Marge Perry Newsday columnist Marge Perry

Marge Perry, Newsday's weekly 3 Simple columnist, also writes, broadcasts, teaches and speaks about cooking, food and nutrition.

IRISH SODA BREAD

2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour

1 1/4 cups whole-wheat flour

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon oats, divided

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

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1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter, cut in bits

1 1/2 cups 1 percent buttermilk

1/2 cup any combination golden raisins, dried cranberries, currants, raisins

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a baking sheet pan with cooking spray.

2. Combine the all-purpose and whole-wheat flours, 1/2 cup of the oats, 1/3 cup of the sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Use 2 knives or pastry blender to cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Stir in the buttermilk and dried fruit until the mixture is evenly moistened.

3. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead 10 to 15 times until dough holds together well. Shape into a 2 1/2-inch-high round loaf with a diameter of about 5 1/2 inches. Score an X in the top of the loaf and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of oats and 1 tablespoon of the sugar.

4. Place on the pan and bake 1 hour, until the bread sounds hollow when tapped. Cool completely and cut in thin slices to serve. Makes 16 servings.

Nutritional analysis for each serving: 192 calories, 4 g protein, 31 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 7g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 136 mg sodium

TIP: Add up to 1 tablespoon of caraway seeds along with the dried fruit if desired. The bread may be wrapped tightly and frozen.

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CHUNKY BAKED POTATO SOUP WITH BACON

2 medium baking potatoes, scrubbed and pierced all over with a fork

6 slices center-cut bacon

1/2 small onion, chopped (about 1/3 cup)

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2 ribs celery, chopped

1 1/3 cups lower-sodium chicken broth

1 1/4 cups 1 percent milk

3/4 cup shredded reduced-fat Cheddar, divided

1 scallion, green parts only, chopped

1. Microwave potatoes until very tender, turning them over after about 3 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then cut them in half and scoop the flesh out of the skins with a spoon. It should be very tender.

2. Cook the bacon over medium heat in a Dutch oven; transfer to a plate lined with paper towel. Add the onion and celery to the pot; cook, stirring, until softened, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the broth, milk and potato flesh; breaking up the potato in small pieces with the spoon. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce to a simmer; cook 5 minutes, stirring often. Stir in all but 2 tablespoons of the cheese and cook, stirring, until the cheese is melted, about 4 minutes.

3. Chop the bacon; stir all but 2 tablespoons into the soup. Combine the remaining bacon with the reserved 2 tablespoons of cheese and scallions; serve sprinkled over each bowl of soup. Makes 6 servings.

Nutritional analysis for each serving: 154 calories, 9 g protein, 18 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 6 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 307 mg sodium

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CLASSIC CORNED BEEF

1 (4-pound) corned beef brisket

3 cloves garlic

2 medium onions, chopped (about 2 cups)

3 carrots, chopped

3 ribs celery, chopped

1 tablespoon pickling spice

Trim the fat from the meat and combine it with the garlic, onions, carrots, celery and pickling spice in a large pot. Add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; immediately reduce the heat to medium low, cover the pot and simmer until corned beef is tender, about 3 hours. Makes 8 servings.

Nutritional analysis for each serving: 432 calories, 31 g protein, 7 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 30 g fat, 12 g saturated fat, 2244 mg sodium