G is for… Guatemala: Ain’t Nothin’ But a Cheese Thing Baby

¡Hola

Guatemalan Flag

So the Rangers beat the Caps and are now in the Eastern Conference Finals, the final step before the Stanley Cup! Woo-hoo!  If this was football and we were watching th Super Bowl, I’d make my Game Day Chicken Quesadillas, but because Hockey has a championship decided by a series rather than a single game I don’t really have an occasion to cook . I am still making a quesadilla this week however, but it’s a veryvery different kind of quesadilla.

In this country we associate quesadillas with the Mexican version; a flour tortilla stuffed with melted cheese and a variety of other meats and veggies. The literal translation of the word quesadilla though, is actually “cheese thing,” and throughout much of Central America, including Guatemala, a quesadilla is a type of cake with cheese in the batter. 

Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Guatemala is a country that I’m sure I’ll visit one day. My good friend Hans (of favorite cakes list fame) is from Guatemala and I’ve already informed him that he has to take me there. His family still lives there and his parents love me… well ok they only met me the one time and probably don’t remember me, but once they meet me again they’ll surely realize that they love me and be thrilled to have me staying with them, right? As a thank you I can even whip this cake up for them.

Guatemalan Quesadilla  is made using Queso Seco or Cotija cheese which is a dry crumbly Mexican cheese. Because I live in a city where I can get pretty much anything, I had no problem getting the Cotija, but if you can’t find any where you live the good people of the internet suggest using 2 parts grated parmesan and 1 part crumbled feta instead. The cheese, which is crazy good and addictive, does have a similarity to both of those cheeses, but also has this bit of sweetness to it. I would make every effort to find the Cotija before resorting to the parm/feta mix. 

Mayan Ruins

I also found in my research that this cake is just as often made with rice flour as it is with wheat. Two out of the five people who actually read this blog (I’m talking to you Erin and Lisa) are gluten free, but I have no other need for rice flour so I made the wheat flour version. If you try this with rice flour, my research suggests you use 1 3/4 cups rice flour in place of the 2 cups of wheat flour and you MUST tell me how it turns out.

Usually sesame seeds are scattered on top of this cake, but I’m seriously allergic to sesame so obviously a no-go. Other than that I believe this is a very authentic recipe.

 Quesadilla Guatemalteca

  • 1 stick of butter softened
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup full fat sour cream
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Cup crumbled Cotija (Queso Seco) cheese

Preaheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 9×13 baking dish.

Cream together butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.

Stir in milk and sour cream.

Sift flour, baking powder and salt together over the wet mixture. Stir just until incorporated, do not over mix. Fold in cheese.

Pour in to greased pan and bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes until a cake is very lightly browned and a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean

Yields: A LOT!

Of course I started cutting it before I remembered to take a picture

FINAL VERDICT: A- 

OMG this cake is so so good. I am not big on sweet, gooey, frosting heavy desserts; preferring a plainer coffee style cake and that’s exactly what this is. This cake is perfect for a cup of tea (or coffee if you’re a coffee drinker). It’s the type of thing that I could see bringing to a book club or some other afternoon activity that involves people chatting and drinking hot beverages (clearly I’ve never been to a book club). 

The texture of this cake is hard to explain. There’s a bit of texture from the cheese, though you’d never know there was cheese in it if someone didn’t tell you, which gives it a vague resemblance to corn bread yet it is super moist and buttery. I will definitely be making this again at some point. 

Mi Corazon

¡Buen provecho!

F is for… Finland; Salmon Soup For the Soul

Hei!

Finnish flag

It looks like I might be travelling to Finland this summer. I’m really excited about that, but I don’t want to talk about it because I don’t like talking about things before they’re official. The Finns love Hockey and I’m in full on Hockey fever right now (go Rangers!), but I’m way too paranoid of a sports fan to talk too much about it when we’re tied 2-1 in the series so I don’t really want to talk about that either.

Instead I’ll talk about licorice!

I looove licorice. No not those waxy, red, articfial straw shaped things; I mean real licorice or as we Americans call it, usually with disdain, black licorice. I have never understood why it gets such a bad wrap in the States because I love it. I come from a licorice loving family, maybe because my Grandparents are European, and we always fought to see who could get to the black jelly beans fastest.

I’ve spent a lot of time in Northern Europe, having lived in Denmark, and have often joked with my friends there that if I ever visit Helsinki I expect to find the streets paved with candy. Every time I pick up a package of non-chocolate candy anywhere in Europe it seems to be made in Finland which leads me to believe that these people love their candy. Lucky for me all of the strongest and best licorice also seems to come from Finland. Yum! While I love to travel I’m not much of a souvenir hunter due to my general aversion to having “lots of stuff,” but I know that if I make it to Finland this summer I will be returning with bags full of the best licorice I can find (and extra for my Grandma of course!). It may not last as long as some souvenirs, but I’ll smile every time I eat a piece.

In preparation for this possible trip to Finland, it only made sense to visit there, culinarily speaking, for my “F” recipe. Last night I whipped up some Lohikeitto, Finnish Salmon Soup. I only made two real changes from the majority of recipes I saw in my research. First, most recipes just called for water while very few called for fish stock. I’m a big believer in getting as much flavor in things as you can, but, since salmon is a fairly fishy fish, was afraid the fish stock might be too much so I used vegetable stock. The second change was that I didn’t peel the potatoes. I refuse to ever peel small potatoes for any recipe unless it’s absolutely necessary. Not only is it less work, the skins of potatoes have tons of nutrients so you’re getting more health benefits too.

Lohikeitto

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium leeks; sliced and thouroughly rinsed
  • 32oz low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 large or 2 small bay leaves
  • 1lb small new potatoes cut in to halves or quarters depending on size
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1lb salmon; skin off, cubed
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Lots of fresh dill

Heat olive oil in large pot. Add leeks and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add vegetable broth and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Add potatoes. Bring pot to a medium simmer until potatoes are tender, 10-15 minutes.

Add allspice and salmon and simmer until salmon is cooked through, about 5 minutes.

Turn heat to low and gently stir in cream and milk. Add salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle dill to taste on top.

It ain’t no licorice

FINAL VERDICT: C-

 This soup was fine, but nothing special. I admit that I’m pretty neutral about salmon itself. I’ve never really understood it’s popularity, especially among people who don’t eat any other fish. The texture is nice and firm, but the flavor if fairly strong. The soup could’ve used more pepper, but I really don’t think there’s any way to make this dish any more exciting.

Maybe this summer I’ll meet a Finnish chef wh0 will teach me the culinary secrets of the Finns, but until then I don’t think I’ll be making this soup again. Either way I think my trip will be way more exciting than this dish.

Extreme close up

Hyvää Ruokahalua!

E is for… Ethiopia or Chicken Overboard

Tadiyass!

Ethiopian flag

On Monday, in preperation for my culinary journey to Ethiopia I visited  my butcher who told me had exactly 5 bone in skin on chicken thighs left. They weighed 1 3/4 pounds, but I figured that after cooking I would discard the skin and bones and probably end up with about 1.5 pounds, my desired amount, anyway so I took them all.

Last night I made my Dor W’at, Ethipoian chicken stew. I added the onions, butter, and spices just as the recipe I’d cobbled together instructed. When it came time to add the chicken, I unwrapped the butcher paper held it over the pot and plopped them in (with a minimum of splash) because space is at a premium in my kitchen and that is the easiest way to get things out of the way quickly. When I looked in the pot I noticed there were 4, not 5, chicken thighs, but I figured the butcher just counted wrong- no big.

Once the recipe was complete I was a little surprised by the ratio of sauce to chicken. Though I knew from my research that the consistency of the dish should be loose and soupy rather than thick and stew-like I was still a bit surprised, but it looked pretty and tasted yummy so I didn’t give it too much more thought and let the dish sit and cool on the stove top. Once the dish was cool I pack some for the next days lunch, put the lid on the pot, picked it up to move it to the fridge and what to my wondering eyes should appear behind the stove!? A big ol’ raw chicken thigh!

It must’ve fallen behind the pot when I dumped the chicken out of the butcher paper, duh! Argh, gross and wasteful! If you make this recipe try to make sure that all the chicken makes it in to the pot.

As I usually do with my international dishes, I found a few recipes on the internet and mixed them together to create a recipe that sounded best to me (though most of this one comes from Epicurious). I eliminated fenugreek from my recipe, though it seems to be an important spice in Ethiopian cooking it’s in the lentil family and I’m allergic to lentils, but otherwise I think this is  fairly authentic.

Doro W’at

  • 2 medium onions
  • Salt
  • 4 Tablespoons butter, divided in half
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 1/2-inch piece ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 – 2lbs bone in, skin on chicken thighs
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • Juice of 2 small limes
  • 4 hard boiled eggs, peeled

Heat the onions and a pinch of salt over medium heat with a pinch of salt until onions begin to give off some liquid, approximately 5 minutes. Add half the butter and cook until onions have just begun to brown.

Add remaining butter, pepper, ground cloves, garlic, ginger, and berbere spice and cook about 10 minutes until the onions are nicely softened and coated with spices.

Add chicken thighs and chicken broth. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add wine. Bring back to a simmer and continue to simmer for 30 minutes.

Add lime juice and eggs and simmer gently for 5 minutes until eggs have heated through.

Remove chicken from pot. Remove and discard skin and bones and put meat back in sauce. Serve

Yields 4-6 servings

If this pot was see through you would see the raw chicken thigh lying behind it

FINAL VERDICT: A- 

Yum-eee! This recipe is so rich and flavorful and perfect for the drizzly overcast weather we’ve had her in New York this week. I would definitely call this a comfort dish and I will definitely make this again. I love spicy food so to me this dish had a nice kick, but wasn’t anywhere near my heat threshold. If you’re not a spicy fan you’ll find the kick more intense. 

There are very few things I’d change next time I make this, besides the whole, “get all the chicken in the pot,” thing. I used bone in, skin on thighs because they have more flavor however, I found there was a touch of oilyness to the sauce so next time I’ll remove the skin before adding the chicken to the pot. I’d also add more ginger, mostly because I love ginger and I’d like to make some Injera, Ethiopian bread, to go with this. 

So good on a rainy day

Melkam Megeb!

April Showers Bring Delicious Pasta and Jersey Housewives

After a series of absolutely beautiful spring days, Mother Nature gave us New Yorkers a bitch slap this past Sunday. Luckily I had all that I needed for a rainy day; The Real Housewives of New Jersey season premier and some great ingredients (or ingredientses as Real Housewife Teresa Guidice would say).

Prep work

I am a total Farmer’s Market addict. I just love strolling to the different booths and seeing all the beautiful, fresh, local harvest. Since it’s only April it’s still a bit of slim pickins’ out there, but the first Spring vegetables are starting to pop up. So, on my last trip to the market I picked up some (more) ramps and asparagus as well as creme fraiche from my favorite local dairy. All I needed was some pasta and organic lemons to make a fantastic meal.

If you’ve never had creme fraiche you must try it. Imagine if Butter and Sour Cream met, fell madly in love and decided to have a baby; that beautiful baby would be Creme Fraiche. It’s like the Shiloh Jolie-Pitt of dairy products.

I also decided to drizzle the pasta with a balsamic reduction which sent this dish right over the top on the deliciousness charts.

April Pasta

For the pasta:

  • 12 oz Penne or other small pasta
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 large bunch Asparagus; woody ends removed, chopped in to bite size pieces
  • 1 large bunch Ramps; white part separated from green, white chopped in to chunks, leaves chopped finely
  • Zest of 2 small organic lemons
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Large pinch Red Pepper Flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3/4 cups Creme Fraiche
  • 1/2 cup Reserved pasta water
  • Balsamic drizzle (see recipe below)

    Sautéing the veggies

Bring large pot of water to boil.

Heat olive in large sauté pan. Add asparagus and cook 3-4 minutes. When asparagus has just barely begun to soften add white part of ramps and cook 5 more minutes. Add ramp leaves and cook until wilted and asparagus and ramp bulbs are fork tender , about 5 more minutes. Stir in lemon zest, juice, red pepper flakes salt and pepper and cook for one more minute.

Meanwhile cook pasta in salted water, one minute less than the package instructs. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Toss pasta in vegetable mix and cook for another minute or two until pasta is cooked through.

Transfer pasta and vegetables to a large bowl (or just use the pot you cooked the pasta in like I did). Fold in creme fraiche and half of the reserved pasta cooking water. If sauce seems too thick add more of the water, otherwise discard.

Serve pasta with balsamic reduction drizzled over the top.

For Balsamic drizzle:

  • 1 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 small bay leaf (or a bay leaf torn in half- I probably use 3/4 of a medium leaf)

Mix all ingredients in small sauce pan and bring to a gently boil. Turn down heat to the barest simmer and cook until mixture has reduced by a third and has a thick syrupy consistency. Once mixture has cooled eat a few spoonfuls straight out of the pot because it’s just so delicious you can’t wait store in airtight container. Balsamic reduction will keep indefinitely in the refrigerator.

Enjoy with a glass of wine and some trashy reality TV

Did you guys watch the RHNJ season premier? What did you think?I am so Team Manzo and Team Gorga. Can you believe that Teresa told Joe that Melissa would leave him for a richer man!? What an insecure jerk she’s making herself out to be.

This Is the Cake of Our Affliction (and it’s awesome)

For being the “Bread of Our Affliction,” matzah sure is delicious! Here in the northeast (and probably in other areas with a large Jewish population), matzah is beloved by Jews and Gentile’s alike. Really.

Matzah, or ulevened bread is basically a giant delicious cracker that’s good on its own, but it also a great vehicle for almost anything else. I love matzah pizza, for dinner the other night I had matzah brei which is like a matzah and egg scramble and one of my favorite guilty pleasure snacks is honey drizzled on lightly buttered matzah.

This week, like almost every Passover of my life, I’m enjoying a different and unusual matzah treat; Chocolate Covered Matzah Cake.

My good friend Hans actually has a “favorite cakes” list. It’s one of the many things I love about him, but I’m not nearly as dedicated to cake as Hans so I possess no such list. If I had a favorite cakes list though, this would be on it (and probably that Brazilian carrot cake I made a few weeks ago too).

A dear friend of my mother’s, who sadly passed away, was an avid baker who came up with this recipe and it’s been a staple in my family ever since. The original recipe calls for margarine to keep this pareve for those who keep kosher so if that’s a concern for you feel free to substitute the butter. Also, the egg in this recipe doesn’t really get cooked so make sure you’re using fresh, organic, free range eggs.

Chocolate Covered Matzah Cake

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 7 to 8 oz chocolate chips
  • 1 stick of butter softened
  • 1 egg (or 1/4 cup egg beaters)
  • 6 sheets of matzah
  • Manichewitz wine (or grape juice) for dipping

    Using a shallow baking dish is the easiest way to dip the matzah in wine.

In small sauce pan on medium high heat or microwave melt together sugar, water and chocolate chips. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

Add butter and egg and stir until smooth.

Dip one sheet of matzah in the wine for about 10 seconds, place on plate or cake platter and pour some of the chocolate mixture to coat.

Repeat with all remaining matzah until cake is completely covered with chocolate.

Refrigerate over night.

The next day the matzah will have softened and the chocolate should have a frosting like consistency.

Slice of Chocolate Covered Matzah Cake. Yum!

ENJOY!

My One and Only Family Recipe

I do not come from a long line of cooks. My mom is an awesome cook. My grandmother is a pretty good cook  which is amazing considering that both her mother and grandmother were terrible cooks with no love of the culinary arts which means we don’t really have family recipes except for our matzah balls. It is the only recipe that generations of Juettner/Bendit/Buchanan/Lander women share and it’s one of my all time favorite foods.

Traditionally matzah balls are made by using only matzah meal, matzah ground fine to mimic flour, but my family recipe is uniques because it also uses actual matzah. This recipe has been handed down by word of mouth so no actual recipe exists and few ingredients are actually measured. As I watch my mom making them, something I haven’t been brave enough to do myself yet, I’ll say things like, “So you add a tablespoon of sugar?” To which she responds, “Um I don’t know, that sounds like it’s probably right.”

I took pictures of my mom making them this year and I’m going to do my best to put an actual recipe together. It’s really hard to get an accurate measurement of the salt and sugar since my mom won’t be in your kitchen saying, “Yea that looks about right,” but start conservatively and give the mixture a taste as you go. The mixture should taste like a slightly sweeter version of the matzah itself.

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Buchanan* Family Matzah Balls

  • 6 sheets of matzah broken in to pieces
  • Water to cover matzah pieces
  • 3 eggs separated
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar (give or take)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (give or take)
  • 2/3 cup matzah meal (we think)

Break up matzah sheets in a bowl and cover pieces with warm water for about 20 second.

Drain matzah and mush together softened pieces with your hands to break up.

Beat egg yolks with fork. Mix egg yolks, salt and sugar in to mushed up matzah.

With electric beater, beat egg whites to soft peaks.

Gently fold egg whites in to matzah mixture.

Stir in matzah meal until mix begins to bind together. Do not overmix.

Form in to balls (larger than golf, smaller than tennis) with wet hands.

Refrigerate for a few hours.

Boil for 20 minutes in salted water.

Serve in chicken soup.

Yield 12-14 matzah balls

*In case you’re wondering how the most Scottish name of all time “Buchanan” got in to a Jewish family’s history, after my grandfather got out of Germany he made his way to England and joined the army there where his name was changed from Buchbinder to Buchanan

D is for… Denmark; A Taste of (my second) Home

Hej

Danish Flag

Fun fact: Restaurant Noma in Copenhagen is currently considered the number one restaurant in the world. Another fun fact: The renowned chef/owner of Noma, Rene Redzepi, is exactly one day younger than me.

I’m thinking of writing to him and asking if I can get a meal on the house. Since we’re practically twinsies not to mention the fact that I’m quite the Dankofile (yeah, I totally made that word up) I figure it’s the least he can do, right?

After graduating from college I spent six months living in Copenhagen and I fell absolutely in love with Denmark. I made great friends and have travelled back often to visit over the past decade. but surprisingly I’ve never made Danish food so the 26 Dishes project seems like a great place to start!

Today I’m making Frikadeller, Danish pork meatballs, which are a classic Danish dish. Keeping things traditional I’m serving them with potatoes, pickles and braised red cabbage, (though I’m using a red cabbage recipe I’ve made for years, but it’s very similar to Danish braised cabbage so whatevs).

I could write a novel before I get in to the recipe about why I love Denmark so much, but instead I’ll just show you in pictures that I’ve taken throughout the years. Enjoy!

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Frikadeller

  • 1/2 cup cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup whole milk, cream or half and half
  • 1 medium onion; grated
  • 1lb ground pork
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 tablespoons butter

Soak cracker crumbs in milk

Combine all ingredients except butter and mix well

Let mixture rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes

Form mixture in to approximately 2 inch meatballs, wetting hands in between to keep meat from sticking, and flatten slightly

Melt butter in large frying pan over medium high heat

Cook meatballs about 5 minutes a side until cooked through

Frikadeller can be cooked in batches

 

We are Danish meatballs. We are the happiest meatballs in the world.

FINAL VERDICT: B+

Like most traditional Danish food this meal isn’t fancy or nuanced, but it is hearty and tasty. I loved these because they tasted really authentic and reminded me of being back in Denmark. The pork is often mixed with veal, but I stopped eating vel when I was about 9 or 10, marking my first foray in to conscious eating. Even with just using pork and frying them in loads of butter, these frikadeller are surprisingly light.

Another reason to love Denmark is that they have some of the strictest food and agricultural standards in the world so, as with all my meat recipes, I really hope that you buy high quality, hormone and antibiotic free, ethically sourced pork such as Niman Ranch. And if you want to be truly Danish. make sure to wash down your frikadeller with lots and lots of beer!

 

Now that’s a Viking plate!

BONUS RECIPE:

My mom found this recipe in the NY Times about 300 years ago.

Braised Red Cabbage

  • 1 medium-size red cabbage, about 2 pounds
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 whole cloves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup orange juice

In large pot over medium high heat melt 2 Tablespoons butter

Stir in onions until and saute until soft

Add cabbage, cloves and salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes

Add orange juice.

Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, 45 minutes

Stir in 1 Tablespoon butter and serve

Velbekomme!

C is for…China or Sh*t Dumb People Say

Chinese Flag

I made Chinese food!  You have no idea how excited I am. I don’t eat Chinese food. Correction, I can’t eat Chinese food or most food from the continent of Asia. Asian dishes are filled with ingredients that I’m severely allergic to; sesame, beans, sometimes nuts and a variety of fruits that are a no-no for me.

Someday maybe I’ll do a Sh*t Non-Allergic People Say to People With Food Allergies post about all the dumb (I should probably be nice and call it naive, but whatev) stuff people say to me about my food allergies. One of my favorites is when I mention that I don’t eat at certain restaurants, like for example Chinese, and someone says, “No I looked and there is one thing on the menu that you can eat.”

One thing on the menu coming out of a kitchen serving nothing but foods that have the potential to kill me. Does that sound like a good idea to you?

Let me put it to you this way; you walk in to a room one day and notice something innocuous in the center of the room, let’s say a bouquet of flowers. Now you obviously can live without the flowers though they might be nice to have, but here’s the problem; you notice that the rest of the room surrounding the flowers is rigged up from floor to ceiling with death traps. Everywhere you look is barbed wire, grenades, land mines. Now think, are the flowers really worth it? I didn’t think so.

So no I don’t normally eat Chinese food, but imagine my surprise and delight to learn that I safely could make Fried Rice and keep it reasonably authentic! After much Googling and confirming with my friend Janet, whose parents hail from Hong Kong, I’ve learned that Fried Rice is very traditionally Chinese though not necessarily the way we find it in American restaurants.

Fried Rice, I’ve learned, is basically a great way for Chinese moms to use leftovers. You can basically put whatever you want in to it which means I don’t have to put in anything I’m allergic to make it authentic. The only must for traditional Fried Rice is that you must use rice that’s at least one day old.

Though I wanted to keep the flavors Chinese, I didn’t want to buy entire bottles of Fish Sauce or Chinese Five Spice so I made “Fake A** Fish Sauce” and used the 3 out of 5 of the Chinese Five Spice Mixture that I had.

There’s not really a recipe here since I just Googled around for some methods and just threw together what looked good to me, but here’s what I used:

  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Mushrooms
  • Carrots
  • Baby Bok Choy
  • Scallions
  • Scrambled Eggs
  • Day old rice
  • Fake A** Fish Sauce with vaguely Chinese spices (anchovy paste, molasses, a tiny bit of hot water, black pepper, ground cloves, ground fennel and ground ninnamon)

Basically I infused the oil with the Garlic and Ginger first and then threw in everything but the sauce. When it was done I put the Fried Rice in a bowl and mixed in the sauce.

Fried Rice with Fake A** Fish Sauce

FINAL VERDICT: B+

This was a really fun thing to make since what you put in to it is entirely up to you. I believe strongly in limiting meat consumption and like to always have a stash of vegetarian recipes so, other than the anchovy paste, I kept this veg, but if I ever have meat leftover in my fridge I would definitely throw that in. Also, my friend Janet offered to give me some of her stash of dried shrimp which I would definitely like to try adding in next time.

All in all this is a great idea for repurposing leftovers so if you make it don’t be afraid to get creative. If you have kids this would be a great recipe to involve them in too. Kids tend to be more adventurous eaters when they’ve had a hand in the process so let them choose the vegetables they’d like to go in to the Fried Rice and, depending on their ages, have them help with some of the prep.

Kiss Me I’m (not) Irish!

It’s St. Patrick’s Day also known as the day that everyone, even nice Jewish girls like me, pretend to be Irish. I figured if I was going to be Irish for the day, I should whip up something Irish inspired (notice I said inspired, not authentic).

I love this recipe from Food Network for Beer Bread! It’s so easily adaptable so I usually make a cinnamon raisin version using Blue Moon. The bread always turns out heavenly and my whole (tiny) apartment smells like cinnamon! For St. Patrick’s Day though, I decided to use Guinness and Caraway seeds and I am quite pleased with the results. Delish!

Guinness and Caraway Bread

Guinness and Caraway Beer Bread

  • 3 Cups Flour
  • 1.5 teaspoons Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon plus 1.5 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Caraway Seeds
  • 12 oz Guinness
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter melted

Preheat oven to 375. Butter a loaf pan.

Dump all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Pour beer in slowly. Mix well.

Pour batter in to greased loaf pan. Mixture will be very thick and sticky.

Bake for 50 minutes. Brush with melted butter and cook for 5 more minutes.

Enjoy!

B is for… Brazil: Have Your Cake and Love Yourself Too

Ola!

Brazilian flag

Brazilian women would never eat cake, right? I mean how could they when they are all perfectly manicured, bronzed beauties; cinched and waxed and oiled to perfection within an inch of their lives. Brazilian women can’t eat cake because they might gain an ounce and these women obsess over their appearance and strive for an unattainable level of beauty.

Wrong!

Last July my friend Karen organized an amazing trip to Martha’s Vineyard and for the first time I met her college friend Carla. Carla, originally from Brazil, was down to earth, laid back and loved her beer as much as I do. I liked her right away.

A couple of days in to the trip we were all chatting when Carla mentioned that by and large Brazilian women to have a much healthier body image than there American counterparts. I was confused, I mean everything I’d ever seen in the media told me just the opposite about Brazilian women who were consumed with their looks and a quest for perfection.

When I mentioned this my friend Karen, who had visited Carla in Brazil some years before, said, “Oh that’s not true at all. If you ever want to feel good about yourself as a women go to a beach in Brazil.” Apparently instead of a beaches filled with supermodel wannabes, the beaches of Brazil are filled with women who are skinny and fat, tall and short, old and young confidently striding along the sand, having a good time and loving life!

I’m sexy and I know it! Brazilian Model Fluvia Lacerda

Of course, still harboring a bit of disbelief, I did some Googling which only confirmed what Carla had said. Research paper after research paper and article after article all ended with the same conclusion; Brazilian women of all ages, shapes and sizes have a healthy body image and a great confidence and respect for their bodies.

So if you try this recipe for Bolo de Cenoura com Cobertura de Chocolate (Brazilian Carrot Cake) try channeling some Brazilian spirit and don’t beat yourself up for eating dessert, just cut yourself a sensible slice and enjoy! I promise you, you’ll still be beautiful in the morning.

Bolo de Cenoura com Cobertura de Chocolate

Cake:

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 large carrots, pealed and roughly chopped
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9×13 pan.

Put eggs, sugar, carrots and oil in a blender or food processor. Blend on high until smooth

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl. Pour in the carrot mixture and stir being careful not to over mix.

Pour in to greased pan and bake for 30-40 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean.

Chocolate Glaze:

  • 3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 6 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 Tablespoons butter

Mix all ingredients in a small sauce pan over medium high heat and bring to a boil.

Boil for 4-5 minutes until mixture thickens (sauce will thicken, but won’t become thick).

Pour hot glaze over warm cake.

Allow cake to cool and enjoy!

Brazilian Bolo de Cenoura com Cobertura de Chocolate         

FINAL VERDICT: A

Oh this is soooo my kind of dessert! This cake is super moist and light and not too sweet and the hint on chocolate is just enough to compliment the cake. It’s also surprisingly buttery, which is odd since there’s no butter in the cake.

If you like frosting heavy, sugary sweet desserts this cake might not be for you, but I loved it and will definitely make it again!

Bom Apetite!