the sauce to reduce and the flavours to intensify.

The longer you can leave this on the side of the cooker, the more intense the flavour will be. When ready to serve, stir in the mascarpone cheese and the baby spinach leaves and increase the heat to serve. At the same time in a separate saucepan cook your pasta, when cooked drain off the water. Add the pasta to the tomato sauce and stir. Serve with lots of parmesan cheese.