Tuesday, February 8, 2011

"A Tiger in the Kitchen" launch day: family recipes

Today I'm part of a group who are posting their favorite family recipes to honor our friend Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan, who releases her book, A Tiger in the Kitchen, today.

Cheryl put her talents as a cook and a journalist to good use for the book, learning recipes and family stories from her relatives in Singapore. She has asked us to share a family recipe today in that spirit of family and cooking.

My recipe is a simple one, and one I've shared before. My Nan's Irish Soda Bread is still one of my very favorite recipes and it's one that I learned when I was first starting to cook, back in my tiny college kitchen, with a crappy temperamental and bakeware that had seen finer days.

The first time I made Nan's bread was a complete failure -- but it had nothing to do with the quality of my kitchen. No, in my haste to copy the recipe from the e-mail my aunt had sent me, I had written 450 degrees instead of 350.

Miraculously, the bread wasn't too burnt, just hard as a rock. A big "350" is now scrawled across the top of the recipe in my notebook, so I never forget.

Nan's Irish Soda Bread:
4 c white flour
1/4 c sugar
1 tsp salt
1 heaping tsp baking powder
1/4 stick  butter broken into tiny pieces
optional: 1 c soaked raisins (I never use these -- always had to pick them out as a kid)

1 2/3 c buttermilk
1 egg
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp baking soda

Mix the first 5 ingredients in a mixing bowl. Mix the wet ingredients separately with the cream of tartar and baking soda, then add slowly to the flour mixture.

Knead gently and shape into a large round loaf.

Place on an oiled cookie sheet, cut a 4" X on the top, and brush with beaten egg.

Bake 60-70 mins at 350 F. Cool for as long as you bear to wait (I can usually only wait about 10 minutes!).

Serve with butter and enjoy!

So, raise a glass to Cheryl's success with the book. I'll try to update the post with other family recipes as I find them. (scroll to end of the post)

Go home and cook a meal with your family tonight. (or stop at your favorite locally owned bookstore and pick up Cheryl's book, like I am)

Call your favorite grandparent, aunt or uncle and ask for a family recipe. Share one of your own with your son, daughter, niece or nephew.

I hope I'm fortunate enough to have an adventure similar to Cheryl's with my Korean birth family some day. In 2007, I learned the basics of Korean cooking from the cook at Ae Ran Won home for unwed birthmothers. The stress of everything else going on with my birth family meant I didn't get the chance to cook with my halmonie and ohmma and learn from them. Hopefully I'll get that chance someday.

Update: here's a running list from Twitter of recipes posted so far:


  1. I LOVE the looks of this bread! And the handwritten recipe is priceless. Thanks so much for sharing, Emma -- and for celebrating this day with me! You are awesome...xx

  2. nice post..
    thank's for the information ^_^
    please visit me too :
    check it out

  3. This recipe looks so good and I love the pic of your recipe card - made me feel so included. Thx for the running stream today, I had no idea how to do that - very cool.

  4. lovely this recipe and colorful . good details post of recipe and i think very tested this food . your idea mind blowing i like that... thanks for nice info shared ....

    Romantic Dinner Bruges