Whatever Irish soda bread you may have had from the grocery store or bakery during your lifetime has been mediocre at best. Out of all the Irish soda breads I have tried, NOTHING beats the Irish soda bread my aunt has been making for years.
She has held the recipe as a secret; a recipe she has had for the past 35 years, given to her by her ex-sister-in-law who got the recipe from a friend at work many, many years ago, who I am guessing, got the recipe from a magical leprechaun in the woods of the motherland.
We joked together that besides my 3 cousins, this recipe is probably the most valuable thing she got out of that marriage!
When my aunt announced that she would be having her annual St. Patrick’s Day party at her house, I asked, “When are you making the Irish soda bread? I want to make it with you.”
She replied, “Saturday. And when I show you the recipe, you won’t believe how easy it is. There’s really nothing to it.”
If there’s nothing to it, then why does my family practically inhale multiple loaves of it? … For those of you who know my family, you’re probably thinking, but Farrah, your family practically inhales a lot of food… Not like this!!
We got to work yesterday. I saw the recipe, scotch taped to the inside of an old cookbook that looked like a Bible. Like I said, this could only be a gift from God.
I am releasing the secret>
You can see how aged it is.
Here was the process:
All the dry ingredients, then blend the butter in.
Add the wet ingredients…
Here we are kneading the dough!
We made 8 loaves in total!
And here it is in its glory:
Add a little butter, and you’re in heaven!
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
I’ve been hearing good things about this paleo diet. It’s all about eating how the cavemen ate- unprocessed foods that can be found in nature. No processed wheat flour, white sugar, or anything that would take a while to trace back to a plant or animal (Think of Twizzlers or Devil Dogs….they don’t grow from trees! It was many, many links ago when a Twizzler or Devil Dog could be traced back to something that came from the Earth.)
It’s a shame that most cavemen died young because they had no hygiene, no medicine, or got attacked by a bear or something. Their deaths
most likely didn’t have to do with their diet, which was packed with protein, fruits, and nuts.
So to try and get on this paleo bandwagon, I went out and got some coconut flour. This, and almond flour, are used as substitutes for the dreaded wheat flour.
For breakfast, I made coconut flour pancakes. This also means they are gluten-free, although that doesn’t matter to me, but for those who need that, this is a great recipe.
Here’s the recipe:
1 cup of milk (I used almond milk!)
2 tsp. vanilla (I used vanilla bean paste that I’m now obsessed with:
1 tbsp. honey
1/2 cup of coconut flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
I whisked all of this together and cooked them in a pan like any other pancake.
URRRG! FARRAH WANT PANCAKE!
Yumm, paleo coconut flour pancakes have a bit of a grainy texture, but taste very nice. Not too sweet and they were fluffy like a regular pancake.
Better question- why cook good food? It’s common knowledge that we humans cook because unlike other animals, we don’t simply eat to survive, but we also seek to enjoy our food.
My dad will argue otherwise and say, “I only eat to live, you guys all live to eat!” I agree with the latter part, but even for him, if the food doesn’t taste good, he will have a scowl on his face.
For me, when I am alone, I have little motivation to cook. It’s kind of like that old question- if a tree falls in the forest- does it make a sound? If i cook something fancy just for myself, who will know about my efforts? I would be just as satisfied if I ate a turkey sandwich or bowl of cereal.
The thing is- I cook so that others can find pleasure, so that I can connect with family and friends through the food I make, and to see the look of satisfaction on someone’s face.
After my recent trip to the Dominican Republic, I decided the next thing I need to tackle in the kitchen is the Dominican Breakfast. The only thing it has in common with an American breakfast is eggs. Almost all of it is fried, but that’s what makes almost anything delicious.
Here’s how you do it:
(Clockwise) - Huevo Frito (fried egg), Queso Frito (fried cheese), Salami (fried Salami), Mangu con escabeche cebolla morada (mashed plantain with sauteed red onions), and aguacate (fresh avocado).
This is a big Dominican breakfast, which is called “Los Tres Golpes,” literally “The 3 Blows.” Now, you’ll probably say, “Why is it called the 3 blows when there are 5 things on that plate?”
That’s because the 3 heavy-duty fried items (egg, cheese, and salami) are considered the 3 hits. The mashed plantain and avocado are not fried, and so are not as surrrrrious as the other items.
Fried to perfection, each of the 3 golpes tastes great when you slice a piece and eat it with a forkful of the mangu. Don’t forget the vinegary red onions.
In Dominican cuisine, only red onions are used. When making escabeche, you sautee the sliced onions in some oil, add some salt, and then add white vinegar until they become translucent. The mashed plantains are a soft, salty base that is really enhanced flavorwise with the garnishing of these vinegary onions.
Queso de freir starts off as a moist, white cheese with a very light, salty flavor. He’s kind of like mozarella’s Latino cousin. You fry the hell out of it until it almost looks burnt, but it’s just creating a crispy outside. Inside, the cheese is still soft and white.
I grew up in a half-Jewish household, so the only salami I knew of was Hebrew National. My mom would slice it up and squish in between white bread, so it would like cold cuts for me. But, the Dominicans know the salami would taste better if you fry the hell out of this, too.
I cooked the 3 Golpes for my dear Dominican boyfriend, who I hoped would enjoy it, even though I know it will never equal his mother’s cooking.
According to him, my mangu needs work, but the cheese was “perfect.”
This is why I do this, my friends. This, and for the leftovers:
Hope it does well with reheating!
Queens. It has been a scary place for me. Any time I have ventured into Queens on my own, it’s been by car. Terrible parking, terrible drivers, stupid pedestrians, tons of one way streets, and why is there 37th Road and 37th Avenue and 37th Street??
But, ever since I started working there, I’ve realized that there is so much more to Queens than its irritating roadways. There is a wealth of culture and diversity that is missing from my native Long Island and that is much more authentic than that of many parts of Manhattan.
So today, I was in Jackson Heights.
I used to go there all the time as a kid because there was a small Indian/Pakistani pocket. At the time, Long Island had weak Indo-Pak resources, so almost every weekend, my family and I would go to Jackson Heights for dinner and shopping.
Now that we have a Little India near us, we don’t go to Jackson Heights anymore.
That third world charm in first world land is still there though.
If you walk a few blocks away from Little India, you’ll find an Asian world and in the other direction, a Latin world.
Here is what I found:
An empanada joint!
If you go to their website and look at their menu, you’ll see all the yum combinations they have.
First, I tried the traditional empanadas made with corn flour (they give you the option of corn or wheat flour)
this one is the beef. It’s kind of bland, so you need to use the sauce they give you.
Here is the chicken empanada:
The best thing I may have eaten in a while: the fig, caramel and cheese empanada (brevas, arequipe, y queso).
Once you brush away all of that powdered sugar….
Warm, gooey caramel and fig and thick, salty cheese are a perfect combination… maybe as great as the peanut butter and jelly combination…(blasphemy?)
I definitely felt like an outsider when I ordered these (which I did in English). They called out numbers for each order in Spanish, and I can hold my own when it comes to counting in Spanish, so I listened for my number. But of course, when they reached my order, the girl at the counter shouted my number in English, haha!
If I had kept my mouth shut, she may not have known the difference.
Later on, when I went into another store, I didn’t say a word to the cashier. When he was ringing me up, he gave me my total in Spanish! So, appearances may be deceiving.
Basically, me, empanadas, and Queens have something in common: you have to be adventurous to find out what’s really inside!
This picture pretty much encapsulates the feel of the southern cuisine, doesn’t it?
This was my welcome meal when I arrived in Atlanta, Georgia. My best friend Sarah lives there and upon my arrival, Sarah and her hubby Phil took us to a bar near their house called The Tavern.
I think I’ve been spoiled in New York with the no-smoking-in-bars law. As I walked in to The Tavern, the cigarette smoke attacked me like an excited puppy greeting his owner at the front door.
Amidst the cigarette smoke, my buddy Joe and I ordered the Diablo burger. A burger topped with jalapeño peppers, chili, and fatness! The tater tots were a must. How often does one dine at a restaurant and have tater tots as an option?
So we ate our Diablo burgers, inhaled plenty of second-hand smoke, and just when we thought the night couldn’t get any better, the karaoke started. There were two guys who hogged the mic and guess what kind of music they were both into? Yes! Country music. However, they had pretty impressive voices. This really sealed the deal: I was in the south for sure.
I was wrong… The Tavern was NOT the most southern experience I could have. Visiting the Speedi-Pig in Fayetteville is!
Just pulling up to the restaurant made us laugh when we saw this sign:
I just imagined a dead baby pig covered in BBQ sauce, stuck between two slices of Texas Toast.
But here’s what we actually ate:
Smoked chicken, beans, coleslaw, I was right about the Texas Toast, and pickles.
Ready to consume… I couldn’t finish all of this!
And beneath the disappointing vanilla soft serve, was a very tasty peach cobbler.
Next door to the Speedi-Pig!
One of the major tourist sites of downtown Atlanta is Coke World. It’s right next to the Georgia Aquarium and a 5 minute walk from the Georgia Dome, where we went to Wrestlemania!
You can see the aquarium behind us…
The Coke tour has certainly changed since I last visited. It used to be more of a typical museum tour, explaining the history of Coca Cola with different exhibits (like an old fashion soda shop scene).
Now, it’s all about video and digital media. There were movie screens to show everything from animated shorts to all the different Coke commercials from around the world.
But the best part of course, is the Tasting Room. You can try all the different drinks that Coca Cola produces around the world.
Drinks from Asia!
Latin American drinks…Delaware Punch in Honduras??
The worst drink, ironically, is from Italy. There was a crowd around this dispenser because people wanted to try it just because it was SO bad. I remember trying this years ago! Someone would only drink a whole cup of this on a dare. How could Italians actually enjoy this?? It tastes something like rotten bubble gum and sweat mixed with carbonated water.
Nothing beats an ice cold Diet Coke.
At the end of the tour, they give you a bottle of Coca Cola Classic. When Joe and I realized that we wouldn’t be able to take the bottles on the plane, we decided to take them to Lake Peachtree and enjoy them in the sun…
Each time I have been down to Georgia, I MUST end my trip with some delicious waffles from the Waffle House. In lieu of diners, Georgia has Waffle Houses.
Apple Oat Perfection.
It was a nice experience, once again going below the Mason-Dixon line. It’s something that can be done maybe once a year or so, lest my arteries start to look like the nooks of this waffle…
Much like in the rest of the United States, and especially New York, Latinos and their culture are heavily influencing nearly everything in my household.
It’s not uncommon to find my white-as-can-be mom dancing to salsa music in the living room (usually by herself…and she even sings the words!)
The music is often on in my room. I like to crank up the reggaeton (Don Omar, Wisin y Yandel, or Omega, the ghetto-er the better, I say) while I clean the house, which I’ve been informed is a common practice of cachifas, or cleaning ladies! Was I basically told that my taste is not classy? I don’t know. But the one time I had a cleaning lady, she liked to listen to the same kind of music….
In our little microcosm, my brother is like the right wingers who have a problem with all the foreigners coming into the country. “Farrah, you’re not Spanish!! Why are you watching HBO Latino?”
Of course, when we had some delicious Dominican food in the kitchen, he had no objections to eating it…
To celebrate Dominican Independence Day, celebrated on February 27th, here’s what we stuffed our bocas with:
Mira las fotos!
Pastelon de Platano Maduro is like the Dominican answer to Shepherd’s Pie or Moussaka. It has layers of mashed plantain in lieu of potatoes, layers of seasoned ground beef, all topped with cheddar cheese.
First, we boiled the plantains.
And cooked the ground beef. For most of the ingredients, I went to a predominantly Latin grocery store. In the supermarket, everyone spoke Spanish, even to me, and I was proud to be able to answer back! Like…. gracias…
We used Sazon Ranchero, which is a type of hot sauce, orange peppers (it should be green pepper…), onions, salt.
A surefire sign that my house is going Latin:
Our first bottle of Adobo!!!
Once the plantains are boiled to a bright yellow, you have to mash ‘em real good.
Then layer them at the bottom of a dish
Add layers of beef
Then, bake it in the oven until it looks like this:
Yup, I added hot sauce….
If you want to be SUPER Dominican, enjoy your Pastelon con un vaso de cerveza
¡Buen provecho! or Bon Appétit!, whatever language you want!
One of my favorite neighborhoods of New York City is the Lower East Side. I love that if you just imagine there being no cars, it looks basically the same as it did 100 years ago, and although it is steadily changing, there are still hints of what it used to be.
The LES has several places that you must go to for the ultimate Jewish experience. Although much of Manhattan and some of the other boroughs have important Jewish places, the LES was the heart of the Jewish community back in the day.
The Eldridge Street Synagogue- this synagogue that was built in 1887 was recently renovated and it’s SO BEAUTIFUL! There is an exhibit there that tells you all about the history of the place and how in depth the renovation was. http://www.eldridgestreet.org/
- Katz’s Delicatessen- Ok.. this is where they shot that really famous scene from When Harry Met Sally when Meg Ryan fakes a you-know-what. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-bsf2x-aeE .
It’s really run-down and stuck in a time warp, but it’s part of history and their pastrami sandwich is mmmmmm…..
- Russ & Daughters Appetizers
I went here last week to pick up some chocolate babka and rugelach! This place has all types of dried fruit, nuts, candy, bagels, lox, cream cheeses (they even have caviar cream cheese!), but their babkas are out of this world and so are the rugelach (try the chocolate orange ones…)
- The Lower East Side Tenement Museum- An actual preserved tenement, this place is amazing. It feels like you went through a time machine. You can take tours of different apartments that real families lived in. When I visited, I took a tour of a tiny little apartment where a Jewish family lived and ran a garment business! The shabby beauty of the building will creep you out, but it’s a fun and informative tour. http://www.tenement.org/
- Yonah Shimmel’s Knish Bakery
Obviously, that’s not my hand, but I thought it was a cool picture!
Natalie and I went here and were amazed. We tried the split pea soup, the original potato knish, the spinach knish, and the pickles and coleslaw. This place has been around for 101 years, so they really know what they are doing!
Here is our spread:
Oy, it’s so good, I’m getting farklempt!
Kado on Jackson Avenue in Syosset: How lucky I am to live near this place! Most Japanese restaurants that I go to don’t stay in my memory, but this one goes above and beyond.
Crispy crust, spicy tuna, tons of sweet/tangy sauces.
And for dessert, mochi ice cream.
Mochi is like a rice paste. So there’s a chewy outside, and on the inside of this is delicious green tea ice cream
A friend took me to Sushi Hana, which is on the Upper West Side. Not bad, but I think Kado has it beat. Don’t let the picture quality sway your opinion! I only had access to an iphone camera for Kado, but my Canon for Sushi Hana.
Here’s what we had there:
An array of goodness.
Have you ever seen the movie “La Bamba?” 1987. Lou Diamond Phillips and Esai Morales. As I write this, I’m listening to the song that really made the movie: the La Bamba cover by the band Los Lobos, who also did the rest of the music for the movie.
Great movie in my opinion, although IMDb only gives it a 6.6.
Well, on New Year’s Eve, I got to see Los Lobos perform this song at the City Winery— live! Yes, the song that for my whole life was played at any event that had a DJ.
But before we saw the show, we had a fancy 5 course Mexican dinner. Each course had a wine pairing, apropos of of dinner at the City Winery.
Ceviche with salmon, bacalao (cod), octopus, radish…paired with a nice white wine
A mixed salad consisting of radicchio, grilled cactus, haricot verts (that’s French for green beans), and queso fresco (Spanish for fresh cheeeeeese!)- and some red wine.
It’s pretty clear that I’m not a huge wine fan, or else I would have remembered what I was drinking.Here’s me with umm, some red and some white.
Roasted turkey breast with a mole sauce, Mexican rice, huitlacoche stuffing (probably my favorite part of the meal!!!) I’m infinitesimally glad that I did NOT know what huitlacoche was while I ate it. Turns out, those black things in the stuffing are “corn smut”, fungus spores that grow on infected corn. It’s considered a delicacy. Hmm, sounds gross, but tastes great!
R.I.P. Third Course.
Fourth Course: Cheese and Persimmon Sauce
Dessert:White Wishes! White chocolate covered green grapes. AWESOME!!!
Yes, this was a yummy dinner. Afterwards, we were taken from the VIP section (ah yes, VIP all the way) and brought to the main dining room where Los Lobos performed.
Here’s me with Cesar Rosas from the band!
For old time’s sake, watch this =)
Happy New Year to all! I hope for many more food adventures this year!