(65) St. Pierre & Miquelon – Cod Fillet with Cream & Crab and Fruit Salad

Source: Borgenproject.org

Hey guys welcome to another island territory, but for once it is not sitting in the warm waters of the Caribbean or South Pacific; instead it is just south of Newfoundland, Canada in the Atlantic Ocean. St. Pierre and Miquelon is a sovereign state of France which is situated in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and is an archipelago consisting of eight islands, only two of which are inhabited. It has an interesting history of being the location where alcohol was smuggled into the US during the 1920s. The islands even have its own time zone which is 30 minutes ahead of Newfoundland.

This quaint territory has some local seafood flare, however French food is the most common cuisine found here. I found a more traditional recipe native to the island versus France itself to use for tonight’s dinner. Although the salad didn’t sound appealing to me I told myself I needed to branch out and stomp judging things before I tried it. The recipes can be found here.

So that is what I did, I jumped into these recipes with an open mind. It was simple cooking that didn’t take much time, the cream taking the most of my time. I did sample the salad dressing, it was delish!

So we weren’t fans of this one.. the cod and cream was decent but nothing spectacular and the crab/fruit salad did not do a thing for me. Cold crab meat with fruit and veggies just didn’t make sense for me and I had a difficult time with the texture. Ian did better than me, but he also didn’t care for it. That being said we rated it 5/10. I don’t know if there is another recipe I can do for this territory, but maybe another French dish will do? 😉

(64) Turkmenistan – Dograma

The Capital of Turkmenistan, Ashgabat. Source: The Guardian (Photograph: Giles Clarke/Getty Images)

Greetings from Turkmenistan, a Central Asian country that can be found beside Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Iran, and the Caspian Sea. 70% of the country is made up of the Karakum desert- interestingly this same region was once underwater 30 million years ago! Partially due to the requirement of a specially obtained travel visa and inability to freely explore the country, Turkmenistan is one of the least visited countries in the world. Turkmenistan has one of the largest gas reserves in the world and you can find the attraction “The Door of Hell” (Darvaza Gas Crater) in the Darvaza region of this country. It is referred to hell because this methane gas field was set on fire in 1971 and has been burning ever since. Its capital, Ashgabat has broken several Guinness world records because of the large amount of marble buildings it contains… 543 to be exact!

The cuisine of Turkmenistan is similar to the surrounding countries, plov being the most common dish (which was made when we traveled to Uzbekistan). Melons are very popular in Turkmenistan, so popular that there is a holiday dedicated to them! Today I made a dish that is more traditional dish that is made during Gurbanlyk, which is a three day religious holiday that is celebrated by the Islamic community. Dograma is a dish consisting of torn flatbread, mutton/beef (I used beef), onions, tomatos, and a broth. A more simplistic meal.. or so I thought! The recipe is found here.

This dish gave me troubles and a lot of frustration. What I expected to be an hour-hour and a half of cooking quickly turned to 2.5 hours due to bread issues. I think part of the issue came form the conversion from grams to cups for the flour which led me to adding an additional 2 cups of flour for bread that didn’t bake as it should have. My parchment paper maxed out at 425 F and the correct conversion was 480 F which made for a longer baking time. Poor Ian came home to a grumpy Paige..

However after all the struggles it was surprisingly good. The bread absorbed the flavors of the broth and had decent flavor. If you let it sit too long it did get too mushy and unappetizing. I feel like the onions would have been better sautéed and would have added another layer of flavor. Although it was better than expected it still got an average rating of 6/10.

(63) Kiribati – Crab and Tuna Curry

Kiribati Aerial View. Source: The Loop.com

Welcome to another tiny and mighty country of the Pacific Islands- Kiribati! This country is made up of 32 atolls and a coral raised island, the majority living on Tarawa atoll. Kiribati can mostly be split into three main sections: Tungaru, Line Islands, and Phoenix Islands (Banaba is the only island excluded from the groupings). You can spot this chain of islands bordering several other islands of the Pacific including Fiji, The Solomon Islands, The Marshall Islands, and Tuvalu. It’s the only country that can be found in all four hemispheres of the world and the first to ring in the new year. You can find coconut trees on every island which most measure only 13ft above sea level. Unfortunately as you can see this country is thin and at high risk of sinking under the ocean due to global warming.

The cuisine found on the islands consists mostly of local produce and meat such as coconut, various seafood, taro root, and breadfruit. Due to limited land area not much produce is grown on the island. The meal I made to honor Kiribati was a crab and tuna curry. The recipe I used was made out of inspiration of Kiribati and not a “traditional recipe” but likely is something that could be made and enjoyed in this nation.

The recipe was fairly simple and straight forward. I opted to use frozen vegetables to make cooking easier and had to substitute crab legs with mussels because I was unable to get any locally. The only crab meat that was available (and not totally fake) was the kind you would use to make crab cakes, so not the most ideal. Other than the seafood mishaps it was easy to get the ingredients. Look at all those colors!

This curry-dominated dish was delicious and extremely flavorful. Unfortunately the crab meat did not stand up to what I would suspect full crab legs would bring to the table, however the additional of mussels helped it out. I would suggest lobster tail/claws or shrimp as the closest substitutes if you are unable to get your hands on crab meat. All in all it was another great dish. We rated it 7.5/10.

(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! 😋