Posts Tagged With: history

Year Round Recipes: Irish Onion Soup

Is there a more aromatically alluring allium than this?

Besides garlic, is there a more aromatically alluring allium than this?

With free time finally returning to my schedule, I decided to spend an afternoon finding a soul- and palate-satisfying recipe to replace the drab peanut butter and jelly sandwiches which have accompanied me to work over the past six months. And, despite the hot and sticky weather that’s been plaguing central PA recently, I found myself craving the sweet, historic tang of French onion soup. French onion has always been a favorite of mine, as it so exquisitely satisfies my love for root vegetables, melted cheese, and recipes designed by the ancient Greeks.

Although France didn’t quite exist when onion soups first debuted on the world stage, the use of fried/caramelized onions in soups eventually spread to the Anglo-Saxon and Gallic regions of pre-modern Europe, where they quickly became incorporated into the working-man’s repertoire of hearty, inexpensive sops. It’s important to note that a sop is far more than an apparent misspelling of “soup;” and, it is, in fact, an entirely different dish altogether! While the star attraction of a soup is the liquid and what’s incorporated into it, the whole point of a sop is the large hunk of (usually) crusty bread that gets plopped right in the center of a bowl of broth (which then “sops” up the soup!). The sop tradition carried through European time and space to eventually influence the great French chefs cuisiniers of the 17 century, who expertly combined their unmatched onion broths with large chunks of toasted French bread and inspired countless generations of future chefs to do the same.

Now, you may be wondering why I’m going on about French onion soup when we’re actually making Irish onion soup. And my answer to that is that we are, in fact, continuing the tradition of French onion, but with a slightly modern twist. Thanks to the ingenuity of The Beeroness, I’ve been inspired to try swapping out the white wine usually simmered into a classic French onion soup with a dark stout. Since the original onion soups of antiquity were concocted by the working class, this slight alteration seemed more fitting (and delicious!) than irreverent. So, let’s dig in!

Irish Onion Soup Recipe

 

Stout and onions: a surprisingly perfect combination.

Stout and onions: a surprisingly perfect combination.

Ingredients

  • 6 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 pounds of white onions (about 3 medium sized onions)
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 12 ounce bottle of stout
  • 2 cups stock (beef or vegetable)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • French bread or croutons
  • 1 cup of shredded or sliced cheese (Gruyère is traditional, but a wide variety of easily melted cheeses will work)

Directions

  1. Peel and slice your onions into thin, 1/4″ rings.
  2. In a large soup pot, melt the butter over medium heat and then add the onions, brown sugar, and salt. Mix well and let simmer for at least 50 minutes to 1 hour (trust me, the longer you let your onions cook, the sweeter and more caramelized they’ll be in the end). Stir onions every occasionally to ensure that they cook evenly without burning.
  3. When the onions have caramelized, stir in 1/2 cup of the stout and let simmer over medium heat until the beer dissipates and the pot is nearly dry.
  4. Pour in the remaining beer, stock, and black pepper. Return to a simmer and cook for an additional 10 minutes.
  5. Turn on your oven’s broiler; ladle the soup into oven-safe crocks; and top each crock with some French bread and cheese.
  6. Place prepared crocks under the broiler just until the cheese has melted.
  7. Serve and enjoy a modern twist on some delicious history!

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As always, thanks for stopping by for this week’s kitchen excavation! I hope you’ll stop by next time as we dig into the breadier side of French cuisine!

Keep digging!
~Nate

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Categories: Cooking, History, Year Round Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pennsylvanian Recipes: Shoofly Pie

The sun setting on the Susquehanna river: another cornerstone of central PA life

The sun setting on the Susquehanna river: another cornerstone of central PA life

After an uncomfortably long hiatus from baking, researching, and digging into the history of the foods we enjoy every day, I’m overjoyed to be back and able to share another recipe with close cultural ties to the Pennsylvanian people. Since I’ve just moved to a small hamlet that holds many of my earliest, happiest memories, I thought I’d pay tribute to one of the favorite foods of the people who first founded this little river community: the enigmatically named shoofly pie. If you’re not familiar with this particular dessert, you’re not alone. From what I’ve been told, few communities outside of PA and parts of the south carry on the tradition of this rich and accessible dessert. At its core, shoofly pie is a dark, cake-like dish made with molasses that holds strong historic ties to the British treacle tart (a catch-all term for any number of sugar-syrup based pastries first popularized in the 17th century thanks to England’s access to roughly processed sugar). This British tradition followed the settlers to Pennsylvania as the earliest residents only had access to the supplies that could survive the arduous trek across the Atlantic Ocean; one such ingredient was the infinitely shelf-stable molasses, which formed the groundwork for great Pennsylvania Dutch recipes in the New World.

But before most visitors to the region even consider asking what shoofly pie contains or why it’s so popular, they usually want to know what’s going on with that name. Unfortunately, food historians can’t quite agree on the true origin of the name “shoofly,” however there are several popular theories to sate the curious cook. One of the simpler theories proffers that “Shoofly,” the name of an 18th century molasses company highly popular during the time of Pennsylvania’s colonization, simply lent its name to the recipe that relied so strongly on its chief export. But, the most popular theory looks back to the cooking methods of the early Pennsylvanian bakers. Cooking at this time was much more communal that it is today, with much of the baking being done outside in large community ovens. To produce a town-sized batch of shoofly pie required large amounts of molasses to sit outside awaiting use, attracting hungry crowds of humans and insects alike. With their natural affinity towards sugar, flies flocked to the sticky sweet molasses, which required that the townspeople to be on constant guard to shoo away the six-legged pests.

No matter the story you choose to believe, shoofly pie is a Pennsylvanian dessert that simply must be tried. So, without further ado, let’s dig into this sweetly dark and Dutch delicacy!

Shoofly Pie Recipe

 

Coffee and molasses are a perfect match for this historically dark dessert!

Coffee and molasses are a perfect match for this historically dark dessert!

Ingredients

  • 1 9 inch unbaked pie crust
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons softened butter
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
  • 1/2 cup warm, strong coffee (the darker the roast the better!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350° F / 175° C
  2. Combine the flour, sugars, butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and baking powder in a medium mixing bowl, and mix with a pastry cutter or fork until crumbly. Transfer 1/4 of the crumb mixture to a small bowl and set aside.
  3. In a small mixing bowl, stir together the molasses and coffee until the molasses dissolves. Slowly stir in the baking soda until dissolved.
  4. Pour the molasses into the large bowl of crumb and fold until smooth and well-combined. Pour this mixture into your pie shell and sprinkle with the crumb you set aside.
  5. Bake in your preheated oven for 40 – 45 minutes, or until the filling has risen and has a cake-like consistency.
  6. Serve warm or cold and enjoy with a cup of strong coffee among friends!

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As always, thanks for stopping by for this week’s recipe! I hope to see you next week for another excavation into humanity’s communal storehouse of fascinating and delicious dishes!

Keep digging!
~Nate

Categories: Baking, Dessert, History, Pennsylvanian Recipes, Year Round Recipes | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

St. Patrick’s Day Recipe: Colcannon

With the stresses of a tranquil life disturbed finally falling away, I’m once again taking time to savor the simple pleasures of life. Fleeting moments with friends and family have become increasingly more cherished as my free time is consumed by long days at work. With tomorrow marking a great Irish holiday honoring the life and service of Saint Patrick (through typically less-than-saintly celebration), I’ve been pondering the tenacity and fortitude displayed by the natives of the Emerald Isle. Now I could never equate my comparatively luxurious living conditions to the working class of the Irish and their ancient Celtic ancestors, but I cannot help sharing in their affinity for creating and appreciating beauty in simplicity.

Potatoes: the humble base for many an Irish dish

Potatoes: the humble base for many an Irish dish

This past week, I had the privilege of preparing and sharing one of the creations of the pragmatically aesthetic people of pre-industrial Ireland: colcannon. As potatoes arrived in Europe in the 16th century, Ireland quickly took to the tuber simply as a means of staving off starvation. But, when Irish cooks combined mashed potatoes with their native leafy crops (like kale and cabbage, the use of which dates back to the ancient Celts), the lowly spud was transformed into a cultural dish worth celebrating. In fact, as the recipe for colcannon spread to England and the continent, it was widely regarded as a dish fit for the upper class, a far cry from its original audience. So today, on the eve of St. Patrick’s Day, I would like to pass this wonderful example of Irish culinary prowess onto you! The recipe I’ve been using relies primarily on cabbage and onions, but if you would like to throw in some kale, garlic, or even beans, these variations would all fit in with the traditional definition of Irish colcannon! And don’t be afraid to add in some of your own local and cultural ingredients: the basic process of this dish provides a wonderful backdrop to illuminate your own culinary surroundings!

Let’s dig in!

Colcannon Recipe

Cabbage and onion: the unsung heroes of this classic Irish dish

Cabbage and onion: the unsung heroes of this classic Irish dish

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 pounds of potatoes peeled and cubed (about 8 medium potatoes)
  • 4 slices of bacon
  • 1/2 head of chopped cabbage
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used soy)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Place your cubed potatoes in a medium or large saucepan and cover with water. Bring water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 15 – 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender enough to offer no resistance when a knife is inserted. When potatoes are finished cooking, drain and set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium-high heat until both sides are evenly brown and crisp. Save the drippings in the skillet, and place cooked bacon on a paper towel to dry. Crumble dried bacon and set aside.
  3. In the bacon drippings, sauté the cabbage and onion until soft and lightly brown.
  4. In a large bowl (or the original saucepan), mash the potatoes with the milk until smooth. Fold in the bacon, cabbage, and onion and season with salt and pepper to your liking.
  5. Top with butter and enjoy a taste of true Irish cooking!

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As always, thanks for stopping by! I hope you have a wonderful day celebrating Irish culture and heritage, and I hope to see you next time as we unearth another recipe from humanity’s communal cupboard!

Keep digging!
~Nate

Categories: Cooking, History, Holiday Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Winter Recipes: Cranberry Flaugnarde

Still life from the home of Julia Felix in the Roman town of Pompeii

Still life from the home of Julia Felix in the Roman town of Pompeii depicting the use of bird and egg in the home

With my recently acquired passion for French cuisine still burning brightly, I thought it only fair to share an ancient French recipe that’s currently topping my all-time winter favorites: the flaugnarde (pronounced “flow-nyard”)! Now, to be fair, the true origin of this recipe lies not with the French, but with the ancient Romans. Credited with being one of, if not the, first civilization to domesticate and farm chickens, ancient Roman food scientists finally had the raw materials necessary to unlock the seemingly limitless cooking potential held within the humble egg. Out of their undoubtedly delicious research, Roman bakers were the first to produce what is today known as the flan, an egg-based custard dish that we tend to associate with Central and South American cooking. In Rome, the flan was generally considered a savory dish, being made from and served with meat and fish. However, as Rome’s borders expanded, and its recipes charged across the European countryside, the native, conquered cultures began experimenting with Rome’s cutting-edge cuisine. In the Occitan regions of southern France, resident chefs began turning the Romans’ savory flan into a sweet dessert that highlighted the fruits of the region. And, when the Roman empire eventually collapsed and receded back to the Italian peninsula, the French natives were able to freely transition egg custard from the Roman flan to the French flaugnarde, allowing the modern baker to enjoy the fruits of over two thousand years of culinary experimentation!

With a history steeped in cultural alteration, you should feel free to change the contents of this recipe to fit your locale and season! Because of the scarcity of fruits in the winter, I’ve simply chosen a recipe that features cranberries in order to fit my present situation; but, if you find yourself craving a flaugnarde in the summer, perhaps lemon and blueberry would be a better fit, or apple and orange for the fall, or simply whatever you have on hand. But, whatever you choose, know that you’re contributing to a grand, millennia-long experiment to find the perfect flaugnarde!

Cranberry Flaugnarde Recipe

Over 2,000 years of culinary wisdom in a single baking dish

Over 2,000 years of culinary wisdom in a single baking dish

Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon melted butter
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 3/8 cup of all-purpose flour (6 Tablespoons)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 – 2 cups of fresh or thawed cranberries

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 F / 205 C.
  2. Brush the melted butter on the bottom and sides of a shallow baking dish (a pie plate worked fine for me), and sprinkle 1 Tablespoon of granulated sugar over the bottom of the buttered dish.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix together the remaining sugar, flour, and salt until combined.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, milk, and extract until blended.
  5. Mix half of the egg and cream mixture into the dry ingredients. Repeat with the remaining half, and whisk until smooth.
  6. Pour the combined mixture into your prepared baking dish and sprinkle with cranberries (I ended up using about 2 cups of berries, but whatever you have on hand will do).
  7. Place the dish on a baking tray, and bake in your preheated oven for 30 – 35 minutes, or until the flaugnarde puffs up and begins to lightly brown at the sides (the center will not be fully set when finished).
  8. When your flaugnarde has finished baking, sprinkle it with a bit more sugar, and allow to cool slightly before serving either warm or cold.
  9. Enjoy a sweet, tart bite of French and Roman culinary history!

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As always, thanks for stopping by the dig! I hope to see you this Tuesday for another look at a recipe that’s filled with as much history as it is flavor!

Keep digging!
~Nate

Categories: Baking, Dessert, History, Odds and Ends, Winter Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Winter Recipes: Dark Hot Chocolate

The Walk towards Winter

The first sign of winter.

The freeze begins

If you stopped by yesterday, you’ll know that I’ve been forming a habit of taking walks through the surrounding forest in order to improve my overall well-being. What I’ve enjoyed the most from this new practice is not feeling more energetic or starting each day with an active purposefulness (not that I’m not enjoying these side-effects!); but instead, I’ve grown to deeply appreciate the opportunity to watch the natural world adjust to the changing seasons. At the beginning of the week, the air was certainly chilled, but the birds and squirrels seemed to pay little mind to the biting breeze, instead focusing their attention on finding bugs and berries and nuts among the dew-covered ground. However, as the week progressed, and the temperatures dropped, I couldn’t help but notice that the birds were flocking and chattering together in the brush, hesitant to leave their roost even as I approached. And that’s when I saw a new and threatening arrival to the forested stage: ice. The grass and leaf litter, once dewy and welcoming became spiked and jagged, sparkling in the morning sun as if to formally announce the approach of winter. And I, woefully underdressed in this now dazzlingly hostile environment, felt a longing that seemed to echo from our earliest ancestors; more than anything, I wanted to find a fire.

Now, being the modern being that I am, my second thought, after this primal first, was that I wanted to roast some marshmallows over that fire. As I stood in wet, freezing shoes certain I was about to catch pneumonia, I couldn’t help but wonder, could a bit of culinary archeology unite these two desires? Might marshmallows also answer a primal need? Probably not, but that doesn’t make their history any less interesting! Let’s dig in!

Marshmallow as Medicine?

The true marshmallow. Not quite as sweet, squishy, and roastable as the modern variety, but undeniably healthier!

The true marshmallow.
Not quite as sweet as the modern variety, but undeniably healthier!

It may come as a surprise to many, but the term “marshmallow” was actually coined to describe an African plant that’s been around for quite some time. According to the 16th century botanist Prospero Alpini, the ancient Egyptians (circa ~2000 BCE) first harvested and processed the marshmallow plant in order to harness the properties locked away in the plant’s root. Not unlike the modern confectionary marshmallow, the ancient Egyptians mixed the cooked mallow root with honey in order to make a soft, sticky sweet. However, wholly unlike the modern marshmallow, ancient chefs (from the time of the Egyptians up to the Middle Ages) prepared mallow root candies because of their medicinal qualities. Containing a strong mucilaginous compound, marshmallow root can effectively treat (or soothe) a wide variety of sinus and bronchial ailments, providing relief from sore throats, ulcers, and even, according to modern scientists, more serious conditions like hyperlipidemia.

Modern Marshmallows

If you’ve recently glanced at the nutritional information of that bag of marshmallows in your pantry, you probably spotted plenty of corn syrup in the ingredients, but no true mallow extract. For this shift, you can thank the French candy makers of the late 19th century. These innovators, in an attempt to make a more widely available marshmallow, switched the traditional root extract with gelatin, a much cheaper and easier to produce ingredient. Fast forward to the 20th century, and modern marshmallows quickly climbed from the realm of childish treat to a staple ingredient suggested by dessert and savory cookbooks alike. For today’s recipe, though, we’ll be whipping up a batch of dark hot chocolate, the perfect complement to the modern marshmallows we made yesterday (you can find the recipe here)!

Dark Hot Chocolate Recipe

Yields 2 mugs of hot chocolate

Dark, rich, and creamy: the perfect pairing for the light and fluffy marshmallow.

Dark, rich, and creamy: the perfect pairing for the light and fluffy marshmallow.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups milk (I use soy for a lactose-free recipe, but any milk will work)
  • 3 Tablespoons dark chocolate powder
  • 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • pinch of salt

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together all ingredients until smooth and combined.
  2. Heat mixture over medium-high heat until it reaches a simmer (approximately 10 minutes), stirring occasionally.
  3. Allow your hot chocolate to simmer for ~30 seconds to reduce slightly.
  4. Remove from heat, whisk until frothy, pour into your favorite mug, top with a marshmallow (or three), and enjoy!

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Thanks, as always, for stopping by for this weekend’s pair of kitchen excavation. Be sure to stop in again on Tuesday to dig into another breakfast recipe!

Stay warm and keep digging!
~Nate

Categories: Drink Recipes, History, Odds and Ends, Winter Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Autumn Recipes: Peanut Butter

(C) National Peanut Board

The Peanut Harvest

At the clove of the seasons between summer and fall, an unfelt change seems to descend upon our cultural palates. Without thinking, our adoration for the sweet flavors of strawberries, peaches, and blueberries is replaced for a renewed obsession with the heartier harvests of pumpkins, squash, and apples. However, in these seasons of change, there remains one constant that I can always rely on to provide a solid sandwich companion to seasonal preserves. Whether paired with classic grape jelly, summery peach jam, or autumnal apple butter, peanut butter consistently provides a powerful, and delicious, blend of nutty protein and healthy unsaturated fats. And, while peanut butter, when properly preserved, can be found all year long, the seasonal eater will recognize this nutty spread as a true autumn recipe, with October marking the month for the peanut harvest. So, as farmers around the world excavate their fields for this tasty legume, let’s roll up our sleeves and dig in, too!

Digging up Peanuts

While many sources will attribute the invention of peanut butter to the Kellogg company’s patent of “Nut Meal” in the 1800’s, peanut butter’s true origins reach all the way back to their roots in South America. From as early as 3,500 years ago, peanuts have shown up in Incan archeological finds, including references to peanuts being used in the burial of mummified Incan remains. It would seem that the Incas created their own “nut meal” in the form of a ground paste of their local peanut plants. From these “ancient” roots, peanuts and peanut butter spread north through North America, Europe, and Asia, leading to a worldwide peanut crop.

Now, it is true, that the 1800’s did prove to be the inception of the peanut’s popularity in the modernizing Western world. While peanuts were grown before the 1800’s in the United States (particularly in Virginia), they were difficult to harvest, and were used primarily for animal feed, if at all. As agriculture began to industrialize, however, farmers began investing in the machinery necessary to plant and harvest peanuts on a commercial scale. Fast forward to our modern era, where over 29 million tons of peanuts are grown and harvested each year!

Blending our Own Peanut Butter

For today’s special excavation, we’re going to return to the peanut’s Incan roots for the source of our peanut butter recipe. In modern food production, any product labeled “peanut butter,” by law, is only required to contain 90% peanuts. So today, I’ll be showing you how to make your own peanut butter that bumps that number back up to 100!

Nothing But Peanuts Peanut Butter Recipe

Enjoy deliciously pure, homemade peanut butter!

Enjoy deliciously pure, homemade peanut butter!

Ingredients

  • Roasted peanuts removed from shells
  • (Optional) Peanut oil

Directions

  1. Place peanuts into a blender or food processor, and pulse for 30 second intervals. After each interval, check on the consistency of your peanut butter. I usually stop blending after 2 minutes, but choose the time that works best for you!
  2. (Optional) If your peanuts are finely ground but not taking on the traditional consistency of peanut butter, add in peanut oil 1 teaspoon at a time while still pulsing for 30 second increments. I’ve found that after 1-2 teaspoons of oil, even the driest of peanuts will make fantastic peanut butter!
  3. Scoop peanut butter into an airtight jar or container, and store in the refrigerator for the next time you need a nutty treat! If kept cool, your peanut butter will stay fresh for up to 6 months.

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As always, thanks for stopping by the dig! Join us again on Tuesday as we unearth a delicious way to use our freshly blended peanut butter in a breakfast chock full of energy!

Keep digging!
~Nate

Categories: Autumn Recipes, History, Odds and Ends | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Barley Bread for Breakfast

Barley Grain

Barley Grain

Welcome back to the dig!
Today, we’re traveling back 8,000 years to unearth the origins of this week’s key breakfast ingredient: Barley! Near the end of the stone age (also known as the Neolithic time period), the men and women of the fertile crescent, a band of well-watered land spanning from Egypt in Northern Africa to the Persian Gulf in Southwest Asia, were on the brink of a discovery that would change the world forever. These people groups and civilizations had abandoned nomadic lifestyles in favor of settling down in one general area. For settlers in what is now known as the West Bank region, the existence of wild cereal grains inspired them to develop what may be the first, true system of agriculture. Out of this initial grain of inspiration grew an ancient food revolution, where farming and the domestication of crops became truly widespread.

Out of Three, One

During the dawn of agricultural technology, three cereal grains were formally domesticated (part of the Neolithic Founder Crops): einkorn wheat, emmer wheat, and barley. While einkorn and emmer can still be found today, and are prized for their ability to grow on poor, mountainous soils, barley clearly won the popularity contest when it came to Neolithic grain choice. From Egypt to Nepal, barley was domesticated and prized for its adaptable use in beer and bread.

Barley for Sacrifice, Health, and Exorcism

Beyond its use in food, however, barley enjoyed a baffling level of popularity in religious circles. In the Jewish Pentateuch (written sometime between 1,400 and 500 BCE), barley was specifically called on to be used as a religious sacrifice. In a hadith attributed to the Prophet Muhammad in the 600’s CE, the founder of Islam prescribed barley as a medicinal food, which could cure a variety of ailments. Perhaps most interestingly (to me at least), the Anglo-Saxon leaders, most likely between 900 – 1,000 CE, fed cheese on barley bread (imbued with exorcising words of power) to accused criminals in the belief that a guilty man would be unable to eat the bread, and would instead be racked with convulsions and choking. This mystical use of grain was not invented by the Anglo-Saxons, but instead was borrowed from the ancient Greeks, who developed the fortune-telling practice of Alphitomancy, or “divination using barley.”

Greco-Roman Barley Bread

Roman Coin Depicting Barley and a Date Palm

Roman Coin Depicting Barley and a Date Palm

When we’re asked to think of ancient culture, images of alabaster columns, enormous temples, both to gods and to entertainment, and Italian cooking often come to mind. Even Google, when searching for the innocuous term “ancient” instantly suggests that we peruse the ghostly white ruins of Greece and Rome. Because of the unmistakable impact that these ancient civilizations have had on our modern world, I’ve decided to devote our first, ancient breakfast recipe to these cultural monoliths. According to some scholars and researchers, the most common food eaten for breakfast in these ancient realms would have been a hunk of bread (barley bread for the Grecians and Roman gladiators, wheat bread for the rest of Rome). If you had the means, it was also common to adorn your bread with honey or dried fruit (a practice I highly recommend for today’s recipe).

Barley Breakfast Bread Recipe

Complete recipe yields one short loaf of unleavened (yeast-less) bread

Ingredients

  • 3 cups barley flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons baking powder
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 cup olive oil – avoid extra virgin olive oil (or another oil of your choice)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk

Directions

  1. Wet and Dry Barley Bread Ingredients

    Wet and Dry Barley Bread Ingredients

    Preheat your oven to 350 F / 175 C

  2. Lightly coat a 9″ x 5″ bread pan with oil
  3. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, salt, and baking powder
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, oil, eggs, and milk
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry mixture, and stir well until combined
  6. Pour the batter into your greased bread pan, and cook for 25 – 30 minutes, or until the bread reaches an internal temperature of 190 F / 85 C
  7. Allow to cool in the pan for several minutes before turning the loaf onto a cooling rack.
  8. Let cool, then slice and enjoy with a drizzle of honey, and a dried date or two!

Because this bread lacks the fluffiness-imbuing element of yeast, the final consistency of this recipe feels and tastes more like a dense, lightly sweetened cake. Because it is so dense, dipping or drizzling it in honey (or a moistening agent of your choosing) is recommended. However you take your barley, though, I hope you’ve enjoyed this excavation into barley: a grain with a mystical past and a healthful future!

Until next time!
Nate

Categories: Baking, Bread, Breakfast, History, Year Round Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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