Friday, March 31, 2017

Twofer- Spring Salad and Date-Pecan Soda Bread

Although fall is my favorite time of year, spring comes a close second. The days are lengthening so there is more time to enjoy the sunshine, birdsong and fresh spring flowers. Yesterday I planted some strawberry plants and will soon be getting the seedlings crowding my sunroom into the ground outdoors. They just need a few days of hardening off first.

Inside the house there are changes, too. Sweetie and I decided to upgrade our tiny guest room with a queen size bed but, since that size bed takes up most of the room, we opted for a chest Murphy bed. Until we visited a home show a few weeks ago we didn't even know that such a thing existed. The memory foam mattress fold into three attached sections and fits into the chest. The chest also contains a drawer for storage and a couple of support pieces which fold or roll out. Closed up it's a pretty piece of furniture.

Yesterday I was in Santa Rosa and decided to stop by the new Safeway on College Avenue where G&G market was for over 25 years. They have done a nice job making it into a Safeway and near the front there is an amazing array of salad greens and fixings. I had a good time choosing some items to make a salad for dinner, and then went right next to the salad area and bought some already grilled chicken kabobs to top the salad with.

In my world a dinner salad is best accompanied by warm bread. I decided to make Aunt May's Irish Soda Bread, but changed up to include dates and pecans. After we had some I wondered why I don't bake this weekly. Then I remembered that I'm trying not to bake things that we feel compelled to eat immediately because Sweetie and I both are losing a few pounds that crept up on us during the winter. Weekly soda bread would put on the pounds, but it's nice for the rare treat.

Spring Salad with Chicken, Avocado, Broccoli and Snap Peas

2 cups mixed spring mix type greens...small red and green lettuces, mizuna, mustard, curly endive, spinach, etc.
2 cups mixed green salad...torn or chopped romaine, iceberg, red cabbage, etc.
1 cup shredded or matchstick carrots
2-3 tablespoons sliced almonds
1/4 cup cooked and cooled wheat berries
2-4 tablespoons cooked and cooled red quinoa
2-3 tablespoons raisins
1 cup sugar snap peas, rinsed and sliced into bite sized pieces
1/2-1 cup broccoli florets, steamed and cooled
1/2 - 1 avocado,peeled, pitted and sliced
1/2 cup cooked chicken, in bite sized pieces, warmed (I used to grilled kabobs, stick removed)
your favorite Asian dressing (I used Newman's Own Sesame Ginger)

In a large salad bowl mix the spring mix greens, green salad greens, carrots, almonds, wheat berries, quinoa, raisins and snap peas. Toss gently to mix. Add the broccoli and toss gently again. Add the amount of dressing you like and toss to coat lettuce leaves. Pile salad on large plates. Top with sliced avocado, arrange in a nice pattern, and chicken pieces. Serve at once.

Aunt May's Soda Bread but with Dates and Pecans
makes one medium loaf

1 cup (about) soy milk
3 tablespoons plain yogurt (not Greek style)
1 egg yolk
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup Irish style whole-meal flour or whole wheat flour1/4 cup wheat bran
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
4 oz. (½ stick) cold butter or margarine, in thin slices
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup roughly chopped dried pitted dates
In a small bowl combine the milk and the yogurt. Let sit to 'sour' the milk, at least 5 minutes. Stir in the egg yolk. Set aside.

Sift the dry ingredients over the butter and cut in well with a fork or pastry blender. Add the brown sugar, pecans and date pieces; mix well.
Add the soured milk and mix just until moist - don’t over handle. You may need to add 2 - 4 more tablespoons of milk or a tablespoon more of flour. Some dry stuff is OK but the dough should be sticky.

Pat into a round on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle lightly with flour. Cut a cross on top. Bake 45 minutes at 350F. Cool a bit before slicing.

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