Two Spreads & A Soda Bread

As I rarely have breakfast – at least not the kind that I consider a “real” kind of breakfast with bread, butter, jam… the works – you’ll hardly ever find bread in my kitchen. Yesterday I suddenly got this craving for fresh, rustic bread, and decided I would make soda bread Sunday morning.

I’ve also had this open pack of sun-dried tomatoes sitting on the kitchen counter not knowing what to do with it, snacking from it every once in a while. That’s when my taste buds started to have visions again. Sun-dried tomatoes – goats cheese – fresh herbs. I had planned on using fresh rosemary but decided on basil instead, because the tomatoes already have a strong flavour, so I chose basil for a softer touch.

Then I remembered that I’d once seen a spread in a magazine made from crushed peas. My vision was peas – goats cheese – fresh mint.

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Both these spreads turned out great. None of them required any salt, and I used only a little bit of white pepper with the sun-dried tomato one. I have to say, though, that the pea spread exceeded my expectations. I could just sit down with a pot of this and eat it with a spoon, no bread required. It’s so mild, the peas were still slightly warm when I processed them, it just feels so soft (if that makes any sense…) and yummy.

The soda bread recipe is called Lizzie’s Kitchen’s Irish Soda Bread, and I found it online in a sneak peek edition of Olive magazine about a year ago. I looked it up, searched everywhere, but couldn’t find it, guess it’s no longer online, so I’ll write it down here (which – I would like to mention – I would not do otherwise because of copyright!).

If you want to make these spreads, be sure to have some fresh bread ready. In case you want to make the soda bread, too, this is the first thing to make.

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Irish Soda Bread

450 g plain white flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp sea salt flakes
400 ml buttermilk

Heat oven to 240°C / 460°F (220°C  / 425°F fan).

Sift the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Make a well in the center, and pour in the buttermilk. Using your hand, stir the buttermilk into the mixture, starting out at the center. You want a soft but not too sticky or wet dough. [I stuck to the instructions both times that I’ve made this bread, but it still turned out very sticky. I had to use a lot of extra flour both for the work surface and my hands.]

Turn the dough onto a floured surface, knead gently and pat into a round shape. Cut a cross into the top about 2.5 cm deep.

Bake for 15 minutes on a lower shelf, and then reduce heat to 200°C / 400°F (180°C  / 350°F fan) for about 30 minutes, or untill the bottom of the bread sounds hollow when tapped.

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Sun-dried Tomato & Basil Spread

150 g goats cheese (the cream cheese version, not the logs or slices)
14 sun-dried tomato halves
12 large basil leaves
freshly ground white pepper
a few drops of chilli oil (optional)

Chop basil leaves in a food processor, next add the sun-dried tomatoes. Chop to as fine a consistency as you prefer (or as in my case as your food processor allows…).

Turn out into a small bowl, work in the goats cheese, and season with a little white pepper.

Spread on some bread and drizzle with some chilli oil.

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Pea & Mint Spread

150 g goats cheese
about 2 handfuls of frozen peas
12 large mint leaves
a few drops of lime oil (optional)

Cook the frozen peas in unsalted water for about 5 – 8 minutes, then drain.

Chop mint leaves in a food processor, next add the peas.

Turn out into a small bowl, and work in the goats cheese. [I’m not sure everyone will like this without salt, so just have a taste and see what you prefer, and add salt if required.]

Spread on bread and drizzle with some lime oil.

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