Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Irish Invasion

The folks are coming to town this weekend and I am more than a little excited. Yesterday was a particularly craptastic day at work, so I decided to prepare for my parents' arrival and bake my bad day away with some warm treats.

For my dad, I made traditional Irish Bread. It is our family recipe and other than adding a little sugar and a lot of raisins, I am pretty sure it sticks close to the occasionally-debated "traditional" Irish Bread. In terms of food-rearing, my dad grew up in a house where my grandmother hated to cook, and always bought her potato- and pasta salads from the local deli. To further illustrate my point, my father had never tried any cheese other than American before meeting my mom. Shocking. (My mother has converted him). But Dad contributed to my young education in other ways. He is responsible for my love of the Beach Boys, Star Trek and John Wayne. Often times our conversations consist completely of movie quotes or whole scenes of dialogue. "Put zee candle beck!" And so forth.

Irish Bread

4 cups flour, sifted
1/2 tsp baking soda
4 tsp baking powder
6 tbsp sugar, with extra for sprinkling
2 tsp caraway seeds
2 cups buttermilk
1-1 1/2 cups raisins

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix ingredients in large bowl until well blended. Place in a greased and floured layer cake pan. Bake for 1 hour. Remove from pan and cool. Sprinkle sugar on warm bread.

For my mom I made Ambrosia Macaroons, from the December issue of Bon Appetit. My mom is just crazy for coconut. Although she taught me to appreciate food, not just as sustenance, but as an experience to be savored and enjoyed in and of itself, she also taught me how to eat a medium Brigham's ice cream cone without spilling a drop on myself (which she can do while driving) and instilled in me a deep love of ABBA. Nothing beats baking to ABBA.

I use two 14-oz. bags of flaked coconut (there can never be too much) and only about 4 oz. of chocolate, if that. If you use too much chocolate or dip the macaroons in chocolate, you'll overpower the lovely hint of orange. If you're a macaroon dipper, try another recipe. This recipe makes a ton of bite-sized, guilt-defying tasties. Pop a couple in your mouth and enjoy!

The folks and I are hitting up Fogo de Chao and D'Acqua this weekend. While I am pretty sure that nothing can top hunks of tender, red meat, mounted on spears, periodically visiting my table, D'Acqua's menu looks promising, too. We'll see.

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