Rosemary Parmesan Soda BreadTis the season for soda bread. The March/April 2017 issue of Bake From Scratch features an “Irish Soda Bread Showcase” of irresistible recipes. I made the lovely “Rosemary Parmesan Soda Bread” (recipe below), where I was encouraged to shape it into a round loaf, rather than in a rectangular loaf pan.

Rosemary Parmesan Soda Bread
Bake From Scratch, March/April 2017
Makes 1 (8-inch) boule

4 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1 1/4 cups grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/4 cups whole buttermilk
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg
1 1/2 tsp. flaked sea salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, rosemary, salt, baking soda, and pepper. Stir in cheese.

In a medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk, melted butter, and egg. Gradually add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Knead dough just until ingredients are combined.

On a lightly floured surface, shape dough into a ball. Place on prepared pan pressing to flatten dough into a 7-inch circle, 1 1/2 inches thick. With a sharp knife, score a shallow “X” on top of dough. Sprinkle with flaked sea salt.

Bake until golden brown and a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes, loosely covering with foil to prevent excess  browning, if necessary. Let cool on pan for 10 minutes.

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You’ll spend your time grating lots of Parmesan cheese and chopping rosemary. There’s an amount of buttermilk, but only a single egg. The batter is dry. I pressed my dough into a ball shape, as instructed, then flattened it to 1 1/2 inches thick. I carved my “X” and sprinkled with flaked salt. I baked for 37:30 minutes.

All this surface gave us more coveted crust. It reminded me of a pretzel crust, with all that salt. This bread tastes buttery, rosemary.

Greek Chicken and Rice SoupTo match perfectly with my soda bread, I made the thick and satisfying “Greek Chicken and Rice Soup with Egg and Lemon,” from the March/April 2017 issue of Cook’s Illustrated (recipe below). I was happy to find this was easy and low-stress.

Greek Chicken and Rice Soup with Egg and Lemon (Avgolemono)
Cook’s Illustrated, March/April 2017
Serves 4 to 6

1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
Salt and pepper
12 (3-inch) strips lemon zest plus 6 Tbsp. juice, plus extra juice for seasoning (3 lemons)
2 sprigs fresh dill, plus 2 tsp. chopped
2 tsp. coriander seeds
1 tsp. black peppercorns
1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
8 cups chicken broth
1 cup long-grain rice
2 large eggs plus 2 large yolks

Cut each chicken breast in half lengthwise. Toss with 1 3/4 tsp. salt and let stand at room temperature for at least 15 minutes or up to 30 minutes. Cut 8-inch square of triple-thickness cheesecloth. Place lemon zest, dill sprigs, coriander seeds, peppercorns, and garlic in center of cheesecloth and tie into bundle with kitchen twine.

Bring broth, rice, and spice bundle to boil in large saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 5 minutes. Turn off heat, add chicken, cover, and let stand for 15 minutes.

Transfer chicken to large plate and discard spice bundle. Using two forks, shred chicken into bite-size pieces. Using ladle, transfer 1 cup cooked rice to blender (leave any liquid in pot). Add lemon juice and eggs and yolks to blender and process until smooth, about 1 minute.

Return chicken and any accumulated juices to pot. Return soup to simmer over high heat. Remove pot from heat and stir in egg mixture until fully incorporated. Stir in chopped dill and season with salt, pepper and extra lemon juice to taste. Serve.

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Get ready to zest and juice three lemons. I was meticulous with the cheesecloth bundle. Poaching the chicken in the broth made me feel like a superstar -- so easy, so effective, and hands-off, really.

How smart to blend some cooked rice in the blender with lemon juice, eggs, and egg yolks. This became a smooth velvety mix that was poured into the soup pot last. I was glad to shred the cooked chicken with my hands and add it to the pot. Enjoy this smart bowl of soup.

Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts (1 1/2 lbs.) = $9.96

PREP TIMES: dedicate less than 90 minutes to grating Parmesan, assembling and baking bread; devote 90 calm minutes to prep the chicken and broth
TASTES: buttery rosemary bread with a pretzel crust; velvety smooth lemon chicken soup

Next time, I want to explore a rainbow of colors in the “Zucchini and Sweet Potato Slice,” from Cook Republic. Come back to my site next week, to see what happens.