Whole Wheat Bread

finalwholewheat

full disclosure: I know this pic isn’t appetizing but, every burgeoning cook should know, don’t judge a dish by its appearance!

I just got back from the most wonderful life-changing family vacation to Turkey.  We traveled to a couple different cities to were able to fully experience and appreciate the different cultures each one has to offer.  And, while I had never really been a big fan of Turkish food, we relished in the most succulent chicken and lamb shish kabobs I’ve ever tasted.  Of course the rice and dried fruits and Turkish delight and Hallavah and Baklavah all held their own too but, we literally couldn’t get through a day without feasting on some form of “shish”.  Additionally, we indulged in fresh Turkish bread, Pide [Pee-day}.  This bread is usually cooked on premise  in hot clay ovens. It's baked on special cookery rocks that can withstand high temperatures. The rocks absorb moisture, giving the bread a crisp base and chewy texture.  Imagine an unlimited supply of fresh homemade bread straight from a hot stone oven. Now imagine slathering that fresh hot bread with a plateful of  the celebrated Turkish meze (flavorful snacks) that adorn every meal. [Read more...]

Creamy Mushroom Soup

Creamy Mushroom Soup

Today’s guest recipe post is from Hunter Boone.

hunterHunter is a southern transplant, currently residing in Maryland with her husband and family. She loves to cook and entertain and is soon to launch a blog with her sister Carrie. The Baker sisters love ‘get-togethers’, both fancy and casual, and with their blog, they aim to help take the fuss out of entertaining. They truly believe that to make good food and to entertain good company you don’t have to be professionally trained. They’re committed to making entertaining  fun, effortless, and rewarding. Be on the look out for their website ‘Get Together with the Baker Sisters’ coming to the virtual world very soon.

 

Here’s what Hunter has to say:

Why Creamy Mushroom Soup in the middle of March you ask?  Because it is still cold outside, and why not make cold weather standby’s: soups. They are healthy, easy, filling and comforting. I love to make different vegetable soups to get in my veggies because I am not really going to eat a bowl of broccoli.

[Read more...]

World’s Best Irish Soda Bread

This recipe is actually a re-post but, it’s too good not to make over and over and over again.  Hope you enjoy….

What’s a Jewish girl doing with her Mom’s Irish Soda Bread recipe?  NOTHING.

But, my mom does have an insane amount of generational recipes in the section I cataloged “Jewish Judy.”  Some of these recipes are so torn, faded and damaged, it’s as though they survived the battlefields of Word War I.  With Passover right around the corner, I simply can’t wait to roll up my sleeves and start exploring!

But, we’re not talking Passover just yet.  We’re talking St. Patrick’s Day!

And, like I said, I’m Jewish.  Unfortunately for me, Mom has no Irish Soda Bread recipes floating in her archives.  And, it just wouldn’t feel authentic making this bread for my family.  So, I reached out (only 2 NYC blocks) to my dear friend Claire Abenante.  I could sense that not only would her  6-year old daughter be stomping throughout her apartment practicing her Irish Step Dance for the St. Patty’s Day Parade, but, I just knew her kitchen would be wafting with the warm sweetened smells of Irish Soda Bread.  And I was right.

I am thrilled to have Claire share her own family story and authentic Irish Soda Bread recipe:

What happens when an Irish girl marries an Italian guy? That Italian guy gets the short end of the stick when it comes to home-cooked meals.

From the stories I’ve heard, my mother-in-law was an amazing cook. I’m hardly an amazing cook. In fact, it’s a struggle to even make dinner but, baking always came easy to me.  I appreciate that baking is so formulaic and the recipes don’t lie. One of my favorite items to bake is Irish Soda Bread.  Besides craving its taste, the bread making process brings me back to those days in the kitchen by Mom’s side, helping her bake this traditional bread.

All four of my grandparents were from Ireland and Irish culture was very important in my household. I grew to identify the month of March with groceries bursting of flour, raisins, caraway seeds and buttermilk.

Carraway seeds…a key ingredient to Soda Bread

Not only did my mom make soda bread for us, she made it for neighbors, friends and of course, any St. Patrick’s Day dinner she was attending.

This year, I decided to pass on Mom’s shared baking tradition and bake with my kids.  Not only did I bake with my own kids, I was crazy enough to invite my daughter’s entire 1st grade class to come to my apartment to bake (think 24 kids in a Manhattan kitchen).

I studied up on the breads’ historical significance and gave some important background facts before we got down and dirty:

  • Did you know that the name Soda Bread is derived from baking soda since it’s used as rising agent instead of yeast?
  • Did you know, in the early days raisins and caraway seeds were never ingredients used in bread since these items were too expensive and considered a treat.
  • Did you know the cross cut into the top helps the bread expand when baking–however some Irish superstitions claim it was to “Let the devil out”.

Over the years, like any good Irish girl, I have tried a number of Soda Bread recipes. But, one always rises to the top (no pun here).  My friend Kathleen’s recipe, handed down to from great-grandmother (Mary Halloran) to her grandmother Mary Ann Henry from Galway Ireland, is simply delicious. 

So delicious that the recipe was even featured in Family Circle Magazine…

White Bean Chicken Chili

White Bean Chicken Chili

It’s hard to believe that it’s already March and we’ve got Daylight Savings Time to contend with tomorrow night when it’s still below freezing outside.  While I had hoped to happily say “see you next season” to my chilli recipes, it seems as though Mother Nature is providing those recipes more longevity than I’d thought.

I asked Seriously Soup, our local soupy expert, to share a homemade White Bean Chicken Chili recipe.  Here’s what she has to say: [Read more...]

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