How does one start a blog post during a worldwide pandemic? I guess you take a deep breath, and take it one step, or in this case one delicious bite of Challah bread, at a time.
The last time I posted, I was in my master’s degree program, in Boston, doing long distance marriage with my husband. That was three years ago.
Tonight, my 7-month old daughter is sleeping soundly in her crib, while my 1-year old pup is laying at my feet, and my husband is playing a video game. How quickly life changes.
The truth is, I have so many posts that I have been yearning to work on these last three years, but I have never found the time. I am so excited to share my stockpile of treasures with you now!
So, to really get into this properly, we have to go back many years, to when my love affair with Challah bread began – high school.
At a ridiculously easy distance of 15 minutes from my house, a tiny Jewish bakery graced our city. Full of delicious homemade meals, the temptations in that little shop were difficult to overcome.
Now, living in South Florida, we had the luxury of finding decent challah bread in most supermarkets. I had supermarkets just around the corner from my home, each offering their own version. But no, I wasn’t satisfied with just any Challah. It was worth that extra drive to have the fresh-baked, dreamy, dense real thing.
When I went off to college, I realized that much of the world in general outside of Florida was not privileged with access to stellar Challah. I learned to make Challah bread for the same reason I learned to cook many other dishes. I was craving something excellent, something delicious, and I couldn’t find it anywhere.
It took me three years and countless tries to find a Challah recipe I was happy with. One night, frustrated with my studies, and cautiously optimistic about yet another Challah recipe, I discovered a treasure. This recipe is a modified version from, wouldn’t you know it, an adaptation of Brizel’s bakery recipe in Jerusalem, from an old article many years ago. I like to make the holiday version, with raisins and rum, for a little extra love.
When I tell you that it has been a over a decade since we first tried this, and we’ve never bothered to look at another recipe again, I mean it. It is dense, delicious, soft (and stays that way for days). It has been vetted and devoured by many friends and family members. Most days, I won’t bake this – because I know I’ll eat it.
To this day, whenever I bake this bread, my husband and I stop to share in the delicious scent that we both agree “smells like home”. In these trying times, I hope this recipe can be a source of comfort and blessing to you and yours, and that you enjoy it as much as we have.
Another life change, another blog post. Remember some time ago (oh, say, two and half years?) when we exulted in the joy of my finally being in the same city as my husband? Well, here we are, and a few amazing coincidences later, we are back on the long-distance bandwagon. Honestly, I thought this would be a brutal experience. But, the combined effect of wonderful people, an incredible new city, and a truly great grad school program (did I mention I started my master’s degree?) – and I can only report happiness. But, here’s the real point of excitement – I finally have some time to post about delicious goodies!
I have to say, I’m so grateful for the friends that have guided my way around the Boston food scene. From dim sum, to coffee, to bubble tea, to blow-your-mind cannolis – there is so much goodness to experience. And it is impossible not to be inspired. That is one of the best and worst parts about it – do you know how difficult it is to be perpetually inspired, but not have any time to post? Today, we are going to begin our journey into an extensive backlog of recipes that I have been preparing for months.
You might know by now that I was born in Cuba – but what you probably don’t know yet is that my husband is a true Southern man, born and raised in the beautiful state of Georgia. I, too, spent part of my childhood in Georgia, and I’ve made it a point to find the best Southern recipes around, including his family’s breakfast sausage gravy. Now, I’ll share the recipe for the gravy in a future post, but today we are going to cover one of my personal obsessions: gravy biscuits.
Anyone who grew up in the South will tell you – biscuits are not just one recipe. They are a category of recipes. There are biscuits for tea, biscuits for gravy, biscuits for jam. There are sweet biscuits, flaky biscuits, buttery biscuits, savory biscuits. Because biscuits are not about just the biscuit – they about what they are eaten with. For years now, I have dedicated myself to a search for the “just right” gravy biscuit. Gravy biscuits can’t be too sweet to go with the gravy, or too crumbly to go against its weight. You need the perfect partner for the creamy, meaty gravy (I know, I’m taunting you) that will go on top. After an extensive investigation, I put together a recipe that has become our household go-to. It comes together easily, but it is most definitely “just right.” As always, if you find any delicious changes or modifications, or have any suggestions, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!
At the risk of being way too early for this, I honestly can’t help myself. Today was our first cool morning of the year, the first vestige of the oncoming Fall season. Oh, I know. You’re not ready for summer to be over yet, please Damaris, don’t talk about it. Oh, but I can’t help it! My heart is swelling with the thought of smoky air and a kaleidoscopic world of multicolor leaves. To think that I will soon be able to decorate the house with glass pumpkins and cute scarecrows, to know that our Fall vegetables will bloom in the garden… it is magical. So, here is my daring entrance into the Fall season, even though it seems the rest of the world is not quite as fond of it as I am.
My husband and I have been making an effort in the last year to continue our course toward habitually eating well. Mind you, I refuse to put anything in my mouth that I will not absolutely relish. I am a mere 5’2″ and I just don’t have the calories to waste. Here is one of my favorite creations – the Trickster Treat Double Chocolate Muffins. Why “Trickster,” you ask? Well, if I could ask you to make this recipe blindfolded, try it, and then tell me what you thought was in it – boy, would you be tricked. To prevent some major potential fire hazards, I’ll just spoil the trick.
This recipe has no oil, no butter, and is made with whole wheat flour, flax seed meal, and bran flakes. I promise – one of these, and you will be full for a good, long while. But here’s the real trick – these are tastier than a lot of the regular chocolate muffins I’ve had. You’re welcome.
Wow, life has been crazy recently. One weekend involving two 8 hour drives (and two audiobooks), 3 days of feeling dead-to-the-world tired, several cups of tea, and 1 honey oat bran loaf later – I am back to reality. I don’t know about you guys, but I can smell Fall in the air outside. The crisp notes of cooler times coming our way, the hint of slightly wet leaves and grass, the tinge of something reminiscent of smoke in the air. I loooooove the Fall. And right now I am just aching inside for Fall festivals, pumpkin picking, and jumping around in piles of leaves.
That being said, if you’re a Fall lover like me, this loaf is one way to sneakily begin to celebrate the arrival of the season. It’s got the warm touch of Fall dishes, while still being enough like a regular loaf bread to be acceptable in the summer. And, along with it is the recipe for one of the easiest (and most delicious) things you can ever make: butter. Seriously, ten minutes, tops. And it’s sooo good. Plus, it’s actually kind of fun.
Grab a mug of cocoa (or lemonade, depending on your favorite season) and snuggle up on the couch to enjoy a slice of this loaf. It’s got a smooth glaze around it’s edges that will simply make your mouth water. If you come across good variations, changes, subtractions, or additions, let me know! I’d love to hear how they turn out!
Here’s a short story for you, my friends. Once upon a time, there was a girl who searched to the ends of the Earth for a dinner roll recipe that would suit her needs. She found many different varieties…some buttery, some hard, some yeasty, some crusty. But no recipe in all the land gave her exactly what she wanted: long-lasting fluffiness and perfect texture, delicious flavor, and easy technique. One day, when this girl was supposed to be taking a break from blog recipes, she accidentally created a magical recipe that was everything she had ever hoped for. She tested it again, and again it came out perfect. “It can’t be!” she cried. And she proceeded to stuff her face with bread.
Guys. That was based on a true story. I may have never mentioned this before – but bread is one of my very favorite things on this planet. I am extremely picky about it, and it is very often my favorite part of the meal at restaurants. There is just nothing like bread fresh out of the oven. Nope. So, after years of looking for a rolls recipe that could be enjoyed for dinner, but then also enjoyed for the rest of the week with breakfast and lunch – I’ve found it. And, even though I was supposed to be taking a break… I just have to share it.
This recipe is very tweak-able. If you want sweet bread, add some more honey. If you want cheesy bread, add your favorite grated cheese. If you want herbs, add some herbs. Have a party with it! And let me know how your tweaks turned out! I’d love to hear about some variations on this recipe.
So, last week my hard drive failed. Boy, did I learn my lesson in backing up everything. In fact, if you’re sitting at your computer, and your pile of un-backed up data is lying in wait of some unexpected disaster (such as hard drive failure…or a tornado, who knows?), go back it up right now. Seriously, I’ll understand. On a wonderfully happy note, ASUS (a company I now have a crush on…is that possible?) not only repaired my out-of-warranty laptop (for free!), but they did it and got it back to me within days! Days!!
In celebration, I decided to make muffins. Oh yes, tea and muffins. Glorious, glorious muffins. Have you ever put your mouth up to something and, quite literally, inhaled in order to just get it in your mouth? That’s what happened to me with the batter for these muffins. It’s one recipe I’ve been experimenting with for a while and, while it is most certainly not a Wellness Wednesday recipe, I just felt the need to share it with you. I love oats, muffins, and good snacks for pairing with tea time. These muffins are all that and more.
Seriously, I’ve paired them with meals, I’ve eaten them for breakfast, and I’ve enjoyed them with my tea and coffee. Now, you must be saying to yourself… “Wow, she eats a lot of muffins.” It’s…probably true. I’ve made these multiple times over the last month – and I’m not easy to please in the muffin department. You’ll understand when you try them. You’ll especially understand if you try them with a little bit of butter and a side of tea. As per usual, I’ve included my personal tea choice for them. Enjoy!