(62) Grenada – Chicken Stew

We are back in the Caribbean visiting the islands of Grenada. Grenada is made up of one larger, main island and surrounding smaller islands. It is also known as the “spice isle” due to the abundance of spice plantations on the main island. Some of these spices include allspice, nutmeg, turmeric, bay leaves, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger. Nutmeg is the most abundant here and is even featured on the country’s flag. Rum is another famous export of this mighty Caribbean country, that being said it is safe to say they know how to make a mean fruity rum drink (my drink of choice). This country is additionally known for its stunning beaches, beautiful botanical gardens, and refreshing waterfalls.

Source: Sandals.com (carma sumral/Shutterstock.com)

The cuisine of Grenada as one might expect is full of spice and local produce. Seafood and various farmed meats are often included in meals as well. The national dish of Grenada is oil down, a very ambitious and traditional dish that includes several ingredients I couldn’t get my hands on such as breadfruit, pig tails, and taro leaves. I opted out to make a chicken stew inspired by a traveler’s visit where they ate this in a Grenadian’s home. The recipe can be found here.

The meal was pretty straight forward and allowed for me to multitask while it simmered away. It’s great to have those meals where you just throw all the ingredients together in a pot and voila you’ve got a meal! I had a difficulty time removing the skins fully from the thighs, but I feel it gives the broth a little more flavor.

YAY another amazing dish! This meal was insanely savory, delicious, and well-seasoned. There was a nice sweetness coming through with the ketchup and caramel. Although my dish came out a little more stew-like than the recipe it allowed us to appreciate a spicy and comforting broth that is by far the best broth I have ever had! Of course the chicken was fall off the bone tender and melted in your mouth.

We highly recommend this dish and rate it 9/10. We hope you try this one and let us know how it goes!

Vietnamese Coffee Flan

Once again I have a bonus recipe for you! I couldn’t help myself when I saw this coffee flan recipe and thought I NEEDED it in my life.. you might want it in your life too 😉

Vietnamese flan as you could have easily guessed is a French-inspired dish that came to be from French colonization. The true origin is from the Roman Empire due to their domestication of the chicken and conquering most of Europe. Using methods that the Greeks used, they adopted egg baking techniques in order to create the first flan.

France and Spain were two main countries that cherished their flan and added their own signature to the dish. The French refer to their flan as crème caramel and prefer to only use milk over cream with their preparation. In Spain, flado (or flat cake) was very popular and they were the first to add the caramel sauce to the base. The first flado dates back to medieval times when large quantities of eggs and dairy was combined together to make a custard. From Spain it traveled to Mexico, where they created the several variations of flan- coffee, coconut, and chocolate (to name a few).

So you will need to be patient for this one.. as tempting as it is to try it early it’s very important to let it set in the fridge to chill for the recommended 8 hours to insure it has set properly and fully cooled. I found this recipe to make my flan

We really enjoyed this one, however I was unable to get it to flip over and have the caramel running down the sides like the pictures you typically see (I had to cut slices 😅). The instant coffee was a nice and simple way to infuse the flavor into the flan making it taste similar to a coffee ice cream (so yummy!). This is another recipe I could see myself making in the future and share with others that have never had the decadent flan.

Off to Grenada for our next recipe, see you there!

Vietnam Day 4 – Caramel Shaking Beef and Asian Cucumber Salad

Hey guys welcome to our final Vietnamese entrée. Today I made shaking beef with an Asian cucumber salad. Shaking beef is a traditional meal that also has French influence. It can be mixed with various vegetables or without like this rendition. I followed Jet Tila’s cookbook 101 Asian Dishes You Need to Cook Before You Die to make this super simple yet incredibly delicious dish. Another great thing about both the salad and beef is that there were minimal ingredients required and it was done in less than 30 minutes! That is my kind of meal!

You can find the recipe for the cucumber salad here.

It is key to cut the beef thin and not to skimp on the garlic (but that goes without saying). Once your wok/fry pan is hot you “shake” the pan to constantly mix and cook the meat. Jet suggested serving the meat with a slice of baguette or French bread to absorb the juices of the meat.. we listed and boy was he on the money there!

This was the tastiest and ironically the simplest out of the bunch we made for Vietnam. The meat was very savory and tender. The cucumber salad was very refreshing and actually paired well with the meat. The bread soaked up of the liquid goodness on the plate and left us craving more. This meal proves that you don’t need all the fancy gadgets or ingredients to make an amazing meal. We thought it was worthy of a 9/10!

Next week we travel to the tropical Grenada to serve up a highly rated meal.

Vietnam Day 3 – Bánh Xèo

I have been very excited to try this dish. I have watched several videos and feel ready to tackle it. I am concerned I won’t get the right crispy texture of the crepe, but time will tell.

Hailing from central Vietnam these fancy crepes are usually filled with prawns and pork along with various vegetables. To make the crepe you use a combination of rice flour, turmeric powder, and water. Bánh xèo literally translates to “sizzling cake” which is what you should hear as it is cooking in the pan. As it cooks you add in your filling and once it gets to the desired crispiness you fold it over and serve it with greens, herbs, and a dipping sauce.

Unfortunately we did not hear the sizzle that was expected and after SEVERAL attempts to change the batter consistency and remake the batter with my gluten free flour we could not make this special masterpiece. What we had created was more soft and chewy textured “thing” that was hints of turmeric flavor. We could not fold our crepe because it wanted to break and tried it as an open faced dish. Disappointed and extremely frustrated I picked at our final result not enjoying the textures I was experiencing in my mouth. So it is safe to say this was another failed recipe that we will remake in the future with hopefully more success. I will not share the recipe I had gone by because who knows maybe it was poor interpretation of the instructions. Let us know if you have a go-to recipe that is bullet proof for us to try.

It is safe to say our next recipe was extremely successful and delicious! Stay tuned my faithful foodies

Vietnam Day 2 – Bún Bò Xả Ớt

On our second day in Vietnam we made another traditional dish known as bún bò xả ot. This dish translates to beef with lemongrass and chili and is refreshing to eat in the heat of the summer. I opted to try some pork I had bought since I would be using beef another time this week. The recipe Ian followed can be found here.

Ian thought the dish was straightforward and an easy one to make during the week. He substituted crushed red pepper flakes instead of the chilis since we could not buy fresh ones at the store. He felt the amount of salt that was asked for made the cucumbers a little too salty.

We thought this dish was delicious! There was a strong presence of ginger and lemongrass with every bite which was well-balanced by the cucumber. The light fish broth was very good and helped keep the dish from being too spicy. It was a hair too salty for us (which is saying something coming from Ian!) but overall had good flavor and was a unique dish.

We rated it 7.5/10, it might have been higher with beef but I doubt it. Next we will attempt to make the Vietnamese crepe banh xeo.. to find out if we were successful or not stay tuned!

(61) Vietnam Day 1 – Pho

Hello guys welcome to Vietnam! I have been very excited to spend a week here ever since my list was made. I LOVE Vietnamese food and knew I would enjoy their fresh and flavorful cuisine. Lets dive in!

Mu Cang Chai. Source: BestWallpaper.net

Vietnam is a Southeastern Asian country that borders Laos, Cambodia, China, and the South China Sea. It is a uniquely shaped country that is long, thin, and wraps around its neighboring countries like the letter S. Most Vietnamese people live outside of the big cities instead living along river deltas or in the countryside. There is diverse wildlife throughout the various habitats of Vietnam and 30 national parks including Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng, Ba Bể, and Bạch Mã National Parks. Vietnam is known best for its friendly people, floating markets, amazing food, and stunning beaches.

The cuisine of Vietnam is made up of fresh herbs, fruits/vegetables, rice noodles, rice, aromatic spices, and various meats. Specific ingredients that are found often in a Vietnamese dish includes shrimp or bean paste, ginger, lemongrass, lime, bird’s eye chilis, and fish sauce. Minimal dairy and gluten products can be found in their cuisine with the focus on fresh ingredients. Due to French colonization of Vietnam there is French influence on their cuisine. Where the influence shows most is with the use of French baguettes, flan, coffee, and beef broths. One very popular dish that has a lot of French influence is Pho, a dish I made for us today!

Pho is considered to be the national dish of Vietnam and composed of a hearty meat broth topped with Vietnamese noodles, thinly cut beef, chilis, lime, herbs, spices, and onion. The making of this beef broth is very similar to traditional French cuisine and comparable to French pot-eu-feu. I referenced a few recipes today to cut corners on the cooking time of the broth and I chose to not use bones in my broth because I felt in the past the fattiness was too much for my tummy. Instead, I used the boiling beef method of SEVERAL other recipes I have done plenty of times before with the addition of 2 beef bullion cubes. The recipes I referenced mostly can be found here.

The history behind this dish start in Northern Vietnam in the mid 1880s. Along with the heavy French influence, Chinese cuisine can also be appreciated with the import of rice noodles and spices. There is a difference between Northern and Southern Vietnam preparations of pho: the North keeps the presentation more simple than the Southern which has several ingredients. I would say todays dish has more Southern Vietnam vibes. By the 1970s Vietnamese refugees had fled to USA bring their cuisine and culture with them. Today there are several pho restaurants throughout the US and Canada.

We really enjoyed this aromatic dish and found it very comforting and hearty, but not too heavy on our stomachs. The beautiful blend of spices and fresh ingredients gave us a totally new food experience. I personally have never had this before this before but I was glad to have the opportunity to make it myself!

Ian felt the broth could have been beefier, oh well.. Let us know if you end up using beef bones to make your broth and how it turned out! We rated this dish 8/10.

(60) Botswana – Seswaa with Cabbage and Carrot Slaw

Hey guys welcome to #60.. Botswana of Southern Africa! This landlocked country can be found bordering Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. The country is mostly a desert climate, however it does have deltas and grasslands home to several species of wildlife. It is considered the most densely-populated elephant country in the world and can be found when visiting Chobe National Park. There are various ways to see these elephants in action- safari by jeep, boat, canoe, and by foot. Botswana is also known for its diamond production and is the biggest regarding their value.

A Botswana Safari. Source: Andbeyond.com

Botswana cuisine is like surrounding countries of Southern Africa and contain various meats, grains, nuts, fruit, some vegetables, and tubers. The national dish of Botswana, seswaa, is a boiled or slow-cooked beef that is simply seasoned with salt. Once it is done cooking its pounded with a pestle until its broken into small, thin pieces. Today’s rendition includes a traditional cabbage and vegetable slaw, the recipe I used can be found here.

The meal was easy to make, I am definitely used to the boiling beef method by now. While that was boiling away it gave me plenty of time to prep the vegetables and cook the slaw! I was pleased to see there was a little more seasoning going on with the slaw.

To be honest I didn’t have high hopes for this dish and it didn’t have any elements that excited me. I understand this is traditional Botswanan cuisine, but I prefer my spices and flavor in my food. That being said it was a pretty good meal with a gravy that definitely gave the beef more flavor. The cabbage and carrot slaw was well seasoned. It was better than we had anticipated giving it a rating of 6.25/10.

Next week we visit Vietnam to try some classic dishes and a bonus dessert. Stay tuned my fellow foodies! 😋

(59) Curaçao – Keshi Yena

Willemstad, the capital of Curaçao. Source: Reddit

Welcome to another day traveling the globe by taste bud, today we land in the Caribbean on an island called Curaçao. You can find this Dutch island off the shores of Venezuela. It has a unique landscape that makes it stand out from the other Caribbean islands- it is a true desert island that receives little rain. Because of its dry climate growing crops is a challenge. When the Spanish came to the island and wanted to grow oranges they instead got small and tart fruit. Eventually it was discovered that the leaves from these plants were great to make liquor known today as blue curacao! This island of course has beautiful sandy beaches, incredible coral reefs, and a vibrant capital city know for its array of colors.

This gem of an island has strong European influence that can be found in its buildings, culture, and of course food. Dutch treats are enjoyed around the island along with Caribbean specialties. Keshi yena is considered to be the national dish of Curaçao which can be made vegetarian or with meat. It consists of cheese lined molds (such as a muffin tin or ramekins) filled with a savory filling that is baked until the cheese melts to completely enclose the center. You end up with several “cheese-castles” which is best served with a sliced up French baguette. The recipe I used can be found here.

When I was starting to make this dish I was surprised by the ingredients I was using. I would have never thought that raisins, capers, and soy sauce would be together as a part of this dishes filling! I found it tricky to cut the cheese thin enough to mold into my muffin tray, but I made it work. I used two different gouda cheeses (one older and one younger) which I felt elevated the meal.

Once I stuffed the cheese molded tray with the filling I used the remaining sliced cheese to encase the concoctions. Warning, there was a lot of grease that formed on the top of my tray and I had to keep dabbing it throughout the cooking time to avoid it dripping into the bottom of my oven. The author of this recipe used separate cooking dishes which may have eliminated this issue.

The end result once again surprised as with its complex and rich flavor. Most of my little cheese castles fell apart, but I was able to get a couple to stick together (shown above). We served them with the recommended baguette which we discovered tasted great with the keshi yena on top. Ian thought it reminded him of a lasagna in a way. If you don’t like your meals really cheesy this would probably be too much for you (or if dairy makes your tummy upset). We rated the dish 7.5/10.

(58) Nepal – Dal Bhat

Mountain Sinai. Source: Gadsventure

Today we travel back to Southern Asia to the country of Nepal. These country is situated mostly in the Himalayan mountains (home to Mount Everest) bordered by China, India, and Bhutan. Due to its location in a harsh environment it is considered one of the least developed countries in the world. Nepal is known to honor their cows due to Hindu religion (one of the most popular religions of Nepal) which means they will not kill their cows even when they stop providing milk. At that time cows are released and the community will care for the free cows. How cute!

Cuisine of Nepal can be broken up into regions and understandably has strong Asian influence. Such regions are Himilayan, Newars, Khas, Lohorung, and Terai. Each have specific dishes and cooking preparation methods that are unique to the region (with some overlap). Today’s dish dal bhat is a lentil curry, sometimes soup-like in consistency, that is eaten throughout the country and neighboring China and India. Traditionally it is served over rice and is vegetarian or vegan dependent on the oil used for cooking. It’s served at the 17,000 ft base camp on Mount Everest to fuel the brave hikers on their journey to/from the summit. The recipe I followed can be found here.

This meal was super-duper easy and healthy. I don’t cook with lentils often, but I was intrigued by the mix of spices (which I admit did not measure out when preparing). Additionally it has few ingredients and is inexpensive to make. Have I caught your attention now?

We enjoyed this meal and the blend of spice giving a mild heat to the dish. The lime and cilantro helped balance the heat. It was by far the best lentil dish we have ever had. Ian felt that adding salsa would have made it better, but what doesn’t salsa make better? We rated this dish 7.25/10 and recommend it to anyone who has never had lentils before or enjoy the flavors of cumin, turmeric, and cayenne. Let us know what you think by dropping a comment below!

(57) Togo – Grilled Ginger and Garlic Chicken with Tomato Cornmeal Cakes

The fortress like huts of the Tamberma people in northern Togo. Source: iStock.com

Bringing us to up to 57 countries is a lesser known African country, Togo. Togo is a West African country bordered by Benin, Ghana, and Burkina Faso along the Gulf of Guinea. This country has a long growing season which fuels their agriculture dominant economy. Cocoa, coffee, and peanuts are some of the important crops grown here. Togo is famous for its white sandy beaches and national parks.

Chicken marinade

Staple foods found in Togolese cuisine include beans, yams, plantains, millet, rice, and maize. The country has a history of rule from Germany and France which does influence their cuisine. Due to this influence it is not uncommon to see Togolese people enjoying German beer and French baguettes. Today’s dish was made up of two components- grilled chicken and tomato corn meal cakes. Cornmeal as you probably know by now is a popular African staple that can be transformed into several sides to accompany the main meal. Chicken is more excessable in Togo and is commonly cooked over a fire similar to grilling.

I chose to marinate chicken drumsticks for 24 hours prior to grilling to get as much flavor as possible (recipe here). Ian being the grill master that he is I had him take charge with the cooking. As for the cornmeal cakes the directions were similar and easy to follow (recipe here). The tomato sauce was a great way to bring the cornmeal to the next level.

The chicken obviously tasted great from being grilled, but I was sad I couldn’t taste the ginger. Like I stated above the cornmeal with the tomato sauce definitely made it tastier than the past cornmeal dishes I have made. Still we were not wowed by the meal and I honestly don’t see myself making the cornmeal sides again (sorry..). We rated it 6.25/10. If the chicken had more ginger flavor it could have been rated higher.

Next we head to Nepal for a vegan dish that packs a little heat🔥