Connecting Food, Family and Culture

Lynne Christy Anderson




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Rolling pasta with

my son, Sam.





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These are some of my favorites from the book: 


Makes 6

These are easy and my kids love them—both cooking and eating them!  They go nicely with a stir-fry or any of Xiu Fen’s Shanghai specialties you can find in my book.  Her recipe for winter bamboo, soybeans, gingko nuts, and tofu is amazing. 

2 cups flour

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup water

3 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for frying

1 cup scallions, chopped, white and first half of green part

Salt and freshly ground pepper

     In a medium bowl, combine the flour and salt.  Slowly add the cup of water and, using a wooden spoon, mix the dough until it can be gathered into a ball.  If the dough crumbles, add more water.  If it is too wet, add flour. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead it by folding it end to end, then pressing it down with the heel of your hand and folding it forward.  Repeat for 2 to 3 minutes.  Form the dough into a ball, place it in a bowl, cover with a cloth, and let rest for 10 minutes. 

     On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a large oval, about 9 by 18 inches and ¼ inch thick.  Using a pastry brush, spread the 3 tablespoons of oil over the dough and sprinkle with the chopped scallions, salt, and pepper.  Working from the long end, roll the dough jelly roll-style, and cut crosswise into 6 equal pieces.  On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece to about 8 inches in diameter and ¼ inch thick. 

     In a 10-inch skillet, heat 1-2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat until shimmering.  Add one of the scallion pancakes and fry until the edges are golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.  Turn the pancake over and cook the other side until golden, about 2-3 minutes more.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, cut into quarters, and serve immediately.



Serves 4 for dinner or 6 to 8 as an appetizer

The first time I tried this was when Yasie and her mother served it to me with another Persian favorite, kou kou sabzi, which is in my book.  I remember feeling as though I had been transported to an enchanted Tehran, where Yasie once lived, because I’ve never tasted anything quite like it.  Since then, I’ve made it a number of times for family and friends who immediately ask for the recipe.  It’s quite easy, really no more difficult than making an omelet.  The hardest part is chopping all the herbs, but you can use a food processor like Yasie does.

1 cup cilantro, finely chopped

1 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

1 cup dill, finely chopped

1 cup chives or scallions, including green tops, finely chopped

1/2 cup spinach leaves, washed and finely chopped

4 large eggs, beaten

1/3 cup fine breadcrumbs

1 teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon turmeric

½ teaspoon saffron liquid (recipe follows)

1/4 cup dried fenugreek leaves (optional)

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

3 tablespoons vegetable oil


In a bowl, combine the fresh herbs and spinach.  In another bowl, mix the eggs, breadcrumbs, cinnamon, turmeric, fenugreek, saffron liquid, salt, and pepper.  Pour the egg mixture over the herbs and combine.

     In a large non-stick skillet, heat the oil over medium heat until shimmering.  Spread the oil around the pan to coat the bottom and sides.  Pour the herb mixture into the pan, spreading it evenly with a spoon.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, covered, until the egg is cooked through, about 10 to 12 minutes. 

     To serve, carefully invert onto a serving platter.  Cut into wedges.  Can be served hot or at room temperature.



1 teaspoon saffron

2 ½ tablespoons hot water


     Break up the saffron threads with your fingers.  Add the water and stir.  (This will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator.)



Serves 4 to 6

I’ve tried many versions of this Haitian specialty, typically served on January 1st to celebrate the country’s independence.   None, however, was as delicious as Johanne’s.  She is, after all, a professional chef and knows how to balance a dish, here with the perfect amount of fresh thyme and recao to create a delicately flavored, yet hearty soup.

     And, for you vegetarians, I have made this without meat, for my daughter, Lillian, who hasn’t touched the stuff since she was four.  Although I prefer the version with beef (bring on the steak!), it’s quite good with just the vegetables.  Substitute water or vegetable stock for the beef broth and add the garlic, lime juice and adobo (called for to make the beef stock) to the pot of simmering squash. 


1 ½ pounds beef stewing meat, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 large cloves garlic, minced

Juice of 1 lime, about ¼ cup

1 tablespoon Adobo seasoning*

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 medium butternut squash, about 2 pounds, peeled, seeded, fibers removed, and cut into 2-inch pieces

4-5 sprigs fresh thyme

4-5 sprigs fresh recao * (You may substitute with fresh cilantro.)

1 stalk celery, chopped

3 carrots, chopped

1 cup dried pasta such as rotini, spirelli, or vermicelli broken into one inch pieces

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Marinate the meat in garlic, lime and Adobo seasoning (optional) overnight. 

     Season the meat with salt and pepper.  In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Working in batches, add a few pieces of beef at a time to the pot and cook until lightly browned on all sides, about 5 minutes.  Add more oil between batches if necessary. 

     Return all of the beef to the pot and add enough water to cover by 2 inches.  Bring to a slow simmer. 

     Cover and cook until the beef is tender, about 1 1/2 hours.  Add the butternut squash, thyme, recao, celery and carrots.  Continue to simmer, uncovered, until the vegetables are soft, about 30 minutes.  Remove the pieces of squash from the pot and puree in batches, with a small amount of broth from the soup, until smooth. 

     Pour the batches of squash puree back into the pot of soup.  Simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.  Just before serving, add pasta and cook according to instructions on  package or until the pasta is firm to the bite. 

     Remove recao and thyme sprigs and serve.

*Found in markets specializing in Latino and Caribbean products .  1 ½ teaspoons of ground cumin, ½ teaspoon black pepper, and ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper can be substituted. 



Serves 2 to 3 for dinner or 4 to 6 as a side dish

In the past, whenever I went to Indian restaurants, I’d order the bharta.  I don’t so much anymore because I make it myself, the way Soni does, with garden fresh eggplant, tomatoes, and cilantro.  I love this with her roti, also in my book, as well as the lamb biriyani, tali machi, matur paneer, and halwa she cooked for me. 


5-6 small eggplants (preferably Asian), approximately 3 pounds

2 tablespoons ghee (recipe follows)

1 medium red onion, minced

1 ½  teaspoons whole cumin seed

3 medium-sized fresh tomatoes, coarsely chopped

1-3 teaspoons finely minced Indian jwala* peppers (more or less depending upon the heat intensity you desire)

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped


Preheat oven to 450°F.  Wash eggplant and pat dry with paper towels.  With a small, sharp knife, cut several 1/2 –inch-deep and 1-inch-long gashes into the skin.  Place the eggplant in a shallow baking dish and bake in the middle of the oven until tender and almost falling apart, about 30 minutes.  (The eggplant also can be roasted over a medium flame until soft. Turn frequently so that the skins do not get overly charred.) 

     Transfer the eggplant to a large plate or bowl.  Cut it in half lengthwise and carefully scrape the pulp away from the skin.  Discard the skins.  Coarsely chop the pulp. 

     Meanwhile, in a large, heavy skillet, heat the ghee over medium heat until shimmering.  Add the onion and cumin seed and cook, stirring constantly, until the onions begin to soften, about 5 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and hot peppers and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes begin to soften, about 5 minutes.  Add the eggplant and continue to cook until the eggplant is very soft, about 10 minutes.  If eggplant begins to stick to the pan, a small amount of water may be added.  Season with salt and pepper.  Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with the chopped cilantro. 


*Also known as Indian finger hot peppers.  Found in markets specializing in Indian products.  Jalapenos can be substituted. 



Makes about 1/3 cup

1 stick (1/4 pound) unsalted butter, cut into pieces


In a heavy saucepan over very low heat, melt the butter.  Remove from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes.

Skim the foam from the top and dicard.  Pour the melted butter slowly into a container, discarding the milk solids in the bottom of the pan.  Ghee can be stored, tightly covered, for 1 month at room temperature and up to 6 months in the refrigerator. 



Serves 4

When I first tested this recipe, my husband’s enthusiastic response was, “Wow!  What country was that from?” Aurora said they’d eat this at least once a week in Manila, where she’s from. I can see why.  The dish is great for a picnic because it’s just as good served at room temperature as it is hot.  And, for you non-meat eaters, Aurora sometimes makes this with tofu.  (Adjust cooking time.) 


1 cup cane vinegar* (cider or rice vinegar may be substituted)

1/3 cup dark soy sauce*

1/3 cup whole black peppercorns

¼ cup finely chopped garlic

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 ½ pounds assorted chicken legs, thighs, wings, and split breasts


In a large bowl, mix vinegar, soy sauce, peppercorns, and garlic.  Add the chicken and toss gently so that all of the meat is coated with the marinade.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.  

     Remove chicken from marinade (reserving the liquid).  In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Working in batches, add a few pieces of chicken at a time to the pot and cook until lightly browned on all sides, about 5 minutes.  Add more oil between batches if necessary. 

     Return all of the chicken to the pot and cover with the reserved liquid from the marinade. Bring to a gentle simmer. Cover and cook until the meat is done, about 30 minutes. 

    Can be served immediately or, as is typical in the Philippines, the dish can be refrigerated overnight, reheated, and served the next day. 

*Found in markets specializing in Asian products



Serves 4

I just love the concept of this dish:   toss a piece of fresh fish and some vegetables into a pot,  sprinkle with fresh herbs and lemon juice, simmer, and in twenty minutes you have a dinner that tastes like something you’d get in a very posh restaurant.  In Brazil, Liz and her grandmother always used surubin, a firm white fish.  Here, she uses swordfish, but something like halibut, snapper, even cod could be used.  I think it would also be delicious with shrimp, even cherrystone clams, as long as you cooked the vegetables ahead so as not to overcook the shellfish.  If you don’t like cilantro, try basil.  If you’re out of lemons, use a lime.  It’s a dish that would lend itself nicely to variation, so be creative. 

     In Brazil, this is served with a puree made of toasted yucca flour, which is detailed in my book.  You could also serve it with rice or even just a crusty loaf of French bread to sop up all the wonderful broth.   


1 ½ pounds swordfish or other firm white fish such as halibut or monkfish, cut into 1-inch thick steaks or fillets

¼ cup, plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

1 small red onion, cut into very thin rings

4 plum tomatoes, cut into thin wedges

½ bunch cilantro, leaves chopped, (about ½ cup)

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

3 whole scallions, chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


In a medium-sized Dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot fitted with a cover, add the ¼ cup of olive oil.  Arrange the vegetables in layers by first placing half of the sliced onions in the bottom of the pot, followed by half of the tomatoes, and finally, half of the chopped cilantro.  Spread the fish over this.  Sprinkle with the lemon juice.    

     Cover fish with remaining onions, tomatoes, and cilantro.  Sprinkle scallions and garlic over vegetables and drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper.   

     Cook, covered, on medium-high heat until the liquid from the fish and vegetables begins to boil.  Reduce heat to medium and cook until fish is done, about 10 minutes.  (The cooking time will depend on the thickness of the fish.  Allow for approximately 10 minutes per 1-inch thickness of fish.) 



Serves 8

Not to be confused with the Mexican dish of the same name, Salvadoran quesadilla is a slightly sweet, rich cake that I love to eat in the morning with a cup of coffee or in the afternoon, with my tea.  This is the easiest cake in the world to prepare—only one bowl and a mixing spoon needed!  If you like to bake with kids, here’s your recipe.


1 cup heavy cream

½ cup ricotta cheese

1 large egg

¼ cup cream cheese, softened

1 tablespoon freshly grated parmesan cheese

¾ cup sugar

1 ½ cups harina de arroz (rice flour)*

¼ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon sesame seeds


Adjust oven rack to center and preheat the oven to 350° F.

     Mix the heavy cream, ricotta, egg, cream cheese, and parmesan in a large bowl until smooth.  Add the sugar and mix well.  In a separate bowl, mix the rice flour, salt, and baking soda.  Add this to the cream mixture and mix just until the ingredients are incorporated.  Spread it into a lightly greased 9-inch cake pan and sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Bake until the cake springs back when touched in the center, about 30 minutes.  Let stand for 10 minutes. 

     Can be served slightly warm or at room temperature. 

*Found in the ethnic cooking sections of large supermarkets and in markets specializing in Caribbean and Latino products. 


If you’d like to try more of the recipes from Breaking Bread, buy the book now!

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Breaking Bread

Recipes and Stories from Immigrant Kitchens

California Studies in Food and Culture, 29








Lynne Christy Anderson 2010

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