Thursday, January 12, 2012

City Girl Country has moved

Catch City Girl Country is now on Wordpress. Follow us at

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Hola Mexico!

Laura Anhalt’s New Cookbook is Drawing Travelers to Homeland

Laura Anhalt moved to Buffalo, NY from Mexico City 11 years ago. En route to Canada with her husband and children, she discovered the City of Good Neighbors and decided to stay, raise her family and develop her English writing skills.

Last year she published her first cookbook Mexican Flavors: A Journey Inspired by the Folklore and Traditions of Mexican Cuisines. Over 300 pages are chock-full of ancient recipes, beautiful full-color photographs, and stories that make it more than just a collection of dishes to serve at the dinner table; it really is a love story to family, tradition and culture.

“I found it was hard to write about the past, especially family traditions but when I started to write, I realized these stories needed to be told to my four children," Anhalt said. "Food is apart of those tales.”

Starting with four different, canvas-bound journals, one for each of her children, Anhalt began Mexican Flavors with handwritten notes. From a free-spirited daughter, to a son that is proud of his heritage, and a youngest child that is a traveler like her, Anhalt picked recipes she knew they would have a strong connection to.

“One of my daughters is like a flower, gentle. I have a son that has a strong connection to the motherland, he tends to find Mexico in everyone; and he likes chiles, tacos and salsa, so of course they can be found in the book,” Anhalt said. “My youngest likes and finds excitement in new culture and food.”

Black Mole Poblano with Chicken or Turkey is a dish for All Saints Day; Rice with Vanilla, Fried Mashed Bananas, Raisins, and Rum for a side dish; Red Salsa made in a Molcajete; Avocado Stuffed with Pork Rind Salad, and also find a recipe for a Mexican Wedding Cake under Sweet Delicacies and Desserts.

Foodies, cooks and those that love Mexican food and culture aren’t the only ones picking up Mexican Flavors. After a family friend, who is the former Secretary of Tourism in Mexico, got a hold of the hardcover book, she showed it to former colleagues. From one hand to another, a copy of the book will soon be found in every Mexican embassy in the world.

“Some of these recipes are 2,000 years old; you flip the tortillas the very same way today,” Anhalt said. “Combined with modern day customs, Mexican Flavors is about faith and humanity, and now it has the potential to touch lives.

“It’s not bound by just food or tradition, but family stories that travel . . . I am so happy.”

Monday, December 5, 2011

Festa dei Sette Pesci–Translated

On Christmas Eve a fish head reared its ugly head, until I became of age to make a dish to pass at the family party. Historically, in a traditional Italian family, young women do not receive heirlooms until they marry and recipes are handed to them gradually.

Being an independent signorina, I’ve never felt comfortable with the former and because of my profession and constant entertaining; family recipes have gradually been turned over to me throughout the years.

Besides the traditional sauce recipe that did not need to be touched, the Feast of the Seven Fishes required some tweaking. Below is the Americanized, third generation version of my family’s traditional Christmas Eve dinner (or at least one piece of it).

Fish Stew

3 tbsp olive oil
1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 onion, chopped
2 tsp salt
4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
¾ teaspoon dried Indian crushed red pepper flakes
¼ cup tomato paste
1 (28-z) can diced tomatoes in juice
1-½ cups dry white wine
32 oz fish stock
1 bay leaf
1 lb Little Neck clams, scrubbed
1 lb mussels, scrubbed, debearded
1 lb uncooked large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1-½ lbs assorted firm-fleshed fish fillets of halibut and salmon, cut into 2 -inch chunks
Old Bay seasoning

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the fennel, onion, shallots, and salt and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and ¾ teaspoon of red pepper flakes, and sauté 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste. Add tomatoes with their juices, wine, fish stock and bay leaf. Cover and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until the flavors blend, about 30 minutes.

It may smell a little too alcoholic but the wine will burn off.

Add the clams and mussels to the cooking liquid. Cover and cook until the clams and mussels begin to open, about 5 minutes. De veining shrimp can be a bit of a process. With one foot on the garbage bin and the other maneuvering a paring knife (debatable, but works for me) over the sink as you remove the veins.  Season the shrimp with the Old Bay and remove the skin from the fish. Add the seafood. Simmer gently until the fish and shrimp are just cooked through, and the clams are completely open, stirring gently, about 5 minutes longer (discard any of the shell fish that did no open). Season the soup, to taste, with salt.

At a recent meeting of the Cooka Nostra of Western New York (a well known cookbook club) member Julia Lavarnway brought her Southern Baked Corn, a dish that’s a favorite at her family’s table (and now her Buffalo, NY friends).

Southern Baked Corn

8.5 oz Jiffy corn muffin mix
17 oz can of cream corn
17 oz can of whole corn (undrained)
2 eggs beaten
8 oz sour cream (fat free)
1 cup of melted butter

Mix everything in a 9x13 (a 10x10 also works) lightly greased pan. Bake on 350 for 1 hr 15 min. or until golden brown on top.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Most Unique Beer in the World

Unique flavors of vintage port, the finest cognac and layers of caramel, sherry and maple make-up this rich, dark liquid. Lingering tastes of cherry and vanilla also make the taste buds tingle. This isn’t your usual fall-time beverage, instead it’s the epitome of Samuel Adams brewing known as their coveted Utopias®.

Utopias® is the world’s strongest naturally fermented beer made, at 56 proof. Served at room temperature, in a snifter, Utopias® offer a flavor unlike any other beer; it’s commonly referred to as “extreme beer”.

Courtesy of Samuel Adams
This 2009 release has been years in the making. Perfected in Buffalo Trace barrels at their award-winning distillery by the same name. The 200-year old brewery selected a blend of batches, some having aged up to 16 years and in the barrel room of their Boston Brewery, in a variety of woods; with the latest batch having spent time in Portuguese muscatel finishing casks, where a flavorful, slightly fruity brew with a sweet, malty flavor reminiscent of a port, was born.

Utopias® come from the ultimate beers of Triple Bock and Millenium, but taken to a new level. Brewed using a variety of malted barley, blended with scotch and bourbon for up to a decade.

Utopias® makes a perfect after dinner drink, if you can find it. Samuel Adams Utopias® was released in limited quantities. According to ChowHound, Whole Foods sells the delicious drink in its gold cask for $189.95 plus tax. To find a batch near you, enter your zip code here.

Malt Varieties: Two-row pale Harrington and Metcalfe, Caramel 60

Hop Variety: Hallertau Mittelfruh, Spalt and Tettnager

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Perfect Day for a Picnic

In the current issue of edible Buffalo, I deconstructed the perfect picnic. The great thing about this summertime cuisine ritual, is for the most part, there's little muss and no fuss. However, Mother Nature doesn't always cooperate with social calendars.

What do to when the cloud Gods open the skies, and meals have to be moved inside? A modified version of the movable feast.

A group in Western New York recently gathered for a cookbook club (aka Cooka Nostra) meeting. Garden fresh tomato and basil, and fresh mozzarella salad; corn on the cobb with home-enhanced butter, fruit skewers and yogurt dip; Chicago-style hot dogs and homemade apple pie, were all on the menu.

Butter mixed with sea salt, chives, garlic, lime zest and a touch of juice, gave farm-fresh corn a kick. The butter did have to be set in the fridge, since we were in the middle of a heat wave.

Blogger Lucinda Scala Quinn recently published her Chicago dog recipe in Living and it came in handy when searching for something to make inside.

Eating out of the garden is a summertime perk

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Dishing Up Buffalo

Every summer, hundreds of culinary samples are served on the streets of downtown Buffalo, NY by the area’s best restaurants.

Taste of Buffalo, sponsored by TOPS, is the largest two-day food festival in the United States, according to the Taste of Buffalo website. This year, close to half-a-million patrons roamed Delaware Avenue and Niagara Square, in the July heat, to get a taste of WNY’s premier outdoor festival.

Common vendors made their presence known, but there were also a few new faces. Sakura Sushi (3719 Union Road, Cheektowaga 14225) was serving both traditional and contemporary dishes, including the freshest dumplings in town. Fresh, thin skin on the outside led way to a chicken center. Dipping sauce was not even necessary. These little balls of goodness were perfect on their own.

Healthy and delicious

The mid-July heat did not stop foodies from tasting the Beer Cheese soup at Eddie Ryan’s of Lancaster. Made with local cheddar cheese and “cheap” beer, just a sample was a hearty dish and the perfect way to settle into an afternoon of eating. Thick and creamy, there was a hint of beer but cheese lovers won’t be able to get enough of this hot dish–no matter what time of year.

Ed Beck of Williamsville, NY can't get enough of Beer Cheese soup

The closest Dinosaur Bar-B-Que may be in Rochester, New York but a summer food festival would not be complete without BBQ. Rows of ribs, coated in Dinosaur’s well-known sauce, was the perfect backdrop to eat a mini BBQ sandwich. Pulled pork, fresh off the barbie, drenched in traditional BBQ sauce and on a fresh bun.

Nothing says summer like the smell of BBQ

The day would not have been complete without dessert. Bravo! may be a chain but their crème brulee is a creamy homemade custard with fresh vanilla bean and caramelized sugar, and uniquely worth the calories.

A sweet touch

Local wines, on crushed ice, were served up at the Icy Sangria Wine Slush tent. A chillaxing way to end a hot and full day.

Local, chilled wines draw a crowd

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Set to the background of Blues music a group of women (and one man) recently gathered to re-create the famed Dinosaur BBQ cookbook. With their individual twists, a multi-course meal was served.

Laura and the Dinosaur BBQ Cookbook: An American Roadhouse

A Thai green curried chili that was the result of cabbage having soaked overnight, spiked with cilantro and flavored with Mae Ploy Sauce, on hot dogs, received praise: “I’m incorporating this salad into my repertoire,” Lynn said. But it wasn’t the “winning” dish.

Slaw and wieners

Mississippi-Style Catfish Strips with Bacon-Fennel BBQ Sauce captured the attention and palates of dinner goers. Dinosaur BBQ originally created the dish for a fiery food show but some of the ingredients were altered. Although it happened to be Lent when Dino BBQ developed the recipe, I don’t think the Pope would mind having taken liberty with it. In the end, it was sinfully good.

The Fish

1-pound catfish fillets

1 egg slightly beaten

½ cup cornmeal

½ cup flour

Old Bay Seasoning

3 cups vegetable oil

Slice the catfish into ¾ inch wide by 5 to 6 inches long. Toss in a bowl along with the egg. Cover and refrigerate for several hours.

Line a cookie sheet with wax paper. Fill a bowl with a mix of cornmeal and flour. Pour the oil into the skillet. Slide the oil-filled skillet onto a front burner and get it heating over medium heat until hot but not smoking.

Next, line up the cookie sheet, the cornmeal mixture, and the bowl of marinating catfish. Pluck the catfish from the marinade, drop it in the cornmeal mix, and roll it around in the mixture until coated. Then move the coated strips to the wax-lined pan.

Once the catfish strips are breaded, fry them in the hot oil in batches without crowding the pan. Cook, flipping once, for a total of 4 to 5 minutes until nicely brown. Drain on paper towels. Feeds 3 to 4.

The Sauce

8 strips regular-slice bacon

1 heaping cup slivered red onion

1 heaping cup slivered fennel

Pinch each of sea salt and fresh ground pepper

1 cup Dinosaur BBQ Creole Honey Mustard Sauce

Juice of ¼ lemon

Fry the bacon over medium-high heat just until crisp and brown. Pull it out of the pan, drain it on paper towels, crumble and set aside.

Pour off all but 3 to 4 tablespoons of the bacon fat in the pan. Dump in the onions and fennel, seasoning with a pinch of salt and pepper. Sizzle over medium heat until brown and caramelized. Stir in the sauce and lemon juice.

Pour the sauce over the fish

Back to the meal

Beer was on tap and so was a Trilogy Red wine from Black Willow in Olcott, NY

Ending the meal with Julie’s Peanut Butter Pie with an Oreo crust (she used graham crackers and Cool Whip instead of Heavy Whipped Cream) was a perfect conclusion to a summer BBQ.