“My heart is in America, but my soul is in Germany,” said Renate Wilhem, owner of The Morning Glory Inn, a cozy Bed & Breakfast located in the northern wine region of Long Island, New York. On an unusually cold night this winter, we drove 2 1/2 hours east to find ourselves in a part of the state best known as the escape of choice for sun-starved New Yorkers. We soon discovered that two short ferry rides to the north of the Hamptons put us in the middle of New England wine country. more »
Easter in a bun04.16.11
Ever since we moved to Clinton, a year and a half ago, we’ve been savoring the perks of living in the heart of the city. We not only walk to work, but to a butcher shop, spice market, flea market and fishmonger all located within a 5-block radius. But one of the most treasured discoveries has been the “Chinese Bun”. Ming Du, formerly known as Ying Du, is a Chinese bakery located on 38th street and 7th Avenue, and a neighborhood goldmine. Some days, when I get my breakfast on the go, a quick stop gives me a glimpse into the early morning buzz of Chinatown. When I place my order at the counter, I always notice a devoted clientele stationed throughout the restaurant, ready to start the day with noodles, hot broth, the daily paper and sweet milk tea.
However, the main reason G and I visit Ming Du are for the assortment of their breakfast pastries. They are puffy, golden spectacles filled with red bean, pineapple, egg cream or onion scallion, making them one of the most affordable breakfasts in the city. A bun plus a small cup of tea usually sets you back about $1.35.
Which brings me to the main point of my story. Lately, I’ve been craving my habichuelas con dulce, that unique Easter dish from the Dominican Republic made from cooking red beans, coconut milk and sweet potato. With the red bean bun from Ming Du, now I can get the sweet and creamy flavors of my habichuela in a slice from the Far East right down the street.
For me, weekends are for sleeping in, seeing friends, catching up on life and most importantly, indulging in the luxury of time. Creating elaborate breakfast dishes is such a treat that I sometimes enjoy the process more than the actual tasting (ahem, NOT). Mangú con huevo, the quintessential breakfast dish from the Dominican Republic is the perfect case in point. Mangú, or mashed green plantains, is made by boiling green plantains and crushing them with olive oil and butter until they’re soft and creamy. In the D.R., mangú is typically served with fried cheese, fried salami (a local sausage), sunny side eggs and avocado. The end result is a feast of textures: the smoothness of the egg yolk balances the density of the plantain, the cheese and salami add a salty crisp and the avocado a cool refuge for your taste buds.
As I prepared this beloved breakfast dish on a recent Saturday, I was reminded of a drive I took with the family through the Dominican countryside, as we made our way to the mountains of Jarabacoa. The morning was rainy and fresh, and we stopped at the breezy roadside restaurant Típico Bonao which lures locals from all over the country to start the day with this dish and an aromatic cup of Dominican coffee. Mangú con huevo brings back this Dominican love, and nourishes the spirit as well as the belly.
Mangú con Huevo Serves 2
2 green plantains
“queso de hoja” cheese (optional)
Chop the ends off each plantain. Make slits throughout the plantain, running the tip of your knife through the length of the fruit. Chop the plantains into 1″ chunks. Fill a pot with water and boil the plantain chunks for about 45 minutes.
While the plantains cook, thinly slice the onion and place the slivers in a bowl with 1 tablespoons of white vinegar, olive oil and salt. Stir these around until the onion gets covered and let it rest.
Check if the plantains are ready by piercing them with a fork. They should be tender when cooked. They will also be easy to peel. Remove their skin and place the chunks in a deep bowl. Pour a 1/4 cup of cooking liquid, a drizzle of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of butter and salt and start to mash with a masher or fork. Work through the pieces, alternating with the liquid, olive oil and butter, until you achieve your desired consistency.
Working quickly, pan fry the onions in a drizzle of olive oil and pour over the mangú. Cover with aluminum foil to keep warm. Next toss the ham, and fry the eggs sunny side up, on a non-stick pan. You can also deep fry the queso de hoja for an authentic latin kick and slice up some avocados on the side. Serve the mangú with the onions, eggs and ham. Eat immediately!
When it comes to oatmeal, I’m all peace and love. I welcome all kinds of oats into my pantry, I don’t discriminate. Sometimes it’s steel cut oats that grace my breakfast table with their texture and nuttiness, leaving their chewy remnants on my copper pot; other times instant is best (especially on dark mornings when my cool sheets hold me captive and I end up rushing out the door in a frenzy). One thing is for sure, though, when it comes to oatmeal, simple is best (none of that peaches and cream, maple and brown sugar stuff). Using plain oats lets me dress up my bowl in a different “outfit” every day. Because my oatmeal, like me, thrives on variety, one day it’ll be a conservative affair, with cinnamon, dollops of honey and a few scattered raisins; and another it’ll be a wild child, spiked with mango, coconut flakes, granola and drizzled with dulce de leche.
Whether you’re an oatmeal virgin or oatmeal pro, here’s a latin-ized interpretation to put a smile on your face and keep you going straight into Spring.
makes 2 servings
1 cup of oats (preferably quick cook)
2 cups of liquid (milk, water or a mixture of both)
dulce de leche
Heat liquid and oats in pot to a boil. Meanwhile, slice half of the banana into very thin slivers (this will give your oats a creamy consistency, I picked up this technique at a favorite blog I follow here), and add to pot once it starts to boil. Now, stir mixture briskly with a wooden spoon, until all of the fruit has dissolved into the oats. If you like your oatmeal thicker, cook a few more minutes or remove from heat now. Add your toppings.